The Boston Marathon is among the most iconic races in the United States. It is the oldest and the fastest in the country, dating back to 1897 with a median finish time of 3 hours and 44 minutes. This year, the marathon runners were buffeted by cold rain and wind, yet persevered.
One participant running for charity was Evelyn Rakowsky, MCAS ’18. Rakowsky has always loved running, and was part of the cross-country team in high school. She added running a marathon to her bucket list, and in the fall of her junior year, she ran the Philadelphia Marathon.
This year was Rakowsky’s first Boston Marathon. She joyfully recounts, “When I saw the marathon for the first time, I just stood at Mile 21 with my friends for the whole day with signs, and it was such a special experience.” She knew then that she had to run it.
To qualify for competition in the 18-36 age group, men have to run under 3 hours and 5 minutes, and women 3 hours and 35 minutes. Runners commonly support a charity, and this is where Rakowsky started. In describing how she selected a charity, she stated, “If I was going to be running for a charity and fundraising for them, I wanted it to be a cause I felt really attached to.”
After interning at a Boston women’s shelter called On the Rise, she knew she wanted to run for a charity empowering the homeless. That’s when she found Back on My Feet, a nationwide foundation that helps dignify and serve the homeless through programs. For Rakowsky, one of the most important things about running the Boston Marathon was “being able to picture all the stories of the people I’ve learned about through this charity, and have that motivate me when my legs [were] starting to tire.”
Several months after a runner is selected by a charity, the training process begins. “Most training plans are around 18 weeks,” Rakowsky describes. The goal of training is to gradually increase mileage. For the BC student, that meant running the Cambridge Half-Marathon, as well as taking long runs regularly.
However, Rakowsky believes the critical part of training is “listening to your body.” While training for Philadelphia, she sustained a minor leg injury from running too much. To prepare for Boston, she shifted to other endurance activities like swimming, yoga. While doing long runs, Rakowsky breaks it into three parts, starting with a friend, then running in silence, and finally rewarding herself with music.
At the starting line, one must fully trust their training and physical ability. Though the race is physically demanding, it also becomes a mental battle aftera certain point. For Rakowsky, that moment arrives around the 20th mile. During the Philadelphia Marathon, her leg injury started to take effect around this mark.
“I was saying a lot of prayers in my head,” Rakowsky said. She was also running with a friend who helped keep her “mentally motivated.”
Running a marathon has become a way for Rakowsky to deepen her relationship with God. Whenever the pain of running becomes intense, she prays “for God to strengthen [her] trust and allow [her] to continue to put one foot in front of the other.” Smiling, Evelyn said she knows God has been there for her, and has even taken the pain away and enhanced her focus.
When people call her crazy for running the race, Rakowsky tells them, “Anyone could really run a marathon,” adding that it’s all about “finding a running plan and dedicating yourself to it.”
Running the Boston Marathon is special for every runner in their own way. “Philly was a totally personal thing,” Rakowsky remarked. “But Boston is more of a culmination of my BC experience.”