I've never been a charity runner. As a runner since I was 12, it's hard for me to even imagine using charity as an excuse to run or an excuse to get into an exclusive race. For instance, I will never use charity as a reason to run the Boston Marathon. I'll only be getting in there if I earn it.

Then, one day a few months ago, I received an email from the Boston Red Sox. This local team of mine was asking for runners to sign up for the Run to Home Base 9K. This race would begin on Yawkey Way and end on home plate in Fenway Park. OMG OMG OMG... That's all I could really think. OMG OMG OMG...

Then I saw the price tag: $1,000.

$1,000 to run a race? No, not really. It was $1,000 to run a race for charity.

My immediate reaction was that this goes against all of my rules. Then I looked at what the charity really is.

There are three causes I support regularly for various reasons in my own life.
1. ALS research - This horrible disease has taken someone dear to me. I'll do whatever I can to help this cause.
2. Our troops - These people risk their lives every day so I don't have to worry about mine. My grandfather stole away to WWII at the age of 16 and I still hear the stories today. I have a deep respect for military men and women.
3. Animal welfare - Some people are people people, some are animal people. I don't own pets anymore, but I can't stand to see an animal hurting for any reason. I consider myself a bit of an animal person.

That said, when I saw that the Run to Home Base supported our troops by raising money for brain injury and traumatic stress disorder treatment... I was in. I didn't sign up right away. I still don't like the idea of raising money to run a race. Just seems weird to me. But for such a great cause I couldn't resist. A few weeks later, I signed up.

Not long after, I was recruited to join the Remy Team's race crew. This was a lot of fun and provided me with extra fundraising support, which I was grateful for. Not many of my friends have a money to give to a fundraiser. Not many of my friends understand my need to run either, but that's another story.

The one problem with the Remy Team was all the talk about starting and finishing the race together. This is when it becomes charity running again. I love to RUN. Not dilly dally and fool around for some cute photos. The morning of the race, I skipped out on meeting my team so I could line up near the front of the race.

Race Start

We were asked to get to Fenway early. Then we basically sat there for an hour. It wasn't bad though... had the best seats of my life. :)

About half hour before the start, the announcer asked runners to head to the corrals on Yawkey Way. We had 30 minutes till the start, but I headed over anyway. And waited. And waited. They finally started the speakers, all 50 of them, around 8:00 and we started running about 25 minutes late. Many of the speakers were great and had stories to share... Others were sponsors I could have done without. One racer next to me asked me if I remembered how to run when they were all done speaking. It did feel like forever.

We finally lined up at the start. Me right near the front. And we were off!

The Run

First mile was way too fast - a result of starting in the front. I clocked a 6:52 first mile. It actually didn't feel all that bad, but I thought I'd run this race around 7:30 pace, my last 10K time. I tried to stay around 7:00 but it definitely caught up to me later. Let's just say I didn't have negative splits.

We ran out of the Fenway area, down Mass Ave., over the bridge to Memorial Drive, down Memorial to the right, then looped back to the left, then looped back again to Mass Ave, over the bridge and back to Fenway.

It was a VERY fast run. It went by fast and felt fast. Great flat course with lots of water stops! It was so well organized, especially for a first time race. I just loved it.

As I was running, I realized that not that many women had passed me. I thought there was a chance I was in the top of my age group, but I wasn't entirely sure. I'm also not even sure I like that stat at all. How well I place really only depends on who I'm running with, right? So if no one good runs, then what does that tell me about me? Nothing. It is fun to place near the top... especially when telling family who don't know the difference between a 7:30 and 8:30 pace. I'm Just not sure place matters much to me personally.

In any case, I kept chugging along and my quads started screaming. I am only 3 weeks out from my marathon, which had me limping for a week. So really only two weeks of more comfortable running before I went out and ran this all out. I didn't care much though... It was fun. :)

Race Finish

As we headed down the back way to Fenway near Jillian's, I started trying to pick it up. I didn't have a lot left in the tank, but I got the pace back up to 7:00-7:10 after dropping down to the 7:20s. One chick passed me, but she was nice and cheered me along. I appreciated that and didn't mind that I couldn't keep her from passing me. My legs were screaming. I wished her well and was happy to see her passing some dudes ahead of me. Go girl!

Then we turned onto Landsdowne, I knew I could go faster, but it hurt. Know what kicked me in gear? A spot of pink in the corner of my eye. Another girl was sneaking up on me. Oh nononononon. I may not care what place I'm in, but I'm not letting someone draft off me only to kick my butt in the last quarter of a mile. So I found 5th gear and took off.

We turned sharply into Fenway... me, pink and this guy who I leapfrogged back and forth throughout the race. We then turned sharply onto the warning track near the Green Monster.

OH MY GOD!!!! FENWAY! THE FIELD! ALL OF THESE PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!

Fenway seemed packed to me, even though it wasn't at all. I can only imagine how it feels to be a player. I felt like a rockstar or something. So cool.

Now I'm on the warning track, having cut off a few folks (sorry!). Then I did whatever I could to get faster and faster and a little faster. I pulled away from my merry crew... Only to get passed by a Prefontaine wannabe in, where else, the last 10 feet!!

Oh well. It was FABULOUS to run that race.

Fenway and the Troops

I was sad to be done, but awed by Fenway. I slowly walked around and started seeing soldiers along the way. I shook every hand and thanked every one of them for all that they do.

Before the race, I wrote names of military men that I know all over my arms. When I had to dig down and get those quads moving, I just thought about my grandfather, the men who lost their lives in war and those who are in Iraq and Afghanistan now. It was an honor to wear their names and an honor to raise money to help them recover from the stress they have to bear now. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

As I approached home base, I saw Army Chief of Staff General George Casey. I got to shake his hand. It was so cool to meet him... Even if I did miss actually STEPPING on home base as a result of that handshake. Only me. My husband will never let me live that down.

I'll just have to do it again next year. :)

Final tally on fundraising - $1,070!

I loved the experience of this charity run. I loved helping that cause. I loved the race. And I'm happy to be able to share photos and videos of it all with troops in service now. If you want to support our military or just wish some great people well, check out the Facebook Group for B Company 412th Aviation Support Battalion (B Co 412 ASB). The real heroes!

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend and give thanks to our troops!
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Climbing the Great Wall of China!
I am not one to turn down an amazing new experience. Run Big Sur, one of the hardest marathons in the world, as my first. Take a solo road trip of northeast ballparks - just cause. Head to Tibet and China for our honeymoon, during a time when we could have been quarantined at any moment for being near someone with swine flu. The list goes on but you get the picture.

I love an adventure. So when I saw the Run to Home Base 9K, I realized immediately that I had stumbled upon my next

The 9K is not a difficult distance for me. It's actually about the length of one of my recovery runs. The adventure comes with the bigger picture. In order to run this race, I will raise money for the Home Base Program, a new partnership between the Red Sox Foundation and Mass General Hospital to aid veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with combat stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. As the granddaughter of a WWII vet, who still tells his old war stories, it couldn't make me more proud to run for such a cause.

I've always said I would not involve myself in running to fundraise (or run-raising!) - at least not now. It's not that I haven't wanted to help, but I feared losing sight of my own personal running goals in the process. I am committed to attaining a 3:40 marathon time in just 45 short days at the Providence Marathon. Nothing will diminish that drive at this point. It's what got me out the door this past Saturday and Sunday, running a combined 29 miles in some of the worst weather I've seen in a year! And, honestly, if I don't meet the goal on May 2, I'll be out there all hitting the pavement until I do - then I'll just keep on running from there.

I want to support this cause now because it does touch my heart. It does make me feel grateful to have a healthy and happy family. It does remind me of how much our military men and women do to help us - and of how much they often lose in the process. That extra motivation will be welcome company on my 26.2M and 9K runs, which is why I'm dedicating both efforts to this cause.

If you'd like to help me 'reach home base,' I would love your support! I have listed some suggested donations on my fundraising page but any and all donations are welcome - even a buck.

To anyone who makes a donation, I'll also enter you into a drawing to receive a pair of tickets to watch the end of the Run to Home Base 9K, which finishes - where else - but on home plate at Fenway Park on May 23. The concession stands will be open, so you can get your dog and a beer!

I have to admit, that is a really cool finish line. It's the icing on the cake if (when) I reach my fundraising goal.

Thanks for reading and happy running!