Dear Friends and Family,

I'd like to share a bit of my story and the reason why I choose to raise money for the Sharon Timlin Memorial Race to Cure ALS now. My story is likely not unique, but one that I hope gives pause, if nothing else.
 
Who I am:

I am a Brookline resident. I live on mile 24 of the Boston Marathon route, which has been both a tease and a motivation for me to become a marathoner. I've now run four marathons and countless shorter distant road races. I've always rejoiced in Boston's precious Patriot's Day, cheered on the runners who passed by my house and walked away from the course each year wishing I qualified for it myself. I've missed BQing twice by about 10 minutes each time.
 
I am a runner. I've run since I was 12 years old, when I needed a recreational outlet in school and quickly found it in cross-country. I didn't see myself as a potential marathoner until I moved to Boston in 1999, and watched my first Boston Marathon run by my office in Newton. That changed my life.
 
Most importantly, I am a mother, wife and daughter. I thought life couldn't get any happier when I married my husband. Then we met our daughter. We cherish every moment we have with her, and now I understand why my mother cares so much about what I'm up to even though we live on opposite sides of the country. I will never not worry about my daughter, for as long as I live. I hope I never take a second of my time with my family for granted.
 
Where I was:
 
April 15, 2013 was a dark day for Boston, the running community and humanity in general. I was cheering at mile 24 when the bombs hit. I stayed there waiting for a friend to pass, blissfully unaware, for another 20 minutes before the police started directing all spectators away without explanation. When I arrived to my door, a neighbor told me bombs had hit the finish line. 'What?' I had my daughter in my arms. 'Bombs?' All I could think about was protecting her and reaching my husband, who was on his way home from California. I ran into our apartment only to crumble to the floor. I didn't want to turn on the TV. I didn't want to know what happened. Then I did. I saw. I learned. I shook and cried, clutching my daughter the whole time.
 
When I started to process the news, over an hour later, my first reaction was we could have been there. I had been spectating at the finish line in years prior. My office was a block passed the finish line on the same side of the street as the bombs. Had I not been recently laid off, conveniently just for the weeks before and after the bombing, I may have been out there watching the race at that very spot. If I'd run the race, my husband and daughter could have been there waiting for me to cross the finish line. I couldn't think about it. But for others not so lucky - they couldn't escape that reality.
 
Then I became angry and driven. I thought I will run it. I will do everything I can to protect my family and all that I love - the joy of a spring day, the innocence of a wonderful event, the spirit of all the runners and amazing spectators, our ability to just live and enjoy life, precious as it is.
 
Precious as it is.

What I'm running for:

Up until about 2 years ago, when both of my grandparents passed away within weeks of one another, I'd only lost one person I loved and cared for. My godfather Bernie, a close family friend who I affectionately called Uncle Pete, was taken away viciously when I was just a teenager. His killer was ALS.

Uncle Pete was more like family than godfamily. My parents had divorced when I was 5 years old, and my Uncle Pete lived only 10 minutes from my home with my mom. We saw him often. I always loved visiting him because he would talk baseball, make fun fruit juices and let me run loose around the property with his pet dogs.

We saw him even more when I was in high school, when my mom quit her job to take care of him. ALS had begun ravaging his body though his mind stayed sharp as a tack. I remember he used to play Scrabble with my mom. While he played, he would smoke and the cigarettes would burn down and blacken his fingers before he'd let my mom help him put it out. He was stubborn. He didn't want help. He didn't want to give in.

But he lost the battle.

The night he died, I had driven straight to his house in NY from my college in Rhode Island. I had just finished my first semester, and I was leaving in a blizzard. I made it home in time, both to barely beat the worst of the storm and to say goodbye. Once I got inside, tired and terrified of what was to come, I pulled up a cot near his bedside, where my mom and his family had gathered. I fell asleep around 11 pm. Just a couple of hours later, in the darkest hours of the night and the heaviest of the storm, I woke suddenly. I heard my mom crying, saying, "Go, Bernie, go." I ran to his side and watched him take his last breaths. He was suffering. His lungs weren't working any more. His eye lids could no longer blink. He finally took one last breath. The terror was finally over, after more than two years of suffering.

Devastation was immediate and immense. I had not only watched a relative die in front of me, but it was my Uncle Pete. He was closer to me than my own father. I'd never forget this moment. I'd never take life for granted.

Though I know at times I have. Marathon Monday was my cruel, stark reminder.

Life is too short. We have to recognize and fight the terrorists all around us, whether they be cowardly people that shred all that is good, or invisible beasts that ravage our hearts, minds and bodies. We have to cherish all that is good in this world.

So this I promise:

I will love my home.

I will love my community.

I will love my family.

I will love my life.

I will fight to protect and cherish all that is good and right, and one day I will make my daughter proud to call me her mom. With a little luck, some hard work and a lot of hope, just maybe we can all help defeat the terrorists around us and within.

Thank you for supporting my cause.

Love,
Robyn

 
 
Picture
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!