At the beginning of 2015 Steve and I were driving home from St. George chatting about our hopes, dreams, plans for the new year. I was beginning training for the Boston Marathon and Steve was anticipating some changes in his career. I love the start of a new year! One of my goals in 2015 was to write. I had felt compelled to write my story. So, after spending time trying to put it on paper; my daughter introduced me to Amy who has spent the last year helping me write my story. We have spent time each week talking and reviewing different aspects of my life. We've talked about victories, struggles, difficult times, funny experiences, times of persistence, grit, and lots of celebrations of life. I didn't expect it to be such an amazing journey. I have cheered on the younger Becky. One day between clients, Amy sent me a draft of some writing. As I read it, I started to cry. I have gained a greater appreciation of writing and sharing our story ... even if it is simply for ourselves. I've struggled with feeling like -- who do I think I am for wanting to write it down to owning and celebrating my story. As we finish the year 2015, I had hoped it would be finished. I've learned its a lot longer process than I realized. I've learned patience. It's coming. Yesterday in the mail, a check for $20 came with an article I had written published in the Dialogue. As the title says ... Keep Going -- the Victories will come. This story is about my Boston Marathon experience. I know as we keep going in this writing process .. the victory of completing the book will come!! Stay tuned and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
I've copied the article down below if you'd like to read.
Keep Going – The Victories will come. By Becky Andrews, Bountiful, Utah
April 20, 2015. It was a dream come true. I was at the Boston Marathon with nearly 30,000 other runners. There were 40 blind/visually impaired runners, including 25 from our Team with a Vision.
Excitement was in the air. It was raining and chilly, and I’d been up for hours, yet my heart was warm with anticipation and gratitude for this moment. As a visually impaired runner, I could have one guide on the course with me. Brenda would begin the course and Suzette would run the second half. I felt tears coming to my eyes as Brenda and I approached the starting line and the announcer saying: Welcome to the Boston Marathon…”
I stayed near Brenda as we began to run. It was so crowded with all the runners that we ran sighted guide. We began to get in a stride and I reflected further on this amazing experience.
So much work had led to this moment including, three marathons I’d already run to qualify for Boston. There had been injuries along the way including a broken foot, a broken toe and an IT Band injury. My guides and I had completed weeks of preparation and juggled work and family schedules to meet the commitments of long runs.
I loved hearing the sound of the runners’ feet hitting the pavement – that collective sound of individual training and preparation. People were cheering from the sidelines – “You got this,” they called, “Thank you for coming to Boston, You can do this!” It was inspiring to hear so many people cheering for others – most of whom they did not know.
When I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa almost 32 years ago, it felt like many doors were closing in my life. I felt overwhelmed and frightened, but learned to take each challenge as it came. I thought about my journey of vision loss and how much it had been like a marathon. Take it a step at a time. Prepare as much as you can. There will be times of hitting a ‘wall’ and feeling overwhelmed. Be open-minded. Listen to your heart. Have faith. Find the people around that will you support you and cheer you on. Keep going. The victories will come.
As we continued to run, the rain changed from a drizzle to a downpour back to a drizzle with some wind. We were making good time as the miles clicked by. We navigated through the runners to reach our pace. Brenda guided me as we ran, “To you right, diagonal to the left” she’d say as we weaved through other runners and enjoyed the journey. We soon realized navigating through the puddles was impossible.
Music played from speakers along the course. At one point in the run we heard the song, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. When I had been training with my third guide dog, Georgie, the year prior, this son had been playing in the van each morning as we waited to go on our route. I couldn’t help but smile to think of my Georgie and I felt such gratitude for all three of my guide dogs: Pantera, Cricket, and Georgie who have helped me navigate safely for the past 18 years. Literally, being able to walk safely again helped me believe that I could run again, too.
The crowd of runners had thinned as Suzette and I began to run, so we were able to use the tether. Suzette was not only running as my eyes but also supporting me as I began to feel some physical fatigue of the marathon journey. She offered some Gatorade, water, or other energy food. As we ran, Suzette described what was around us – beautiful homes, signs from spectators, and other landmarks along the journey.
At mile 15, Neil Diamond’s, “Sweet Caroline” was playing. Just two nights before my family and I had enjoyed a baseball game at Fenway Park and had sung this song with the crowd. As we continued to run, I sang the words in my head, as I’m sure many other runners were doing, too. As we reched the point in the song, “So Good, So Good, So Good, “ we all sang out together. This was so good. I reflected on how hard times such as running a marathon bring such blessings and great experiences as well. I found myself again thinking about the journey of losing my vision from Retinitis Pigmentosa. The lessons, experiences, blessings, friendships have far outweighed the loss.
Near mile 24 on the crest of a hill we had stopped to walk for a minute when, we heard our support team calling our names. They lifted my spirits and reminded me that I could get to that finish line. As we rounded the corner to run on Boylston Street to the finish line, the joy of the moment surpassed the exhaustion and physical pain I was feeling. I had run the Boston Marathon. I was wet and cold but my heart was warm and grateful for those who had shared it with me.