From Scream Tunnel to Start Line
Having cheered runners on from the Wellesley Scream Tunnel throughout her four years in college, Meghan Peterson is looking forward to reaching mile 13 on Marathon Monday and the moment when she sees her sister, Courtney whom she is running for.
The moment I saw “Congratulations” appear across the screen, I knew that I had been given a special opportunity to push my intellectual and athletic limits. In December of my senior year, I made the decision to attend Wellesley College and be a member of the Field Hockey and Lacrosse teams. Not only did my life change as a result of my acceptance to Wellesley; my family’s would as well.
As a first-year on campus, there are many “firsts”: first party at MIT, first Lake Day, and first all-nighter. However, I quickly learned that the Boston Marathon was “The Event” of the year at school and I remember feeling the excitement build up across campus in the days leading up to the third Monday in April. And finally, it was Marathon Monday! After an early morning lacrosse practice, we all rushed to change then headed to the course with our fan posters and a few beverages.
Wellesley College’s beautiful campus spans most of the length of the 13th mile of the course. The first wave of non-professional runners ran by our campus around 12:30; that was the moment I set a personal goal to one day, run in (and complete) the Boston Marathon. The excitement of that day definitely exceeded expectations and the scream tunnel was something else!
Fast forward to March of 2013. My best friend and sister, Courtney, made the decision to attend Wellesley. This was notable as I remember my sister asking me 2 years earlier why I would ever want to attend an “all –girls” college! Anyway, I remember how happy I was and excited for her to experience college life at Wellesley and to once again be teammates on the field. We have been incredibly close our entire lives, so the opportunity to share the Wellesley experience was one of the best gifts (thanks Mom and Dad!). Courtney is a special person.
Those who know her well get exactly what I mean here. However, for those of you who don’t know her, what sets her apart from others isn’t her Cystic Fibrosis diagnosis, it is her funny, compassionate, and carefree personality. Oh, and the fact that she can eat two foot-long Subway sandwiches in one sitting!
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a disease that affects the respiratory system and digestive system. It is one of the most common, fatal, genetic diseases to affect children and young adults in the U.S. CF occurs as a result of a defect in the CFTR gene. This gene makes a protein that aids in moving salt and water in and out of the body’s cells. In CF patients like Courtney, the protein manufactured doesn’t work well. It causes thick and sticky mucus that is hard to clear and offers a comfortable home to bacteria. This all leads to declining lung function as a result of infections.
Despite chronic coughing and numerous meds to help keep her healthy, Courtney has been able to play not one, but two varsity sports at Wellesley – field hockey and lacrosse. In fact, she has excelled at both. Our two best years at Wellesley as teammates, we had back to back Conference Championship wins and NCAA quarterfinal appearances!
Thinking back on the spring of my junior year, I remember feeling the same anticipation and electricity leading up to the Marathon that I felt my first year at Wellesley. It was Court’s first Boston Marathon experience. I was sure she was going to love the whole experience of the day. She did. It was at that moment, while watching the marathon with Courtney, our teammates and friends, holding up humorous signs and cheering on runners, that I made a commitment to myself that when I ran the Boston Marathon, it would be to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Fast forward to 2017 and the time has come to deliver on my promise! April 17th is going to be a crazy and emotional day. Even as an athlete, the thought of running 26.2 miles has always sounded daunting. Assuming I am on pace, around 1:30 I will approach the start of mile 13. My heart will be pounding so very hard. My legs will likely be aching. I will surely be full of adrenaline in anticipation of seeing Courtney’s face along the Wellesley Scream Tunnel. After a few photos to capture the moment, I’ll be on my way with renewed energy to complete the race.
My life would not be the same without Courtney, which is why I choose to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and push my limits so that Courtney and others like her can reach theirs!