As you all know, this past Monday was the Boston Marathon, one of the most glorious days that one can spend as a student enrolled in a Boston area university. While approximately 99% of us at Boston College stayed home in Chestnut Hill to celebrate the day and cheer on the runners as they finished up Heartbreak Hill and passed by Mile 21, there were a select few who chose to brave the April heat and run the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boylston Street. One of these select few is someone I’m very proud to call my friend, and was lucky enough to speak with him about his experience. Here is Mike Alario.
What made you want to run the Marathon in the first place?
MA: I wanted to run because it was basically a bucket list item, but I also wanted to raise money for cancer research so those were the two initial reasons for running it. I had also lost my athletic drive in general. I mean, I played football and lacrosse in high school but I just haven’t done much with myself here.
I can definitely understand the loss of athletic drive, but continuing on, the cancer research is for your mom, right?
MA: Yeah it is. In my fundraising efforts, I said in my letter that when your mother has cancer, you can’t really do much about it. I mean, you love and support your parents of course, but you kind of wish you could do something more. So the Marathon was basically an outlet for me to be able to, in a more tangible way, show support for my mother. And we were able to raise money, which was awesome. I also got a lot of support from family and friends so that was great as well.
MA: It was possibly the most fun thing I’ve done in a really long time. Everyone was just out and about and happy. Basically from Hopkinton to Boston, people were just out on their front porches cheering you on which is a really kind of a life affirming experience. It’s also just really awesome to be amongst a bunch of people who are willing to run really hard and work their ass off to run and raise money. Like, you’re just running and you’re really tired but then you look up and see on the back of someone, like some mom’s t-shirt, and it says, “I’m Running For My Son Hunter” and you just kind of get reaffirmed in your ability to do it and are inspired by the people around you. So it was just a really fun and really great experience. Mile 21 was also one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, just running through that, and seeing all my friends on campus running and screaming.
Yeah, seeing a friend run through Mile 21 was a pretty cool experience from an outside perspective. Now, were you running solo or in a group? Did you train with anyone?
MA: I basically ran and trained by myself, but I had a good friend running as well. I was also part of the Mass General Team, which is a group of about a hundred people who run for all different causes such as pediatric oncology and stuff like that. I also had the Emergency team* and they always have a lot of people running, so I had their support and I kind of followed their training plan.
So when did you initially start training for the Marathon?
MA: I kind of decided and knew I wanted to run it after the last Marathon. I didn’t really start training until, I’d say, maybe 4 or 5 months prior. That was when I actually started really following a plan rather than just running a little extra and that sort of thing.
Did you set a goal for yourself to achieve, like time-wise or anything? What was your hope?
MA: Yeah I wanted to run it in under 4 hours, which I was able to do. 3:57:06 (3 hours, 57 minutes, 6 seconds) was my final time.
Congratulations on that! Cutting it a little close but that includes your stop at Mile 21.
MA: Yeah I definitely stopped along the away a couple times, and my last mile I actually sprinted because my watch died and I had no clue about time. I mean, I knew I was close but I had no idea if I was over or under.
So, this is a slightly corny question, but in running the Marathon, would you say you learned anything about yourself? Maybe digging deep to get to the end, things like that?
MA: Yeah so it’s equally, if not more, a mental exercise than it is a physical one. Especially as a 20-year-old guy, you can get yourself in good enough shape. It’s just more, in a lot of ways, mental. You know like if it’s raining out you’re still going for a run or if you have 15 miles and you’re tired but you still have to just go do that. A lot of thinking, I don’t know if there’s anything I necessarily learned about myself, just that it takes mental toughness.
That definitely makes sense and to follow that up, one more question: do you think you’d ever run it again?
MA: I might run again, I might run another marathon. Not while I’m at BC but I could see myself possibly doing it again. Especially if my brother runs one marathon, I always have to one up him. So I’ll run two if he runs one. The next marathon will most likely be New York or DC. I’m running a half-marathon in Oslo, Norway this summer so that will be cool.
That will definitely be cool, so enjoy that. Thanks for letting me interview you on your experience and again, congratulations on both beating your set goal and just completing the Marathon in general; both great accomplishments.
It was great to not just get to see a friend run past you as you stand along Mile 21, but to be able to interview him about his overall experience. Big thanks to Mike for sharing his story. Congratulations to him, as well as all the other Eagles and Non-Eagles alike who competed and completed the Marathon this past Monday.
*The ‘Emergency team’ mentioned is the Emergency Response Team, which is a part of the larger Mass General Hospital team
All Photos Courtesy of the Author