Meet Xtra Mile Boston Marathon Runner Stephanie Lee!
Stephanie Lee is just one of the runners on our 26 member Boston Marathon team who’s not only making a difference in the lives of our athletes in 2018, but will have a lasting impact on Special Olympics Massachusetts that will help our movement and organization continue to support the athletes of today and tomorrow as we look forward towards the next 50 years of sports opportunities and inclusion!
Read on to learn more about Stephanie!
Where did you grow up? “Southborough, Massachusetts”
What do you do for work? How does this influence your experience with Special Olympics? “I’m a UX/UI designer at a mobile development agency in Boston. Our company’s mission is to improve lives through design and technology and we try our best to work with clients who are making a positive impact on their communities and the lives of people. Although my work does not directly influence my experience with Special Olympics in a literal sense, the underlying desire to help others that motivates the work I do everyday is very closely related to why I find Special Olympics so important and meaningful.”
What does Special Olympics mean to you? “My older sister Jennifer has cerebral palsy and has participated in Special Olympics for as long as I can remember. Special Olympics gave my sister Jenn the opportunity to be a part of a team and a community when on so many other occasions she was told she was unable to. I know it has done the same for so many others. It is so inspiring to see the determination and spirit of all of the athletes and the happiness that being a part of it brings.
I am humbled by the opportunity to support Special Olympics in its effort to provide experiences and friendships that its athletes will carry with them for the rest of their lives.”
How did you get involved with Special Olympics? “I grew up attending my sister’s soccer games on weekends and I used to volunteer for Special Olympics events. When looking at the participating Boston Marathon charities I was so excited to see that Special Olympics was one of them and knew that it was the team I wanted to run for.
Running for the Xtra Mile team inspired me to get involved with volunteering for Special Olympics again and I’ve recently started volunteering with the gymnastics program in Cambridge. It’s been an amazing reminder to see how much Special Olympics means to everyone involved.”
Have you ever ran the Boston Marathon before? “First timer!”
What made you decide to run the Boston Marathon? “Running has held a meaningful role in my life for a very long time and I dreamed of one day being able to run Boston. I grew up in the Boston area and ever since I was young have very much admired the runners who participate. This past year, I naturally began increasing my mileage and gained a newfound love for longer distance running. I decided that I wanted to run a marathon and that I wanted Boston to be my first. I am so honored and humbled to have been given the opportunity to run this year with the Special Olympics Xtra Mile team and in addition, to be able to raise money and awareness for the awesome work that Special Olympics does.”
How are you training for this 26.2 mile run? Have you run into any obstacles (literally and figuratively) “Absolutely – training has not at all played out as I had anticipated or hoped.
By far, the most challenging obstacle I encountered was finding out around 9 weeks into training that I had developed a bone stress injury in my right tibia and that I would have to immediately stop running for 4 weeks. When I received the news, it hit me like a ton of bricks and I was completely devastated. At that moment, I had no idea whether I would be able to continue training at all, and the only thought I could fathom was that I was letting myself and everyone who had supported me so far down. My stomach dropped to the floor, and my eyes instantly began to fill.
However after further discussion with my doctor, he reassured me that continuing to train for the marathon could still be possible. He cautioned me that it would take hard work, creativity, and a lot of time in the water to get me to the starting line. He advised that deep water running would be my closest alternative to actual running and if at all possible, should be my first choice for cross-training.
Since then, I’ve spent every day in my training plan either deep water running in the pool – mimicking as best I can the prescribed daily workout, in regards to time and effort, tracking down an anti-gravity treadmill to reintroduce weight-bearing once I was allowed, and days combining the two to complete the full mileage.
I am finally back to running outside again, but nowhere near the mileage or frequency I thought I would be at by this point when I had begun my training many weeks ago. The experience has been mentally and emotionally challenging, as I cower in shame each time someone asks how my training is going, and I have to reply with a 5 minute explanation of my current predicament.
I’m surprised to say that I’m currently filled with more excitement and optimism than I had anticipated when I think of Marathon Monday (although still waiting for the moment of complete terror to hit). The reassurance and confidence I’ve gained over the past few weeks has without a doubt come from the incredibly supportive people I have met along the way – my PT, my doctor, and other mentors who assure me that although my training is not as I had envisioned or hoped, it does not mean it is not adequate. Now, I cherish each time I’m able to step outside to run, no matter what the distance, and I am determined that although this will be my first marathon it certainly will not be my last.”
What’s the craziest thing on your bucket list? What on your bucket list that you’ve done that you are most proud of? “It may not be the craziest thing, but the newest addition to my bucket list is to travel to and run all six of the World Marathon Majors! Boston will be my first.”
Do you have a motto? “What you do says more than what you say.”
Want to run, bike, or compete in a triathlon to support Special Olympics Massachusetts? Join the Xtra Mile!