The road to this year’s Boston Marathon began to roll out in front of Groton Police Officer Rachel Mead in the dark hours of her overnight shift last April 18 and 19, after the horrific Boston Marathon bombing.
“The real reason that I wanted to run was officer Collier (MIT Police Officer Sean Collier) and him being killed a few days after the bombing. I wanted to honor him in my own way. I was working the day that he died (Thursday, April 18, 2013), and I was listening to the transmissions on the scanner, stuff happening in Watertown, and it was a pretty helpless feeling … I was working an overnight shift and listening to everything happening. I heard him get shot, I heard Officer Donohue (MBTA Transit Police Officer Richard Donohue Jr., critically wounded during a firefight with bombing suspects) get shot (Friday, April 19, 2013), and the chaos that happened — all of that. And we were in Groton, just so far away and nothing you could do. So I wanted to pay back in my own way, so I thought raising money for the victims would be a good thing to do.”
Mead is one of 50 runners raising money for the One Fund, the charity founded to assist victims and survivors of the bombing.
“After the bombing last year, I kind of knew that I wanted to try to run Boston, and I got a letter from Marathon Sports last summer, saying that they had 50 bibs for Boston, for the One Fund, and I applied and I was accepted. So it just kind of worked out, which was really nice because I wanted to run Boston and take back our race, so to speak, and show our Boston spirit. How we’re “Boston Strong.”
She is the only police officer on the One Fund team.
“Not only am I representing the law enforcement community, I’m also representing our community, our town, which is doubly nice,” Mead said.
A runner for 14 years, since she was a college student, she has some experience with the 26.2 mile endurance run, but she isn’t an expert yet.
“I was running for fitness until I was in the police academy, in 2007, up in New Hampshire. You have to do a fitness test every three years, and I never wanted to not pass that so I needed to set some kind of goal. A girl in my academy class got me running races, and it kind of snowballed from there,” she said. “I aim for usually at least one race a month in the summer months,” Mead said, “but I have certain ones that are favorite races — The Groton Road Race that I try to run every year — that’s one of my favorites. This year will be the first time in five years that I haven’t run it only because it’s the week after the Boston Marathon and I don’t feel like that would be a good idea … ”
Mead has run the Boston Police Department’s Run to Remember half marathons four times, and is planning on doing her fifth this year.
“I usually train for, until recently, two half marathons a year, one in the spring and one in the fall, and recently, the last couple of years, I attempted a marathon. I have the marathon bug now, so Boston will be my third marathon,” she said.
Her training plan takes her up and down Groton’s hills and drumlins, running to a varied soundtrack: “A lot of Lady Ga Ga, some Brittany Spears, some pop music, and I like The Who, I have The Who on there, Journey, a real range from classic rock to pop music — all over the place.”
A large part of the Boston Marathon is raising money for charity, and the One Fund’s 50 runners are both a new charity and a local favorite.
“The marathon has a minimum of $4,000 for every charity runner. But the One Fund bumps that up to $8,000 per runner, so we have to raise that much, and we’re obviously encouraged to raise more than that. My personal goal was ten, and I met that goal at a Groton Board of Trade meeting two weeks ago. I told them that I was only $200 from meeting that goal, and they made sure I made that goal before I left that night,” she said.
A “Spring Gala” dance at the Groton Pool and Golf Center raised $2,000.
Mead’s fundraising Web page, www.crowdrise.com/rachaelmead , showed her at $12,460 when this post was published. Online donations are encouraged, she said, with a smile.
Like many Boston Marathoners, she’s treating the route with respect, especially notorious “Heartbreak Hill, because of where it falls. I’ve run the hills in Newton and they’re not actually difficult hills, but because they fall right around mile 19, mile 19, 21, 22, is right where your body kind of hits that wall — that’s why they’re Heartbreak Hill. It’s not that they’re so steep, especially after training in Groton, we have lots of hills, much steeper than the ones in Newton.”
Mead invited Groton residents to root for her as she runs on April 21. She wrote in an email: “The athlete alert link is: http://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/participant-information/att-athlete-alert.aspx, or people would either text my bib number, 31934, to 345678. Either way they would get updates when I pass the 10K, Half, 30K (18.6 miles) and the finish.”