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A Major Lesson in Overcoming Fear

April 15, 2019

Inspiration and wisdom on Boston Marathon Monday for women entrepreneurs, women in sports, businesswomen

I am going to teach you about fear today because I had to overcome it to experience one of the best days of my life.

In 2013, my son was a junior at Boston College. He had the day off of school since it was Patriot’s Day and the state proclaimed the day a state holiday. I knew he would be watching the marathon somewhere along the route but didn’t know where. Boston College is at the top of Heart Break Hill at the 20 mile mark in the 26.2 mile race but BC students are urged that day to perform community service and support the runners so he could have been at the finish line. I had no idea where.

As the text messages came in about the bombing, I frantically tried calling him to no avail. I left him messages to call me back immediately. Others who knew he was in school in Boston were reaching out to me. I had no answer for them. Within the hour, my son texted me saying he was safe and on campus cheering not at the finish line. Relieved I told him to be very careful.

Although he was safe, my motherly heart wasn’t settled until I saw him so the next day I drove to Boston to see him for myself and take him to dinner. They hadn’t found the bombers yet so as him and I waited for dinner in Legal Seafood, our favorite restaurant, we saw the news identify and share images of the suspects wearing baseball hats. As Thomas and I drove to our hotel with an extra eye to the streets, we checked into the hotel safely.

At 6 a.m. we woke up to a phone call from my son’s girlfriend telling us to turn on the television to catch the updates of the search and story of the suspect hiding in a boat very close to the hotel we were staying at. I called the hotel front desk to double check that we could check out since the entire area was on shutdown. She said, “Yes you have to leave, we have other customers checking in.” I was shocked and said, “Well can we wait for a couple hours because I don’t want to be driving around when the suspects are on the loose around this neighborhood?” She gave us two hours. No one was caught in two hours.

As I drove down the desolate highway to Boston College, with not a single car on the road, I didn’t think it was right to be on the streets; but my son insisted on going back to his dorm. I’m not sure I was the smartest mom at the time now looking back. As I dropped him off at the barren campus, I noticed how dead quiet the scene was at the moment. If you know Boston or its surrounding areas, it is never quiet. Spooked and slightly mad at him for not coming home with me, I drove off watching Boston disappear in the backdrop of my mirror.

By 8 p.m. when I returned home, the ordeal was over. They found the one suspect and my son was safely in his dorm room. I was worn out and made him promise me to not go back downtown until he came home for the summer. Fear had griped my heart.

A year later, I also made him promise me to stay away from the Boston Marathon because I didn’t trust the safety of the bomb event. Fear is irrational and my mother’s brain was living in it. So it surprised everyone in 2016 when I decided to train for the Boston Marathon. The words “When you are fearless, you are free Tracy” from Kathrine Switzer, eased my nerves, tested my will and sent me running with her and 100 other women in the 2017 Boston Marathon. I had to overcome the fear of terrorism.

I am proud of many things that April 17th day – my medal, my tenacity, the people of Boston, the policemen who protected us, the fearlessness of runners and the people that watched them run and myself for not giving into fear.

My friend is right. There is freedom in fearlessness. I hope you remember it the next time you face fear in business, sports or life. As one of my favorite quotes says, “She rises beyond all limits.”

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