When my friends and colleagues first found out about my plan to run the Boston Marathon, most of them couldn’t believe it. Comments like “Did you lose a bet?”, “You’re not a runner.”, “You’re insane!”, or (friendly) laughs were common reactions.
And I can relate to the skepticism – ever since I came to Boston in October 2013 to pursue my PhD research in inner ear biology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear (PI Konstantina Stankovic), I simply haven’t had the time to maintain a regular workout routine. I have prioritized my work, which often begins prior to sunrise and ends after sunset, and this schedule does not exactly increase my motivation to go for a run (in the dark). My longest formal run so far has been a 5K that was actually more of a ridiculous music festival than a race (advertised as the “World’s 1st Running Music Festival”).
However, prior to entering university, I used to be in a club for pretty much any sport that you can think of: football (“soccer”), tennis, table tennis, basketball, golf, skiing, you name it. And while studying in Paris for a year, I even managed to keep up a regular jogging schedule (which also might have had to do with the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg, situated less than a mile from my apartment). But I encountered my toughest physical challenges after graduation from medical school. As a military doctor in the Austrian army, I had to run around with an automatic rifle and extremely heavy backpack in six feet (~2 m) of snow in the Alps close to the highest military base in Europe (6000 ft ~ 2000 m). Challenges like this taught me how to persevere in extremely difficult situations, and I think I will benefit from these experiences in the next few months.
Although I applied for Team Eye and Ear in October 2017, it took until January 2018 for my acceptance to be confirmed, which now motivates me even more to pursue an intense training schedule and finish the Boston Marathon (ideally in an acceptable time). After the defense of my PhD degree in September 2017, I am currently completing several research projects and am then planning to return to Europe shortly after the Marathon. Since the research community here at Mass. Eye and Ear has helped me out so many times, I would like to use one of my last opportunities to give something back to them by raising funds for the amazing research that is happening here every day and that I have had the privilege to be a part of. In addition, I have wanted to run a marathon my whole life, as both of my parents are marathon runners as well. Signing up for Team Eye and Ear allows me to pursue these goals and make my dream come true.
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