Boston Marathon: Becky Vander Sluis

This year’s Boston Marathon took place on April 20.

Long before that rainy morning, Becky Vander Sluis was preparing to run the Boston Marathon. Following a weekly training schedule and being attentive to the need for proper nutrition, Vander Sluis trained for a year while attending Central Michigan University full time and working two jobs.

Vander Sluis was a three sport athlete in high school, and she was on her way to having an athletic scholarship to college when she broke her foot and was unable to compete in sports. It was at this point that she decided to run the Boston Marathon one day, knowing that it would not be mentally or physically easy to qualify for the world’s most prestigious marathon. A resident of Michigan, Vander Sluis ran the Grand Rapids Marathon in order to qualify for Boston, and last week she traveled to the city to make this dream come true.

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On the day of the Marathon, Vander Sluis kept a steady, fast pace throughout the 26.2 miles. In an email, she described the day as being emotional, beginning with a mix of feelings at the start line. It was also physically difficult, and she felt intense pain in her legs running up the hills, yet she felt grateful for her body for continuing to carry her through the race.

In an email, Vander Sluis said: “Right when I finished I was literally overwhelmed with emotions. I was in shock that it was done, that I made it across the finish line, and grateful for all the support the city of Boston provided. The whole race was lined with people cheering every runner on and all of the volunteers along the race made it so great. I can’t even express how much support there was. The marathon is so much more than running; it was the awesome community of support, the determined runner who finished after 20 hours in the rain, and the memory of the ones who died in the Boston bombing. I can’t even express how humbled I am to run the Marathon.”

In the video above, Vander Sluis runs by in a maroon and yellow shirt.

Photo courtesy: Instagram @TheFreshSluis
Photo courtesy: Instagram @TheFreshSluis

Her friend Taylar surprised her by coming to Boston to cheer her on. Along with the city of Boston’s residents and volunteers, Vander Sluis had the support of her family and best friend.

After finishing the Marathon and returning home to Michigan, she felt sore yet–in her typical determined, optimistic, and athletic fashion–she took a hot yoga class three days later, and four days later did some cycling at the gym. In addition to a few shorter races, she is doing a triathlon this summer. Vander Sluis will graduate in a few weeks to begin life’s next great adventure.

Despite any physical or mental difficulties that came with training, Vander Sluis said that she would do it all again. She was inspired by the volunteers and by her fellow runners. “Simply put, this is what it means when you hear Boston Strong,” she said. “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

This is the true essence of what it means to run this marathon with heart, and like all of the other finishers this year, Vander Sluis showed that she is indeed Boston Strong.

View a Storify of Emmanuel journalists’ reports on the Boston Marathon.

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