For Hailey Kobza, MCAS’ 20, running the Boston Marathon is something of a family tradition.
“My family has received five bids from the Gavin Foundation to run the marathon. My aunt has ran it twice, my dad has ran it once, and this will be my second time running it.”
The Kobzas have a close relationship with the organization after personal tragedy inspired them to get involved.
“My uncle passed away from an opioid addiction. Ever since, my family has been involved with the Gavin Foundation doing fundraisers and donations.”
The organization is a small non-profit in South Boston that provides substance abuse education, prevention, and treatment programs for at risk communities. While the tragedy has been tough on their family, the Boston Marathon has had the power of pulling them all together. In last year’s marathon, Kobza recalls seeing even her extended family lining the streets cheering her on.
“I was just passing on mile three, and my mom’s uncle comes up next to me cheering, ‘Hailey you’re doing so great!’” And while she was humored by how early in the race he was inspiring her, she felt overjoyed as it was her first time seeing him in three years.
Most of her family is from Massachusetts, and having Kobza in the race gets them even more excited for the festivities. Her family strategically places themselves along the miles to continue to provide encouragement for Hailey throughout the marathon.
She notes that her mom and dad “hopped from different miles going from 2 to 14 and then the finish line.” Meanwhile, her cousins and aunts were all waiting at the end of the infamous Heartbreak Hill.
In fact, Kobza is a contrarian when it comes to Heartbreak Hill. For her, the energy her family and BC friends bring when she is running past the Heights overcome any fear of the daunting hills.
“Everyone is so enthusiastic,” she says, “even students who recognize you from class just give you all their energy.”
While the energy her family and friends gave her made last year’s experience unforgettable, it isn’t the only reason she’ll be running for a second time.
“The weather last year was so bad, and for as great as it was, I was kind of disappointed that that was the marathon I had to run. So, I [decided], I’ll [run] it again and hope I get some sunshine this time.”
For her, the weather didn’t just make it unpleasant to run it, but it also made her miss her goal time by 30 minutes.
Kobza is using this as motivation.
“My primary goal is to beat my time from last year, but my secondary goal is to beat my predicted time from last year," she said.
Kobza knocks on wood and laughs, suggesting that reaching her primary goal shouldn’t be too hard to reach assuming the weather is on her side this year.
Kobza notes that she is goal oriented, and having a monumental event like the marathon in her life provides structure and purpose outside of just school. To reach her goal, she hasn’t changed her approach from last year. She starts the week with shorter runs, and ends with long runs on Sundays.
There’s one major difference in her training this year, and it has nothing to do with regimen. Rather, she’s missing her friend and running partner Melissa, who ran the marathon with her last year.
“On my last run, I just got so bored. I just needed someone to talk to.” She knows, however, that “on race day, people will be everywhere” and their energy will keep her going.
To adjust to her solo approach this year, she’s become more dedicated to her running playlist. She’s ready to clean it out because she hasn’t made changes to it since sophomore year.
“Some of the songs on the playlist are so slow, and I just ask myself ‘why did I ever put this on there.’” She says there will also be strategy in the order she places it, making sure she times more up-beat songs for stretches where she imagines she’ll need some boosts of energy.
Kobza looks forward to finishing the marathon again and celebrating in a similar fashion.
“Last year I got a burger from Cityside with my family. I pretty much just ate like a lot,” she says with a laugh.
This year, she and her family are trying to decide whether to join the after-marathon festivities in Fenway Park.
Either way, she knows that it’ll be a day to remember.
To help her with her donations to the Gavin Foundation, Kobza has hosted Super Bowl squares, a March Madness Bracket Challenge, and coordinated a fundraiser with Chipotle. You can donate to her cause on her Crowdrise page.