“My road back to Boston went through Ventura”

As a college student in the city, I made running the Boston Marathon for a charity team a before-graduation goal. On April 16, 2007, I checked that goal off the list, and in the process caught the marathon bug. 4:25:31. My very first marathon. I remember being in tears. Tears of accomplishment, yes; but mostly of pain.

Later that year I ran Chicago (4:27:15), and then work and life took me from Boston to San Diego. After taking a few years to settle in, I decided to make a push to qualify for Boston at the 2010 San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon. I had the race every runner has nightmares about: I bonked at mile 16 and never recovered. 4:12:55. I was devastated. Maybe marathons weren’t for me. And so I retired from marathon running.

April 15, 2013. Even living in San Diego, Marathon Monday still held a special place in my heart. Boston is the kind of city that stays with you. The people, the pride, the tradition, the excitement are unforgettable. Marathon Monday is a day unlike any other. Like countless other Bostonians and runners, the effect of that particular Monday tore through me. But the resilience and unity the city and community showed in the days, weeks, and months after inspired me, not only as a runner, but as a person.

Later that summer I became intrigued with this phenomenon taking over my Facebook newsfeed from Boston, the November Project. The November Project is a free, open-to-the-public exercise group founded in 2011. Started with a couple of Northeastern crew alumni friends meeting for a cross training workout, the movement quickly grew across four time zones. Project November uses a simple sense of accountability to motivate and encourage people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and fitness levels to get out of their beds and get moving. It is a community dedicated to free fitness, but more importantly dedicated to each other. To having fun, to removing people from their cell phones and treadmills, and to encouraging real, live human interaction, mainly through sweat, high fives, hugs, and a few enthusiastic F-yeahs!

I knew I had to bring this to San Diego.

Leading and growing November Project has introduced me to countless inspirational and supportive people. Prior to the 2014 Boston Marathon, I wrote a blog post for November Project about my love affair with the city of Boston. And I vowed I would be back in 2015 to run the marathon. The quest to qualify was born.

November Project – A gathering of the San Diego tribe

When discussing qualifying for Boston, people always focus on the training, on how many miles and how fast you need to run for all those months leading up to your race. Yes, this is all true and is undeniably important, but never underestimate the importance of a strong support system. In the five months between declaring my BQ goal and running the Ventura Marathon, I have felt the strength of my friends, family, and November Project tribe every step of the way. And knowing they were just as invested in my success as I was carried me through those notoriously difficult last 6.2 miles.

As I clicked that registration button for Boston 2015 early on Monday morning, thanks to my 3:13:48 marathon on the previous Sunday, I cried again. This time thankful, joyful, excited tears.

Boston, I’m coming back.

Lauren Padula
Boston, Massachusetts
April 16, 2007
Age – 22
Bib # 19871

San Diego, California
April 20, 2015
Age – 30
Bib # 8955