01 Oct Amber’s Journey to the Boston Marathon
BY AMBER POWELL, STELLAFLY ATHLETE
I still remember when I decided I wanted to be a runner. I was riding in the car with my mom and saw a group of alma college cross country runners running by the golf course. I asked my mom what they were doing and she said “they’re probably on the cross country team.” And I said “I want to do that.”
I signed up for cross country in sixth grade without a clue as to what I was getting myself into. It was SO HARD, but I was thin as a rail and stubborn as an ox. I didn’t want to run in high school because I thought a 5k was “too far.” But a little coaxing from my parents and coach Audra Dale Devine, and I decided to go for it.
Four years of high school cross country and track. Eight state finals appearances and multiple early Saturday morning races got me hooked and I went on to run for Saginaw Valley State University while pursuing my nursing degree.
It wasn’t until after my collegiate career that I started to realize what running meant to me; to my life, my health and my mental well being. I took some time off from competitive racing, but then that stubbornness kicked in and I was right back in it. Participating in road races over here in Grand Rapids and pushing the limits just a bit further.
I never thought I’d run a marathon, but I had worked with an incredible doctor at Metro who began to spark my interest in the distance. “Go for that BQ” he told me. I had NO IDEA what that even meant. I had heard of the Boston Marathon, but it was all new to me.
In 2013, I ran the Grand Rapids Marathon and hit my Boston qualification time by 11 minutes. I swore at the end of that race that I’d never do another marathon.
I had qualified but never went. We went on to have children and I continued running/racing even with babies in my belly and 5 months post partum. I took a break from races for about five years until I met Betsy, who is now my best friend. She has had a huge influence on my desire to keep pushing my limits and pursuing greatness.
I guess the one thing I’d add is that I ran my first marathon for my grandpa who was battling cancer. I wore a bracelet I made with his favorite colors so I could look down on it during the race and remember my “why” when I got tired. He always told me his biggest regret in life was letting himself get out of shape and made me promise him to keep running. He ended up passing away that next February. Now I run with an angel wing necklace around my neck in his honor. A lot of my inspiration also comes from my former high school coach. He knew me in middle school and talked me into running in high school. He has always been so special to me in many different ways! He would yell “it’s AC/DC time!” because I listened to AC/DC prior to every race. He retired this year because of health concerns. He is being inducted into the Hall of Fame at my high school on October 21. I raced and won the Rivertown Half Marathon in 2022 in his honor.
I did what I swore I’d never do again last November and ran another marathon in Indianapolis and even with an injury I hit my BQ by one minute exactly. Thankfully, that wasn’t enough for me. I went on to run the Bayshore Marathon last spring and hit my BQ by 30 minutes, and now I’ve OFFICIALLY been accepted into the Boston Marathon 2024!