By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Westborough – When Susan Smith, director of administration for the Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Reinsurance Plan, was asked to participate on the Boston Marathon Team with Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's “Team in Training” program, she thought that it would be too hard, too time-consuming and surely too difficult. But, when she heard that the team would be running in honor and support of 5-year-old twins, one of whom just completed treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), she had no doubt that she could do it.
“If this little boy had the courage, endurance and stamina to face the challenges of chemotherapy and other rigorous treatments,” Smith said, “then surely I could manage the challenges of training for the Boston Marathon.”
Smith, who has never run a marathon before, officially began training with Team in Training in December 2011. There are officially 135 runners on the Boston Marathon LLS team, including two coaches and various mentors and volunteers.
“The training week starts with a long run with the team out of Wellesley. The routes alternate from heading west towards Framingham and east through Newton. The neat thing is that we train on the actual Boston Marathon course, including the hills of Newton and the infamous Heartbreak Hill. Beyond the Saturday training, we run two to three additional runs independently, including track and hill workouts. We also cross-train two to three times per week and, thankfully, have one day off to rest,” said Smith of her training regimen.
So far, the team has progressed from three- mile runs to, recently, nearly 16 miles. Training has taught Smith that she needs to stretch as much as she runs. In addition, she said, she has learned about the wonders of the ice bath.
Training for the Marathon is about so much more than the running for Smith. To be able to participate as a member of the LLS team and help those whose lives have been touched by blood cancers is the heart of what keeps her pushing forward.
“Each week we have a “Mission Moment” before our weekly long training runs which reinforce the reasons we are all running and fundraising. We have heard from team members who are themselves survivors, as well as team members who have lost parents, siblings and even children to blood cancers. Each one is emotional and heartbreaking, particularly one “Mission Moment” presented by a young couple who lost their 5-week-old son, Tucker, to infant leukemia last fall.
“I am honored and proud to be part of an organization doing such important work,” Smith said.
Smith will be raising funds to help find cures and better treatments for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma. As part of her fundraising efforts, she has organized a bottle and can drive in partnership with Julio's Liquors, 140 Turnpike Road, Westborough. Supporters are asked to take bottles and cans to Julio's redemption center from Feb. 21 through March 5 and donate the receipt to the LLS (there are boxes on the wall for receipts). Julio's will match all donations between these dates.
“I's improving the quality of my life by participating and with your support,” Smith said. “I can help improve the quality of life for patients and their families as well.”
To read more about Smith's training and her inspirations to keep going visit