“I’m gonna run my first marathon with you, Miss Moo!” This quote from Martin Richard was the reason that in 2014 Rachel Moo was standing at the start line of her first marathon. Rachel, a schoolteacher in Boston, MA, had made a promise to her student that she would run her first marathon with him once he turned 18. That student was Martin, who tragically lost his life at eight years old during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings that took place the year before. When people hear the term “running for something bigger than themselves”, many never inquire about what “bigger” really means. Rachel’s story is an example of why we should always ask the next question, prod at the deeper meaning, and truly understand someone’s “bigger”.
When Martin passed away in 2013, Rachel knew that her first marathon would come a lot sooner than she had expected. She felt honored to be a part of Team MR8, a fundraising running team set up by Martin’s parents that is now a part of the wider Martin Richard Foundation.
While many runners remember the physical pain of their first marathon, it’s often easy to forget the emotions felt during the race, forgotten once the end is in sight and the runner’s high kicks in to carry them over the finish line. For Rachel, she was much more focused on the energy and emotion in Boston that day than she was on her physical feelings; “I had nothing to compare it to, so [physically] it felt fine. I was tired, but I think since there was so much emotion in the city and around that marathon in general…when I think back to that day, I don’t quite remember the pain. I remember being tired, but there was so much other stuff going on for me. It was like nothing else I’ve experienced. My experience was so emotionally charged.”
Rachel was a Division I college swimmer at Syracuse University and had previously described herself as “not meant for land” after admitting that she was often the slowest runner on her swim team during cross training. She never expected that completing the 2014 Boston Marathon in honor of Martin would lead to many more marathons, but that’s exactly what happened. She has now run a total of seven Boston Marathons, in addition to two New York City Marathons, Chicago Marathon, Big Sur Marathon, Berlin Marathon and London Marathon. And she’s not stopping there. She ultimately has her sights set on Tokyo, too, which will mean she’ll have completed all six majors and will earn her six stars.
While it might be tragedy that first brought her into the running community, she says it is the ever-enduring bond and camaraderie of that community—as well as honoring Martin’s memory—that has kept her in the sport. “I ran Chicago and New York for Team MR8 and part of the joy, part of the journey, was discovering the running community.” She says this community is one of her stand-out memories from her first Boston Marathon, the sheer number of people who came out to support her, as well as every person who lined up at the start line on that emotionally heightened day.
Rachel’s running community has helped her with every aspect of the sport, from training and gear to shoes and fueling. Yet she admits that it’s hydration where she still remains unsure of what exactly she should be doing to help maximize performance. “I’m trying to be more conscious about the whole ‘when you’re thirsty it’s too late’ concept and how to best get ahead of that.” She says in the summer she is particularly aware that she’s sweating a lot, getting dehydrated, and trying to stay on top of hydration as best she can. “It’s one of those things where I know I should be more thoughtful about it (hydration), but I don’t quite know how to measure it,” she admits. Like many other athletes, Rachel has struggled to gauge how she should be consuming electrolytes. “Dialing in electrolytes will be a big thing for me. As I’m training and using Nix, I look forward to figuring out how many electrolytes I need and which drinks are best for me.”
Nix hopes to help athletes like Rachel—and so many others—focus on their goals around training and racing with the confidence that their hydration levels are being measured properly. For Rachel, these goals aren’t just about training, but also staying true to Martin’s legacy. She says: “His legacy, for me, is always being open to possibility, he never saw anything as being a barrier, he thought anything was possible because he viewed the world as accepting and kind. I always try to remember that child-like world of endless possibility when I’m facing challenges.” As you continue to try to find your something “bigger”, think of Martin, think of Rachel, think of breaking barriers and think of endless possibilities.