Running for Boston in Pittsburgh

USA TODAY Sports

I never really had a hometown.

Born in North Dakota, I grew up a military brat and lived in Nebraska, Germany, Alaska and Virginia. I'm not really "from" anywhere. Through all the packing and moving and new schools and new languages, there was one constant: the city of Boston.

With parents from there, and a vast majority of my extended family still calling the greater Boston area home, it quickly became a home for me, too. Vacations, summer trips, birthdays, weddings, funerals -- they've all brought me back to Boston at one point or another.

My first-ever baseball game was at Fenway Park, where my grandfather worked for the Red Sox. My parents tell stories of run-ins with John Havlicek while out for dinner. I spent an internship working for the Patriots, holding the parabolic mic during training camp practices.

It was the first city I could somewhat navigate without a map. I loved the confidence when I took friends from Faneuil Hall to the North End. Or argued that Regina's was the best piece of pizza in the city. Or when I explained to them what a frappe is when eating lunch at Bartley's in Harvard Square. (Yes, like most of my trips, visits to Boston quickly came to revolve around food.)

North Dakota, Nebraska, Germany, Alaska, Virginia, Connecticut, DC -- that bit of Boston has always been with me no matter where I've lived.

It's not too surprising, really, that one of my favorite childhood memories comes from driving toward my grandmother's house in Arlington, heading east on Route 2, and watching the Boston skyline rise out of the horizon as we drew closer

1024px-boston_skyline_panorama_dusk_medium

via Wiki Commons

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When Dick's Sporting Goods invited me to the Pittsburgh Half Marathon a couple months back, I quickly accepted -- the distance fit in nicely with my already-planned triathlon training, I'd never been to Pittsburgh, and I genuinely liked their message in the #RunFor campaign:

True stories of triumph, loss, friendship, redemption, and the simple love of running. Every runner has a reason. What's yours?

For weeks now, I've been sharing those inspirational stories in video posts, from Julia Chase's #RunFor joy to Dick and Rick Hoyt's #RunFor those who can't. But then I had to find my own reason.

As one of the social ambassadors for the race, I was asked what I wanted my reason for running to say on my race shirt. What was my #RunFor?

Ultimately I landed on "Relief." Relief from stress. Relief from anxiety, and depression. Relief from sitting in front of the Internet too much every day. Relief from the tacos and beers I plan to have for dinner. But then the attacks at the Boston Marathon happend. And suddenly "relief" took on a whole different meaning.

So come Sunday, when I toe the start line (read: stand somewhere within a few hundred yards of the start line), my 13.1 miles in the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon will be a #RunFor Boston. For the relief of those affected, or injured, or worse, by the attacks, and their families, and a city as a whole, doing its best to push forward to brighter days.

And Pittsburgh will become the newest city to which I've brought my memories, and thoughts, and feelings of Boston.

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