By Tim Morris |
SHREWSBURY – Marathon runners are tough. Shrewsbury’s Tracey McGee took toughness to a new level when she ran in and finished the 2016 Boston Marathon despite suffering from a hip stress fracture.
“Runners are a different breed,” she pointed out.
McGee’s travails in Boston did come with a reward. She will be running in the TCS New York City Marathon on Nov. 5 with 95 other tough-minded runners as part of Michelob’s Team ULTRA.
A ticket to the TCS New York City Marathon is extremely difficult. There are so many applicants for one of the 50,000 slots that a lottery is held each year (more applications are denied than accepted). Team ULTA is providing another way for runners to get into the country’s largest marathon.
Michelob ULTRA created Team ULTRA as a way to reward dedicated runners who have gone the extra mile overcoming adversity. Team ULTRA believes they deserve a chance to run in the marathon and have 95 positions open to runners whose stories are the most inspiring.
McGee’s gallant Boston Marathon run made it a no-brainer for Team ULTRA select her to be one of its team members for 2017.
“It’s incredible to have been picked for the team,” said McGee. “It’s an honor to be associated with this group of everyday people. For me it’s about recognizing and rewarding those who have overcome struggles. I like that Team ULTRA celebrates people who go the extra mile.”
As for running through the five boroughs of New York City the Shrewsbury runner called it “an amazing race through an amazing city.”
If someone had come up to McGee 10 years ago and told her she would run both the Boston and New York marathons, her answer would be “no way.”
But that changed when her twin boys, Jack and Ryan, were born three-months premature.
“I had never been a runner,” she explained. “It was never part of my DNA. I had two sick babies and running was a way to relieve stress. I never knew where it would lead.”
Jack and Ryan are now 9 and healthy and among mom’s biggest fans.
Once she caught the running fever eight years ago, McGee went straight to the most challenging, the 26.2-mile marathon.
“I’m a very competitive,” she pointed out.
Thus, her first race wasn’t a short 5K but, a half-marathon at Sandy Hook. She then moved up to her first marathon, the Marine Corp in Washington, DC.
That would lead to Boston 2016.
Four weeks before the April race, she first started feeling pain in her hip and groin area. She put it down to something muscular. Besides, she was tapering for the race and cutting back on her mileage. The pain was manageable.
Despite the discomfort, McGee was going to Boston.
“I was absolutely going to the starting line,” she said. “I’m very stubborn and goal-oriented.”
So there she was in Hopkington at the starting line to compete in the historic marathon pain or no pain.
Things didn’t start out well and only got progressively worse for her.
“I knew I wasn’t feeling great,” she recalled.
At mile 20, the crest of Heartbreak Hill, the pain was becoming unbearable, but, McGee was going to finish those last six agonizing downhill miles to Boyleston Street no matter what.
“You don’t get off the course in Boston,” she explained. “Once I start something, I finish it. It’s who I am. I’m persistent and never give up.
“I hobbled and cried the last six miles,” she continued. “I knew I was going to the emergency room. Right after the finish line they put me in an ambulance.”
Massachusetts General was the next stop for McGee and she was informed there that she had a stress fracture in her hip. Surgery would follow when she returned to New Jersey in May.
She took her first baby running steps in late July and by October she was back to full-time training and ready to race again.
It wasn’t sheer willpower alone that carried McGee to the finish line in Boston.
When McGee races, she raises funds for charities like Hope for Warriors (for families of fallen service members) and Project Purple (a pancreatic cancer research and advocacy organization).
“One of my joys in life is raising money for people who are less fortunate than I am,” she explained. “I love doing it.”
Like any dedicated athlete, McGee’s is a team effort. She has to balance being a wife (husband Keith), mother of three (10-year-old Connor and twins Jack and Ryan) and her career as a buyer for TJ Maxx.
She’s up by 4 a.m. and out on the roads training by 5.
“I’ve been very blessed, very fortunate to have family support,” she said.
Before New York, McGee, who makes her long run workout on Saturdays, will run the Chicago Marathon in October as her final tune for the big race with Team ULTRA.
For more information on Team ULTRA go to www.JoinTeamULTRA.com.
This article was first published in the Aug. 17-24, 2017 print edition of the Two River Times
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