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626. Michele Blackburn, Boston Marathon Bombing Survivor

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“It never really crossed my mind to feel limited. It never really crossed my mind to be like, ‘What can’t I do now?’ I always focused on, ‘What can I do under different circumstances?’ It never crossed my mind to focus on couldn’t.”

If the name Michele Blackburn sounds familiar, that may be because you’ve heard it mentioned here on the Ali on the Run Show before — just about one year ago, in fact. Last year, Peloton instructor Jess Sims completed the Boston Marathon, running with an invitational entry from, you guessed it: Michele Blackburn. In 2013, Michele was at the Boston Marathon finish line cheering for her best friend and roommate. She was standing in front of Marathon Sports on Boylston Street when the two bombs detonated, and almost lost both legs as a result. Ultimately, her surgical team was able to save her legs and feet, but she has dealt with extensive surgeries (including skin grafting) and complications (including, more recently, lymphedema) since then.

For years, Michele avoided the Boston Marathon and the finish line. Last year, she returned to Boylston Street for the first time since 2013, to cheer Jess into the finish. This year, 10 years after that tragic day in Boston, Michele will return again: this time, as a marathoner. In this conversation, Michele talks about her decision to run this year’s race, and to do it while raising money for the Milford Regional Healthcare System — the hospital that rehabbed her after dealing with lymphedema as a result of the bombings. Michele lives in Uxbridge, MA, with her husband and their two kids, ages 4 and 6.

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What you’ll get on this episode:

  • How Michele is feeling as she begins her Boston Marathon taper (2:45)
  • Michele talks about being at the Boston Marathon finish line in 2013 (6:10)
  • On dealing with survivor’s guilt (24:40)
  • How the 2013 bombings affected Michele’s relationship with the marathon and the city of Boston (28:30)
  • All about Jim (30:15)
  • How Michele got connected with Jess Sims, and what the 2022 Boston Marathon experience was like (39:25)
  • Why Michele resists the “runner” title, and how she went from non-runner to soon-to-be marathoner (51:40)
  • The why: Why Michele is running the 2023 Boston Marathon (1:00:55)
  • How Michele fits running and marathon training into her life (1:09:30)
  • On finding closure since 2013 (1:14:35)

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