Maritza Ebling ’12 runs at a steady clip in her Brooks Dyade 6 shoes and her new black spandex, holding her head straight and keeping an even pace, one that will need to last her a total of 26.2 miles when she runs the Boston Marathon this April 18.
“I go from being ‘I can totally do this’ to being a little terrified,” Ebling said. “Right now I’m at 17 miles in my training. I’ve done one 17-mile run…I’m running another 17 mile run this weekend. I feel pretty good because most training plans max at 18 to 22 [miles]. They say if you can run 18 you can run the full. I feel good about my training. I think it will be hard because the Boston Marathon has a huge hill called Heartbreak Hill at mile 18.”
Ebling, a native of Newton, Mass., the location of Heartbreak Hill, let me tag along for what she describes as a warm-up run—the shorter run she takes before she stretches and actually starts running for a much longer stretch. By the end of this short jog, I was exhausted and developing a side cramp, and Ebling hadn’t even broken a sweat. While we ran, Ebling, a Math and Neuroscience major, told me that on her solo runs she thinks about theoretical math and calling friends she hasn’t spoken to in a while.
“I usually just run to Miller’s Pond and back and then add a couple of miles or take off a few miles,” Ebling said. “I’ve gotten lost a couple of times. That’s always fun. I stop and ring a doorbell and I’m like ‘Where am I? How do I get back?’”
A runner since middle school, Ebling has completed a half-marathon but never a full 26.2-mile marathon. But Ebling isn’t running the world’s oldest annual marathon to win it, like Ambrose Burfoot ’68 did as an undergraduate. She is running in memory of her cousin Sophia—who died when she was a little over a year old—and to raise donations for The Children’s Room.
“The Children’s Room provides support for grieving children and families who’ve lost a family member for the Boston area, and it is pretty much the only organization of its type,” Ebling said. “They have group sessions and the kids get to be with other kids who’ve lost siblings, or there are kids who’ve lost parents and the parents get to talk to other families who’ve lost kids or other spouses who’ve lost a spouse. They have different groups. I think one of the most remarkable things about it is that they don’t turn anyone down. It’s all need-blind. No one is expected to pay any money.”
When Ebling was a freshman in high school, her cousin Sophia died from Sudden Unexplained Death in Children (SUDC), and Ebling saw how the death affected her family and Sophia’s older sister Isabelle.
“It’s amazing the stigma that is associated with talking about tragedies,” Ebling said. “In class my little cousin would say something like ‘my dead sister’ and people would be like ‘Shh, don’t talk about it,’ and teachers would say, ‘Please don’t say anything,’ and parents would call my aunt and be like, ‘We don’t want her coming to our house because she is talking about her dead sister,’ and that’s hard. What is a child supposed to do when all they know is that their sister is gone? It [The Children’s Room] was a great place for her, and, having seen that, it makes me value the organization.”
So when the opportunity to run in the Boston Marathon, with three other members making up the team representing The Children’s Room presented itself, Ebling didn’t hesitate. Ebling has already raised $3,000 towards her goal of $7,500, which would support five children in the program for a year each.
“I love running and I feel great after I run,” Ebling said.
As the captain of the sailing team, a member of the ski team, and an avid biker, Ebling is used to working out. She started training over a month and a half ago and admits to scheduling her classes around her running. On Tuesdays and Thursdays Ebling will usually go for a long run. On other days she runs about eight miles and does cross-training. For Christmas, Ebling got a stationary bike that now sits in her LoRise living room.
“It’s like Maritza’s locker room down there,” said housemate Rachel Cohen ’12.
Cohen, who is a member of Wesleyan’s swim team, plans to watch Ebling run in Boston, but before then she’s keeping Ebling company on some longer runs.
“Now that Maritza has been training more she eats almost as much as I do,” Cohen said. When I asked how much food that is, Cohen laughed and said, “A lot. We go through food pretty quickly in our house.”
Grad student Rosemary Ostfeld has been able to keep pace with Ebling on shorter runs of about three to six miles.
“She’s a much better runner than I am,” Ostfeld said with a laugh. “I think I just sort of keep her company. But it’s really great to train with someone else and I’ve had a lot of fun running with her.”
Ebling is hoping to finish the Marathon in four to four and a half hours. She has already planned the evening before the Marathon.
“I’m going to have a big spaghetti dinner with my parents and then I’m going to try and fall asleep and I’m probably going to be pretty anxious,” she said.
Right now Ebling’s biggest fear is getting sick or injured before the Marathon or while on the course. She has already started picturing the finish line.
“I’m going to skip classes Monday [the day of the Marathon] and then probably cry a little Tuesday and then come back [to Wesleyan] Tuesday night,” Ebling said. “I won’t cry but I might be in a little pain, and I’ll be happy.”
To donate towards Maritza’s goal visit http://childrensroom.org.