Rebecca Brain of Hanson ran the 2018 Boston Marathon for Ironstone Farm in Andover.
When Rebecca Brain second-guessed running the Boston Marathon or contemplated stopping nearly midway through the race, she got the extra motivation she needed to persist — one way or another.
The 23-year old Brain was one of two runners representing Ironstone Farm, a working farm in Andover that provides beneficial therapy using horses for people with a wide range of physical, emotional and cognitive disabilities. After applying to a bevy of charities in November, Brain was selected as one of Ironstone’s runners in February after a visit to the farm.
“Seeing the farm itself definitely made it more real and more exciting when I found out they had accepted me to run,” Brain explained. “When they called me after I visited and told me they would love to have me run, it was super exciting. I went and told my mom and all that and I went for a run that day too, and I think I just smiled the entire run.”
It’s a cause that touches close to home for the Hanson native.
“I’ve had family members with Down syndrome,” Brain said. “My aunt had breast cancer, my grandfather had cancer. I have family members who could have definitely utilized their organization.”
With the Boston Marathon less than two months away at the time, Brain had to kick her training — which consisted of hill climbs in Newton on Tuesdays and longer runs in Boston on Saturdays — into full gear. Brain felt ready to go, but things changed when she looked at the weather forecast.
“I was talking to my mom the Saturday before and I was just really, really nervous about everything and the weather conditions were getting me down,” Brain explained.
So, what kept her going?
“Sunday before the race I went for the last quick run just keep my muscles loose and in my head I was thinking these people who utilize Ironstone, they have a lifetime of struggles,” Brain said, “so I can have an uncomfortable five-hour run ahead of me and in those five hours I can experience sort of the daily struggles that these other people go through.”
The day of the Boston Marathon was something Brain could have never imagined. Frigid winds and torrential downpours put a damper on her 4:30 finishing goal. At mile 15, she nearly quit.
“I was just in a pretty rare state and my mom, my aunt, my grandmother and a bunch of other family members were waiting for me right at the Welcome to Newton sign,” Brain said, “right at mile 16 and my uncle was there with them and he ran in 2003 or 2004 [and] he jumped in with me and ran until the Newton firehouse and he was super motivational and was like, ‘You got this, you got this.’
“That was a super important time because I was really feeling it at mile 15 and wanted to be done, but he pushed me to keep me going.”
Brain finished in 5:10.14. More importantly, she has raised about $5,000 thus far for Ironstone Farm.
“I would love to be able to do it again, especially for Ironstone,” Brain said. “I definitely want to keep running more marathons. I joked the other day that I want to run a marathon in every state so I think that’s my very long goal ahead of me. But definitely Boston comes first, I’d love to be able to run many more Boston Marathons and hopefully qualify one day.”
To donate to Brain’s Ironstone fundraiser, visit: https://challengeunlimitedironstone.causevox.com/rebeccabrain.