Friday, March 23, 2012

Q&A with marathon runner Greg Gonzales

Runner Greg Gonzales with patient partner Matthew

Runner Greg Gonzales with patient partner Matthew

Q: What is your name?

Greg Gonzales.

Q: Where are you from?

Watertown, MA.

Q: Why did you choose to run the marathon for MassGeneral Hospital for Children?

My mom is a nurse practitioner in the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Clinic at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, and she put me up to it. I never thought in a million years I could complete a marathon, but she gave me the confidence. I run for Mass General to make my mom proud; she's the hardest working person I know. I feel like this is the LEAST I could do to show her my appreciation for everything she has done for me.

Q: What kind of experience do you have as a runner?

This will be my fifth Boston Marathon. It started off as a hobby to stay in shape after high school, and kind of a took on a life of its own. Eventually my mom told me I should join the Mass General marathon team, and as they say, the rest is history.

Q: What inspires you as a runner?

Seeing the diversity out on the course– it doesn't matter your age, your shape, your skin color-- running brings people from all walks of life together. I've even seen a person with a prosthetic leg running. I think it brings out the best in people: their drive, desire and heart.

Q: What has been your most memorable moment preparing for the marathon?

Has to be spending time with my patient partner, Matthew. He is an incredibly bright, funny and polite little boy. We played with paper airplanes for about an hour one day, and I've never seen someone so happy. Despite all that is going on in his life, he still has that fighting spirit, and it is no doubt contagious.

Q: What have you learned about your patient partner and what makes him special? Matthew is a courageous little 5-year-old, who always has a smile on his face. He loves Buzz Lightyear and Clifford the Big Red Dog. He is a great big brother to his two younger siblings, Josh and Lucy. It is an honor to run for Matthew.

Q: What are you most looking forward to about marathon day?

The energy and excitement of Mile 20. On training runs, when things get tough, I tell myself that Marathon Monday will be better since I can count on the enthusiasm from the crowd. Nothing is better than reaching Mile 20 (where the Mass General cheering section is), seeing your friends and family, and your patient partner, and being reminded why you are doing this. I'm not sure I could climb Heartbreak Hill without that.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I couldn't do this without the love and support from my mom. She gave me the confidence I needed when I decided to run my first Boston Marathon. Seeing her work as hard as she does makes the Boston Marathon look easy. She is extremely devoted to the kids she takes care of, and would do anything to help them feel better. She's my inspiration.

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