Friday, March 23, 2012

Q&A with marathon runner Tara Jennings, NP

Runner Tara Jennings, NP with patient partner Nick
Runner Tara Jennings, NP, with patient partner Nick.

Q: What is your name?

My name is Tara Jennings.

Q: Where are you from?

I am originally from Burlington, MA, but currently live in Cambridge, MA.

Q: What is your role at Massachusetts General Hospital?

I work as a nurse practitioner for the Epilepsy Service in the Department of Neurology at Mass General.

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

I chose to run the marathon for MassGeneral Hospital for Children because I work with a fair number of cancer patients and I see how hard it can be for adults; I can't even imagine how hard it must be for a child and their family. I wanted to find a way to give back to those patients and their families, and running with the Mass General marathon team seemed like a good option.

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

I have been running for almost four years, I usually do a few 5Ks, a half marathon and a marathon or two every year. This will be my fifth marathon and my first time running the Boston Marathon.

Q: What inspires you as a runner?

My whole family runs and they inspire me. They have all run Boston a few times, so I figured it was my time to run it. My mom is a master's elite runner and my dad finished an Iron Man. My brother also runs marathons as well. Seeing my family accomplish so much has motivated me to keep running and to keep trying to improve.

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

My most memorable moment so far was one day when I was doing a long run on the marathon course and I was running up Heartbreak Hill. It was at mile 14 of a 16-mile run and I was thinking of stopping and taking a break because my legs were hurting. I happened to think of Nick, my patient partner, and everything that he has gone through at such a young age, and then the hill didn't seem so bad anymore. If Nick can keep going after multiple rounds of chemo, radiation and a stem cell transplant, then I can certainly run up a hill (even if it's a really big hill).

Q: What have you learned about your patient partner and what makes him special?

I learned that Nick is a very creative and active young boy who loves to play hockey and watch the Boston Bruins. It's so great to see that Nick loves to hang out with his friends and family, and he's kept up his spirits in spite of all that he has gone through.

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

I am looking forward to seeing all the spectators cheering on the runners, and I am especially looking forward to Mile 20, where the Mass General team and Nick will be cheering me on.

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