The Untold Stories of Melrose is a series of interviews by two senior interns from Melrose High School, Freddie Kelley and Connor Locke, who have been working in my office for the past few weeks.
Joy Fay is the owner of Joy Healthy Life, which includes Melrose Boot Camp and Joy Yoga. She ran the Boston Marathon for 15 years to benefit the Dana Farber Cancer Center. This is the first year since 2001 that she has not run the marathon.
Something that has influenced me as a person was running the Boston Marathon for my first time in 2001. I think taking on that challenge is life changing, because it made me believe I could do anything and it really sparked my interest in fitness. I run a business called “Melrose Boot Camp,” and I opened a yoga studio on Green Street called “Joy Yoga.” So now I’m offering fitness and wellness enrichment opportunities for all ages. Running the marathon empowered me to know that I could do anything I set my mind to and get it done.
I ran the marathon in the year of the bombing. I got to Kenmore Square before they turned us away. When I got word, I was up by Boston College. There was a lot of talking, but no one really knew what was going on. I was getting text messages from all of my Melrose friends saying, “Are you OK?” “Stop running!” and I thought they were crazy, calling me when I was trying to run a marathon. I heard people exclaiming, “My children are at the finish line!” It gives me the chills. It always will. We got shut down towards Boylston Street; I had to walk quite a ways once they shut down the race officially. There was just chaos. All of the cell phones were shut off. We were all in a daze. I had a friend who jumped in and ran with me that day—thank goodness I had her with me. She jumped in with me around mile 20. It was just so frightening that I am so glad that I had someone with me. To not know what was going on, too. I didn’t have the whole story. They didn’t tell us anything on the route—they just wanted us to keep going.
I am full of gratitude. I am so grateful that I am here today. I feel such sorrow for the families that were affected and all the lives that were lost. It was such a devastating day, I can’t even put it into words. I think it makes me more grateful for what I do have. That was going to be my last marathon. But I said that I couldn’t finish on that note. I went on to do it again, and again. That event strengthened me in a way: It made me more grateful, more appreciative for our law enforcement and our first responders, and more aware. We live in an amazing place where we are fortunate not encounter those kinds of things on a daily basis, but people in some places do encounter those things. It made me appreciate the safety of where I live.
Photo by Tanya O’Hara.