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NFE Athlete Spotlight: Beth McKenna

By April 22, 2019December 5th, 2023Awareness, NF Endurance, NF1, Ways to Give

Beth McKenna is an NF Mom who ran the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2019 as a CTF Choose Your Own Challenge athlete in support of her daughter Lydia, 7 months, who was recently diagnosed with NF. Beth lives with her husband Patrick, her son Patrick, 2 ½ years, and Lydia, in Connecticut.

Why did you decide to run the Boston Marathon with the CTF NF Endurance team?

I qualified for 2019 Boston in October 2017, at the very beginning of the 19-month qualifying window. With several months until the marathon, my husband and I decided to expand our family, and in August 2018 we welcomed our baby girl, Lydia.

Everything else happened quickly. In September, I was notified of my acceptance into the marathon, which was a longtime dream of mine. But just six weeks later, I was blindsided by something I had never even heard of: my girl was diagnosed with NF1.

In those first terrible weeks, I turned to CTF for information and hope. For me, the decision to run Boston as an NF Endurance Athlete was a no-brainer. By running for Lydia and everyone affected by NF, I can turn an extremely personal achievement into something meaningful for others too.

What was your favorite part of the race and what kept you going during the toughest moments?

This was my ninth marathon, but first Boston. I was so excited to experience the legendary electric atmosphere and crowd support.

I realized that if I want my daughter to be strong, I must be strong. I need to be the role model for both my children (big brother Patrick is 2!). I shared the news of Lydia’s NF1 diagnosis and announced my fundraising efforts simultaneously. It’s been my platform for educating our family and friends and connecting with the NF community. The support we’ve received has been overwhelming and therapeutic.

At only six months old, we don’t know how NF will affect Lydia. But raising funds for CTF is an investment in her future. I truly believe that CTF’s mission of advancing care for the NF community will directly benefit my daughter in the years to come. I feel empowered.

What is your training mantra?

“Churn” was my secret “power word” during Hartford when I PR’d and qualified for Boston.  I repeated it to myself, a reminder to keep my feet steadily moving, to churn the miles out. There’s an element of grit to it that I now find appropriate for the daily challenges of NF.

What was your favorite song to train to?

Whip It! by LunchMoney Lewis.

Do you have any advice for NF Endurance athletes training for a race this year?

Training for an endurance event is not entirely personal – it’s a family effort, especially when you have kids.  Don’t go it alone – join a running group, an online community, or find friends willing to train with you, even for portions of your distances.  They’ll hold you accountable and make it more fun. I want to thank my husband for his support of my training and the hours he spends holding down the fort while I’m on the road.  I also want to thank everyone who has contributed with donations, kind words, and prayers.  It means everything.