Just six months after giving birth to her second child, two-time Olympic gold medalist Kristine Lilly is ready for a new challenge: Running the Boston Marathon.
The Needham resident will be participating in her first-ever marathon on April 16, running the 26.2-mile route from Hopkinton to Boston to raise money for Children’s Hospital Boston, one of several charities she supports.
And just as she has in soccer—winning the gold medal with the women’s national soccer team in the 1996 and 2004 Olympics (not to mention the silver in 2000)—Lilly is headed for the top with her fundraising efforts on the Miles for Miracles team.
“My [soccer] number’s 13, so I picked $13,000 as my fundraising goal,” Lilly said. “I hit it last week, so now my new goal—I’m ranked third in fundraising—is to be first in fundraising. I’m just going to keep raising money.”
As an Olympic athlete and first-time marathoner, Lilly was invited to a special event held Thursday, March 22 at the Boston Athletic Association office in Boston—the official first tasting of Samuel Adams’ new "26.2 Brew,” created exclusively to mark the 2012 Boston Marathon.
At the event, Lilly, along with Boston Athletic Association president Joann Flaminio and BAA Executive Director Tom Grilk, were given a first taste of the new brew, which was described as having a “slightly lower alcohol level and lighter body” than many of Samuel Adams’ products. The “26.2 Brew" will be available at race events and at select pubs and restaurants along the marathon route and around Boston.
Meeting Lilly for the first time at the event, Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch told her she was an “inspiration” and a hero to his own daughter, a soccer player. Koch smiled broadly when Lilly handed him two autographed T-shirts bearing her soccer number.
Before the festivities, Lilly chatted with Needham Patch about Miles for Miracles, her marathon training regimen and what’s next for her.
Have you run a marathon before? No it’s my first Boston Marathon and first marathon. I told myself when I retired from playing soccer that I wanted to run a marathon, and then I got pregnant so I’m like, OK, after I give birth, I’m going to get back into shape to run a marathon.
One of my best friends, she’s going to run with me, and we’re running for Children’s Hospital Boston. It was a win-win for me. Running for Children’s is really great for me, because I visited the hospital so much while playing for the [Boston] Breakers and then just living in the Boston area.
How long have you been training? I gave birth in September. I started training probably in December.
Was it different training for a marathon than training for soccer? It’s totally different. I’m used to going sideways, forward, backwards, sprinting, walking. This is just running. I’ve had ups and downs. I had a little bit of heel pain, so I took some time off, and now I’m getting back into the swing. But it’s been great. It’s time-consuming, that’s really what it is, so I’m excited for the day to come.
As a first-time marathoner, do you have any tips for someone who may be thinking about running? Take baby steps. Go slow. And get some good feedback. [Lilly got advice from a professional triathlete.] Also, everyone says to take care of your body, to make sure that you’re healthy. So if something’s coming up, take your time to heal. My heel was a little painful, so I rested a bit and did some other things, and now I’m going to be healthy on race day.
My thing is to just enjoy it. I know I’ll have some nerves. I’m not going to win this thing. I’d love to break four hours if I can; if I can’t, it’s all good. I want to run for all the people that have helped me support Children’s Hospital. And I want to see Dick Hoyt out there, because I watch him go by every year, and every year I cry.
In addition to training for the marathon, Lilly is one of 18 individual Olympians nominated for induction this year into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, which celebrates the achievements of America’s top athletes in the modern Olympic Games. If selected, Lilly would join Olympic greats such as Cassius Clay, Jesse Owens, Mary Lou Retton and Bonnie Blair in the Hall of Fame.
Fans can vote for her online now through April 9 during the public voting round. The U.S. Olympic Committee will announce the winner in May, with inductions in July.
“It’s an honor to be an Olympic athlete, and then to be recognized and put in with the other excellent athletes that are up for it is really cool,” Lilly said of her nomination.
For 15 years now, Lilly has also been running youth soccer camps, first in Connecticut and more recently in Massachusetts. This summer, she is offering two sessions for girls ages 9-18 nearby at the Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Aug. 13-16. Learn more about the Kristine Lilly Soccer Academy on her website.