Running the Boston Marathon was on Julie McGivery's bucket list, although crossing the finish line while 32 weeks pregnant was not the way she had planned to do it.
On Monday, the 36-year-old Moncton, N.B., woman completed the 42.19-kilometre race in about six hours 50 minutes — nearly twice her qualifying time of 3:35.
"Today was a day that I've been waiting for for a very long time," McGivery said after the marathon.
"I could have quit many times but was determined that this was a bucket list item, and I was going to try everything I could to get there, and I did."
McGivery said she was at mile 23, with a little more than three miles to go, when she sat down next to a medical tent and thought about "throwing in the towel."
"I had to have a good conversation with myself … my feet were really hurting, my knees were hurting, everything was just on fire, and I was in a lot of pain. And I just said, 'No, I've worked this hard to get here, and I want to be able to tell my children that you can't give up," she said.
"I can't tell the story that I almost ran the Boston Marathon and I quit because my feet hurt — I needed to finish this."
After that, McGivery got up and finished the race, bolstered by the many spectators who were encouraging her.
"It was definitely an emotional finish, and I had so many people cheering along the way — I can't count how many times people yelled out, 'Go Mama,' or, 'You're my inspiration, you're my hero.' So it was certainly motivating to keep going."
Baby's middle name to be Boston
McGivery, who has a two-year-old daughter at home, said it was a bittersweet moment when she found out she was pregnant with her second child on the same day she received her official acceptance letter to the Boston Marathon.
"I said I'm going to continue to run and train like I always do … and if everything goes well, then I'll make it to the start line."
The weather for Monday's run was a bit warm, McGivery said, but her only goal was to arrive at the finish line happy and healthy. She said she never expected she would "feel like a superstar" along the way.
"As I would approach people, I don't know how many times I heard, 'Oh my God, she's pregnant,' and then they would say, 'You go girl!'
"It did make me feel good about my decision because certainly people can judge about choices you make and it was all positive today."
A story with a long life
McGivery and her husband don't yet know if they're having a boy or a girl, but she said they have settled on a middle name.
"My husband has agreed that, maybe, the child's middle name can be Boston, so that someday they'll say, 'Why is this my middle name?' and I can tell them the story."
McGivery said she's never been a quitter, and she hopes her story of seeing her own dream through will push her children to never give up and to always be healthy.
"I'm hoping that they will see how important it is to have goals, and to stick to them and not quit," she said.
"And I'm hoping to be an inspiration for them to be active, because I think activity is an important part of life and health, and that quitting is not an option when it comes to going for your goals.
"That's an awesome gift that I can give my children."