Judith Zuckerman has her work cut out for herself.
Despite recently incurring a knee injury, Zuckerman, a music teacher at two Waltham Public Schools, is determined to finish the Boston Marathon scheduled for Monday, April 16.
Finishing the race, however, will be more than a personal victory for Zuckerman, who teaches at the Northeast Elementary School and Douglas MacArthur Elementary School. She is running the race as a member of the Miracles for Miles team raising money to benefit Children’s Hospital in Boston.
The death of Zuckerman’s 79-year-old mother in May played a large part in the teacher’s decision to run the race.
“It’s a place to put the energy that has gone with dealing with her passing,” Zuckerman, a Waltham resident, told Waltham Patch in a recent interview.
Zuckerman, however, decided to run for Children’s Hospital after hearing of the struggle a colleague endured with the birth of her son. The colleague’s one month old child died from a heart malfunction after receiving treatment at Children’s Hospital, according to Zuckerman. The child’s parents, however, praised the hospital for it’s treatment of the newborn, which pushed Zuckerman to run for to benefit the hospital.
Now, Zuckerman is aiming to raise at least $5,000 and so far has raised more than $4,400, she said.
Preparing for the marathon, both physically and mentally, has been challenging. Since last summer, Zuckerman had been running been frequently running to practice for the marathon until she suffered the knee injury in January. She is currently doing physical therapy three times each week in the hours before her school day begins. Missing practices has made her nervous, but the injury, Zuckerman believes, has made her even more determined to finish the race.
“The setback of this injury has been mentally helpful, which sounds a little bizarre,” Zuckerman said.
While Zuckerman has two competitive races under her belt, she said she is nervous about finishing the marathon because she only started running habitually two years ago. Zuckerman said she took up running as part of a “personal transformation,” when she was overweight and began feeling the impacts of arthritis. She is now 50 pounds lighter.
Despite the obstacles she has faced in preparing for the race, Zuckerman said she has drawn inspiration from her students, some of whom have made posters of her running.
“It’s sweet to have the support of the kids,” Zuckerman said.
If that was not enough, Zuckerman walked into the MacArthur school Friday morning to find a sign hanging reading "Go Judy! 26.2 miles." Many of her colleagues and students' parents from both schools she works in have made donations to her running cause, according to Zuckerman.
While she is not quite sure what she will do immediately after the she finishes, Zuckerman said crossing the finish line will fill her with self-pride.
“For me, it's sort of a milestone.” Zuckerman said.