For Kristine Lilly, friendship is a marathon

This is the third in a series of blogs from former U.S. soccer player Kristine Lilly, who is running in the Boston Marathon on Monday to raise money for Boston Children's Hospital.

Twenty-six plus miles, meet 30 years of friendship!

A year ago, my friend Jodi and I chatted as most close friends do -- we spoke about life, love and goals we'd yet to accomplish. One of the goals I mentioned was to run and finish a marathon. During my soccer career I always told myself: "After I retire, I'm going to run a marathon." I knew I wanted to run either the Boston Marathon or the New York Marathon, seeing as how I live in Boston and I'm from New York.

Courtesy of Kristine Lilly

Kristine Lilly, and her daughter Sidney, and Jodi, and her daughter Sienna, at the 2011 Boston Marathon.

Jodi was already an accomplished marathon runner who knew that we couldn't just show up on race day, get our numbers and run. Boston requires that you qualify, and New York has a waiting list that is thousands of names long. This is where good karma comes into play. Jodi and I have always donated our time and support to people in need; in fact, when we shared our marathon goals I already had a great relationship with Children's Hospital Boston.

During my next visit to Children's Hospital, I met with a woman involved with the Children's Hospital trust and their Miles for Miracles team. I immediately told her of our interest in running the Boston Marathon. And after l learned more about the Miles for Miracles team, I told her that we'd be honored to run and raise funds for cancer-stricken children and their families. Suddenly, our marathon goal became a mission of great importance. I'm happy to say that to date, we've raised more than $19,000 for Children's Hospital Boston. On race day, we hope to honor the Miles for Miracles team and all those who generously donated to our cause.

Jodi and I can't wait to experience the Boston Marathon. Our goal is to finish in less than four hours. Will I be disappointed if we miss that mark? No, as long as we finish together.

As you can probably tell, Jodi is very special to me. We've known each other for about 30 years, since the eighth grade. Wow, that's hard to believe! Our families were close, so as kids we spent a lot of time together. In high school, we teamed up to play soccer and basketball. We went to different colleges, Jodi to Wittenberg and me to UNC, but I'm happy to say that we remained close during those years.

Jodi is such a giving and supportive person. To me, it makes perfect sense that she was a teacher. And it doesn't surprise me that her supportive nature extended, and still extends, well beyond the classroom. When I traveled with the U.S. National Team she took time out of her busy schedule to cheer me on, most notably at the 1996 Olympics and the 1999 World Cup.

And talk about caring! During one of my training camps with the national team Jodi volunteered to serve as nanny for my teammates' kids. If anyone should be cheered on, it's Jodi. And I got my chance to do just that in 2004, when we hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro -- another one of our shared goals. Fourteen-hundred feet from the summit, I suffered a bout of altitude sickness and couldn't go on, but Jodi (who, by the way, has completed 13 marathons and an Ironman Triathlon) was A-OK. I cheered her on, all the way to the summit. When she got back to camp I asked her what the summit was like. Her response: "It was OK." I don't know this for sure, but I think she downplayed the experience to make me feel better. Now that is a true friend.

Now we're both 40 years old, married with two young daughters and live just three hours apart -- which makes it easy for us to be there for each other. And we'll be there for each other on Monday, during the 2012 Boston Marathon, and I couldn't be more excited.

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