Melissa Rousselle, a 1994 graduate of Kennebunk High School, will compete in her first Boston Marathon race on April 15. She’s also using the occasion to help raise money for charity. SUBMITTED PHOTO

BOSTON, Mass. — A Kennebunk High School graduate who never envisioned herself as an athlete is getting ready to run in one of the most prestigious races around, and in the process, will use her achievement to help those less fortunate.

Born in Biddeford and having grown up in West Kennebunk, Melissa Rousselle didn’t start running until she was almost 40, but will be competing in the 2019 Boston Marathon on April 15 as a charity runner for the Museum of Science, Boston where she works. She is a 1994 graduate of Kennebunk High School and is using her participation in the race to raise money for the Museum of Science’s Traveling Programs, which provide financial assistance for deserving nonprofit organizations throughout New England.

“I never participated in any school sports growing up, and most certainly would never have described myself as an athletic,” Rousselle said. “I was happy to attend basketball and field hockey games, watching from the sidelines. This was no different in my adult life. However, a little over three years ago, I joined Weight Watchers with a goal of losing 20 pounds by my birthday. I was about to turn 40, and did not feel healthy or happy with how I was caring for myself. It was time for change.”

Rousselle said it was through her weight-loss journey that she discovered she actually liked to do things like yoga and walking.

“Then, one day on a walk around one of my favorite local spots, Lake Quannapowitt, I impulsively decided to give running a try,” she said. “I didn’t make it far at all, but I went home that day and signed up for my first 5K. I was committed to running the perimeter of that lake, just over three miles, no matter what it took. I ran that race on June 4, 2016, and haven’t looked back since.”

A CHALLENGE

She said that she discovered that running was not only good for her health and weight-loss goals, but it challenged her as a person to go just a little further, and push just a little harder than she had before.

‘I am now a member of a running group based at Lake Quannapowitt, and not only have run multiple 5K and 10K races, but I just completed my first half marathon in October of this year at the B.A.A. Half in Franklin Park,” Rousselle said.

Her decision to enter the Boston Marathon, thee world’s oldest annual marathon and one of the world’s best-known road racing events, was not made lightly.

After completing her first half-marathon in October, Melissa Rousselle decided to run in the Boston Marathon in 2019.  SUBMITTED PHOTO

“As I trained for my first 5K in the spring of 2016, I attended the Boston Marathon as a spectator for the first time. I was in awe of what these people were able to do, particularly as I was just learning to run for three minutes straight without stopping,” Rousselle said. “This event is one of the most inspirational things you could ever experience as a spectator, and I believe that is where the seed was planted in my mind that one day I would love to know what it would feel like to be one of those runners. After running my first 5K, I realized I had the ‘running bug.’ I wanted to sign up for more races, train for longer distances, and set goals to run faster paces. But the ultimate goal I set was to run a marathon, preferably Boston, before I turned 50. After completing my first half marathon in October, I made the decision that I wanted to try for 2019 to be my year.”

She’s worked at the Museum of Science, Boston since June and is grateful to be enrolled in a program called the Marathon Coalition there.

“This is a fantastic group comprised of about 20 different groups of charity running teams. We train together as one team, on the marathon route, and meet every Saturday morning until the big day in April,” she said. “Training started Dec. 1 with a four-mile run and we will progress each week with more mileage. In March, we will run a 20-mile long run from Hopkinton to Brookline in preparation for April 15. In addition, I am making adjustments to diet and nutrition, practicing yoga and strength training, and ensuring I get proper sleep.”

RACE PREPARATION

Along with the group training, Rousselle is currently running about 10 to 15 miles every week to help prepare for the Boston Marathon, but says she expects that to quickly increase over the coming weeks.

According to Rousselle, she loves that her participation in the marathon can also raise money for those in need.

“I have been involved with nonprofit work as a volunteer for many years, including serving on the Board of Directors for the MA Coalition for the Homeless. This year, I also made the conscious decision to depart from working in the corporate space to working for a nonprofit organization. The opportunity at the Museum of Science presented itself and I fell in love,” Rousselle said. “Every day that I come to work, I see the mission of the museum come to life in the eyes of the children who are inspired, and in awe of the what they are learning here. To think that there are children who may never have this experience, simply because of a lack of money, breaks my heart. In particular, I have a special hope that young girls will have the exposure to potential career paths in things like technology and engineering that I felt I never experienced growing up a young girl.”

The public can help her do this by considering a tax-deductible donation to her fundraiser page online at https://give.mos.org/mrousselle, or to make a check donation, checks can be made payable to: Museum of Science, Boston (please include this note in memo: Melissa Rousselle Boston Marathon Runner), and send to 1 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114.

She said her family and friends are proud of the transformation she’s have gone through in these past few years and are very supportive of her decision to take on this challenge of training for and running in the Boston Marathon.

“The most challenging aspect of this whole journey is overcoming the seeds of doubt and fear that will inevitably creep into my consciousness as I train my body and mind for this event.” Rousselle said. “It is the mental aspect of running a race like this that is going to challenge me the most. But I am prepared for this and I am more than dedicated to cross that finish line on April 15. My primary goal is to simply cross the finish line. As a runner, I am also interested in maintaining a certain pace and total time. But having this once-in-a-lifetime experience of running in the Boston Marathon is something to truly take in and I just want to enjoy every step.”

— Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be reached at 282-1535 or by email at [email protected]

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