As the sun set over the brick row houses on the corner of Clarendon and Tremont streets, 27-year-old Amanda Morrison arrived on foot for a stroll in her favorite neighborhood.
She had just finished her warm-up, a short jog from nearby Fort Point. She stopped, removed her athletic-fit earbud headphones, and glanced down at her mobile phone to select the next song she would stride to. “It’s an eclectic mix,” she said.
The East Boston resident took a few moments to catch her breath and was ready to run again. When a bystander inquired about her stretching technique, she laughed and said, “No, I don’t really stretch. I’m sure my doctor told me to, but I probably just didn’t listen.”
That’s unusual, because Morrison almost always listens to her physician’s advice — she needs to, because she has had twelve surgeries in her life try to correct her hip dysplasia, a condition that causes misalignment of her hip joints.
Morrison was advised by her doctor not to try to run a 26-mile marathon, and she has followed that advice.
“Sadly, I'm genuinely worried that a full marathon might kill me,” she said. So she limits her running and looks for ways to “keep it interesting.”
She has kept it interesting by combining her two passions, running and dining out, on her blog runtoeatrepeat.com, where she posts a daily running log and reviews and photos of her favorite restaurants in Boston, and especially the South End.
“Life was meant to be lived, and if you're taking on some gnarly mileage in brutal conditions, I don't think it's unreasonable to treat yourself to a glass of Prosecco with guava puree,” Morrison said.
She draws inspiration from other runners around the world particularly two bloggers, one from the Ukraine and another from Australia, who post photos of the neighborhoods they run in.
Morrison said she started the blog to capture “beautiful, photo-worthy moments. It's about being awake and open to what's around you.” Now with the help of social media, people all over the world can see what Morrison calls “my version of Zen, balanced living.”
Balance is a theme that has played a large role in Morrison’s life. Her hip dysplasia caused both legs to be attached to their sockets at birth. Even after multiple surgeries, she has to listen closely to her body to avoid serious injury. It hasn’t been easy for her.
Her friend and longtime running companion Laura DePortbriant said, “She has a very distinctive run. Those of us who know her could pick her gait out of a crowd easily. But she has never let that stop her. She never complains about it hurting, although I know sometimes it does.”
Morrison is in constant communication with her doctor, who advises her on what level of exercise would be would be unsafe. She rues her doctor’s advice that she not run a marathon. “I’m very envious of my friends that get to run it,” she said. “I would kill to do that, but I can’t. I would just be overdoing it.”
Morrison has always been driven to push boundaries. She recalled one instance after her final operation, when she in the seventh grade, when she went to a high ropes course on a class field trip and had to watch has her friends climbed without her. At school dances, she would arrive with crutches and have to sit out.
But Morrison’s athletic drive kept her pushing her limits.
From middle school through college, she played soccer. She laughed when recalling how her coaches would say things like, “you show a lot of enthusiasm.”
She admits she wasn’t the most coordinated player. Her friend and running former teammate Julie Johnson fondly remembered their days as teammates and said, “We used to end soccer games with a trip to Friendly’s, and now we end a race by watching the latest Boston sports team at a local pub over a celebratory beer.”
“I was really only good at running around, never the technical skills, Morrison said of her soccer career. ”Something about my hands and feet registering commands.”
It was after she graduated from college three years ago, Morrison said, that she really got into running — a sport that requires great mental strength, which Morrison exemplifies.
Even though Morrison will be unable to compete in this year’s Boston Marathon, she knows what the runners will be up against. Her message to friends and fellow runners is to “maintain your sense of confidence and believe that you can do it.”
Morrison looks forward to her next challenge, Gloucester's "lighthouse to lighthouse" half marathon on May 12. It will be her sixth half marathon.
For Amanda’s food reviews, inspiration, tips, and more, visit runtoeatrepeat.com.