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Sylvia Ibarra is running to raise money for extracurricular education at MetroWest YMCA

"I’m always exposing my friends and family to new experiences and long-distance running is no exception."

Sylivia Ibarra is running to raise funds for programs at the MetroWest YMCA, where she volunteers.

In our “Why I’m Running” series, Boston Marathon runners share what’s inspiring them to make the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston. If you’re running the marathon, you can share your #WhyImRunningBoston story here.

Name: Sylvia Ibarra
Age: 32
From: Chicago, Ill.

Throughout my 11 years in education, I have recognized the work that needs to happen outside of the classroom and know that MetroWest YMCA is a part of this development. I have coached basketball, cross country, and soccer. Additionally, I have led a Spanish Club and a book club that started at 7:15 a.m.!

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I enjoy these experiences with students because it allows them to share a different perspective outside of academia. I’m a Mexican-American first-generation college graduate. My life has been full of dualities and learning to live in various worlds. I’m always exposing my friends and family to new experiences and long-distance running is no exception.

A memory with my dad that I will cherish forever involves the 2016 Chicago marathon, my first marathon. My dad was supposed to meet me at mile 19 in the Pilsen neighborhood, where he first lived when he arrived in Chicago in the 1980s. I searched but could not find him. As I approached mile 20 I stopped looking and focused back on my remaining mileage. I felt heartbroken that I didn’t get to see my dad. Physically I felt fine but my mental strength was weaning as I felt the unfortunate “runner’s wall” approaching.

Luckily, as I turned a corner into Chinatown at mile 22, I spotted my dad and I screamed, “¡Apá, Apá!” He saw me and ran with me until mile 24 while wearing jeans! As he departed, I knew nothing could stop me then with the burst of energy I had gotten from my father. Nowadays we have lunch on Sundays in Chinatown and I hope he knows how much I appreciate both of these neighborhoods for the experiences they allow me to share with him. Running has become a part of my identity and well-being.

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Editor’s note: Entry may have been lightly edited for clarity or grammar.

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