Tracy McGuire has always had a knack for design, but she remembers it cultivating in college, when she attended the University of Vienna in Austria. She studied art, architecture, German and European history, which helped her discover her creative side and passion for the arts. Her love for sports led her to a very successful career in the athletic footwear and apparel industry, holding many different roles in marketing from handling endorsement deals to managing sponsorship contracts. Most recently, she was a Product Manager in footwear marketing and managed the product creation process from development, to design, to product creation and merchandising.
Tracy first heard about Heritage 10 years ago when she hired an Interior Designer who was a Heritage graduate. Tracy was inspired by her skills and career and was encouraged by the graduate to enroll. The timing wasn’t right as she was focused on raising her two children but it has always been in the back of her mind.
Tracy has extraordinary drive and has overcome challenges with confidence and strength. She is an avid runner and spends at least 5 days a week running with a goal of at least one road race a month and one marathon a year. Two years ago, she was a victim in the Boston Marathon Bombing.
Boston Bombing 2013
The Boston Marathon was always the highlight of her year and a chance for her husband and friends to go to a Red Sox Game, celebrate, and enjoy some adult time. Going into the marathon, she felt confident and composed. “I was not nervous, I was not worried, I was not anxious. I was simply gracious to be there for a fourth time.”
5 miles into the 26 mile race she started to feel dizzy and nauseous and by mile 16 she was sick. “Knowing that I had all of the challenging hills ahead, I pulled over to the medical tent. I walked/jogged the next mile to 17, where a doctor was waiting. He took my blood, BP, weight, asked a bunch of questions and then diagnosed me with hyponatremia. Meaning, I was over hydrated.”
She backed off the water and continued on, immersing herself into the experience and crowd at Boston
College. “To me, there is no better place on earth than marathon day at Boston College. There are kegs everywhere, fraternities going nuts and college kids dancing on the sidewalks. It is my perfect place.”
At mile 26, she pushed towards the finish line. “Instead of racing to the end, I slapped hands, I talked to the crowd. I cheered for them, like they were cheering for me. I told them I love them and I thanked them for shouting my name and being there for us.”
Moments later at mile 26.18, she could see the grandstands where her husband (Chris) was waiting for her. “Chris saw me, but I did not see him. What I did see at that moment was a bomb explode, just slightly in front of me and to the left. I stopped dead in my tracks. I was not confused, I was not disoriented, I was nearly deaf from the sound of the explosion and I knew immediately it was a bomb.”
After running 26.198 miles, she turned around and started running away from the finish line as fast as she could down Boylston Street and then through a restaurant. “I was screaming for people to evacuate. Some didn’t believe me and told me to calm down. A handful kept celebrating in the bar and many followed me to find an escape route.”
The further away she got from the finish line, the more comfort she felt. “Miraculously, I reached Chris on the phone. He was still at the finish line, standing in the street, in the middle of that horrendous scene, looking for me. Thankfully, it was only 5 minutes before we were reunited. I have never felt such relief.”
This experience changed her life forever. “There are many times when I have flashbacks of the bombs and screams. I am not able to sleep at night without a sleep aid. As I deal with all of these heavy and serious issues, I am simultaneously so incredibly thankful and happy to be alive.”
After the 2013 marathon Tracy thought it was the last Boston Marathon she would run. Instead she faced her fears in 2014 with more confidence than ever and determination to cross the finish line. “I have something extra to prove this year and I’m feeling the pressure. I have a job to finish and there is closure to be had. Not just for me, but for the hundreds of people who lost their legs, their hearing, or their lives. I can not let myself, or those people down.”
Tracy’s fearlessness to overcome challenges allowed her to complete the race with confidence. While many people naturally give up under difficult circumstances, Tracy became even more motivated to move forward and achieve her dreams. She is now a student at Heritage and is extremely excited to return to the workforce in the interior design industry that she is so passionate about.
Tracey’s story is featured in the book, 4:09:43 by Hal Higdon as well as a movie coming out early next year called “Boston“. The movie is about the history of the Boston Marathon and the 2013 bombing and shows Tracy’s comeback in the 2014 race.
Source: Heritage School of Design