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Mead ready for Boston Marathon

Former Newport Harbor and UC Irvine runner qualified for race in her first attempt at last year's OC Marathon.

April 05, 2013|By Steve Virgen
  • Melissa Mead, 23, a former Newport Harbor High and UC Irvine runner, will be competing in the Boston Marathon on April 15. She qualified for the Boston Marathon by finishing under the qualifying time at last year's OC Marathon. It was her first time competing in a marathon.
Melissa Mead, 23, a former Newport Harbor High and UC Irvine… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

Melissa Mead says she likes to run. She especially enjoys longer distances.

She thrives on long courses. It's as if she finds extra energy when the ground converts from pavement to grass, to dirt, to hills toward the finish line.

She's also no stranger to change and transformation away from running. There were dreams of being a star runner at Iona College in New York, where she received education for her initial desired interest to become a doctor.

But just as the road turns during those long distances, so did her life. There has been adversity and triumph, uncertainty and accomplishments, all leading to another goal and to where she is now.

Mead, 23, a former Newport Harbor High standout, is preparing for the Boston Marathon. It's a goal she's always had, especially after finishing up at UC Irvine in the spring of 2012. Boston will be her second marathon. She qualified for the prestigious race in her first marathon, the 2012 OC Marathon.

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As a runner, she's learned to adapt to her surroundings, the course, the weather, the competition. It's hardly different from the challenges she faced after graduating from Newport Harbor in 2007.

She never got to compete for the Gaels at Iona. As an 18-year-old freshman she suffered a stress fracture in her right leg in September, before she could ever log one race for Iona.

"I was pretty distraught," said Mead, who now lives in Costa Mesa. "I was one of the top freshmen going in that got recruited that year. I was in the top seven [for Iona] and on the travel team. I was really bummed out because I was done for the season."

Mead also soon realized she was done with Iona. She missed Southern California and in 2008, she found a home at UCI. She said Vince O'Boyle, who coaches cross-country and track and field at UCI, took her in and really supported her desire to compete for the Anteaters.

Mead took pride in competing as an NCAA Division I runner and completing personal-best times each year in cross-country and track and field.

She had come a long way from her stress fracture that left her rehabilitating for a year. And a long way from Newport Harbor, where she first had aspirations to become a volleyball player.

There went that "change" thing again.

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