Every week, I write a Heartbreaker newsletter. Its subject varies from week to week from heavy to fun to heartfelt to light. Often it has to do with running but I don't like to be constrained by running; it's what brings us together but it doesn't have to be all we talk about or all we stand for. The newsletters are organized by volume and number. Old people, you might remember magazines, it's a nod to my favorite. The team was founded in late July, 2014, so the volume roll over happens at this time every year. I'm bummed we don't get to throw our "turn up the volume" party this year. Usually, I customize items from costume stores and award some noteworthy Heartbreakers with crazy, personalized trophies. Here's the message I sent to the team to kick off the new year.
It was 6 years ago yesterday that a new team called the Heartbreakers ran from Heartbreak Hill Running Company, the "new place" in Newton, MA, to South End Athletic Company (still affectionately known as SEAC - pronounced "seek"). We each signed the wall above the door in Newton first, then made the 7 mile run to Boston's South End, signed the wall above the cashout at SEAC, and had some beers to celebrate the occasion. It was a quiet, humble start. Members at the time picked a singlet from whatever we had in stock at either store, they got marathon plans delivered only by personal email request, discounted access to SEAC Elite evolved into Heartbreaker Practice, and the first beer at our monthly pub run was on me.
28 runners were on that original email (Vol. 1 #1). Over the course of the next 6 years, hundreds more joined, got faster, made lifelong friendships, and grew something that reflected the positivity of the group itself. At the start of 6th year, we opened up shop in Chicago and now have as many members in just a year as we did in the first two in Boston. Heartbreakers have finished all of the world majors (hundreds have competed in Chicago, New York, and Boston), set FKTs up and down the east and west coasts (well, Joe McConaughy has), and raced distances as short as the 50 meters (on the whole, 50 meters is not our strength). In fact, it's hard to find a race anywhere where someone isn't flying the Heart. Our team was represented in the Olympic Trials in both 2016 (Lou Serafini) and 2020 (Jordan O'Dea & Jonny Phillips) with our best showing ever this year. In-person only sessions grew to be complimented by a robust digital portal we call the Heartbreaker Virtual Training Center that allowed us to reach members all over the world. We "Ran The Vote", we created Ladies Lead with Captain Ellen London, we've taken home some meaningful victories and we've prioritized inclusivity and our own joy over all else. The team's runners are fast, slow, seasoned, and new. All are dedicated to the practice of daily improvement. The team cares deeply about social issues and there have been many times when the energy at practice was affected by a full day of hearings on Capitol Hill. This is a team comprised of "people who run" - who understand that that the "running" part of that statement makes up only 1 of 24 hours in each day. Therefore, it's as a person that each member is seen and welcomed.
People find this team at moments of personal transition, relationships ending, moving to a new city, stepping out of the closet, dealing with addiction, acknowledging/understanding/transitioning one's gender identity. People find this team when they're done with college and decide they still want to race but they want to have more fun too. People join the team because they signed up for their first marathon and they're scared to death or they want to take on the marathon at new speeds, to BQ, OTQ, or better. People sign-up because they saw you having fun as a squad somewhere. People sign up simply to run with other people. Then, they stay because this team stands with you as you are and we push you forward to the next challenge better, faster, and stronger.
As we start year 7, I'm so grateful to you, the people who create the team. Some of you have been here since that first email and first run, some of you just joined and we have yet to meet, and many of you feel like lifelong friends because you're a regular part of everything we do. With a new beginning, there's an opportunity for a fresh start, the opportunity to strive and achieve. From here, we start a new year as the Heartbreakers. Together, we run in the midst of a pandemic, in a moment of reckoning with systematic racism and white supremacy, in the year of the most consequential election in American history. That sure sounds daunting but we're people who sign up for hard things for fun, people who raise each other up, people suited to the challenge of the moment. We are people who run. From here, we start again. The Heartbreakers | Vol. 7 #1.
- Dan Fitzgerald, Chief Heartbreaker
Learn more about the team here.