TEWKSBURY — The pandemic, for many people, provided a rare opportunity to explore hobbies, take on new challenges, and find different ways to fill the time. For local business owner Tracy Qin (pronounced Chin), running became a way for her to focus her energy.
“I was bored,” said Qin, “my business was closed, the gym was closed. I said to myself ‘you need to find something to do.’”
Qin, mother of two boys and owner of Golden Spa at 540 Main St. in Tewksbury (in the old Gold’s Gym building), set out on a journey that took her places she never expected.
Qin came to the United States from China in 2006 and is now proudly an American citizen. A former acupuncturist for the Chinese military, she was used to body training and physical activity. She has been a business owner in Tewksbury for nine years, but has a clientele that crosses the country.
“I have clients from California who come in every time they are back in Massachusetts,” Qin said.
Qin provides traditional Chinese treatments along with massage therapy and sports injury recovery. Her studio is calming and evocative of her Chinese heritage.
“I love color,” Qin said.
Qin started her journey slowly.
“At the beginning, I could only run three miles, but I pushed myself to see if I could just go a little more.”
Soon, Qin was up to five miles and then 10.
“I can run from my house, down Whipple Road, back up Main Street, and go to work,” she said, noting that her routine varies based on her training schedule.
Qin learned about the BEN Running Club, a group of dedicated runners of Chinese heritage.
“I learned so much and was able to be coached on technique,” said Qin.
The group encouraged her to try a half marathon, and she surprised herself with how well she did.
“I challenged myself, and I ran 1,300 miles in 2020,” said Qin.
Qin ran her first marathon in Derry, New Hampshire on April 11, 2021 in 3:44, a qualifying time for her age group for the Boston Marathon. She next ran the Providence Marathon in May of 2021 at 3:45 and decided, with encouragement, to register for Boston.
As adjustments were made for the pandemic, and the Boston Marathon participant list was cut from 30,000 to 15,000 runners, Qin learned she would miss the cut.
“I missed it by one minute,” she said.
Not one to give up, Qin registered for the Chicago Marathon with some of her running club mates, scheduled for Oct. 10, 2021.
Disappointed about Boston, but training for Chicago, Qin received a letter one day, inviting her to run Boston after all. The Boston race would be the day after Chicago.
“‘Oh my gosh, what do I do?’ I asked myself,” said Qin.
With the help of her club, she decided to run both. Her coach gave her some advice to run Chicago as fast as she could, then just enjoy Boston and not worry about her time.
So, she did!
Qin went to Chicago with her team and ran her personal best of 3:33 despite temperatures in excess of 80 degrees that day. Then she got on a plane, flew back to Boston, got three hours of sleep, and with legs still sore from Chicago, got on the bus headed to Hopkinton.
“I was so happy. I carried my phone the whole race taking video of the crowd,” Qin said.
Friends cheered her along the route and she finished in 4:14, still a great time.
“I was so surprised,” said Qin.
Qin is well on her way to achieving her new goal of running the top six marathons in the world: Chicago, New York City, Boston, Berlin, London, and Tokyo.
Qin said anyone can set a goal and attain it.
“If I can do this, I can do anything,” Qin said.