Guest Blogger Nancy Cook
To qualify for Boston is a badge of honor. It is the “Grand Daddy” of them all. When you say you have run the Boston Marathon you can feel the deserved respect. It isn’t an easy marathon to train for, even though the marathon distance is still just 26.2 miles. Living in the Northeast, in the snow and the cold just gives it an extra challenge. I am an avid skier and every weekend is coaching, teaching and skiing with my family. Running takes a back seat and I “give myself a rest” and slide down the mountain on skis instead. Ski training isn’t a cross training choice for running and really doesn’t compliment the regime, but skiing is my other sport and a family activity that we love so much!
The other reason I love the Boston marathon is the rich history. It resonates with me, being a history buff from New England. This year more than ever as I followed The Boston Marathon on Facebook. The page shared photos of Johnny Kelley (who I met in 1993 in Athlete’s Village – when he was in his 90′s) & Clarence De Mar (we have a marathon named after him here in New Hampshire) & Joan Benoit Samuelson (I met her at the Tufts 10K for Women and taught her niece skiing at Mt Sunapee) and Bill Rodgers (I met him in Boston and at the Woodstock 1/2 marathon) and finally I got to meet & talk to Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run Boston this year at the Expo. How cool is that?! These names are famous in the running world and their stories are tightly woven in the history of the Boston Marathon. So cool to meet them in person!
I would like to share with you a brief personal history of running the Boston Marathon:
Each year since I started running marathons in 1989 – my running goal has been to qualify for Boston. There were were some years that even though I qualified I didn’t run because it was so hard to train in the winter – but I am proud to say I have now run the Boston Marathon 8 times! I qualified with my very first marathon – running the 1989 Montreal marathon in 3:35. It was so awesome that I qualified — I just had to do Boston that first year! Sad to say the only thing I remember about that race was the blisters on my feet, and how I couldn’t fit in my long runs in and just ran it to finish.:) I don’t have any photos of me running, or the trip. And I can’t find the medal – I have moved so many times…. I hope it shows up somewhere.
Finish time: 3 hours 51 minutes
The Basketball Player
I remember 1993 because I was coaching Varsity girls basketball at Woodstock High School in Vermont, and working at the recreation center as the Aquatics Director. My friend Christina Paugh and I had a great time on this road trip to Boston, stayed at a cheap hotel and bargain shopping in the city. I may have a few photos of this trip, but will have to look harder in my boxes that I seem to drag everywhere I go. Again, most of my training was sprinting with the girls at practice, no long runs, but I qualified, so darn it, I was going to do it! But sprinting with the girls just wasn’t enough — this one was tough!
Finish time: 4 hours & 16 minutes
The Marathon Mom
This Boston marathon I ran 6 months postpartum.I qualified for Boston 2000 and was able to get a deferral because I was pregnant with my son Schuyler. Schuyler was born on 10/10/01 with a C section, where my lower stomach was cut so he could arrive to the world safely. I trained diligently through my pregnancy. I remember wearing a skin suit and riding my bike at 8 months pregnant with my friend Petra – she will tell you the story of how strong I was all the way through those 9 months. I would walk at a fast pace in hopes that my baby would come, but he was 5 days late! My training for Boston was hampered because of the C section being pretty painful recovery, but I did it! I was breast feeding Schuyler just prior to going to the start line — it was one of the toughest marathons that I had ever run (at that time) & I boast my “Post Partum Marathon” quite often. I have a photo of Schuyler with Frank Shorter from the Expo — but I just can’t seem to fine it (Probably with all those other missing medals!)
Finish time: 4 hours 10 minutes
PR – 7th Master – The Noreaster
It was quite a few years before I ran Boston again. But this time I was back with a vengeance. I was going through a divorce & running was my getaway. I ran before ski teaching & went to spin classes at 6 am. I was thin & feeling strong. I had just met the man of my dreams & Steve was waiting for me at the finish line. I could feel his energy. This was the year of the pending Noreaster that threatened cancellation of the marathon. It was raining at the start, cold, wet & everyone was piled on top of each other in the tent at Athlete’s village. I remember the crowds were very small that year because of the cold weather and the finish line was very quiet. Steve found some “friends” and cheered me across the line. So in love. I placed 7th master, but didn’t realize it until I got home just how well I did that year. It was so amazing and I have this beautiful crystal trophy engraved on my shelf to show my achievement. This race is not only my PR in the marathon, but my PR in the half marathon with a 1:25.
Finish time: 3 hours 05 minutes 59 seconds
This was the year of the LOW number. Your qualification time determines your bib number and my time was SO darn fast I was crazy excited about my low number. 3800 — how cool is that? I felt so out of place with all those fast girls in the front corral, but I was smiling ear to ear! It was great to experience the Expo with my true love, we had just married in October & crazy in love! As a top ranked master runner in the mountain running and marathon arena – I really had my hopes up for a fast finish. This early spring marathon is always I challenge as I have mentioned before, but this course really feels like home to me now.
Finish time: 3 hours 19 minutes 35 seconds
I ran my first American Cancer Society DetermiNation marathon in Burlington, VT that past year after missing Boston 2009 due to a family commitment to ski in Snowbird. This Boston was eventful as I met some of the most
amazing runners through the American Cancer Society DetermiNation team. Charlie, Cara, & David will be friends of mine for life! It was so fun to be a part of this group & Boston was even MORE meaningful – dedicating my run to a friend & cancer survivor Mary Beth – who since has passed away. I had a fan following with the outreach I was making for the fundraising & it was a nationwide support of friends and colleagues that pushed me forward to the finish! Fighting cancer & raising money to create a world with more birthdays — I was feeling the passion for running and for fighting cancer through my running! I remember dedicating each mile to someone who had been affected by the
disease and carrying those names with me along the route for strength.
Finish time : 3 hours, 23 minutes, 17 seconds
Many said I was crazy, pushing myself to run after my spleen being removed 6 weeks before this Boston, because they thought they found more cancer. It was the focus and drive of running that kept me healthy & sane during my lymphoma diagnosis & treatment. I was determined to run & again raising money for ACS and running for DetermiNation. It
was tough missing 3 weeks of training, so I “banked” my miles early running 50 plus mile weeks.. It was mentally tough not knowing what I could do and if and when I would feel crappy. But the weather was ideal and I was very fit, feeling healthy once again after my 6 months of chemotherapy behind me. Charlie, David & Cara – The “Dream Team” was there to support me, and Matt & Jill joined the team and gave even more support. I was so proud to be a strong athlete cancer survivor and an inspiration to others. Can you see it in my smile? I finished strong and happy!
Finish time: 3 hours, 30 minutes, 53 seconds
Not only am I now a cancer survivor of not quite 2 years since my diagnosis, but I survived this crazy Boston Marathon 2012 – in the “Extreme Heat Year” where the temps were pushing mid 80s and everyone was searching for shade . Pushing for a post cancer PR, my miles and training prior were in tune with a goal of 3:19. I really had the training behind me running all through the winter with a crazy 109 run streak and getting in 3 long runs too. It was tough out there. I had my Wonder Woman costume made by my sister, and the skirt was DRENCHED! The water tunnels, the water hoses from all the houses on the route, plus dumping the water from the aid stations on my body helped me to keep cool, and try to keep my pace. It was exhausting and I was bummed every time I looked at my Garmin to see the slower pace. My goal was adjusted many times, and I was happy to finish as well as I did. It has been a real tough one to recover from too — my legs still hurt after 3 days now. But proud to have finished my 8th Boston Marathon with a “BQ” for my age group and impressive time with the consideration of the crazy heat!
Finish time: 3 hours, 47 minutes, 10 seconds
I love the Boston Marathon, not only because it is “home”, not only because of the crowds, or because of my own history with the race — but because it is a statement about running. It is a statement that I am a strong runner – I can face the odds – I have the strength, not just to finish 26.2 miles – but to qualify – and then dedicate myself to finishing The Boston Marathon, the grand daddy of them all. Looking forward to next year — Marathon Monday – Patriots Day – with the Dream Team – to run another marathon – another Boston Marathon.
BUT = in the meantime my NEXT adventure is a focus on the San Francisco Marathon. One of the key volunteers, John was remarking about the SF Marathon at the brunch when I was recruiting runners — he had a great race, the early morning start and the amazing experience to tour San Francisco by foot! Yahoo — let the countdown begin! 99 days and counting…..