When I started running I never, in my not so right mind, ever thought that I would qualify for Boston. Women between the ages of 18-34 need to get a qualifying time of 3 hours 35 minutes. My first Marathon in Seoul, South Korea was a whopping 4 hours 20 minutes in March 2010. That’s a whole lot of friggin’ time to cut off of a 26.2 mile run! And I will tell you that this first marathon was not a pleasant one. At mile 18 you could find me sipping on weird juice from random people on the side lines (tasted like coconut water, but I swear they spiked with a little Korean Soju — an unregulated alcoholic drink without flavor, generally used as a mixer). I WAS DESPERATE. The water stops where about 5-6 miles apart from each other, not a normal 3-4 miles and so when mile 18 came around and there was not a water stop in sight, I had no choice but to turn to friendly people on the street. By mile 19 you could find me on the side of the course, next to the side walk, laying down stretching as a Lt Col from the Air Force base stopped his race and pulled my toes and massaged my calves trying to ease the cramping and curling of my toes. The last 7 miles were long and drawn out as I walked/jogged the remainder of the run, determined to at least finish. As a new long distance runner, I had high expectations for myself and had no idea what I had gotten myself into and as I sat on the 3 hour train ride back to my dorm room in Kunsan, while drinking an extra large bottle of Hite Beer given to me by my Commander and friend, I vowed that I would NEVER EVER run another marathon. I will stick to my Olympic Distant Tri’s and half-marathons and be totally OKAY with that.
August 2010 I started working at Mississippi State University as an ROTC Instructor. I continued to stay in shape, trying to keep up with the Cadets and got more into adventure racing and some shorter races. By late fall I discovered Boardtown Runners, a Saturday morning running group in Starkville, MS. They would set up run between 6-18 miles (depending on the week) with water stops every 3-4 miles. The couple that had been holding this running club for about 20 years, Mike and Marcie, are two of the most motivating and inspiring people I have ever met. They reminded me of the couple that got me started on racing in Tri’s. They would give me hell if I missed a Saturday morning and were always so inviting. At the end of the run, everyone would bring something to the table….a breakfast schmorgasboard! It was incredible and Saturday morning longs runs became a tradition. I could run, relax and socialize all before noon! That is when I decided that these long runs were putting me at alot of mileage and encouraged me to sign up for Marathon #2 — New Orleans Rock n Roll Feb 2011. Not even a year later from my horrible experience. I finished in 4 hours flat. I had no issues, I had trained better, ate better, lost some weight and had all around a better run/race. I dropped 20 minutes!
Marathon 3: Marine Corp Marathon (MCM) Oct 2011. My sister, Rachael, asked me to run the MCM with her early in the year and after my awesome race in New Orleans I was hooked. Let’s do it! A couple months later Rachael got pregnant. When we ran the MCM she was almost 7 months preggos and it took us 6 hours 26 minutes to finish. Although when she first asked me she was hoping both us could beat our 4 hour time (her last marathon before MCM was at 4 hours as well). As much as I wanted to beat my time, she needed me and we stuck it out for those 6+ hours and I am happy to say she finished with baby Austin still in the womb and no injury!
Marathon 4: New Orleans Rock n’ Roll Feb 2012. After the MCM I was still deteremined to break that 4 hour mark. Katie (my very awesome running partner) and I signed up and decided we just wanted to break 4 hours (Her last marathon was 4 hours as well). Let’s just break 4 and that’s it. At Mile 19 Katie said “Sarah, if we can run the next 7 miles in an hour we will qualify for Boston”. My response: “really!? That’s it, 7 miles in an hour? I think we can do that, we run that on a normal day”. We had talked the whole race up to that point. At mile 20 there was dead silence, stride for stride, we ran. We turned the corner to go into the park at 26 miles, .2 to go and my legs started to stiffen. Katie grabbed my hand “come on Sarah, BOSTON, we will finish this race together”. TIME: 3:34.15 HOLE-LEE-FACK.
I never thought I would see that time and I hope that this is just a stepping stone as to what I can do and how fast I can go and the distance I can push myself to. B.A.A. — Thank you. I’ll see you April 2013!