Level Legion 2.0 – The 119th Boston Marathon
By Tim Ritchie
Last year we featured five athletes from our own community during their build-up to the 118th Boston Marathon. They shared with us their training, past experiences, fears, worries, excitement and thoughts during the final weeks before the race. This year we have found again a great representation of the New England running scene to inform, inspire and run alongside us. Today we introduce to you:
How did you get started in running?
I started running in middle school after being cut from the baseball team. The longest event in middle school was 800m and I was the only one on the team willing to run that far. Turns out, I was one of the only ones in the area willing to race that far. By default I did very well and from there on out stuck with running. I competed for 3 seasons, 4 years in high school and a total of 6 seasons in college before deciding to coach a local high school team my senior year. My dedication to running has fluctuated post collegiate, but currently I’m on a 13 in a row New England Road Grand Prix race streak.
What has been your most memorable running experience?
While some of it is fuzzy, my most memorable running experience was the Mohawk Hudson Marathon in 2008. This was the race that I used to qualify for my first Boston Marathon in 2009. I signed up about 2 weeks before the race once I had gotten a 20 and 24 mile run in and was confident I could run and qualify. Being in my hometown, my dad came out to watch and hold water and Gu for me. He thinks running 26.2 miles is an insane thing and was nervous I’d seriously hurt myself. Also, my wife (we weren’t even dating at the time) came out and ran the last 4 miles with me (these last 4 were the fuzzy part of the memory). Having those two people there to share that experience with will be a tough thing to top.
What does it mean to be a runner from New England?
Growing up in Albany, moving to New England for college, then living 3 years in Michigan, and coming back to New England has given me a lot of perspective about being a New England runner. While Albany and Michigan both have their running benefits, they don’t hold a candle to the New England running community. New England has an abundance of DIII institutes that tend to attract runners who run for the love of it. New England fosters that desire as well with the great club scene. Once they graduate, they continue running at a high level due to their passion and the support system that post collegiate clubs give. Michigan had a a great deal of fantastic DI athletes. For the most part, when they completed college, whether they had no structure or realized they wouldn’t go professional, they just stopped running. You don’t see that nearly as much in New England.
Have you run the Boston Marathon before?
I’ve run Boston once before, in 2009. At the time, a handful of guys graduated from Springfield College and immediately ran a marathon in the fall to qualify and run Boston. I had the pleasure of running with 5 of my college buddies that first year.
Boston 2009 was my last real hard training block. I was running more than I ever had. I ran a fantastic half marathon at New Bedford five weeks out, but then was forced to take three weeks completely off due to a foot injury. I still managed to run Boston but no where near as fast as I thought I could. Regardless of the set back I still view it as one of the best experiences of my life.
Why did you choose to run the 119th Edition?
All four roommates in my household had qualified for Boston 2015 way back in November of 2013. We had decided it would be great to get as many SISU bodies to the line as possible. The USATF Road Grand Prix Marathon Championship this year will be the Vermont City Marathon at the end of May. Unfortunately, this has thrown a little bit of a wrench into those plans. But come on, the Boston Marathon is one of the most celebrated races in the world. How can you not run it when you get the chance to?
What are your goals for this year’s race?
The goal this year is complete both Boston and Vermont City. They are five weeks apart. Specifically for Boston, that means not running so hard that I’m toast at the end. The goal this year is to get there in good enough shape to run and have the patience to hold back and enjoy the race so I can survive and run Vermont City.
What are you most excited about?
I’m excited for the crowds. Last year I was able to watch from about 30k and loved every minute of it. Seeing the looks on athletes’ faces when they saw people in the crowd they knew was such a great feeling. The connection the runners and the crowd make in this race is like no other.
What are you most nervous about?
This one is pretty easy. I’m extremely nervous I won’t be ready by April 20th. I have a bad habit of taking big long chunks of time off, letting my fitness slip away, and then trying to do too much to get it back. This year I let a good part of January go and now I’m in crunch time to prepare. The hardest part will be to not try to make up for lost time as that only leads to injury or burn out.