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The Boston Marathon - what it meant to Coloradans

10:14 AM, Apr 19, 2012   |    comments
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This was my first Boston Marathon and now I know why everyone wants to come back year after year: this race is amazing. From the early hours when I was waiting in line to board a bus that took me to the starting line to afternoon when I had a finisher's medal around my neck.

It's special for so many reasons: it's well organized, has incredible volunteers and a phenomenal expo. However one aspect puts it miles above the rest: the people of Massachusetts who line the course from Hopkinton to Boston for 26.2 miles. There is literally a human chain from beginning to end and it was sometimes 5-6 people deep. The crowds made the miles fly by and so many people were doing everything they could to keep runners cool in the 87 degree heat.

I was honored to qualify at the Rock & Roll Arizona in January 2011 with a time of 3:49:06. I ran Boston in 4:02:30 which was longer than I wanted, but I consider it a success considering the conditions. I had the experience of a lifetime and I will be back, hopefully in 2014.

Boston wasn't just about me. There were so many athletes from Colorado who put in just as many (probably more) training miles, sweat and tears as they prepared and raced in the same conditions. I hope you'll take some time to read about how they got there and why they persevered through the elements.

We all have our stories, setbacks, skeletons and issues. I hope by reading these, maybe you'll see something similar in yourself. If you're not as fit as you'd like to be right now, know that you can be. As you can see from some of the ages below, it doesn't matter how old you are, you just have to take that first step.

Never know, maybe I'll be writing about you someday. Enjoy.

Terri Ary (Highlands Ranch, 45)
Qualifying marathon: Denver 2010 in 3:43:50
Boston 2012 finish time: 4:21:33
Even though this was the slowest and most painful, by far, of the four Boston Marathons I have completed, it was still an absolute thrill and honor to finish the race. As my hopes of a faster finishing time melted away, I was able to focus on the joy of racing, running with a friend , high-fiving hundreds of smiling kids on the course and running through hoses, sprinklers and spraying fire hydrants. If you can't have fun doing that, why bother? I'm already trying to figure out how to do it all over again.

Jessica Bianco (Denver, 34)
Qualifying marathon: Boston 2011 in 3:30:59
Boston 2012 finish time: 3:54:13 

This year was my 4th time running Boston and my 3rd year running on the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge team. This year the experience of running the Boston Marathon was the most rewarding of them all. I let go of my time goal and lived it up on the course. I gave out high fives to spectators, hugs to family and friends and kisses in Wellseley. The spectators along the course were so supportive and the Dana Farber patients, spectators and staff made me feel like a superstar! I had zero expectations of a finishing time and was pleasantly surprised ot run a sub 4 hour marathon.

Alma Blagg (Sterling, 41)
Qualifying marathon: Colorado 2011 in 3:47:14
Boston 2012 finish time: 4:29:21
For me that was the toughest race of my life but so glad to be part of it. Thanks to running I've lost 86 lbs and became a personal trainer. Running Boston was something impossible for me. Now I see everything possible. I've qualified in all the marathons I've ran. Boston was my 7th and will be running Colorado here in May in Fort Collins. I've come a long way since running came into my life.

Steve Burns (Arvada, 43)
Qualifying marathon: NYC 2010 in 3:20:46
Boston 2012 finish time: 4:16:03
I was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma of the spermatic chord in 2008 when my twin girls were only 18 months old. I've been running and biking for LIVESTRONG ever since to give back to other survivors. I ran Boston to raise money for LIVESTRONG to help with all of their programs supporting other cancer survivors. Together the 20 people on our Boston team raised $85,000, which is very cool. When I heard the weather was going to be hot like wasabi, I knew it would fit right into my plan to run it for the awesome experience. It was my first Boston and I wanted to enjoy it. I knew I was under trained, hate running in the heat, wasn't going to PR, so what the hell, why not slow it down and enjoy it. The fans, volunteers, and people of Boston were awesome hosts to all of us from out of town.

Debbie Elliott (Centennial, 43)
Qualifying marathon: Leading Ladies (South Dakota): 3:46:47
Boston 2012 finish time: 4:46
With the Boston Marathon, I have now completed 9 marathons. Qualifying and running Boston has been a dream of mine since I started doing marathons back in 2005. Due to the hot conditions, we had the option to defer to 2013. Heat is my "Achilles heal". However, I did not want this opportunity to slip by. You do not know what life might bring you a year from now. I did not want to be the person who says, "I qualified, but never ran Boston." The race was challenging and the heat was definitely a factor for me. I felt somewhat nauseous during the 2nd half of the race and decided to hold back and just go for a finish and not worry about my time. I am happy I had the opportunity to participate. The crowds were amazing. I may try to get into Boston again 2014, where I will hit a new age bracket and have 10 more minutes to qualify.

Aaron Gaskins (Denver, 28)
Qualifying marathon: Charlotte 2010 in 2:59
Boston 2012 finish time: 3:54
This was my first marathon in 16 months since Charlotte. In the interim I had knee surgery, and while the knee held up Monday, the heat took everything else out of me as I went nearly an hour slower at 3:54. I spent most of the race cramped and gutting it out, and am just thrilled to have completed it.

Jerry Greenwald (Boulder, 44)
Qualifying marathon: Tobacco Road 2011 in 3:13:26
Boston 2012 finish time: 3:21:35
This Boston marathon was my 6th Boston finish. Boston has always had a special place in my heart for many reasons but mainly due to its rich history and that it lives up to its hype and mystique. It was also very special this time as this was my 50th marathon finish in almost 23 years. My time on Monday was 3:21 which I was quite happy with considering the heat.

Oza Klanjsek (Denver, 48)
Qualifying marathon: Boston 2011 in 3:47
Boston 2012 finish time: 4:14:24
This is my 4th Boston marathon. From one water spraying hose to another, from 3 to 5 cups of water poured on my head at each aid station at every mile, I enjoyed every second of this marathon experience. It was a tough race. At each race, I learned a ton about myself and on Monday I again learned a lot. With all the heat warnings, going into the race that I was determined to finish, but I did not know that the effort would be so big. I never thought of quitting simply because I was physically ok. The race was truly inspiring, but in a way that surprised me. At every other Boston marathon you run by strong runners with elegant running style. This time the race was inspiring but in a totally different way: people were pushing themselves and making every effort to run in that heat and humidity but it was not elegant running, for sure. And they all did amazing, the number of people who needed medical help were not percentage wise much more then at other Boston races. So collectively, we did well.

Brian Leonard (Denver, 31)
Qualifying marathon: NYC 2010 in 2:59:23
Boston 2012 finish time: 3:32:23
This was my first Boston marathon, and only my second "open" marathon outside of Ironman distance races. The day was one of ups and downs, and a lot of frustration and goal readjustments. Once I finally felt the true affect the heat had on my body around the 10 mile mark, I redefined my goal and threw my original one out the window. It then became about being honored to be a part of such an historical race, and a part of its history. The importance of the day came down to setting out to finish what I started, no matter what the obstacles. As athletes we need to sometimes remind ourselves that it's not always about the time on the clock we see above us when we cross the finish line, but the challenges we overcame on our path to get there. Congrats to all of the other runners who triumphed on this historical course on a day meant for the history books.

Caolan MacMahon (Boulder, 48)
Qualifying marathon: Colorado 2012: 3:53 (also qual'd in NYC & Denver)
Boston 2012 finish time: 4:25
This year I'm running Boston and NYC to celebrate running for 40 years. I'm also raising money for Girl's Education International (a local grassroots organization that provides educational opportunities for girls in Pakistan and Liberia). I've been a runner for most of my life. After being told in 2008 that I would never run again (a diagnosis that changed my life and sent me into a bit of a depression), I was determined not just to run again but to run some of the races I told myself I would do "someday". Boston was one of those races. My time at Boston was somewhat disappointing, my second slowest marathon, but given the conditions, I'm okay with it!

Laura Mortimer (Denver, 26)
Qualifying marathon: New Orleans Rock & Roll 2011: 3:08
Boston 2012 finish time: 3:19
Conditions were not so great on was HOT. I hydrated as best I could but still started feeling dizzy and light-headed around the 10 mile mark. Shortly after that I turned off my watch, decided my new goal was to finish the race safely (as opposed to my original goal of breaking 3 hours), and ran through every sprinkler and fire hydrant I saw in an effort to stay cool. Despite the unfortunate weather, it was still an awesome race, thanks in large part to the spectacular fans! I still love Boston, I just don't like her very much right now.

Rob Owens (Golden, 37)
Qualifying Marathon: none. Earned his entry as a charity runner, raised $7,000+ for Children's Hospital of Boston
Boston 2012 finish time: 4:50:50 (1st marathon)

I finished the Boston Marathon on Monday. It was the most physically exhausting, draining experience of my life - the heat took everything out of me and, at mile 16, I was not sure I was going to finish. I was so motivated to run Heartbreak Hill, but I had to walk about halfway up - it was crushing. When I hit the BC (Boston College) campus, the cheering, high-fives, and screams of my Eagles (I am a 1997 BC grad) got me running again. I am so proud to say that I finished. At the 26 mile marker, I heard my name and saw my patient partner from the Children's Hospital of Boston - 3 year old Paige. Paige has fought neuroblastoma cancer over the last 1 1/2 years and is beating that dreaded disease. That put my short 5 hour fight in perspective - she is so much stronger than I will ever know.

Carolyn Parsons (Englewood, 51)
Qualifying marathon: Boston 2011 in 3:37
Boston 2012 finish time: 4:20
I've finished 31 marathons, including 7 Boston's. This marathon was about redemption for me. In 2004 I pulled out at 10 miles due to the heat. I regretted it. On Monday, I really wanted to stop and had my visions set on pulling out after I saw David at the halfway point. I was hoping he'd say it would be ok to drop out. Well, I didn't find him, but I still was intending to drop out. I went to the train stop at about 14 miles, however the train had just passed and wasn't due again for 3 hours. I figured I could walk to the finish in 3 hours so I got back in the race and trudged through. I finished in a personal worst of 4:20, but I finished AND I can now proudly wear my official Boston jacket and other gear.

Kristin Piccirillo (Denver, 31)
Qualifying marathon: none. Earned her entry as a charity runner, raised $5700+ for Children's Hospital of Boston
Boston 2012 finish time: 4:57:38
I ran Boston on Monday and it meant a lot to me because I ran it for the Children's Hospital of Boston. I was running not only to do the most famous marathon, but in honor of the 110 people who donated over $5700 and the countless kids and families who look to Children's for hospital care and treatment. My time was very slow, about 30 min slower than I had planned, but the experience, even though hot and, well, kinda miserable at points, was amazing and awe-inspiring.

Amy Mosser Romero (Aurora, 40)
Qualifying marathon:2011 Rock & Roll Las Vegas 3:31:10
Boston 2012 finish time: 4:00:32
This was an important race for me for a couple of reasons. I turned 40 on April 5th so when I qualified in late 2010 for the country's most prestigious marathon, I knew I had to do it and decided this would be my 40th birthday present to myself. Additionally I thought this was a special race for all us women since it was the 40th anniversary that women could participate in the event.  My race was less than ideal. The heat took a toll on me early in the race and I knew it would not be a PR day. I then decided to treat it as an experience and what an experience it is! The crowd and support along the course was amazing! I high-fived as many kids as I could and was in awe as we went through Wellesley, Boston College and then finally entered Boston. The roar of the crowd was like nothing I've experienced before in a race!

Mary Rueda (Denver, 42)
Qualifying marathon: Boston 2011 in 3:32:38 
Boston 2012 finish time: 3:55:08
Deferring to 2013 was not an option! I worked too hard this winter to pass up what I believe is an opportunity of a lifetime!
My good friend and running companion, Barb Peterson and I put in a lot of miles together. Sixteen miles on a snow-packed ice trail and a long 18 miler against 40 mile per hour winds in Boulder.   Early Sunday training runs when we could have been spending time enjoying a hot cup of coffee with a loved one or strolling through the park with a furry friend.  I don't know that I can completely blame the heat for the decline in my race performance since my training didn't quite click like it did for last year's race, but hey, it sounds good and I'm sticking with the heat as my excuse for the slow down! Despite everything, I was blessed with the physical ability and mental determination to finish what will definitely be one of my most memorable race experiences. My race time is not so hard to accept since I worked so hard for it and besides that even the Kenyan times suffered! When else will I be able to say that my race strategy mirrored that of an elite Kenyan runner? Train hard, race smart! 

Stephanie Smith (Golden, 27)
Qualifying marathon: Richmond in 3:37
Boston 2012 finish time: 4:15:29
Monday's Boston Marathon was one of the most difficult experiences of my athletic career, but was so incredibly rewarding. My training leading up to the race was not ideal as I fought through injuries and uncertainty, but by race day I felt prepared and ready to tackle the challenging course. On race day, I knew the extreme heat wouldn't allow me to run the pace I had trained for and forced me to reevaluate my goals. In some ways I am grateful for the heat because knowing it was going to be a race of survival, not speed, took a lot of pressure off of the race and allowed me to enjoy the experience that IS The Boston Marathon. The crowd support took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes multiple times throughout the race.

Becky Spence (Denver, 43)
Qualifying marathon: Rock & Roll Arizona 2011 in 3:43
Boston 2012 finish time: 4:14:19
Monday was my first Boston Marathon. I ran my first marathon in 2000 (Pittsburgh) in record highs (if you recall, it was the men's Olympic trials). It was such a brutal experience that it took me 10 years before I ran another - with the goal of qualifying for Boston. I decided to run Boston and make it my last marathon - training is so long and you never know what will happen on race day. I was so disappointed at the weather forecast (flashbacks of Pittsburgh) but never considered deferring - who knows where life would take me a year from now? Plus... I was older and wiser, right? I'm so glad I did it, despite the conditions. Every person I met (those running and not running) from the time I got on the bus until I made it back to my hotel was so friendly and enjoyable. I posted my slowest marathon time, but after considering calling it quits at the half, I decided to soak it all in - literally - between the hoses and sprinkler tents, the ice, and pop-cycles... I had the most amazing experience. I was overwhelmed by the support out there. The high fives and cheering... and these people had been out there for HOURS! I was a nobody, but the Boston crowds made me feel like a superstah! (wearing my name on my shirt helped a lot too). I'd love to go back, but I think I'll be on the other side next time, making someone else feel like a winner even if they didn't.

Randi Strand (Centennial, 34)
Qualifying marathon: Miami ING in 3:34
Boston 2012 finish time: 3:59:10
My parents assured me that if I wanted to defer, they would not be let down and they would gladly come back to support me next year. I told them I wasn't contemplating that deferment was never an option for me, I was running this marathon and running it THIS YEAR. It was especially important to me that my parents be at Boston with me because they are the ones that (a) instilled a love of running by running themselves (my dad) and (b) taught me about making goals and achieving them (mom & dad). I consider making it to Boston not just my success, but theirs, especially because my dad never qualified in his running career. Feeling good and happy, I crossed in just under 4 hours. A far stretch from an ideal time goal, but considering the extreme conditions, it felt awesome! And that meant: Boston 2012 = success!

Lucas Vessey (Greenwood Village, 27) 
Qualifying marathon: Boston 2011 in 2:47
Boston 2012 finish time: 3:24:40

Boston 2012 was an experience unlike any of my past marathons. About a week before the marathon, I was fully prepared to beat my fastest Boston Marathon time of 2 hours and 47 minutes (run in 2011). However, as I headed off to Boston, I was fighting off a lingering cold, and more importantly, seriously trying to ignore reports of abnormally high temperatures in Boston.  At some point during the run, I accepted that this race was going to be about finishing, not running my best Boston. Around mile 22, I hit a wall and slowed considerably, either walking or jogging slowly. This was officially the slowest I had ever run, but I was happy that it was over.  I saw people all around me collapsing on the ground grabbing their legs or any number of other aching body parts.  Throughout the afternoon, all I could hear were sirens. I could still see people finishing from my hotel room around 5:00pm. Luckily, I managed to shrug the race off and head out on the town with my girlfriend for my sixth consecutive post race routine which includes drinks at Cheers, and a trip to the North End for lasagna from Pagliuca's, and M&M cookies from Mike's Pastry's.

Jonathan Wells (Castle Rock, 41)
Qualifying marathon: Boulder 2011 in 2:59:38
Boston 2012 finish time: 3:03:08

When I arrived in Boston, the main topic of conversation was the heat.  At the start line, it was obvious that the reports of heat were true; it was a blazing 79 degrees and only going to get hotter.  Boston is unlike any other marathon. For the entire 26.2 miles, there are spectators cheering and encouraging. Some sprayed hoses on the runners, some handed out oranges, bananas and popsicles, others handed out extra water and juice. For the whole race, you feel like a star no matter what place you're in. This is just adds to the reasons that Boston is the greatest marathon on earth. It's not only the most challenging road marathon because of the constant rolling hills and of course the placement of heartbreak, but it has the best crowd, bar none! 

Donna Wise (Thornton, 47)
Qualifying marathon: New York in 3:30:53
Boston 2012 finish time: 4:28:32
I hadn't planned to run Boston hard this year, after having an injury & missing 2 months of training, but never considered deferring. I mostly thought about my Dad on the course on Monday--he was my inspiration & drive to finish. You see, my Dad died this past Dec, & during the last years of his life, he was blind & home-bound, basically dependent on my stepmother for his care. He never complained & just took life as it came, in stride, persevering to the very end with a spirit that didn't give up. I figured if he persevered, then I could too, so I wanted to finish. Monday's time is a PW (personal worst) for me, but it meant so much to be able to run Boston, persevere, & finish in those conditions in honor and memory of my Dad. This one's for him!

Julia Yager (Longmont, 43)
Qualifying marathon: Boston 2011 in 3:32:39
Boston 2012 finish time: 3:44:56

My goal time was 3:29:59 this year to make the sub-3:30 club. When I woke up Monday morning, I adjusted my goal to "just this side of alive". This was the most brutal race I have ever run and thus the most satisfying to finish. It really proved that you must have extraordinary tenacity and mental strength to run a marathon. Everyone who finished was a winner.


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