UND PT Student Runs Boston | May 14, 2012

My name is Hayley and I am a third year physical therapy student from the University of North Dakota. About 11 months ago I ran the Fargo Marathon and barely made the qualification for running the Boston Marathon. I was excited but at the same time knew I would be in my clinical rotations come April 2012. My parents were very supportive of me running the Boston Marathon so I entered and was accepted to run the race. After getting the days off from my clinical in the spring Ok'd, I was set. All I needed to do was train.

I was very blessed to have a mild winter for training. I ran almost all my runs outside. My training was fairly similar to other years I had trained for marathons except I knew I would need to hill train more frequently. I had heard of the dreaded "heartbreak hill" on the Boston course and did not want it to conquer me. I found one long "hill" in the flat lands of Grand Forks which was actually a long bridge; I ran several times over the bridge once every week or two.

Soon after arriving in Boston two days before the race, I found out the temperature was estimated to be in the upper 80's the day of the race. Dehydration facts came to mind which I had learned from several PT classes. I began drinking water whenever I could in order to prepare for the high temperatures.

Boston was a beautiful city. We walked around for hours the two days before the race. During this time, one very bad mistake was made on my part. I decided to climb the 294 steps to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument two days before the race. Needless to say, my calves were sore after the climb.

Before I knew it, it was the race day. My goal was not to set a personal record but to just finish the race. During the first six miles, I had to make a conscious effort to slow down on the downhill portions. I knew if I ran too fast downhill my quads would not hold out until the end of the race. Despite my efforts, my quads and calves were as stiff as boards by the time I crossed the finish line. I was also reminded how important it was to take in fluids as I witnessed two people get escorted off the course due to dehydration.

The water/Gatorade stations proved to be hazardous for me. At mile six I stepped on an uncrushed paper cup and rolled my ankle. I am certain the outside of my ankle touched the pavement. I was able to run it off and the pain soon stopped. I was very surprised when I rolled my ankle the exact same way at the water/Gatorade station at mile seven! It was at this point that I reminded myself that I was not in control of the outcome of the race and prayed I would make it through with no more injuries, which is just what happened.

Besides the hills, heat, and rolling my ankle, I had a blast running the race. I also passed a few interesting people. One man was juggling three oranges while he ran. He told me he was juggling them all the way to the finish! One cheer section consisted of a group of about 30 people all jumping in time on personal-sized trampolines outside a gym. And during every marathon I have ran there has been at least one man in a kilt playing bagpipes on the sidelines and this one was no different.

The best part of the race was the motivation given me from the cheering crowds. I felt the most energized after high-fiving the hands of several people on the sideline. I wonder if patients in therapy feel the same as I cheer them on...

The last six miles were the most difficult part of the race for me both physically and mentally. People were screaming "You're almost there!" and spraying me with sprinklers and hoses from their front lawns. I felt like I was running on stilts down the last hills. Several people handed cups of water which I promptly dumped on my head. What on earth was I doing running in 88 degree heat? Then finally around mile 23 I came upon my favorite cheer section which consisted of my husband, friends, and new Bostonian acquaintances. There was something so motivating about hearing my own name from my personal cheering squad.

The last few miles crept by and I crossed the finish line 19 minutes slower than my last marathon time. Given the weather conditions, I was perfectly fine with a slower time and was thankful that I finished the race.

While working our way through airports during our trip home, I was usually able to pick out the marathon runners not only by their new bright-orange Boston Marathon jackets but by their limping and looks of pain while shuffling down ramps or lowering themselves into chairs. We all shared in this discomfort but all also had a sense that it was a well-earned type of pain.
I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to run in the Boston Marathon. This was made possible by the arrangements made by UND faculty and clinical staff, family, friends, and the One who created me to love running.