They are a different breed of people. The ones who are up before dawn, braving wind, rain, snow, heat, sun. They are the ones who push through the pain, the exhaustion, the hunger. Uphill, downhill and back up again, never stopping until they reach their destination. They are admired by a few, seen as crazy by most, but they have each other and the bond of loving something so much they are willing to put it all on the line. They are brothers, sisters, friends, students, but most of all, they are runners.
Like Forrest Gump, who never thought running would take him anywhere, Miami University sophomore Addie Rupert never dreamed she’d qualify for the crown jewel of races, the Boston Marathon.
“All my goal was, was to finish,” Rupert said of her first marathon.
But Rupert, a member of Miami’s club running team, the Striders, did more than just finish. Running at a 7:38 minute per mile pace for 26.2 grueling miles in Columbus, she landed herself a spot in one of the most prestigious races in the world.
The Boston Marathon started in 1887 with the establishment of the Boston Athletic Association, a non-profit organization committed to promoting a healthy lifestyle through sports, especially running. In its 118th year, the marathon is on Monday, April 21, Patriot’s Day in Boston.
The Boston Marathon teamed up with the equally esteemed London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City marathons to launch the World Marathon Majors which collaborate to offer $1 million to be split among the top male and female marathoners in the world each year.
The World Marathon Majors are all races for which a runner has to qualify. According to Rupert, she had to run in a participating marathon—such as the Columbus Marathon held every October—and finish in a time faster than three hours and 35 minutes.
However, Rupert never set her sights on this mark. It was, after all, her first marathon and who qualifies for Boston—the king of marathons—during their first marathon?
“I never even trained below eight [minute per mile pace],” Rupert said.
But she did have some helpful tricks up her sleeve come race day in Columbus.
“I remember when I was doing Columbus I saw a lot of people walking when they hit the wall,” Rupert said, “And I hit the wall, I had to slow down a little bit, but I told myself over and over again, ‘you will not walk’ and I didn’t.”
Other strategies Rupert used included staying optimistic and picking a runner to try to keep up with throughout the race.
“Some guy had really colorful shoes so I was like, ‘OK, I’m just going to stay with him.’ So I stayed with him for as long as I could,” Rupert said with a grin.
Admittedly, he was too fast for Rupert, but her method must have worked because she crossed the finish line of the 2012 Columbus Marathon in three hours, 21 minutes and two seconds, beating the time she needed to qualify by more than 10 minutes.
Her training for Boston has been a little more regimented this time around. Rupert has been following a schedule of runs that increases in distance every week, culminating in a final long run 22 miles in length.
But Rupert fell victim to a runner’s worst nightmare: a leg injury. During her training-running ten miles of hills-she strained her quad and the bad timing of the injury is affecting her in many ways.
“On Saturday,” Rupert said, “I was supposed to do 22 [miles], but I limped through ten.”
Her initial excitement has turned to nerves as the day of the Boston Marathon approaches and her injury is still not healed.
“My goal now is to finish,” Rupert said, sighing.
Despite the injury, Rupert is still physically active.
Preparing to teach a spinning and total body tone class at Miami’s Recreation Center, Rupert said that although running is her exercise of choice, she enjoys all types of fitness classes and is always trying new workouts.
“It’s just like a part of me, fitness in general,” Rupert said.
As the weather changes for the better, there is no place Rupert would rather be than outside enjoying a run.
“It’s just the way I am. I have to run. If I don’t run, I’m not in a good mood,” Rupert said.
As April 21 and the Boston Marathon approach, Rupert is continuing to take it easy with her quad injury and tapering her runs to shorter distances.
While Rupert is shortening her runs, senior Ryan Moore, president of Striders, is beginning to strategize his training plan for the 2015 Boston Marathon, for which he qualified this past October at the 2013 Columbus Marathon.
It had taken him about five marathons, but he and two other Striders ran within the qualifying parameters for their gender and age group: a taxing three hours and five seconds.
Moore, along with senior Brian Breitsch and sophomore Alex Schachtel, trained together over the summer despite being located in different parts of the state.
“We spent all summer training independently but we tracked our mileage online so it was a lot of ‘Hey, good job! Saw you had a good week of running!’” Moore said.
The goal for the three teammates was to qualify for the Boston Marathon during the Dayton Marathon held this past September.
After a late arrival set a bad tone for the race, the three decided to give qualifying for Boston one last shot and vowed to run the rapidly approaching Columbus Marathon.
“That last month I don’t think any of us trained like at all, so we were really out of shape by the time and I think we all just got lucky,” Moore said. “It was a lot of motivating each other.”
Breitsch and Moore agree that the best part of the Columbus Marathon was when they, along with Schachtel (known to teammates as Schaq), crossed the finish line just in time to earn a spot in one of the most renowned marathons in the world.
Brietsch added, however, that the worst part of the Columbus Marathon was every moment before he crossed the finish line.
Moore elaborated on Brietsch’s comical cynicism, “It’s great to have goals and things to strive for. That being said, marathons are the worst. They really hurt. Your mind, your body, your soul.”
To further illustrate, Moore recalled a time he was so hungry during a race he thought he actually went crazy.
“I literally just lost my mind at mile 20. I was so hungry that I was pulling leaves off the trees and thinking ‘this is kind of like lettuce. I could eat this,’” Moore said.
But misery loves company, and through the trials and tribulations of marathon running, Moore, Brietsch, and Schachtel developed a support system, one they agree is the reason for their success.
“Brian and Schaq finished before me,” Moore said, “and every time I’d fall behind they’d start yelling at me and point to the ground next to them, like ‘hurry up!’”
Running with his two friends is one of the things Moore is most excited for during his race in a year. He is also glad to have the support of his friends and family, who will be joining him in Boston when the day rolls around.
For now, Moore does not have a set running schedule. He is working on being injury-free and when the time comes he will use a tentative running schedule, like Rupert.
It seems runners have a great deal in common, as Moore and Brietsch also stressed the importance Rupert placed on having an optimistic mindset.
“I think smiling during the race was a huge help. Even though you feel really bad, you just smile, fake it till you make it,” Brietsch said.
Whether running Boston in a few weeks or running Boston in a year, it is clear that a little positivity, race strategizing and a few good friends can make the difference between average and extraordinary, between everything else and the Boston Marathon.
Photo Credit: Ryan Moore
The Article was featured in The Miami Student