Melissa’s Boston Marathon Journey

The 2019 Boston marathon was my second Boston marathon. For most marathoners, they probably did not go as long as I did to re-qualify for Boston. My first Boston was 10 years ago in 2009. Yes, you heard that right-….10 years it took me to get back to the most prestigious marathon out there. Many would ask how could it take you that long to get back? I really don’t have a definite answer.

Us runners like to tell stories and how we began marathoning. I will try to make this short, but the following is a quick recap and “setting the stage” for Boston 2019:

Melissa at her 1st Marathon, Columbus in 2002

Columbus Marathon in 2002 was my first marathon. I had watched it with some college cross country teammates a year or two before 2002. We all ventured down to Columbus to cheer on our assistant coach run his first marathon. I remember telling myself that I would run the Columbus marathon someday. A few years later I had to quit college cross country and track teams because my mother told me that I can’t major in running and nursing school took precedence. I was nervous that I would lose fitness and my running mojo, so I signed up for the 2002 Columbus marathon. I still remember that start line, me in my brand new Nikes, new socks and a Blue shirt that said Boston marathon on it. Haha, yep, I had no clue at the time what the Boston Marathon was. I found the shirt at an outlet and thought it was cool because it said marathon and I was going to run one. Funny right! Oh, one other thing, I only trained up to 13 miles. I finished that marathon in 4:16:40 and was hooked. 

Fast forward to Akron 2008 and multiple marathons in between, I qualified for Boston. At that point, I knew what Boston was and knew I needed 3:40:59 to get in. I qualified in 3:40:46 and snatched my spot.

Melissa at Boston in 2009

The 2009 Boston Marathon was unbelievable. My best friend accompanied me there and we just soaked it up. Drinking Sam Adams every day and sightseeing all over. The race was amazing mostly because the crowd support. I was in horrible pain from mile 13 on due to lack of training. I finished the race but was in so much pain going down Boylston street, that I barely enjoyed the moment. I vowed to myself that I would be stronger and run smarter thru training the next time I went back to Boston. Needless to say, my moment did not come until this year 2019.

What happened in between 2009 to now, well, I tried multiple times to qualify. I ran many marathons in between for fun, exploring new places, but had many that I worked so hard at, only to blow up at mile 19. Also, as we all know, Boston standards kept getting faster! 

Melissa & Brian running the Eugene Marathon in 3:29:40

In 2018, I ran the Eugene marathon. This was bucket list number 2 on my list. Since I got denied for London in 2018, I decided to sign up for Eugene. Since it was finishing in Track Town USA/Hayward Field, I decided to go for it again at this race. I went out there with my future husband and fellow teammate Brian Kasten and some of my other close friends. Brian paced me and helped me with my nutrition during the race. With a mile to go, I looked at my watch realizing that I was going to have a huge huge PR and definitely punch my ticket to Boston. I ran with all my heart and qualified in 3:29:40. That was an 11 minute PR for me that day and was ahead of my BQ time by over 10 minutes!

At Boston in 2019, Brian helped pace me again, but I knew this race was to be my most epic race of all races. Although I was so grateful to have Brian by my side, I felt different in this race. I went in to Boston with a positive mindset. I told myself and others that I would not say anything negative, even if it was pouring rain. I also only allowed myself to work the mile I was in. I started training with the same mindset in the past year.

Melissa at the famous Citgo sign at mile 25.

I can honestly say I felt amazing almost the entire race. There may have been 1 or 2 miles I had a bit of nausea creep up, but it was gone within a few minutes. I felt a horrible blister form at mile 15, but right when I was about to mention it, I saw a double amputee runner right next to me. Then I passed a blind runner with her guide. At that point, I told myself that this blister was nothing compared to what they were dealing with and that I could keep this pace until the end. I charged every hill on that course. I only was over 8 minute miles twice and one was on heartbreak hill. I pounded those streets with pride and love. The crowds, the runners, the Rogue Racing team, everything about Boston made me just want to run faster and faster. Of course I felt like I was running faster, but really I was just keeping the pace and not fading (which was fine with me). I told myself this time that I would remember every moment of Boston and not be in the pain like 2009. When I passed that Citgo I knew that I was almost done. I kicked my legs and pushed with those fancy expensive Nike shoes and told myself to go as hard as I could. I surprised myself in this race. I turned onto Boylston street and flew to that finish smiling the entire time. Wow! The feeling you get going down that street. Actually the entire race. I finished with yet another big PR 3:25:04. I truly believe it was this new positive mindset and quality tempo runs in the harsh Ohio winter that helped me achieve another 5 min big PR.

At the 2019 Boston Marathon Finish Line 3:25:04