Road to my 1st Boston Marathon – Ashley

What are you most excited about for the Boston Marathon (things you have heard about, things you might be looking forward to the most)?
I am most excited about taking in the entire race weekend atmosphere. From picking up my bib number, shopping at the expo, visiting the finish line, listening to some of the elite runners speak, meeting up with teammates for a shakeout run and then a celebration after. I really am just excited about the entire experience. The race itself, the course, the hills, are also very exciting. I can’t wait to take it all in, take a lot of pictures, enjoy my time in Boston and run with every ounce of love and heart I have. I am really excited to put on my Boston Marathon jacket after crossing the finish line!

What made you want to do the Boston Marathon/when did it come on to your radar? What have you had to go through to qualify for the Boston Marathon?
Back in the spring of 2018, I added the Boston Marathon to the list of my dream races. It was on the list under races I thought would be well into the future, years and years and many marathon races under my belt. At the time of adding it to my list, I was almost an hour slower than the qualifying time. Since 2018 I gave birth to my second son, I learned about track work/speed work and tempo runs, pushed myself to new limits and found an incredibly supportive and hard- working team that helps push me to be better and to never give up.
In January 2021 I suffered an Achilles injury that put me out of running for 12 weeks. I learned to love biking more, focused on strengthening, and put in a lot of time at the boxing gym. When I could start running again that April, Kris Pierson (a fellow Rogue Racer) and I had been biking a lot together. He got to know my fitness level and how hard I worked. He knew I wanted to BQ someday, so he told me to try that fall at Columbus. I thought it was a very lofty goal, but I trusted his instinct. Now it was just about putting in the work. Kris would send me targeted paces and workouts for the week. We would run at the track together with other friends joining as well. In late June of 2021 he asked me to find a 5k to race so that I could earn a qualifying time to become a Rogue Racer team member. I trained hard for that race and ended up with a Rogue qualifying time. I am so thankful to Kris for pacing me and believing in me.
Training for Columbus was going well after that. I was focusing on hitting certain paces, continuing to bike, strength train and box. I put in my application to become a Rogue team member and was so excited to hear back. I had hoped I would be a good fit for the team. I finally heard back in mid-August and was asked to join a group run to meet more team members. I was all set up to join a run right after returning from vacation but instead I ended up having emergency surgery to remove my appendix. That was 8 weeks before Columbus. I was devastated and thought all my training and hard work had gone to waste and my dream of my first BQ would have to wait. Fortunately, my surgeon said I was able to return to activity as soon as I felt up to it. He credited my fitness level and health to a quicker recovery than most. Of course the first few days after surgery were pretty horrible. Everything hurt and I honestly didn’t see myself running again for weeks. I was able to get back on my bike 4 days after surgery and run again 6 days later. The miles were little and then 2 weeks after surgery I completed a 12 mile run. I thought to myself, well at least I’ll still be able to run the marathon. Maybe not a BQ time but I still wanted to run the marathon. On September 4th, 19 days after surgery I finally joined Rogue for a group run and ended up running 17 miles that day at a much faster pace than I had anticipated. The Rogue members were amazing that day, keeping my spirits high, giving me little insights into Columbus, and always supporting with positive words for me to keep pushing during training to see what I could do. I finally became a Rogue member shortly after that run and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was proud to be able to represent Rogue at Columbus and this helped fuel my training until race day.
I joined Linda Price for many tempo miles leading up to race day and she sure knew how to push me during those runs. She was exactly the training partner I needed those final weeks and I am so glad we could share so many miles together.
Finally, race day came and I didn’t know what to expect. I had some calf cramp issues from mile 17 to the end of the race, but I wanted a BQ time so bad that I pushed through more than I have ever been able to. Seeing so many Rogue teammates out on the course running and cheering helped me keep pushing hard and I ended up running a 3:25:30 (my goal was a 3:25), 4 minutes and 30 seconds faster than I needed for a BQ and over a 33 minute PR. That day was a dream come true.

Who is coming with you to the Boston Marathon (family/friends)?
Just my husband is joining me in Boston. My two sons (ages 5 ½ and 3) will be back in Ohio with my parents.

What does running the Boston Marathon mean to you?
Running the Boston Marathon means everything to me. As an ex-figure skater turned runner, I didn’t have many goals or dream races to strive for when I started running. When I learned about Boston and the qualifying times, I knew I wanted to train and push myself to qualify. But if I’m being honest, I didn’t think I would get there within 5 years of writing it down on my dream race list. Knowing how hard I worked and the obstacles I overcame to get here, this race means more to me than any other race I have ran thus far.

What number marathon is this for you?
This is marathon number 5 in person with 1 virtual marathon distance (2020)