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Runners persevere for many reasons

Spectators offered runners cups of water along Commonwealth Avenue during the Boston Marathon. Spectators offered runners cups of water along Commonwealth Avenue during the Boston Marathon. (JOHN BLANDING/GLOBE STAFF)
By Colleen Casey
Globe Correspondent / April 19, 2012
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Jodi Feeney is no stranger to marathons.

On Monday, the 48-year-old mother of three from Milton completed her 30th marathon, her 22d in Boston, persevering through the unseasonably high temperatures (87 degrees in Boston) on the 26.2-mile trek.

The course conditions Monday were similar to those of 2004, when the temperature hit 86. There was a major difference in training for Feeney, however. In 2004, she ran just three months after giving birth to her third child, Jayne.

“The 2004 race was definitely similar to today, but today was even hotter,’’ said Feeney, who completed the course in 3:51:18.

Feeney started running marathons after graduating from Bowdoin. Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit, a Bowdoin alum, was her inspiration. And once she started running, she couldn’t stop.

“It’s somewhat addicting. You forget about the pain,’’ said Feeney, who coaches middle school soccer and lacrosse at Milton Academy.

The only years Feeney skipped the marathon was when she had her first two children, Jennifer, now 13, and Quin, 11. She runs every day.

“Once I start, I’m not stopping. I motivate myself,’’ she said. “I want to prove to myself I can still do it and be a good role model for my kids.’’

Greg Doyon, a 25-year-old Duxbury native returned home this week from grad school in St. Louis to run the marathon and catch a Red Sox game.

As a public health major, Doyon knew he needed to take extra precautions in the heat. He normally starts hydrating with Gatorade a day before the race but started drinking it an extra day early.

“I drank a lot of water and Gatorade this year,’’ said Doyon. “Every water station I was pouring it over my head. The fans were even handing out water. Normally I don’t take it from them, but this race I really needed it.’’

After completing his third Boston, Doyon found himself in the medical tent for the first time. He was surprised to see how many elite runners had joined him.

“After the race I felt nauseous and light-headed; I thought it would be a good idea to go to the tent,’’ said Doyon. “The people that started in corrals 1, 2, and 3 - you would expect them not needing the medical tent, but they were there.’’

Doyon said he was impressed with the way the Boston Athletic Association handled warning runners about the heat and that they made runners “make a tough decision.’’

What kept Ashley Peterson, a Quincy resident, pushing through the high temperatures were her supporters at the finish line, her mother, father, best friend - and her cellphone.

As soon as she finished, she grabbed her phone and called her husband, RJ Cruz, who is in Qatar with the Air Force.

“At mile 10, when it was really hot, I kept thinking of my husband,’’ said Peterson. “I knew he’s moving around in 100-degree heat all the time so I knew I shouldn’t complain.’’

One other special person was waiting for her - Rick Kates, an official who was her high school track coach at Notre Dame Academy in Hingham. She is now an assistant coach on his staff.

Jill Strathdee developed her love for running as a student at Emerson, jogging downtown and on the Esplanade. The 35-year-old Weymouth resident has run marathons all over the country, but “when it comes to a hot day, I cannot think of a better place to run than Boston,’’ she said.

Strathdee lauded spectators that lined the streets from Hopkinton to Copley Square, handing out water, Gatorade, orange slices, ice blocks, and even spraying the passing runners with hoses and squirt guns.

“It was such a well-supported course,’’ said Strathdee. “It made a huge difference.’’

Colleen Casey can be reached at colleen_casey@emerson.edu.

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