Joanne Clark doesn't speak of the previous Boston Marathons she's run by their years; she remembers them by the times she's run. Ranging from a personal best of 4:30 to 6:55, they span an incredible 24 years.
Clark, 69, a resident of Cohasset and a member of the New England 65-Plus Runner's Club, stopped by Newton-Wellesley Hospital's free post-marathon injury clinic Tuesday, after running 6:40 the day before. Diagnosis? A foot blister.
"After every marathon, I say I'm never going to run again," said Clark. "But come the summer, I'll start remembering how much fun it is, and then I'll be training all over again."
An active church musician and spiritual leader, Clark was inspired to run by her late husband, a track and field trainer for the U.S. Naval Academy, and by watching the finish lines at the marathon as a younger woman.
"I always thought it looked like so much fun, so one year I just decided to try it," Clark said. "At first, I could barely run a half-mile, but as I kept working at it I was eventually able to run the full length about a year later."
Now, Clark said, she has passed her love of distance sports onto her children. Her eldest son, Christopher Ramsden, set a world record in 1997 for bicycling from Alaska to Chile to benefit multiple sclerosis.
"My sons will call me and tell me to train harder," Clark said. "And the men I play music for at church services will tease me, and tell me I can't quit. I tell them to put on their running shoes and give it a try."
Though Clark's story is uncommon, her injury is not. Doctors at the hospital said they were expecting at least 25 runners to attend this year's post-marathon clinic, one in a yearlong series of running-related activities the hospital sponsors. The clinic has been offered for the past 10 years.
"We have a program called Running Strong, which allows us to reach out to runners all year long," said Garth Savidge, an outpatient rehab specialist. He's run the Boston Marathon three times; his best time was 3:50. "We do pre-marathon health screenings in March and a summer lecture series on subjects like strengthening and nutrition. And on marathon Monday, we're right out there in a medical tent in the Athlete's Village."
Dr. Agam Shah, an orthopedic surgeon in sports medicine, said that foot blisters and tendonitis, or inflammation and wear and tear on tendons in the knee and hip, were around the most normal injuries associated with distance running.
"We also see some plantar fasciitis, or pain in the feet, and of course we want to make sure we catch all stress fractures," Shah said. "If not checked out after a race, injuries like this can lead to bone fractures and other complications."
Shah said that the dangers of distance running could be mitigated from using a medically-approved training program.
"You need to start training early, and use a program that has been approved by a major running organization," Shah said. "The body isn't used to moving the way it does when it runs a marathon, and it needs to be properly prepared.
As for Shah, he has only run the Boston Marathon once. His time?
"I'd rather not say," Shah said.
Sarah Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.