A redheaded Wellesley girl said “Go for it!” The experience was energizing!- Dale Sandley (April 20, 2015)

Posted on Jan 20, 2016 in 2015, Boston Marathon, M 55 - 59, Sandley - Dale, Wisconsin

A redheaded Wellesley girl said “Go for it!” The experience was energizing!- Dale Sandley (April 20, 2015)

I really haven’t been running very long. When I turned 50, in 2005, I started thinking more about my health, and joined a fitness center. I ran on the treadmill, used the elliptical, and regularly went to fitness classes.

In 2010, a buddy talked me into running a 5k with him. This was the first time I ever ran outside. It was a small event and I finished 4th in age group (behind my buddy). My next 5k I finished 3rd in my age group, again behind my buddy. It was wonderful winning an award. I had never played sports in school, so it was a new experience. By my fourth race, I was passing my buddy and really enjoying competing!

The more races I won, the more motivated my training became. By the end of that year, I had my 5k time down to 21:30!

The second year I learned that overtraining causes injuries, and only ran two races before becoming injured.

In Year Three, I listened to my body, and placed in six out of eight races, adding 5 mile, 10k, and 13.1 distances.

Yes, I am dressed warmly, it was 31 degrees, and it rained the last 5 miles.

 

In 2013, I placed in all ten races, with eight firsts and two second place finishes, and ran my first marathon at age 58. The marathon was the Honkey Tonk Marathon in Wisconsin Dells, WI, on October 20th, and it was a hilly course. I ended up running that race because the flat races had all filled up early.

My sister and her family at the 20 mile mark, where I really needed to hear those cowbells.

 

It was a small event, 107 runners, and I finished 1st in my age group, and 10th overall, with a time of 3:27:19. I had needed 3:40 to Boston Qualify. It will be really hard to top the feeling I received after crossing that finish line.

The race had a county western theme, at the finish
we received a cowboy hat and a finisher medal shaped
like a belt buckle.

 

Because this BQ marathon was in October, I could not enter Boston until eleven months later, for the 2015 race.

11175005_1032683163427445_1222027380608559194_n (1)But after this long wait, I was going to the ultimate race for a runner, the Boston Marathon.

11136622_1050824264932397_5700842333672535642_nAfter all the training, and qualifying, my wife and I arrived in Boston. Since this was our first time there, we had decided to spend a week. For the beginning of our trip, we stayed just North of Boston, as it was more affordable than downtown. We used the subway system to get around for sightseeing. There is a lot of history in the Boston area, and we had a great time seeing the city.

The expo was awesome. Every year the marathon jacket is a different color, so wherever you go, you see people proudly wearing their jackets, and the locals go out of their way to congratulate the runners.

We even had people walk us to where we were going if we needed directions!

11159482_1032189350143493_4263167480261888068_nThe last couple of days we stayed a couple of blocks from the finish line at the Revere. There were daffodils everywhere downtown!

Staying downtown made it really stress free to get on the bus to be taken to the starting line in Hopkinton. The race is point to point, and there were plenty of busses to transport everyone. We were dropped off at the high school, where there was a large tent for shelter. Water, coffee and snacks were all offered under the tent, but the coffee was the main focus, as it was 40 degree out, raining, and a 20mph wind from the east.

Although I had been given advice to run my first Boston at an easy pace and take in everything instead of trying to PR there, I had initially planned to run 8:00 pace or less. However, I changed my mind due to the weather. Because we would be running the whole way against the wind in that cool weather, I decided to use the easy pace strategy. I ran a fairly consistent 8:25 pace throughout.

The first four miles of the course are overall downhill, and my wave stayed in a tight pack, which made it easy to not go out too fast. There was an awesome amount of crowd support the whole way, which really keeps a smile on your face.

At the 12 mile mark is Wellesley College. You can hear the girls screaming a mile away! The girls there line the streets with signs saying “Kiss Me”, so I elected to stop and kiss a Wellesley girl! I saw a redhead, told her I was 59 years old and I never kissed a redhead, she said “go for it!” I have to say the experience was energizing!

At Mile 16 the hills of Newton start. Everyone talks about Heartbreak Hill, but there are three hills in Newton you have to climb first. I saw my wife here, and ran to her and got a kiss from her which gave me some much needed adrenaline.

Then at Mile 20.5 you reach Heartbreak Hill. Running a conservative pace really helped at this point in the race, and I held a fairly steady stride here.
Mile 25 brings the iconic Citgo sign, which is a welcome sight. The last mile was amazing, lots of cheering, and getting the finisher medal was the best feeling ever!

I ran a 3:40:46, slightly slow for me, but I was consistent and enjoyed the run. I was happy with my decision to run conservative, and glad I had saved energy for the hills…

1012943_1050824291599061_9130619436251498983_nBecause of the weather, there were large busses to sit in and warm up, as many were shivering badly, and I took advantage of this, too.

The volunteers did an amazing job. I was cold running and they were cheerful and very helpful. They opened our recovery drinks for us when they saw our fingers were cold!

Then back to the hotel for a long hot bath.

Boston is a very friendly city, and I am looking forward to going back again, but not in 2016. My wife and I are going to Cancun instead (Have to keep everyone happy…). However, I am already qualified for 2017, and will for sure run it again then!

It will be very hard to top the experience of my first Boston…

Dale Sandley
Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin