Boston Strong!

boston_marathon_logo_smallLast week was the 120th Boston Marathon.  A race steeped in tradition and history, as well as adversity with the 2013 bombing.  It is one of the top marathons in the world, currently ranked #6.   Several members of the Tallman Track Club competed in the race, making Charleston, WV proud.  As a marathoner myself, and one who knows she will never get to Boston, I am fascinated by the experience. So I decided to do something a little differently this week, a Q&A with a few of the participants.  You’ve probably read about WK Munsey in previous posts as one of my mentors.  I have known Sarah Fletcher since college.  If you’re doing the math that’s about 25 years (ugh!).  Both of them have completed the Boston Marathon numerous times.  TW Moore is a member of the track club and competed in his first Boston Marathon this year. Getting his feedback as a first-timer was also intriguing to me.

Let’s meet our esteemed panel of fierce competitors.

WK Tutu memeWK is an avid runner, having started in 1983 so he could go up the 6 flights of steps at his elevator-less office without passing out. Since then he has completed 28 marathons! He has been involved with the Tallman Track Club in Charleston since 1986 and took over the leadership role around 2005. Asked how the club has changed over the year, he sites electronic technology as a game changer, making getting the word out to members and prospective members much easier through email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.


Sarah Fletche MemeSarah was a 400 and 800 meter runner in college, and a damn good one!  But running a marathon never crossed her mind until years later.  Her first marathon was in 2004, 10 years after graduating from Marshall Unversity. Since then she has completed a total of 7 marathons, 4 of which were Boston and the Marine Corp Marathon, #12 in the world.  She is definitely a “go big or go home” kinda girl. And in that spirit, she has also completed both traditional and off road triathlons, adventure racing and the WV mountain bike series.


TW memeTW was on the cross country and track teams in middle and high school, but didn’t get back into running until 2009 when he and his wife moved to Charleston and he decided to tackle the 15 mile Charleston Distance Run, a challenging race steeped in history in its own right. His first marathon was the Marshall Marathon in 2012.  Since then he has packed a punch completing a total of 6 in 4 years.  This being his first Boston, he notes that it was filled with emotions from both ends of the spectrum. But he wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world, with his family there to cheer him on.


Question: What has been your favorite race and why?

WK: The Boston Marathon.  The Boston race is one where everyone in the town takes ownership.  The organization, volunteers, spectators and the course itself all make it a standout race.  Plus you have to qualify for the privilege to run. A close second is the 15 mile Charleston Distance Run

Sarah: All-time favorite race would be the Ironman in Chattanooga (told you she was fierce) because the training was such a commitment but the accomplishment is unmatched. It is the longest Ironman at 144.6 miles where the standard is 140.6.  Favorite marathon would be Boston because of the fan support and volunteers.  Throughout the whole 26.2 someone is always cheering for you.

TW: The Chicago Marathon because the course was flat and fast and this race was my qualifying time for Boston.  Favorite all-time race is the Charleston Distance Run because it is a great showcase of our town and the history of the elite runners participating in the earlier years is pretty amazing.

Question: Tell me about your experience in this year’s Boston Marathon.

WK: The first thing is not to get too amped up. The crowds are incredible and if you have your name displayed on your bib get ready for the spectators to scream it the whole 26.2 miles. And if you are a 60 year old man rocking a tutu, you better be ready to own it!

Sarah: My favorite moment from this year’s race was when the female winner, Atsede Baysa, gave her trophy to Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon. This was the 50th anniversary for women.  Took them 70 years before women could run the race.

TW:  This being my first Boston Marathon as I made my way to my corral I went through a serious of emotions- excitement, anticipation, anxiety, nervousness, impatience, hunger and worry were just a few. I was happy with my overall race, but will be much better prepared if I attempt it again. Having “Heartbreak Hill” at mile 21 after 3 other hills in sequence just seems cruel.  A notable aspect of the race is the spectators. At 3:00 pm I had finished the race, made it back to my place and showered, I was standing in the kitchen and asked my wife what that noise was.  It was the crowd a block away still out cheering for the runners.  It was incredible!

2016 Boston Marathon medals. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

2016 Boston Marathon medals. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Question: If someone wanted to train for a marathon, what advice would you give them?

WK: Be consistent in your training. The body likes routine and in the last 3 weeks really hone in on your marathon goal pace.

Sarah: My advice would be to get fitted for correct shoes and replace them often. Start your training slow and gradually build your mileage to avoid injury.

Question: This one’s for TW. We all know the saying “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.”  So how do you get to the Boston Marathon?

TW: Practice, practice, practice! Practice on a consistent basis. If the practice becomes a habit, great things will follow.  Practice with people, especially people faster and more experienced than you. Faster runners push you outside your comfort zone. Experienced runners can give you advice and motivate you. I was much more comfortable before each marathon because I talked about the course strategy with runners who were more experienced than me. Practice alone.  Running with others is great.  But running is inherently an individual sport. You have to concentrate on your training and that requires a lot of focus on what you are asking from your body and how it responds.

Question: Finally, is there anything else you would like to add or advice you would like to give?

WK: Running has been an incredible gift.  And to enjoy running you don’t have to be the fastest, strongest or the most gifted, you just have to be willing to get out the door and go!

Sarah: Exercise on any level promotes good health.  So my advice is to get out and move! Quality of life improves with exercise.  Encourage exercise on any level and set the example.

TW: If you run, you are a runner.  Do not be intimidated by where another runner is in their development. We are all somewhere on the running continuum and we all have the same struggles and triumphs.

There is so much more wisdom that these three have shared with me.  And I could go on forever.  But I know I need to keep it a reasonable length.  I hope this has given you some insight into the dedication, commitment, joy and fun that running, walking, staying active and having goals can bring to your life.  If you want to know more about WK, Sarah or TW or have specific questions you would like to ask them, let me know and I will try to connect you.


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