11 Oct Marathon notebook: Kelly finishes her 45th marathon
Janet Kelly started running marathons 25 years ago. They’ve been a big part of her life ever since, as in that time she’s finished 20 Boston Marathons and 45 marathons overall.
Kelly, a 72-year-old from Orleans, is calling it a career, at least as far as the 26.2-mile length is concerned. She was one of more than 80 Cape Cod and island runners to run the 125th Boston Marathon on Monday, finishing in 5 hours, 14 minutes and 6 seconds.
“I’m thrilled that I did this,” Kelly said.
Running has always been about personal challenge and growth for Kelly, as it is for many distance runners. She said she’s stuck with it for that reason, and also the camaraderie you build with others on the course.
“I always say to them, ‘You’re not going to let a 72-year-old woman beat you, are you?’” Kelly said.
Kelly cited her age, and the long time it takes to recover from a marathon, as the main reasons for stopping after 45. Still, retiring from marathons doesn’t mean she plans to stop running entirely.
“I’ll still do half-marathons,” Kelly said. “The training is so much easier, and the recovery is so much easier.”
Tom Deeg put up the fastest time of any Cape Cod runner, finishing in 2:40:28. He beat Brent Schouler, a 29-year-old from Centerville who finished in 2:53:21.
Conserving early was key to Deeg’s success.
“The first 4 miles are practically a ski hill,” said Deeg, a 40-year-old Eastham runner who’s now run 15 straight Boston Marathons. “Some of those hills are really steep, and they’ll hammer your quads, that muscle group. You need those later on.”
Victoria Sivco, a 25-year-old from Sandwich, had the top Cape women’s time in 3:03:47. Sarah Heisner, 26, from Centerville, was second in 3:20:10, followed by Sarah Simonelli, 46, from West Barnstable, in 3:32:37.
“Being back on the course today was really fantastic,” Simonelli said. “I kind of took it easy, cruised into the city and got a 3:32, which is well below my qualifying time that I need.”
Lonergans run for recovery
Melissa Lonergan knows all about how much physical exercise can help with recovery from addiction. She’s a recovery coach for Gosnold on Cape Cod, a treatment center in Falmouth, and said she’d frequently see people at Wellstrong, a gymnasium and fitness center for people in recovery in Falmouth.
Whether it’s running, weightlifting, yoga or something else, Lonergan said working out can be critical to recovery.
“That discipline with running and a training program, you keep that discipline because you know you have to do it to be successful,” Lonergan said. “Substance misuse, it’s a mind, body and spirit disease. Running is just part of our wellness program.”
Gosnold received two charity bibs for the Boston Marathon this year, and they went to Melissa and her wife Denise. The Pocasset pair ran the marathon for the first time, finishing with nearly identical times of 5:22:27 for Melissa and 5:22:28 for Denise.
“I don’t know how any other marathon will compare to his,” Melissa Lonergan said. “The fans, all the cheering – I had a bounce in my step the whole way.”
The Lonergans both have their own histories with substance abuse, addiction and eventual recovery. That made their Boston experience all the sweeter, and they hope to make long-distance racing a part of their lives moving forward.
“If we weren’t sober, this would never have happened,” Melissa said. “Being able to run this, and commit to training to this, and following through with this, is all just a testament to our recovery.”
Mary Duchesney and David Caruso, a 55-year-old from West Barnstable and 38-year-old from South Yarmouth, respectively, both ran with the Last Call Foundation. The organization was founded in honor of Boston firefighter Michael Kennedy, who died in a Back Bay fire in March 2014.
Caruso works for the Yarmouth Fire Department, and is the son of fire captain Michael Caruso, while Duchesney’s son is also a firefighter.
Caruso said he had to train mostly on his own despite running with the Foundation, but having cause definitely provided extra motivation. He finished in 4:32:59, the race taking place on what would’ve been Kennedy’s 41st birthday.
“The Cape over the last couple years, we’ve lost a couple of close friends due to job-related cancer,” Caruso said. “It was great to be on board with this and show my support any way I could.”
Duchesney is one of the Cape’s veteran distance runners. She’s president of the Cape Cod Athletic Club, and has completed 12 Boston Marathons, including this one in 4:20:40.
The CCAC always sends a decent number of runners to Boston. They typically gather in a hotel room by the finish line after the race, which Duchesney said creates a great atmosphere to rest, recover and feel supported.
“Every time somebody comes back, everybody claps,” Duchesney said. “You get to congratulate everybody. You get to hear everybody’s war stories of what went wrong and what hurt.”
Rich Houston is another one of the Cape’s most-experienced marathoners. This year marked his 26th consecutive Boston Marathon, including the 2020 virtual race due to the pandemic, and the 65-year-old Harwich runner’s time of 4:13:32 was more than fast enough to qualify him for next year’s race as well.
“One of the things I enjoyed about today is that I ran various segments of the race with other members of the Quarter-Century Club,” Houston said, referring to runners who’ve finished 25 straight Boston Marathons. “It was fun to link up with other people who have that longstanding competitiveness.”
The CCAC doesn’t just send veterans, but also newcomers. Lynn St. Cyr, a 44-year-old from South Dennis, is the club’s co-vice president, but through volunteer work was able to earn one of the bibs for last year’s marathon.
When the 2020 race went virtual, the club awarded that year’s recipients the bibs for 2021. St. Cyr got to run Boston in person for the first time, finishing just ahead of her husband Lucien in 5:07:30.
“The best thing about the marathon was running with my husband,” St. Cyr said. “We’ve been running together for 10 years. … I have done no sports. He’s a complete athlete, gymnast, soccer player and wrestler, and he basically has been like a coach to me.”
Runners glad to be back
Cape runners varied in their attitudes towards how they finished, as is to be expected. Some were excited at their times, while some were accepting, and some were disappointed.
One recurring theme: After running virtually in 2020 and having to wait until October this year, it was great to be back to running the course in person.
Eric Wheeler, a 45-year-old from Falmouth, finished in 2:57:28, third-best on the Cape and a personal best for him.
“Everything that could go for right went right for me today,” Wheeler said. “It was overcast, not hot, not cold. I didn’t go out slow, but I went out easy, and probably run my smartest marathon.”
Wheeler said his strategy was to conserve energy during the early downhill miles. This left him with enough energy to conquer Heartbreak Hill and the surrounding hllls near Boston College in Newton.
Multiple runners used a similar strategy. Wheeler ran under 3 hours for the first time, qualifying for next year’s race while still getting to enjoy the atmosphere of crowded areas like BC, the tunnel filled with screaming Wellesley College students, and of course the finish line downtown.
“Boston is back,” Wheeler said. “You can hear (the Wellesley tunnel) for like a mile before you get there, and you can hear it for like a mile after you go by. I didn’t see anyone stopping to kiss people, but I saw lots of blown kisses and high-fiving.”
Runners hit Wellesley just before the race’s halfway point. That leaves the Newton hills to conquer, and whatever energy they have left after that goes to finishing the race down Beacon Street in Brookline, Commonwealth Avenue, Hereford Street and finally Boylston Street.
“I got super emotional when I made the right onto Hereford,” said Amy Woods, a 45-year-old Brewster runner. “You know you’re almost done, and it’s just awesome.”
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