Veteran, rookie heading to Beantown

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A veteran Boston Marathon runner has some advice for her fellow Okotokian who is running the most famous 42.2km race for the first time.

Enjoy the moment and maybe have a Sam Adams beer afterwards.

“My advice is not take it too seriously,” said Lori Toombs, who will run her third Boston Marathon on April 17. “If you go in too stressed you won’t do so well. After the race, when you are at the airport, when you are at the restaurant people ask you: ‘Did you finish?’ They don’t care about your time.’

“Go there with the attitude ‘I am going to enjoy it.’”

While Toombs is returning to Beantown, Niki Doyle will enjoy her first encounter with the Wellesley Scream and Heartbreak Hill.

“I am very excited and I just watched Patriots Day and that has made me appreciate the magnitude of the race,” Doyle said. “I appreciate Lori’s advice and others who have ran Boston have told me the same thing — the hard work was in qualifying, just really try to be present and enjoy it.”

Doyle just missed qualifying for Boston at the Calgary Marathon in May. The 44-year-old Doyle then made the cut for Monday’s race at the Edmonton Marathon in August at 3:40:57, more than four minutes faster than what is needed.

She’s put in the hours and can handle a Nor’easter if it blows the runners’ way, — the Saskatchewan-raised Doyle eschewed the treadmill and opted to run outside all winter to train for Boston.

Still, she has nervous chills about Boston.

“I understand about halfway through, it’s very hilly,” Doyle said “I am definitely trying to run my pace and be ready for the hills.”

She couldn’t be in a better place to train for hills.

Toombs said while there are hills, there’s nothing in Boston compared to running up 32nd Street in Okotoks or other inclines in the Foothills.

“It’s been 12 years, but I remember it as a good course,” Toombs said. “It starts downhill and there are a few hills at around 20 miles, but it’s not hilly like it is around here.”

Toombs previously ran Boston in 2004 and she did it again the next year with her husband Mark.

The 12-year-gap from her last trip to the Athens of America was due to life getting in the way. But now, with both sons graduated from high school and well-established, a trip back to Beantown was on her radar.

The 53-year-old Toombs qualified for Boston at the Santa Clarita Marathon in California at 3:48:55 in November of 2015, well under the qualifying time of four hours.

“I was happy with that, it was a hot day but it was a good run,” Toombs said.

Part of her training for Boston was North America’s oldest race, the 30km Hamilton’s Around the Bay on March 26 in a time of 2:33:03. Now she has begun her taper in preparation for historic Boston.

What makes Boston special is the environment.

“The atmosphere is so much fun,” Toombs said. “Once you are running it is great. There is so much support, there is water stations every mile, lots of things going around you and lots of people cheering.”

When Doyle hits the 42.2km mark in Boston, it will be the first-time she crosses the finish line, but not the first time she’s been on it.

“I was in Boston for a Learning and the Brain conference a few years ago and I went out for a walk,” said Doyle, a vice-principal at St. Francis of Assisi Academy. “I went out for a walk and I came across the finish line — it’s painted across the street and I had someone take my picture.”

Some help gave her the nudge to go back to cross the finish line for real.

“Even a year ago, I would not have believed I would have run the Boston Marathon — I hadn’t even ran my first marathon yet,” she said. “I had two of my colleagues, Krissie Eberhart who works with me and Leslie Woehleke (St. Luke’s Outreach Centre principal). Both of them I think, God was nudging me to where he wanted me to be through them.

“Both of them, at different times, planted seeds in me to try for Boston. It wasn’t even on my radar.”

Doyle can go back to Beantown. She qualified for Boston in 2018 at the Victoria Marathon in October 2016.

For more information and to keep track of Toombs and Doyle during the Boston Marathon, go to www.baa.org

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