West Virginia University Libraries staff member John Cuthbert can cross another item off his list of100 Things to Do in My LifeRun the Boston Marathon.
Cuthbert, curator of the West Virginia and Regional History Collection, fought poor weather, leg cramps and a long climb upHeartbreak Hillto cross the finish line of the 111th Boston Marathon in mid-April. The race was 26 miles, 385 yards (42.195 kilometers).
That was it. I had done it,Cuthbert remembers telling a friend after the race.
It took a few minutes for the realization of his accomplishment to register. What had once been a lofty dream discussed after an evening run had suddenly become a memory and a medal.
I felt like I had achieved my ultimate goal in running and was ready to go look for something else to do,Cuthbert said.I need to start sky diving.
Cuthberts journey to Boston began about 25 years ago when he and a co-worker would run occasionally over their lunch hour. Back then, and for the next several years, running was a chore that he forced himself to do from time to time to stay in shape.
But something changed about a decade ago when he started running regularly.
Apparently, I got over a hurdle,Cuthbert said.I didnt enjoy it initially, but I got over a hurdle to the point that I couldnt wait to go do it.
Two months later, he was ready to take this hobby to another level. After finishing a run around Lakeviews golf course, he spotted a sign for a five kilometer (5K) race and the prospect of competing in a race sounded appealing.
Running in that race hooked him for good.
Everyone around me was a runner,Cuthbert said.Everyone had the numbers on. That was my induction into the world of being a real runner as opposed to a guy whos out jogging.
He quickly sought out another race with the goal of beating his own time. The following year, he ran in four races and joined the Morgantown Roadrunners group. He soon had run in several 5K and 10K races, took on the Deckers Creek Trail Half Marathon and then stepped up to the Columbus Marathon in Ohio.
Cuthbert has participated in the Columbus and Marshall University marathons twice each. It was last years time in Columbus3 hours and 42 minutesthat qualified him for the Boston Marathon, which is one of the only races that require runners to qualify.
The dream of running in the legendary contest, however, almost disappeared in a deluge hitting the Northeast region.
Cuthbert traveled through snow in Connecticut to reach rain-soaked Boston. He woke up at 6 a.m. on race day to see what looked like a hurricane outside his window. News reports on every television station questioned whether the race would happen.
It looked like it was going to be disastrous,Cuthbert said.My goal switched from running a time that I thought I could achieve to just starting the race, so I could say I had run the Boston Marathon. That became my new goal.
Although the rain had slowed to drizzle by start time, the runners faced two other major obstacles: the wind and the crowd.
As opposed to being at their backs, the wind pummeled runners as they tried to press through its gusts.
Congestion also slowed down runners. Although there were more than 20,000 official participants, hundreds of others ducked under the ropes to unofficially join the race.
There were so many people running this race, I was in the crowd all the way. It held me back for the first several miles,Cuthbert said.
Despite the early problems, Cuthbert kept a steady pace and reached the halfway point on target at 1 hour and 40 minutes.
The second half, though, seemed to have more uphill climbs than he had expected. While nothing like the rolling hills back in West Virginia, these climbs were long, one- or two-mile grades.
Toward the end, Cuthbert started worrying about his legs. He explained that most runners usually dont face problems with their upper body stamina during a marathon, but legs are a different story. After several miles, a persons legs can suffer from lactic acid buildup and begin to stop cooperating.
Youre telling your legs to run faster and theyre not listening,Cuthbert said.Theyre just doing their own thing.
He knows from experience. During a past marathon, he slowed to a walk when one of his knees began to bother him. When he started running again, his legs felt like lead.
This time, he resolved not to overly push himself and slowed down when he felt his legs were starting to revolt. While it was the wise thing to do, it did cost him time.
Cuthbert finished the marathon in 3 hours and 49 minutes, four minutes behind his goal.
There was so much at stake in this marathon for me, I didnt want to develop a problem that would prevent me from finishing respectfully,he said.I missed my goal, but under the circumstances, primarily being the weather, I was reasonably satisfied with my time, and I was happy to have completed the Boston Marathon.
The experience will stick with Cuthbert, but he is quick to say the best thing about a race and running is how you feel afterwards. He finds the night before a race is usually filled with agonizing over worry, which follows into the competition.
Youre really pushing yourself to the limit during the race,Cuthbert said.Its not until you cross the finish that youre thinking, �€~I did it. That was fantastic.Thats what makes it all worthwhile.
For more information, contact Cuthbert at 304-293-3536, ext. 4201.