The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest marathon, considered one of the most prestigious, along with the London, Berlin, New York City and Chicago races. Most casual runners will never measure up to its rigorous standards.
But GHSU Biostatistician Kelly Miller recently qualified to run in the 2012 event after finishing in the top 25 women runners in the Publix Georgia Marathon March 20 in Atlanta.
“I was really excited,” Miller said. “But it was a relief to cross the finish line, because it was such a long race.”
She completed the race with a time of 3:28 well under the qualifying requirement of 3:40 for her age group.
Miller was a casual runner in college. But she stepped up her routine about five years ago. And once she did, she surprised herself.
“In May 2008, I ran in a race and I caught up with my sister – I never thought I could do that,” Miller said.
The experience taught her that she was better than she thought. And she began to push herself harder.
“It became something I enjoyed more and I started pushing harder for it,” Miller said.
So she implemented a well-researched three-day-a-week training schedule, incorporating interval sprints and continuing cross training at the gym.
“It makes a huge difference in your overall ability to go faster in a race,” she said.
And she ran. She ran the Providence Heart & Sole in Columbia, S.C. She completed the Augusta half-marathon in October 2010 in an hour and 35 minutes, placing third overall. And she finished first among female runners in the March 5 Heart & Sole 5K run that benefited the MCGHealth Children’s Medical Center.
The Atlanta qualifying race was her most grueling, but also the most heartening.
“One of my favorite things about running is how encouraging other runners are,” Miller said. “Everyone is excited for each other.”
Other runners gave her the thumbs-up. The crowd yelled encouragement. Still, once she hit 20 miles, she had to stop and walk once or twice. Luckily, she had some time to play with.
“But the last 1.2 miles was the hardest I’ve ever run in my life,” she said.
She saw a Bible verse on the back of another runner’s shirt that leant her power: “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength,” from Philippians 4:13. “That was my mantra through the race and it really helped. It will most likely be a big help during the Boston race,” Miller said.
Her husband, Dr. Brian Miller, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Health Behavior, is another source of strength, she said, especially when she does long runs on the weekend. She said she wouldn’t be able to compete without his help.
“Obviously, I am quite proud of her,” he said, and noted the advances she’s made in a relatively short time. “We have three boys – ages 6, 3, and 1 – and she does a tremendous job of balancing work, family and training.”
Miller will continue to train. She worries about weakness in her endurance past the 20-mile mark, and wants to have additional longer runs under her belt before the big race.
Miller will compete in the Boston Marathon April 16, 2012.