Two Victorians take on Boston Marathon year after terrorist attacks
April 19, 2014 at 8:04 p.m.
Updated April 18, 2014 at 11:19 p.m.
Dorothy Rusch ran in three straight Boston Marathons, a streak that began in 2010.
She missed last year's event because her daughter's wedding was taking place the day after the marathon.
That wedding saved Rusch from experiencing a terrorist attack firsthand.
On April 15, 2013, two homemade explosives were set off near the finish line just mere seconds apart from one another. The blasts killed three people and injured at least 264.
Rusch said that it was a crazy day trying to get everything ready for the wedding and didn't hear about the bombings until her husband called her later in the day.
"He said, 'Did you hear?' and then I saw it on the Internet," Rusch said. "To have something so happy be destroyed was hard to stomach."
Despite any lingering safety concerns or fears, the 64-year-old competitive runner had every intention of returning to Boston for her eighth marathon on Monday.
Training for the City on a Hill
Accompanying Rusch on her long training runs to prepare for the pinnacle of many runners' careers is Kathy Manning, who will be running her second marathon.
Manning, 54, qualified for the Boston Marathon at the 2014 Houston Marathon in January. She started running about seven years ago after both her kids graduated from high school.
"I was in shock that I finished," Manning said. "When I found out I qualified for Boston, it took me to a new level of training."
The women knew each other through their children, who went to school at St. Joseph, and started running together in the Victoria Area Road Runner's Association.
Since qualifying for Boston, many Saturday mornings were sacrificed for long runs which started at 6 a.m.
Their longest training run was 22 miles.
"Figured if we can make it 22 miles, we can probably manage the last four," Rusch said, laughing. "We can struggle on in."
Though Boston isn't the country's most difficult course, it is quite different from South Texas' flatness.
With a lack of elevation for consistent hill training, Rusch and Manning had to get creative.
Rusch got a membership at Gold's Gym to use the treadmills for the incline and decline functions.
The ladies also used the boat ramp at Riverside Park to help prepare for hills.
Their regimen also consisted of light weight lifting, yoga, pilates and upper body strength training.
"Kathy has definitely helped me as far as pacing," Rusch said. "She is so much faster."
Keeping an 8:15-8:20 mile pace - which they stuck to during their training - clocks them at the finish line around 3 hours and 40 minutes after starting.
Rusch has already qualified for Boston in 2015, and Manning will use this year's race to qualify for next year.
"I keep trying to beat my PR (personal record) and stay motivated," Manning said.
City of Champions
Since last year's attacks, being on the sidelines in Boston has changed.
One major change has been the banning of large bags and backpacks for spectators.
Rules for runners have also changed, Manning said.
According to the Boston Athletic Association, runners are allowed to carry one liter bottles of fluid on them during the race, which they can refill at water stations as needed.
Fuel belts and fanny packs can be no thicker than 5 inches by 15 inches to carry food, medicine, nutritional products, identification and any other necessary items.
The bib number, which identifies a runner, must be worn at all times.
Arm bands to carry a cell phone or camera are allowed. Headphones, though discouraged, are also permitted.
"They have been really good about emailing us and keeping up to speed on what we can and can't have," Manning said.
Manning called the Boston Marathon attacks a "thoughtless evil."
"It's such a violation of what are personal celebrations," she said. "It's such a happy, celebratory time of Americans gathering together."
Addicted to greatness
Now retired, Rusch began running 14 years ago to stay in shape.
Seven marathons later, she admits she is addicted to to the rush.
"I'm glad that Victoria is having more and more races," she said. "It's really been growing in the last five or so years."
Along with Rusch, three more Victorians have qualified for the 2015 Boston Marathon: Kevin Schaefer, Denise Tomanek and Michael Felchak.