BY DENNIS CHASE email@example.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The Boston Marathon proved to be a great motivator for Kaitlyn Malaski.
The 25-year-old physical therapist was struggling in last May’s Bayshore Marathon. So much so Malaski started to doubt whether she could finish.
“That was probably my hardest marathon to get through mentally,” the Traverse City resident said. “I wasn’t feeling well. I almost threw in the towel. I so badly wanted to stop and quit. All I could think of was, ‘You’re going to be so mad when Boston comes around next year if you quit.’ Getting to Boston was definitely a huge motivator.”
Malaski overcame her obstacles that day to finish the Bayshore in 3:30:51, a time that qualified her for this month’s Boston Marathon with four minutes to spare.
Thirty-five minutes earlier, her husband, Brent, had crossed the finish line in 2:55:06, about 10 minutes under the time he needed to earn a spot in Boston.
Although unique — a husband and wife qualifying together — it wasn’t the first time Kaitlyn and Brent had posted times to earn entry into Boston. The two had done so in previous years, but scheduling conflicts always interfered. Brent, 29, is a certified public accountant and this is his busiest time of year.
The fabled marathon, held on Patriot’s Day, usually falls on or about April 15 — tax deadline day. This year, though, the April 21 date is almost a week later, which opened the door for the two.
“I always wanted to do it — eventually,” Brent said. “This is the first time we can actually get out there.
“This is the first big marathon we’ve done, and it’s an historic one, so it’s kind of exciting.”
The Malaskis will be among nearly two dozen area runners headed to Boston.
“We’re really excited,” Kaitlyn said. “If you’re not an elite runner, the Boston Marathon is the epitome of marathon running. This year is extra special because of everything that happened last year (with the bombings).”
The Malaskis met at Aquinas College, where they ran cross country and track.
Kaitlyn comes from a running family. Her younger sister, a grad student at the University of Michigan, just ran her third marathon. Her aunt, Julie Boss, who lives in Traverse City, previously ran Boston. She had two brothers who ran at U-D Jesuit.
“I followed suit,” she said.
For Brent, this will be his seventh marathon. His personal best is in the 2:44 range. For Kaitlyn, this will be her fifth. She ran a 3:17:42 in the 2012 Bayshore. Neither expects to run those type of times in Boston.
“Typically, I have a time I want to hit,” Brent said. “This time I’m going to go with the flow. I might run with Kaitlyn since I haven’t been running as much as I would like. I’m not going to go out as fast as I normally do.”
A difficult winter, given the cold and snow, impacted training. And for Brent, the nature of his job makes for long days at work, starting about mid-January.
“A lot of it is you don’t want to get behind (doing taxes),” he said. “You want to get it done early on before you get slammed right about now.”
The Malaskis try to do a couple training runs together each week. Most of the time, though, since Brent is a faster runner, they train at different paces.
Kaitlyn altered her training methods from past marathons, but is pleased with her fitness level.
“I scaled down the number of runs I was doing,” she said. “I focused on quality mileage. Typically, for the Bayshore, I would run 55 miles a week. This year (for Boston) I peaked at 46. Instead of six runs a week, I’m doing four and then cross-training twice a week.
“You do your training and you trust you’ve done enough.”
Like her husband, Kaitlyn said the plan is to just enjoy the experience.
“Neither of us have done a really big marathon,” she said. “We’ve done Bayshore several times, plus the one in Grand Rapids. But neither of us have run Chicago or New York. This will definitely be a new experience. Running Boston with 37,000 other runners, instead of 3,000 (at Bayshore), is going to be a game-changer. We’re going to go with the flow, enjoy it and have fun.”
And it’s all possible, thanks to her decision to keep running — and fight through the discomfort — in last year’s Bayshore.
“You get into the midst of a marathon and there are definitely parts where you don’t feel good and you’re thinking, ‘Why am I doing this?’” she said. “Then you finish and it kind of renews the reasons why you started in the first place.”
And are headed to Boston.