The Boston Marathon is the pinnacle for runners from all walks of life. Every year, thousands descend upon downtown Boston in the middle of April for the world’s most prestigious 26.2-mile course.
As of Dec. 10, one of the competitors for the 2013 race will be one of Lipscomb’s own in former cross country star and current graduate assistant Jenny Randolph.
Last Saturday at Huntsville’s Rocket City Marathon, Randolph completed the course in just under three-and-a-half hours, qualifying her for the 2013 Boston Marathon. That time would have qualified her for next year’s race, but her qualifier came too late to compete in 2012.
“I signed up for Rocket City just as a personal challenge at the beginning,” Randolph said. “I wanted to see what I could do and if I liked it or not.”
Since she based her training on the 2013 qualifying standard, Randolph was shooting for a finishing time under three hours, thirty-five minutes. Soon, goals turned from just finishing the race into qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
“The first step in the process is set goals,” Randolph said. “My first goal was just to finish. I didn’t want to set my expectations too high, although that ended up happening anyway. I just wanted to finish and use that as a standard for future marathons.
“Always in the back of my mind was the Boston Marathon; it was something on my bucket list. My dad had run it more than once, and I wanted to do it as well.”
At 8 a.m. on Dec. 10, Randolph entered the starting block along with about 1,500 other competitors. An early morning on a cold December day isn’t the ideal time for support and encouragement, but that’s just what the athletes got on the course.
“The course wound through downtown Huntsville and a lot of residential areas,” Randolph said. “In the neighborhoods, people were out in their yards cheering, holding signs and motivating runners. Even some of the police officers patrolling the intersections had encouraging words to say.”
Randolph’s strategy was to avoid over-exerting herself at the beginning in order to maintain pace through the final 6-8 miles of the race. Over a flat course, over-exertion was easier to avoid while still maintaining good speed.
Randolph and the other competitors constantly encouraged one another.
“Everyone understood this feat is much more easily accomplished together than alone,” Randolph said. “As I was passed or was passing someone else we always exchanged encouraging words, even if it was just “keep it up” or “almost there” between breaths. That helped tremendously.”
At the 3:28.24s mark, Randolph crossed the finish line. She finished second in the female age 20-24 group, and 144th overall. Among female runners, she was the 19th finisher. Caitlin Anderson, Randolph’s former roommate and Lady Bisons cross country runner, finished fourth overall in the women's 20-24 bracket.
“The finish line was a welcome sight,” Randolph said. “When it was over, there was a lot of rehashing the race, analyzing different parts of the course and talking about how much fun it was.”
Now that’s she has qualified, Randolph can set her sights on training for the Boston Marathon. A training plan will be formed, goals will be set and many an early-morning run await her as she prepares for the grueling course in Beantown.
“I am by no means a marathon expert,” Randolph said. “I believe in the value of setting goals. Why drag yourself out of bed in the dead of winter or summer if you don’t know why you’re doing it?
“It’s important to set goals, but it’s even more important to keep them based in reality and in the right perspective. Success or failure isn’t determined by whether or not you achieve the goals; learn from the experience, tweak your training or strategy and try again if you don’t qualify for what you want.”