With more than 26,000 runners, 15 percent of whom never cross the finish line, the Boston Marathon has more than earned its world’s toughest course distinction. As one of I’ve world marathon majors, the hilly, winding course has beaten some of the world’s finest runners since its 1897 inception. But it could not beat Bath’s kristy Kenna because she would not let it. “I did not go not to finish; I knew i could do it,” said Kenna. knowing she could do it is what sent this young mother of three, with a fourth on the way, to tackle the April 20 Boston Marathon. Tackle it she did with a time of 3:57 and a 14-week-old baby in her belly. “I ran in Akron’s half marathon in 2007 and the full marathon in 2008. When my Akron marathon time qualified me for the Boston race, I decided to try it,” said Kenna. She tried it after training by herself by following marathon guru and author Hal Higdon’s 18-week training guide. Higdon’s marathon training plan claims to have successfully trained over a quarter of a million runners. Kenna followed Higdon’s running program and supplemented it with her own fitness classes to build upper body strength, which helps in running hills.
“it was easier training by myself because i have an eight, six and three year old and could not get up at the crack of dawn and leave them to go running,” said Kenna. “I worked around my family’s schedules and not around a training group. Considering I had morning sickness and not as much stamina, I am really proud I stuck with my training.”
Her training regimen was six out of seven days with one day of rest. “I was training six days a week, running and cross training with boot camp and weight training classes where I teach at a local fitness center. When I found out I was pregnant, with an October due date, and knowing i might not be in as good a shape after as I was now, I decided that now was the best time to go for it,” she added.
Kenna went for it only after checking with her doctor, researching competitive running during pregnancy and receiving the support of her husband and family. when she discovered that one woman ran in a marathon eight months into her pregnancy she knew it was possible. “On race day i did take it easy and had to stop for water breaks and to use the restroom, but even though my time was slower than normal. I have a baby that ran its first marathon, and I finished something i had never done before,” she said. Kenna may have never done the Boston Marathon before, but all her preparation helped her for the race. she has been a Bath resident since sixth grade, when her family moved to the area from tennessee. A natural born athlete, she played basketball and ran track at revere high school and received a partial college scholarship to play Division II basketball. A torn ligament in her knee sidelined her basketball career but not her desire to run and compete.
“My knee was bothering me in the Boston Marathon just after mile 17. I was feeling good; i had seen my husband at a watering stop at mile 10 and was running with a young woman from Chicago when my knee started to ache. I kept going but when i got to heartbreak hill, I really thought i might not make it,” she said.
Boston’s heartbreak hill is so named not because of its steepness, but because of a heartbreaking tale at the 1936 Boston Marathon. As the story goes, John kelley was the defending champion who caught up to the leader, Ellison “Tarzan” Brown on the hill. He patted Tarzan’s shoulder as he sped past him. It was all tarzan needed to speed up, pass Kelley and win the race. Kelley was heartbroken, and thus the hill was named after his heartbreaking loss.
As Kenna approached heartbreak hill and began to struggle, a bystander shouted, “number 16254 get up the hill!” Number 16254 Kristy Kenna got up the hill, down the hill and finished the Boston Marathon.
As to if or when she would do it again, she said, “My Akron marathon time gives me one more qualifying year, so, yeah, maybe i will return in 2010.” This time one more Kenna will cheer from the side-lines, and he or she will be a 2009 Boston Marathon veteran.
– Nancy Hudec, Bath Country Journal