The challenge of running 26.2 twisting, hilly miles in front of 500,000 spectators doesn’t dampen Carolyn Fruth’s enthusiasm for her first try at the legendary Boston Marathon.
“It’s actually something I’m very excited about doing,” said the 44-year-old mother of two. “I’ve trained and I think I’m prepared for it.”
Her husband Tim, a PHS vice principal and Payson’s former vice mayor agrees,” she’s pumped up for it.”
The marathon, which draws amateur and professional runners from all over the world, is set for April 20, Patriots’ Day, on a course that runs from rural Hopkinton into the center of Boston where the official finish line is located at Copley Square, near the Boston Public Library.
Along the way, Fruth must negotiate infamous Heartbreak Hill, a rugged climb that has frustrated runners since the inception of the event 114 years ago.
Fruth has researched the challenge of the hill during conversations with Linda Gibson, an accomplished local runner who competed last year at Boston.
“It’s not so much the (ascent) of the hill that is tough, it is where it is located in the marathon,” Fruth said. “It’s between the 20- and 21-mile mark, right where you’re starting to get really tired.”
It is also at about that position on the course that the runner’s muscle glycogen stores are being depleted; a phenomenon marathoner’s call “hitting the wall.”
Fruth has trained for Heartbreak Hill by including in her training regime, at least two runs per workout up Airport Road.
“That hill has a pretty good incline to train on,” she said.
Last year, Gibson also trained on Airport Hill.
The Boston course is considered one of the more difficult ones because of the Newton, Massachusetts hills, which culminate with Heartbreak Hill near Boston College.
Some of those hills force lesser-conditioned and trained entrants to give up their running pace in favor of a less stressful walk.
Because the field size limit is 25,000 runners, Boston entrants must qualify at a series of marathons held around the world.
Fruth qualified Jan. 18 at the P.F. Chang’s Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon held on streets winding through Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe.
There, she covered the course in 3:38, which easily bested the qualifying standard for her age division (40-44 years) of 3 hours and 50 minutes.
Fruth, a PHS graduate, began dreaming of competing in Boston, the most acclaimed marathon in the world, while training for the P.F. Chang event.
“It was about October or September that I started thinking about it and then when I qualified I said, ‘I’m going to do it.’”
In preparing for the monumental challenge, Fruth has not set time goals or standards, preferring instead to set her strategy as the course flows by her.
“It will depend on how I feel and how I am doing,” she said.
Those who know her, however, believe it is in her DNA to almost always go all out.
“She doesn’t have a cruise control,” said her friend Kay Foster. “Once she’s running, it’s full speed ahead.”
As a qualifier, Fruth will join a handful of other Rim Country runners who have competed in Boston including Gary Kutscher, Cindy Poole and Gibson.
Poole has actually run in four Boston Marathons.
Fruth, accompanied by her husband, will leave today, April 17, for Boston and return the day after the marathon.
Fueled by running
Fruth has been an avid runner for most of her adult life, competing in events around the state, often in the Valley at Pat’s Run, the New Times 10K and others.
Recently she took up triathlons, sprint triathlon and half-iron man competitions.
In July of 2008, she finished second in her age group at the 24th Annual Mountain Man Triathlon near Flagstaff.
Battling torrential rains, she turned in a 6.42.36 ET over a rugged, high altitude course that included a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile mountain bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.
About a month before that contest, she took third in her age division at the Payson Parks and Recreation Sprint Triathlon that included a 500-yard swim, 15-mile bike race and a 3.2-mile run.
Also last summer, she was seventh in her age group at Pat’s Run covering the 4.2-mile course in 31:49. In the 2006 Pat’s Run she was third in the 40-42 years age division.
Only a few months ago she captained Team Payson in the 200-mile Ragnar Relay two-day event that began in Prescott and ended in Mesa.
Fruth has also been a fixture on the local running scene, often competing in annual Turkey Trots, Payson Habitat for Humanity Home Runs and Monsoon 5Ks.
She also formerly coached the Rim Country Middle School cross country team.