Professor and Dean of School of Nursing Amy Hall will be running the virtual Boston Marathon with nine other runners from Baton Rouge on Labor Day.
The Boston Athletic Association announced that the 124th Boston Marathon would be held as a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be complemented by a series of virtual events throughout the second week of September.
Hall said that it shows that the event was not canceled and it’s a big deal for all of the runners. “Varsity Sports is sponsoring the event and I'm helping coordinate the volunteers. In addition to all the marathoners, we have people who will be running with us and cheering for us and who will be providing support along the route. We are going to have our Boston racing bibs, a start and a finish line, a medical tent, and signs to make it look like Boston.”
Participants in the virtual 2020 Boston Marathon will be required to complete the 26.2-mile distance within six hours and provide proof of timing to the BAA.
“Some runners have playlists; I have a pray list,” stated Hall. “I dedicate every mile of my marathons to others who are going through hard times or who simply need prayers. I find that dedicating my miles to others helps. In praying for them and thinking about them, they lift me up. I think about their challenges and struggles and they keep me going, even when I feel really tired and don't think I can go any further. I say their name out loud at the beginning of their mile and they get me through that mile.”
Hall has qualified for two Boston Marathons, 2019 and 2020. “You have to run a qualifying time at a Boston-qualifying marathon. The times are based on your gender and age. The challenge is that even if you qualify, you are not guaranteed a spot. Usually, more people qualify than can run the race, so the fastest athletes in their age and gender are accepted to run,” said Hall. “For this year, your qualifying time had to be 1 minute and 39 seconds faster than your qualifying time to get the opportunity to run the race, but just qualifying for Boston is super huge, even if you don't get to run it. The qualifying times are tough and some people train for years before they can qualify. Training for a marathon is a big undertaking.”
To prepare for the marathon, Hall ran five days a week and on rest days she walked, strength trained and did yoga. Her training plan started with running 35 miles a week and there were a few weeks where she ran 50-55 miles, an average of 170-200 miles a month.
“I didn't start running until I was 43. I decided for a New Year's resolution in 2011 that I would try to run a 5K and ended up running a 7K. After that race, I just kept running. I started running half marathons in 2012, and after running about 20 half's, I decided I would try a marathon,” she recalled.
She ran her first marathon in Canton, OH, for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon in May of 2017. “It was really hot that day; it took me just over five hours to run that one. After that race, I decided I had to prove to myself that I could run a marathon faster, so I did. I went from a five-hour marathon to finishing my next one in Biloxi in 3:54.”
Hall said that she tags all her runs with #armsup. “My goal is to finish all my races thanking all the volunteers along the way and with my arms up and a smile on my face at the finish line. To me, the best part about crossing the finish line is that feeling of awesome accomplishment. No matter my time, every race I finish is a victory.”
The BAA originally rescheduled the marathon for September 14 but then it was determined that the race would have to be run virtually. “When that announcement came, I didn't blink or hesitate. I have been training for this marathon since December 28. Although it is disappointing I won't be in Boston, this is how the other people running and I show that even though a lot of races have been canceled, running is not canceled. It is a testament to the joy of running and the joy we experience through running and supporting each other. Many of the runners from the Varsity Sports Running Group will be out there running with us. They are making sure we have water, electrolytes, food and a fun post-race celebration. The Boston Marathon has never been run in Baton Rouge before; I'm going to get to run it and be a part of that history!”