Marylee Schroeder and Tara Nitardy had different perspectives at the starting line of the 123rd Boston Marathon Monday.
Schroeder was running Boston for the 16th time, Nitardy for the first time. In fact, Nitardy, 27, had run only one marathon, the Vineyard Marathon last fall, which qualified her for Boston. Schroeder has run 33 marathons.
Schroeder, 54, ran a 3:57 race under hot and muggy conditions, easily qualifying for the 2020 race. Nitardy ran a 3:25 race, also qualifying for Boston 2020. Schroeder will run in 2020, Nitardy probably will. “Right now, I don’t feel like running a marathon, but give me a couple of weeks,” Nitardy said on Tuesday evening in Vineyard Haven, giving respite to aching legs.
“Marylee and Joe [Schroeder] have been terrific. Marylee told me what to expect, and explained the culture of the Boston Marathon. They are very supportive,” Nitardy said.
Joe Schroeder is coach of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) track team, with which Nitardy volunteered for several seasons.
Marylee is the MVRHS treasurer working out of the school district office. A special ed teacher at MVRHS, Nitardy coached the first-year Unified Track Team, a program open to non-varsity kids and special needs kids.
“I grew up a swimmer, then fell in love with running, and thought running a marathon might be fun. After the Marathon bombing, I decided, ‘That’s the one I’m going to run,’” Nitardy said.
For Schroeder, the 2013 tragedy has changed some of the trappings of the event. Before the bombing, people ran in costumes. Now people are required to wear body-conforming clothing. Of course, security presence is much larger, but the event itself is the same: “The energy, the support you get from the crowds who stay on the course for hours, cheering on the leaders and the five-hour runners,” Marylee said.
That perspective was shared by Nitardy. “That energy you feel from the event and from the people — it’s a big stage and overwhelming, but when you finish you feel part of something special, larger than yourself,” she said.
Finishing was especially difficult this year. “Predicted weather included an hour of rain midrace, but it was sunny and hot all the way. The final miles were sort of water stop to water stop,” Marylee said Tuesday night, eating some well-earned Ben & Jerry’s coffee ice cream at her West Tisbury home.
This year was different because her son Michael was home from North Carolina, and was joined by sister Whitney, who journeyed across the Charles River from Harvard College to be at the finish line. “That was really nice. Joe took them to the finish line when they were little, but it’s been a few years since we were all together there,” Marylee said.
If Boston is on your bucket list, Nitardy’s advice is to get busy. “We can do so much more than we believe we are capable of. I’ve learned that,” she said.
It is getting tougher to get into the race. The field is capped at 30,000 runners, thousands fewer than the number who qualify and enter. “The [Boston Athletic Association] is reducing qualifying times for 2020. For example, if my age-group qualifying time this year was four hours and 10 minutes, in 2020 it would be four hours and five minutes,” she said, adding the difficulty of getting to race might explain why she and Nitardy were the only Vineyarders who ran Boston this year. “Generally, we have a larger contingent,” she said.