News and Media Relations contact: Jimmy Hart, 615-898-5131 or Jimmy.Hart@mtsu.edu
MURFREESBORO — MTSU accounting professor Paula Thomas headed to Boston Friday, focused not on the roughly 1,100 miles of flying ahead of her but the 26.2 miles of running awaiting her on Monday, April 15.
The avid runner will join about 20,000 other runners for this year’s Boston Marathon, continuing a passion that started in her late 20s. She’s already run 70 half-marathons — 13.1 miles each — across the country and remains just four states shy of her goal of running a half-marathon in all 50 states.
While her first attempt at the Boston Marathon, this isn’t Thomas’ first brush with it. She volunteered for three years at the event while her son attended college there — two years at the start line and one at the finish line.
“I’ve seen the atmosphere, you know, and those people are serious,” she says with a chuckle. But so is she.
To run in the Boston Marathon, you must either achieve a qualifying time or raise money for a charity. Thomas is running as part of a group in support of the American Medical Athletic Association, a nonprofit that encourages healthier lifestyles among physicians and health-care providers and, in turn, among their patients.
Thomas acknowledges that she got into running “a little later in life.” An aerobics class that she signed up for while pursuing her master’s led to a habit of running three miles three days a week.
Health is important to her as well; she comes from a family with a history of heart disease. Her dad died suddenly at age 54, she says, not long after receiving an award “for looking the youngest” at his class reunion.
Since running the County Music Half-Marathon in 2001 in support of a local nonprofit, Thomas hasn’t looked back. At age 56, this will be Thomas’ second marathon; her first was in 2010 at the Disney World Marathon in Orlando, Fla.
She recalls it being so unusually cold in Orlando that January morning that the water at the water stations along the route was actually frozen. She loved the atmosphere.
“I love to run when it’s cold,” she says, noting that research indicates temperatures in the low 50s make ideal running conditions.
Weather tends to be the X factor in Boston, making every year an adventure, although the notorious hills along the course also must be reckoned with.
“I’m not terribly afraid of hills, but the hills at Boston come toward the end,” Thomas says.
To prepare, Thomas has done plenty of hill running since her marathon training began in December.
“I probably shouldn’t say this, but it actually wasn’t that bad,” she says. “I’m excited.”
For live streaming of the race on Monday or for more information about this year's race, visit www.baa.org.
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