Boston profile #7: Joanne Goodwin — The hometown runner
The Boston Marathon — in the running world it’s a celebrated event that comes with much hoopla.
First off, there are standards. Runners must meet a qualifying time based on gender and age on a USATF-certified marathon course before they can sign up.
Then, there’s the race itself, which draws thousands of runners, from world-class, elite athletes, to the “every man” who’s achieved a BQ.
Thousands of spectators line the streets from Hopkinton to Boston to cheer them all on like rock stars, and it is the oldest marathon race in the country.
Those are the common notions about the Boston Marathon.
When you grow up with “the marathon” as part of your hometown, like Joanne Goodwin, originally from Brookline, Mass., you get a whole different perspective on those 26.2 miles of coveted terrain.
“When I was growing up and going out to watch it with my family it was just ‘the marathon’ to us,” Goodwin explained. “It was a holiday (Patriots’ Day) and we got the day off and looked forward to it, but it wasn’t until I was older and moved away that I realized what it meant to the outside world and amongst runners.”
Goodwin’s view also reflects how the Boston Marathon itself has matured over time. It began as a local foot race held on Patriots’ Day (now the third Monday of April) in New England more than a century ago.
The Boston Marathon’s popularity and fame exploded over the last few decades, reflecting the larger running boom that started in the 1980s and the incarnations since then.
Although the route hasn’t changed too much in its 115-year history, other aspects have such as women being allowed officially into the race (1972), the current qualifying time standards and the race’s field size (about 25,000).
Goodwin has lived in Washington, D.C., for the last 15 years and works for the city’s department of environment.
When she was a Brookline native she often watched the race each year at about mile 20 (where the course passes through the town of Newton), near the infamous Heartbreak Hill.
The course also goes through Brookline at about mile 23.
“Heartbreak Hill doesn’t seem like much (of a hill) in an everyday context,” she explained, “but I got a whole new appreciation of it when I ran Boston myself. You realize it’s a big deal, considering where the runners come upon it during the race.”
Goodwin is a competitive rower. She participated in track in high school, but otherwise only ran for fitness until about 10 years ago when she found a local running group near her home and made many friends. That’s how Goodwin got started in training for longer races and eventually a marathon.
Before 2003 she had never run longer than 10 miles. Goodwin said she remembered feeling beat up just doing that much, but with the group’s help on the longer run she kept going.
The first marathon she was supposed to do got canceled. Since she was already well trained Goodwin signed up for another race, the Jersey Shores Marathon, which was six weeks later.
Then she did something may people hope for and dream of but even fewer achieve: She ran the Jersey Shores race, her first marathon, in 3:43 and qualified for Boston.
Goodwin credits her strength to her years of rowing and weight lifting, which she still does regularly.
She ran her first Boston Marathon in 2004.
Since then Goodwin has qualified for Boston two more times, but in different age groups. In 2004, she was in the women’s 35-39 age group. She ran Boston a second time in 2008 after she qualified in the women’s 40-44 age group.
In 2011, Goodwin, age 45, will run Boston a third time after qualifying in the women’s 45-49 age group.
She’s run several marathons, including the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, New Orleans and Philadelphia.
Goodwin said the most exciting part of qualifying for Boston for her has been coming home to run “the marathon” with her family and friends there to support her.
Rowing is her first passion, she admitted, but running is also a part of her life.
“There is something about that feeling of accomplishment and it’s such an energy release when I’ve had a bad day,” she said.
Goodwin said she was always inspired by the runners she saw at the Boston Marathon.
Now she’s among them.
“I’m really glad I got to go home and run it, too. That’s been very special.”
Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes, and let’s go!
Mileage today: 6.3; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1015.5; Miles left to go: 754.5