Running the distance -- Kesley Myhre has moved fast in her young marathon career by competing in the Boston Marathon
What started as a way to get fit and trim for her wedding day, turned into a passion and a golden opportunity not many get to experience for Kesley Myhre of Detroit Lakes.
Long distance running was not one of 25-year-old Myhre's favorite things before she decided to train for the Fargo Half-Marthon in 2005.
But once she trained and did well in the event, that began her trek to the granddaddy marathon of them all -- the Boston Marathon.
"I wanted to get in shape for my wedding, since all brides want to look good for their weddings," said Myhre, who is now married to Lake Park-Audubon teacher and head baseball coach Darrin Myhre. "So I thought it would be cool to try a half-marathon and get in shape."
Myhre was able to kill two birds with one stone -- she was able to fit into the wedding dress of her choice, and she did better than expected in the Fargo Half-Marathon by running a more than respectable 1:36.
Pretty good for a first timer.
"After I did pretty well in the half-marathon, I figured I could do well in a marathon," Myhre said.
And so the journey to Boston started, as well as a heavy regimen of training, as Myhre began her preparation for the 2007 Fargo Marathon.
She upped her miles of running and started training five days a week instead of four.
Her long runs consisted of 12 miles a day, while her addiction that many runners get from endorphins started to kick in as well.
"I used to not like running at all, but once I started, it really started feeling great," Myhre added. "You don't get that kind of high from other activities, and I started getting addicted to running almost right away."
The passion and hard training paid off in her first-ever marathon. She also received some advice from her cousin Erin Johnson, who ran in several marathons.
For a first-timer, the Fargo Marathon was a perfect start, since it is mainly flat.
Myhre paced herself well for a rookie runner, finishing with a time of 3:29, easily getting under the qualifying time for the Boston Marathon, which was 3:40.
"My cousin came up to me after the marathon and said, 'You just qualified for the Boston Marathon!'" Myhre recalled. "I just said, 'I did?', not realizing how big a deal that was."
Myhre downplayed qualifying for the Boston Marathon, but as she learned more about the grand event, the more she got excited.
But she also went through some hard knocks preparing for the Boston Marathon, after deciding to use the Twin Cities Marathon as a prep race.
Unfortunately for Myhre and all the Twin Cities runners, the day was miserably hot, up to 80 degrees with high humidity.
It was an event which pushed Myhre to her max.
"I was thinking to myself the entire time just to get to the next water stop, it was so hot," Myhre said. "I actually thought about quitting a couple of times, but when I finally crossed the finish line, I was so relieved.
"So after that marathon, I was getting a little worried, what did I get myself into running in the Boston Marathon? But I just chalked (the Twin Cities event) to the hot weather."
There have been more than a handful of runners from Detroit Lakes who have run in the Boston Marathon.
But for Myhre, it was a bit unique in that a rookie like her qualified for the race in just her first marathon she competed in.
So, in essence, she didn't know what to expect.
She took in some advice from past Boston Marathon runners from DL, Tina Floding and Heather Smith, who both were rookie marathoners themselves.
"The biggest concern I was told were the hills," Myhre said.
So her training regimen continued through the cold winter of 2007-08. Myhre worked a lot on the treadmill and took to running outside when the temperatures were above the 15-20 degree mark.
She also used the Internet as a tool, picking up a training plan specifically for the Boston Marathon, written up by Hal Higdem.
For the challenge of the hills, Myhre ran up and down an incline in front of their house.
After a good season of training, she felt she was ready physically, but she also had to get into good mental shape, as well.
"My plan was to be gone for the entire week, so I got all my work done (at the Detroit Lakes Cultural and Community Center where she works), but I was just totally nervous," Myhre said.
She flew out to Boston with her parents and took her mind off the race by visiting the sites of the eastern city, including taking in a Red Sox game in Fenway Park and hitting all the historical sites.
Myhre also took her mind off the stress of running in the most famous marathon in the U.S. by watching the Women's Olympic Trials the day before.
The day of the marathon, she was going to go through her routine of a breakfast of bananas.
She was out of them, so she sent her parents out to buy some.
Little did she know, the many of the thousands of runners in the marathon had the same idea.
"There wasn't any in the grocery stores, so I sent my parents on a wild goose chase to find me my bananas," Myhre laughed.
Eventually the mission was completed, and she was off to take part in an experience of a lifetime.
The grand race
Myhre's goal was not to place a certain finish, but to beat her personal-best time she set in Fargo of 3:29.
She started off in the first wave, with 11,000 runners to a group. It took her seven minutes to walk through the shoots and get to the starting line.
"During that time, I was just taking it all in," Myhre added.
At the start, she had to run the pace of everyone around her, since it was shoulder-to-shoulder.
The biggest thing Myhre noticed was the amount of on-lookers lining the streets and the kids out cheering on the runners.
"It almost made me teary-eyed seeing all these kids and people cheering us on," Myhre said. "I made it a rule to clap every kids' hand who were on the side of the streets holding their hands out.
"I think I clapped about a thousand hands."
The first 13 miles were downhill and flat, but she didn't know what her pace was because she forgot her watch.
"That probably was a good thing, because it didn't allow me to worry about (my pace)," Myhre said.
The challenge started on miles 17-21, leading up to the famous Heartbreak Hill. But the legend was bigger than the hill itself.
"I was worried about it, but it really wasn't that bad," Myhre said.
There, she saw her family cheering her on.
Around the 23-24 mile mark, Myhre fell into some trouble -- literally.
With the courses turning into a downward slope, she hit an uneven part in the pavement and went down skidding on the tar.
"My legs were so tired and I just collapsed," Myhre said. "But I was down only for about five to 10 seconds and popped back up with just a few scratches."
The last few miles were the most difficult, but that's also where the crowd started to overflow, providing plenty of motivation for the runners.
"I knew I was going to finish, it was just a matter of how fast," Myhre said of nearing the end of the marathon. "The crowd was just a constant roar, and that was all the motivation I needed to finish."
With a half a mile left, she saw the finish line and in time she crossed the barrier, signifying she was a part of history of one of the oldest marathons in the U.S.
Add in the fact she also broke her personal-best time, finishing in 3:21.
"I was just teary-eyed, it was just a great feeling," the local marathoner stated.
With the Boston Marathon on her ever-growing running resumé, Myhre's short marathon career will continue -- just not in the near future.
"I'm just going to concentrate on some half marathons and maybe run in the Grandma's Marathon (in Duluth) next summer," she said of the future. "I guess my next big marathon I want to compete in will be the New York Marathon."
It's been a flurry of quick success for Myhre -- which isn't too bad, considering she didn't even think of herself as a long-distance runner not too long ago.