Catching Up with Maria Hermon

Maria Hermon reflects on running her 50th marathon at April’s Boston Marathon.

Maria Hermon and her son after she finished the 2014 Boston Marathon.

Maria Hermon, May’s Austin Fit Magazine “Fit Over 40” spotlight, completed her 50th marathon at this year’s Boston Marathon. Hermon had previously run Boston many times, but this year was different in more ways than one. This year, in addition to the marathon, she ran the 5K with her son and daughter-in-law for the first time. She also visited memorials and went to the pasta dinner. She explains why, plus what’s in store for running in the future.

It’s almost incomparable, but what was the biggest change from last year?

The first impression you see is the security. But the slogan of “run as one” was very apparent. You just felt the community was there. More than anything else, I think that’s what it was. The crowds were so thick.

It wasn’t the warmest I’ve done, but it was warm, and around mile 20 my quads started freezing up, but the goal is to finish. I took baby steps, I did shorter strides. I was very very happy. It was emotional. I started tearing up at that last stretch. I felt like, “I gotta give back to this crowd.” It all worked out. And I saw so many friends, and I made so many friends.

My mantra finishing was “take back the finish line,” like President Obama said. It stuck in my mind, so that kept me going. It was 70-plus degrees, but in 2012 it got up to 89. I had all my salt pills, and I wore short sleeves. It was fabulous, and I can’t wait till next year.

What were your toughest and favorite miles?

There are no tough miles! You know mentally that miles 17-20 are going to be hard, you know that. So I pace myself. If I walked any, it was at the end of mile 24 and beginning of 25. When you reach mile 21 you see Boston College kids, and they’re fabulous. I had to take in every mile. In years past my friend Peggy Bryant and her family were always at mile 19, so that’s a special mile for me because they’ve moved now. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have started this. It’s my way of giving back.

What do you think about next year? Will the crowds be as big?

I think that it probably will be, I really do. It’s hard to tell, but just the enthusiasm people take back with them. I’ve always said that as soon as you land, Boston treats you as one of them. From the time you land to the time you leave, they thank you for coming. And I made an effort to thank as many volunteers as possible.

When people say, “She did it, I can do it too,” I think it puts it in people’s minds that it’s an achievable goal. You have to put some time into it, but it’s an achievable goal. It’s a positive, infectious thing, because you have all these people experiencing Boston and they go out to the world and share.

What about the ‘”everyone finishes the race” slogan?

I see that all the time, especially after mile 17-18 because you’ve already used up a lot of your quads. You’ll see people walking and say, “Come on, you can do this!” I saw a man from Austin in his mid 60s sitting at the very back of our bus before the start, so I sat down and said, “You’re very pensive.” He said, “I came last year and I didn’t finish the race.” He was one of the ones who had gotten stopped. He said, “I’m thinking, do I want to race it or finish it?” I said, “You have to finish it, you have to enjoy this! But it’s up to you.” And I saw him at mile 25. It’s really a small world. The Boston encouragement carries to more than just the Boston area. I think it’s had a very positive effect on running.

What are your plans for this year to get back to Boston in 2015?

I have a qualifying time in my pocket for Boston next year from the BCS Marathon in December, with a time of 3:53. Looking back, I did a marathon December, January, and February, and paced 3M in January. Once I did all that, the pressure was off. My friends and family have been very encouraging. When I told my husband what I was doing he just said, “OK”

What would you like to tell people about Boston that they might not have seen in the news?

I’m sure they read it, but the unity of the community—I don’t think you can put it in words. The “run as one” slogan, and the feeling, is something you have to experience. I think that’s something you can’t get out of someone expressing it to you. I’ve known people in the past who have joined a running group because they want to be apart of that “one.” There was no segregation, there was no separation. That’s what I’d like to tell people. It’s more than as a country, but as a planet, we really felt that, (in Boston).

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