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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 17, 2018

Locals join 30,000 Boston Marathon runners Monday

Joel Ryon, Luis Rosell crossed finish line despite harsh weather conditions
Apr 20, 2018
Photo by: Submitted Joel Ryon, Luis Rosell crossed finish line despite harsh weather conditions

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Two runners from Mt. Pleasant joined the Boston Marathon crowds Monday on a day some considered the worst weather conditions the marathon had ever seen.

Despite freezing rain and brutal winds, Joel Ryon and Luis Rosell crossed the finish line with crowds cheering them throughout the course on Monday, April 16. But it was even before race day that the true test of heart kicked in as Ryon and Rosell watched the weather forecast.

“You always hope for sunshine, cool temperatures and the wind at your back, but once we finally got going, it was cold and rainy,” Ryon said. As the runners began pushing forward, however, the excitement of race day came into play.

“The weather wasn’t as bad as the worry going into it,” Ryon continued. “During the race, I changed my approach a little bit to make sure I could enjoy it as much as possible realizing I wasn’t going to run as fast because of the conditions.”

While this is the first time Ryon has run Boston, qualifying at a marathon in the Chicago suburbs in October, it was his 20th marathon over all. Boston has been a long-term goal for Ryon, something he says is probably a goal of anyone who runs marathons.

In fact, Ryon qualified for Boston once before in 2012, but when they lowered the qualifying time because of an overwhelming number of applicants that year, his time didn’t make the cut by one minute.

The qualifying time for the Boston is lowered depending on how many people qualified that year, which makes it harder and harder to get in because of the surplus of runners, Ryon said. So, when he got the acceptance email in September last year, he knew he couldn’t pass up the opportunity and started planning his race.

“If Joel had run one second slower, he would not have gone on (to Boston),” Rosell said. “Like, if he would have just paused. It’s really frustrating.”

“I felt pretty lucky when they announced the cutoff,” Ryon said.

Ryon has been running marathons since he was in graduate school. He said it fits into an overall healthy lifestyle, which he tries to maintain, and is a good way to relieve stress.

“I like to challenge myself, do new things, have new experiences and push myself in different ways,” Ryon said.

Rosell himself qualified with 106 seconds, until they lowered the time, leaving him with only eight seconds to spare. That goes to show that every second counts in running — whether that’s the 400-meter dash or a 26.2-mile marathon.

This was Rosell’s second Boston Marathon. He didn’t run his first marathon until he was 50 years old, since then running at least one marathon a year. Now at 56, Rosell ran his “lucky 13th” marathon, he said, adding that he’s pretty much addicted to it right now.

“I used to never like to run,” Rosell said. “I never ran when I was younger and now this is what I like to do. It’s kind of an interesting turnaround.”

Ryon and Rosell left Iowa for Boston Saturday, April 14, with plans to enjoy the race despite the bad weather forecast, but Rosell said as soon as they left their hotel room Monday morning, there was never a dry place other than the buses that took them to the start line.

“It was a complete mud pit,” Rosell said. “You’re waiting in line for the bathroom and it’s raining. You walk a mile to the start (of the race) and it’s pouring rain.”

Even with good weather, the Boston Marathon course is challenging. With much of the first half of the race downhill and the second half uphill, Rosell said your legs get beaten up.

As a veteran Boston Marathoner, Rosell was less impressed with seeing some of the famous points along the course in the dreary rain than Ryon was — one of which was the infamous Heartbreak Hill around mile 20.

“It was a serious hill to get up,” Ryon said. “My approach was to slow down a little at Boston, so I could enjoy everything my first time there. I wasn’t really trying to race Heartbreak Hill, but it still had me out of breath by the time I got to the top.”

Other points of note were the people gathered from Wellesley College who form the so-called “scream tunnel,” which can be heard a quarter of a mile away. This is just one example of the outpouring of support Boston Marathon runners get from the Boston community.

“There’s a lot of tradition with it,” Ryon said. “It was just amazing the amount of people that did come out given how bad the conditions were. There was still a ton of people out there screaming and yelling.”

“The city of Boston, nobody goes to school (marathon day),” Rosell said. “There’s kids out there cheering, and you know their parents say, ‘hey, we’re from Boston. This is what we do.’”

Unfortunately, Rosell noticed a lot of people were unable to finish the race because of the weather conditions. People were cold and struggling in the wind, and he feels lucky that he was able to finish.

“I survived it somehow,” Rosell said.

Five years after the Boston Marathon bombing, Ryon said “Boston Strong” still is a very tangible presence with memorials set up at the sites where the bombs went off in 2013.

“That made you pause for sure,” Ryon said. “There was still a sense of that there.”

When it comes to training for Boston, Ryon said that the main thing to consider is consistency of runs. “Don’t take a lot of extra time off,” he said. “Get out there, do long runs; for Boston, training on hills is important. The main thing is just sticking with it.”

While the harsh winter made training for Boston a little more difficult, Ryon said he still managed to get in most of his training runs. Although it isn’t preferable, he did complete some runs on his treadmill at home, especially during the cold, dark January mornings when it’s harder to get out the door.

“Nobody trains in this because if it’s a bad weather day, you can do it the day before or the day after or on the treadmill,” Rosell said. “I’m not going to put myself in that position. It made it pretty challenging.”

Even though Ryon and Rosell plan to spend a week in recovery, they are both already looking forward to their next run — with Rosell even mentioning a marathon this weekend. “I’m already thinking about doing another one. There’s one this weekend, but of course I won’t run it,” he halfheartedly said.

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