The Boston Marathon is to runners what the Super Bowl is to football players or the World Series is to baseball athletes. Each year, the 26.2-mile marathon attracts about 30,000 runners, whom first must qualify to compete.
Over 500,000 spectators line the streets of Boston to encourage the racers, making it New England’s most celebrated spectator event. Home Health Physical Therapist Sharon Fleming, PT, MSPT, 44, is among a select group with more than one finish.
Sharon ran her first “Boston” in 2018 in what turned out to be the worst conditions in the marathon’s 123-year history. Wind-driven rain and a near-freezing windchill made the hilly terrain difficult to navigate. “I knew something was wrong when I crossed the finish line,” Sharon remembered. She began shaking uncontrollably. With her family’s help, she recovered from hypothermia.
This year, Sharon battled a nagging sciatic nerve condition, which limited her training. She contemplated backing out, but instead competed pain-free April 15 in near ideal conditions with mild temperatures and no wind.
Sharon ran shoulder-to-shoulder with amateur and professional athletes, including Olympians, from around the globe. “There is no other sport where an amateur like me can run with an Olympic athlete,” said Sharon, who started running at age 13.
“There is no other sport where an amateur like me can run with an Olympic athlete.”
Life as a Runner
Sharon completed her first marathon at age 33. She refers to herself as “a destination marathoner” because she picks her marathons based on their locations. She typically runs marathons in the spring and fall.
Each marathon requires up to 20 weeks of training and a diet comprising healthy carbs, including whole grains, fruits and vegetables. She avoids processed or fried foods.
Running is therapeutic for Sharon. It gives her alone time to think, prepare for work or mentally process whatever is on her mind. Soon, she will be thinking about the 2020 Boston Marathon, which she is already qualified to run.