This story ran in the April 29 edition of the Daily Gleaner.
This time a year ago, Fredericton resident Mary Kate Wedge had plenty on her plate.
She was busy professionally as a pharmacist at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital and the Summerside, P.E.I., native was also deep in the planning stages for her October wedding to Rob Agar.
And for good measure, she was prepping for the Fredericton Marathon.
In terms of running, there were no time guarantees last May, considering her hectic personal agenda, but she knew if she put in a strong effort on the traditionally fast course, she’d have a shot at qualifying for the 2017 Boston Marathon.
Now, as April slides into May, she’s armed with 12 months of joyous memories, from her dream wedding to a great result of 3:28.03 in that Fredericton race to getting into Boston and running the 121st edition of the race almost two weeks ago.
“It was the first run where I felt somewhat emotional,” said the 32-year-old Wedge of her Boston race, which produced a time of 3:32.21, good for 15th overall among the 56 New Brunswickers who completed the course. It was the fourth fastest time for N.B. women.
Yet the result was not a priority for Wedge, who entered her first formal distance race – the half marathon of the Fredericton Marathon – in the spring of 2013.
“It was so motivational and I felt honoured to be there,” she said of her initial Boston run. “Just knowing what had happened with the bombing, it gave me a feel for running that I had never really had before.”
She met up with some running friends from Moncton she raced with regularly on the Cabot Trail Relay, enjoyed a few days in Boston prior to the race to soak in the atmosphere associated with one of the world’s great marathons and was even happier when her husband Rob and father Harvey joined her on marathon day.
On the route, she felt reasonably strong, accepted orange slices and candy offered by the never-ending throng of supportive fans and seemingly high-fived every kid who offered his or her hand to slap.
“It was a special experience,” she said.
Looking back, running has played an important role throughout Mary Kate‘s life.
Whether it was as a track and field athlete in high school or her community or as a recreational runner while a student at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish or Dalhousie University in Halifax or as a professional in Fredericton, the activity transports her to a place of a calm, one free of distractions and deadlines.
“I love being outside and I love being in Fredericton to run,” she said. “It is a great stress reliever. When I am running by myself, it is that alone time when I am not thinking about anything and I love that. It is nice to zone out because all day at work, I am thinking about everything.”
Regular yoga sessions at Dynamic Fitness help provide a solid training base and despite the large number of kilometres she’s logged the past couple of years, she’s remained relatively injury free.
Back in 2103, that first half marathon produced a time of 2:05.24 and she kept entering events, improving each time out, results which ultimately led to a desire to test the daunting challenge of the 26.2-mile marathon.
So in October, 2015, she picked the P.E.I. Marathon, a natural fit in her native province. Despite fierce wind, unusually cold temperatures and a sudden hailstorm on race day, she was delighted with her impressive debut time of 3:41.56, knowing she had more to give.
“That was one of most memorable runs,” she said. “I ran with a pace bunny, along with 15 people the whole way. I felt great the whole run. I didn’t push myself – I felt awesome at the finish line and my parents (Sandy and Harvey) were there to cheer me on. A friend came from Fredericton as well and, all in all, it was an awesome first marathon.
“After that one, I wanted to do more.”
That led her to Fredericton on Mother’s Day weekend last year, where she earned her Boston ticket in 3:28.03.
“I was close and I knew I hasn’t pushed myself in my first one so I thought maybe I can do better in Fredericton,” Wedge said.
To prepare for the Boston crowds, Mary Kate and some friends ran the Montreal Marathon (3:32.00) in September, 2016 and after the wedding, her training for Boston rekindled last December. It was spent exclusively on the treadmill, leading to some long sessions at the Goodlife Gym, a decision made to avoid icy conditions and fit her lifestyle. So well did it fit that she kept at it until the spring, even through those long three-hour final prep runs.
“Not one run outside,” she said.
The routine worked well and today, she owns a great photo at the finish line in Boston. It spoke volumes on her positive state of mind, her satisfaction levels and the fact she can say she’s a veteran of the Boston Marathon.
Kevin Barrett’s column appears every other Saturday. If you have a suggestion for a feature story, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit barrettkevin.wordpress.com.