The sun wasn’t supposed to shine in Boston on Monday.
It did, though, and brought
Emily Bryans and Shaun Evans along with it.
Bryans, 40, of Schenectady, ran 2:58:13 to finish fifth in the women’s masters division, earning a check for $1,000, and Evans, a 30-year-old from Middle Grove who aspires to qualify for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, ran a huge personal record for the challenging Boston course with a 2:31:46 to finish 71st overall, out of about 25,000 runners.
Bryans, one of the most accomplished women’s road racers in the Capital Region over the last 10 years and a two-time Gazette Stockade-athon champion, made a spectacular return to a race that she had not run since 1995.
“I have to say, the whole experience was incredible,” Bryans said during a phone conversation as she and husband Vince Juliano drove home. “From the start to the clapping to the people . . . I saw some people from the Albany area, I saw Pat Glover, I saw Vince at [miles] 17 and 25. And, yeah, the finish was great. I got a little choked up, almost.”
Bryans and Evans each said they were thrown a curveball by the weather forecast, and decided not to wear sunscreen or sunglasses.
Then, the sun came out at the start of the race and didn’t let up, but the conditions were still conducive to fast times.
Bryans didn’t have to wait long to find that out, as she hit the 5k checkpoint in 20:01.
“That made me a little nervous,” she said. “It’s a pretty quick start. I was running with another woman who was from Alaska, we were talking, and we moderated a little after that. All in all, it played out pretty well.”
Bryans hit the half-marathon in 1:27:03, which set her up nicely for the rigorous hills through Newton and Heartbreak Hill in the second half of the course.
She ran a little slower after the half, as most people do, but still was in good position to get under 3:00.
“I felt like I handled the hills OK,” she said. “They didn’t bother me much. I did slow down, but I don’t know if that was from the hills or just the marathon [distance].”
Bryans did not have a serious marathon training program when she ran the 100th anniversary race 13 years ago, but this time, she prepared for the race with speed workouts and as much mileage as her schedule would allow.
She qualified for Boston with a 2:55 on the much easier Mohawk Hudson River Marathon course from Schenectady to Albany in the fall of 2006.
The fact that she only ran about three minutes slower at Boston
illustrates how well she executed her training, as well as strategizing the course.
“It was pretty much almost ideal,” she said. “Breaking three [hours] was great, and 2:58 was really good, for this course. And really, this is the first time I’ve run it competitively.”
The marathon awards $796,000 in prize money, of which $20,000 is allotted to the top five masters women.
The winner was 46-year-old Firaya Sultanova-Zhdanova of Gainesville, Fla., in 2:47:17. Bryans finished 1,000th overall in the field, and beat Sheila Mason of Williamstown, Mass., by 38 seconds to get the last check in the division.
“I’ll probably put it in a savings account,” she said. “Actually, it’ll probably help pay for some of the things we bought.
“At the very least, I should take Vince out to dinner. He was ecstatic. I was nervous, but this one was harder for him because he couldn’t watch me as much as he usually does.”
Evans’ wife didn’t make the trip this time, and she told him later that the TV broadcast “cut to Lance Armstrong every two minutes.”
That’s OK, because Evans dusted Armstrong in the opening strides and was long gone, beating the Boston PR he set last year by 7:17.
“After about 15 seconds, I passed Lance, which was kind of cool,”
Evans said. “It looked like he was out for a stroll, though.”
Evans was out for anything but a stroll. He hit the half-marathon in 1:14:43, which is a good time for him when that’s all he’s running.
Except for some of the hillier sections, Evans was able to maintain a steady mile pace of 5:30-5:40.
“I started three rows behind the elite guys, and I was surprised, because I caught up to them at the mile mark, but they must have put in a real slow first mile, for some reason,” he said. “I ran a 5:30 mile, and was 20 meters behind them. That was ludicrous. Probably at about five miles, they started to take it out. After that, I was feeling pretty comfortable.”
As happy as he was to hit the half in 1:14, it was at that point that he started to feel his hip flexors cramp up, so Evans slowed a little bit,
especially since he still had the hills to consider.
“Around 14, I backed off,” Evans said. “I even did one mile over six minutes. Come 17, when you get to the hills, I was feeling good again. I felt like that really paid off. I’ve run the course before, so I knew what to expect, then when I got to the hills, I started reeling people in.
“I did the Heartbreak mile in 6:02, which is the best I’ve done. From 21 on, every mile was 5:40, with a couple under. I had it all the way. When I crossed the finish line, people were telling me I looked like I could do another 26.2 miles.”
Based on his performance on Monday and the progression of faster times he’s establishing at Boston, Evans said he’s optimistic that he can reach the 2:22 he needs to qualify for the U.S. Olympic
“I did a 2:31 in Rochester last year, but to do it in Boston was a surprise,” he said. “You’re always hopeful, but you never really expect it. I was on cloud 9, that’s probably why people thought I looked so good. To have a strong finish from Hereford to Boylston, that’s what you want, because that’s where all the people are. I’m sponsored by PowerBar now, so everyone was yelling ‘PowerBar.’ It starts to get to you.”
Bryans wasn’t the only woman from the Capital Region to have a good race in the women’s masters standings.
Her friend and training partner, Martha DeGrazia, 57, of Slingerlands ran 3:23:11 to take ninth place in the 50-59 division. . . .
Dan Larson, 56, of Queensbury ran a 3:37:21 to push his streak to 33 straight Boston finishes. He has run 38 of the last 39. . . .
Siena College cross country runner Ryan Donnelly and his mother, Cathaleen, each finished the race. Ryan ran 2:59:39, and Cathaleen came in at 4:19:57.
Former Shenendehowa pole vaulter Jaime Stitt, 23, of Ballston Lake, ran 3:31:03.
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