BOSTON — The distance from Columbia City to Fort Wayne is just over 21 miles. In other words, it is a few miles shy of the distance it takes to run a full marathon, which is 26.2 miles.
Marathons are grueling, exhausting events and require months of training to complete successfully. Columbia City’s Tim Schmitt knows exactly how difficult it is to compete in a marathon, as he just completed running in the Boston Marathon for the first time.
Runners must qualify to run in Boston. Schmitt started out running half-marathons and worked his way up to the full distance. Schmitt ran the Veterans Marathon in Columbia City twice, and the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati. In his second running of the Flying Pig last May, Schmitt ran a time of 3 hours, 10 minutes and an adjustment of 3 minutes, 25 seconds made his time fast enough to qualify for Boston.
“Since I started running, Boston was always my goal,” said Schmitt.
Schmitt grew up an athlete in Columbia City and played basketball for the Eagles in high school before moving on to play at Grace College. As he got older, he still wanted to compete athletically, which led him to running. Schmitt trains by running four or five days a week and enjoys that he not only gets to compete against other runners, but also against himself by continuing to better his times.
The trip to Boston was the first for Schmitt. His wife and children made the journey with him, along with his mother Carla Schmitt. While they enjoyed seeing historic Boston, when Schmitt woke up the morning of the race the city was not a good sight.
The temperature the day of the race in Boston was in the mid-30s. It had rained for hours and a strong wind blew. Schmitt said he woke up at 4 a.m. to make sure he got to the transport bus at 6:30 a.m. Schmitt was scheduled to run in Wave 1, so he arrived at the athletic village at 7:45 a.m. where he had to wait for the race to kick off at 10 a.m.
Schmitt said the waiting was the toughest part of the day. Especially because other runners had wrapped their feet in plastic wrap, a trick Schmitt was unaware of.
“It was brutal,” said Schmitt. “Everything was soaked.”
When Schmitt finally hit the course, he faced a wind that was blowing right in his face most of the time. The highlight of the race for Schmitt was mile 13. Mile 13 of the race is referred to as the Scream Tunnel. That is where some of the girls from Wellesly College line the streets and scream as the runners pass. Schmitt said his ears were ringing by the time he cleared the 13th mile.
Despite the rain and wind, Schmitt kept running trying to record a time that would qualify him for the marathon for next season.
“Turning down Boylston Street (the finish line), the crowd was amazing,” said Schmitt.
Schmitt crossed the finish line with a time of 3:15.12, which wasn’t quick enough to qualify for next year. With another adjustment coming next year, Schmitt felt he would have needed a time closer to what he ran in Cincinnati to qualify again for next year. But that doesn’t mean he is out of chances.
The goal now for Schmitt is to get ready to run a qualifying marathon in Grand Rapids, Mich. The race in Grand Rapids is another chance for a qualifier for runners to get into Boston. That race will be held Oct. 18, which gives Schmitt a few months to keep training. Schmitt said he has adjusted his training a little bit, as he is now following the training plan from the Boston Marathon website which bases running strategies based on the course in Boston.
Schmitt wasn’t the only Columbia City resident running in Boston. Laken (LeFever) Elston also ran the marathon in Boston this year. Along with trying to qualify for Boston, Schmitt is also considering starting to run more difficult, 50-mile races.