Fifth time a charm
Ideal weather, consistent training, family inspiration and a lot of mental determination went into Lisa Gillund’s recipe for success on Sunday.
Gillund, 41, of Minneota, qualified for her first Boston Marathon by running an impressive 3:38.59 in the Twin Cities Marathon.
“I told myself that this year would be my Cinderella story,” Gillund said. “This was my fifth time running the Twin Cities Marathon and if I didn’t qualify for Boston this year, I was going to take some time to decide if I was going to keep trying or not.”
But the glass slipper fit and her carriage awaits as she beat the qualifying time of 3:40 by one minute and one second. Qualification deadline for the 2020 Boston Marathon was in September, so Gillund qualified for the 2021 Boston Marathon.
“It’s a dream come true,” she said. “I’ve been training hard for this day.” Lisa finished 26th out of 400 women in her 40-44 age group.
In addition to Lisa Gillund, several other local runners competed on Sunday. Shelby Corbin also ran the full marathon, finishing in 5:37.14.
Five others were in the 10-mile run; Bruce Bossuyt finished in 1:29.56, Davett Jeremiason, 1:34.47; Travis Gillund, 1:46.12; Brian Jeremiason, 2:01.27; and Jami Bossuyt, 2:01.45.
Gillund said she will next run the New York City Marathon for the first time on Nov. 4 after being selected through its lottery system.
Last year, Gillund trained with the mindset of 3:50 being the qualifying time for the Boston Marathon and even hired a running coach from New York that she worked with online. But late in the season, the Boston Marathon’s qualifying time was lowered to 3:40.
Gillund finished with a 3:53.18 last year, admitting that she didn’t feel 3:40 was within her reach, although she likely could have pushed herself to reach 3:50 if that had still been the qualifying time.
So this year was her best chance, she felt.
Over a three-month training period, she estimates that she runs “around 600 miles”, alternating distances and speeds on certain days.
Gillund runs in the country and has her own little cheering section, ala Rocky Balboa.
“The farmers all know I run out there and they will wave or honk as I go by,” she laughed.
She also loves running the Twin Cities Marathon more than any race because of the scenery and people along the way.
“We start running at U.S. Bank Stadium and then run through downtown Minneapolis and around all the lakes,” she said. “We run past these beautiful historic homes and the streets are lined with people cheering.”
As the runners get within two-tenths of a mile from the finish line at the State Capitol, they get a view of a mammoth American flag waving in the breeze.
“It’s hard to explain but when you see that massive flag it’s such a feeling of excitement and such a feeling of accomplishment,” she said. “There are still two-tenths of a mile to go in the race, but that flag kinds of inspires you to the finish line.”
So determined to qualify for the Boston Marathon in her fifth try, Gillund shifted gears near the conclusion and averaged a 7:20 mile over the final three-tenths of a mile.
So determined to qualify for the Boston Marathon in her fifth try, Gillund shifted gears near the conclusion and averaged a 7:20 mile over the final three-tenths of a mile, while she had averaged an 8:30 mile over the first 25.9 miles of the race.
"I was checking my times and I wasn't about to let this get away from me," she said. "I figured if I was going to miss the qualifying time, it would be by less than 30 seconds, so what did I have to lose?"
Gillund explained that a runner must not listen to their mind and instead follow their heart when they begin to feel fatigued.
"The mind tells you it's time to quit," she explained. "The heart tells you to keep running. You have to listen to the heart if you want to accomplish a goal."
Gillund felt at ease over the first 15 miles of the race, thinking to herself "This is fun". At mile 18, it began to feel a little more difficult, and at mile 20 she had to tell herself to keep going as her "calves were sore" and her feet "felt like bricks".
But up ahead at mile 24 was the "Brave like Gabe" sideline contingent led by her husband, Justin Grunewald. Gabe was a Minneota Gophers All-American runner from Perham who died of cancer four months ago.
Wearing a 'Brave like Gabe' tank top, Gillund said that group inspired her the rest of the way, pumping their fists as she ran past them.
Distance runners often have time to think about things along the course, and often those things helps ease the pain they feel. While utilizing the beat of Tom Petty's "Running down a Dream" to keep pace, Gillund thought about her late grandfather Johnny Tillemans, her late friend Taylor, and Grunewald.
"They all gave me inspiration to keep going," she said. "And my family has been such a huge help, too. I couldn't have done this without them."
When asked what she though about her accomplishment, Gillund didn't hesitate with her response.
"I'm a 41-year-old mother of three kids," she said laughing. "I was never an athlete in high school. I did this solely for myself and to show that women can to things, too. I am at peace with myself when I run.