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“Weather or Not, Boston Bound to Get the Job Done”

Date: 
06/04/2018 - 05:08

By Mary Marcia Brown

Rhonda BQ 2017 2.jpg When Lakeland, Florida runner Rhonda Fosser took a few seconds to pose beside one of the featured speakers at last year’s RRCA Convention in Detroit, the premonition that she could possibly be standing beside the 2018 Boston Marathon Champion escape “I was excited to get my picture taken with [Desiree Linden] at the convention, but I had no idea I would be jumping in front of my TV this year cheering her on to win the Boston Marathon!” Fosser said.

She also shared that her first impression of Linden was that she was very small, totally humble and down to earth, yet when given a challenge, “ready to train hard and get the job done.” Those were certainly perceptive observations Fosser had of Linden.

At 5’1”, the 34-year old American runner weighs only about a hundred pounds but packs the persistence of a hundred percent. Even after admitting to having the fleeting feeling of “throwing in the towel this year” after not experiencing a victory at any of her last 13 marathons, Linden summoned her inner slogan, “keep showing up”, and not only showed up at the Boston Marathon starting line, but showed up prepared to get the job done, indeed.

The course was consumed by cold, drenching rain, and gusts of wind. Linden’s mind was consumed with thoughts, during the early miles, that it just wasn’t going to be her day. She therefore decided to devote her efforts to helping fellow American female runners, like Shalane Flanagan and Molly Huddle, in their attempts to claim the day’s marathon victory.

At some point however, Linden was reminded that her “keep showing up” motto, for which she has now filed with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to trademark, means more than simply showing up for the race. It also means showing up for each and every mile in the race. The late miles began passing faster and Linden’s legs began “getting better pop.”

“She made me want to start running right then as I was watching her power through the pouring rain,” Fosser said.

Fosser ran the Boston Marathon in 2015, requalified in 2016, and requalified again in late 2017 for next year’s Boston Marathon.

“I decided in the fall of 2017 that I wanted to qualify and run at least one more Boston Marathon,” Fosser said.

The day before the Jacksonville Ameris Bank Marathon in December, Fosser registered for the Boston Qualifying race with the confidence that, despite not having the mileage on her legs she would have wanted, she could still achieve a 4:40 or faster required of women in her 65 to 70-year age group. Though she had run only two other marathons in previous years, she had finished both with BQ times and believed the third could also be a charm. She was right.

“My time was 4:21:18 so I qualified for Boston by almost 19 minutes and earned first place in my age group. I was super excited and thankful!” she said.

Fosser said that while a lot of marathon runners probably rank qualifying for and running Boston as their proudest running accomplishments, her proudest moment was her very first race -- the 4-mile Daytona Easter Beach run that she ran with her father, then 72. Fosser’s dad, the late John Hickey, as well as her mother, Erma, inspired her to start running when she was 49. Though she did not finish faster than her dad in that first race, she said that she was immediately “hooked” and has been running strong ever since.

Just last month, the 67-year old retired elementary school teacher, who tries to run at least two races each month, placed second in her age group in a half marathon she ran in Central Park, NY, and placed first in her age group at a 10k in Jacksonville.

Among her future running goals, Fosser hopes to run another popular Jacksonville race again, the Gate River Run, and she aspires to continue running Gasparilla races. An Illinois native, the Chicago Marathon is on her race radar, too. Trying some new races with her favorite running partner and biggest cheerleader, her husband, Terry, is also on the list of goals. Terry will be in Boston cheering for Fosser during her 2019 marathon.

“My goals for the 2019 Boston Marathon are to have fun and enjoy the whole experience with friends from Lakeland and my husband,” Fosser said, explaining that running another BQ time would be an added benefit.

She also said that she would love to see weather that does not include the rain, strong head winds and cold temperatures that Linden experienced this year. One of Fosser’s most recent races included comparable conditions and she understands, firsthand, what a difference they can make to a race experience and finishing time.

Linden’s 2018 Boston Marathon finishing time of 2:39:54 was the slowest for a women’s open winner in 40 years. It was also more than 17 minutes off her 2011 finishing time, but it was a winning time that will inspire for years. Just ask Fosser.

“I know Desiree’s Boston victory has encouraged many female runners to keep working toward their goals, whether their first 5K or Boston. Seeing her cross that finish line made me so proud of her and all the other runners out there, too. Challenges make us stronger!”

Whether or not the Boston Marathon brings the added challenge of trying weather in 2019, inspired by Linden, Fosser plans to approach the next several months “ready to train hard and get the job done.”

(Mary Marcia is a runner and fitness professional navigating her way through the unpredictable terrain of life. She is President of the non-profit organization, the PHEEL GOOD Foundation, and she can be reached at marymarcia@pheelgoodfoundation.com.)

Photo: Rhonda and her husband, Terry at the finish line of the Jacksonville Ameris Bank Marathon.

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