Slow and steady wins the race: Nashuan recounts Boston Marathon experience

Courtesy photo Nashuan Marie Broadaway, right, ran as part of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team in the Boston Marathon last week. Her mother, left, who was volunteering during the race, hopped in and finished the race with her daughter after Broadaway’s legs seized up.

NASHUA – Last week, more than 30 Nashuans hit the streets for the 123rd Boston Marathon, but there was one runner whose results didn’t get marked in the official results. That runner was Marie Broadaway.

Earlier this year, Marie joined the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team, a 500-plus member team dedicated to raising $6 million for cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Marie is no stranger to marathons and long-distance races. She’s participated in many marathons, triathlons and ironman races across the country.

For the first time, she missed the official cutoff time. To land a spot under the “official” results, runners must complete the marathon six hours after the final runner crosses the starting line. Marie finished in 6:42:30, due to shin splints.

Marie signed up for the marathon in the fall. From late October to early November, she had a stretch of races during which she ran a marathon one weekend, another marathon the next, and an 18-mile trail race the weekend after that.

The harsh impact of the long races caused her to develop serious shin splints. These shin splints have persisted ever since, up to and including the marathon. To keep the shin splints from developing into full-fledged stress fractures, Marie had to significantly drop her training to essentially nothing from December until the marathon, with the exception of a single half-marathon. Her shin splints flared up again after that event.

In a Facebook post her husband Sam made a few days after the marathon, he wrote, “Imagine the fear and self-doubt that enters your mind as the day of the Boston Marathon approaches. Imagine the pressure of fundraising for a race that you don’t know if you’ll be able to complete. For any of us who have trained for a marathon, this prospect is absolutely terrifying; for Marie, it has been her reality for the last several months.”

He added, “She went out knowing full well that she was attacking one of the most feared marathons in the country with barely any training and she did it.”

The 26.2 miles was a journey.

Marie said at the beginning of the race, she was more grateful to be on the course. “There were so many people running for Dana Farber and it was a really cool thing to see. There were also so many people on the sidelines cheering us on, ringing their little cowbells.”

Those cowbells were what really helped Marie as she progressed.

“When I got to the halfway point, I took a selfie,” Marie said. “I was feeling pretty good, a little bit sore, but the crowd really does it for you.”

As she got further into the race she called her husband for some motivation. Her muscles were beginning to ache. “It’s a long time for you to be on your feet, whether it’s the faster runner or the slowest runner,” Marie said.

Then mile 23 hit.

“At mile 23, I called Sam saying I’ve never had this pain before. My calves seized up,” Marie said. She went into a medical tent, and told her mom, who was volunteering and tracking Marie, where she was.

Sam said when she called right before mile 23, he could hear the mental and physical pain his wife was facing.

“I was pretty concerned,” Sam said, “but eventually her mom told me she was moving again.”

And from there, Sam said, ” I was confident she was going to finish.”

Marie’s mother ended up walking the last three miles with her. Her husband and their friends walked backwards to meet up with her. Another friend hopped in with Marie, while ringing a cowbell.

“It was really cool to have not only my mom beside me, but also my friends. There was no sense of negativity whatsoever and no doubt in my mind that I was not going finish,” Marie said.

She added, “That was when I really noticed not only my mom, but the people who were cheering us on who looked so sincere. It was a surreal experience.”

Sam said he was quite proud of her for finishing this race, more than he has been for any other marathon. He said Marie impresses him every day with her drive, determination, and warrior’s spirit.

Ultimately, Marie ran to be part of something bigger than herself. “It was a really cool experience to run for a charity, rather than running for yourself,” Marie said.

“Through the whole process, I got to learn a bunch of different things about what (the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute) does. Dana-Farber really does some amazing things to improve lives of cancer patients,” Marie said. “This experience opened my eyes.”

For now, Marie is taking a break and will not be signing up for anything more than a half marathon.

Marie has advice for those who may have difficulty finishing a race.

“You can definitely do a lot more than what you think you can do. Mental toughness is big,” Marie said. “Training is one thing. You need to train for long-distance races for sure, but your body can always go further than you think it can. Keep your mind right, stay positive and know you can do it.”

Having people in one’s corner is another thing that helps, according to Marie.

“Make sure you have really good supporters, like your husband,” Marie said.

Sam said the support is mutual. Marie was at his half marathon race, rooting him on the next weekend.