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Hillsboro man preps for Boston run

Staff writer

Tom Leihy of Hillsboro was never much of an athlete growing up. So completing something as demanding as a marathon has been rewarding, he said.

He didn’t really get into running until he was on vacation in 2007. His family cajoled him into running a 5-kilometer race. He had done occasional 2-mile fun runs with his family before, so he gave it a try.

His sons’ participation in cross-country increased his interest. One year he accompanied the cross-country team to camp in Colorado. He learned a lot about the mechanics of running by listening to Stuart Holmes coach the team, Leihy said.

He ran a half marathon in the fall of 2007 in Kansas City. Afterward, people told him if he could complete a half marathon, he could run a full 26-mile race.

So he began training for the April 2008 marathon in Oklahoma City.

“The first one you run, you run to finish,” Leihy said.

He completed the race in 4 hours and 21 minutes, and it gave him satisfaction to know he accomplished something. Leihy ran two more marathons that year.

In October at Kansas City, he qualified for the Boston Marathon with a time of 3:29:56 — a mere 4 seconds ahead of the cutoff for his age group. Leihy’s birthday was between that race and the Boston Marathon, moving him into an older age category which would have given him an extra 5 minutes to qualify, but he didn’t want to qualify on a technicality.

He is excited for the Boston Marathon, which sets a limit of 25,000 runners. It is the only marathon that requires a qualifying time, Leihy said. He has heard good things about the race, particularly regarding the size of the crowd and the quality of runners. He said he is honored to be in the same race as the world’s best distance runners.

“They’re people who take running pretty serious,” he said.

Leihy is setting the same goal he had for his very first marathon: finish the race.

Training for a marathon isn’t what people expect, he said. People imagine marathon runners running long distances every day, but marathon runners have to take breaks to give their bodies a chance to heal.

Leihy planned to run 28 miles during the weekend, but that would be his last long run before the marathon on April 19.

“I think all runners learn a lot about their bodies,” he said. “Your body will tell you if you over-train or ear poorly.”

Distance running can be a way to make friends and enjoy the sights, Leihy said. He has been surprised by how many people locally are distance runners.

“Hillsboro, I think, has a tradition of runners,” he said.

Last modified March 31, 2010

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