Thursday, December 15, 2005

Olita qualifies for Boston


Donna Olita will be living a dream next spring on the streets of Boston, Mass.

Olita, of Holly Springs, has qualified to run in the world’s oldest and most prestigious footrace, the Boston Marathon. The 110th edition of the road race, 26.2 miles, will be run on Monday, April 17, 2006.

“It’s the granddaddy of them all,” said an excited Olita. “It has been a personal goal (since she started running in 2001). Not everyone gets to go to Boston.

“I have worked very hard. It’s a dream come true.”

Olita qualified via a 3:43.19 finish in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon on December 3. She had to finish in 3:45 to earn a spot in Boston. There were approximately 2,000 participants in the marathon itself.

“Barely, but I made it,” she said. “In six other marathons I had dreamed of qualifying.”

The other six were two in Memphis, one in Traverse City, Mich., one in Huntsville, Ala., one in Chicago, Ill. and another in Nashville, Tenn.

The recent run and her best yet came relatively easy.

“I got a little sick feeling about mile 23, but I held up pretty good,” she said. “At mile 26, when I was almost there, that kind of went away.”

Olita’s husband Jimmy, son Will, mother-in-law Betty, and sister-in-law Barbara Allen were anxiously awaiting her finish that qualified her for Boston.

“I think Jimmy was as happy as I was,” she said. “He has to go through all of this with me.

“I could hear my mother-in-law when I reached the bridge and ran into the stadium (AutoZone Park). I could hear her screaming.”

Olita started walking first and then running with her mother, Betty Fitch, back in early 2001.

“I started running for health,” she said, “and then I wound up having some talent and placed in smaller runs. That motivated me.”

In December of that year she ran her first marathon.

“I was not trained well enough to run it (the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Ala.),” she recalled. “I cried from 18 miles to 24. I finished in 4:50.”

“But I was ready to start training again. It either makes you or it breaks you, and I was hooked.”

Marathon runners can participate in two races a year, one early and one later. No more than that is recommended.

“You have to let yourself go down and then train and train again and reach a peak,” Olita said.

When in full training, Olita runs five or six days a week and 55 to 60 miles a week.

“I do long runs, short runs, high intensity runs and slow runs – kind of mix it all up,” she said.

This year she has run 1,952 miles, which also translates into 12 days, nine hours, 55 minutes and 39 seconds.

“Hydration also plays a big part in it,” Olita said.

She drinks a case of water in two days prior to the marathon (five bottles a day). The day of the marathon she drinks 70 more ounces of water before she runs.

She will start training for the Boston Marathon in January. It has distinguished itself as the pinnacle event within the sport of road racing by virtue of its traditions, longevity and method of gaining entry into the race (via qualification).

“I’m really happy to be going,” Olita said. “If my body agrees, I will try to best my time. If not, I won’t be upset. I want to enjoy the full effect of being in Boston.”

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