A Two Harbors runner has finally crossed a long-sought after finish line: the Boston Marathon. Brenda Swanson, 49, has been running for nearly half her life with the vague idea of participating in the world's oldest annual marathon.
"I had the idea of doing it in my early 30s and 40s," Swanson said. "I'd run Grandma's (Marathon) in hopes of qualifying, but I never quite hit the time."
When her brother, Andy, qualified at Grandma's Marathon in Duluth last June, it planted the idea of attempting her own qualifying run.
"He's run Boston two times already, so he talked me into trying it," Swanson said.
Swanson hit the qualifying time of 3 hours, 55 minutes when she ran the Marquette Marathon over Labor Day weekend.
Although she planned to begin training for the Boston race in November, a neck injury pushed her training date back to January. Then she hit the ground running three days a week, cycling twice a week and integrating yoga once a week to prepare.
Unfortunately, much of that preparation time was spent running indoors on a treadmill - Swanson's least favorite form of running.
"I'd always rather be outdoors running in the fresh air to the monotony of the treadmill," Swanson said. "But the weather this winter kept me indoors. So I was grateful that I did have someplace indoors to train. Bodies in Balance (a Two Harbors fitness center) was a huge help."
When she can be free to run outdoors, Swanson can often be found running alongside Old North Shore Road and making loops around the city from her home to Lighthouse Point. She runs without headphones to allow herself to relax and enjoy the experience.
"It's a kind of therapy for me," Swanson said. "I'm usually by myself in the quiet, but when it's a longer run, I also enjoy having people to run with."
Swanson certainly had people to run with during the Boston Marathon, which averages about 30,000 runners annually. Along with her brother, Swanson was joined by her niece.
The most memorable part of the experience for her was seeing all the fans lining the sides of the route from the start of the race's start in Hopkins to the finish line in Boston.
"The fans are absolutely amazing," Swanson said. "Everyone turns out for the race since it's on Patriots' Day and a state holiday."
The morning of the marathon was rainy, but Swanson said the weather cleared up just in time for the race.
"I had four hours of absolutely perfect running weather," she said. "It was between 60 and 70 degrees the whole time, so I was able to run in shorts and a tank."
Swanson finished the course in 3 hours, 48 minutes and 58 seconds. Due to the favorable experience, Swanson is already considering pursuing the marathon again in the future.
"This was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it was, but I'm already considering doing it again," Swanson said. "It was that unique of an experience."
In the meantime, Swanson plans to continue running around Two Harbors and supporting her children in their running with the Two Harbors track and field and cross-country teams.