Among the elite runners competing in 2015 will be Euharlee Elementary School teacher Sherry Spinks, who qualified for the event with a time of 3:32.21 on March 15 at the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, Va.
“I am extremely proud. It was just a huge goal for me with my training and running. Proud is definitely a word you use and I’m just humble and grateful to be able to be a part of the experience, really,” Spinks said of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. “It was a very emotional experience. I knew as soon as I crossed the finish line that I had reached my time to qualify. I cried almost immediately.
“I was so depleted and I was already calling family members pretty much before I could make it out of the finish shoot. I was crying and all I remember is saying, ‘I did it. I did it.’”
Spinks is a native of Aragon, but she says her house is for sale and she plans to move to Cartersville soon. She trains at Dellinger Park.
“Everybody I know lives in Cartersville,” she said.
For the 33-year-old Spinks, qualifying for one of the world’s most prestigious racing events did not appear to be in the plans just four years ago.
“I’ve been running for about three or four years, just kind of staying in shape and stuff like that,” Spinks said. “I just decided to train for a marathon about a year and a half ago. Actually, what kind of kind of got me a little more serious about it is my daughter started running cross country for Woodland. I started helping coach the Woodland Middle School cross country team. I started training and running with those girls, so I kind of thought, I’m not so bad at it.”
On March 29, Spinks finished in first place in the 5K for Life in Cartersville. She also placed second in two half-marathons and finished in third place in her age group this past year at the Red Top Roasters 15K event.
“It really surprised me at how well I’ve done and I continue to be surprised,” Spinks said. “I was very shocked that I was able to qualify for Boston, being my third marathon. It’s kind of just really taking me by surprise and I hope to continue to get better, and hopefully, run strong at Boston next year.”
Spinks intends to increase the intensity of her already strenuous training as the event nears.
“I train basically six days a week, five days a week of running and one day a week of course training,” she said. “It takes a lot of dedicated training because I teach too, so I do a lot of running after class. I try to juggle training and family, and my girls are actively involved in sports.
“I’ll definitely ramp up the training a little bit because Boston is known to be a pretty difficult course. There’s a lot of hills, so I’m going to add more hill work to my training. I will definitely increase my weekly mileage to probably about 60-70 miles a week.”
Spinks’ hard work payed off in her most recent marathon on March 15 when she qualified for Boston two minutes and 39 seconds ahead of the Boston Athletic Association qualifying time. For Spinks, the moment she realized she qualified was an emotional and physical roller coaster.
“I kind of knew that at mile 18 or 20 that I was on pace. However, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to keep that pace, because it’s in that last few miles that your body gets depleted of oxygen,” she said. “You really hit what they call ‘the wall.’ That’s when all the training comes in and I was able to hold that pace in the last few miles.
“I knew as soon as I crossed the finish line. I hugged my husband and daughter and I felt like I was going to pass out from running so hard for such a long distance. I felt completely depleted but very happy at the same time.”
The 2014 Boston Marathon will take place on April 21. Spinks will run the next year on April 20, 2015, because runners have to qualify a year in advance.
This year’s Boston Marathon will be the first since two bombs exploded in 2013 near the finish line, bringing the race to an abrupt halt.
Spinks is not afraid or deterred by the bombings last year.
“I think that it adds a whole new emotional level to it being able to be there and be a part of it, and know whatever happened with the bombings is not going to stop the running community. It’s not going to stop us from running and putting our whole heart into being there,” she said. “It will bring a new remembrance to people who were there. We will go there with no fear, and we still are going to get together and run for our charity and run to honor and glorify God no matter what. We’re not going to be shaken from that. We’ll definitely continue to be Boston strong.”