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April 22, 2014

Phil Stacey column: At Boston, something much more important than a win for Flanagan

(Continued)

It was the race that she would’ve done anything to win; doing so would’ve meant more to her than winning an Olympic gold. She, like hundreds of thousands of others, was shaken to the core by the horrific bombings that happened at this race a year ago. But she was also furious that it happened to her race in her city, and just three days after last year’s tragic events, she became the first elite runner to sign up for 2014, set on pouring everything she had into prevailing.

“I don’t wish it was an easier race,” Flanagan said while wiping away tears. “I just wish I were better. But it was a really heartfelt effort.”

Taking the advice of good friend and two-time Marathon champion Joan Benoit Samuelsson, Flanagan was intent on running on her own terms; she wanted to see “if it was good enough to win the olive wreath.” And for 19 blistering miles, it looked like she might just do it.

Putting the game plan that she and her coach, Jerry Schumacher, devised after running the Boston course six times in the previous six months, Flanagan shot out of the gate and served as the rabbit among the lead pack. She ran with poise and confidence, almost effortless for 5, 10, 15 miles, leading at every checkpoint from the first mile to the 19th. For the entirety of that stretch, she was on a record breaking pace.

“I’ve fallen in love with this course,” admitted Flanagan. “I’ve had so much fun preparing for this race and I wanted to use it as an advantage. That’s why I attacked the course. I wanted to give everything I had. I knew the tangents, I knew every little divot in the road, where every Dunkin’ Donuts was, where every Wendy’s was.”

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