Tuesday, April 13, 2010

After Years in the Race, Medford Man Sits Out Marathon

By Maggie Roth
Gordon College News Service
April 9, 2010

(This story appeared April 15 in the Boston Globe, Medford edition.)

MEDFORD, Mass.—After running eleven marathons, Edward Woods knows what it takes to be a successful runner. This is why, for the first time in five years, he will not be running the Boston Marathon.



Woods, 53, a general contractor at Raytheon Company, is a native and lifelong resident of Medford, having lived at his Gleason Street residence with his wife and five daughters for 20 years. But this year as hundreds of runners get ready for the April 19 event, Woods made one of the toughest decisions he says he has faced in a long time: the decision not to run the 2010 Boston Marathon.

“I’m totally hooked, especially on Boston Marathons,” said Woods, who says he enjoys getting up at 4 a.m. every morning to run. “Why anyone would want to run a marathon makes no sense. You have to be completely out of your mind. But I lost the fire in my belly to run this year and so I decided it would be best to take a year off.”

Woods has lived close to Boston his entire life, so running the Boston Marathon was something he’d always wanted to do. “I wanted to do it in my thirties, and then I wanted to do it before I was 40, and then before I was 50. And I did,” he said.

After participating in so many races, Woods is well aware of the time, energy and mental exertion it takes to run the 26.2 miles, which starts in Hopkinton and finishes in Copley Square.

It started for him on Christmas Day 2000 when Woods began his initial marathon training, admitting that he had “no real intentions” of ever actually completing a race.

“All I wanted was to make it down the street a half of a mile,” he said. “When I started I was badly out of shape. It’s feels like such an achievement to make it a half mile down the street, and then a mile and then five miles.”

Woods then ran his first full marathon in 2004 and has since run five Boston Marathons and six other marathons.

One of the biggest reasons that he began running was to get fit. Woods said that since he started training for marathons his energy level has been “off the charts” and running has given him a major sense of accomplishment.

His family has noticed a difference, too. Woods’ daughter, Michaela, 22, has cheered her father on at all of his Boston Marathon endeavors but said she supports his decision not to run this year.

“My dad absolutely loves the Boston Marathon,” she said. “It’s turned into a family affair. We all go out and support him, but ultimately he knows what’s best and if he decides not to run (this year) then he shouldn’t run.”

What’s best right now, Woods says, is to take a step back and let this year’s race go until he says he is mentally prepared to run again. Because his life has been particularly demanding lately—his basement flooded recently with the rains, a family member passed away, work has been busy—Woods just felt too many things had kept him from focusing on the training routine he knew was required for a marathon. He'd experienced too many "distractions" from the race so he knew the right thing to do was not to run.

"It takes more mental than physical effort to run a marathon,” Woods said. "I have to just let it rest and go back to it as soon as I can.”

That doesn't mean it will be easy for him. In fact, Woods said that on the day of the race he will spend all his time thinking about it.

“I’ll miss it the whole entire day,” he said. “I’m missing it even right now."

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