Plateau runner takes on Boston Marathon

Bonney Lake resident Jesse Rodriguez has long had an affinity for running and the countless miles finally carried her to the biggest stage. On Monday, April 18, she was in the field for the 120th Boston Marathon.

Jesse Rodriguez is sent off to the Boston Marathon by her students at Chinook Elementary in Auburn.

Bonney Lake resident Jesse Rodriguez has long had an affinity for running and the countless miles finally carried her to the biggest stage. On Monday, April 18, she was in the field for the 120th Boston Marathon.

Rodriguez, who serves students as a counselor at Auburn’s Chinook Elementary School, said running in Boston was something of a new goal.

She was in a pace group about three or four years ago and some of her peers told her she could work toward qualifying for the event.

“I thought, ‘I must be going way too fast,'” she said, adding that she qualified for the Marathon about 18 months ago.

While her aspirations are recent, Rodriguez’s penchant for running is not. She credits her older sister, Stacey Churchill, for suggesting they compete in a marathon together when both were young adults. But motherhood scuttled those plans.

Rodriguez said their parents helped her realize her longtime goal when they set her up with a training program, Fleet Feet Sports, in Bonney Lake. She enjoyed the experience enough that she now serves as a coach for the store.

“It’s just been a fantastic journey,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve met some really wonderful people of all ages – all walks of life – who have this same kind of crazy addiction.”

That training put her in position to run with Churchill in the Marine Corps Marathon four years ago in Washington, D.C. Rodriguez said her sister, who lives in Virginia, elected not to continue running marathons after that, but will attend the Boston Marathon. Rodriguez said her husband and parents, who are traveling from Colorado, and some friends will be there, as well. The group plans to stay two days after the race to do some sightseeing.

Rodriguez has done plenty of that lately. She celebrated her 50th birthday by running a 50-kilometer race at scenic Deception Pass.

“It was beautiful,” she said, adding that she logged 40 to 50 miles per week in preparation for Boston.

But the allure of racing is about more than admiring Pacific Northwest landmarks.

“I think there’s a huge sense of camaraderie in local running communities,” Rodriguez said. “You form these really close friendships because you just end up talking and talking and talking.”

She also feels the chemistry developed from those relationships is different than in other sports.

“I think it’s a nice sport because you’re really only competing against yourself,” Rodriguez said. “It tends to be a little happier, I think, than team sports where there’s a whole win-win thing. If you tend to be a competitive person then you’re always trying to mostly beat yourself and your own time.”

That mentality applied to the Boston Marathon. Rodriguez had a goal of running the 26-mile, 385-yard course in 3 hours, 45 minutes (she completed it in 3 hours and 54 minutes), but had said in advance she would not place too much focus on her time.

“Whatever happens is going to be fine,” she said, the week before the race. “I’ve never run a course that’s quite like Boston because it’s a slow downhill and then like 3 miles of solid uphill. I’m not quite sure what that will feel like, so I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself.”

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