Mark Howard is achieving his goal a bit later than anticipated, but he’s about to check running the Boston Marathon off his bucket list.
“I always had a goal of running Boston before I turned 40, and the plan was to run the Vermont City Marathon and then run Boston,” Howard said. “I was about 10 weeks into training for Vermont when COVID shut everything down.”
Howard deferred his entry into the Vermont race until last spring, when he completed the Burlington course and set the table for his upcoming Boston run.
“Boston has always been the goal,” he said.
Howard is running to support Hopkinton Youth Lacrosse. Both of his sons participate in the program and he has gotten to know Ed O’Donnell, who runs the organization.
“I love what they do for the kids,” he said. “I wanted to try to give back.”
Howard is seeking to raise $5,000 to support the program (hoplax.com). A physical therapist, his race training has been aided by the fact that his boss is a Boston Marathon runner and comes from a long line of marathon competitors.
“He writes my programs for me and he knows my injury history,” Howard said.
The weather has been better than average this winter and early spring, allowing Howard to log some miles. But he prefers cross training as opposed to always tackling lengthy training runs.
Howard also has a strong connection to the course. He previously lived in Newton, he went to school at Northeastern, and now he lives less than 2 miles from the start line in Hopkinton. For the past few years, he and his son have gotten up on Patriots’ Day to see the elite runners take off.
After experiencing the marathon as a spectator from all angles, he said he is “intrigued” to find out what it’s like on the other side of the spectrum as a runner. And he will have the added bonus, as a local, of being able to sleep in his own bed the night before the race.
With so many elements that are beyond his control on race day, Howard said he is grateful to be able to have the relatively easy logistics leading up to the event itself and a training plan that he believes in.
“If I don’t run my best or my time isn’t the best, I know it won’t be because I didn’t put the work in,” he said. “Everything I can control I have controlled, and I am confident I have done what I can do to succeed.”
One open question as Howard prepares to embark on his first Boston Marathon is whether it will be the first and last, or the first of many?
“I am somebody who likes to have things to train for, but if something doesn’t go well this year, I know I am going to come back and try again,” he said. “I get the feeling I will get the itch to do it again.”