Boston Marathon Q&A: Susan Hurley

Local runners get ready for the big day.

This post is part of our Boston Marathon Q&A, where we ask local runners about their journey from the streets of Boston to the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Susan Hurley

Susan Hurley. Photo provided.

Name: Susan Hurley
Age: 50
Residence: North Andover, MA

What did your training regimen look like? 
My training really revolves around the needs of beginner marathon runners, because 90 percent of these charity runners have never run a marathon [Hurley is in charge of CharityTeams, meaning she manages all charity teams running the Boston Marathon]. Most are really nervous. I try to calm their fears and help them gain confidence and reassure them.

Training to run the Boston Marathon for a charity is all about inspiration, so in addition to learning to run such a long race, understanding the importance of the mission of the non-profit they are running for is most important. I want these runners to become ambassadors for their charities, to remain part of their charities long after they have run the race and to continue to volunteer or support them in some way.

What was the hardest part of training?
The hardest part of training, especially for people living in New England, is the weather. Each year we are faced with so much uncertainty right up to race day. This year, in particular, my runners have had more injuries from fall-related injuries.

For those out-of-state runners in the CharityTeams program, the hardest part of training is the mystery of the course. Unlike the local runners who are able to train on the course weekly, out-of-state runners have this panic about the difficulty of the course and in particular the hills of Newton and mile 21: Heartbreak Hill. So educating them through video and elevation maps helps.

What’s your favorite pre-race (night before) meal?
If I had my wish, I would be at Ristorante Fiore in the North End having a large plate of pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, capers and, olives. However, it’s much too crazy-busy for that, so it’s usually something quick and healthy!

What is your favorite post-race meal?
First thing I go for in the hotel room after finishing is potato chips—it seems to curb the uncontrollable cramping. Then I go for anything but sugar. I have had enough sugar, usually, on the course and really don’t want to look at another sports drink for weeks. This year, I’m going for the Social Burger at Back Bay Social Club—got my reservations all set!

How will you stay motivated during the course? 
I am motivated during the run by the desire to get to finish before my runners do, so I can see them cross the finish line. I love to see the smiles on their faces and the tears of joy. It’s the moment, and it’s indescribable for me to watch. I wish everyone could experience that kind of pride from hard work and paying it forward.

I also call my boys, Ryan and Max, at the top of Heartbreak Hill and tell them I’m coming in and to be waiting for me. It always makes me tear up. It’s tradition for me to do this and it’s quite emotional.

My motivation also comes this year in knowing that so many charities have benefited from the work of these runners and the incredible opportunity the B.A.A. and the John Hancock non-profit Partners give to our community through this amazing race.  It is inspiring to me to realize that this group of 200 runners I have had an opportunity to work with this year have collectively raised over $1.2 million for local non-profits and we are still a week out.

Why do you run the Boston Marathon?  
I started running when I used to miss the bus in high school and I haven’t stopped. I’m proud to say I am a person who has worked out her whole life and never stopped and rarely missed a day. I used to run for myself—now I run for others.

Do you have any racing superstitions?
Sort of. I throw a Face Your Fears Night event. I ask each runner to write on a piece of paper his or her biggest fear of running the Boston Marathon. We then place them in a caldron and our hill coach, Bill Pennington, sets them on fire and we celebrate with Guinness and Irish food after.

What will you be doing the day after the Boston Marathon?
The day after the race―after I walk gingerly out of the Marriot Copley from soreness―I usually take the day to call runners and track everyone’s times to make sure everyone finished. I also call the people who supported my charities through the season to let them know how grateful I am. It’s always a team effort. I couldn’t do the job I do if I didn’t have a great team personally and professionally.