Juneau resident and third-generation local business owner Leann Thomas is taking part in today’s Boston Marathon, the oldest annual marathon and perhaps the most iconic foot race in the world.
Thomas, 42, owner of downtown’s Triangle Club Bar, said she wasn’t a big runner during her high school days at Juneau-Douglas, though she now loves it and Boston will be her fifth marathon.
“I skied a lot and I was on the drill team one year during high school, so I wasn’t really that into sports,” she said. “Really, even in college I wasn’t that big of a runner. But after college I started running to exercise the dog and it (transformed) into a lifestyle, and that was probably 20 years ago.”
Thomas attended the University of Idaho, earning a degree in exercise science. After college, she ran some 10k races before giving half-marathons a try.
“When I did my first half-marathon I thought, ‘Oh, gosh, that’s all I’m ever going to do,’” she said. “But I was in my mid-20s when I did my first marathon.”
The Spokane Marathon in Washington was her first.
“It was just so fun to be a part of this group of people who are ready to start racing. I did it really slowly, about five hours, but I met so many cool people,” she said. “It was before we had iPods, so we just ran with people and talked. That experience was pretty inspiring for my first marathon.”
Thomas ran with friends and her eventual husband, Pete Schneider.
“That was his first and last (marathon),” Thomas chuckled. “After the race we were going across the street to McDonald’s to get a hamburger, and he couldn’t run across the street. Then he told me he’d never run a marathon with me again. So he stopped, but I kept going.”
Thomas qualified for Boston after running the Victoria Marathon in British Columbia, Canada, in a time of 3 hours, 47 minutes.
“I had just turned 40 and the qualifications were 3:50, so we thought, ‘Oh, let’s turn 40 and then see if we can qualify,’” Thomas said. “It gets easier the older you get, actually.”
Thomas is running solo in Boston after her friends weren’t able to get into the race.
“I have a big group of friends and we thought we’d try for Boston. Unfortunately, the other girls that were going to try to come didn’t make it, or they got injured,” she said. “But it’s still a great adventure. I like always having a goal to do something. That part is really exciting, along with the actual history of the Boston Marathon.”
Thomas said she isn’t feeling nervous about the race and doesn’t really have a specific goal in mind this time. She just wants to take it all in and enjoy the experience, with the historic Boston race being more about the journey for her.
“I’m not planning on doing this as my personal best marathon. I hope I do it around the four-hour mark but if I don’t, that’s OK,” she said. “I’m going to take in all the sights and enjoy all of the people. I’m kind of bummed all my friends aren’t here, but I think it will be a great opportunity to meet new people that all have their own interesting stories.
“I’m really excited about that and making sure I don’t just put my head down and keep running,” she continued. “I want to look around and see everything, hear everybody cheering and think about the great history of the race while I run.”
No matter how she does, Thomas said it will be her first and final attempt in Boston.
“It’s absolutely a one-shot deal,” she laughed. “I’m going to come and do it once, and there are so many other races and cool adventures that I’m sure I’ll be on to something different next year.”
The weather forecast is calling for partly cloudy skies and a high of 61 degrees in Boston today.
If you want to keep up with Thomas’ progress, go to www.baa.org and do a search for her bib, No. 18,369.