Running the Boston Marathon for the First Time: Tara’s Story

April 25, 2019

Our blogger’s friend, Tara Deggendorf, gave us the inside scoop on her experience running the 2019 Boston Marathon to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in honor of her dad. She wore her new Withings Steel HR watch. So how did it go? We had to find out.

So how was running the Boston Marathon for the first time?

The Boston Marathon is the biggest marathon in the world, and I finished it. But I’m not going to lie — it was so hard. The morning of the marathon started off as 50° F (10°C) and overcast, which is what I wanted. Then, from mile 6 to mile 18, the temperature increased and the sun came out, which was awful. Everyone started overheating and lying down on the side of the road. What I’m getting at is, during my normal 20-mile runs, I would drink 20 ounces of water. But during the marathon, I drank about 140 ounces, and I had to keep stopping for bathroom breaks. It got so hot that my face turned bright red, and when I hit the hills, I decided to walk, so all these factors combined slowed me down a lot.

How important do you think it was having your support system there to cheer you on?

So important. Onlookers stood all along the marathon route cheering on the runners. That helped motivate me a lot during times when I started feeling discouraged. Plus, seeing all my family and friends at mile 20.5, gave me a surge of energy to finish the race!

You finished the race in 5 hours and 11 minutes. That’s a great time for someone who doesn’t run marathons regularly.

Well, I wanted to finish 25 minutes earlier. I actually wanted to take a whole minute off per mile. I was cruising for the first ten miles. However, the time I spent walking on the hills took a lot of time off my plan. But everyone was walking. I didn’t see anyone running the hills because we were all overheated. In a matter of two minutes, it went from 70 degrees to 50 degrees, and then it started to rain. I carried a hat for 15 miles and then it stopped raining, so I threw my hat out on Commonwealth Avenue, and I kid you not, once I did that, it instantly started to downpour.

How was wearing the Steel HR Hybrid smartwatch during this whole experience?

Steel HR captured all of Tara's marathon moves in the Health Mate app
Steel HR captured all of Tara’s marathon moves in the Health Mate app

The Steel HR was great! The battery life and the quality are great.  And according to Health Mate, I walked more than 54,000 steps during the marathon.
It’s easy to use, not clunky, and I have received a lot of compliments on it. I shower in it, and when I sleep, I wear the silicone band. My boyfriend wants one now also!

Do you think you’ll run another marathon?

It’s interesting because I used to think I would be a “one and done” marathoner. But crossing the finish line — I would do that 100 times over. Since the Boston Marathon was so hard on my body, in the future, I would probably only run marathons for charity — specifically charities that mean a lot to me, like Dana-Farber. Having this intense motivation of running for a charity that means so much to my family and me, helped to push me across the finish line.

You’re no longer training for the Boston Marathon, so what are you most excited to eat?

The night of the marathon, I went all out and treated myself to cake and cookies. But since then, I’ve been eating fewer carbs than I did when I was preparing for the race, because now I’m just focused on leading a healthy lifestyle and losing weight.

What’s your next marathon?

I can run a half-marathon in my sleep now. If I were to do another full marathon, my aunt wants to do a marathon in another country. But I’ll probably do a half marathon before my next full marathon.

How much have you fundraised, and how do you think your fundraising efforts will continue going into your next charity marathon?

To date, I’ve raised $9463.21. I think the next time I run a marathon, I’ll have to be more creative with how I fundraise — I’m thinking of organizing additional fundraising events, and selling apparel as well.

What did you learn from the marathon?

There’s so much I’ve learned. For example, eat a lot of salt before you run a marathon. Because it was so hot and I kept drinking water, I lost so much salt, and my hands started cramping. I had trouble bending my fingers back because of how cramped my hands were. During the marathon, I saw my friends, and they gave me some peanut M&Ms, and that helped energize me during the race.

Tell me about how you felt as you were approaching the finish line.

I had ten people cheering me on at the finish line. It was so loud because not only was my whole family cheering me on, but there were two groups beside my family who were waiting for their family members to finish the race, and they were also cheering me on. I wasn’t going to quit before the finish line, but I’m not going to lie, I was so exhausted. However, when I heard and saw everyone screaming my name, I said, “Tara, just push,” and I finished!

Thanks, Tara! We’ve enjoyed being with you on your journey. To support Tara’s efforts, check out her fundraising page.