NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – When Julie Hood casually started running in an effort to stay in shape during her senior year of high school, the longtime New Rochelle native had no idea it would lead her both to her passion and to a runner’s bib at the Boston Marathon.
On Monday, Hood, 26, who describes herself as a “running junkie” will compete in her first Boston Marathon. She has previously run marathons in Michigan, where she is completing her degree at the University of Michigan.
Although she wasn’t always a fitness buff, Hood said that it’s hard to remember a time when running wasn’t a part of her every day routine.
“I wanted to get some more exercise, so I just started running. When I was done I felt incredible, and it’s become second nature to me,” she said. “I always get my run in, whether I can do it outside or I have to go to the gym, my body feels terrible if I don’t.”
In an effort to get in the necessary shape to run the Boston Marathon, Hood said she has run between 10 and 20 miles for nearly six months. She has also been forced to limit her diet to mostly lean proteins, some pasta, raw fruits and vegetables, though she said she’s enjoyed a few cheat days during training.
“I have such a sweet tooth, so that’s probably the hardest part for me, having to watch what I eat, especially in the weeks right before a long race,” she said. “I’ll definitely get a little lax after the race and indulge.”
Joe Garland, an avid runner who operates RunWestchester.com, noted that the Boston Marathon is a difficult one for casual marathon runners to compete because of qualifying rules. Those who earn bibs must be among the fastest qualifying times in their age and gender group.
Garland said that it’s tough to prepare for the Boston Marathon, because the bulk of training would have to be done over the lean winter months.
“Not a lot go up to Boston. Getting a ‘Boston Qualifier’ is a big deal, it’s like a badge of distinction,” he said. “Another problem with Boston in spring is that you have to do the significant portion of training during the long winter. Running a long race in February is not the same as in September.”
This year’s Boston Marathon will be the first since Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev detonated two pressure cooker bombs at the finish line last year, killing three and injuring nearly 300 more.
Hood said that while that incident is in the back of her mind, she doesn’t have any fear of competing.
“It was terrible, but they’re beefing up security big time, I don’t think anything like that will happen again,” she said. “Can’t live in fear, right?”
Follow the Daily Voice for updates from the Boston Marathon.