Turning 60 years old is big, so Marie Mayotte decided to celebrate all year long. #TheYearof60!
This is a time when people tend to reflect on their lives, family and friends. All of those elements came together for Marie on April 16, along with a lot of running and bad weather.
“The rain was annoying. The wind was annoying. The cold was annoying. But it was great,” says Marie of her first time running the Boston Marathon—and her first 26.2.
Marie, who lives in Pelham, New Hampshire, started running four years ago and the sport—and running community—has captured her heart and sole, er soul. She ran her first half marathon in 2015 and didn’t think she’d ever want to run 26.2. Then an opportunity came up to combine her newfound love of running with family and friends.
Marie applied to run Boston as a charity runner fundraising for The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation in honor of her granddaughter Zoe. When she was born in 2016, Zoe needed heart surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital, and thankfully, little Miss Zoe (who is so darn cute) is now leading a healthy life. The experience changed Marie in many ways, including wanting to help others survive similar challenges. The foundation was there to support her family, so it became an opportunity for her to both give back and challenge herself. Her ‘why’ for training and enduring her 26.2 journey was a compelling call to be part of something bigger than just her. She raised more than $10,000 in conjunction with running Boston.
“People were so generous and kind,” she says, making it sound easy to raise that kind of money. She’s gained the kind of family and friends who would rally around her, many she refers to as “my flower friends.”
Fellow Flowers has been a huge part of her support system since attending the first Rock Retreat Run in 2015 in Scottsdale, Arizona. “I could not have done it without being part of that community,” she says.
During training and around the marathon, Marie received texts, Facebook messages, postcards and other encouragement from all over the country. Her Fellow Flowers community rallied around her and shared in the emotions of the training and race day. She wore a specially made blue-and-yellow flower gifted from Mel & Tori in Boston colors, and used the Motigo app to receive personal recordings from family, friends and her Fellow Flowers ladies along the course.
On race day, she bonded with other charity runners on the bus, while they waited to start. A handful of them saw each other throughout the day and all crossed the finish around the six-hour mark. She also had her family—including all four of her children (two came from Maryland)—along the course to cheer her along.
Despite the nasty weather, she says her husband, Jerry, simply described her as having a huge smile all day—except for a few tears when turning onto Boylston at the finish. (Who wouldn’t?!)
Marie had some troubles with her IT band and arthritis in training, but by only running three days per week, she continued to build miles to run the marathon, using a Hal Higdon beginners’ plan. She ran hills near her house on Lake Winnipesaukee and did a couple of long runs on the Boston Marathon course. Most of her weekday mileage was on the treadmill, given the season leading up to the April race.
The timing was great for her and Jerry’s business, and she’s already dreamed of running Boston again when she’s 65. For now, she’ll stick with her usual schedule of a half marathon in the spring and fall. At Her Madison in June and Zooma on Cape Cod in September, Marie looks forward to connecting with many of her flower friends.
Since starting running in 2014—to “get off the couch”—Marie says it’s been easier to be consistent with her fitness and keep her weight down. She credits running with giving her health, opportunities to travel and friendships. Without the big hearts of Marie and her family and friends, reaching the finish of the Boston marathon wouldn’t have been possible.
“It was an absolutely amazing journey,” she says. “I can’t thank everyone enough.”
– Written by Nicki Miller /@nickiontherun