Sheri Piers has had a little less than a year to reflect on her 26.2-mile breakthrough of a journey from Hopkinton, Mass., to Boston last April.
The Boston Marathon had not exactly been nice to the Falmouth runner, but last spring she exorcised those demons in not only breaking the 2-hour, 40-minute mark for the first time in her career, but finishing 11th among all female finishers in 2:37.04.
The running gods were on Piers’ side that day, and she hopes they will be again Monday when she’ll be among 207 Maine runners in this year’s race.
“I had a lucky year last year, I just hope it can go this well [this year],” said Piers, who is entered among the elite runners and will wear bib F26.
“If we get a hot day like we had last weekend, we could be in trouble. It’s one of those things where you hope everything clicks on that day.”
Piers and the rest of the elite women will lead off the throng of 25,000 runners at 9:32 a.m., with the elite men and first wave of recreational runners going off at 10 a.m., and the second wave at 10:30 a.m.
Piers has had a busy winter preparing for Boston, as she and training partner Kristin Pierce-Barry of South Portland ran a marathon in Arizona in January. Barry was gunning for a qualifying time for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, for which Piers had already qualified.
Pierce-Barry ran a 2:40 in Arizona to sew up her qualifying spot, while Piers had qualified for the trials at the Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota in October, running 2:37.36.
Both runners also are coming off personal bests at the New York City half-marathon last month.
“I’ve had a pretty good base of training,” said Piers. “I added the extra marathon this year, which I’m a little nervous about. I don’t know if that’s going to go in my favor or against me but we’ll see.”
Starting in the elite field again this spring should be an advantage for Piers in the early miles. Since the elite women will be the first to start the race, she won’t have to weave through crowds of slower runners on the early downhills.
“Being up in the first wave with the elite women it was easier for me to see that first several miles are downhill,” Piers said. “When running back in the pack it’s hard to get that visual [aid].”
Piers hopes the short recovery time between January and Monday won’t affect her in terms of tapering off mileage, since she admittedly has a hard time reducing her mileage.
“I tried to back it down a little bit for like a week or two, I was able to get six weeks of 120 miles per week, which was good,” she said. “Last week I did 80 miles and this week I’ll do 30, so it’s quite a drop. I struggle with the taper, it feels like I’m not doing anything.”
Piers and Pierce-Barry, who train together every day, were blessed with an unusually mild winter, and Piers wasn’t sure whether to be happy or surprised.
“I have a little bit of mixed feelings about that,” Piers said. “It was really weird, last year I had frostbite, I had gotten frostbite on my face last year, and this year I didn’t wear a facemask.”
Piers, also the reigning Maine women’s champ in the Beach to Beacon 10K, is going to follow a post-Boston plan similar to what she used last year: run a strong Boston, then take a few weeks off, resume training with Pierce-Barry to gear up for the Beach to Beacon, with a little wrinkle mixed in.
“We’re going to be going to the Cabot relay in Canada [in May], that’s typically our first weekend back,” she said. “We’ll go from May to the Beach to Bacon then we’re doing the New York City Marathon [in November].”
This year’s NYC Marathon also will serve as the national marathon championships, and Piers said the Cabot Trail relay race, in which she’ll run with the all-female “Maine Road Hags,” is her favorite event on the circuit.
But for now, Piers, a mother of five, is only focusing on conquering that challenging 26.2-mile Boston Marathon course one more time.