Tracy Guerrette had a memorable experience at last year’s Boston Marathon.
The former University of Maine basketball player from tiny Saint Agatha in northernmost Maine ran through torrential rains and a heavy headwind to place 25th overall among the 13,391 women in the field and first among Maine female runners in a personal-best time for the race of 2 hours, 54 minutes, 2 seconds.
But a recent spate of injuries will prevent the 38-year-old Bangor resident from running the 123rd edition of the historic Boston race Monday.
“Ironically enough I was pretty tired and worn from all the training I’ve been doing in the past couple of years with no break,” said Guerrette, who last ran the 26.2-mile distance in Sacramento, California, in December when she completed the California International Marathon in 2:45:48. “I remember thinking to myself it would be really nice if I got injured.
“You have to be careful what you wish for or pray for.”
Guerrette initially pulled the soleus muscle in her left calf a few weeks after returning from Sacramento as she sought to alter her running gait in an effort to gain speed.
That sidelined her for a couple of weeks, and upon her return to running she began experiencing pain in her left Achilles’ tendon, which required physical therapy.
By this time Guerrette already had decided not to resume the rigorous winter training regimen required to run the Boston Marathon in mid-April. This would have been the second straight year she would have gone from running the California International Marathon in December to resuming full-fledged training for Boston soon after the holiday season.
“The marathon is a grind both physically and mentally,” said Guerrette, who instead was considering a run June 22 at the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. “I just needed a break from marathon training and didn’t want to jump back into a cycle, and that’s what happens when you want to run Boston. You jump right back into it in January.”
Guerrette was back on the roads again by early March but soon suffered her most significant injury, a broken fifth metatarsal (bone) in her left foot.
“I was out running one day three weeks ago — it was a beautiful day, I had my sunglasses on, I was really excited — and I tripped and fell. That was the big one.”
Guerrette originally required crutches and now is wearing a protective boot, No surgery was needed, but her athletic activities are limited for six weeks.
“It was X-rayed Monday morning, and it’s healing nicely,” Guerrette said. “The doc was impressed with how well the bone is healing.”
Guerrette did resume cross training last weekend with some swimming and lifting.
“I told my doc my goal is to go for a run on Easter morning,” said Guerrette, the director of faith formation at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Bangor .
Guerrette is unlikely to run the Grandma’s Marathon but may consider a fall race as she pursues trying to qualify for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, scheduled for Feb. 29, 2020, in Atlanta.
Guerrette thought she qualified when she won the 2017 Maine Marathon in 2:43:47, well under the “B” qualifying standard for the Olympic trials of 2:45:00. She later learned that while the Maine Marathon was certified by the Boston Marathon and by USA Track and Field, times there did not qualify for the Olympic Trials.
“Once I get healthy I’ll probably train for shorter things during the summer like Beach to Beacon [in August in Cape Elizabeth], then ramp up training for a fall marathon,” she said. “But I’ve told myself that even if I never raced again — which I hope I do because I love it — I’d be so happy just to be running every day because I love running, and I don’t function well without it, not only physically but spiritually, emotionally and mentally.”
Guerrette sees blessings in her hiatus from the roads, among them that through injury her entire body has the chance to recuperate from several years of savoring those grueling, 100-mile race weeks.
“I’m the type of athlete that’s going to push and push and push,” she said. “[Monday] morning I’m talking to my poor doctor and asking what can I do, what can I do? He’s the one that has to stop me from doing things, so maybe it’s a good thing to give my body a break, but it’s really hard for me to do that.”
There’s also the relationship between Guerrette’s passion for running and her spirituality.
“I feel his presence when I run,” she said. “I give him the glory in anything and everything I do, and I like to use it to be a blessing in people’s lives and to motivate and encourage others.
“This has been a really good suffering both physically and spiritually for me. Just to be able to be still and use that time to go to Mass more, to pray more, to spend time with the Lord more. It really, really makes me appreciate how much I do love running.”