Why I won’t be running 2014 Boston Marathon

Boston Finish line

It hasn’t been an easy decision. My initial reaction after the bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon was that I definitely wanted to return in 2014, to make my statement that I won’t be frightened away from a race I love by cowards whose sole intent was to instill fear. I thought that I needed to go back so show my support. And I wanted to be there. In some ways, I still do.

But there were also other factors on my mind. My desire to do other races, my need to take a break from marathon training, the cost of running Boston, the time away from my family. And those factors combined have led to my decision not to run Boston Marathon next year.

I want to thank Tia from Arkansas Runner Mom, whose post about her reasons for not running Boston in 2014 encouraged me to write about mine. Most people know that I’m not someone who discusses my thoughts and feelings very often. In fact, I’ve been nicknamed The Ice Queen, Stone Cold, and even called callous for my “take no prisoners” attitude to racing. But deep down I do have a heart (really!) and coming to this decision wasn’t easy. But I think it’s the right thing to do. For all the right reasons.

Other races

Running Boston this year meant that I missed out on Cherry Blossom 10 miler, one of my favorite races and a local event for me. I couldn’t run it in 2013 because it was just a week before Boston. Next year it’s two weeks prior, but I still don’t like to race that close to a marathon.

I also missed out on Strasburg Duathlon, which was just two days before Boston. I won this event in its inaugural year three years ago. It was my first duathlon and my feet froze so badly on the bike I couldn’t feel them on the second 5K, but I was 1st woman by 5 minutes nevertheless! I’d love to go back and see if I can regain my title.

Training for a marathon inevitably means that I don’t get to run shorter races. I’ve only run one 5K this year, and that was a couple of weeks after Boston. I’d really like to do some more 10Ks, too.

In addition to all that, on Monday I’ll sit down with my triathlon coach to discuss my training for the next year, leading up to the ITU World Championships in Edmonton at the end of August. I know it’s almost a year away, but I want to plan my whole year with this race in mind. And a marathon may not fit well into that schedule.

Taking a break from marathon training

I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that my body isn’t well designed for marathon training. It tends to break down quickly under the stress of the additional mileage, and because I have a tendency to push too hard without realizing it. So a little niggle in my calf turns into a major issue, and before I know it I’m out for a week. When I’m not marathon training I have none of these issues. Post-Boston I had an entire season of PR races, from a 3 minute PR in the Half Marathon to a 40 minute PR in the Half Ironman, in addition to PRs in all my triathlons, with no injury woes. Then I started training for Marine Corps Marathon, and once I hit high mileage, the problems returned. I’ll still run MCM, but after that I think it’s time to take a break and focus on some shorter distances.

The cost of running Boston

Marathoning aint cheap. Sure, it’s not the $700 that an Ironman costs, but the entry fee for Boston is now $175. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When you factor in the flight and at least two nights in a $300/night hotel, you’re looking at a grand, easy. That’s money I need to put towards even more expensive flights to Edmonton, because the whole family wants to come see me represent Team USA!

The time away from my family

Last but not least, running Boston takes time away from the family. And with the race on a Monday, it’s not like I’m just away for the weekend. I’m gone until Tuesday. This wouldn’t be a big deal if it weren’t for all the other races I like to do that take me out of town. And while my husband and sons are very supportive of my racing, I know when it becomes a strain.

Clearly, I will feel a little sense of sadness when everyone heads off to Hopkinton and I’m not there. But I will certainly be thinking about Boston 2013 and the events that turned a day of celebration into one of tragedy…and, more importantly, the hope, support, and determination shown by so many.

We love Boston


  1. I’m sorry to hear you won’t be barreling through Natick again this year, but at least you won’t have to worry about some random Bostonian finding your fuel belt! I applaud your brave decision and honest explanation, and I look forward to hearing about your other races. The Cherry Blossom 10 miler sounds gorgeous!

    • Alison Gittelman says:

      Thanks Stephanie! One of the reasons I wanted to go was to meet you and thank you for your kindness! Ah well, next time! Wishing you a fantastic race at what will be a very special event.

  2. I admire you for putting your family first , and I can see how you would want to focus on ITU Worlds, that’s your key race and everything should focus around that. I will miss you very much, but I think your choice is the right one. Marathons suck anyway, LOL!
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..Nuun Hood to Coast 2013 recapMy Profile

    • Alison Gittelman says:

      I am going to miss you too! It’s the people I won’t see there that is one of the hardest things about this decision!

  3. Valid reasons all of them. Enjoy your other races next year. I love your little unicorn-where did you get it?
    Isela recently posted..Opening UpMy Profile

  4. You have to make the right decisions for you and what you need in your life at any given time. It sounds like you have given this considerable thought and will be focusing on some other amazing goals. I registered for Boston today, feeling right now the need to complete the circle of healing by being there again although as the race draws closer however I am not sure how it will feel on race day. Good luck with your amazing goals and keep staying true to you. I can’t wait to hear more about everything that is to come for you! 🙂
    Sandra Laflamme recently posted..Run to Remember 9/11 #runtorememberMy Profile

  5. I can’t imagine how tough this was for you. But the ITU worlds – THAT’S a BIG DEAL. Amazing! I know after this year, I won’t be going back even if I do re-qualify. I”m like you..the minute I start hitting the high mileage, my body starts to say enough already! 😀 Lisa is right, marathons DO suck. ha ha. Best of luck with everything next year! I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds for you!
    Phaedra @ Blisters and Black Toenails recently posted..You’ve. Freaking. Got. This @runemzMy Profile

  6. As hard as it is to sit out of Boston, I totally get this. I can relate to the marathon fatigue and the way training/racing tends to dominate one’s life. Good for you for making a hard decision!
    Marcia recently posted..5 Tips for Running at AltitudeMy Profile

  7. I have skipped Boston more often than I have gone. Like you said, it’s an expensive ordeal! And time consuming, etc. I think you made the right choice for you this year, even though it’s not an easy choice.
    misszippy1 recently posted..A new running coach?My Profile

  8. Makes so much sense! And I’ve been thinking the SAME things about the marathon– having aches and pains lately, and I don’t deal with that at all when my mileage is lower. Like you, I’m going to finish it out and run Philly but after that I’ll be ready to focus on some shorter distances!
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Yasso 800sMy Profile

  9. Besides the Duathlon mention, I could have written this same post. I love Boston but after running their twice I just don’t feel the desire to deal with the logistics and cost again, not to mention I want to try new things! Glad to hear I am not the only one who shocked everyone by not signing up again.
    Kris Lawrence recently posted..The Devil is in the DetailsMy Profile

    • Alison Gittelman says:

      Thanks, Kris! I didn’t know that writing this post, and knowing others feel the same way, would be so cathartic, but it has really helped me come to terms with this decision.

  10. Sounds like all the reasons are really good ones and you have your priorities in line for 2014. I always like to try new races and have never had the Boston dream since I was always too slow. But sometimes I think that I will work on my speed when my kids are a little bigger, and qualify for Boston. Someday!
    Cynthia recently posted..A Day In The LifeMy Profile


  1. […] is the Boston Marathon. I’m not running it this year. I felt fine when I made that decision, but I’ll admit that it’s been harder to deal with in the last week, with lots of […]

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