Persistence pays: Moran Boston-bound at 61

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Persistence over time not only defines the essence of a marathon race, but also the achievement of Mike Moran as he prepares to compete next week in his first Boston Marathon.

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Mike Moran says a training regime ?for busy people? provided the input he needed to get ready for his recent marathons.

Qualifying for arguably the most prestigious marathon in the county at age 61 is a personal milestone for the rural Marion resident who works as the counselor at Hillsboro Elementary School.

By nature, Moran downplays the accomplishment.

?To be honest, I had to wait until I was 60 so they had a decent qualifying time,? he said.

With 22,000 runners qualifying for the 2008 race, marathon officials set qualifying times according to age to keep the size of the event manageable.

Moran broke the required 4-hour standard for 60-year-olds last October when he completed the Wichita Marathon in 3 hours, 48 minutes and 25 seconds.

Boston will be Moran?s third marathon. He ran his first one five years ago in Chicago. He was motivated in part to complete that race as a fundraiser for a nephew who had died of bone cancer.

?In the back of my mind, I was kind of hoping I would qualify for Boston, but never expressed anything to my wife,? he said.

Moran finished the 26.2-mile course in four hours, but Boston?s qualifying time for 55 and older was 3:45:00.

?I might have been able to qualify at 3:45 when I was 55, but breaking four (hours) is a little easier,? he said. ?If you?re in halfway decent shape at age 60, a lot of people could do it, to be honest.?

Moran is no newcomer to running. He ran well enough for his Catholic boys? school in Indianapolis, Ind., that he earned a track scholarship to Loyala University.

?I?ve always considered myself a mediocre runner, but I did have some success in high school,? Moran said.

He took up running as a stress reliever a few years after college and has been at it pretty much ever since?although he ?got a little more serious? about it after his children were grown and no longer needed his daily attention.

Moran said he tries to run a half-marathon each year, plus shorter races as his schedule permits. Road races are a motivator, but not his primary one.

?I run because I love it,? he said. ?And I really like endurance things. I like pushing my body.

?There?s definitely something about going out and running and feeling good that puts me in a good mood and kind of on an even keel.?

But why run a marathon?

?People always said, ?How many marathons have you run?? And I said I?ve never done one,? he said. ?I thought, well, I guess since they asked I ought to try a marathon.?

Moran said he actually enjoys the training required for long races. As he was considering a try for Boston, he came across an article in Runner?s World magazine that was a ?godsend? for him.

It was called ?Marathon Training for Busy People.?

?I figured, well, I?m 60 and I?m busy,? he said. ?So I thought if anything is do-able, this is.?

The article focused more on interval and sprint work rather than logging extended miles. While training for his recent marathons, peak mileage in a single week has reached the low 40s on occasion, but it?s usually been in the mid-20s.

?It really paid off,? Moran said of the strategy.

His goal was to qualify for Boston, but once he did, he wasn?t sure he?d actually make the trip.

?It?s quite a commitment financially,? Moran said. ?I guess it?s peer pressure?people think it?s pretty neat. I feel blessed and pretty fortunate and honored that I was able to qualify.?

In his low-key style, Moran has promoted running in his role as school counselor. For years he has helped organize the Hershey track meet for HES students and has transported children to Wichita in May to participate in the River Run.

?Running is painful, but there?s also some wonderful things about it,? he said. ?I just think it?s nice for kids to see that they can push themselves past what they think they can do.

?That?s what sports is all about. You can get out of your comfort zone?it?s very satisfying and you feel a sense of accomplishment. I want kids to feel that sense of accomplishment.?

A sense of accomplishment awaits Moran, too, if he completes the Boston course Sunday. But he knows success isn?t assured when you step beyond your comfort zone.

?It?s a humbling experience,? he said. ?Who knows, I might not be able to even finish Boston. There are so many things that could go wrong over 26.2 miles.

?In my mind, I kind of wanted to do (a marathon) every five years,? Moran said, then added with a chuckle: ?This one may be my last one, though.?

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