A little snow in April wasn't going to stop Kayla Vitukevich of Saugus from training for the Boston Marathon. (Item Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Saugus native Vitukevich will run for Mass General Team

SAUGUS -- The third time's the charm for Boston Marathon runner and Saugus native Kayla Vitukevich.

After running her first two Marathons without a tag, this year the 28-year-old nurse will be running the Marathon for the Massachusetts General Hospital Emergency Response Marathon Team.

"It feels really nice to be running for a team that supports that type of program," Vitukevich said. "After the bombing that happened five years ago, it feels like I have this ability to run and it's my way of giving back."

This will be Vitukevich's third Boston Marathon and her first as an employee of MGH. She's honored to be a part of their team.

"They support all disasters in the local area, even global disasters," Vitukevich said. "My hospital sent nurses and other types of workers to Puerto Rico and to Texas during the storms. It feels really good to be able to work for a company like MGH. It feels like an honor."

Finding the time to train while working as a full-time nurse with odd hours is very difficult for Vitukevich.

"I work days and nights and I have to squeeze in my training runs," Vitukevich said. "If I work the overnight I have to go home, get some sleep in and get a quick work out in, shower and go back to work."

Despite the tiring schedule, Vitukevich knows there are so many people rooting for her and that is what keeps her going.

Balancing work, training and family life has been an obstacle for Vitukevich, along with the temperamental New England weather. She started her training in December, but the weather has been sympathetic to her.

"On my long runs, I've been lucky that I haven't dealt with any precipitation," Vitukevich said. "There were two or three weeks where the running was really cold but we got to train indoors on occasion."

Vitukevich is an avid runner but mentally there's a huge difference between running for fun and training for a marathon.

"There's always a bigger picture in my head when I'm training," she said. "It's very disciplined and it feels like a part time job."

Healthy eating is standard practice for Vitukevich.

"I'm focusing on very clean nutrition, I'm mostly vegetarian," she said. "I do eat chicken and fish, but I mostly stick to vegetables. With training I add a lot of carbs, usually I'll eat a half of a banana with some peanut butter before I run."

After her run, she has a meal she refers to as the "kitchen sink scramble," which consists of eggs with every vegetable she has in her fridge. After her big meal she snacks throughout the day whenever she's hungry and drinks a lot of water.

Vitukevich's goal for this year is to finish in three hours and 30 minutes, which would best her last marathon time of three hours and 50 minutes.

Vitukevich also has essential advice for first time marathon runners.

"Definitely take water," she said. "Part of my training is learning to take the water and keep running. Rotate between the water and the Gatorade."

Vitukevich also carries gummies in her pocket to help give her a burst of energy when she needs it.

Despite all of the excitement surrounding the Boston Marathon, Vitukevich doesn't want to lose sight of what is most important.

"I don't want to get so consumed in the technical part of it," she said. "I don't want to lose sight of the crowd. Even though you are going to feel terrible towards the very end, that's when the crowd is so supportive. You need to let that carry you to the end because that's the best part of the race."

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