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Nahant’s Ellen Goldberg set for ninth straight Boston Marathon

Ellen Goldberg, right, with pioneering marathoner Kathy Switzer, says she's learned a lot in eight years of running in the race. (Courtesy Photo)

NAHANT — It was nine years ago that Ellen Goldberg’s then-sister-in-law asked her if she’d run the Boston Marathon to benefit the Massachusetts Association for the Blind.

Monday, she’ll be back in Hopkinton for her ninth straight race, and once again she’s running for the association.

“It’s a good, local organization,” said Goldberg, 49. “They do amazing work. They use amazing technology. They’re a good local organization to support.”

A lot has changed since her neophyte days.

“I got called at the end of January, nine years ago, and I was totally not prepared to do it,” she said. “It probably wasn’t such a good idea, but I thought about it and said, ‘yeah, OK.'”

Goldberg says there are two distinct aspects of the marathon. The first is preparing for the race and doing the fundraising. The second is running itself.

“On the first part,” she said, “you should make an informed decision about what goes into training for a marathon before you just say yes.

“For the other part, if I don’t run, or don’t enough, or even a little, my legs actually hurt,” she said. “They ache. I have to run even if I’m not training for something.”

These days, she’s balancing training with the rigors of parenting two very active children: One, 15-year-old Benjamin, plays soccer for Swampscott High and the other, Sarah, 11, plays the sport at the youth level.

“This is why I run so much on the treadmill,” she said. “To make sure I’m home when they’re home. So I run in the basement while my son plays video games on TV.”

It was while she was sitting in her car last fall waiting for her daughter to get out of soccer practice that the association called asking her to run again. Up to that point, she really wasn’t sure. Marathon Day 2017 dawned hot and Goldberg had a tough time.

“But when they called, I thought about it for a few seconds and said, ‘yeah, okay’.”

Anyone who’s run Boston for nine straight years has some tips for new participants, and Goldberg is no different.

“The first part of the race is basically downhill,” she said, “and it’s very seductive.  You can really fool yourself into going too fast. You have to keep telling yourself to slow down.

“(Running downhill) trashes your quadriceps,” said Goldberg, who adds that the placement of the three inclines known collectively as Heartbreak Hill are not generally a runner’s best friend.

“They come at a point in the race where you’re really starting to get tired,” she said. “Not to mention you’ve been essentially going downhill for so long.

“To be able to sustain yourself on those hills, you have to have something in reserve,” she said, “which is why you have to be conscious of not going too fast on that downhill portion.”

The best part of the race, she said, is the support from the fans.

“The people are out there to support the runners, and they’re there for every single one, not just the elites,” she said. “(The race) would not happen were it not for all those people. It’s part of what makes the race special.

“If I have to give any advice, it would be to that this is something to really enjoy and remember,” she said. “Appreciate it, and participate fully if you are able. And remember those feelings.

“It’s very emotional,” she said. “It’s emotional the whole way through. And for people who do it for charity, the added piece here is that we get to do something — make some contribution — that we wouldn’t be able to make otherwise.”

Goldberg said one of the most emotional parts of the race for her is the turn from Commonwealth Avenue onto Hereford Street, just before the final stretch to the finish line.

“Oh, feeling that you get when you turn that last corner,” she said. “It is fantastic. I can’t describe how wonderful it feels, because at that point, you know you’re there. You’ve done it.

 

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