PEABODY — When St. John’s Prep basketball coach John Dullea got the call in January saying that he would be running in this year’s Boston Marathon, he couldn’t have been more excited. But what followed for the next few months was a lot of long days and nights of training to run his first-ever full marathon.
“I’ve never run a full marathon before, but I figured if I was going to, I might as well run in the greatest marathon there is,” Dullea, a Peabody native, said. “But it’s been a long road of training, and I’m certainly ready to get to the race on Monday.”
The cause that Dullea will run for is to benefit the Plummer Youth Promise, a foster care and group home for teenage boys in Salem.
“It’s really a great cause, they’ve been doing great things for these kids for a long time,” Dullea said. “I’m honored to be a part of the team that’s running for them this year.”
The training schedule was certainly a grind for Dullea, who teaches at Higgins Middle School in Peabody. Over the course of January and February, most of Dullea’s days consisted of teaching during the day, coaching the Prep basketball team in the evening and then running his miles at night.
“It made for a lot of very busy days,” Dullea said. “I applied in December and found out I’d be running in January, so I really had to put a plan in place to make sure I’d be able to train as much as possible. I’ve run in a couple of half-marathons before, but a full marathon is really a whole different animal.”
Dullea planned out his schedule so that he could complete a series of shorter runs during the week and saving his longer runs for his time off on the weekends. Add the fact that the Prep basketball team made a run to the Division 1 North quarterfinals, which meant that Dullea was coaching almost every day until early March.
“Once the basketball season ended I was able to find more time to train obviously, but it was tough fitting everything in over those first couple months,” Dullea said.
But just because it was difficult doesn’t mean that Dullea wasn’t able to do it. He stressed early on that if he was going to run in this race, he wanted to do it the right way.
“You have to go all the way with something like this and really do it the right way,” he said. “I made changes to my diet, did some weight training and really committed myself to the training. There would be nights when you get home at night and the last thing you want to do is go out and run a few miles, but you just have to do it. And then when you get home from running you don’t really want to do anything, but you still have to live your life. It’s a grind, but it’s going to all be worth it.”
As with anyone running in a race, whether for charity or not, the competitor inside Dullea wants to run well and finish with a good time Monday. He has his eyes set on a time between four and four-and-a-half hours. But with periods of heavy rain forecast for Marathon Monday, anything could happen.
“Generally for novice runners, the goal everyone is trying to get to is four hours,” said Dullea. “So anything in the four to four-and-a-half hour range would be fine with me. But I’ve never trained in the rain or anything like that, so the forecast could change things a bit. I guess we’ll just see what happens on race day.”