By Bob Reinert, USAG-Natick Public AffairsMay 15, 2013
NATICK, Mass. (May 16, 2013) -- Running as a tribute to those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing, Maj. Owen Hill made a memorable marathon debut of his own on Mother's Day.
Hill, deputy chief of the Military Performance Division, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine at Natick Soldier Systems Center, ran the 2013 Cox Sports Marathon in Providence, R.I., in an impressive 3 hours, 34 minutes, 34 seconds.
"I think I ran it well," said Hill, adding that he maintained a pace of 8 minutes, 11 seconds per mile, "and never walked once. Not too shabby for a rookie."
Hill, 43, ran his first marathon with just two weeks of training as a way to honor those killed, injured and otherwise affected by the attack in Boston. He missed his goal of qualifying for the 2014 Boston Marathon by a mere 19 minutes.
Hill said he won't stop trying to meet the qualifying standard of 3:15 for the 40-44 age group.
"I will continue to train, and I plan to run another marathon again before September in an attempt to qualify for the 2014 Boston Marathon," Hill said. "If I cannot qualify for the next Boston marathon, I will certainly work toward 2015."
Hill ran the first half in 1:41:07 on the way to placing 45th among men in the 40-49 age category and 171st among 650 men overall.
"I felt quite strong on the front half and had finished the halfway point right at my desired pace and time," said Hill, who had projected 1:40. "Unfortunately, on the back half of the marathon, my calves began to cramp and that made me adjust my stride, which in turn slowed my pace somewhat. I had to mentally push through miles 19-22."
At mile 23, Hill encountered girlfriend Jesse-Lee Lavoie, a three-time veteran of the Boston Marathon who was there as a spectator to provide a lift to him.
"She gave me a quick round of motivating encouragement, and that was all I needed," Hill said. "I felt galvanized at that point and finished my last 3.2 miles as strong and as fast as I began."
Hill won't soon forget the day, which he had dedicated to bombing victims who could no longer run for themselves.
"Before the race I was excited, cautiously confident, and somewhat tacit as I had my game face on and as we paid tribute to Boston Marathon bombing victims with a moment of silence," Hill recalled. "Overall, it was a profoundly memorable event and a significant achievement. During the run, I certainly reflected on all of the individuals directly affected by the Boston Marathon bombings, which added to the magnitude of the moment."