CONRAD — For nearly 10 years Vanessa Bucklin of Conrad had obsessed about qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
She has completed 12 marathons and three ultra-marathons over the course of her running career, but still needed to check off that one big box on her list. She was able to run in Boston in 2015 after being invited due to her husband qualifying. However, only being there by invitation was not enough for Bucklin and she wanted to do it on her own.
“I felt like an imposter running on invitation instead of qualifying,” she said.
In 2019, Bucklin ran a marathon in Billings with hopes of reaching that qualifying time. She was confident that this marathon would be the one for her to finally qualify but things took a bad turn during the race. By the time Bucklin had gotten to mile 19, she was throwing up and losing out on time. By the time she was able to get back to her feet, she just wanted to finish the race in which she did.
Following the 2019 race, she had began training for the next Marathon in April of 2020. After running countless miles and focusing her mind on the task before her, the marathon was canceled two weeks before it was supposed to take place due to the pandemic. Bucklin didn’t get another shot at qualifying until 2022.
Since not running or training for a full marathon in two years, Bucklin had to add strength training to her workout regiment to prevent injury. In June of 2021, when she decided to join the next year's marathon, she went all in and dedicated everything she had to getting ready to run her next 26.2 miles.
“The demands of training for a marathon and the mileage you have to put in is a lot,” Bucklin said. “I’m a mother of three kids and a business owner so it’s a lot of time and energy. Just to complete the running training is a lot, but the game changer for me was definitely the strength training so I had to incorporate that and just make the time for it.”
Following the completion of her training, it was time for her to run in the Light at the End of the Tunnel event in Washington. Adrenaline and excitement were not the only things keeping her awake the night before the race as she was slowly developing a nasty cough and a stuffy nose.
Bucklin showed up to the race not feeling well but kept her spirits high and remained positive. It proved to be effective as she finished the race with a qualifying time of 3 hours, 34 minutes, 19 seconds.
“It was the best moment. It was such a relief. It was almost ten years in the making, and training is so much time and energy. I thought about the relief and all the people that made it happen because it takes a community,” Bucklin said.
Five months after qualifying for the Boston Marathon, Bucklin underwent a major surgery that had her sidelined for three months. She was just cleared in February to run only a half mile, making her training a lot more condensed. During the past two months she was only able to build up to a 20 mile mark, which was short of her goal. Despite having the setback not feeling like she won’t run her best race, she is still happy to be able to run at all.
“Boston is the celebration of how far you’ve come and where you’re at. You don’t have anything else to prove at that point. Qualifying is the hard part and now it’s just going to be the celebration of how far I’ve come,” she said.
Bucklin will be running in the Boston Marathon on Monday with all of her family there to support her.