Jimena Gutierrez (MBA ’24) interviews two amazing students who ran the Boston Marathon.
The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the most famous road racing events. This year marked the 10-year anniversary since the marathon bombing took place. It was a race of remembrance and a race that continued to build awareness to prevent tragedies like this one from happening again.
The 2023 marathon brought about 500,000 spectators together to cheer on the 30,000 runners who competed in it – amongst them, many of our HBS classmates. I reached out to two runners, Paul d’Hyver de las Deses de Juilla (MBA ’24) and Faith Robertson (MBA ’24), to learn more about their running journeys.
What gets you to run and inspired you to start running marathons?
Paul d’Hyver: I usually run shorter distances, but I watched the Boston Marathon last year and was inspired by the electric environment and energy, so I made it one of my goals to run it the following year.
Faith Robertson: In high school, running became an outlet for me while my mom was going through chemotherapy. She survived, and I became one of the fastest runners on the cross country team and the team captain as a junior. So, I have always viewed running as a positive tool for mental and physical health, and a place to go for life lessons. I was inspired to run my first marathon in college when my research mentor – who had run the Boston Marathon before having a heart transplant in his 40s – said he would love to run a marathon (or at least a half) with his new heart. We completed a half marathon together in 2014, which was a truly special and emotional moment. He did another 13.1 while I did the 26.2 at Raleigh in 2015. He passed away in 2020, but I think of him with each marathon I do (this was my 8th).
How do you prepare for a marathon, both mentally and physically?
Paul d’Hyver: Physically, I prepared by following a 16-week plan I created, which was inspired by a famous running coach. Mentally, I got energy from the support of all the people who came to cheer at the race.
Faith Robertson: To be honest, this varies according to life circumstances. My first and second marathon, I was nervous about the unknowns so I was much more strict in sticking to my training plan, limiting alcohol, etc. For this race, it has been a balance with school, social events, and the fact that I often have a 24-30 hour shift at the hospital on the weekends – which wrecks my sleep schedule and long-run day. But mentally, you know that you are going to run the marathon no matter what, so every training run you get in will help you on race day, and you do the best you can. Physically – trying to do a midweek speed run, weekend long run, cross training with cycling and yoga/stretching, and another shorter weekday run. Nutrition is huge too – dial in the protein bars, vitamins, creatine. Track your miles and VO2 max going up, and your resting heart rate (HR) going down (I love my Garmin for this).
How do you keep yourself motivated during the race?
Paul d’Hyver: I knew that a lot of friends would be cheering around mile 23 so I was very excited and motivated to have energy when I reached them. I for sure had lost all my energy, but at least I pretended for the moment I ran past them.
Faith Robertson: Boston is unique. I am definitely a music listener – blaring reggaeton and super fast paced dance remixes to keep me going. However, there were many stretches during the Boston Marathon when I turned off my music to listen to the crowds and just take in the moment. Seeing the fans’ signs, reading the shirts with charities and missions, and feeling the energy and emotion of the spirit in the air…it moves you.
How has running marathons impacted other areas of your life?
Paul d’Hyver: It generally keeps me healthy, but it is also great in two different ways. As HBS students, we travel a lot and I have loved doing long runs in places like Japan and Colombia because it was an amazing way to explore a new place. I run almost every day and usually in the morning, so running is also a benefit because it adds a sense of discipline and routine to my life, which is nice to have in this very unstructured environment.
Faith Robertson: Running shapes how I view most things in life. It has taught me how to set goals and pursue them with patience and persistence, to acknowledge that some days will be better than others, and that pain is often temporary. It has also taught me that much of the outcome is a reflection on my individual preparation, but the power of a team can propel you further than you could have gone on your own.
I try to incorporate those lessons into my roles as a leader and within neurosurgery.
What advice would you give to anyone that is interested in running their first marathon?
Paul d’Hyver: It all depends on the runner. If you are new to running, start with shorter races to get your body used to running. If you are already a runner, then go for it – just be careful how much you increase mileage to avoid injury. And regardless, find out what you love about running, whether it is to spend time in nature, socialize with people, or have time to yourself.
Faith Robertson: The biggest thing is to tell yourself that it is possible and believe in yourself. Then, pick a marathon that is 4-5 months away and sign up. For me, paying the deposit and registering is when I know I am committed! Next, pick out a 16-20 week beginner training plan online. They may seem intimidating at first, but have a marathon veteran friend help you tailor it to your needs. Finally, stick to the plan as much as possible, and trust the process. Joining the 26.2 club is an incredible life goal and accomplishment, and it is a journey. Enjoy the process!
Congratulations to both Paul and Faith! The many of us who made it to the marathon sidelines to show our support can attest that a marathon is not all about sweat and stamina, it is highly emotional even for the spectators. It’s absolutely amazing to see humanity get together to cheer for each other – hopefully we will have more HBS runners next year!
Jimena Gutierrez (MBA ’24) is originally from Monterrey, Mexico. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Finance. Prior to HBS, she worked in an industrial automation company in Monterrey.