Originally published July 8, 2013
DPH employee Jessica Tuttle, M.D., recently qualified -- again -- for the Boston Marathon.
Tuttle and three friends competed in the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon (M2B) in Ojai, Calif. M2B is ranked the second fastest course on the Boston Marathon qualifying races list as having the highest percent of Boston qualifying finishers. This year, 363 runners qualified for the 2014 Boston Marathon at M2B.
Tuttle finished with a time of 4:01:10 and overall place of 713 out of 1,500 marathon runners. Within her age division, females ages 50 to 54, she finished 23rd out of 271 runners.
Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is the result of a lot of hard work and personal commitment, said Tuttle, who trains with a group of professional moms who run together in the morning.
"These are very motivated women and it was their idea, I must say," said Tuttle. "We trained together and supported each other and the rest just took care of itself. We have become very close friends because of these experiences. The races are just the final product. But really what has been the most fun and meaningful for me is sharing the training experiences with them."
Tuttle ran her first marathon in 2007 during the inaugural ING Georgia Marathon in Atlanta. In 2008, she ran in the New York City Marathon and it was there she raised money for her first charity.
"I ran the NYC marathon for Malaria No More and raised $3,000 to purchase bed nets in Africa," said Tuttle. The nets were used to help prevent the spread of malaria from deadly mosquitoes. "In 2010, I ran the Chicago Marathon, again for a charity. This time it was for Girls on the Run, a nonprofit running organization which supports girls in fitness and positive self-image, for which I raised $1,000. At Chicago, I qualified for the Boston Marathon, which I then ran in 2011."
Like most athletes who train to compete and set personal records, Tuttle is equally as proud of her accomplishments as a dedicated athlete and fundraiser.
"I guess my biggest accomplishment is qualifying for the Boston Marathon as a 50-plus-year-old," Tuttle said. "Although I must say I am very proud of my fundraising for Malaria No More, since training for the marathon while raising $3,000 was an accomplishment in itself."
Staying physically fit is a priority for Tuttle and her training group as they celebrate their mid-life years.
"We keep each other going and make it fun and supportive," said Tuttle. "We talk the whole time we are running so it is like a social outlet. It makes the exercise secondary and much easier to stick with over the long term. I am definitely addicted. It gives me energy and also allows me to eat a bit more than I could otherwise and still maintain a reasonable weight."
She hopes her enthusiasm as a marathon runner will influence her children and that they will understand the benefits of preparing and achieving their goals throughout life.
"I really have only one runner in the family other than myself -- my middle child," said Tuttle. "He has run cross-country throughout high school and this will be his senior year coming up. [Running] is not for everyone, but I have tried to encourage them to try it. It is a great way to stay in shape and it takes a minimal amount of money and less time than most sports."
Tuttle looks forward to competing in next year's Boston Marathon if all goes well.
"You never know. Half the accomplishment is getting through the training and to the start line healthy. Last fall I fell while running and fractured my wrist, which laid me up for awhile, so I have learned to not take any of these plans for granted."