It could be sunny and in the 60s from September to April and training for the Boston Marathon would still be an ordeal. Throw in 110-plus inches of snow, bitter cold temperatures, non-existent sidewalks, pot holes and streets the width of cow paths and the difficult becomes near impossible.
Lynn’s Karen DiLisio will run her fifth Boston Marathon on Monday and like every other runner faced with getting in the necessary training, she did what she had to do. She’s hates treadmills, so for her that meant hitting the pavement, despite the conditions. She and her training partner, Lynn teacher Danielle Desilets (she’ll be running her first marathon this fall in Chicago), pushed each other to get out the door and get it done.
“I just have to run outside,” DiLisio said. “Not one mile was done on a treadmill. We just ran. We ran down the beach. We ran in the middle of the street … you hopped and skipped over snow banks.”
DiLisio, 48, said there were a couple of close call with plows and snowbanks and ice, but they survived. Another factor that made training this year more challenging was a change in her work hours. DiLisio used to work nights, but in September she started working days. Whereas she used to drop her son, Luke, off at school and then hit the pavement, she now does her running in the evening when she gets home from work.
“You just kind of lace it up and go,” she said. “You don’t think about it, you just do it.”
DiLisio ran her first Boston Marathon in 2003, raising money for Spina Bifida, a charity that is dear to her heart because her nephew, Nick Capano of Lynn, was born with the condition. Since then, she’s been running with the Boston Police Runners Club, which raises money for Cops For Kids With Cancer.
DiLisio, who is a custodian at Lynn City Hall, has always been into body building, but back in 2002, she was looking for something new to try and running a Boston Marathon found its way to on to her “bucket list.”
“I thought why not do the Boston Marathon. It’s the most prestigious marathon and it’s in my own back yard,” she said.
DiLisio, with the help of her friend, Paul Quinn, who is an experienced marathon runner, started out doing 5Ks and 10Ks and gradually worked her way up. She took some time off when she got married (her husband is David DiLisio) and had a son, Luke. She got back into it in 2012 and ran again in 2013 (the year of the bombing). DiLisio was at the 25.79-mile mark when the bombs exploded and the runners were turned back from the finish line. Her husband and several family members were in the stands across from where the first bomb went off, waiting to cheer her on to the finish line.
DiLisio remembers the ensuing chaos as people started running away from the finish line and how once the race was stopped, the runners were directed off the course. The DiLisios spent hours trying to reunite after the race. DiLisio was able to run again last year on the first anniversary of the bombing. She said that experience is something she’ll never forget.
DiLisio said she isn’t a fast runner, but she’s a consistent runner. Her best time was a 4:17. She’s hoping to do around a 4:30-4:35 this year.
“The hard part (all the training) is done. Now it’s just go and run the race. It’s fun,” she said.
As is the case every time she runs, the 1985 St. Mary’s High graduate will have plenty of people there to support her including her mother, husband and son as well her sister, Patty Capano and nephew, Nick. Desitlets and Quinn also plan to be there. There will also be the thousands of specators who will the runners to the finish line.
“The people who cheer you on on the sidelines are like family,” she said. “It’s like one big, gigantic, family. I can’t wait.”