Every morning at 4:15 a.m., Stephanie Bussman of Grey Eagle and her husband, Todd, wake up, slip into their athletic gear and put on their running shoes. Once outside, the only thing that can be heard is the sound of their shoes hitting the ground. The five-mile run usually takes about 40 minutes.
“It gets us ready for the day,” she said. “By the time I get home from work, I am exhausted anyway.”
When Bussman first started running about four years ago, she never anticipated she one day would qualify to run in the Boston Marathon. She simply started running for fitness reasons, wanting to get into shape.
Then about a year later in 2014, one of Bussman’s friends asked her to run a 5K with her. It was simply a fun thing to do. When she reached the finish line and found out that she had gotten a really good time, she found it interesting. It gave her a taste for it.
A couple of months later, the same friend asked Bussman to run the half a marathon in Fargo, N.D.
“At this point, I was still only doing it for purely fitness reasons,” she said.
But when she ran the Fargo half marathon in an hour and 31 minutes, Bussman began considering running a full marathon of 26.2 miles. She started training and conditioning herself for it.
Bussman said she convinced Todd to run the half a marathon in Fargo,
N.D. in 2016, while
she ran a full marathon.
“His goal was just to beat me, but he missed my time by three or four minutes,” she said. “After running the half marathon, he was just happy to be done with it and told me he’d never do it again.”
Bussman, age 40 at the time, finished the marathon in three hours and 34 minutes. The qualifying time for the Boston Marathon for women age 40-44 is three hours and 45 minutes.
Bussman said it wasn’t until two days later after she had gotten back from one of her longer runs that she learned she had qualified.
“The email came through while I was out running. I was pretty shaky and emotional when I found out,” she said. “I’m excited, but as before any race, I get very nervous.”
Bussman said she’s heard that if a runner can run 20 miles, he or she will have no trouble running 26.2 miles. It is a notion she doesn’t believe in, since during her marathon in Fargo, she became very tired once she hit mile marker 20.
“It wasn’t so much my body giving out, but more my lungs. It was getting hard to breathe and my body got really tired,” she said.
By mile marker 24, she experienced severe cramps in her calves. But wanting to finish what she had started, she continued running despite the pain.
When training, Bussman prefers running outside, since she gets easily bored on the treadmill. She also prefers to run straight somewhere and have someone pick her up and bring her home.
“It’s a mental thing. It’s easier to run in a straight shot than having to turn around, knowing how far you have to run back,” she said.
As excited as Bussman is to run in the Boston Marathon, she also wonders what it will be like. From reading the book “Marathon Woman” by Katherine Switzer — the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, she’s learned about “Heartbreak Hill.”
“That hill is at the 20.5 mile marker and is supposed to be brutal,” she said.
To stay toned, Bussman likes to weight train, but sometimes it’s challenging to find time to do it.
When it comes to nutrition, Bussman said she tries to eat healthy, but some days it is easier said than done. She drinks about 80 ounces of water every day.
“I wish I had a nutritionist that could just tell me what to eat,” she said.
When training, Bussman prefers to use gear made in spandex, since she doesn’t like loose clothing when she runs. She also likes to run in her Nike Free tennis shoes.
“They’re a very lightweight tennis shoe with not a ton of support, but they are the shoe that my feet feel the most comfortable in,” she said. “I’ve tried so many brands, but I always go back to the same one.”
Bussman wears a hat when she runs, as well. It keeps her hair out of her face, since any fidgeting will disrupt her focus and also affect her time.
Getting ready for the Boston Marathon, Bussman is excited Tom and their 14-year-old daughter, Stephanie, will also come with her to the big event.