Justin Schweitzer, 34, of Sioux Falls
Occupation: Optometrist with Vance Thompson Vision
Family: Wife and two kids, ages 3 and 7 months
Running history: Two previous marathons – Finished in 2:59 in Portland Marathon in 2003 and 2:39 in Twin Cities in 2011
Why Boston: “Even when I ran that first marathon in Portland, Boston was in the back of my mind. I just didn’t expect it to take another 10 years.”
Boston hopes: “It’s an historic course, and you can’t help but get pretty excited about something like that. Just the sheer magnitude of people who are running it is exciting, and the spectator support also kind of gives me goose bumps thinking about it. That’s the exciting part about it.”
Quirks: He’s been mixing beet juice, pineapple juice and cherry tart juice together. “I’m drinking beet juice right now, not knowing if that is beneficial at all. Is it voodoo or is it true? I don’t know. We’re superstitious people.”
Justin Schweitzer does most of his running outdoors, on the bike trail that rings the city. But he’s done a few runs, including one 15-miler, on his treadmill – set on a decline to mimic the first four miles of the Boston Marathon course, which are downhill.
“They say downhill running strengthens your quads a little, so maybe they won’t be as beat up after that first half,” Schweitzer says. “I don’t know. We’ll see if it helped at all.”
This will be the first Boston Marathon that he’s run. After his first marathon in 2003, he took a few years while he finished graduate school. Then he got serious about it again, and trained for Twin Cities, with a goal of breaking 2:40. He made it – finishing in 2:39. Now he hopes to better his time yet again. But he acknowledges you never know what will happen.
“I respect the marathon distance like no other,” Schweitzer says. “Anything can happen in the middle. Unlike other races, where you can have an off day and hit your times, that’s just not the case with the marathon. At all. You prepare the best you can, and it’s just unpredictable.”
He’s been following a similar training schedule as he did ramping up for Twin Cities, with some additional downhill running. So far, so good. “I really haven’t had to take any breaks for this training cycle,” he says.
Aside from goal-setting, running offers time for reflection, he says. “Running is emotional. Half the reason a lot of us do it is we’re competitive. And … I have a way to let my mind wander. Those long morning runs out on the trail, I can think about how I’m going to attack my day at work, care for my patients better. That’s what running is to me.”
It’s also a way to set an example for his family. Schweitzer ran the recent St. Patrick’s Day races, and his family was at the finish line. “It was fun at that 5-mile race, she (his daughter) was toward the finish line. It was pretty funny to listen to her say ‘go Dad, go Dad,’ and screaming.”