Strong debut for NH's top Boston Marathon finisher
A little patience and a lot of trust got Nick Aguila of Manchester to the finish line.
“My focus was to do what I could control and trust my training and strength,” said Aguila, who posted a 2-hour, 29.42-minute time to become the top New Hampshire runner in the 121st Boston Marathon on Monday.
Aguila, the assistant women’s and men’s cross-country and track coach at Southern New Hampshire University, completed the 26.2-mile marathon from Hopkinton to Boston for the first time at a 5:43 per-mile pace. He finished 55th overall.
“The whole race from start to finish was awesome,” said the 27-year-old Aguila, a native of West Hartford, Conn., a 2012 graduate from the University of Connecticut. He got a bachelor’s degree in exercise sciences, minored in sports nutrition and was a two-year captain of the cross-country team for the Huskies.
The top 10 men’s finishers from New Hampshire Monday included Aguila, Sam Gray of Exeter (2:31.10, 65th overall), Jim Johnson of Madison (2:40.37, 198), Louis L. Saviano III of Sandown (2:43.13, 264), Sean McCauley of Canterbury (2:46.39, 404), Derrick Hamel of Northwood (2:47.03, 423), Adam Groff of Hanover (2:47.59, 473), Kevin Hartstein of Hanover (2:48.34, 495), John Corona of Portsmouth (2:48.38, 499) and Alden Hall of Lebanon (2:49.14, 529).
The top 10 women’s finishers were Kristen Ramey of Peterborough (3:02.14, 115th overall female finisher), Ashley Busa of Portsmouth (3:04.10, 139), Julia Huffman of Manchester (3:04.59, 146), Mary Klene of Manchester (3:08.59, 230), Pamela O’Sullivan of Nashua (3:09.11, 240), Lindsay Close of Milford (3:11.09, 289), Emily Block of Stratham (3:12.15, 280), Kristina Folcik of Tamworth (3:12.46, 337), Isabella Caruso of Hanover (3:14.10, 385) and Kate Jerome of East Hampstead (3:19.37, 631).
In the men’s wheelchair division, Tim Morris of Londonderry placed 33rd in 2:19.52. Fellow New Hampshire wheelchair competitor, Andre T. Martin Jr., finished 35th overall in 2:45.12.
Aguila said one of the highlights was seeing some of his athletes from SNHU and family members greeting him at the finish line.
“One of my runners showed me my official time and place finish and later, John (Mortimer, founder of Millenium Running) posted that I was the first runner from New Hampshire to finish. That’s pretty cool.”
Boston was Aguila’s second marathon and a far different one than his first one last year, the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington.
“That one was just grueling in 89-degree weather where I had to walk the final four miles to the finish line,” said Aguila. “Today was hot, but I didn’t feel the effect of the heat until the 20-mile mark.”
Aguila, who slept at his sister’s house Sunday in Brighton, Mass., said the Boston Marathon was the “first race I never warmed up for. I figured the first couple of miles were all downhill, which was my warmup. I was able to get into rhythm from the start and everything started to click well.”
He said he had run part of the course previously. “I knew what to expect from mile 12 to 22, felt very comfortable knowing what to expect,” said Aguila, who started feeling right calf cramps as he was attacking Heartbreak Hill around the 22nd mile.
“At that point every time I started to push the pace, it felt like my calf was going to explode, so I held myself back,” said Aguila. “Other than that, everything went well. I made sure I was getting water along the way to dump on my face and body to cool me down. If there was one advantage I got running in Vermont, it was knowing how to deal with the heat.”
Aguila said he trained 12 weeks for the Boston Marathon, running up to 60 miles the first three weeks before extending his distance to a maximum of 95 miles in week 12. As he approached Heartbreak Hill, he remembered reading an article quoting former four-time Boston Marathon winner Bill Rodgers about it.
“He basically said as soon as you hit the hill, don’t fight it because you’ll lose,” said Aguila. “So I let my stride go, let it organically happen instead of pushing myself through it. I was also helped by a tailwind that came through at about the middle of the run.”
When Aguila reached Kenmore Square, he sensed he was close (a mile away) to the final line.
“The crowd was helpful throughout, their support was amazing,” said Aguila. “But once I got to Boylston Street, just 400 meters to go, I was experiencing something for the first time. The crowd was bigger, the cheers and horns got louder and it was just crazy, but awesome at the same time. You get to the finish line and you realize all the work and time you put into your training paid off. It’s a great feeling.”
Aguila said his next goal is to run in the Mount Washington Road Race. As for a second Boston Marathon, he said, “I would like to run it again next year, possibly make this a tradition for myself.”