Mental Toughness Helps Lopez Qualify for Boston Marathon

by | Oct 15, 2004 | News Articles

Mid-October, 2004 Fit to be Tied Column

From the Pueblo Chieftain
by Gary Franchi


Mental Toughness Helps Lopez Qualify for Boston Marathon

Leg cramps weren’t going to get the best of Diane Lopez this time.

The Puebloan had run the St. George (Utah) Marathon last year in hopes of qualifying for a coveted Boston Marathon slot. But the achy legs that began after the 19-mile mark then slowed her considerably and she finished with a time of 4 hours and 18 minutes, well beyond the 4-hour qualifying time for the 45-49 age division.

The determined 46-year-old wasn’t about to let it happen again recently when she gave St. George another shot. So when the leg cramps cropped up again with about four miles go, Lopez wouldn’t give in.

“I thought, ‘Oh, my God, here were go again,’ ” Lopez related of the sinking feeling she initially had.

But Diane had resolve on her side. After stopping briefly to massage the knots in her calves, she called on Captain Determination and marched on, refusing to wilt.

“I just didn’t want that to happen again,” she pointed out.

And it didn’t. Lopez kept it together and journeyed on, eventually finishing in 4:00:32. Since Boston actually allows runners to go up to 59 seconds beyond the listed qualifying standard, Lopez has officially qualified to run in Beantown in either of the next two years.

This was yet another classic example of how mental determination can enable athletes to overcome physical roadblocks. It’s further proof that having a goal and a mind-set can make almost anything possible, within reason, and it’s the kind of story that tickles the heart.

Ironically, it wasn’t until a week later that Lopez even knew she had qualified since her elapsed finishing time was 4:01:04. She never knew her actual or “chip time” until her good friend, Marijane Martinez, called her and gave her the news.

Training, of course, is the key ingredient that creates the type of mental toughness that Lopez displayed. Over the past few months, he had been doing progressively longer distance runs that peaked at 24 miles, and she also did the Pikes Peak Marathon in August, finishing in 8:45. She normally runs a number of 6-mile runs on weekdays with training partner Misti Frey, then adds long run on the weekends.

“I also have been working harder on races and just have more confidence, too,” she explained.

Lopez actually was one of three Pueblo women who qualified for Boston at the St. George Marathon. The others were Martinez, 52, who ran a 3:59:51; and Jessie Quintana, 60, who crossed in 4:22. Also completing the 26.2-mile St. George course were Gina Benfatti, 43, who ran her first marathon in 4:25; and Diana Reno, 42, who finished in 4:32.


Canon City native Hallie Janssen continues to have a banner racing year. Now a resident of Portland, Oregon, Janssen ran in the U.S. Olympic women’s marathon trials earlier this year (2:55:02) after qualifying with a 2:46:48 time in the Austin (TX) Motorola Marathon in February. On Oct. 10, Janssen, 28, was the first female and took 18th overall (out of 2,226 finishers) in the Royal Victoria Marathon in Vancouver Island, British Columbia with her sterling 2:49:36 time.

Hilda Garcia, 49, of Pueblo successfully completed the first marathon of her life by finishing in 4:57:21 in the Durango Marathon on Oct. 10. Another area finisher there was David Law, 34, of Florence with a time of 5:49:16.

The marathon odyssey of Canon City’s Marv Bradley, 65, and Salida’s Cheryl Cook-McCoy, 60, has taken them to Hartford, Conn.; Portland, Maine; and Bozeman, Montana, the past three weekends. Bradley won his age division in all three with times of 4:13, 4:19 and 4:44. Cook-McCoy placed in the top three in her age bracket with times of 5:20, 5:27 and 6:20.

It’s hard to believe that this could happen, but last weekend’s fifth annual Denver Marathon was postponed/cancelled (take your pick) two days before it was to be held when city officials denied granting it a permit because of safety concerns. Registered runners, and there were more than 800 of them, have been given options of having discounted entry fees at Oct. 17 marathons in Des Moines, Iowa, and Wichita, Kansas and the Duke City Marathon in Albuquerque, NM, on Oct. 24. Denver Marathon race officials hope to reschedule the race sometime soon.

SRDA race

The Senior Resource Development Agency (SRDA) has scheduled a fund raiser for a very worthy cause – the Meals for Wheels program. The inaugural Turkey Trot, a 2-mile run/walk, has been scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, with the start and finish at the Joseph H. Edwards Senior Center at 230 N. Union. Participants are encouraged to solicit pledges, and race officials have cooked up a series of prizes and treats for those who raise at least $25. Entry forms are at the Pueblo YMCA, Gold Dust Saloon and other locations.


George Dallam, Assistant Professor of Exercise Science, Health Promotion and Recreation at Colorado State University-Pueblo, capped his outstanding triathlon season by capturing second in the 45-49 age division of the USA National Sprint Championships held Oct. 3 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He recorded a time of 1:38:19 on a course that included a 1K swim, 33K bike and 6K run, and he was 2:19 back of his age-bracket winner. Dallam is the former USA Triathlon National Teams Coach and still coaches several elite triathletes.

Upcoming Area Races

  • Oct. 23 – Harvest Poker Run (Prediction Series race), 5M, 5 p.m., Lovell Park in Pueblo West (564-9303).
  • Oct. 30 – SRDA Turkey Trot Fun Run/Walk, 2M, 8 a.m., 230 N. Union Ave. (545-8900).
  • Oct. 30 – Main Street Mosey, 5K run/walk, 8 a.m., Cañon City (269-8790).
  • Nov. 20 – Atalanta Women’s Run, 5K run/walk, 9 a.m., Pueblo City Park (564-9303).
  • Nov. 27 – Temple Canyon Run (Prediction Series race), 4M, 9 a.m., Cañon City (784-6514).
  • Dec. 4 – Rock Canyon Half-Marathon, 13.1M, 9 a.m., City Park (564-9303).

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