Coming in on the last stretch of the Colfax Marathon in May, Makenzie Bothner paused to check her pace. It was her first marathon. But as a soccer player for the University of Denver and a high school track athlete, Bothner had set a high standard for herself, hoping to finish the 26.2 miles in less than four hours.
“At mile 17, I checked my pace, and it was 7:48 (per mile) or something, and I was like `Whoa,’ “ she said. “It was a surprise.”
When she crossed the finish line, Bothner had no idea how well she had done. She placed 10th in the overall women’s division and third for women ages 20-29. Her finishing time of 3 hours 23 minutes qualified her for the 2019 Boston Marathon.
The Park City, Utah, native came to Colorado to play as a defensive outside back for the women’s soccer team at DU. The past few months have been busy for Bothner, who graduated from DU in June with a degree in finance. After spending some time traveling to Europe over the summer with her parents, she’ll return to Denver to work for Insight Global, a staff services company.
“Colorado hadn’t really been on the map for me,” Bothner said, “but the school, there was a lot of things about it that I really liked.”
After she finished her last soccer season at DU, Bothner said she felt a little stir crazy. She enjoyed running and many of her friends and family encouraged her to try a marathon. It was the opportunity to put herself out there and try something new.
But running that kind of distance was a new challenge for Bothner. She had played soccer since she was 8. She knew her body’s limits and when she could push past them.
“Sports do that to you — they give you a reason to believe in yourself. With soccer, I’ve been playing it so long I knew what I could get out of myself,” she said. But “I had no idea how my body was going to react” in a marathon.
The most difficult part of running the marathon was the mentality and making sure she wasn’t stuck in her head, Bothner said. She knew she needed to stay calm and focus on her breathing. She said part of that was trying not to acknowledge any pain or fatigue until she hit mile 14.
For the Colfax run, Bothner said she relied mostly on her soccer skills and didn’t do much extra training for the marathon. At first, she wasn’t sure about doing another one. But now that she’s qualified for Boston, she said she plans on training harder.
“I had just finished soccer, I didn’t want it to be this crazy, crazy thing I was doing. I signed up for it, trained when I was going to train and then went for it,” she said. “I’ll definitely take it more seriously.”
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