Some folks would consider running just one marathon to be the ultimate accomplishment.
For Chief Warrant Officer 4 Beofra Butler, that was the beginning of a long journey leading up to April 15’s Boston Marathon that will be the 100th marathon in which she has competed.
"There's something special about running in Boston," she said in an Army press release. "It's the only race you have to qualify for to get in and after working so hard to be a part of it, you really enjoy the moment when you get there. The support of the crowd is amazing and it's just a great place to be."
The Boston Marathon will be Butler’s first race since she ran her third All American Marathon at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It should be practically nothing for a runner like Butler, who has also competed in five ultra-marathons that ranged from a 50K to a 100-mile epic.
Butler works as administrative officer to the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command. Despite that demanding job, she says she trains five days a week if at all possible. She has been running marathons for 11 years now.
Her first race was the Marine Corps Marathon in 2008 while she was stationed in Virginia. She had already competed in several shorter races and had always enjoyed running as an escape from the challenges of everyday military life.
"I just love the feeling of running," she said. "It's freedom. I don't listen to music. I listen to my heartbeat, my footsteps, my breathing. It's a meditation and I'm always trying to get better."
Though Butler had a bit of running experience under her belt, at first she wasn’t prepared for the “wall” that runners tend to hit toward the end of marathons when extreme fatigue sets in.
Butler said that happened to her during the last four miles of her first marathon. Despite the fact her “muscles were in knots,” she still managed to “wobble” her way to the finish line.
"I wanted to cry," she said.
Since then, Butler has trained to the point where she mostly no longer hits that wall in standard 26.2-mile marathons.
"Training is a part of learning yourself," she said. "It helps you become more comfortable when you're out there. You need to trust your training and just enjoy the moment."
Her secret to sustained running success involves her three Ps: pacing, patience and practice. That last P is how you learn how to maximize the other two and become a marathoner extraordinaire, according to Butler.
“It comes down to having time on your feet,” said Butler. “You have to put in the time and stay positive.”