Change of pace

Badger runner to track mother at Boston Marathon

EAST PALESTINE — Miranda Stanhope’s fingers danced over her phone, something she’s done many times — texting.

This one had a bit more meaning, a message to her mother, Christina.

It followed Saturday’s Bulldog Invitational where Miranda won the girls 3,200-meter run.

She was familiar with these texts of encouragement. Something the Badger High School sophomore distance runner had viewed many times before her competitions.

It seems fitting Christina would be the recipient this time.

The Boston Marathon, more than 32,000 entries. Christina Stanhope is part of the third wave of runners to start at 10:50 a.m. today.

“I’m so used to doing that for her,” Christina said.

Worry, there’s plenty of it.

Weather, transportation, security, it’s not like you’ll get a timing chip, tie it to your shoe, race and then drop off the thing intertwined in your laces afterward. It’s more complicated.

Christina asked Badger girls cross country and track coach Carrie Albert about logistical information. Albert knows Boston well. She’s run there seven times.

Christina has run two marathons prior to today’s worldwide event. Neither of her runs was anywhere near this magnitude, including September’s Erie Marathon at Presque Isle. She’s seen scenery along her 26-mile runs. People were scarce, mostly at the finish line.

Not today. Town to town, people line the route cheering each runner.

Albert said Stanhope will notice the pass by Wellesley College, especially the screaming co-eds starting at mile 12. Watch your ears.

She remembers her favorite run. It was 2014, the year after the bombings and the energetic crowds were more vivacious than normal. It was a welcoming feeling like no other.

“I remember the year after the bombings and how the crowds were that year,” Albert said.

So what’s going through Christina’s mind as she makes that long run toward the finish line. It’ll be different this time around.

“First time I ran a marathon, I was only thinking of how badly it hurt,” she said. “Second time I was thinking about qualifying for Boston. I’m not sure what I’ll be thinking about this time.

“It’s the only marathon where everybody knows I’m running. I don’t want to disappoint anyone.”

Christina is the secretary at Badger Elementary School. Her room was decorated with Post-It notes, with the children writing words of encouragement.

“You hear all the kids walking down the hall, ‘Mrs. Stanhope is going to run a big race,’ “ she said.

Miranda experienced that kind of sendoff when she went to the state cross country and track and field meets.

“It was cool to see her get that experience,” she said. “She was there to support me and I’m here to support her.”

Christina’s run to Boston began when she qualified at Erie with a 3:39. The cutoff for the women’s 40-45 age group was 3:45.

With a cold winter following, maybe this wasn’t the year to do training?

Both Stanhopes ran in the freezing conditions. Christina went 8 to 10 miles. It was a long run for Miranda.

“A lot of runs, I can remember just trekking through the snow,” Miranda said. “It might not have been the fastest pace, but it felt like a hard workout for both of us.”

It’s part of today’s preparation. Not much sightseeing in Boston, plenty of rest.

Christina is not carrying her phone with her, it will remain back at her vehicle. The family has to wait for that call.

Miranda downloaded the Boston Athletic Association Boston Marathon app. She’ll type in her mother’s last name and find bib number 20074.

Track her progress. Refresh. Keep tracking. That’ll be most of Miranda’s day.

“It’ll probably make me as nervous as if I’m running a race myself, maybe even more,” she said. “I’ll probably be updating my phone constantly to see how she’s doing, keeping her pace, make sure nothing is going wrong.”