Setting and Re-Setting Goals

Maureen Fagan is another life-long runner. Growing up in a small town near the home of legendary runner Steve Prefontaine, meant that Maureen grew up in a running culture. During the summers, her small town offered “All-Comer” track meets. She started there and then joined high school track. “I’ve been running since I was a kid. I believe I was nine years old when I ran my first 5K, the Cranberry Bog Jog in Brandon, Oregon, where I grew up.”

Injuries waylaid her long-course running races for her first couple of years. In 2002, Maureen trained for her first marathon, but a stress fracture in her hip eight weeks before race day delayed her first attempt. At her second Chicago Marathon in 2004, she dropped out after nine miles with another injury.

In fact, it was injury that led Maureen to cycling. (Well, injury and Sylvie Légère, who invited Maureen on her first group ride.) Maureen decided to try cycling as a way to keep active when injury was keeping her from running.

Maureen Fagan Specialized Dolce Elite WilmetteMaureen has discovered that “Cycling is a great cross-training sport for running.” She finds that, “Similar to running, you can do it alone or with a group, you get to enjoy the outdoors and get a great workout.”

For cyclists who are hesitant to run, Maureen has this advice: “Get out there and try it.”

She insists, “There are plenty of interesting places to run in the area, like the lakefront trail, forest preserve trails and Morton Arboretum.” With running, like cycling, “There is camaraderie amongst runners, so it’s pretty easy to find other people to enjoy it with.” Maureen recently joined the Evanston Running Club, “which has been great.” The Evanston Running Club offers “group runs every day – sometimes both in the am and pm – as well as social runs, like a Thursday night Pub Run. It’s been a nice alternative to running solo on the treadmill, which I hate!”

Maureen adds that running offers a nice alternative to cycling. “It’s always nice to have alternatives.” And for anyone who nervous about not being fast enough, “You don’t have to run fast, you just have to move forward.”

Maureen is more than a casual cyclist. She has participated in a few century rides and she did a multi-day bike tour last summer. (You can read about Maureen’s touring adventure here.) That said, she’s a runner at heart. After dealing with her injuries, she completed and broke the four-hour barrier at the 2005 Chicago Marathon. She ran it again in 2010 and then “got the bug to try and qualify for Boston.”

“I was getting a little more competitive with my running.” The first time she “raced” – versus merely running at a race – was the Lakefront 10 miler in 2012. “I was pleasantly surprised with my performance. It was the first time I was able to run sub-8:00 miles beyond a 10k distance.” Maureen then set out to race a 5k. “I ended up winning my age group at the Ricky Byrdsong Race Against Hate in 2012.”

Maureen Tim Fagan Wilmette Her path to get to Boston wasn’t a straight line. She applied to the NYC Marathon in 2012, but didn’t get in. She signed up for Santa Barbara instead, but her running buddy had to cancel due to an injury, so the two of them decided instead to attempt a Boston qualifying time in San Diego in June, 2013. Before San Diego, Maureen was getting her workouts from a friend who was using a coach. Midway through her training for San Diego, Maureen hired the coach directly.

In San Diego, Maureen qualified for Boston, nearly five minutes faster than her qualifying time. “Qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon was a goal I set for myself, so for me it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work.”

Maureen has suffered several setbacks this winter while training for Boston. “Training this year was tough. The weather was quite a challenge. Having Boston as my goal got me out the door on those super-cold days. I just kept looking forward to April knowing that each mile got me closer to Boylston Street.”

Aside from the weather, which impaired everyone’s training this winter, Maureen had a couple non-running related delays. She lost three weeks of training due to a chest cold. Then, during what should have been her peak training weeks, she suffered an eye injury. Maureen’s doctor gave her a 20% chance of being able to even run by the date the Boston Marathon, but training for it was out of the question for several weeks.

With two weeks to go before the marathon, Maureen’s doctor gave her the green light for running Monday, April 21st. While it will not be the race she had initially hoped for, she is grateful that she will get to experience a race she worked hard to get to.

“I was devastated 3 weeks ago when the eye doctor told me I was most likely not going to be able to run. My goal was to PR and re-qualify in Boston for Boston 2015.” After her most recent setback, Maureen has had to reset her expectations. “I’ve had to adjust that goal because of my eye issues, but I’m beyond thrilled that at least I get to run.”

Since she won’t be able to “race” this Boston Marathon, Maureen has her sights on Boston 2015. She is now looking at a late summer or early fall marathon that would allow her to qualify for next year’s race. If she can run Boston 2015, Maureen is considering sticking to shorter events – 10-mile and half-marathon races. “I love to travel for races, so I hope to do more destination races.”

Maureen Fagan WilmetteMaureen isn’t done with long-course running races. If and when her daughters, who are both Freshman at New Trier and run track and cross-country there, show any interest in marathons, “I’d love to do one with them.” She adds, “I do have a bit of interest in doing some sort of ultra race someday.”

Being a Boston-qualifying runner gives Maureen hope for the future. “I love that I can provide an example to my kids of setting a goal, and working towards achieving it.” In the meantime, “It’s been nice to have a bit of success and PRs along the way.”

While this year’s Boston may not be Maureen’s race, she will still be there on the course to enjoy the magnitude of the day, especially this year’s race which will honor last year’s events. “This year obviously will be super emotional, so I’m excited to get to be a part of it.”

“For runners, the Boston Marathon is a big deal. You can’t run it unless you qualify – so you have to work to get a spot.” She remembers, when her sister ran it in the mid-90’s, “being so impressed that she was good enough to be part of that club.”

Her goals may have changed – “My goal now is to enjoy the day, check out the course, and finish with a smile on my face.” – but Maureen will be a part of an historic event Monday, April 21st. Maureen, welcome to the club!


Meet more Higher Gear customers who are running in the 2014 Boston Marathon:


For more information:


Joy Sherrick Boston Marathon 2013


Joy Sherrick is a two-time Boston-qualifier and a Boston Marathon 2013 survivor. She will be returning to run Boston in 2015. Joy runs, but she also bikes, swims, strength trains, practices yoga and plays soccer. She is a fitness coach and Higher Gear’s own fitness guru. She is also her IronMan husband‘s biggest cheerleader.



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