Evan Stathulis, M.D. Fulfills Boston Marathon Dream
When I’m not working on More Than Kale, I am a marketing assistant for Central Ohio Primary Care. COPC is the nation’s largest physician-owned primary care medical group. One of our physicians recently ran the Boston Marathon. Since I am training for my first marathon in October, I thought it would be beneficial to sit down with him and talk about Boston and running in general. Below is my story with Evan Stathulis, M.D.
As Evan Stathulis, M.D. crossed the finish line with weary legs, a sense of achievement couldn’t help but overcome him.
That’s because he had just completed the pinnacle race for marathon runners. On April 20, Dr. Stathulis finished the Boston Marathon with a time of 3:47:44.
“It was cool to be a part of it,” said Stathulis, a physician at Family Physicians of Gahanna. “The city really opens up for the marathon runners. It was a great experience.”
Injuries almost prevented him from competing in the marathon. He had suffered a groin pull while on vacation and was also battling tendinitis in his foot. A week before the race, he was still unsure if he’d be able to run. Time with a physical therapist helped him overcome the injuries.
“I was happy to finish but it was a slower time than what I would have liked,” said Dr. Stathulis whose average time is 3:30:00. “The hills slowed me down a lot. They call it Heartbreak Hill for a reason. It’s always up and down, hardly ever flat.”
Boston’s marathon course is unlike any other. Three hours before the race, runners ride a bus out of the city to the starting line. Most courses are circles – you finish where you start. The Boston Marathon course is one way and filled with hills.
When it comes to wind conditions on a one way course, you will either be running with the wind or against it.
“As it turns out, it was in my face the whole time,” Dr. Stathulis said. “You’re running toward the city of Boston, toward the ocean, so the wind is going to be coming at your face. “
It wasn’t just hills and wind he was fighting, it was also the 40 degree temperature and pouring rain, which got considerably worse toward the end of the race. It was weather he wasn’t exactly expecting.
“It wasn’t good. I didn’t do a good job of preparing for that at all,” he said. “You can control just about everything else but you can’t control the weather. In fact, I had to borrow my wife’s waterproof baseball hat during the run. I usually adjust my schedule instead of running in the rain.”
Qualifying for Boston
Dr. Stathulis began running as a teenager, participating in cross country and track in high school. He enjoyed running because it helped clear his mind and was something he was good at.
It wasn’t until he was 42 that he decided to run his first marathon.
“In 2008, the Columbus Marathon came out with a new course that was right by my house,” he said. “I always thought about doing it and figured, ‘it’s going right by my house, I have to do it.’ That’s when I changed the intensity and started training for marathon running.”
After completing his first marathon in just over four hours, Dr. Stathulis was happy to finish. Exhausted and sore from running 26.2 miles, his mind was anywhere but the next race.
His wife jokingly asked when he would be competing in the Boston marathon. Running in the Boston Marathon is not an easy feat. One must first qualify for the race. The qualifying time is based on age and gender. Dr. Stathulis would have to complete a marathon in 3:25:00.
At the time, it seemed like a dream that was out of reach. After all, he would have to shave nearly 40 minutes off of his time to qualify.
He continued to train and run marathons, completing a total of five in Columbus. Still, Boston wasn’t close to being a reality.
In April of 2014, Dr. Stathulis decided to run in the Glass City Marathon in Toledo. He finished with a time of 3:20:33. He had officially qualified to run in the Boston Marathon.
“That’s the place to qualify because it’s very flat in Northwest Ohio,” he said. “It was a perfect day for a race.”
Training and Marathon Preparation
Dr. Stathulis has his own specific training regimen for marathons. He said it isn’t based on anything he’s read but it’s a routine that has worked for him.
He typically runs on his own three to four days a week for a combined 22 miles. At least three months before a race, he will increase his mileage to 35 miles a week and will try to run hills when possible. His routine isn’t strictly running; he also lifts weights three days a week to build strength and circumvent injury from constant running.
Dr. Stathulis said there are two things a runner must do when preparing for a marathon. One is to consume enough calories early in a race so your body doesn’t shut down later in the race. The other is to train your legs to run the entire distance. He said there isn’t a way to train your legs unless you go out there and run.
To consume enough calories, runners typically take energy gels that they can bring with them on the run. These gels are often preferred over food because it’s easier to eat on the run and it tends not to wreak havoc on a runner’s stomach.
“I eat one at the start of the race and then one about every three miles,” Dr. Stathulis said. “It helps me get through so I don’t bonk. In my first few marathons, I would have one every four miles and I would fall apart at the end.”
Still sore from his run, Dr. Stathulis said he hasn’t really thought about his next marathon. However, he has thought about whether he’d run the Boston Marathon again.
“It was definitely tough but I would do it again,” he said. “Just so I could get a better time.”