Lauren Liuzzo was thinking strategy Saturday in her first ever Myrtle Beach Marathon, the 19th running of the event.
But the 27-year-old from Somerville, Massachusetts, never thought she would win. Liuzzo did just that, though, finishing with a time of 3:02:58.6, which she said was her personal best time of the 14 marathons she has run.
And Liuzzo already has eyes on her next 26.2 miles.
“I’m running [the Boston Marathon] in six weeks, so this was a prep race, [or] training run for that,” she said. “So, yeah, my next goal is to run Boston. I wasn’t expecting to win or run this fast, so this makes me happy and excited for Boston.”
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Liuzzo and the rest of the runners may have benefited from a change in date for the annual event, as the weather was exceptional for running. The Myrtle Beach Marathon previously took place exclusively in February, and it was moved to March for the first time this year.
“It was cold at the start, which I was a little nervous about. But it actually ended up being the perfect weather,” Liuzzo said.
Liuzzo was biding her time early in the race, saving energy and stamina for the latter half of the marathon. She was sitting in fourth the majority of the race, but kicked it into gear and passed the top three runners at the 24th mile and never looked back.
“I tried to go out slowly in the beginning, so I kind of stayed back a bit and I had a lot more energy at the end,” Liuzzo said. “The last 6 miles, I passed everyone. It was kind of a good feeling, because they were kind of dropping back. Because I [started] slowly, I had a lot left and was able to kick it in and felt strong at the end.”
Also giving her a boost on the last stretch of the race was her boyfriend Seth Kangley. The couple came to Myrtle Beach to visit family, and Liuzzo decided to give the race a shot as she aims for a goal of breaking the 3-hour mark in Boston.
“It would be a great accomplishment,” she said. “And just keep working after that.”
Liuzzo’s dedication to the sport has her training for weeks on end, while also balancing a work and home life. She said she tries to fit in a speed workout once or twice a week, and a long distance run every weekend.
“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “You have to put in a lot of weeks of training. I try to be consistent during the week but with my work schedule, it’s kind of busy. You kind of have to put off some other things in life and make sacrifices. So it’s just a lot of work.”
But Kangley is always there for support.
“He’s so encouraging,” Liuzzo said. “He’s always the loudest one when I’m out there and always supports me. Not only out here, but during all the training as well.”
Liuzzo also regularly goes on 20-mile runs, and said it’s just another part of her life as a distance runner.
“It’s my passion,” Liuzzo said. “I always go my hardest.”