United grad qualifies for Boston marathon

COLUMBUS – Don Weber never thought it would lead to the Boston Marathon.

It was just a New Year’s resolution in 2006 “to get into shape a little bit” but it evolved into an “obsession with running.”

The 45-year-old is a 1986 graduate of United Local High School and the son of Karen Beeler Izenour of Salem.

One week ago, Weber finished 560th in his gender and age class in the Columbus Marathon that had 5,500 marathoners and a total of 19,000 runners (many running half-marathons).

“I was 560th” he said, “in the top 10 percent of all ages and beat the average time by an hour.”

Back in 2006, he started off slow and after wearing out a treadmill he shifted outdoors.

He logged all his daily activity which shows his first run that January was 2.25 miles.

Not a bad start.

Weber, who earned a degree in mechanical engineering at Youngstown State University, said he played tennis for a couple of years in high school and that was about it.

He found a job with a Chillicothe firm right out of college and today is a manager for an engineering group with the company and lives in Chillicothe.

He didn’t run every day but he had his first 10-mile run in 2008.

“I had no thought of ever running in a race,” he said, “not even a 5K … I was just getting in shape and losing a couple of pounds.”

He added, “When I first started some people said I’ll probably will run a race some day.”

Weber’s log tells the story. Ten miles, 11 miles and at the end of 2009 it shows a 13 mile run.

That’s getting up there.

What about marathon territory?

“I probably started thinking about it in 2010,” he said. “I got up to 15 miles. That’s probably when I started thinking that I could do the 26.2.”

Then he did his first 20-miler and in 2011 he entered his first marathon at the Marshall University.

“I finished 65th out of 425 finishers with a time of 3:27:33,” he said.

“I was 55th among males and 12th in my age group.

“One interesting tidbit about the Marshall Marathon is that they hand out flowers to the runners as they enter campus,” he said, recalling that just beyond the 25-mile marker there is a memorial to the 1970 plane crash victims.

Weber said, “I have not raced a half-marathon” noting that “prior to my first marathon, my longest race was ten miles.

“Other than that I had only raced a couple 5Ks and a 4-miler.

“My fastest 5K time was at the 2012 Turkey Trot where I finished in 20 minutes.”

He runs a rail to trail path “pretty much seven days a week” averaging six to seven miles a day and this year will be his fourth averaging over 2,000 miles a year.

“I peaked out at over 60 miles per week (8.7 miles per day) by the end of the marathon training,” he said.

At Columbus, Weber beat his Marshall Marathon time of 3:27.5 with a 3:24.0.

More than three-and-a-half minutes.

“I went to my son’s soccer game and dinner,” he said adding he was pretty sure the Boston Marathon qualifying time was 3:20.

But when he checked the Boston Athletic Association website for his category the numbers jumped off his iPod: 3:25.00 was the time he needed.

“I ran 3:24,” he said.

Any dreams of running in the 2014 Boston Marathon were quickly dialed back.

“The thing for the 2014 race,” Weber explained, “was registration was filled before the Columbus Marathon was ever run.”

He said registration opens until it’s filled … it’s lasts until they sell out.”

So, Weber will wait for registration to open for the 2014 Boston Marathon.

He expects to have confirmation by early next September, noting there is usually a 48-hour notification process.

Was he discouraged when he learned he couldn’t enter until the 2015 race?

“No,” Weber said, “and the happenings (the bombings) in Boston last year only make people want to run that even more.

“We’re not afraid of you, we’re even more resolved to run this race.”

He was unsure about attending the 2014 Boston Marathon.

“I don’t know … haven’t considered it … don’t know if I want to.”

What is for sure is “I haven’t come down off Cloud 9 since I saw I made that qualifying time,” Weber said.

“I am really looking forward to the Boston Marathon experience in 2015. It is still hard to believe that I was able to qualify.

“Since the tragic events at this year’s Boston Marathon, next year’s race will mean even more than before.”

Weber and his wife, Marla, have eight children, three of their own, three adopted siblings and are in the process of adopting two more siblings.