Tatyana McFadden, pictured above winning the 2016 Boston Marathon, returns in 2018 after battling a blood clot condition that sidelined her for much of last season.
It’s been a long road to recovery for marathon queen Tatyana McFadden, who spent the last year and a half battling blood clots and regaining her race form. This time last year, she finished fourth in the Boston Marathon after being in the hospital as recent as two weeks prior.
Since then, she’s been working relentlessly to get back to full health, spending time with doctors and on the track to build back her endurance. She’s coming off a second-place finish at Tokyo Marathon in February and hopes to add to her count of four wins at Monday’s Boston Marathon.
With this year marking the five-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, McFadden previews the significance of this year’s race and her journey back to the top of the podium.
Q: How are you feeling about your return to Boston?
A: I’m very excited to be back. I think it’ll be a good race, even with this weather, but it is what it is. We are all in the same weather conditions. I’ve been training really hard and been doing two-a-days this past month. I feel like I can only move up and just have fun. That’s what it’s about – just really enjoying what I’m doing and being able to do it. All of this is the big focus for Tokyo 2020.
Q: You have quite a history with the Boston Marathon, winning the race four times, and dedicating your 2015 win to an eight-year-old victim of the tragic Boston Marathon bombings. How special is this race to you?
A: This marks five years since the [Boston Marathon] bombings. It was a tragedy what happened and has been amazing to watch the community and people come together. Being an elite athlete, I feel I had a certain responsibility [to use my platform] and it’s been really amazing to be a part of the community and give back. It’s showing what life can be after such a big tragedy. Working with families and just being together as a community – that’s what it’s about.
Q: Talk about your training the last couple of months in preparation for this race.
A: In the last year, I’ve had to back everything up and start the basics all over again, doing a lot of track work. My endurance really took a hit so trying to build that up was really difficult. In the last month, I’ve been having good two-a-days and focusing on different aspects of a race: climbing, turning, etc. I’ve been really focusing on my weaknesses so I can get better and better. I think I’ve made a lot of gains, but we’ll see when it comes to Sunday. I can only learn as an athlete and take it as it is.
Q: The women’s wheelchair division has become increasingly more competitive, with athletes like Swiss racer Manuela Schar and your U.S. teammate Amanda McGrory challenging you for the top of the podium. How does that continue to push you in races and going into Monday?
A: The field has definitely grown and has a much stronger edge, which is good for us. It’s really nice to see that more women are joining this marathon circuit but we could use even more in the future. Having the field be competitive is a good thing. It makes it interesting and more appealing to the media – all really good things for us. It also makes us athletes train a little bit harder and be smarter.
Q: Do you have any hopes or expectations heading into Boston?
A: I’m just going take it mile by mile and focus on my own strengths and weaknesses and those of my competitors. I’m going to take everything as it is, re-focus and just see what happens.
Q: With everything that you’ve been battling and overcoming, how do you feel like those obstacles have helped you become a better competitor?
A: It’s made me a stronger person. I’ve had to take several steps back and re-learn and re-train my body, bringing me back to the beginnings of my racing. There was a lot involved medically, too, changing my nutrition, training styles and even sitting positions. Going back to the root of how I started, I had to enjoy the whole process of taking it step-by-step, resetting goals, and working through those challenges as they come, day-by-day and month-by-month. That’s what it’s all about. It’s all a part of the climb and the journey.
The women’s wheelchair race of the 122nd Boston Marathon begins at 9:04 a.m. ET on Monday, April 16.