Anjali Forber-Pratt, who was raised in Natick, placed fourth among women in the 2011 Boston Marathon's wheelchair division. Forber-Pratt, a champion sprinter and Paralympian, logged a time of 1:53:22 in her first Boston Marathon.
You've dreamed of racing in the Boston Marathon since you were a little girl. What was it like to finally do it?
As cliche as it sounds it was a dream come true. I was especially touched by all the supporters with signs and cheers throughout the entire route as well as having Jean Driscoll there as a comeback guest for the BAA. Entering Natick and passing the very spot I once sat at cheering was emotional for sure and honestly miles 8-10 were just one big blur for me with all the home town support!
Tell me about the race. What was your strategy? Were there any surprises along the way?
My strategy, as a sprinter, was to go out there and stick to my pace and to have fun. I was hoping to stay in with the other women early on, but recognize that coasting on those hills is not my strong suit! I had my target time and splits in mind and my strategy truly was to give it my all and to feel like I had a great race by the end, which I certainly did! It was a win of sorts for me on a personal level!
What was the hardest part of the race?
The hardest part of the race was my own competitive nature! No matter how hard I told myself to stick with my strategy and to simply be concerned with doing my best, my competitive nature and drive to want to win also came out! I am honored to have been among a group of fast women this year and send my hearty congrats to my fellow racers! Honestly I could not be happier though with my time and a fourth place finish in my first Boston. I was actually surprised that the Newton hills weren't that bad as I expected and I think that's a testament to the training program from my coach Adam Bleakney at the University of Illinois and to mother nature's gracious tailwind!
How do you feel about your finish? Will you race in the Boston Marathon again next year?
I am wicked excited about my Boston finish! It was a crowning moment in my athletic career for personal reasons even if it didn't translate to a top of the podium. To me, it emulates what I live and breathe for. My own motto is Dream. Drive. Do...and this dream literally came about 20+ years ago and to finally be able to say that I went after it, gave it my all, and came out with a personal best and a 4th place finish in one of the most prestigious races in the world is a success in my book! As for next year, who knows! I certainly won't rule it off the table, but I do know that my focus will be largely on the sprints as I gear up hoping to qualify for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, so it will depend. We'll see!
What are you working on next?
Personally, I am devoting time now to the writing of my autobiography to help to motivate others to chase their own dreams and to teach others from the lessons I've learned along the way.
Athletically, I am gearing up for the track season! My training will shift to prepare me for the sprints. I have two track meets in Switzerland in May and 2011 U.S. Paralympic Track and Field Nationals in Miramar, FL in June as well. I do have a couple of road races too including returning to Boston on May 15th to be a part of the Heartbreak Hill 5k and to speak at the Purple Shoes Challenge held in conjunction.
Lastly, thank you to everybody from Hopkington to Boston and beyond who supported me in achieving this dream. I sincerely hope you'll continue to follow me on my journey to London through my website: www.anjfp.com and you can follow me on twitter @anjalifp and Facebook too!