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American marathoner Shalane Flanagan races for the win in Boston

Shalane Flanagan (center) in 2010. Photo courtesy of outsideonline.com/Don Feria/Corbis

Shalane Flanagan (center) in 2010. Photo courtesy of outsideonline.com/Don Feria/Corbis

For elite runner Shalane Flanagan, this year’s Boston Marathon is especially meaningful. Growing up just north of Boston in Marblehead, Massachusetts, she had a love of running from a young age and thought that “Patriots’ Day was a national holiday and that everything revolved around the Boston Marathon.” Both of her parents competed in the marathon and she remembers standing at the finish as a child, cheering them on. Last year, Flanagan herself finished fourth in the race and recalls feeling disappointed about her finish, until hearing about the bombings. She then became the first runner to commit to the 2014 race, and has dedicated herself not only to running a personal best, but to winning the women’s division.

Recently, Anderson Cooper of 60 Minutes sat down with (or rather, laced up his sneakers and ran with) Flanagan, who talked about her training plan and strategy. The “pony-tailed assassin in knee socks” described the learning curve associated with marathon running, and how proper pacing is critical to success. Currently, she runs up to 120 miles per week, fitting in weight training and high-altitude runs to achieve peak fitness.

We’ll be cheering on Shalane today when she races in the 118th Boston Marathon, as we keep those impacted by last year’s tragic events in our thoughts. We’re so inspired by the strength and dedication of those racing, and wish the best of luck to all of the athletes!

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