Sheri Leiser looked at her bib number for the upcoming Boston Marathon, 16036, and thought, “How will I ever remember this?” Then she noticed the first two digits were “four, squared” and the last two digits were “six, squared,” with a zero in the middle. That she could remember.
If you think that sounds like something a math teacher would do, you’re right.
Leiser, who teaches middle school mathematics in the Buffalo Public Schools, will be at the starting line on April 18 for the 120th staging of one of the world’s great marathons. It will be her first trip there, as she joins many other Western New York runners who take part in the annual event. The Williamsville resident’s path to Boston has been an odd one, having had less-than-enjoyable experiences at her first two tries at the 26.2-mile distance.
“The first one was in Buffalo in 2010, and I was miserable,” she said. “I said I’d never do it again. Then I went to Cincinnati in 2012, and I was miserable there. I said I never wanted to do it again.”
As of a year ago, Leiser was content to run shorter distances in races. Her big goal for 2015 was to run a half-marathon every month. Then Leiser volunteered to train with a friend who was hoping to qualify for the Boston Marathon with a good performance in Buffalo.
“Our friends kept telling me that I’d qualify for Boston with no problem if I ran in Buffalo,” she said. “I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ But my base mileage was pretty high, and eventually I folded and signed up for the full Buffalo Marathon.”
Leiser finished the local event in 3 hours, 28 minutes and 32 seconds − about 10 minutes under the qualifying standard for Boston.
“My friends didn’t tell me they had made some side bets about me about whether I’d make it,” she said with a laugh.
Since that day last May, Leiser has had the third Monday in April circled on her calendar. The weather in Western New York certainly was mild enough for most of the winter to help runners training for a spring marathon to get in plenty of outdoor workouts. Leiser’s problem was that she picked up a variety of physical problems along the way.
Eventually, after cutting back on her mileage for a while, she started to feel better. Leiser did some cross training and some treadmill work along with some outdoor runs and is about ready to go.
“I think I’ll be OK,” she said. “I’m trying to spin it that I’ll have fresh legs.”
Many runners go to Boston with a personal goal for a time. Leiser isn’t too concerned about that aspect of her race this time.
“I would like to come in around 3:40, 3:50,” she said. “But if I don’t, you won’t see disappointment in my face. This is like my first marathon, where my goal is to finish.”
The announcement at the postrace party of the Friends of Night People’s race last week was stunning.
“We’d like to thank Paul Hassell for his donation of 2,000 shirts,” came out of the speakers.
Two thousand shirts? Really?
“We had three bedrooms that were pretty full, and now they are empty,” said Kenmore’s Hassell, one of the area’s most active racers for the past several years. “We have company coming this summer, and there wasn’t enough room for them with all the shirts. The dressers were all full, and the closets had shirts piled high.”
Hassell saved about 300 of his favorites for personal use, and spent part of the night before the race loading up the car with what he estimated were 2,000 shirts. It took about 30 minutes.
“I had emailed the race a day earlier to say I was coming, but they didn’t read the email,” Hassall said. “We went 30 minutes early, and spent that much time unloading the car.
“They were overwhelmed.”
By the way, almost all of the shirts were medium size. Anyone of that particular size who obtains apparel through Friends of Night People should have a shirt for the rest of his or her life.
The experience helped Hassell decide to clean up a little more often. He plans to bring another 100 to next year’s race. Hassell also will be calling the organization soon to ask for a receipt. He didn’t realize it, but such shirts can be a nice tax deduction.
“I never really thought of the shirts as a donation,” he said.
• Canisius College Shoes for the Shelter 5K, 1833 Main St., Buffalo, 10 a.m. Sunday, 888-2977.
• Health Fair 5K Run, 1500 Vanderbilt Ave., North Tonawanda, 9 a.m. Saturday, 807-3715.
• Run Forest Run 5K, 250 North Forest Road, Williamsville, 10 a.m. Saturday, 545-7775.
• Dolphin Dash 5K, Delaware Park, Buffalo, 11 a.m. next Sunday.