By Betsy Hinderliter
On April 15, 2013 bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and inextricably altered the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. The entire country felt the loss and “Boston Strong” became the catch-phrase of the day.
“There was no mistaking it was an explosion,” recalls Denice Davis who completed the marathon for the first time that year just minutes before devastation hit.
In 2013, Denise had just finished the race and was closing the taxi door when the first bomb exploded. “The street we were on was immediately shut down. Then there was the second explosion. Panicked people were running everywhere – it was total chaos,” she added.
Somehow her cab driver managed to get them out of the area and was able to make his way to the bus station where Denice traveled back to the ferry and then to her anxious family on Martha’s Vineyard.
The tragedy of three bystanders losing their lives, dozens of others seriously injured and the stress of being in the middle of what later was determined to be a terrorist attack had an impact on Denice. “In 2014, I had a very strong desire to change all those negative feelings from the year before and turn them back into positive feelings. The overall atmosphere at the 2014 race was conducive to that and more – it was triumphant, almost victorious. The 2014 Boston Marathon was so positive and I got back my ‘runner’s high’ for the event. There was no question that I would go back again this year,” she remarked.
Denice also feels a strong connection to the northeast and Boston, having grown up in northern New Jersey and then living on Martha’s Vineyard for 11 years prior to moving to Beaufort. She started running 13 years ago and while she considers herself an athlete overall, her first love is running. “I started running way back then as a way to reduce stress, lose some weight and just be healthier. Then something clicked, my competitive spirit kicked in and I started running in races. That was it – I am hooked on running!”
Denice has competed in several marathons including the NY City Marathon (twice), the Marine Corps Marathon (twice), and many local half marathons and 10k events. At the Savannah Bridge Run Double Pump in December she placed in the top 3 in her age group and placed first in the female master division.
Commenting on her Boston race time this year, Denice shared that conditions were not ideal. “It was rainy with a constant head wind and about 40 degrees. I finished at 3:28 which is about 3 minutes slower than in 2014 – that was my fastest time at 3:25. Considering that I was soaking wet the entire race and almost hypothermic, I am satisfied with that time.”
Denice’s favorite saying is ‘no excuses’ and this determined single mother of 3 boys has extended her philosophy and love of running to her sons, to the members of the YMCA of Beaufort County where she is the Wellness Director, and out into the Beaufort community. Last year she became the cross country coach at Bridges Preparatory School, where she coaches kids age 7-13. “It’s a thrill to see the kids put themselves out there and train hard for a goal. Plus it’s just fun to run with kids!”
Since many people may be curious about what it takes to compete in marathons, Denice is happy to share her regime and training tips. She said, “My training is based on the ‘run less, run faster’ method so I do cross-training 3 times a week by teaching classes at the “Y” and I run a max of 30 miles per week. 16 weeks out before a race I stick to this schedule. Kevin Green from Carolina Sportscare has also helped me get race ready by putting together track workouts.” Additionally, Denice incorporates healthy eating, gets plenty of regular sleep and stays hydrated. “Just don’t over-do anything,” she warns. Running with a friend or training partner is also a plus, and Denice calls on her friend Heather Bruner, YMCA Swim Team Coach and triathlete, to accompany her. “But Heather’s on her bike!” Denice remarks with a laugh.
So what is up next for this busy lady? Besides instituting health and wellness programs at the YMCA and keeping up with those 3 boys, she look forwards to the Bluffton Duathlon series on May 30th and her third NY City Marathon in November.
And then there is Boston 2016. Denice adds, “As long as I qualify, I will return every year. It’s a privilege.”
About the Boston Marathon
Begun in 1897, inspired by the success of the first modern-day marathon competition in the 1896 Summer Olympics • It is one of six World Marathon ‘Majors’ • Attracts an average of about 30,000 registered participants and 500,000 spectators each year • Held on Patriot’s Day since 1969 which is the third Monday in April • Boston Red Sox also play on that day. When the game ends, the crowd empties into Kenmore Square to cheer as the runners enter the final mile • Wellesley College students cheer on the runners in what is referred to as the Scream Tunnel. It is so loud runners claim it can be heard from a mile away • To qualify for the race, a runner must complete a sanctioned qualifier race and finish within a qualifying time determined by age and sex • This year’s men’s winner, Lelisa Desisa, finished in a time of 2:09:17 and the women’s winner, Caroline Rotich, finished in 2:24:55 • There were 30,251 race entrants this year • Denice finished 2,230th out of 13,751 female entrants and placed 266th in her age division, which had a total of 2,272 female runners this year