Hyland records Boston Marathon personal best

Spanish teacher races past personal and training obstacles


Chloe Taft, Contributing Writer

After the final class of the day ends, Upper School (US) Spanish Teacher Rachel Hyland goes home, spends time with her toddler, and puts on her running shoes.

With an all-time personal record of two hours and 37 minutes, Ms. Hyland’s success as a marathon runner has taken her from qualifying for the Olympic trials to finishing in the top five in the 2018 Boston Marathon.

On October 11, she ran the Boston Marathon competitively with the Boston Athletic Association. It was her 11th marathon and her second-best recorded time— two hours and 40 minutes.

She placed 30th in the race. Ms. Hyland said though her time was not her goal, she was still pleased with her achievements after her hiatus from marathons.

“After a pandemic, having a baby, and two and a half years away from marathons, this one felt special. Even though I fell short of my goals, I was happy to make it to the start line healthy and in shape.”

Ms. Hyland said, for her, running marathons is a great accomplishment because of the preparation.

“There’s something sort of epic about it compared to training for shorter races,” she said. “A lot goes into it physically, mentally, emotionally.”

Though balancing training and personal life proves difficult, Ms. Hyland said, her passion for running makes her a better person.

“Sometimes it feels really hard to make that choice between spending time with your kid and going out and squeezing in the miles,” she said. “But at the end of the day, running is something that really makes me feel whole. I think it makes me a better mom and a better teacher as it really can influence your positive mindset and outlook on different challenges that you might face.”

Training for a marathon can be a lot of work, Ms. Hyland said. She trains for an hour or two every day in a variety of workouts, and she gradually increases her mileage until about a month before each race when she is running 100 miles a week.

She does many types of workouts to prepare for a marathon. A typical training session, she said, might look like three or four reps of three miles with little rest.

She said her effort starts to feel worth it a few weeks before each race, as she tapers off from her training and gives her body time to rest.

“There’s a point in each marathon when you have about six or eight weeks left before the race, and it can become kind of a grind.

You have to [learn to] get through those challenging weeks when you ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing this? I’m tired and my legs are sore,’” Ms. Hyland said.

“By the time you’re a few weeks away from the race, your body [and] your fitness comes around, and that’s when you really start to feel good and the training starts to pay off.”

Flynn Coyne ’23, one of Ms. Hyland’s Spanish students who runs cross country, said Ms. Hyland’s dedication in the classroom translates to her dedication on the marathon course.

“She always has activities for us in class, and when we’re working in group projects or in pairs, she comes over and makes sure we understand or helps us,” Flynn said. “That can easily relate to her being a marathon runner because dedication is very important for that as well.”

US History and Social Sciences Teacher Matt Turnbull, who runs marathons and ultramarathons, said the difficulty in running marathons is the emotional challenge.

“To run the kind of time that Ms. Hyland did requires a different kind of commitment and courage,” Mr. Turnbull said. “The difficulty isn’t in any one workout or even the race itself but in stringing together months of consistent training.”

Mr. Turnbull said training for a marathon with a young child adds another dimension.

“She came in fourth in the torrential rain in 2018, so I knew she was tough. This year, she ran even faster and did so with a new baby at home,” Mr. Turnbull said. “As a new dad myself, I admire that Ms.

Hyland was able to put in the time to train and then perform so well on race day.”

US Spanish Department Coordinator Rosario Sánchez Gómez said Ms. Hyland tries her best to be a great teacher, which also translates to her running career.

“It is something that comes naturally to her, but she also puts in a lot of effort to run a marathon and to be a good teacher. She’s going to give it her best in the classroom and as a runner.”

Ms. Hyland used her Boston Marathon time to qualify in the elite field for the California International Marathon in December.

She said she is excited to capitalize further on her already successful year.