BOSTON – Her legs swift and her mind soaring with the possibilities, Sheri Piers flew through the first 9 miles of the Boston Marathon on Monday.

Piers, one of Maine’s top female distance runners, was on pace to improve upon her 11th-place finish from a year ago.

But somewhere between Mile 9 or 10, Piers knew she had gone out too fast. So, she slowed considerably, then spent the next 16 miles in the mental game that is marathoning, fighting not to quit, reining in her speed, then working it back up again.

Piers crossed the finish line in Copley Square in 2 hours, 40 minutes, 46 seconds, 22nd overall among the women’s finishers. Last year, Piers finished in 2:37:04.

“I’m disappointed,” said Piers as she walked alongside a volunteer on her way to the elite runner tent. “I had a rough day. I did what you’re not supposed to do. I went out too fast.”

It was a historic day in Boston as Robert K. Cheruiyot of Kenya set a course record of 2:05:52. Ethiopia’s Teyba Erkesso took the women’s crown in 2:26:11.

Maine’s top male was Patrick Fournier, 34, of Rome, who finished 147th overall in 2:36:44.

Tim Carven, 46, of Kittery Point was second among Maine men in 2:49:33. Piers, of Falmouth, was followed by Mary Pardi, 40, also of Falmouth, who finished in 2:53:39.

The race began with the temperature of 49 degrees, winds from the southwest and the sun peaking in and out of the clouds.

Piers said she let the elite women pull out at the start, then focused on getting into her pace.

She ran as fast as a 5:56 mile, but slowed to somewhere around 6:30 per mile before finishing with an overall pace of 6:07.

“I felt so great at the beginning, it’s hard to hold back,” she said. “Right around Mile 9 or 10 I thought, ‘this is going to bite me later.’ “

Piers said she wanted to quit but kept it together.

“(Since the elite men start 28 minutes after the elite women), I knew I was doing badly when the men’s leader passed me at Mile 22,” she said. “I really wanted to stop but I was able to keep going. It’s all a head thing. If you lose it, it’s really hard to get it back.”

Within minutes after Piers crossed the finish line, the bells from Old South Church tolled as the volume of runners increased.

Among them were 167 finishers from Maine.

 

NOTES: Will Thomas, 29, of Portland and running partner Seth Bradbury finished their “Epic Man” journey by running the race in 3:35:50. The pair kayaked from Peaks Island to Portland on Sunday afternoon, biked through the night to the race start in Hopkinton and completed the marathon 10 minutes faster than they did in 2009.

“It was a long night, we slept for like an hour, but it was great,” said Thomas before he and Bradbury planned to kayak from the North End to Logan International Airport and pick another destination to reach and run a second marathon. Bob Dunfey of York, who set out to finish the race for the 20th consecutive year, completed the race in 3:33:14. Gary Allen, 53, of Cranberry Isles finished in 2:55:33, breaking the 3-hour barrier for the fifth straight decade. Steven McCarthy of Greene, a student at the University of Maine, ran a personal-record 2:54:32 to make up for his 2009 attempt: “It was my second Boston. Last year was a disaster.” Geoffrey James, 43, of Camden also ran his second Boston but finished for the first time in 3:34:01. Last year, while commemorating the anniversary of his father’s first attempt at running Boston, James suffered a knee injury. Annie Freeman, 35, a Portland attorney, completed her first Boston marathon in 3:35:34. Her postrace thoughts: “It’s hard. The end takes it out of you.”

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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