Rice to run Boston Marathon

Published 1:22 pm Monday, April 16, 2012

Mark Rice, administrator for Atmore Vision Center, is running in the Boston Marathon Monday.

A six-year-old girl stands to be one of the motivators behind Mark Rice’s devotion to being healthy, but other goals include setting a personal record at the 2012 Boston Marathon on Monday.

Rice, the 51-year-old administrator of Atmore Vision Center and Monroeville Eye Care, set a goal to live a healthier life five years ago, so he could insure he would watch his daughter grow up. That goal, however, while staying with healthy quickly became geared towards marathon running.

“I initially set out having a goal to be healthy,” Rice said. “Then a friend of mine qualified for the Boston Marathon, which inspired me. Up until that point, I had purely run for health reasons, but then I added the additional goal of qualifying for Boston.”
Rice’s goal quickly became reality, as he took part in his first marathon in 2008 and followed that up with three consecutive trips to the Boston Marathon.

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I ran my first open marathon in the 2008 Country Music Marathon,” he said. The next year I qualified for my first Boston Marathon and qualified again in 2010 and 2011, which I was pretty excited about.”

At those marathons, Rice consistently finished in under four hours. At the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, he placed 309th out of 4,373 runners with a time of 3:36:23 and finished the 2009 Boston Marathon with a time of 3:30:12. He followed that up in the 2010 Boston Marathon with time of 3:26:11, while coming in with a time of 3:36:50 in 2011.

His continuing devotion to running the marathons is now to encourage others to stay healthy.

The need to get healthy originally came when he realized he was getting older.

“I suppose it is some realization that I am aging,” Rice said. “As I saw some things changing, I wanted to stay young and enjoy life. I have a six-year-old daughter, so that is a big part of my motivation to stay healthy for her. I also want to encourage people to choose to be healthy.”

Now that he is preparing to take to the streets of Boston once more, Rice wants to show his dedication is paying off.
Setting a personal best is his goal this year, Rice said.

“My goal this year is time based,” he said. “My marathon record is 3:26, so I certainly want to beat that by going under 3:25, with my stretch goal being under 3:20.”

Getting to that goal has taken months of training and a strong support system.

With so much time being used to get ready to the 26.2 mile marathon, Rice has turned to his family, which has had a strong effect on his daughter.

“I get a lot of support from them,” he said. “It clearly requires family acceptance, which I have. They don’t quite understand the crazy dedication that it takes. For instance, I ran 2,200 miles in 2011, and people sometimes don’t that dedication. My daughter is inspired and wants to run a marathon. She’s a little young at 6, but we want to run one together someday.”

Rice will take part in the Boston Marathon beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday.