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Hastings woman qualifies for Boston Marathon

Monique Crisp stands with her daughter, Olivia, with her goal sign from the Minneapolis Marathon, where she ran fast enough to earn a spot in the Boston Marathon next year.

Monique Crisp of Hastings will be running in Boston next year. Besides placing her 22nd out of 470 women in the race and sixth out of 104 women in her age group, her time of 3:38:17 in the Minneapolis Marathon June 6 qualified her for the Boston Marathon.

Going into the marathon, Crisp set her goal at 3:40:00.

"I didn't realize until a couple days before that that was a qualifying time," she said.

Crisp, 30, started running her senior year of high school, but it wasn't until just last year that she really began to focus on running.

"I needed to change some things in my life," she said.

Last year, Crisp ran three marathons within six months, the last of which was in October. In 2003, she ran in Grandma's Marathon in Duluth.

For the Minneapolis Marathon, she didn't hold herself to a set training schedule. She ran long runs with her friends at a slower pace and would toss in shorter, faster runs on the side. She stopped worrying about her times, and just started enjoying running more.

"And I keep getting better, keep placing better," she said.

Finally, Crisp took a long training run on her own that helped her set her goal for the Minneapolis Marathon.

"That's when I knew I could maybe do a 3:40 pace," she said.

Crisp knows she'll be able to complete the Boston Marathon.

"I know I can go the distance because I've run so many marathons," she said. "I just want to be faster."

Crisp's main reason for running is other people.

"I like to do different things and help other people," she said. "It isn't really for me."

An employee of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Crisp helped put together a "Biggest Loser" contest for employees as part of a campaign for health. She's the captain of a team of 25 people, and as a team they lost 72 pounds.

Working for a company that enables its employees to exercise and stay healthy has had a substantial influence on Crisp's personal efforts.

"It's been really motivating for me," she said.

Her family has also played a critical role in her running. A single mother, Crisp's family has looked after her daughter so she could have the time to run and train.

"They are the ones who have allowed me to do the things I've set out to do while still being a mom," she said.

Crisp is working toward her Wellness Coach certification, which she'll get July 19. She wants to help others improve their health for a career, and the certification will help her accomplish that, she said.

Crisp talks about her experiences with running with the hope that she can inspire others to start running as well. Her advice is to start small.

"My first run was the Rivertown days 8k family fun run in 1998," she said. "I wasn't an athlete in high school so it was intimidating because I was running against all my former classmates that were on the track/cross country team. I ended up placing second."

Setting goals is an important piece as well.

"I always set goals for myself," she said. "Sometimes it has taken me years to reach them."

The 26.2-mile Boston Marathon is scheduled for April 18, 2011. Crisp will be working to gather funds over the next year so she and her family can go. She expects she'll need to raise at least $3,000 to cover her registration and lodging, food and air fare for herself, her daughter and some of her other family members.