Whitney Daynes

Whitney Daynes celebrates her qualifying time with her kids at the Sprouts Phoenix-Mesa Marathon in February 2018. (Photo courtesy Whitney Daynes)

If you drive around Goodyear often, you may have already seen her running around.

Literally.

Whitney Daynes recently qualified to run in the 123rd Boston Marathon, which will take place April 15.

Although she’s been a runner since high school, Daynes hadn’t set her sights on running the Boston Marathon – or any marathon, really – until recently.

“A marathon was never really on my radar because I told myself that I wanted to be able to walk when I was older,” she said. “But last year a friend was going to run the Sprouts Phoenix-Mesa Marathon, and I was looking for a running partner. I decided to run with her while she trained. The more I talked to her about it, the more I decided that I could do it, too. So, I signed up.”

Daynes’ running partner was doing an advanced training method, which helped both of them run better and faster. At first, Daynes’ goal was just to cross the finish line, a worthy marathon goal. But after looking at her running times and talking to her brother, who had previously run Boston, she decided to set her sights higher. Instead of just finishing the Sprouts Phoenix-Mesa Marathon, she made a goal to run it fast enough to qualify for Boston.

The Sprouts Phoenix-Mesa Marathon in which she participated took place in February 2018 and was a Boston-qualifying race. On race day, Daynes learned what “pacers” are, and that they were going to be in the race.

A pacer is a runner who other racers need to beat in order to qualify for Boston. Several pacers hold up signs with finishing times on them. The goal is to stay with the pacer who is holding your desired finishing time – like 3 hours, 40 minutes – so you’ll end on time.

“I was looking to follow the one holding up 3:40, since that is what I needed to get to qualify for Boston,” Daynes said. “During the race, I came upon the 3:40 pacer. I stayed with him for a little bit, but then realized I could go faster than that.

“I came upon the 3:30 pacer, and I stayed close by for most of the second half of the race. Near the end, I felt myself getting faster so I put it in my head that I was going to beat the 3:30 pacer. And I did, finishing in 3 hours and 26 minutes – 14 minutes faster than the qualifying time.”

Talk about a real roadrunner.

Still, she was surprised she qualified, and she is definitely looking forward to running in Boston.

“It probably won’t sink in all the way until I’m actually running in the race itself,” she said.

Daynes started running in high school to stay in shape between sport seasons, and she participated in one season of high school cross country. Later, at Brigham Young University-Hawaii, she walked onto the cross country team.

Now, as a busy wife and mother, running has continued to be a big part of her life.

“I am a happy person, and running makes me feel good about myself and makes me happy. So I figured out a long time ago that I am happiest when I run. That is what keeps me motivated,” she said.

She’s not sure exactly how many races she has run over the years, but they range from high school and college cross country meets to triathlons in Hawaii and Arizona; many 5Ks, 10Ks and 15Ks; two half marathons and one full marathon.

And one very important marathon is coming up soon – Boston.

Training for a marathon does take a lot of time over many months, but her family is very supportive. In fact, her daughter, Quin, is a runner, too.

“It is so fun sharing a love of running with my daughter. She is a sprinter and middle-distance runner on her junior high track team, and she is doing awesome,” she said.

Daynes’ 3-year-old son loves to get in on the running action as well.

“He loves to go around ‘the big track.’ When he was 1, he ran a lap around, and since everyone was cheering him on he decided to keep going. Next thing we knew he had gone a whole mile without stopping,” she said.

Daynes does most of her running in Goodyear, either around her neighborhood or from her house up to Estrella Mountain to enjoy the scenery.