Student Fits Boston Marathon in with Law School Studies

First-year law student Jordan Kielian relished the challenge of competing in this year’s Boston Marathon—despite the demands of fitting it in among the rigors of law school.

Jordan Kielian competes in the Indianapolis Marathon,
qualifying him for the 2011 Boston Marathon

"The Boston Marathon is to marathon runners what Law Review is to law students," he says of the world's oldest annual and most prestigious road-racing event. “It is a desired credential.”

To compete, Kielian explains, runners must qualify by running another marathon under a certain time depending on age and gender. That meant he had to run in a qualifying marathon in under 3 hours and 10 minutes. Kielian reached this goal at the 2009 Indianapolis Marathon, which he ran in 3 hours and 5 minutes. Due to injuries, he was not able to run in 2010, but his two-year qualification made him eligible for this year’s race in Boston.

Kielian resolved to take on the challenge despite the fact that the race was the week before law school finals:  “I decided that I was going to do it while I had the opportunity because there’s no telling what could prevent me from completing it in the future.”

“In hindsight, I feel lucky to have had the opportunity,” he adds, “as the registration for this year’s race filled up in about eight hours, compared to last year’s two and a half months. In response to the record-setting registration, the race organization has lowered qualifying times and tightened registration procedures.”

Ultimately, Kielian finished the 26.22 miles of grueling terrain in 3:28:04. “I am not unhappy with how I performed because besides finishing, I did not have any set goals going into the race,” he says. “With that said, the hilly course definitely got the best of me, and leg cramps forced me to walk several times over the last eight miles. So, hopefully I will have another chance in the future to improve on my Boston time.”

For Kielian, who ran in his first running event (5K) at the age of 6, the Boston race was his fifth actual marathon. He previously ran the 2007 Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City, Michigan; the 2008 Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota; the 2008 Chicago Marathon; and the 2009 Indianapolis Marathon. 

For the race in Boston, he trained for roughly 14 weeks. He says his schedule usually consists of four runs per week, with three shorter distances (4-8 miles) on weekdays and one long distance run each weekend. The long distances start around 8 miles at the beginning of the schedule and climb to a 20-mile run a few weeks away from race day.

“Training has made me really appreciate Forest Park,” he says of the 1,293-acre urban park adjacent to Washington University. “It’s a great place for anyone interested in outdoor activities, but especially for a runner looking to rack up some miles.”

Asked how he fit in the marathon with the heavy load of law school studies, he observes: “The biggest challenge of combining training with law school is psychological and not logistical. While school keeps me busy, I have ample time to also train, even though I would often like to use a busy schedule as an excuse not to run.

“In this sense, I find that 2-mile runs are just as challenging as 20-mile runs, because the real struggle is not making time to train, but forcing myself to take the first step on a run even if I may feel overwhelmed with the volume of my other work,” he says. “Since I returned from the marathon for the last week of classes, I really did not have any time to let up. I now plan to apply that same sense of discipline to preparing for my finals.”