Richland employee’s passion for running earns a berth in Boston Marathon

Running the Boston Marathon on April 15 was the fulfillment of a dream for Rosalia Baker, an accountant at Richland.

“When I crossed that finish line, it was just so awesome and getting my medal is when I just [had] tears of joy,” she said.

Baker was more worried about being fast enough to qualify for Boston than about security concerns in the wake of the 2013 bombing at the race. Safety was not on her mind so much as lowering her mile time since securing a berth is not a simple matter of registering. The race organizer, the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.), must have proof of a runner’s worthiness.

Rosalia Baker with medal and race swag.

Rosalia Baker with medal and race swag.

In Baker’s age category, 45 to 49, the women’s qualifying time for the 26.2-mile race is 3 hours and 55 minutes. That’s a sub-9-minute mile. But runners must be speedier than that because Boston only wants the best. Regarding participants in the 2019 race, the BAA website stated that, “Qualifiers who were four minutes, 52 seconds (4:52) or faster than the qualifying time for their age group and gender have been accepted into the 2019 Boston Marathon.”

“There’s only a certain amount of time slots for each age group to get in. So, if you don’t have a pretty good cushion you probably won’t qualify and get in, even though you qualify and beat the time,” Baker said. She said it took her 13 attempts to qualify for the race.

Baker did two things to finally achieve that “cushion.” She trained with grit, doing hills and speed work, and she searched for a so-called “fast” marathon, one (accepted by Boston) that has a reputation for giving runners their personal bests.

She ran a downhill race, the Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon, in which approximately 24% of runners achieved a Boston Marathon qualifying time in 2019, according to the Revel organization. Runners start at the top of a mountain near Salt Lake City, Utah and run to the bottom.

This might sound easy, but it requires specific training.

“It could really mess your legs up, just running straight down for that long,” Baker said. Because Dallas is not blessed with mountains, she did some online research and discovered parking garage running.

“Go to the top and just run down. So, I did a lot of that. But then, I got kicked out of one parking garage. Somebody reported me!” she said.

She did her speed work here at Richland on the treadmills in the fitness center. “I made a lot of friends, and they all knew I was training for Boston because I made it well known. So, they were all rooting for me because I was in there a lot working out, sweating,” she said.

She finished the Big Cottonwood Marathon with a time around 3:44. The medal proudly hangs in her office in Thunderduck Hall, along with one from her fastest half-marathon and copies of many of her colorful race bibs.

Baker enjoys racing so much, she has also run a 50-miler, 50Ks, 16 other marathons and other races of shorter distances.

In her neighborhood, she used the Nextdoor social media site to let her neighbors know she would be training beginning runners at 5:30 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. She currently has a group of six trainees. Before this, she was a pace leader with the Dallas Running Club, which helped her train for her first marathon in 2014.

She is starting a Richland training group that will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 a.m. In a 30-minute session, her groups walk/run about two miles, she said. Four people have signed up. Interested persons can email her at rbaker@dcccd.edu to find out more.

Baker is married to Richland Police Commander Robert Baker, who she nicknamed her “Sherpa” because he is her biggest supporter. She also has three grown children and two grandchildren, one of whom used to enjoy a jogging stroller when grandma would babysit.

Baker has already planned her qualifying race for Boston 2020. Although she wanted to qualify with her Boston Marathon time in April, the hot day and the hills caused her to touch four hours. So, on June 29, she will run another “fast” downhill put on by the Revel organization atop Mount Hood in Oregon. Whatever she finds on that mountaintop, Baker is sure to go the distance.