Joanna “JJ” Hinderberger stands with her father, Chip Lende, at the Boston Marathon this April. Photo courtesy of JJ Hinderberger.

Just hours before she was expected to join the starting line for the Boston Marathon, former Haines resident Joanna “JJ” Hinderberger was immobilized in her hotel room with a bad case of the stomach flu.

“I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, ‘That’s weird; I don’t feel great. Maybe I’m nervous,’ But I wasn’t nervous for this one. It’s the Boston Marathon. It’s the award,” Hinderberger said.

She had spent months training for the event. Now, she was throwing up every fifteen minutes. This would have been her first time running in Boston.

“I thought, ‘Maybe I can make it,'” she said. “Maybe I can just get to the start line. Then I realized, ‘No, I’m still actively sick and I’m so dehydrated.'”

Hinderberger qualified for the race in Juneau last July. Adding to her problems, she had just given birth and was three months postpartum when she ran her qualifying time.

“You know, I would say it’s definitely not recommended by doctors,” Hinderberger said. “I have two really great friends I have been marathon training with who also have kids. When I told them I wanted to qualify for Boston they said, ‘We don’t recommend this idea but we’ll support you.’ It takes some friends, and it’s definitely not easy. It was the hardest marathon I’d done and not my fastest one, on top of recovering from pregnancy and not sleeping at all.”

Hinderberger’s qualifying time in Juneau clocked in at 3:24, six minutes under the Boston Marathon qualifying requirements. Runners should beat the required time by at least five minutes to qualify for the race, Hinderberger said. Acceptance rates have shrunk substantially since the marathon’s bombing in 2013.

This was the 10th anniversary since the attacks on the Boston Marathon.

“Being there in Boston, there was still so much electricity,” Hinderberger said. “Even the buildup was cool. Going to the expo, the finish line and the Red Sox game. … It was so amazing to be around so many inspiring people.”

Then, 15 days after she watched the race from the sidelines, Hinderberger boarded a plane to Eugene, Ore. She ran the Eugene Marathon and qualified for next year’s Boston Marathon. Just getting to the Eugene starting line felt like a victory, she said.

“The thing that’s nice about a marathon is you have to always love the process of training. You never know what’s going to happen on race day,” Hinderberger said. “I still felt like it was a win because I had a lot of fun training and I liked the process of it.”

Hinderberger will start retraining for next year’s Boston Marathon this December. Chip Lende, Hinderberger’s father, traveled to Boston with her. He was “so inspired by being in Boston,” he decided to train for next year’s marathon, Hinderberger said. Lende ran the Boston Marathon in 1996.

“As silly as it sounds, running a marathon is actually the reward for training,” Hinderberger said.

Hinderberger started running as a high schooler in Haines.

“I never thought I would do a marathon,” she said. “It’s really cool as an adult to have tangible growth you can see. As an adult, you don’t have that opportunity very often. You get set in your roles of career and family so it’s cool to achieve things you’ve never done before.”