The Starting Line
After crossing the 2018 NYC Marathon finish line in 2 hours and 57 minutes, I have received several questions about my running journey.
How many marathons have you run? What are your tips for staying motivated for 26.2 miles? Who did you train with?
Before I answer all of these questions, let me rewind through my life and give you the short version of how I got started as a runner.
I grew up playing soccer, basketball and lacrosse. I was always a competitive athlete, however loved team sports, because they motivated me to work hard for myself and my teammates. I always loved the running aspect of the sports, which is why I played midfield for both soccer and lacrosse.
What happens when high school and college sports are over?
This is where I picked up running. No true goals or pace - just running to stay in shape. I started running a few miles, then realized that running helped clear my mind and ease my energetic body. A few miles turned into many miles - this is where I felt the most free.
I never thought I would be able to run a half-marathon, let alone a marathon, however I’m always up for a good challenge.
In 2012, I signed up for my first half-marathon. It was the Disney Princess Half-Marathon, and I was going to run it with my dad. SO COOL, RIGHT? I followed a generic training plan, and showed up to the start line dressed up like a princess to run my first 13.1.
It was magical. I was running through the Disney parks before they opened for the day with music and characters spread throughout the course. I experienced the biggest endorphin high when I crossed the finish line just under 2 hours and instantly wanted to sign up for another one.
So I did. I ran the Women’s Shape Half-Marathon in 2013 and finished in 1hr and 38 min, which I was beyond excited about considering I finished just under 2 hours in the Disney half.
I had found a new sport that allowed me to be competitive with myself. I wanted to do more, so I could beat my last time.
My next challenge was the 2014 NYC Marathon. Yes, I was feeling ready for a new challenge and was ready to tackle double the distance.
I used the NYRR training plan and completed my first Marathon in 3 hr and 27 min. I never felt prouder of myself and my body when I crossed the finish line. It wasn’t the endorphin high I received when I finished the half-marathons, since I could barely walk the second I crossed the finish line. But it did give me a huge sense of self accomplishment. So much of it in fact, that I told myself that I was proud of what I did, but I would never do a full marathon again - it was tough stuff.
This is also around the time where I decided to get certified as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer to teach classes and train clients on top of my full time job as the managing director for the NYC My Gym Children’s Fitness Centers. I would teach/train before and after work during the weekdays and all weekend long. This was enough physical activity for me to feel like I didn’t need the running anymore.
At one point, I was teaching 20 classes/clients a week, plus my full time job. This was when I realized how much I loved helping others hit their fitness goals and ventured over to Flywheel in 2015 for a full time job in the industry.
At first, I had no energy outside of my classes for running, but after time my exhaustion tolerance grew, and I was able to start running again. I missed it, and started to use it as my way of transportation - I was running 40-60 miles a week going to/from my classes. I wasn’t worried about my pace - I was using this time to clear my head. Running became my meditation.
People started to notice how much I was running, and would ask if I was training for anything. This sparked the interest to go after another half-marathon. I signed up for the 2018 Shape Half-Marathon since I was familiar with it and loved the vibe of an all women's race. I didn’t follow a training plan or train at all outside of my commuting miles.
To my surprise, my fitness levels had improved significantly, and I crossed the finish line in 1hr and 28min. That is 20 minutes faster than my last half-marathon in 2013!
I instantly got the endorphin high of racing back and signed up for the 2018 NYC Marathon with AKTIV Against Cancer.
I always want to learn and grow to help others, which is why I thought this would be a great time to get certified as a run coach. I was able to take what I learned to help create my own training plan to prepare for the race.
Easier said than done. I realized I care way more about others and their goals then I do for myself. I definitely trained enough to get to the start line, but I wasn’t feeling 100% about the goal of getting under 3hr at 10min that I had set for myself (and had already told to the whole world to help keep me accountable).
“No dream is too big” is what I had on repeat in my head as I lined up at the 2018 NYC Marathon start line.
The race had started, and I was determined to give my best. I felt amazing and the energy was out of this world.
I reached the halfway mark at 1hr and 26 min, which was a half-marathon personal best for me. This is when I put my coach/trainer hat on. I told myself that even though I am feeling great, I still have 13.1 miles to go and the ultimate goal is to cross the finish line. I didn’t want to burn out, so I slowed down my pace and kept cruising up 1st Avenue.
I looked down at my watch at mile 20, where I was still feeling incredible and started to cry. I realized that if I continue at this pace I will cross the finish line in under 3 hours, which was faster than what I thought I could do.
The race continued and gratitude filled my whole body. I was grateful for the love and support I received throughout the course and also for my body and what it was capable of doing.
As I approached the final mile, I had a ton of gas left in the tank and ended up running one of my fastest miles to cross the finish line.
This feeling was much different than my first marathon. I had the crazy endorphin high and was thinking about how crazy it was that I felt so alive compared to my first marathon, and was ready to set my next goal.
A few weeks later, my good friend Josh Arden mentioned he was working with Coach Luciano Medina and said I would benefit from having a coach like him and his wife Marie.
I met with Coach Medina and told him my next goal: qualifying for the OLYMPIC TRIALS with a marathon time under 2:45. He looked at me, smiled, and then said something along the lines of let’s focus on one workout at a time.
Boy was he right! This is where I will say goodbye for now, and will return with how training is going...