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Erin's Story - One Athlete's NYC Marathon Journey

It is my pleasure to introduce you to one of GRIT Performance's athletes, Erin! It was such an awesome experience coaching her this past year. Not only was she uber-positive ALL of the time, she worked really hard, and was committed to her goal. A big THANK YOU to her for guest posting today...

My road to the New York Marathon began pretty much a year ago. My husband came home from work one day and said “we should enter the lottery for the New York Marathon”. I think I laughed out loud. Mostly because at the time, the thought of me running a marathon seemed so far away. I was pregnant. 8+ months pregnant to be exact. I was past the point of being “cute pregnant” and was very uncomfortably in the massive swollen Shrek feet stage where I was feeling pretty good about myself if I walked our dog around the block. Add to the fact that the marathon and I had a bit of a rocky history. I had been loving the idea of running a marathon for years but had yet to actually reach the start line. Over the years I had signed up for five different races (do the math on lost race entries and shed a tear for me) but I always had ended up with an injury during my training that had prevented me from actually tackling the ever elusive FULL.

Fast forward a couple of months and we were very new parents with some more exciting news – we had somehow defied the odds and both gained entry into the 2016 New York Marathon! In 2016, the lottery allowed in 19,083 runners out of 82,172 applicants. I’ve never been so excited to see a random charge on my credit card. Or terrified.

Race day was pretty much exactly nine months after I had our daughter via c-section. I knew that if I was going to do this, I had to approach my training in a whole different way. Partially because of now having a baby and having to start a bit more from square one and also partially because something I had been doing so far hasn’t been working.

This is where Craig comes in. I had known ‘of’ Craig for a few years and I will admit I was a bit intimidated going into our first meeting. I really didn’t know if I belonged there. Here I was hoping to finish my first marathon and this guy could crush my goal time blindfolded, running uphill on ice (I haven’t actually tested this but I’m quite sure it’s true).

But after our initial meeting and fessing up to how I wondered if I had any business being there I had zero reservations. I left our first meeting feeling more optimistic about my ability to actually achieve this than I ever had. I felt like he got it. He appreciated the fact that I was a new mom who was worried about having enough time and that while I wasn’t trying to qualify for Boston, my goals were important and he was going to help me get there.

We started slow. We worked on increasing time on my feet and just getting my head in the right place to be ready to push myself. I knew I wanted to be faster and while I wanted to get back to running I also wanted to break out of my pre-baby running rut and a big part of doing that was also training my brain.

Every month for six months, Craig and I met and talked about where I was at. Both mentally and physically. I worked hard but every increase in speed and distance in my training plans was reasonable. Over the course of my training I worked in two races – the Drumheller Half Marathon and the Melissa’s 10km in Banff. Both races I was able to set personal bests which was great for my confidence and motivation. I was seeing results, and I was a better runner than before I had a baby. But most important, my mindset was different. I finished those races knowing I had worked hard and put in my best effort. No excuses, no injuries, just knowing I had run my own race and I was proud of the result.

By the time race day came, I was prepared. More prepared than I had ever been. I had a race plan and a nutrition plan, I had googled and found a grocery store close to our hotel, I had a plan B and a plan C. I was ready. I was trained. I was rested. I was researched. And best of all, I wasn’t hurt. It was time to finally RUN A MARATHON.

I will spare you all of the race day details of November 6, 2016 but overall it felt like a really fun victory lap. I loved that city up for all 42.2km. I laughed, I cried, I accepted food from strangers on the street and I felt a satisfaction you can only get from finally accomplishing something that at one point in your life you wondered if you could.

After several attempts, I think these are the factors that made the most difference for me this time around:

  • Motivation. I wanted to be a person who ran a marathon. Not someone who talked about it and thought about it but someone who actually did it. I was ready to do what I had to do to get it done.

  • A great answer to why.During training and during the race (in particular from kilometer 25 on) you will ask yourself why are you doing this? Why does it matter to you to carry yourself over 42.2km?Everyone’s answer is different but be honest with yourself.And the answer might change from when you start to when you finish and that’s ok. You’ll have lots of time to refine it on your training runs!

  • Information/Knowledge: This is the area I was lacking in the most in all of my previous attempts. I didn't know enough about how and when to increase distance, what strength exercises I should be doing to help prevent injury, or what to be eating, when. Craig helped me with all of this and it made a HUGE difference.

  • Support. In the end, no one can do your training but you but there is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on to make it so you can have the time you need out there. Whether it’s someone to watch your kids (no baby wants to sit in a stroller for 30km, and no sane person wants to push them) or adjusting schedules so you can still spend time with your partner/spouse, you are going to need supportive family and friends to make your road a little easier. Take the help, say thank you and get on with it.

  • Balance. Training for a marathon or any endurance race can feel like you have taken on a part time job (or sometimes a full time job). Even if you are super-fast, it still takes time. And you still have all of the other things in your life that are important like your actual job, your family, laundry, groceries, cleaning, fun, Netflix, Instagram etc. Craig was great because he got that while I really wanted to do this, I couldn’t be consumed by it.

It’s not easy to get to the start line let alone the finish line. I was living proof that it’s very easy to sign up for the marathon, but it’s a whole other ball game to actually run one. Between time and commitments and money and sleep and everything in between, it’s a lot easier to just not. But, if you are on the fence, know it’s also a lot more satisfying to quit thinking about it and actually do it.

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