Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Interview with a First-time Half Marathoner - MY SISTER!

I have a special treat for you today.  You may remember I mentioned that my youngest sister was preparing to run her first half marathon this year.  Well I am happy to announce that a few weeks ago in the city of Brotherly Love, she successfully completed her first 13.1 mile race!  Laura participated in The Love Run in Philadelphia on March 30th and I couldn't be more excited and proud of her.  She just started running last summer and it's amazing how far she's come since then!  But, I'll let her tell you that story... Enjoy her interview!

Pre-race, looking fly

First of all, congrats on running your first half marathon! That is an incredible accomplishment and I know it's no small undertaking! Alright so here goes the fun part. All my readers want to know more about you so let's jump in to some questions!

Q1: When did you start running, and do you remember why you first started? What/who was your motivation? (No shame in mentioning your fave sister at this point! Jk)

A: I started in June. I wanted to do something active and have time for myself. I didn't want to join a gym because I didn't want to have to put my son in the daycare and I tried running solo but didn't feel safe or very motivated. I saw an ad in our community newsletter for a couch to 5k class over the summer so I thought I'd give it a try.

Q2: Did you have any goals in mind when you first took up running? Get in shape? Take time for yourself? Run a race?
A: Well the class was called couch to 5k so we all had to sign up for a 5k at the end of it to have a goal but I didn't have any plans after that.

Q3: Did you immediately like running?
A: Nope! And it was very slow at first, walking a lot the first 2 months until we were running each time. But that's what I needed, when I tried doing it myself I pushed too hard and got burnt out instead of building up to it.

Q4: Tell us about your training regimen - how long you trained, how many runs/miles week, did you train with a group or follow a program?
A: June, July and August we worked up from 0-3 miles
September, October and November were 3-6 miles
December - March were 6-11 miles
All 3 times per week with a coach and 6 other women

Q5: What have you learned or what has surprised you most throughout the process of training for this race?  What were some of the biggest breakthroughs and some of the hardest challenges?
A: I don't really have an answer for either of those questions. I guess it is surprising to learn you can run in single digit temperatures when you're eyelashes freeze but also very hard!

Q6: Ok now for the best part! Can you tell us a little about the race? You don't have to give a mile by mile breakdown, just how did you feel throughout, what were you thinking the day before/during the race? And how did you feel crossing the finish line?!
A: My biggest fear going in was getting separated from my group since I had trained with them and never ran solo. We ended up starting together, then at mile 3 we separated into 2 groups of 3. Mile 5 was the only hill and immediately my other partners stopped and walked which I didn't want to do so I took off on my own for the remaining 8 miles! Miles 5-7 were my best. 7-11 were really boring, 2 miles straight down and 2 miles back the other way. The beginning part running throughout the city was really exciting and had a lot of spectators cheering which I realized helps drastically even though you have no idea who these people are! On the 4 mile stretch by the river there were 0 spectators which was rough and it was at the point of the most pelting torrential downpour (3 inches of rain that day!) the last 2 miles all I thought about was seeing my son at the finish line, that's what kept me going, knowing he was sitting in the freezing cold rain waiting for me to get done. I thought I would get some mysterious burst of energy to sprint towards the finish line but that never happened. I drug myself up to it and immediately after stopping it was like a tidal wave of pain crushing you. My feet, my legs, the cold, the rain, I felt it all, it was awful and all I wanted was to get indoors, dry clothes on and warmed up. I didn't really feel elated about finishing until 2 days after.
Laura's pre-race fuel, not a pornographic image
Her son waiting for her at the finish line!

Q7: Do you think running will continue to be your new favorite form of exercise?
A: I feel a little burned out so I'd like to try yoga, Pilates or group classes but I definitely want to stick with it.

Q8: Are you planning any more races?
A: Half in September, hoping for better weather!

Q9: And lastly, is there anything you'd like to tell someone who is considering taking up running as a first timer?

A: Accountability. Having a coach and a group relying on you to show up at 5:15am, even on Saturdays!.  I would not have lasted if I was trying to do this on my own. At times we all needed to be encouraged.
DONE!!! She is officially a half-marathoner!
I want to thank Laura for taking the time to do this and share her story.  I hope other new runners see her as the inspiration that I do.  It's no small feat to stick to a 3x week training program for 9 months that meets at 5AM every morning - I know I definitely would never make that call time! 
**Note: My sister trained with the Run Diva program in Allentown, PA.  She raved about her coach, Alicia VanDerSluis, so if you are in the Lehigh Valley area and looking for a beginning running program, I'd recommend checking her out.
Any other first time half marathoners out there?! 
Has your running inspired any of your friends/family members to pick up the sport?


  1. I wish I lived closer to Allentown to reap the benefits of the running clubs. I'm a minimum 40 minute drive and can't make it to a 10:15 church service on time! I would never make a 5AM run! That is dedication so big kudos for sticking with that! The other closest running club that I found is an hour south of me. So, I am still looking. I do have friends that keep me motivated with running by signing up for runs with me. We motivate and inspire each other. Great job on your race!

  2. Wow Laura!!! I wish i had the motivation to even look for a group to run with!!