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Never Give Up

I qualified for Boston in 2011 in Rochester with a marathon time of 3:47:12. Since then I have become a certified running coach and started my own coaching business, Running with Kelly. I love what I do, working with runners where they are at and getting them to where they want to be. However, it leaves me with little time to train for my own goals, and my race times have suffered.

This year was different. I work part time at Heritage Christian Services as a volunteer coordinator (just celebrated my 24th anniversary there!). Our main offices moved to a new space in Henrietta last fall and now we have a fitness room with a treadmill! December, January, February, March and April I would run my tempo and speed miles during my lunch hour two days/week. This was HUGE for me, as I was usually running fast, trying to get as many miles as possible in 45 minutes. I still have Mondays off and could get my long runs then, and teaching a cardio/strength class had me doing consistent strength training and running drills 2-3 times a week. This proved to be very helpful and I felt like I was finally getting my mojo back!

So onward to my story. Now that I am 46, my BQ time is 3:55, however, to get in the race, runners really need to come in under that time. I wasn’t sure I’d be ready for a full marathon, and in fact didn’t register for Buffalo until 3 ½ weeks before! I had run a good half marathon in Syracuse in March, and PR’d the half at Flower City on April 30th, 1:47:46. I hadn’t run more than 15 miles this year, so I ran 20 miles 3 weeks before Buffalo and decided to register.

I knew it would be either Three Strikes You’re Out, or Third Time’s a Charm. I’d run the Buffalo Marathon 2 times before, and neither race turned out the way I planned. In 2013 I ran the race just 2 weeks after running a 50k. I was on pace for a Boston Qualifying time (3:45) until mile 13, at which point my hips decided to loudly complain about the abuse. The pain was bad, and I ended up falling way back, finishing in 4:18. Then I tried the course again in 2015. Though I felt prepared, after the first 4 miles my legs already felt VERY heavy and tired. I thought about dropping out, but decided to keep going. I finished with another runner that was struggling and together we walk/ran til the finish with a time of 4:42. But this is 2017 and I felt ready.

The morning of the race I had my usual pre-run breakfast, Ezekiel toast with peanut butter, honey and cinnamon and a cup of coffee and chocolate almond milk. Chris and the kids got up super early so we could drive to Buffalo, leaving at 4:30am. At the race start, I lined up with the 3:40 pacer and started chatting with the women around me, most of whom were running the half marathon. The start was super cool, complete with fireworks!! I felt totally pumped up and went off ready to go!

I felt so good and strong. I saw Chris and the kids for the first time at mile 12 and he gave me a concerning look saying, “you’re running fast.” I knew that at mile 13 I’d lose all my company, the runners racing the half marathon would be done and I enter a much lonelier half of the race. I stayed with the 3:40 pacer, and at times was ahead of her, til mile 17. Then I lost the pacer and was just doing everything I could to stay “in the game.” It was tough, getting very warm and no shade, I was starting to feel dehydrated and mentally I was slipping. I noticed that Psalm 23 started going through my mind and I felt like I was getting ready for my own funeral! I quickly switched to Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ.” I started walking for 10-15 seconds every mile and my pace was down to nearly 10:00 min mile. With 3 miles to go, the 3:50 pacer started to pass me. I tried to run quicker, but my left hamstring started to cramp bad, so I went back to my slower pace and decided to stop walking, just do what I can to get to that finish. I knew that I would be able to make the BQ time if I kept at it. It was hard and I wanted to stop, but I told myself what I tell the runners that I coach: Keep running, there will be time to rest after the finish line.

I was super excited as I was coming around the circle and heading to the finish. I had it, my BQ! I ran through that finish line with a big smile on my face! I got my medal and slowly walked to see some wonderful RWK runners who had finished the half marathon. Big hugs all around, I love them! I wasn’t feeling well at all, but after some water, a little food, a special Buffalo brew and a Snickers bar, I felt better. My official time is 3:52:00, three minutes under my BQ. Phew! I did it!!!

I was talking to my son about never giving up on a goal, even after some failures. I realized a few weeks before the race, that I’ve run 24 marathons. Before this race, only 1 of them achieved a BQ time, meaning I fell short of my BQ goal 23 times! Don’t let your failures stop you, but rather learn from them, train hard, eat well, and keep believing in YOU!

Happy Running!!

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