Over the last few months I’ve spent a lot of time writing about my own marathon training journey and while it has been a great experience, it has also been really hard. I’ve come to realize it’s a lot more difficult to write about myself than I thought it would be. As a journalist I’ve always found myself much more interested in telling other people’s stories than my own, so this week I want to take some time to do that.
With more than 60 current members, the UofC Marathon Training Program is a hugely diverse group of people, each with their own inspiring tales to tell. Some of them have been running marathons longer than I’ve been alive, some picked up running later in life. Some are competitive and are training for big races like the Boston Marathon and some run for the community and for fun.
I plan on telling some of the amazing stories of the group’s more experienced runners over the winter break, but for now, there are several other first-time marathoners with the UofC program whom I am so excited to introduce you to.
I have gotten to know each of these people pretty well after training together over the last few months. We have taken each scary, exciting, painful and triumphant step together since March and over the next few days I am going to be featuring each of them while finding out what made them want to take on this crazy challenge.
I am thrilled to be able to introduce you to Kirsten. She’s the youngest person on the team right now but can hold her own in a conversation with any of us. Kirsten is a sweetheart with a big smile and a contagious laugh. Her hidden talent is being able to spontaneously forget what time our Monday and Saturday runs are and then texting me to ask. They’re at 6:30 p.m. and 8 a.m. Kirsten… yes, always.
Occupation: Third-year Kinesiology Student, Therapy Assistant
Goal race: Victoria Marathon
Before joining the UofC Marathon Training Program, how much running had you done before? What was your longest race, if any?
I leisurely ran throughout high school although I wasn’t part of a team. I liked to do the occasional 5k here and there. Last year I did a half marathon while training using the Nike Running app but that’s about it until I joined the UofC Marathon Training Program.
What made you decide to train for a marathon?
Being insane haha! No, I’ve always wanted to run a marathon especially after doing the half-marathon and realizing it was fun and that I really liked it. But I found out that I didn’t like training on my own as much. As soon as I saw a post on Facebook about the UofC program I decided to go check it out. I checked it out and then I just decided all of a sudden that I was going to join it and run the marathon.
What has been your biggest training challenge so far?
I think my biggest challenge by far was completing the four hour run. But overall I have been having trouble with my hips getting really stiff. It has been hard not being used to running and having things stiffening up and hurting. I am not used to my muscles stiffening up, I’ve just never had that problem before. Just going the extra distance and putting on the extra miles made that happen and that has been the hardest thing to overcome.
I’ve been doing extra exercises that Colleen, our other coaches and the chiropractor I work for have been giving me to try and strengthen those muscles. I have been doing lots of foam rolling and stretching which has helped. It has also been hard just mentally knowing I will have to overcome it when my hips stiffen up. Because when it happens, it happens and I am just going to have to get past it.
And of course mentally trying to run for four hours is also pretty hard.
What is one thing you have learned since you started the UofC Marathon Training Program?
I have learned that we can do so much more than we think we can. Every single time we are about to do a long run I think, ‘Holy crap are we actually going to do this? Am I actually going to finish it?’ Then we do. I never would have thought – even a year ago – about having to run for four-hours straight. I would have thought no, it’s not possible.
What has been the best moment you’ve experienced since joining the UofC Marathon Training Program?
I think that my biggest success so far would be doing that four-hour run and finishing it and realizing I am going to be able to run a marathon. Just knowing we are going to be able to do it and make it to the end without dying has felt pretty good.
What was the most unexpected thing about joining the program or training for a marathon?
I didn’t expect to become such good friends with everyone. I knew there would be a social aspect to the program and that it would be fun but I didn’t expect that we would all be as close as we are now and be friends even outside of the program which is a really nice bonus.
What do you say to yourself in your head when things really get tough during the long runs?
One thing that I actually say is a lot is, ‘Hard work always beats talent.’ That is like my mantra. On talent’s worst, day hard work will beat it. That’s really helpful.
Also, I just think keep going, keep going! I say lots of things to myself especially when it starts getting really hard I just start thinking things like, ‘You’ve got this, you’re strong, you’re tough, you’re a beast, GO!’
Do you have a goal for your race?
I think I would be happy with finishing in four and a half hours but on a good day 4:15 would be great.