Lauren’s Marathon Journey – More than a Race

Three weeks ago I traveled to Savannah, Georgia to support Lauren Nolan run her first marathon which was canceled 45 minutes before the start. We were crushed but it led us to a most amazing day at the Space Coast Marathon & Half Marathon in Cocoa Beach yesterday where she absolutely crushed the race. This was a large race event garnering 7,000 total runners. It’s the oldest running Marathon in the state of Florida celebrating its 50th year and we were a part of it. Here I’ll share a bit of backstory she shared with me and then she shares her race day experience. It’s a most glorious story!

Backstory

13 months ago Lauren couldn’t run three miles. She began running with our group last year leading her to run her first 5k and half marathon as well as completing her first triathlon. After completing her second half marathon in the spring, she set out to run a marathon. One of the things she shared with me when she started was her son, Dylan, commented to her that she didn’t know what it was like to be a runner and compete, yet she was coaching him. That stuck with her and wow, she can certainly say she a runner now. 

After having great performances in her first set of races this was another animal…26.2 miles for someone who couldn’t run more than three just not long ago. She shared she needed to do something for her, to challenge herself, and help her through a challenging year including life changing events. Some of them were quite negative that she channeled to positive energy in this manner.

One thing I often say is there are no hacks to being healthy and accomplishing goals that press you mentally and physically. We set a path to get her to this marathon and she worked so hard. We both love USA runner, Des Linden, and one thing that has stuck with both of us from Des is, “Keep Showing Up.” No matter how you feel you keep showing up every single day and put the work in if you want to achieve your goals. Lauren lived this every single day. She prepared her body and mind to have a great day. She was so disciplined and determined. I was so excited for her entering this race. She was ready! We knew this would be the hardest event she would do up to this point and she would be grand.

Here is her race day story.

Raceday via Lauren

I woke up in a panic at 3:20 AM (alarm set for 3:30 AM). I started having immediate thoughts of doubt in my head but then quickly shifted into thinking positive. This changed my entire mood and attitude in the morning.  

I remember standing at the start line watching the countdown (Space Shuttle launch) on the screen to the start of the race thinking..”wow…I am actually doing this.” Off I went…

Miles 1-3 – I was running at a 7:45 pace, much faster than planned, and my heart rate was much lower than target for the long distance. I thought to myself, “should I slow down or keep running at this pace?”  I decided to keep running at the pace as long as my heart rate was in check.

Miles 3-4 – A guy ran up next to me and started talking. I didn’t really want to talk and never looked at him. All I knew was he was wearing a blue shirt. He grabbed water from the water station and offered it to me while folding it in half. I remember looking at the way he was holding the cup and wished he would stop talking. I did say to him that it was my first marathon, he wished me luck, and told me to remember at the higher miles that he was rooting for me.

Miles 6-9 – Still running at a 7:45 pace. I kept looking at my watch thinking, “WTF is going on!?!  I shouldn’t be running this fast and feeling so good.” My heart rate monitor wasn’t reading properly so I decided to run by feel. I knew my body. I began taking water at the water stations. I learned that grabbing a cup of water while running and drinking was a challenge and needed to be practiced. The first cup I spilled all over myself. This was the first race without bottles since COVID-19 we experienced.

Miles 9-13 – I started running with the 7:49 pace group which helped as I was listening to their conversations and my sons, Gavin and Dylan were biking next to me. I attempted to grab water again at the next aid station. I remembered the guy in the blue shirt folding the cup in half. I tried it and it worked!  

Miles 14-17– I still felt good but slowed to a 7:50 pace. Words of encouragement from the half marathon women runners who were running on the opposite side of the road were so helpful. 

Miles 18-20 – These miles felt sooooo long. I was looking for Alan on the course and my body began to break down. I was so happy to see the turn around point at mile 20.

Miles 20-21 –  I picked up a grunter. The guy in the yellow shorts grunting and talking to himself.  It made me feel better that he was suffering like me. He started to talk to himself out loud saying, “only 30 more minutes.” That was exactly what I was saying to myself in my head.  

Miles 21-22 – I was in the land of the unknown. I never ran longer than 20 miles and I was prepared for the suck! I did better than expected and stayed consistent.

Mile 23 – My body was dehydrating as I felt it in my leg muscles. I went to grab water at the water station and dropped the cup. I decided to stop and then grabbed a gatorade instead and drank the entire cup. It was worth the few seconds lost.

Mile 24 – I started telling myself to just keep going. Only two more miles and to give myself a chance. I must have said that 500 times to myself inside my head.

Mile 25 – The longest mile ever!! It felt like 13!! Just positive thoughts went through my head that I made it this far and I was going to complete this. Never give up on myself.

Mile 26-26.49 – The course was long!! The last half mile was hell but great. I started sprinting at 26.0 thinking there was only .2 left but when I reached .2 I saw a sign showing ¼ left…WHAT!??  NO!??  I started to see the crowd which helped but the finish line seemed so far away. I remember seeing both my boys at the finish line and they looked so happy for me. It will be a sight I will never forget. I raised my arms at the finish and felt such an accomplishment.

Fueling the body: Staying hydrated is most important especially during long hot runs. I drink electrolyte water all day. I eat a plant-based diet with tons of whole foods. The last eight weeks of training I tried to limit the processed foods and little to no sugar. 

Things I have learned training and running for a Marathon:

  1. Never underestimate yourself
  1. Positive thoughts go so far. Anytime you get self doubt, change the thoughts to positive ones immediately.
  1. Running with a group is so important.  Surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people is key
  1. Be consistent. Show up everyday!  There were days I didn’t want to run but I never regretted investing the time in myself
  1. Don’t feel guilty doing something great for yourself or taking time for yourself. I often struggle with this
  1.  Hoka Carbon X are great for Half Marathons but not Marathons!  
  1.  Go by feel and trust your body. When my heart rate monitor was not reading accurately I went by
    feel.
  1.  Fueling your body is so important

I want to thank Chris Ballard & Sarah Cipolla for being so supportive as well as the entire Tuesday morning run group. Of course I want to thank Alan for believing in me, writing my plans, going on long runs and always fueling me with his amazing smoothies! I would never have been able to complete this without his guidance, help, and support.

Results

What Lauren left out is some pretty spectacular results. This is what this amazing woman accomplished in her first marathon on this day:

  • 3:34 Race Time
    • 3:59 – Original Goal
    • 3:45 – Target Goal
    • 3:40 – Boston Marathon Qualifying time (Lauren QUALIFIED for the 2023 Boston Marathon by 6 minutes!!!)
  • Placement Results
    • 3rd Place Age Group (of 80…in her first marathon which was huge!!!)
    • 16th Place Overall Female (of 433…top 3.6%!!!)
  • Lead Up to Race
    • 1,033.2 miles of running in 19 weeks!

My Closing Thoughts

When I saw Lauren twice on the course she looked so good. Running smooth with a smile and why wouldn’t she when she was experiencing a major life accomplishment in the moment. I say in the moment but it was all of the 4:15 AM alarms going off to run by 5:00 AM this year. She doesn’t miss a workout…Des Linden style…she shows up every day feeling it or not! And not just getting up to do the workouts but she pushed herself really, really hard on the hard workout days and took care of her body recovering on the not hard days running slow and long, stretching, and other secret sauce recovering methods in a most disciplined way. I’ve never been around someone so committed to stretching and it is paying off for her. 

I was messaging back and forth with duathlon legend, Bob Brown, yesterday that on top of all the work she put in, she has that mental edge that kicks in during competition. Bob is a freakin’ bulldog on race day and so is Lauren! She battled yesterday. 

She trains hard, recovers beautifully, fuels her body extremely well, is a game day warrior….and is FAST!

I am so happy I was a part of this special day for Lauren. She deserves all of the kudos and celebrations coming her way. Now when she has a thought she shares with Dylan about training or racing, she has been there, done that, and kicked ass!

Congratulations Lauren!

  • Add Health to Your Life

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