I am a mom of 2 young boys (2 1/2 y/o and 10 m/o), an Ironman, ultra and marathon runner.
I’ve always had running as part of my life – I just didn’t realize my love for the sport until many years later. I grew up playing a mix of sports – including basketball and softball. I continued my basketball career through high school and into college where I played on the JV for West Point’s Division 1 team. Running was an integral part of basketball – but it wasn’t something I enjoyed or looked forward to each practice.
Towards the end of my college years at West Point (USMA), I began running more as a way to lose a few extra pounds I had gained and to get in shape for my active duty time in the US. Army. I signed up for my first race (Philadelphia Marathon) during my senior year. I didn’t really have a training plan – I just started increasing my long runs on the weekend. I didn’t do any long run over 16 miles. Didn’t do speedwork. Didn’t do tempo runs. I ran a painful 3:54:02. I could barely walk for days afterwards and thought that my marathoning days were long over.
After graduation from West Point in 2003, I was commissioned a 2LT in the Army. I spent 6 years as a Military Intelligence Officer (was promoted to Captain) on active duty, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, with the 4th Infantry Division.
During this time, I was deployed to Iraq three times.
And during these deployments, I found my love of running.
With each of my deployments, my love grew. During the first deployment, I ran alone as a way to stay in shape. The nearest gym was a hike for me and so running became the easiest form of exercise.
During my second deployment, I started doing long runs with three close friends of mine. We were stationed in Taji, Iraq, and would run at 5am most days in order to get our long run in before the intense heat and humidity of the Iraqi summer. I loved running at this point because I was with my three closest friends at the time – we talked, laughed, and sang on our 20 mile runs.
My increasing love for running returned to the states with me. I ran a handful of trail and road races in early 2006 and started to see some real improvements in my times and placements (I won 2 trail races and was the first military female finisher of the Austin Half Marathon).
I decided to try out for the Fort Hood 10-miler team. Each large Army base sponsors a male and female team to represent the entire base. Fort Hood is the largest Army base in the world (there were 3 divisions located there at the time) and I knew the competition would be tough, but decided to give it a shot anyway. Making the team was one of the turning points in my running career. The “coach” for our team was a former classmate and captain of the Men’s Track Team. He was experienced and knew exactly how to train us. I did track / interval workouts for the first time in my life. I did tempo runs. I did long runs. During the four months I was on the team, I took almost 90 seconds off of my 2 mile time (I went from 14:00 to 12:40). I ended up coming in 70th place at the Army Ten Miler and was the first finisher for the female team in 71:11.
Just three weeks after the Army Ten Miler, I ran the NYC Marathon. I hadn’t focused on long runs too much since my priority was the Army Ten Miler and didn’t have any expectations of how I would finish. I enjoyed every moment of the race and took over 32 minutes off from my previous time as well as qualified for Boston!
During my last deployment, I was running solo again and created a relationship with running that will never be broken. It was my longest deployment – it lasted from December 2007 until February 2009 and was, by far, the most difficult time in my life. I was the Division Intelligence Targeting Officer and my responsibilities were demanding. I was in charge of a 15-person section – with most soldiers being younger than my sisters (under 23 years old), I had daily briefings to the Division Leadership (one and two-star generals), and worked extremely long hours (most days were 7am-11pm – seven days a week).
I turned to running as a way for me to clear my head from the long hours, have some stress-free time, allow me time to think about my family back home, and put me in a better mood when I returned to my desk.
I spent the last few months of my third deployment training for Boston! Having something tangible to train for kept me on track and I was able to log upwards of 60 mile weeks for a good portion of the training cycle.
I returned home in Feb 2009 and ran Boston two months later in 3:21 (despite not doing a long run over 14 miles during my time at home!).
Running had become part of who I was – it was my best friend for 15 months and similar to phone calls with a best friend, I could no longer imagine going more than a few days without a run.
After being honorably discharged from the US Army in the summer of 2009, I returned home to NYC where I lived on the UWS – just TWO avenues from the running mecca – Central Park!
I was training for my first ultra marathon – a 24 hour race in Philadelphia (July 2010) when I found out that I was pregnant with my first child. Although I was bummed that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish one of my lifelong goals, I was happy to begin pregnancy while I was in the best shape of my life. It never was even a question that I would continue running during pregnancy – I couldn’t imagine going more than a few days without running.