book-featured, first-time marathon finisher. That’s right. Molly successfully finished her first marathon last weekend in New York. Molly Baker is a wife and stay-at-home mother of two, who left the wilds of NYC for the wilds of Central NY. She appreciates good food, loves to cook healthy meals, but also indulges when the mood strikes. Thanks for sharing your experience with us, and if you want to read the nitty gritty details of day, visit her blog I’m a Sleeper Baker.
What inspired you to run a marathon?
I grew up in an active family — my Mother walked a few miles every day, my Father was a marathon runner and triathlete. In high school, I played field hockey and was a cheerleader, and after college, began running. I guess the question was never if I was going to run a marathon, but when. This year my children reached the age where it was easier to schedule the training hours. After running a few spring races, I had exactly three months to train, so it kind of fell into place. As added incentive to run the race this particular year, the date of the marathon was on 9/12, the day after 9/11. I was living and working in NYC during September 11, and I am affected by the tragedy to this day. I wanted to run to remember all those we lost that day and in the years following in defense of our freedom.
How long did you train?
Over the summer, I followed an 18 week program that a friend used when she ran the Boston Marathon for the first time. The shorter runs were on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, with long runs on Saturdays. Non-running days were either for cross training or rest.
What unforeseen obstacles occurred in your training?
My training went fairly smoothly, until week 16, exactly two weeks before the marathon. I was out for a 12 mile run, and halfway through, pulled my left hamstring. I pulled that same hamstring pretty badly two years ago, had to go to physical therapy, and wasn’t able to run for several months. After all those long weeks of training, I really didn’t want to give up, and have it be for nothing. Pre-injury, I hoped to finish around 4:30. But after my hammy issue, when I didn’t think I was going to even be able to run the race, I threw all time goals out the window.
Which marathon did you run? What was the race experience like?
I ran the MVP Rochester, NY Marathon, on September 12. I lived there for several years, so I knew the city. But as I already mentioned, the date of the event was a big factor, too. The race was small, with 600 runners for the full, and over a thousand for the half. It started off rainy, but cleared up by mile seven. Twelve miles of the race were along the Erie Canal, which got a bit tiresome, but there were great volunteers and spectators at every mile marker. The tough part for me was from mile 18 to 22, when I had some stomach issues. Specifically at mile 18, when I saw a porta-potty, I ran up to it, tossed my fuel belt in the grass and gagged. I opened the door and started heaving (throwing up your toenails type heaving!), although nothing came up. So I came out, noticed the pretty scenery by the river, grabbed my belt and got moving again. I also had to stop a few times for the remainder of the race to stretch my tightened hamstring. But I persevered and made it through to the end. My time was 5:09:41, way longer than I originally planned. However, I was so happy to be able to run the race after my injury that I was conservative with my pace.
Did you think of 9/11 while you were gutting it out on the course?
I did, and I wore an American Flag pin with pride. I went right back to work the day after 9/11, thinking that I was doing exactly what the terrorists didn’t want me to do, live my life. They couldn’t change my life then, and they can’t change my life now, and I was running a marathon to prove it. How did it feel when you crossed the finish line?
I felt relieved and happy, but almost like it wasn’t really happening! It was wonderful to see friends and family at the finish, and to give my children high fives.
Will you do another?
Yes, although for my next one I would like to do a larger race, in a larger city, maybe a Rock N Roll Marathon or Marine Corps.
What did you learn about yourself through this experience?
I really can do anything I set my mind to. It may take you a long time, but if you keep it up, and are true to your goal, you can do it.
What advice would you give another first time marathoner?
Cross train!! I’m sure my injury occurred because I wasn’t doing as much cross training as I should have. I tried to do yoga, or ride my bike or swim with my children, but sometimes I just couldn’t fit it in. So that’s my next goal, to get stronger so I can keep running!