Sherry Boehning: Running Her First Marathon and So Much More

Sherry Boehning recently completed the White Rock Marathon in Dallas,  her first, with a smile on her face. The irony is that she began running to get her mind off a personal issue which was caused great anxiety — having a child through fertility treatments and later adoption. Read more about Sherry’s journey to start a family and run 26 miles! Thank you for sharing a story that is near and dear to many of our hearts.

To read more about race day, visit her blog, Life, From My Perspective. Congratulations for a great race, and may a new child enter your life soon.

When/why did you start running?

I initially began running back in October 2009, as a way to get into better shape. I had been trying to get pregnant for a few years and was getting ready to start a new round of fertility treatments. I figured that if I was going to spend the money and effort trying to have a successful fertility treatment, I should have my body in the best shape I could. One of my friends was coaching a beginners running class and she was always telling me how happy she was to have running in her life, so I decided to give it a try. I signed up for a 7-week class that prepared me for my local Turkey Trot 2009.

When did running a marathon enter the picture?

Running a marathon was never something that I thought I would do. I really had no desire in the world to run that far, and thought I was pretty amazing because I could run a 5k. My doctors recommended that I not run while going through the treatments, so I didn’t run at all from the middle of December 09 through March 2010. Sadly, the treatments never resulted in a pregnancy for us. I registered for the beginners running class again in April and was surprised at how fast my body remembered what to do, so I had a crazy idea I would train for a 10k for my birthday in May. When I did that race, it sparked something inside that I could accomplish goals that seemed too big, and it gave me confidence in my body again. I also found that running longer distances was a good escape from life and the stress that came from being unable to start a family.  After nearly 4 years of trying for a baby at that point, we decided to go another route and adopt a baby.  I knew that adoption could be a lengthy process and that I would need a good distraction from constantly counting the days of how long we had been waiting. It was then that I mentally made the commitment that I was going to train for a marathon.

How did you pick White Rock Marathon?

I picked White Rock because it is the big Dallas marathon. I wanted to be able to share the day with my friends and family as well as my training buddies.

Sounds like you had an amazing training group. How did you meet them? How did they help you through the experience?

I did have an amazing training group. There is a local running store in town that provides wonderful training. They host a magic mile to determine your pace groups and then divide up the couple hundred participants into pace groups. My particular group had two coaches, a mentor and about 10 or so class members that came regularly. It was great to be with a group that was extremely supportive and not at all competitive. It provided the support, structure and accountability that I needed in order to be successful. I will definitely train with them again.

What were the biggest ups/downs of training?

The biggest ups for me were the friendships that I built and the confidence that I gained after achieving new distances each week.  And honestly, having the distraction of running on my mind 24/7 gave me 5 months of not constantly worrying about the adoption. I know that worrying about the adoption is not going to speed up/slow down the process, but sitting and waiting around for that phone call can drive a girl crazy! The biggest downs would be the couple of minor injuries I went through. I injured what I believed to be my ITB and had to cut a couple of long runs short. That that killed me!  I hated having to take the SAG wagon back in and felt that if I couldn’t complete my training, there would be no way that I could complete the marathon. Ultimately that wasn’t the case, but it was very tough for me mentally to sit at home and rest my leg. Ironically, that rest though allowed my body to be in a good place marathon day!

Tell me about race day.

Route: The race itself was awesome. I was lucky enough to have trained on most of the course through our 20 week program, so it was all familiar territory. A few of us had driven the course the day before just to see exactly where the turns would be since it was a new route for White Rock.  I thought that it was challenging at times but also a great route for a first timer. Supporters:

I was blessed and had great support on race day, even though a cold front was coming through.  My husband, parents, and several friends were out at the race, and I saw them all 4-5 times along the route. They had posters and balloons for me to look for and I knew approximately where to be expecting them.  It was a huge boost each time that I passed them. I even had my husband carry Golden Oreos for my group and me. It was a perfect little snack along the way!

26.2 is a long way to keep a group together: The only thing that didn’t go according to plan was keeping our group together. We knew it would be difficult keeping a group of that size completely together but we wanted to try. We actually all held together until about the half way point. My coach, who was a friend, had promised me back in July that if I ran the marathon she would not leave my side. However, during miles 16-18, I had to stop wait and/or run back to the coach to wait on others who were beginning to struggle. Despite my concerns over leaving my coach and running alone (I’d never run alone before!), I was feeling great and wanted to see what I could do if I set out on my own. I saw my family a couple more times in that last 8.2 miles and also saw another good friend at 24.5, who jumped on the course and ran about half a mile with me. All those little bits of excitement kept me going. I was able to run it in and finish the marathon with a huge smile on my face!

Would you run another? I can’t wait to run another. From the moment that I crossed the finish line at White Rock I was already thinking about the next one!!!

What advice would you give another first time marathoner?

My advice would be:

  • Find a group to train with. I applaud anyone that trains on their own, but having a group to help you is so worth it. The support that you get from that group can help you make it through those days when the long runs are hard. It’s so rewarding to have someone to share the accomplishments with when you run your first 16, 18, 20 and 22-milers!  Your non-running friends just don’t get it!!
  • Leave time goals out of it.  That is the number one thing my coach kept telling me the hardest thing to let go. She said the first one is all about finishing and it is. I set out that morning to finish with a smile on my face and no matter what, that smile stayed on my face the entire race. I was on cloud nine and you know what… that time I had in my head – I beat it, even without being concerned about it.
  • Be willing to commit to the training. There will be days that you don’t want to run hills, do speed work, or even just run at all, but you need to push through. Do the training because in the end it will make it all worth it. I can’t tell you how many people at the end I passed because I was still running and they were walking. That moment alone makes all of the training worth it.  If you have done the training then the marathon really will be your victory lap.


Melinda Hinson