AMR tribe members likely recognize the name Michelle San Antonio—this mother runner is an active and helpful poster to our Facebook page (we’re grateful for all that you share, Michelle!). This mom of three boys, ages 9, 7 and 3, who is running the Boston Marathon this Monday, is continually striving to improve her running. “Whenever people say, ‘I could never do that,’ I tell them they’re wrong. I used to feel that way, but here I am running Boston – a once-impossible dream. And now when I see all the people who finish races ahead of me, I don’t think of how impossible it seems, I think about what I could do to get there. There’s always the chance I won’t – but I’ll never know unless I try.”
Best recent run: A 20-miler last month—I ran seven miles solo, and then ran a half-marathon. The course was super-flat, and since I’ve been doing my long runs in hillier areas to get ready for Boston, I found myself flying once I hit the 14-mile mark. My legs were on autopilot, and even if I wanted to slow down, I couldn’t have. The final six miles were at a sub-8-minute pace, and I averaged 8:10 for the entire 20. Most importantly, I felt fantastic the whole time, and it made me so incredibly confident about hitting my goal pace at Boston.
Boston Bound: I first thought I might have a shot at a BQ in early 2011, after my third baby was born and I started training hard and saw my race times steadily dropping. When I ran a half-marathon in 1:45, I knew a 3:45 marathon (my BQ time) was definitely possible. What got me there was following a training plan from the book “Run Less, Run Faster” – lower mileage and less-frequent running was the key to not getting injured, and the speed workouts and tempo runs worked - I qualified at the 2011 Hartford Marathon with two minutes to spare!
The Boston Experience: I am looking forward to everything! The spectacle, the spectators, the history – it seems very surreal now that it’s right around the corner! I have a huge goal – a 3:30 finish, which will be an 11-minute PR (ran 3:41 at the Gansett Marathon last year – the only other qualifiers-only marathon in the US). It’s a lofty goal, but I am very confident and my training has gone well, so I am certain that Boston is going to be everything I expect, and then some. I can’t wait to soak it all in!
Cutting Back (To Keep Going): I struggled with chronic injuries for a while, and cutting back to only running three days a week has been one of the major factors in keeping injuries at bay for my last three marathon training cycles. In addition to that, I added a lot more strength training and cross-training (including biking and swimming, and the occasional sprint triathlon), and tons of core work, all of which has made me a better, stronger, and faster runner.
A Running Struggle: I absolutely cannot run without my phone and epi-pen. Last summer, I was diagnosed with exercise-induced anaphylaxis, and I occasionally suffer allergic reactions while running. Sometimes it’s just hives, but other times it’s more severe and scary – and they’re completely random, with no apparent trigger. It’s very difficult mentally - it’s tough to reconcile the fact that running, which makes me feel so strong and healthy, also has the power to make me feel completely helpless. I’ve heard that for some people, the condition goes away as mysteriously as it appeared, and I’m hoping that will be the case for me someday.
Favorite Race Distance: Definitely the half-marathon. It’s long enough that it’s a true test of endurance, but not so long that you can’t push the pace quite a bit. I ran six halves last year and chipped away at my PR at every race, with just a minimal amount of training – something that’s not possible with a full marathon. I run a lot of 5Ks, and have goals for improving on that PR, too, but it doesn’t get me as excited as the half-marathon goal does – and you run 5Ks so much faster, they’re a whole different level of pain!
Running Dreams & Plans: So many plans – 1:35 half, sub-20-minute 5K, and hopefully Boston again next year. I love always having another goal to work toward, and another opportunity to prove that I can achieve things I once thought impossible.