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Follow This Mother!

Michelle at the finish line of the Gansett Marathon in Rhode Island. "Qualifying times are 5 minutes faster than those of Boston, so running this race was a huge accomplishment for me! "
Michelle at the finish line of the Gansett Marathon in Rhode Island. "Qualifying times are 5 minutes faster than those of Boston, so running this race was a huge accomplishment for me! "

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.

At her local “Blessing of the Fleet 10-Miler,” run on a hot and steamy July evening every year. "Great spectators and a fun race, and one of my annual favorites."
At her local “Blessing of the Fleet 10-Miler,” run on a hot and steamy July evening every year. "Great spectators and a fun race, and one of my annual favorites."

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.

Cross-training with her 3-year-old.
Cross-training with her 3-year-old.

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.

Follow This Mother on Twitter and at her blog.

26 responses to “Follow This Mother!

  1. I received the Boston Marathon text alerts so I could follow you. It was so much fun seeing you reach your goal. Great job! Congratulations!

    I agree your arms rock! So jealous…

  2. New blog follower! I always love your comments on the AMR FB page posts. Will be cheering for you in Boston! Your posts make me think it’s possible one day… and that it’s worth striving for!

  3. You’re awesome, momma! And PS- nice arms! (I’m jealous of the arms. Probably more so than I am of the Boston Marathon!) 🙂

  4. You are truly an inspiration! I just ran my first marathon in LA and am now training for two halves and a 5k. (Yeah, I know, kind of backwards.) The 5k training is killing me! Seriously. Fast running is WAY tougher than LSD running for me. Ouch! I hope Monday goes great for you! Can’t wait to read about it. 🙂

  5. I need to look into this Run Less, Run Faster book. Not really for running faster (I’m really ok where I am), but for the less injury thing. I’ve been reading Galloway’s marathon book and I think the walk breaks will help, too. I’m just tired of feet issues.

  6. I can not tell you how uplifting it is to hear that I am not the only one with an exercise induced issue. I also break out in when I exercise. Most Doctors I have talked to don’t take me serious and my family thinks it is funny that I am “allergic” to exercising. It is something that I struggle with on a regular basis. It gives me hope that someone as active as you are has found a way to get around this and still continue to run. Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. Michelle, I so loved reading this! You truly are inspiration and I am so happy to say I know you. I look forward to following your every step and mile. Monday is going to be so amazing for you and I know you will enjoy every minute! Rock on my friend!

  8. So fun to see Michelle featured-I always look forward to seeing what she has to say on the fb page! She is a wealth of not only knowledge and experience but graciousness and support. (and she totally gives me hope to smash my current race times one day!
    Best of luck at Boston-get out there and kill it!

  9. Michelle – it’s mamas like you who make mamas like me think that I CAN actually run this half-marathon in a couple of weeks. I’m nearing race day and I’m starting to let fear creep in. Up until now I’ve been the Little Engine Who Will (not could – WILL). Deep breath and…GO! Can’t wait to hear how Boston goes for you!! Good luck!

  10. That is one awesome Mother Runner!!!….and how fun that she is from my home state (I’m assuming)! Best of luck in Boston…the weather looks perfect so go out and crush your goal!!!

  11. What a great profile! It’s been a thrill to hear about your journey to Boston. I know you will rock it and I hope you have a wonderful time. We will look forward to hearing about your new goals and accomplishments!

  12. Hey, look at you!! Michelle, you are such an inspiration! Your hard work and dedication is a great example to all of us and prove that you can do anything you put your mind to. Good luck in Boston! I know you are going to rock that race and many more to come!!!

  13. I was lucky enough to meet Michelle at Zoom Cape Cod last September and spend some time with her and her great friends.
    Unlike some runners of a certain speed, Michelle is gracious and not condescending at all to runners of every ability, including us back-of-the-packers.
    I know you will rock Boston, Michelle, good luck! You will have many mother runners rooting for you, hope you can feel the vibe!

  14. I was so hoping you would be the mother this week! This week of ALL weeks!! You are not only an amazing runner and athlete but a truly wonderful friend!I have told you so many times over the years what an inspiration you are to me and I cannot wait to see you kill Boston and I know you will embrace the entire experience! Enjoy it all..you have earned it!!!!

  15. How excited am I to see Michelle featured here! Not only is she a great runner and a great mom but she is a great person as well. Michelle has fed my family when my kids were newborn and when i was sick, she ran for a cause near and dear to our family, and she says yes when others would say no. She always has a kind and encouraging word for others especially when they are trying to get moving again. Michelle is a true inspiration!
    Michelle I didn’t know you were running Boston, but of course I should have guessed you would conquer that goal! Congratulations and we will all be rooting for you next week.
    Liz

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