One #FindYourStrong Marathon: Two Voices

Heather (l.) and Marianne (r.) after one of the few runs they've done together.

Dimity here. Excited to introduce two mother runners today: Heather Roszczyk (no, I have no idea how to pronounce that) and Marianne Lloyd, best friends who came to running at different periods in their lives--and will train for a marathon together, despite one living in Ohio and the other in New Jersey. 

As they train for the Wineglass Marathon on October 4, they will document their training every Tuesday, starting June 2. Neither of them has taken on 26.2 before, and they come from different running perspectives—one's more SBS competitive, one's more it's-all-good Dimity laid-back—so it's sure to be an interesting ride. 

Both Heather and Marianne are taking part in the AMR #FindYourStrong Marathon Challenge, which is an 18-week training plan full of support, inspiration, community, and some great gear. We're helping first-time and more experienced runners across marathon finish lines from early October through November 1, and we'd love to help you too. Check out all the details here

 The Basics: Meet the Team

Tsmaller heather

Heather: 36 yo resident of Hudson, Ohio; spouse to John, and mom to Henry (3) and Juniper (1). My extremely non-linear career path has currently landed me at Countryside Conservancy, a small nonprofit that supports local food and farming in the Cuyahoga Valley.

Me and Rich Half Pic

Marianne: 37 yo resident of Northern NJ (native of Ohio); spouse to Rob, sister to Rich (pictured above; together we've lost 190 pounds), and mom to Joyce (4). I’m a psychology professor at Seton Hall University.

Our Running Background

first place in age

Heather: I was the music/drama kid, not the athlete kid. During the brief time that I attempted jogging in high school, my best friend could outpace me while smoking a cigarette. (I'm not kidding. This really happened.) So, like many, I was convinced that my body just wasn't built to run.

Then I accidentally landed a post-college job at Nike headquarters in Portland, OR where—big surprise—everyone runs. I quickly got talked into joining a running group with a cadre of fantastic women, and was hooked. While in Portland, I ran primarily for the social aspect, and for the extra microbrews it afforded me; it wasn't until we moved back to Ohio that I really fell in love.

Not knowing anyone in our new town, I learned the beauty of the solo run which gradually became a necessary ingredient in my sanity. This year I found the wonderful women of Moms Run This Town Cleveland and now maintain a pleasant balance between solo and group runs.  Over the past few months I've also started experimenting with speedwork. Always a competitive person—pre-running, I focused on heated games of Taboo—I've been amazed and not-so-secretly thrilled to watch the numbers drop. My 23:54 finish in a local 5k snagged me the top of the podium for my age group, a place where that music/drama kid would never have imagined she'd be.

In short: I'm in love with running, and lately rest days are way harder than run days.

cropped runapalooza

Marianne: I started running because I told a marathoner that I couldn't run and she turned me onto the Couch to 5K program. I completed the plan, came in third to last in my first 5K, ran on and off for a few years, then made it my primary fitness pursuit starting in 2007 . I’ve completed 4 half-marathons but never truly raced anything longer than a 10K.

In fact, my favorite race is to pace somebody slower than me to a PR; I have a fun time without being uncomfortable and they get a PR. Win/Win. I’m plenty invested/driven/competitive in some areas of my life. Namely work and—don’t want to admit it—parenting. Exhibit A: when a few weeks ago I felt serious disappointment at my child's toy choice for "S" for show and tell at preschool. I thought my suggestion of the triple "S" of "Sparkly Sound Star" was perfect but she went for plain old "Sunglasses." This should not bother me. Yet it did.

Long ago I declared myself “not good” at running so let myself of the hook for that one. My progress in the Nuun New Year AMR No Limits Challenge made it clear that I have been selling myself short. Still, I am not convinced I want to push this domain too much.

That said, running has helped with some of the not so pleasant parts of my last few years, whether talking professional (rejected manuscripts), spiritual (I’m a practicing but often struggling Catholic), wellness (practicing but often struggling also applies to my Weight Watcher lifetime status), or personal (the death of my mom from breast cancer in 2013).

Our Collective Background

Heather: Marianne and I met in undergrad at Youngstown State University, when we lived together in a dorm suite. Over the last 17 years, she's evolved from acquaintance/suitemate to one of my very best friends. It's impossible to explain 17 years of friendship in a single blog post, but women who are lucky enough to have an old friend get it.

Together, we have navigated our way through what we thought was the hard stuff (college/wedding/job) to the actual hard stuff (marriage/children/careers). Our daily emails of the past 10 years record everything from the mundane (I just found an entire 2011 paragraph detailing a brow waxing appointment) to the life-changing (infertility, loss of parent, birth of children). This is a friend that I wouldn't hesitate to call in a 3am crisis, so it's a no-brainer to want her on this journey with me.

Marianne: One thing I’ve learned over the years with my relationship with Heather is that the opinion we have of ourselves is so much worse than how we see each other. At my last half I was pacing a friend and described myself as a “pathological optimist” (see race photo above for evidence) yet this seems to stop when it comes to how I view myself.  I’m hoping that by writing and training together, we can keep an accurate perspective. Plus, you’ll get to hear about training from two perspectives: Type A (Heather) and Type B (Marianne).

The weirdest thing, considering that we're BRFs in nearly every respect, is that in total, we've logged only about 20 miles running together; we've lived anywhere from 450 to 3000 miles apart. We've been on our own paths in the sport, not unlike the way our marriages (Heather was first), births (that's fodder for a post of its own), and careers (Marianne on a straight shot, Heather on a winding road ) have had different shapes and timelines. It feels exciting that we are going to take on such a big goal together.

Why a marathon?

Marianne: Three reasons:

1. Upon finishing the Northern Ohio Half Marathon in October 2014 I felt like I still had more miles in my legs. This had not happened in my prior 2 half-marathons and made me think marathon was a great answer to "what now?".

2. I spectated the NYC marathon a month later and watching all the runners made me want to be on the other side of the barriers.

3. I was on a girls weekend with Heather and our other email pal Gina and put this notion out there as a goal over happy hour. Although I tried to backpedal later, I know that for me wine truth=real truth.

I specifically picked Wineglass  because did not want the kind of wait you get with a big race here one must be up hours before the start (or a full day as Bethany pointed out on her Boston marathon recap AMR podcast). The geography also holds meaning for me. I went to grad school in Binghamton, I still have a 607 cell number, I have driven Bath to Corning many, many times while heading home to see family, it is where I learned to run, and it was the site of my first 5 and 10k races. As noted above, I also like wine.

Heather: A marathon had long been in the back of my mind, despite swearing that I didn't want to run a full after crossing the finish line of my first/last half at the Towpath Half Marathon in 2012. (Which doesn't even count, I realize: it's like asking the mother of a newborn if she's ready for another.) So when Marianne forwarded her Wineglass registration confirmation with a jaunty, "Hope you like hearing about running!" it got my wheels turning. I'd been feeling like my life could use a little shake-up, so I lasted less than a week before I signed up.

Honestly, it was the least-thought-out decision ever. I didn't consult a training plan or my summer schedule.

I just checked that I had the date of the race open and signed up.

Starting June 2, we'll be here every week with tales of our training progress. Plus, we hope some of you will also be part of the #FindYourStrong Marathon Challenge; we'd love to virtually train with you too! 


16 responses to “One #FindYourStrong Marathon: Two Voices

  1. Awesome! I’ve seen a number of comments from other BAMRs and MRTTers that are heading to Wineglass too. Hoping we can do a pre-race meet-up!

  2. This is fantastic! As part of a long-distance running partnership where one of us is more driven (my BRF) and one is more relaxed (me), it looks like this feature will parallel my own running experience. I can’t wait to read your first post. Congrats!

  3. Kudos to the two of you for taking on this adventure! I look forward to reading your training updates, and to seeing you at the finish line in October!

  4. I am so excited to follow your training! I’m not quite ready to train for a marathon, but I do have it as a goal for next year so I’m excited to hear all the nitty-gritty details of training for your first!

  5. Looking forward to reading about your long-distance training partnership! I’m also running the Wineglass half this fall and have done Bath to Corning on wheels a number of times.

  6. I love this series idea!! I will definitely be following….I’m sure you’ll get some podcasts in there, too, which will be great. And wineglass marathon… did I not know about that?? Just clicked on it and it’s sold out….something to think about for next year:)

  7. I love this post!! I can’t wait to follow you ladies through 26.2 training. I went to Binghamton for undergrad…AND my BFF and I trained for our first marathon thousands of miles apart. She’s in South Dakota and I’m in Tennessee. We run all of our long runs “together” by chatting on the phone while we run. We’ve done that for years and it’s incredible. You each get your own run in but are sharing the miles together! 🙂

  8. Hurray for the ladies of NE Ohio! I did the Wineglass last fall. Plan to stay on Monday for winery tours, your earned it! Also train on hills so your legs are ready for all of the downhill. Wineglass is a net downhill and my quads paid for all those training runs on our beloved Towpath. Enjoy your journey this summer.

  9. Also looking forward to following your adventures.
    Also doing Wineglass, the half.
    I do long distance training w/ my sister. We plan races we want to do together at the beginning of the year. It makes us commit to sister weekends 🙂

  10. Looking forward to following your training. I grew up in Binghamton, have a sister that lived in Cuyahoga Falls (now lives in Akron along the trail that the Burning River 100 is run on-I can remember races but not places) and am also running Wineglass (half not full). Enjoy the journey and good luck to both of you!

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