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Mother Runners of the Month: Karyn Senita + Samantha Saneda

Each month, we celebrate two athletes monthly in our #motherrunnner community.
[because sports awards aren’t just for youth soccer]

One athlete participates in our Many Happy Miles program and the other one is in a Train Like a Mother Club program: nothing like vicariously living through workout specifics, training cycles, and upcoming (virtual) races, right?

More importantly, they both epitomize the traits that keep us all moving forward: perspective, diligence, badassery, flexibility, and grit.


Location: Grove City, Pennsylvania

Kids: 4-year-old (soon-to-be) adopted daughter, Mea, and 3-year-old Australian Shepherd, Milo.

What's your running story?
Running has brought me hope and self-assurance which has allowed me to pull myself out of life's struggles.

I never considered myself a "runner," especially not a distance runner. I ran track in high school, but I wasn't a superstar by any means. In college and early in my life and career, I gained a lot of weight, became alcohol dependent, went through a nasty divorce, and couldn't have kids.

After I got sober in my 30's, life became hopeful again. I started running to occupy my time and get healthy. I ran my first half-marathon at age 40.

I signed up for a full for the next year but was sidelined by injury. A month later, the courts handed my daughter when she was 7 months old. Running was sidelined for a few years, but I was becoming depressed and needed to regain myself, so I started prioritizing running a little over a year ago.

Since then, I have run four more half-marathons and my first full marathon in Richmond, Virginia in November 2019.

Since the Covid-19 self-isolation, I have learned how much stronger I am than I thought. I never used to run with a stroller, because I had a mindset that, "It's hard. It messes with my stride. I don't like it." But if I wanted to run, adapting was necessary because I'm a single mom. Since I've changed my mindset, the three of us (my daughter Mea, my dog Milo, and me) have put in over 300 miles together!

Why did you join Many Happy Miles?
I used the Train Like a Mother 26.2 Go the Distance program to train for the Richmond Marathon, because my friend, BAMRbassador Kerry Cosneau, had suggested it to me.

I loved the community aspect and training program, so I immediately jumped into Many Happy Miles in November after succeeding at my marathon in Richmond!

Best workout in Many Happy Miles so far:
In December, I loved the 9 Ladies Dancing Run. I didn't pre-select my songs, so it was roulette with my playlist! I had some long songs in there! I've reused this run several times on the road and treadmill when I just need some variety.

Hardest workout in Many Happy Miles so far:
In April during the Heart Rate Training, some of the intervals were so tricky at the beginning, as I was really trying to get the feel for the heart rate groove. Even on my long runs in May, I've been paying much more attention to my heart rate, and I'm really grateful for having learned that I need to slow down sometimes to reap bigger benefits.

Oh, also most challenging... anytime that Dimity makes us do 50+ clam shells! It's like hip PT all over again!!

Upcoming races?
WELLLLL, I am registered for the Erie Marathon (Presque Isle, Erie, Pennsylvania) in September but it was canceled last week. I knew in my heart that it was coming, but instead of grieving it, I am going to continue to train and go out to run it. I'm following the Crush the Distance plan this time, and I am LOVING the hill and interval workouts.

When I run, I feel: FREE.


26.2 Go the Distance Plan

Location: Decatur, Georgia

Kids: daughter Issy, age 9, dog Eli, and cat Polo

What’s your running story?
I started like so many with a Couch to 5K program three and a half years ago with a local running club. I did my first half marathon with an online plan. I completed my second half with a Train Like a Mother Heart Rate plan.

After doing a total of four half marathons, in April 2019 I signed up for the Manchester UK Marathon. Manchester is my home town and the race fell close to spring break so we decided to incorporate it into our annual trip to see my family.

My 26.2 Go the Distance plan began in December. It was 18 weeks and I was fully committed. All in. My training was hard work but I had great support and it was going really well.

Then, Covid-19 happened. I had to cancel my trip home which meant that I would no longer be running the Manchester Marathon. But not to worry! My running group, Moms Run This Town (many of who are part of the AMR community), rallied for me!

We originally planned to run as a large group along the BeltLine route, but what followed after that was a series of roadblocks keeping me from my goal. I jokingly called this "The Marathon That Was Never Meant To Be," but I was determined! I wanted to show myself and my daughter that no matter what comes our way, we can still achieve our goals.

What ended up being my best option was a 3 mile loop outside my house – 9 TIMES!!! What was I thinking?!

On Saturday, April 4 – I set off at 6am. What happened that day will stay with me forever, and it had nothing to do with the miles. It had everything to do with the support of my family, friends and running group. I didn’t run one mile alone. There were t-shirts, chalk drawings on my route, signs, people cheering, and a schedule of runners who kept me company every step of the way (from a safe 6+ ft distance apart). They called it the "Samchester Marathon 2020!"

It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But in this time of social distancing and isolation I've never felt more connected. Running is much more than just one foot in front of the other – it is about determination, commitment, support, motivation, and community.

Why did you join the 26.2 Go the Distance plan?
I was familiar with the Train Like a Mother programs thanks to Heart Rate training and I liked the set up and community support, so it made sense to use a Train Like a Mother plan for the biggest race of my life 🙂

Best workout in 26.2 Go the Distance plan so far:
My 14 miler - going further than I had ever ran before made me realize I really can do hard things. Also whenever I went my farthest distance yet, my daughter would share some of her English chocolate stash with me so I got a nice treat on my run! 🙂

Most challenging workout in 26.2 Go the Distance plan so far:
The first 18 miles. I got into my own head and that number just seemed so hard!!

Goal Race:
My goal race was Manchester, United Kingdom 2020 Marathon.

Race Goal:
To finish strong and upright - my secret a goal was under 5:30, my B goal was under 5:45. I somehow manager 5:37 in the most extraordinary circumstances!

When I run, I feel: confident.

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