Give it up for our Mother Runner of the Month this month: Laurel Short, a 36-year-old nurse practitioner (specialty in physical medicine and rehabilitation) and mother of two in Leawood, Kansas.
Valerie, a fellow Kansas City #motherrunner, nominated Laurel after the two met at the kick-off for Race Like a Mother: Kansas City.
"We made plans to do our long training runs together, and I was hopeful to have a marathoner help me, the novice. We kept in touch with each other and our training via text through the summer, and when the longer runs popped on the schedule, Laurel appeared like an angel," says Valerie, "She checked out routes for us and set up meeting points. She coached me through the long runs (and the long, humid 20-miler that almost had me in tears), and she was there on race day, too, with her upbeat attitude and contagious smile. Her reassuring words via texts, after a training run and during the marathon carried me to the finish line."
Grapevining into Running: I started running when I was 17, after discovering the benefits of exercise in a high school aerobics class. My dad was a runner, and he asked if I would train for a 5k with him. We ran the race together, and I was hooked on the “runner’s high” as soon as I crossed the finish line.
Racing Background: The first few years after becoming a runner, the routine of logging miles was wonderful for exercise and stress relief in college. At age 21, I ran my first half marathon, also with my dad. I progressed to completing many half marathons and now a total of six full marathons, along with some 5k and 10k races sprinkled in.
Fave Race Distance: The half marathon. I completely identify with the AMR motto of the half marathon being the “sweet spot.” In half marathon training, I still get a long run in on the weekend, but can push the pace more than the full marathon. (Though I am hoping to gradually get my marathon pace closer to what I can run for a half!)
Back to 26.2: I had the “itch” to jump back into a full marathon distance, as my last was in 2014 and life settled down this year to provide the space for training. I was on the fence about a specific race, and when Dimity told me about the Race Like a Mother program during the Eau Claire retreat I knew it was a sign to choose the race in my hometown!
BRF: Found!: At the program kick-off for the Race Like a Mother program, Valerie and I ran together. You know the feeling you get when you click with a new friend? I learned it was Valerie’s first marathon training cycle, and we fell into a natural rhythm of running pace and chatting. We quickly decided to exchange contact info so that we could meet up for long runs.
Speedy Stops: Valerie and I had a running joke of how fast I could make a pit stop, though in the race I was concerned about cramping from stopping to sit in a port-a-pot…so told Valerie I would rather pull a SBS and “let it go.” That’s what black shorts are for, right?
20 Tough Miles: We did our last 20 miler on a Friday. We started very early, but it was still hot and humid in the Midwest. Between the humidity and 3 miles of race pace from miles 15-18, it was tough. After the race pace portion, Valerie was feeling anxious about not being prepared for the race. I was able to reassure her that’s why we do the hard effort! We finished feeling accomplished and ready to taper.
Friends that Marathon Together: We decided to start the marathon together and reassess plans during the race. We had trained with 60-second walk breaks after each mile, so we stuck with that during the race. Even before the halfway mark we could tell our paces were matching, and mentally it felt so good to be together.
At mile 20 we each turned on our Aftershokz headphones to help zone in for the final six miles. We separated just slightly in the last mile. I turned around at the finish line and saw Valerie coming into the finish chute. There were many tears of joy and an emotional embrace after she crossed the finish line!
Three Keys to a Great Long-Run Route:
- Loop routes are more interesting than out and back. I like to use an app such as Map My Run to plan routes. Creating and naming routes adds to the fun of training!
- Think about details like bathrooms and water refill locations. If time allows, I love finishing at a favorite coffee shop or breakfast spot.
- Try a new part of town. Our favorite long run was in an older part of town with great local landmarks and scenery. It felt like an adventure, and the miles passed quickly. This really helps create the attitude of “we GET to do a long run” vs. “we HAVE to do a long run.”
Three Keys to Help A First-Time Marathoner:
- Two main goals for long runs are solid pacing and keeping a positive mental attitude. Doing the long runs at a slow pace with walk breaks really helps with recovery and injury prevention. Try to focus more on perceived effort versus a specific pace.
- It’s amazing what a boost you can provide with words of encouragement on a run or even a quick text mid-week.
- Share what works for you while recognizing we each customize our own training toolkit. For example, your favorite pre-run meal or run fuel might not work for your training partner. But if you have done multiple marathons, chances are you have vetted lots of techniques and can provide solid options for a first-timer!
Know somebody (it may be yourself!) that is deserving of the Mother Runner of the Month title?
Submit a nomination!