On May 31st, 2015 I received an email from a blog reader interested in my coaching services. I had just completed the RRCA run coaching certification program (read about it: here and here) and I was an eager young coach ready to share my passion with as many runners as possible. Then I received an email from a Miss Lisa Grafton and I immediately became scared sh*tless. It’s one thing to train yourself for a marathon. It’s an entirely different matter when a complete stranger puts their marathon dreams in your hands for the next 4-5 months. You better be darn sure that you can get them to marathon on race day!
In all honesty back in May of 2015 I was about seventy percent sure that I could confidently get an athlete to marathon day… ok that’s low balling- let’s go with seventy five percent. Because I was so green in the coaching field when Lisa approached me for coaching I was brutally honest with her about my newness. Since she had been following the blog she knew of my coaching knowledge- or lack thereof – already. But she knew me- my passion for running, my training philosophy, my experiences working at the running store and my know-how of learning to run after my daughter was born- she knew it all and she was willing to take the risk. There are times in our life when we just need someone to give us a chance at our dream and Lisa gave me that chance. She was willing to risk her marathon dreams of a BQ on me- and for this I will be forever grateful. <3
Since May 31st 2015 Lisa and I have sent 887 emails to each other- that’s more than 2 emails a day. She has seen me through being a stay at home mom, to working at the running store, a divorce, escapades in dating, love, loss and life. I have coached her through 2 marathons (Baystate 2015 and 2016) and countless races at every distance. I have stood at the finish line to catch her in my arms – sometimes as she flies into the finish with a PR (SSYMCA Frozen 5k with a 22:52, 7:22 pace) and sometimes with tears in her eyes as she tries to shake off the pain from a TOUGH race (oh Run to the Rock Half Marathon 2016 why do you have to always be balls hot out with evil evil rolling hills??).
On March 10th 2017 I finished the Black Cat 10 miler in a feels like of -8 degrees, glanced at my watch and knew that Lisa wouldn’t be too far behind me. So I turned around and I ran to her. I found her trudging through the 30+ mph winds in the final mile of the course and told her to tuck in behind me. I told her, “Don’t think. Just follow my feet. Four laps around the track left… WE GOT THIS…three laps… never stop running… two laps… the finish line is just around the corner… ONE lap. GO GO GO.” In May 2015 Lisa took a chance on me and I’ll always do my absolute best to be there for her. Why? Because sometimes in life you need someone to believe in you enough so that you can begin to believe in yourself and your own strength. I’m starting to realize that Lisa and I do that for each other <3
Bradford, MA, 47 yrs, Bib # 21165
Here is her Boston story…
For the first time in my life I will not be standing on the sidewalks spectating the Boston Marathon – this year, I will be on the course, running. I’ve been running since 2008 – countless 5ks and half marathons, 6 marathons. Back in 2008, I was not working, my kids were in 1st grade and preschool and for the first time, I found myself with a few hours to myself. I had a new gym membership and found myself walking on a treadmill quickly becoming bored. Curiosity led me to increasing the speed on the machine and I was soon breaking into a light jog and the best part was that I wasn’t losing a lung in the process. Each day I returned fascinated by this challenge of pushing myself farther and faster. I was hooked. Once I had graduated into racing the half marathon distance, I knew I would run a marathon but that my heart would tell me when that time would be.
Each year, I would watch the Boston Marathon and be so inspired by the countless numbers of “regular” runners making that 26.2 trek from Hopkinton. There were some years that I would join my father in his annual pilgrimage from Haverhill, MA to downtown Boston to spectate the marathon. During those times together, he would turn to me and say “someday” meaning “someday” he would be watching me out there running the course. Yeah, Dad, maybe someday. When the bombings happened in 2013, I was devastated for so many different reasons, but it was then that I knew I was ready to run my first marathon. I was now a full-time working mother with a husband who worked second shift. This meant that my training runs were always run early in the pre-dawn hours before I needed to get the kids and myself ready for school and work. After I finished my second marathon only 5 minutes slower than my Boston Qualifying time (3:55) I knew I had a qualifying run in me.
A couple of failed attempts later and I found Kass. Actually I think I was meant to find her. It was 5 days after I had run my 4th marathon and blew up on the race course. I was very discouraged. I had been following Kass’s blog – loving her honesty,humor and ability to connect with me through her words – and she had just announced her plans to pursue a running coach certification. I contacted Kass asking if she’d coach me to hit my goal to qualify for Boston. Kass introduced me to heart rate training, track workouts, and strength work. I began to run faster than ever and felt strong when I ran. I never once missed a workout – I logged every mile Kass put in front of me, every crazy core exercise, all the strength. There would not be any regrets. I did not want to risk falling short of my goal. The day of my goal race arrived and for 26.2 miles I maintained a pace I would never even dream about before working with Kass. Mile after mile, it all clicked. The weather, my fueling, my legs. I crossed the finish line 11 minutes faster than the time I needed to qualify. 11 minutes! There was no denying that I was going to run the 2017 Boston Marathon. I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. That day is now here. Kass has continued to coach me (she’s the best) and I’ve had a successful training cycle -with the exception of the flu arriving to visit me last week. When I think of all that Boston is and visualize myself as a part of this momentous day, I become overwhelmed with emotion. I’m excited to share this day with so many and to give my Dad his “someday”
Lisa (Bib #21165)
Two years ago Lisa was a complete stranger who lived in a town about 45 min north of Boston. Today she’s not only my athlete but my close friend whose daily emails about her runs wield the power to make inappropriate jokes that makes me spit out my coffee at work in-between bouts of snarky laughter. Muhahhahaha!! On Monday Lisa will tackle her FIRST Boston. I can’t even begin to express how amazing this journey has been and how sweet the victory of running the Boston Marathon will taste. GO GET YOUR BOSTON LADY!! YOU DESERVE IT!! I love you!
Never stop running,