I Signed Up For My First Marathon

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By Kiera Smalls 26.2 miles.

26 years old.

$2,600 towards charity.

It was a day or two after the Philadelphia Half Marathon that I decided to register for a race I never thought I could do. I’ve been running (inconsistently) for a few years leading up to 2015. After a year of training, working out and sticking to a running routine, I was inspired to go the distance in 2016.

I signed up for a freaking marathon.

Registering for a marathon was not easy. I’m not talking about entering my debit card, I’m talking about mentally preparing myself for the year ahead. The next few months won't be smooth sailing and I know I have to make a lot of adjustments if I want to be successful.

I told myself that whatever the next few months bring, I better be ready. Marathon day is coming on May 1st.

Mentally preparing

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I had a back and forth battle in my head whether or not I was ready to complete a marathon. Thoughts included: ‘You have asthma! You can’t even make it up the steps without wheezing,’ and ‘You’re so slow. You haven’t run more than 13 miles, you’ll psych yourself out at the halfway point.’ All of these thoughts happened often but at some point, I told myself that I needed to be done with the bullshit and find a way to stay focused. I needed to get out of my own way.

Finding resources

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I asked Marcy Gialdo if she could be my coach and lucky for me she said yes! Marcy is a triathlon and endurance sport coach based in Philadelphia. Each month, she’ll send me a schedule to follow and I must document the experience via the Training Peaks app. We'll talk about my highs and my lows and anything else that will help me on this journey.

City Fit Girls Run Club is filled with motivating women who won’t let me give up or run alone.  I already feel like there's no way I can quit. I have a whole team behind me.

Recovery will be key so I am very grateful that 22 Days Nutrition has provided me with enough protein supply for my entire training season. It is the cleanest protein out there and I am excited to refuel with the best. (It also helps that it's really tasty. Not all proteins are created equal.)

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For A Good Cause

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Running 26.2 miles is no easy feat but I am looking forward to experiencing it and putting all of my hard work to a good cause. This will be a major milestone in my running career so I also wanted to add one more special piece to this journey. A chance to give back.

In my pursuit of running my first marathon (and potentially my first sprint triathlon in the summer but that's for another post), I am raising money for a local nonprofit that I strongly believe in and want to support. Gearing Up provides women in transition from abuse, addiction, and/or incarceration with the skills, equipment, and guidance to safely ride a bicycle for exercise, transportation, and personal growth. The term “women in transition” refers to women who have been formerly incarcerated, have histories of abuse and trauma as kids and/or as adults, have used drugs and/or alcohol as a way to cope with painful experiences and are learning how to live a crime-free sober life with purpose and meaning.

Not many people know this but….

I lost my mother in 2008 to her battle with drug addiction. Its been 8 years and I still can’t fully understand or accept it. My mother was supposed to see me graduate college, start a new career, have a family, and complete my first marathon... Had I known about programs like Gearing Up, I would have tried to do more to help my mother through her struggles. By raising $2,600 for Gearing Up, I believe that I can help other women who are battling the same issues my mother had.

Click here to learn more and to donate.