Saucony 26 Strong: A ‘Vet’ and A ‘Cadet’

I’m really excited to announce that I’m representing Saucony as part of their 26Strong program this year! On a frigid February morning, I received an email from Saucony asking me if I was interested in helping a first-time marathoner to the finish line of her first 26.2 this fall.

It seems that just when you make a fairly firm decision to take a season off marathon training, the universe conspires against you and presents you with a pretty cool opportunity! 

Saucony 26Strong

The program consists of 13 ‘vets’ and 13 ‘cadets’ from across the country. It’s a smaller group than Saucony had last year and it’s especially exciting for me to be a part of the team this year because it consists of all WOMEN! I’ve met a few of the other vets IRL (Jess, Dorothy, Michele, and Lora) and know a few through the Twittersphere – I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone a bit better!

When Saucony told me that I could personally select my ‘cadet’, I immediately sent an email to my sister, Brittany. It was a no brainer to reach out to her.

The email exchange went something like this:

Me: So ummmmm…do you want to train for your first marathon? I’ll run it with you!

BrittanyI would LOVE to do this but I don’t think I can commit to it until school is over. [Note: she’s finishing her MBA while working full-time. No small potatoes.]

Me: We can do this! As long as you have a decent base, we can begin a full training cycle in August for a December marathon. No pressure…. But if you’re game, I am too! 

Brittany: When do you need to know by? (I knew I had her hooked!) 

Me: Next week?

….Followed up by a phone call a few shorts days later. I can’t remember the details exactly but I think I screamed in her ear something like:

“OH MY GOD ARE YOU SAYING YES?!”

and, after asking a few questions, she responded with something coy & calm like ,”I think I’m saying yes.”

Guys, she said yes.

The truth is that Brittany isn’t really a ‘cadet’ and I don’t quite feel like a marathon ‘vet’. Brittany is not new to running and my 4 marathons hardly make me a vet in my mind.

Brittany is more like a ‘vet‘ than a ‘cadet’, to be honest. She is two years older, approximately 6 inches taller, and has quite the athletic background. Brittany was one of just two girls in her high school graduating class to commit to 12 sports seasons within 4 years…..which means that she never had an off season in her entire high school career. I’m not sure how many people can say that but I think it’s pretty darn cool. She played basketball and ran track all 4 years, played soccer the first 2 years, and ran cross-country the last 2 years. I’m tired just thinking about it. Aren’t you? She’s badass, guys.

2014-05-30 07.31.30

Exhibit A: I stalked my own sister on the interwebs and stumbled on some of her track records from her junior year… (I was aware at the time that she was fast but I don’t think I was able to truly internalize how fast she was running until just recently.)

BrittPooreHSTrack

NBD right? Just a 64.30 personal record in the 400 m and some crazy fast relay times with some speedy ladies. [Brittany contests that “this was a decade ago!”, but I know better. I’m convinced that her legs still have that speed in them and she’s going to completely shock herself in training for an entirely new distance this year.] I was only behind her by two grades, but I was lightyears behind her when it came to athletic prowess. I remember Saturday afternoons when she’d collapse on the couch with a towel wrapped around her head just to nap for a couple of hours (either before or after a practice). I’m not sure I understood that level of exhaustion until I started to train for my first marathon. I remember the excitement of watching her run in the state track meet finals with my parents and twin sister, Lindsey. There was always a basketball game, soccer game, track meet, or cross country meet to go to. Thinking back on Brittany’s 4 years as a high school student athlete, I wonder how she just seemed to get it all done (see napping talent below).

Needless to say, Brittany is prepared for the challenge of running 26.2 miles in more ways than one. (Because, she’s like…really, really, really, good at napping. I’ll have to ask her to share some tips for napping like a pro with us all.)

She’s incredibly determined, hard working, and disciplined in everything that she does. A few weeks ago, our family attended her commencement ceremony to see her receive her MBA diploma. Afterward, we joked that it’s probably a good thing that she has a marathon to train for –otherwise, she wouldn’t know what to do with herself without the obligation of classes (along with a full-time job, duh). She’s always working toward a goal. And it’s one of the things I love about her most. She’s always made the time to commit to things that are important to her, whether they lead to accomplishing professional, academic, athletic, or big LIFE goals.

2014-05-10 13.10.56-1

It’s a big year for this woman! 

I’m really excited to help Brittany train for her first marathon. Although, in reality, I don’t think she will need much of my help. I’ll just be there to kick in her in the butt when she needs it.

Sooooo what marathon are we running, you ask? The California International Marathon on December 7, 2014! To those of you who’ve run it, tell us all your tidbits, stories, and tips!

 If you want to follow along…

Here we gooooooo!

-J

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7 thoughts on “Saucony 26 Strong: A ‘Vet’ and A ‘Cadet’

  1. ErinAMG says:

    How super special that you’re doing this with your sister. 🙂 and! And! And! I’m also doing CIM as my target fall/winter race!! See you hereeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

  2. Jen says:

    This sounds so awesome!
    CIM was my first marathon. My tips in no particular order:
    – Be conservative on the initial downhill section. A friend crashed and burned at CIM because she ran the first half way too fast. I think she ran a 45 min positive split. :/
    – Be prepared for all kinds of weather. My year, it was 50F with torrential rain and gusts of up to 30 mph. Last year, it was 30F and the spilled water at aid stations froze — several people slipped and fell!
    – Decide if you want to stay at the start or finish. I chose the start (Folsom) because I didn’t want to risk the shuttle driver getting lost – which happened to other friends of mine from the year before. The upside of staying in Sacramento is immediate access to showers. If you stay in Folsom, take the race shuttle from the hotels — drop off is a mess.
    – When you get into downtown Sacramento, try your best to block out the street numbers (they start in the 20’s I think, and ladies turn on 9th St. for the finish). It’s easy to torture yourself thinking about how many more blocks you have left.
    – It’s not a particularly scenic route, but the spectators are pretty awesome.

    Have fun!!

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