Michelle the Marathoner

31 Mar

Michelle the Marathoner! (left)

As I previously mentioned, my friend, Michelle, was set to run her first marathon in Rome. Running with Team in Training and raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Michelle had a lot of drive in her pursuit to complete her first 42.2-km race! She’s back now, and in this Q&A, she talks about her race-day experience, running past the Vatican and being the third highest Canadian fundraiser in her group:

Cathy James: How did the race go?

Michelle Pye: The race went ‘ok’, considering I hadn’t trained in weeks due to the hip injury. It took me about 45 minutes longer than it would have if I had been able to do the full training (I was hoping to finish between 4:30 – 4:45), the first half was ok, but I battled through the last half. 

The Start Line

CJ: What was it like running through the streets of Rome?

MP: Running in Rome was beautiful, inspiring, emotional and overwhelming at times. I remember rounding a corner on to St. Peter’s Square and towering in front of me was the Vatican, and the Pope was outside saying mass as I ran by. I definitely got a little emotional. The start and finish was at the coliseum, and I remember hitting about 38 k and seeing the coliseum and knowing the end was in sight (again making me emotional – lol). The spectators were also great, cheering people on along the sidelines. There were even some Canadan tourists that saw the Canadian flag on my back and yelled things like, “Go Canada!”, so that kept me motivated as well!

A. mazing.

 CJ: While in Rome, you received a major kudos from the Team in Training organizers. Why is that?

MP: The night before the race the TNT organizers host an ‘Inspiration Dinner”, it includes a quick motivational speech from the director, along with a PowerPoint and speech by one of the members highlighting who and why they are running. During this they called up the top 5 fundraisers in Canada one at a time (I was #3) and congratulated us and gave us a TNT tech hat that says ‘top fundraiser” on the back. My total funds raised was $14,315!  

Michelle was the third highest fundraiser, raising more than $14,000! Say Wha?!

CJ: What was your favourite part about your entire marathon experience?

MP: I can’t say that running the marathon itself was fun, it was honestly the most difficult and most pain thing I have done! However, I think the best part was my motivation to run it. Knowing that I was honouring a friend and raising money to help find a cure for blood cancers. A few times as I was running and really struggling in the race, I would look up to the sky and smile at Caralyn and remind myself that 5:30 of exhaustion and pain was nothing compared to what people go through when they battle cancer, so it kept things in perspective for me and made me determined to finish and not wimp out.  

CJ: What advice would you give to someone who wants to train for a marathon?

MP: the best advice I can give would be to have a purpose (especially if it’s your first), whether it be to raise money and awareness for a cause, or to earn a new PB, or just to fulfill a personal goal, make sure you have something that is going to force you to battle through the pain and exhaustion. And if you are injured, I would really recommend resting, letting your body heal, then begin training again, even if it means pushing back the date you plan on running your marathon. A marathon is challenging enough when you have trained and are healthy. Had it been under any other circumstances, I would have chosen to rest my hip and train for a fall run. That being sad, I am so happy I persevered, jogged it out and finished, because once you cross the finish line you are officially a ‘marathoner’ and it is one of the best feelings in the world!


CJ: In one word, describe what this experience has meant to you.

MP: If I had to chose one word to describe my marathon experience it would be Inspiring. The people, the city, the training, my family and friends who donated, Caralyn’s family and friends who donated, all of the people who shared their personal stories with me about how cancer has affected them – it’s all so inspiring!

Caralyn would have been inspired, too! Congratulations, Michelle!!!

2 Responses to “Michelle the Marathoner”

  1. Madeline March 31, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    Congrats! As I told you before Michelle; although I don’t know you, you inspire me. Often when I’m running and feeling the struggle to keep going, I think of various things that keep me motivated. Your story is yet another reason to keep going.

  2. Jill April 2, 2011 at 6:07 am #

    This made me cry!

    Beautiful story.

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