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Letter: Ada teacher runs NYC marathon, the hardest thing she's ever done

From Miranda Shepherd, Ada Schools: Kristin Salyer is a teacher at Ada High School as well as a wife and mother of two. She says that running the 2023 New York City (NYC) marathon on November 5 was the hardest thing she's ever done. With her permission, I have included some words and photos that she has shared:

"Back in early 2020 I decided that I needed to make a change and start to get in shape. Caroline was 14 months old and I hadn’t really exercised regularly in 4.5 years. I got a treadmill and started to walk (in pajama pants). Eventually working up to a mile, then 20 minutes, etc. I ran 3 miles outside and then Covid hit and running outside became a good distraction.

I overdid it and developed a stress fracture in my pelvis and was unable to run for 4 months.

So in the fall of 2020 I was able to rebuild and ran a half marathon PR in April 2021. That summer a group of friends started to train for a full marathon and I figured, though it wasn’t on my bucket list, maybe it should be? That would be the perfect scenario to train for a marathon…running with friends!

So we trained together and I ran my first 26.2 in October 2021 running a time of 3:54. It didn’t even feel that hard! But still, marathon training is such a life adjustment and commitment (for the entire family) so it wasn’t something I thought I would ever do it again.

2022 was two half marathons.

So in February when I heard chatter about the NYC marathon lottery, I started to watch videos. I love NYC and what an experience it would be to run a world major in a city that I love and to run for truly the experience! I asked Jay what his thoughts were and he told me to go for it!

I didn’t get in with the lottery but then explored the option of running for a charity. I was fortunately given a spot with Joe Torre’s Safe at Home. Thank you again to all who supported in my fundraising. With your help I was actually able to fundraise over $3,600 and was their top fundraiser!

This was also very daunting though. My entire community knew that I was training for this marathon. What if I got injured during training? What would people think? Would I have to rebuild again from zero next year? This was my worry for the last 9 months. 

So marathon training started the first week of July. It was hot, we were traveling in Saint Lucia, school started, U8 soccer, Jay was training for a half marathon and like everyone else, life was hectic and busy.

This training block was made possible by early mornings and MANY after school Friday evening long runs.

Okay, race weekend:

We arrived to NYC and went to the expo, huge and amazing, splurged on some gear and got take in. Saturday morning was bagels, a shakeout run in Central Park, lunch with some running friends and a tour at the Tenement Museum. We also went down to DUMBO in Brooklyn.

That afternoon I got super super nervous. Lots of self doubt about this marathon. We went back to my friend’s apartment and got pizza and watched Friends. Both Jay and I had trouble sleeping. I slept less than 4 hours and he slept 2 hours.

Up early on race day. I was so happy the day was finally here! Took the subway to the ferry, the ferry to a bus that then drove 30 minutes to the starting village in Staten Island, waited for a couple hours before starting at 10:20.

The weather was already warmer than most preferred, but we knew it could be worse. The sun was shining though and made it more challenging.

I ran on top of the Verrazano Bridge and was so excited to get started. They shot off the cannon and played New York, New York by Frank Sinatra at the start. I’d been waiting for months to hear that song, there in person. 

Seriously, in the first half mile I developed an intense side cramp (we ran uphill for the first mile). This side cramp was my entire stomach though and lasted for the first 4 miles.

Brooklyn was amazing. The crowd support was seriously incredible and like I have never seen. I was slapping hands with sooo many kiddos. If your name is on your shirt, strangers will yell for you and that was so fun. I felt great until around mile 13 when we got to the second bridge. Then the third bridge (QUEENSBORO) about killed me, LOL. So if you were following along, you probably noticed I was slowing…because I was dying.

Coming down off the Queensboro into Manhattan was amazing. First avenue’s crowds were intense and Jay saw me at mile 17-18? I ran back through the crowded course and hugged him and then kept going.

So I struggled the next six or so miles. More and more incline. I was running alone. I ditched my fuel and drank so much water and gatorade. I grabbed oranges from anyone handing them out.

When we got to Central Park, the crowds were so encouraging. The last three miles I told myself should be a piece of cake but they were also so so hard. When I looked at my watch, I realized that I was going to cut it really close to 4:30. I saw a girl I had seen several times and made it my goal to just beat her.  I ran hard the last .6 mile finished in 4:30:13 and had run 26.6 miles. 36 minutes slower than Columbus but it felt like 4x harder. To give you some perspective, my 20 mile training run around Ada had an elevation again of ~150 feet. NYC marathon was ~850.

This felt like both physically and mentally the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. At the end of this I told myself, never again.  or maybe just next time, an easier marathon.

I walked (or limped) an additional mile to exit Central Park and reunited with Jay.

My goal was all about the experience of running a major world marathon in one of my favorite cities. This was a once in a lifetime experience and and it was truly humbling. I am so grateful to be able to say that I ran THIS marathon. I am so proud of myself for pushing through and completing this training cycle.

I am not great with words and am still processing a lot, but if you look back to how this whole story started…walking in pajama pants on a treadmill. We are capable of anything we set our minds to. I was so scared guys, but seriously, just do it scared. Whatever your goal is, go for it.

Thank you guys so so much for following along and your kind words or encouragement."