Mother-Daughter Dynamic Marathon Duo

mother-daughter marathon duo
Gail & Naomi – they lived to tell about it!

When I saw my friend Gail’s Facebook feed last fall and learned she and her daughter were running Twin Cities Marathon together, I knew I had to get their story. Two reasons —

Gail is not an athlete! and…

I’m a big fan of any kind of mother-and-daughter “we can conquer this” adventure.

I know you’ll love this…

First of all — Why?

Gail & Naomi’s adventure began because of a World Vision presentation at their church last March. WV was recruiting runners for a fundraising effort for Twin Cities Marathon the following October.

Naomi had been wanting to try a marathon. Gail wasn’t so keen on the idea! But the fear of “What if I don’t make it?” became replaced by “I would rather try and fail than not try!”

So they signed up and prepared to train (and fundraise).

Their running background

pre-race pic
Pre-race pic

I’ve known Gail since high school, so when she says “I’ve never been an athlete” I can vouch for that! But she had done a few 5k fun runs over the past 10 years, and even trained for a half marathon (it ended up being canceled).

Naomi is more of a natural runner, but not a star athlete either. She was in track one year in high school, was assigned the mile run, and “always came in last!” The most she had run before this was 3 miles.

But it’s amazing what can happen when you have someone cheering you on, isn’t it? The verse in Ecclesiastes “Two are better than one…” can apply directly to marathon training!

Their training

Gail and Naomi used the training program provided by the World Vision team, but felt free to adapt it to their ability, and the various physical issues that came up.

47-year-old Gail laughingly describes one of hers as “intestinal distress” — meaning she had to run by a bathroom regularly! She also has exercise-induced asthma, and so runs with an inhaler.

Naomi, at 18, had fewer things to deal with. But when she developed shin splits further into their training, they adapted their long runs to add more walking.

They used a run-walk training pattern: 5 minutes of running to 1 minute of walking. They each ran on their own during the week, then met up for the weekly long run.

The mental training

For anyone who’s attempted a challenge of this magnitude, you know your mental attitude is at least as important as your physical ability.

Even signing up is a hurdle. As Gail said, “It was a huge undertaking. But it was really, really rewarding. To be able to say ‘We really did that!’ is very empowering.”

She wore a bracelet during the entire experience that said: She believed she could, so she did. That mindset carries over into every area of life. “What if I don’t make it?” became “But what am I missing out on if I don’t try it?”

Twin Cities Marathon
Twin Cities Marathon race day

Race day

The Twin Cities Marathon is considered one of the most beautiful urban courses anywhere. It starts at the Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis, winds around many of the lakes and along the Mississippi River, and finishes at the State Capitol in St. Paul.

Gail and Naomi were two of the 8,586 finishers. They stuck together for the first 13 miles, then Gail sent Naomi on ahead, and they each finished at their own pace.

Throughout their training, Gail had often kept her mind on who they were fundraising for to keep her going. The thought of young kids walking four miles for drinking water was a big push for her.

But as she got closer to the 20-mile mark on race day, “all my altruism was gone!” She finished through sheer determination — just 10 minutes before the course was closed. She wasn’t about to face her co-workers and admit defeat!

For Naomi, the supportive atmosphere of the spectators and other runners was key, especially for the second half. She finished a half hour ahead of her mom.

What’s next for them?

Gail’s first reaction was “I’m NEVER doing that again!” But Naomi wants to do another marathon, and her mom admits now (4 months later) she could be talked into it.

They would add in cross-training and hill work to be better prepared.

Beyond that, they’d like to try a triathlon, and are already signed up for a 5k fun run in March.

So…what have you always wanted to do, but just haven’t been able to bring yourself to take action on? Is it time?!

(Seriously—reply in the comments below!)

This article was first published in Active Outdoor Journal. Wanna subscribe? Click here…

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