October 18, 2021

An Interview With My Friend Emily (who ran her first half-marathon yesterday)

What is it about driving that is so exhausting?! This morning, I drove to the opposite side of Michigan to visit my friend Emily. It's a little over a three-hour drive (each way), which I wasn't looking forward to, but she's come out here to visit several times and it was long overdue for me to go there. Besides, I hadn't seen her in about a year and a half--so it was great to catch up and to see where she lives. And meet Dexter, her nine-month old!

Emily ran the Detroit Half Marathon yesterday (her first half-marathon) so I naturally wanted to hear the details about how it went. I thought it would be fun to "interview" her for today's post. Emily is the only friend I have who also has bipolar disorder, so it's nice to talk to someone who "gets it". She started running not only for her physical health, but her mental health as well. (Here is a guest post she wrote about her experience with bipolar disorder.)

Here are some questions I had for her about her race and running...

Q. How long have you been running?

A. Since 2015. Well, actually, my first venture into running was a 10K in 2011; I did not train appropriately and it was terrible! I swore I would never run another race again. When I moved back to St. Joseph, I wanted to meet people in the area so I joined a local running group who did Couch to 5K training.

Q. So you joined for the social aspect of it?

A. Yes, I really wanted to meet people. Then in 2017, I did the Couch to Triathlon plan with the same group and just kept running.

Q. Why didn't you continue with the triathlons?

A. I hate swimming. I'm not very good at it and I don't feel strong. I get panic attacks in the water!

Anyway, I was going to do a half-marathon last year and the day that training started, I found out I was pregnant. I didn't run through my pregnancy; I just walked a lot. 

I'm in a global online running community for people who love Harry Potter--it's called "Potterhead Running Club" (PHRC). I started doing that in early 2020. I LOVE it--the community is awesome. I'm in the "Ravenclaw Tower"--a sub group of the club--and the runners from each group earn points for their own groups.

We do virtual charity runs and a 10-day event called Quidditch--every mile you run or walk earns points for your team. You aren't allowed to earn more than 15 points in one day; there are people that actually hit that cap every day!

This year, I participated in ALL of the virtual races.

Q. What made you sign up for the Detroit Half Marathon this year?

A. I had a baby in January and was struggling to lose the baby weight. I wanted a goal that I knew I could accomplish to journey my way back to health. I know I want more kids in the future and it's hard enough to find time to train as it is, so I knew that having more kids would make me even more busy. So it was now or never.

Q. How did you train for it?

A. I started training in early August. I reached out to a coach from my local running group and she created a training plan using the MAF plan with some speed work. Essentially the same sort of plan as the MAF80 plan that you made! I ran three days a week and for "cross-training" days, I would usually just go for a walk.

Q. Did you feel prepared for the race? I know you mentioned that the farthest you'd run in training was six miles.

A. Yes, I felt prepared. I ran based on time, rather than mileage; and because I was watching my heart rate, I did run/walking to keep my heart rate in the MAF zone. I felt prepared going into the race, even though my longest run was about six miles--it took me a long time to run six miles!

Q. What would you say your training pace was, while keeping your heart rate in your MAF zone?

A. I would say roughly 15 minutes per mile; on a good day, it would be 14-something. 

Q. Did you have a time goal for the race?

A. I just wanted to finish before the four-hour cut-off! Haha.

Q. Would you have done anything differently with your training?

A. No. I liked that it was "do-able" because of the MAF pacing. I didn't feel like it was something I couldn't do. I think pretty much anyone can run at a MAF heart rate because it doesn't feel "hard". It's an "easy" run.

Q. Was the race what you expected?

A. I thought there would be more spectators, but because of COVID, the race was different. They even had to change the course so that it didn't cross into Canada. The houses I ran past were gorgeous! There was some entertainment along the way, too--a drum line, and a saxophone player at one point. There was some cool entertainment along the way. Here are a couple of cool things I saw:

Q. What was the most memorable part of the race?

A. Finishing. I wanted to finish strong, so my pace increased and I started picking one person ahead of me and try to catch up to them. I couldn't believe how much faster my pace got. I was in awe of the fact that I was about to finish. I was actually kind of shocked that I finished. Even though I was prepared for it, I felt like, "Holy crap, I did it!"

Q. Would you ever do another half-marathon?

A. Yes, definitely. Now that I know I can do it, I would like to work on my pace. It felt good being able to accomplish something. Keeping the house clean is an accomplishment, but a race is much more fun!

Q. What are your running plans from here on out?

A. Today I rest--I am super sore! I don't know my future plans yet; we may have another baby in the near future. I would like to be able to run throughout my pregnancy (just not training for a race). I'm in a local running group (Sunset Coast Striders) and I plan to continue to run with them once a week. Being outside, the walks and the runs are so good for my mental health. I plan to continue something outside; I just don't know how running will fit in yet.

Running has been great for me, personally, for my mental and emotional health, and great for my family. When I'm taking the best care of myself, I can be the best version of myself--as a mom, wife, and social worker.


  1. Congratulations, Emily!! Good work.

    1. Thank you, Nita! I must admit, your book was super inspiring when I read it! You have a fantastic story yourself. :)

  2. Congratulations! I enjoyed reading about your experience, thank you for sharing.

  3. Congratulations! I really enjoyed this interview :)

  4. Congrats, Emily! Way to go! 🏃‍♀️


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