This is a Run Lift Mom podcast interview about the New York City Marathon with Kelly Blavatt.
Don’t let the title fool you, though. Here are some other key points in this conversation:
- Running is a sport we can do in any season of life
- How we react to adversity is different than how we respond.
- Running allows Moms to model resiliency and consistency to our children.
- The road to a big goal (like a marathon!) with consistent movement.
We also cover charity running, the difference between virtual and in person races, and Kelly gives us her recap of both, which were her first and second marathons!
Favorite Quotes from this episode:
We can all be disappointed when things that we want to do don’t happen
Focus on what you can control versus what you can’t.
- Making the miles meaningful helped me push the disappointment away
I ran my very first marathon entirely by myself in loops by my house.
- It was amazing to be part of this much bigger experience…people from all over coming together, all with the common goal of broadly the same 26.2 miles.
- This was a city that needed the race as much as I did.
It definitely gets hard when you’re running 26.2 and you have to dig deep the same way
The following is a transcript from the podcast episode. I’m including it for those of you who prefer to read and so you don’t need to take notes while listening- they’re all here!
Who is Kelly?
Suzy: All right. Welcome Kelly Blavatt to the Run Lift Mom podcast. How are you doing today?
Kelly: So happy to be here, Suzy. Good morning!
Suzy: I am so jazzed to get into your New York city marathon experience. First ,go ahead and tell me a little bit about your running and momming background.
Kelly: Here’s the funny thing about running. I have history, but took a really long break.
I ran cross-country and track in high school. I was always the long distance track runner and I hurt my knee junior year many years ago and was convinced that basically I couldn’t run ever again.
We all have this misconception that running is bad on our knees but it’s not!
Treadmills and seasons of life
Kelly: This is back in 2019, I had been a stay at home mom to two boys for years and basically thought that running them around and doing all the mom things was keeping me moving, but it wasn’t nearly as much.
The boys are now six and eight years old, and now that they’re in school full time, I have gone back to work- but we’ve made running part of our family.
Suzy: It’s really neat to me that, you went back to running.
A lot of people, maybe ran right in high school or college or something. , but haven’t found that, reason to revisit it, was there something about running where you like, Hey, I’ve got, kind of got a knack for this, or was it a feeling that running gave you?
Kelly: I think deep down, I missed it.
I missed the feeling I got after having a good run, but quite honestly, it was convenient.
We had a treadmill and the boys could play and I could run on the treadmill and then I didn’t have to worry about childcare or anything like that.
They could still be home and I could still get my workout.
Suzy: Treadmill is a really great tool for running and you bring up a really great point- running can grow into the different seasons of life. I’ve definitely seen your boys getting involved, right?
Kelly: Most definitely. They are disappointed if they miss my run in the morning. They want to make sure they’re there to see it happen.
They’re also my biggest fans along with my husband for races. They come out for every race and are always at the finish line.
And, now they are now interested in running themselves, which was an added side effect.
Suzy: Not a bad side effect!
Why the New York City marathon?
Suzy: Let’s talk about racing. I’ve brought you on specifically to talk about New York city, which is a race that so many people have on their goal list or that they want to do. You got to do it- exciting!
Tell me why you chose New York City marathon and touch on your training a little bit.
Kelly: Back in 2019, same year I started running, I started working a little bit again. I had a training up in New York City and it was, as the city was preparing for the New York city marathon.
I had literally just run my first half, like two weeks before and had said “no way, I’m not going to do a marathon. Half was perfect.”
But then, you know how it works. I got this like little thought in the back of my brain. I had really no idea what it meant to run a major marathon.
Clearly I was familiar with the New York city marathon. It’s one of the biggest races in the world and I’m originally from New York.
So I knew about it, but I didn’t know what it meant to get into running the marathon. I started doing a little bit of research and learned about the lottery. 50,000 people run New York City marathon!
So many people try to get into the lottery so was looking to see any other way to get into the race.
Choosing to run for charity
Kelly: I learned you could run for chairity! Philanthropy is a big part of our day-to-day lives and something we actively teach our boys about.
This was the ultimate opportunity to fundraise but also to physically participate in something for a cause beyond myself.
I learned that you could run for the Alzheimer’s association.
After my Dad was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in 2013, I admit I kind of felt helpless.
There’s not a big role to play in recovery, so to be there for a patient who has Alzheimer’s or more specifically for a parent who has Alzheimer’s- it’s a real process to watch.
I knew that this would give me a tangible thing to do and would allow me to make my miles matter.
And I’m pretty sure I reached out to you, Suzy. I was like, can I run a marathon? Like after only running for a year?
In typical Suzy fashion you were like, “I’ve got a training plan for that and I can help you and we can make this happen”.
And so I was set to run in 2020, the 50th anniversary of the New York city marathon. I had actively fundraised.
Suzy: You did this for charity. And I want to emphasize that charity running is really meaningful and it can make a marathon, especially your first marathon, even more so.
Bigger than you and those 26.2 miles worth of steps.
And it’s incredible that your experience specifically was, to honor what your Dad had been through and an organization that creates research and opportunities for folks struggling with Alzheimer’s families as well.
You got hit by. The 2020 COVID cancellations though.
Kelly: I was ready to go. The training plan was written into my calendar, so therefore it had to happen (ha!)
But yes- then just like everything else, it was COVID canceled. And that was really disappointing.
Suzy: I cannot imagine.
Kelly: I can remember knowing in my heart that it was going to be canceled.
I registered in March, right before the world kind of shut down and we pivoted to being home. Right after that, it kind of became clear that life, as we knew it was about to change.
In my heart of hearts, I knew it was going to be- but then when it did get canceled, I remember I wasn’t angry as much as I was just sad. It had been this “we’re going to be good by then” kind of thing to look forward to.
Kelly: I remember just really being sad and crying and, you know, maybe that was not the right response..!
Maybe it was, you know, built up of all the emotions of being home. Basically a lockdown for all of those months.
At the same time it showed the kids Mommy can be upset, too.
We can all be disappointed when things that we want to do don’t happen.
Then, I just had to figure out if I was going to continue to feel sorry for myself.
As if I was the only one that was affected by it- clearly not. Or, if I was just going to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Make it happen some way anyway.
Suzy: Now you did a blog recap for this race, so we can find all the details there.
Suzy: Kelly, you said you’re a planner planning and making arrangements is your thing. So that gives us like some insight into your mindset and maybe the level of disappointment that you’re describing.
How did you dealt with that? How you did model healthy behavior for your kids?
Kelly: So, I literally had written the training plan into my planner. I was all set!
I knew when I was going to run, what the big day on the calendar with the marathon written in, and hotel reservations made. We were ready to go!
Kelly: I had already mentally committed to the fact that I was going to run a marathon in 2020 so I wasn’t going to let a pandemic slow me down.
So, after feeling sad, I basically said, “I’m going to do it anyway!”
There was a window where we could complete virtually for the New York City marathon.
Everyone always says your first marathon should have crowd support. It should be really important.
I laugh because I ran my very first marathon entirely by myself in loops by my house.
I’d run eight or nine miles and come home and refuel. And the boys would check in with me and my husband would check in with me to see how much farther I had to go.
Then, I’d go back out, do it again, and come home, and go out for another loop.
I wouldn’t change the experience of crossing the tape that my husband was holding with the boys coming in to finish my first marathon and front of my house with my friends and family, , for anything. But it was definitely not the experience. I was originally planning.
Experience as a teacher
Suzy: I want to make sure that listener is hearing you correctly.
You completed the 26.2 miles that you had trained for virtually with laps in your neighborhood- it’s amazing!
Kelly: Yeah, I just went out there and did it!
With each half I had done, I learned so much from the training. So, I figured I needed to go through the training plan that way I could figure it out where my weaknesses were.
I learned so much from that 20 mile run in the first go round! That helped me when I ran that virtual marathon and I know I took into training this year for the “real deal”- for example, to avoid the little bit of knee pain or really to avoid the hip pain that has plagued me the year before.
So going through the training was so worth, it was hard, but worth it for sure.
Suzy: I want to know how long you allowed yourself to be like angry and sad. You mentioned the tears.
How long did you allow yourself to kind of have that period before you flipped it and said, “you know what? We’re going to make lemonade out of lemons?”
Kelly: To be honest, it wa it wasn’t that long. I imagine other people would say it felt longer! I wanted to use it as a teaching example.
In hindsight, I think we were all navigating this time where we didn’t really know how to react to things getting canceled. And so I definitely did cry.
And then once I committed to the fact that I was going to train and run it anyway, I could focus on doing that.
My mantra became that I was running for those who couldn’t.
Making those miles matter helped me push the disappointment away and just focus.
Suzy: What a blessing in disguise, right? You decide that you want to run for charity, make those miles bigger than yourself, and that significance ends up pulling you through what would be a really long-term experience!
Kelly: A hundred percent. I think once the miles became more than my own, it was easier to focus on the fact that this is just a setback and someday I will be able to do the actual marathon and just focus on what you can control versus what you can’t.
2021 race experience
Suzy: Aright, 2021 rolls around and you finally get to do the actual marathon. Tell us about your race experience in New York City!
Kelly: So it’s just a little bit different than running around my neighborhood. Tens of thousands of people instead of just me!
The whole experience was surreal. You know, I walked up Fifth avenue in the early morning hours of race day to get the bus at the public library, made friends on the bus, and we rode over for the big wait in Staten Island.
It was amazing to be part of this much bigger experience. You had people from all over coming together, all with the common goal of broadly the same 26.2 miles.
So the energy was amazing.
Pre-race, I had to really adjust my mindset.
When I ran my own marathon, I got to sleep in my own bed. I got to get out of bed, eat breakfast, like I would at home, have all the comforts of home versus a five hour waiting experience- all part of the bigger race experience.
There is nothing like standing on top of the Verrazano Bridge that I had driven over so many times that day to run across and it was perfect running weather in the forties.
I was completely taken away by the number of people who came out along the race court to support the runners.
This was a city who needed the race as much as I did.
They were so excited to have, you know, this piece of normal back into their November, just like all the runners.
Suzy: It’s really interesting what that race means to the city.
You can even be a non-runner and New York just appreciates the struggle and celebration. It’s a party!
Kelly: Oh, it was 100% a party. And that’s the other funny thing. When I ran my virtual marathon, I listened to an audiobook the whole time so I could regulate my pace.
Otherwise, when I listen to music, I sometimes run too fast and I knew I needed to slow myself down.
You don’t need to listen to anything because there is constant sound and cheering and music and so much going on around you. It is truly a very positive distraction.
Suzy: So, obviously the crowds- that was very different. You in your neighborhood, listening to an audiobook versus the city being on fire for you for 26.2 miles and through five boroughs.
Were there things about your experience from virtual to the New York city marathon that were the same?
Kelly: There were definitely parts that were the same.
When it gets hard, because it definitely gets hard when you’re running 26.2, you have to dig deep the same way.
The other part that was the same, whether it was at my house or in New York City, my husband and my boys were at the finish line for me and they were waiting.
And the interesting thing is we, we set our own time goals or goals that we want to meet when we run because we’re runners and that’s what we do to ourselves.
But they didn’t care when I finished.
They just want to see me finish!
Knowing that they were there, especially when it got hard, was the impetus I needed to just dig deep and keep going.
Suzy: Kelly, between you and me and the person listening when it gets really hard for me on a race course I have a visualization thing, but I don’t visualize the finish line.
I visualize like the people, I go through each of my kids and I’ll think about like what they look like, smiling or laughing.
Kelly: It is powerful to really think about the people that make it important and the why, and, , for. Got to do a lot of digging sometimes when it gets a little tough out there,
I want to bring it back to the people. , you mentioned that your boys, , saw you training and training and training and then your race got canceled.
So then they got to see mommy do that 26.2 anyway, and then they get to see you do the actual race. Talk about modeling the example of seeing a goal through long term! Kudos to you, girlfriend.
Kelly: Thanks Suzy. And you’ll appreciate this because I got back to the hotel. I met them after the race and my oldest who is eight says to me, so someday we can do this together, right?
And I was like, you better believe it. And he followed it up in the weeks after he was like, so when I turn 18, I think that’s when we’ll do it. I was like, oh man, mommy’s going to be a lot older in another 10 years!
Suzy: you planted that seed and hopefully it grows. It sounds like it might!
Kelly: Right.And how amazing would it be? Whether it’s in 10 years or whenever to have that experience with him, come from this time of watching me do it.
I mean, I don’t think as a parent, you could want anything more. For your kids and to see something you’re doing and they want to model it the same.
Suzy: You know, we opened up this conversation with you had done some running in high school.
Then, having your boys and being able to train throughout those early years on the treadmill, now modeling this great healthy behavior for your boys.
It’s really neat that you’ve met running in each season of life.
Kelly: Running is so special in that you can pick it up and put it down maybe for 20 years. You can pick it back up and use your body, going from no running to having the ability to run a marathon.
I would have never, ever in a lifetime thought, that’s where I would have wound up!
In January of 2019, I was like, “I’ve got to get my body moving for 30 minutes a day”.
It’s an amazing gift to be able to pick running back up and have it as part of my life.
Suzy: So was that the exact timeline? January 2019, you were like, “30 minutes of moving”?
Kelly: Yes, 30 minutes of movement come January of 2019 by Fall of 2019 is when I ran a 12 miler.
And with your expert advice was able to reverse taper and six weeks later, and by January of 2020, I was like, yeah, I’m going to sign up for the New York city marathon!
Suzy: It was not that long ago, right? That was a little short of three years ago.
Sometimes when we think about three years in the future, it seems so long. But three years ago? When we do the reverse, it’s just not that long ago you went from, “I’m going to move 30 minutes a day” to now two time marathoner and a handful of half marathons.
Kelly: Thank you very much. And honestly, Suzy. It kind of just snowballed really quickly. And I feel really fortunate that along the way, our paths crossed and I had this little Suzy angel on my shoulder cheering me on the whole time.
Suzy: Likewise about our paths crossing and hopefully we’ll get to race sometime soon. Speaking of, tell listeners what’s next for you. Where can they find you to connect online?
Kelly: I’m helping to coordinate a family fun 5K at work. So that will be up next in March for me. But, , as far as next marathon on the horizon, I am going to run in Chicago in October, again for the Alzheimer’s association.
I kind of thought I was going to be one and done with marathons, but I registered for that in the car on the way home from New York more because I, I feel like my I’m not done with marathons yet, but I’m certainly not done with continuing to honor my dad and. Raise awareness for the Alzheimer’s association.
So we’ll be doing Chicago this year and still working on my spring half schedule. You can always find me at Inspireactivestyle.com.
Suzy: You are creating an amazing legacy. Congratulations Kelly on your virtual New York city and your New York city, we will keep tabs on you girl, to see how Chicago got.
Kelly: Thanks Suzy. I really appreciate it.
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