Pittsburgh Marathon Runner Profile: Sarah Jane

This Pittsburgh Marathon Runner profile features Sarah Jane, who currently lives in Somerset PA. She is running the full marathon--her first!--and also training for an Ironman race.
Sarah Jane

1. How long have you been running and how did you start?
I ran in junior high school and then became a teenage mother. I started running again in my early 20's. It was nothing serious and I had no idea what I was doing. After my second child I started to run more regularly but only when the weather was nice. When I was 34 I was invited to do a sprint triathlon. I started getting serious about keeping track of my pace and training at that point. I was only running 10 minute miles and it took everything I had to maintain that pace! I shredded my ACL in February 2013 and when I was cleared to run again, I was determined to run faster. I ran my first half marathon last year and maintained a 9min 30sec pace for the entire run. A year later, I am at 8min 30sec pace.

2. Is this your first full marathon? If not, how many others have you done (and what were they)? If so, how did you decide to do your first ironman the same year?

This year will be my first full marathon. I decided to run the full to help me determine how prepared I am for my Ironman race in July. I have only ran the half last year and raced several sprint and Olympic distance triathlons.

3. How did you come up with your own training plan? For example, is it just trial and error based on what you know works, or did you once follow a certain plan and kept elements of that?
For my first Ironman, I want to have fun and do my best but not die at the finish line. I have looked up several training plans that recommend increasing endurance training at 30 minute increments up to the six months prior to your race. At six months prior I should be able to tolerate one hour and 30 minute cycling sessions plus a one hour run session 3 times weekly. I should also be able to swim for an hour and cycle for an hour and 30 minutes. At five weeks prior I should be able to maintain my swimming, biking, and running sessions for 4 hours and include a 5 hour session once a week. I know my marathon will be no less than 3 hours and my Ironman will be no less than 10 hours. I am just aiming to build my endurance to survive the race with a respectable time.

4. Are you trying for a specific goal for the marathon?
I hope to maintain my 8min and 30sec pace for the entire 26 miles. That would be record for me!

5. Have you always done cross-training (strength, cycling, swimming), and how has that helped you?
I have always weight trained but only started including swimming and cycling in my training back in 2012. When I could not run due to my knee injury and repair, I cycled and swam constantly and worked in some weight training occasionally. Now I am weight training 3 to 5 days a week plus my endurance training 3 to 7 days a week. My pace in all three sports has improved. My running has been the most challenging though! Progress feels so slow but every time I run a little faster I am inspired to do more work!

6. What special challenges are there in training for both a full marathon and an Ironman at the same time?
Training takes discipline and time. Working, completing my BSN, raising my daughter, keeping a home, and having a partner requires more time than I often have. I have to eat and sleep too! I have to work in cardio sessions whenever I can. I will often study while I cycle on my trainer. I eat on my trainer as well! Family and friends don't always understand why I am so unavailable but I have to remain committed to my training in order to succeed and meet my goals. It is a challenge to be social at times. All of my time is used up by my own activities and I feel bad when I have to turn down invites to social events and gatherings. But I know I must focus on preparation right now. It will all be worth it to run faster and finish strong.

7. Anything else you'd like to share?
I miss alcoholic cocktails! I have no tolerance for alcoholic beverages right now. That is another challenge. Alcohol just wipes me out and even one sets me back. I look forward to downing a tasty drink after my race!

I'm beyond impressed with the amount of time and dedication Sarah Jane puts into her training! Given all that she's accomplished so far, I have no doubt she'll meet her goals for both the marathon and Ironman. Thanks, and good luck, Sarah Jane!

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