U&R Superstars: Marci Gaither

Up & Running SuperstarsWhenever I’m feeling meh in the mojo department, one of my favourite inspirational pitstops is Marci G’s Alumni Forum diary. When she signed up for the Summer 5K course in 2011 she thought she “wasn’t cut out” to be a runner but she’s spent the last 18 months proving otherwise. She’s worked her tail off to improve her endurance and 5K time, running and racing and entertaining us with mantras like suck it up, cupcake and every bit counts.

Marci’s the very embodiment of what we believe in here at U&R — working from where you are, treating yourself kindly, and being consistent and brave. We’re so chuffed to be sharing her story with you today… take it away, Marci!

Marci Gaither

40 | Pittsburgh, USAPsychologist specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Psychosis

1. Can you tell us a little about your exercise history before you joined Up & Running?
In grad school I did a year of kickboxing class (with pads). I would occasionally try to do some walking but usually only lasted a couple of months. I have never been athletic or particularly coordinated!

Marci down at the track
Marci down at the track

2. How did you “discover” us? What made you want to try running?
I’ve always liked the idea of running. I wished I could be a runner, but didn’t think I was cut out for it. One day I happened across a give away for Up & Running on a scrapbooking blog. I didn’t sign up for the giveaway but was curious and clicked over to see what it was all about. In a moment of optimism, I thought, “Why not?” and signed up.

3. Did you have any mental barriers or resistance to starting the sport?
My mental barrier was that I didn’t think I could do it. I was afraid it would just be too hard for me. I don’t look like the stereotypical runner, so was also a little self conscious when starting my public workouts. I was amazed at the encouragement I got. Complete strangers in the park stopped me to offer encouragement!

4. You finished the 5K course in Summer 2011 and kicked butt all the way. How did you feel when you finished that first race?
Julia and Shauna are miracle workers. To get me through that course, they had to be! The course is a wonderful combination of specific instruction and support. It’s not easy, but it is doable. Just surrender early and trust Julia. I don’t want to give away any trade secrets, but they know their stuff.

The support on the Forum was a crucial component for me. I remember at the end saying that we had to find a way to keep in touch after the course because I needed the Forum like I needed air. There is no substitute for knowing that women literally around the world are behind you every single step of the way.

After rocking the Pittsburgh 5K
After rocking the Pittsburgh 5K

I was still not able to run a full 5k at the end of the course. Remember, I was SLOW and could only run about 30 seconds at a time when I started. But Julia said we had to try to run a 5k for a base time, and by God, you learn to do what Julia tells you!

My first 5k was not fun. I won’t lie. I did it by myself because I felt I couldn’t ask anyone to do it with me. No one else would be that slow. I also didn’t learn about the course ahead of time and didn’t realize it was a hilly one. I came in dead last. The guy was breaking down the finish shute when I came in. But I had a base time to start from and I had earned my graduation certificate.

5. What were your goals once you finished the course? How did you kept that awesome momentum going?
Well, I still had the Run-A-Whole-5K goal that many of the other ladies had accomplished. We learned that we could be Alumni members on the Forum, which is the most brilliant thing ever. So, I just set my sights on doing what I needed to do to achieve that goal. I started by redoing the 5K Course workouts. Then Julia worked with me to suggest some modifications. And one day, it came true. I did it!

6. You set the most awesome challenge for 2012 – 12 in ’12 – where you ran a 5K race each month for the year. How did you settle on that challenge?
People were talking on the Forum about their goals for the new year and “12 in ’12” just came to me as a catchy goal phrase. I wanted to keep my momentum going and felt frequent goals would help keep me on track and help solidify running as a regular part of my life. I had worked too hard to let it slip away. I also wanted to keep working on decreasing my times. It ended up being a lot of fun and I got people to run with me. What I learned is “run with me” can be lining up together at the start and meeting up at the finish after. Everybody gets to run their own pace and still support one another.

Gotta love a race called "Just A Short Run"
Gotta love a race called “Just A Short Run”

7. Has running changed your life and/or your mind?
As someone who practices cognitive behavioral therapy, running is a perfect example of how important our thinking is to everything we do. And you have a lot of time to think when you run. Early on I declared my running time as a “no negativity zone”. I try hard to keep my thoughts on encouraging, positive messages. I have learned that I am capable of more that I thought.

8. You have been very consistent in your training right from the get go. How do you make time for it?
I have fewer responsibilities than some others with large families, so that helps. I have been willing to try out various options and see what works. What works has changed over time too. Right now I do two runs after work during the week and two morning runs on the weekend. I also know that I will lose what I’ve gained fairly quickly if I slack off. I feel that I worked so hard for the progress I’ve made and I don’t want to lose it!

9. How do you feel before you go running? How do you overcome any resistance?
Oh, I frequently don’t want to go. I’m much better now at catching myself early on when my thinking is sliding in the slacker direction. I tell myself that it is non-negotiable. I tell myself I will feel better afterwards (this is always true). Sometimes, I tell myself, “Suck it up, Cupcake!”. I might pop onto the Forum to see what others are up to and get motivation that way too. And most of the time I am meeting up with a running buddy, so we keep each other accountable.

10. How do you feel during a run? What do you think about?
Well, I don’t feel like a gazelle, I’ll tell you that. I usually am reminding myself of various motivational phrases. I have a whole Pinterest board for this. Sometimes I am happy to not have to think about much of anything. I don’t have to make any decisions. I just have to run. I listen to music when I run too.

11. How do you feel afterwards?
I always feel good. Even a crappy run feels good, because you’re proud that you did it. The whole “A good mood is only a run away” is true.

In the snow at the Cupid 5K
In the snow at the Cupid 5K

12. What has been your most memorable running moment(s) thus far?
Funny you should ask. Tonight I ran 5 miles for the first time. Me. I have dropped through the rabbit hole. Anything is possible now.

13. After the triumph of 12 in 12, what’s next on your running agenda?
I am running a 5-mile race with friends in a couple of weekends. This year I’ve set a goal to run a 10k.

14. Do you have any advice for those brave souls joining us for the Spring 5K course?
You are going to amaze yourselves! Use the Forum regularly. Trust Julia. See you on the Alumni side!

15. If we could wave a magic wand and transport you to the start of any running event in the world, what would it be?
Why the Up and Running LIVE! retreat in Bologna, of course! But if you have a magic wand, can I also go see Sara chase Loch Ness?

Thanks for your time, Cupcake!

If you fancy following in Marci’s footsteps, the Spring 5K and 10K Courses start next week… see you there?

  1. Pingback: Up & Running winners | Shauna Reid

  2. Tessa
    Awww, Marci you are my most favourite cup cake in the whole wide world <3 I'm so happy you shared my 5K course with me! Can't wait to see you accomplish this years goal :)
  3. Anne
    Marci, I love so much that you've dropped through the rabbit hole - such a beautiful phrase. You are so right - anything is possible. x
  4. Svava
    Marci embodies everything I felt U&R stood for - togetherness, sheer bloodymindedness, kindess and determination. A true life inspiration xx
  5. Brenda A.
    Great write up! Marci you are an inspiration. I think I need to start readying your running diary :)
  6. Natali
    Wooo Hooo Marci! You are a rock star...KEEP GOING!