Malou Fletcher from Fayetteville, N.Y. started running with the Coach to 5K training program last October. “I ran circles in my backyard while my youngest napped,” she says. In the past year, she’s lost 65 pounds, completed her first half marathon, celebrated seven years as a breast cancer survivor—and plans to run her first marathon this fall.
Malou and her veteran partner, Mandy Howard of Clay, N.Y., are part of the Saucony 26 Strong project, a collaboration between Competitor and Saucony that pairs experienced marathon vets with first-timers (“cadets”) as they both train to achieve their marathon goals. Malou and Mandy are both training for the Mohawk Hudson Marathon on Oct. 13.
“After finishing the half marathon, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do a full,” Malou says. “My mentor Mandy Howard has been a huge motivator to me. She took me from a beginner runner to my first half marathon and now to this. She believed in me even when I had doubts in myself.”
Malou offers this update on her race training:
“Marathon training has been going well. It was somewhat of a juggle with the kids being home from school but we got into a groove that worked for all of us. Running early morning, swimming or strength training at the local YMCA later.
“(On vacation in August), I traveled to southern New Jersey. I was excited for the flat ground to run many miles on. This didn’t work out as I had hoped. After going for my longest run to date of 17 miles, my calf started to bother me the point that I have needed to take several days off. I assumed that after battling the heat of the summer and the early hour I needed to wake up to run I was over the ‘hard’ part.
“This set back has been frustrating but I won’t let it get me down. I am thinking the change from mostly trail running to street running is the culprit. I know not to jump back into it too quick. Months ago I might have ignored the pain and run through it but I am becoming smarter. Seeing that my running career is still only 10 months young everything is new and a learning experience.
“This summer I completed the Utica Boilermaker 15K race. During that race the heat again began to get to me so before it got too bad, I stopped and walked a bit. This made me realize that walking isn’t a failure but for me smart running. I have incorporated a walk plan for all of my long distance runs and it has worked very well for me. I still don’t have a goal for my marathon. Finish of course but my pace is still not consistent at this time. Cooler weather that I am hoping for in October will maker for a faster race for me.
“Motherhood has given me nine beautiful children (three adopted with special needs) all with strengths and weaknesses. I try and instill in them the ‘never say never’ attitude in life and live that way myself whether battling cancer or training to finish my 1st marathon. Carpe Diem!”