Finishing your First Marathon... in NYC; An Interview with Carleth Keys (@carlethkeys)
Name: Carleth Keys
Instagram Handle: carlethkeys
Day Job: Full time Mom. Content creator just for the fun of it, when my boys let me
There is nothing better than finishing the huge milestone accomplishment of your first marathon. Tell us what it was like to hit that finishing chute in Central Park? By the way.... you ran it super fast, very impressive!
Thank you so much! I surprised myself by my time! I trained during a whole year for the NYC Marathon dreaming of a 3:45 finish, although I never really believed I could do it.
My first thought, as I was getting closer to the finish line, was “smile and don’t look at your phone/watch”. That’s what our coaches and mentors at Team for Kids taught us during our trainings, because you want to look “fairly good” in your finish line pictures, right? So, I forgot about my phone and my time for the last 5K of the marathon.
Once I crossed that line, I broke into tears. I couldn’t believe it was over. A whole year of training ended just like that… with a smiley face to the camera at the finish line. I felt like going back to Staten Island to run it all over again hahaha!
Then I got a call from my husband, congratulating me for my 3:42 finish. I couldn’t believe I just exceeded my own expectations. Then I cried some more, remembering all the running friends I made along this journey that supported me, remembering all the faces that cheered me on as I was crossing the five boroughs.
I realized then that the whole "marathon thing” is a life changing experience from where there's no turning back.
Were you more nervous or excited for your first Marathon?
I was excited the whole year of training. Then I started to feel nervous two weeks before the marathon, having nightmares about forgetting my bib, missing the Staten Island ferry, etc, etc. Then, two nights before I woke up scared and convinced that I wouldn't be able to do it, that running wasn’t for me and so forth. My mind was playing tricks on me.
In a post on Instagram leading up to the NYC Marathon you mention you felt you were known as just "sombody's mom" and running helped remind you who you were. Can you share a little bit about your connection with running now after accomplishing the marathon? Did you learn anything about yourself during training?
Oh yes! Like I said before, it was a life changing experience. For me, running a marathon started as a challenge. I just wanted to see if I was mentally and physically strong enough to take on such a big commitment. But then I realized that a marathon, or running for that matter, is way more than that.
First of all, once you do it, you can’t stop running. Your body calls for it, craves it. But running for the fun of it isn’t enough either. Your body needs a goal, a purpose, a finish line. That’s when you start enrolling in all kinds of marathons and half marathons like a crazy person hahaha
In my case, running gave me structure and discipline, and sharpened my ability to focus on myself. Being a mother and wife means in many cases to put yourself last. Running gave me a "space” where I could reconnect with myself and my goals.
Advice for someone who is hesitant about getting into long distance running?
If a mother of two can do it, anybody can. It might seem imposible at first, but you will be surprised by how your body is able to adapt to extreme conditions with the proper training. When I ran my first half marathon, I remember thinking “there is not a chance in this world I can run more than 21K, this is exhausting!”, and my coach used to laugh at me saying “off course you can! you'll see”. Now, 21K sounds to me like a stroll in the park. It’s just a matter of perspective ;-)
Do you find balance through running? If so, how?
Yes. Running gives me energy and focus. I get my best ideas when I’m running. I relax when I’m running. I relieve stress when I’m running. I make difficult decisions after running. Somehow, running helps me see things more clearly.
Have you picked your next race yet?
Yes. I’m running the United Half Marathon in NYC on March 15th, and the Rock N’ Roll Madrid Marathon on April 26th. I’ve enrolled in Chicago and NYC drafts. Fingers crossed!
Would you recommend to a friend raising money for Team For Kids? Biggest perks you enjoyed?
Definitely. I know it’s hard to ask for money, but believe me when I say that one of the best things of my entire marathon experience was Team For Kids. I met great people -crazies just like me- thanks to TFK -the @izzobrothers included. TFK provided me a much needed support network that I didn’t have when I started training, long-lasting friends with whom I continue running on weekends when I can… And it makes a huge difference having a dedicated ferry and heated tent on marathon day ;-)