Denise you have completed an impressive 124 marathons, is there one that you remember most and why?
I get asked a lot what my favorite marathon is, and it always comes back to my first marathon: Chicago Marathon 1994. It is the most important one to me because it turned the “I can’t!” into “What Else Can I Do?!” It truly gave me the first dose of confidence that I had been searching for in my life! I have even run the Antartica, and Everest Base Camp marathons and even those can touch the feelings I have for my first marathon.
Which of the marathons did you find most challenging and how did you push through it?
The hardest marathon that I have run so far was the Everest Base Camp marathon in 2019. The terrain was beyond technical for this flat lander from Chicago. It took me over 12 hours to do it! When I wanted to quit and was running out of oomph, I actually started thinking of my clients that I work with. I visualize them pushing through the workouts when they want to quit. I am fortunate that I have these memories of their grit to draw strength from. I also think of the spectator sign that we see a lot, “There will come a day when you cannot run. Today is not that day”
Why is running so important to you?
Running has been my best friend since the 4th grade. It always makes me feel better. It helps me see what else is possible. It has connected me to so many friends. It has been my mode of transportation in seeing the world and it was actually my first therapist!
You have often said that running was a catalyst for positive change in your life, what advice would you give any other runners who are facing adversity or finding things hard?
You will get through this!! I tell my runners to think of other things that they have done in their life that they didn’t think they could do and they did it! Draw upon those experiences both in and out of running. And just know that on the other end of this struggle will be transformation that you would have missed out on had you not pushed through
Through your coaching, is there any races or client achievements that give you the greatest sense of pride ?
When any of my clients hit their race goal, I am so proud and happy for them because that is why they came to me as a coach. But I am just a tad bit prouder of them when they don’t hit their goal and they are still proud of their race and their training. I don’t think we should judge all of sacrifice and commitment from our training and our grit and fight on race day to 1 second crossing a chip mat. Running/Racing has so many parallels to life. We have good days and bad days. We also have good runs/races and bad runs/races.
Your tally includes 32 Boston Marathon qualifications (and 12 finishes), what is it about Boston you think that makes it such a special place to run?
In running over 100 marathons (and counting!) I feel like nothing can compare to the feelings and emotions of your first marathon until you run your first marathon. I have even run this by my many-time marathoners, and they feel the same way. I think it is because there is so much prestige and history with the Boston Marathon. Not to mention all of the talk about thee “Heartbreak Hill” and the fact that you have to qualify to run it. It bring a similar challenge to each of us in that “Can I run a marathon?” and “Can I qualify for Boston?”