Five hours, 49 minutes and 30 seconds was all it took for Sarah Allen to complete a 26.2-mile run.
Allen believes people are capable of achieving anything they want as long as they put in the effort. Her completion of a marathon in Charleston, South Carolina, showed she’s capable of anything.
The Lenape High School English teacher ran the marathon on Jan. 11 as her sisters, cousins and students (virtually) cheered her on.
“I started running more to not necessarily deal with stress, but I needed something to make me feel good about myself and running did that,” Allen admitted.
The 26.2-mile feat wasn’t Allen’s first go-around with a long run; she did Long Beach Island’s 18-mile island run for five years. This year would’ve been her sixth, but the run was canceled by organizers, encouraging Allen to register for the Charleston event.
Allen decided on Charleston because she adored the city and wanted to be somewhere where she could relax and rest. Allen passed over the famous Boston Marathon, a run more competitive than leisurely.
During Allen’s nearly six-hour run, the training she took helped her reach the finish line. Her regimen consisted of running 3- to 18-mile runs throughout the week, and eating more protein-rich foods for seven weeks before the race.
“The highest they take you is 20 in the program,” Allen explained. “The last 6.2 miles was tough! I would almost prefer to build up to that.”
Running with the humidity in Charleston made Allen’s time slightly tougher to achieve; she completed her training in New Jersey during the late fall and winter, then transitioned to running in the summer-like coastal town.
“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, but the humidity was a big thing in terms of breathing,” she noted. “The course was pretty flat, so it wasn’t difficult that way.”
What proved to be difficult during the run, more than the humidity, was that Allen’s headphones died 1.5 miles before the finish line. Music she was listening to consisted of “depressing country, upbeat country,” pop and rap, with the change of tempos helping her run.
The death of her headphones meant one thing to Allen: Play the music through iPhone speakers.
“That ‘Good as Hell’ song (by Lizzo) helped me because it’s big and popular right now and I was listening to it before my headphones died,” Allen added. “I then just played it out loud and was like ‘I don’t care,’ there’s was no way I could get through a mile and a half without music.”
Crossing the finish line, for Allen, meant she accomplished all she had worked for to get to that point, despite finishing in a pool of sweat.
Medals were given out to each finisher in the shape of a diamond, signifying the 10-year anniversary, along with a commemorative shirt.
“I thought the thing that’s cool was this is their 10-year anniversary for doing the run and they did a diamond to represent it and then a pineapple,” Allen quipped. “It’s my favorite and it says ‘26.2.'”
After a weekend of hanging out with her sisters and cousins, Allen told her students about her achievement — they comically admitted she could run a marathon — and used it as a lesson for the students to shoot for excellence.
She wants them to feel the adrenaline high she felt after finishing whenever they’ve accomplished a feat they have put their minds, bodies and souls into.
“Our bodies are mentally, emotionally and physically capable of more than what we give ourselves credit for or believe, until we really want it enough to achieve it,” she noted.
As for her future in marathon running, Allen admitted if she were going to do another, it would be a destination run somewhere such as Walt Disney World or in South Africa.
“I would be a traveling marathon person,” she happily stated. “I wouldn’t just do them in Jersey. I would go somewhere for the experience.”