Athlete Insight - Race Report with Leslie Marion-Lowe

My journey with Evolve began in March 2017 and has changed my life incredibly, for the better of course!  I give credit to Sam for allowing me to let go of some of my mommy guilt to pursue what I love to do...

A few of you may know me, but I’d thought I’d share how I’ve come to the sport, along with my most recent marathon experience.


I’ve always been interested in physical fitness; I was a physical education major until I decided to leave college after my junior year to go to the police academy.  As an officer, my fitness was still important, but I didn’t run much after the academy.  Until one day one of my coworkers asked if I’d run a marathon with her, which my response was of course!  I hadn’t raced as much as a 5k at that point.  Neither of us knew what we were doing really.  So we read the book, “The Nonrunners guide to running a marathon.”  Sounded easy enough, right?  Only run 4 days/week? Ok!

Come race day, I was ready -  or so I thought.  I had a plan to have a family member or friend run with me the entire way so I wouldn’t be alone.  So every few miles I’d pick up a new fresh face to run with me.  My crucial rookie mistake was coming out of the gate WAY too hard.  I got whisked away with the excitement and idea of a particular finish time that it caused me to hit the wall very early.  It was so horribly painful that I was calling and begging people to please come pick me up.  Luckily they didn’t listen to me.  I plugged along and felt like I was the very last finisher at 6:25:42.  But hey I finished and I was now a marathoner!

As Lindsay Scheinerman (my Evolve teammate and good friend) will tell you, I ghosted my college friends by not returning in 2003 and not telling anyone and lost contact with them all.  Luckily, Facebook brought us back together in 2009.  I’d always wanted to do the Flying Pig marathon because of the fun medal.  So Lindsay and I both sign up for Flying Pig AND Go Stl half marathons that spring.  I like to take the credit for her running addiction ;)  This was the beginning of our racing relationship.  At the end of the Flying Pig half marathon, “someone” didn't follow our plan to go to the family reunion area, so we probably walked another 13.1 miles trying to find each other.  Lindsay tells the story differently.

Our next big plan was, hey let’s do the 2010 Chicago Marathon.  It’s my “treat” to myself for passing my nursing boards.  Unfortunately, this was the year Lindsay got hit by a car at Forest Park during a training run.  Being the awesome friend she is, Lindsay still traveled to Chicago to see me race, but only under the stipulation that I signed up for 2011 Chicago Marathon.  It’s the least I could do right?

I used my experience from my first marathon and went out steady throughout the race and knocked off 1 hr 13 min off my first marathon time.  Not bad.  I held my promise and raced 2011 Chicago, but only half assed trained. I only gained 12 min from previous year, not bad either for half ass training.  Oh and I got to meet the greatest soccer player of all time, Abby Wambach!  Bonus!  Thanks for breaking your ass and forcing me to go back Lindsay! ;)

I went onto to try my first triathlon at the 2011 Newtown Triathlon.  I love to swim, bike and run, so it only made sense right?  Again, another huge rookie mistake.  I only had practiced in a pool, so yep totally freaked the fuck out in the open water.  Went onto finish the race, but had no interest in triathlons after that.  Except the Triathlon at Castlewood that involved a canoe and I wanted to toss Lindsay overboard due to her canoeing skills.  Again, another story she will tell differently.

I went on to run other races, plenty of half’s, 10ks and 5ks.  Always training just enough or offering to stay back to help a slower friend through a race.  My running got derailed once I start to try to get pregnant and have to go on meds.  I felt sick all the time and zapped of energy. I get pregnant, and it gets worse.  I ended up with an emergency C Section, struggled with breast feeding, stress hives,and a baby who doesn’t want to sleep, etc.  I had zero energy for anything.  After Wyatt turned 1, I did my first race in 2 years.  But I quickly lost motivation after that.  I felt like I’d lost myself and I was desperate for help.  I sent smoke signals to Lindsay, and asked for her coaches' number.  I watched her performance dramatically improve over the years and hoped I could achieve similar results with a coach.


Now that I’m doing more than just half ass training, I’m starting to make great improvements.  Over the past year with Sam, I gained the confidence to try Newtown again and kicked it’s ass by 26 min!  I’ve PR’ed my 5k, had a podium finish at Riverland's Rush, passed over 2000 people during the heat at the Chicago half marathon as people were going down all around me.  And now we embark on marathon #4, The Mesa-Phoenix Marathon 2018...  

My training was pretty solid, despite getting pneumonia for the second time this year.  The longer my runs got, the more I start to feel guilty about not being home on long run Sundays.  Wyatt always asks my wife when she goes to get him in the morning, “Mommy go go go?” And it breaks my heart.  I struggled with great guilt about booking this trip, it will be the longest I’ve been away from Wyatt.  I want to be more than just Wyatt’s mom though and I need this.

The morning of my departure, Wyatt and I played together.  I got teary eyed as we snuggle, but he doesn’t really get it that I’ll be gone.  My mom takes me to the airport and as I get out to go around to the other side to give Wyatt a kiss, she opens he tailgate via remote.  I don’t see the gate going up and I ran smack right into it so hard that it leaves me with a 1 inch gash and blood running down my face.  Now I’m full fledged bawling because it hurt like a motherfucker!  I check to make sure I don’t need stitches and kiss them all goodbye.  Lindsay and I happen to be on the same flight by accident, so at least I have someone to show my war wound to.  I think it can only get better from here, right?

The morning before the race, my wife informs me that our 14 year old Beagle, Ping, seems to not be feeling well.  She had recently been diagnosed with an abdominal tumor and Cushings disease, but had been improving.  She tells me all her symptoms and actions and has me watch her on video.  I know this isn’t good.  The vet checks her out and ultimately it’s up to us to decide if it’s Pings time or not.  My wife takes her home, takes Ping for a walk (which Ping didn’t enjoy), made Ping bacon (didn’t eat it) and by late morning her tail isn’t wagging anymore so we know it’s time.  I have to say good bye via FaceTime and I’m absolutely crushed.  I force myself through the pre-race motions all day.  I’d been looking forward to my big breakfast, but sat there adding extra sodium via tears.  I do my 30 min run and of course everyone is out walking their dogs so tears streamed down my face the entire time.  Needless to say I was a complete fucking mess.  I felt so helpless and guilty for not being there with Ping during her final moments.

I maybe get 4 hours of sleep race night and wake up all puffy faced with my eyelids being giant puffy pillows.  At least it will be dark at the start.  It’s a 30 min bus ride and I happen to sit next to a Triathlon coach from Salt Lake City.  She has 5 boys ages 1.5  to 11 and is using this race as a training run for an upcoming full iron she’s doing.  Fuck and I’m overwhelmed with the one kid!  Anyways it’s a nice distraction.  

I like to pick people out that resemble people from home and pretend they are cheering for me.  The bus chick was my Sam.  Lady in the portapotty line was a coworker.  Saw a family resembling mine.  It keeps my mind off things.  I fly through the first 10 miles without much effort and it’s a piece of cake.  I see my friends at mile 11 and it gives me a boost.  The next 10 miles go ok, but I can’t seem to get my pace to pick up at all so I try to maintain until mile 20.  At 20 I’m still feeling pretty good, and decide this is where I need to give it all I have in the tank.  But my fucking legs just won’t move.  Like hello, body please listen to what the mind is telling you to do!  My friends are around mile 23, so I know I have to make it there and that will help.  I get a surprise sighting of Lindsay’s husband at mile 22, so that helps.  I see my friends at 23.5 and know that I’m so close to the finish.  I happened to touch my face and it’s covered in salt.  I’d been drinking my Gatorade, wtf!  At 24, I happen to see a huge bottle of salt tabs, so I snag one.  It’s only 2.2 miles, seriously get your shit together.  The faster you go, the faster this will be over.  I start to pick up the pace.  At 25, I’m locked in and tell myself every .10 I need to move faster.  There’s a nice downhill at 25.5 and a runner comes up next to me and tells me that I’m looking smooth and steady.  I turned and asked if she wanted to try and go balls to the wall into the finish with me.  She says her knee is locked up, but she will try.  I keep pushing it as hard as I can, she keeps falling back but I yell to her to get up there with me.  As well get closer, she starts to pull ahead so I use that to pull up there with her and we cross the line together.  She gives me a big hug at the end and tells me thank you.


I managed to keep my shit together during the race.  I couldn’t allow any thoughts of Ping because it would cause me to not be able to breathe.  Really I went to work and focused on getting to the finish so it could be over with.  Usually races are more of a celebration of all the work I’ve put into getting to that point.  I didn’t feel like celebrating and wasn’t excited.  I forced myself to smile on the course because I knew it would help tell my body that it wasn’t experiencing any pain.  Which it didn’t hurt like past marathons.  They gave me my medal and a towel.  And I lost it into the towel.  I crossed the line at 4:34:16, should be excited with that but I’m not.  It’s my new PR by 38:20, that’s nearly 1.5 min/mile faster!  Nope still not excited and feel like I should have done better.  Despite feeling like I could have done better, this was by far my best race.  I stayed moving nearly the entire time!  I stopped at mile 3 to pee and at mile 11 to shed layers and be sprayed down with sunblock.  I had only two mini walking sessions that maybe lasted 15 seconds each in order to collect myself.  I know all these great thing I accomplished and should be proud of, it’s been hard to allow those feelings in with the dagger currently placed in my heart.

I’ve known Ping 9 of her 14 years.  She came to be a permenant family member for her final 3 years.  In her prime, she was one hell of a runner and could easily run a 7-8 min/mile with her previous owner.  I could only hope to be half the runner she was.  This one was for Ping.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have considered this to be a hurdle I would encounter during a race.  I made it.  With pain, comes strength.