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Students putting their best foot forward in half marathons

Not only track athletes run the 13.1 miles--others run the distance just for enjoyment.

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Lauren Paquet, Staff Writer

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Track athletes at Biddeford High School run countless miles throughout their season, but a select few participate in races outside of track meets, and take on a half-marathon.

According to junior track athlete Lelani Melton, a half marathon takes more than just training. It takes motivation and endless determination to get through. Melton ran her first half marathon a couple years ago after hearing about it through her dad, who worked for the race director.

“I’ve done one half marathon, and it was called the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon,” said Melton. “I think that when I first started running it had a lot to do with my dad and I going on runs together, and that resulted in me being motivated,” said Melton. “Later on, I think my [track] coach has had a lot to do with my motivation and improvement with my running.”

After a positive experience running her first half marathon, Melton wants to participate in more in the future.

“Well, I would do the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon again because I really enjoyed it,” said Melton. “I’d also consider running the Shipyard Maine Coast Marathon, which is put on by the same company as the Old Port.”

Junior track athlete Abby Laverriere has also run a half marathon after wanting to do something with her dad.

“My dad had done one a few years ago, and obviously I really like to run, so I was like, ‘hey we should do one together,’ so we decided to find one,” said Laverriere. “It was out of [track] season, so I was able to do it.”

Laverriere signed up for the race after knowing she could get through it from her training.

“I’ve done a half marathon on a run for track,” said Laverriere. “Sometimes for track we do long runs and sometimes they’re 13.1 [miles].”

Melton said her training didn’t differ that much from her regular training for track, and her diet remained similar to what she usually consumed during the track season.

“I ran daily and went for longer runs on the weekend,” said Melton. “[I had a] fairly balanced [diet]. [It was] nothing extreme. Generally speaking, when I’m in-season and training I do eat more”

Laverriere’s track coach has her run extra miles to run in preparation for the race, but besides that, her training was pretty similar to her regular training for track.

“I kind of just did my regular training [for track to prepare for the race],” said Laverriere. “My long runs were a little bit longer. This summer they were ten miles, but my coach moved it to like twelve or thirteen miles instead. My coach had just added on a little bit extra for me so I wasn’t in shock.”

Junior track athlete Riley McNeil said that a half marathon isn’t something you can just show up to–it takes months of preparation and training.

I kind of just did my regular training [for track to prepare for the race],” said Laverriere. “My long runs were a little bit longer. This summer they were ten miles, but my coach moved it to like twelve or thirteen miles instead. My coach had just added on a little bit extra for me so I wasn’t in shock.”

— Abby Laverierre

“The day before the actual marathon, there’s a half marathon, so I would do that one,” said McNeil. “A lot of people say it’s not bad, but you have to train for it. You can’t just go run it.”

Laverriere wants to participate in another half marathon in the future, and plans to do more than just run it.

“My first one [half marathon] was this past summer, so I’ll probably do another one next year and actually race it,” said Laverriere. “The race we did was in Massachusetts and it was called The Triple Threat. The first race was a mile race, and then it was a 5k race, and then it was the half marathon, and we just did the half marathon.”

Laverriere also can’t wait to run a full marathon–which is 26.2 miles–when she’s older.

Junior Abby Laverierre

Junior Abby Laverriere

‘I haven’t done a full marathon,” said Laverriere. “My parents won’t let me do that [a full marathon] until I’m a little bit older because that would be a little extreme, especially [since I’m] still competing in track.”

Not only track players participate in half marathons. Sophomore Megan Boissonneault, who used to play hockey and lacrosse, decided to run one simply to get active.

“Wanting to exercise more and get outside [made me want to run a half marathon],” said Boissonneault. “I ran it with my mom, [and] it was called the Hershey Half Marathon [in Hershey, Pennsylvania.”

As a non-track athlete, Boissonneault and her mom had to train in ways they weren’t exactly used to to prepare for the race.

“My mom and I went to the gym three times a week, [and] went on the treadmill,” said Boissonneault. “[Our diet] wasn’t anything crazy. [Our diet] was just kind of fruits and vegetables, and we cut out sweets.”

Although some students choose to participate in an actual race, others, like McNeil, have ran the distance of a half marathon in a normal run during track season.

“[13.1 miles] is the longest I’ve ever ran,” said McNeil. “I did it near the end of the indoor [track] season. I would [do a half marathon in the future].”

With many areas to choose from, most runners choose to train in certain areas that remain their favorite.

“I like running on Pool Street because it has a big margin, the Eastern Trail, West Street, in Cathedral Oaks, on Route 1, and in Rotary Park,” McNeil said.

Laverriere also plans where she will run in order to avoid getting lost or running too far one way.

“I usually map out a route ahead of time or I have a watch with a gps on it,” said Laverriere. “Sometimes I do a giant loop all around Biddeford, or I do multiple smaller loops, like four or five mile loops.”

McNeil’s track coach, William Fulford, provides inspiration to his students as he himself has raced in half marathons.

“He’s [Coach Fulford] ran a couple half marathons, and he’s training for a full marathon [the Maine Coast Marathon] for the summer,” said McNeil. “We volunteer and do the stands at the marathons.”

When it comes to what the athletes do outside of track, Laverriere thinks Coach Fulford is very involved in what his athletes do outside of track so he can properly prepare them.

“Whenever we want to run a race outside of track and cross-country, he [Fulford] wants us to tell him what we’re doing so he can help us and know ahead of time for our training,” Laverriere said.

McNeil would shy away from competing in marathon race, and instead would simply run it to say she accomplished such a challenging feat.

“I probably wouldn’t go all out and race a whole marathon because that’s crazy,” said McNeil. “Just finishing one is pretty cool, so I would just run it [and not compete].”
Whether they competed or just ran for enjoyment, these students participated in  half marathons putting their best foot forward.

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Students putting their best foot forward in half marathons