Last name: Mary Jane Grier
Hometown: New York, New York
Occupation: nurse practitioner
Execution time : 8 years
Reason to run: It brings me joy and makes me feel better mentally and physically. I also love a challenge!
I really got into running thanks to the same organization that led me to become a nurse. I went to the University of Iowa for undergrad, and while I was there I was very active in a student organization called dance marathon.
Dance Marathon is a nonprofit organization that provides financial and emotional support to children and their families who have been diagnosed with cancer at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. The University of Iowa Dance Marathon is one of the official Chicago Marathon charities, and in 2014 I went to cheer on some of my friends who were running. I was so amazed that the following year I raised funds with Dance Marathon and ran the 2015 Chicago Marathon.
After crossing the finish line that first time, I was hooked! I was running for the kids who can’t. I dedicated each kilometer to a different family, many of whom I had the privilege of knowing personally. The crowd cheering you on throughout the race creates such palpable energy! It was moving and truly life changing. I’ve been running ever since.
I went from rare running to marathon training. I’ve done many other forms of exercise before, but until this first marathon, I wouldn’t have called myself a “runner.”
Luckily, running with a charity, I was set up for success with knowledgeable trainers and a workout plan that I still use today. I also have cousins who are marathon runners/coaches who I was able to get great advice from early in my training journey.
I run with the Nike Run Club app to track my distances. I have now run the Chicago Marathon several times, the Cape Cod Marathon once, and the Virtual Cape Cod Half Marathon twice with my dad.
Running has also inspired my work. I am a NICU Nurse Practitioner in a Level IV NICU. We take care of about 60 babies. Our patients may be extremely premature and/or have a wide range of medical needs requiring specialized intensive care. As a nurse practitioner, we also attend high-risk deliveries to provide care for the baby. Every baby, no matter how small, is born with such a personality. It is amazing to witness the smallest of humans when they are born and then graduate from our unit in the world for the first time. Caring for our babies is incredibly rewarding and I wanted a way to give back to my patients that makes my career so meaningful.
So this year, I’m running the New York City Marathon for the charity, walk for babies. I’ve wanted to run the NYC Marathon through charity since I arrived in the city in 2020, and what better charity than one that impacts my patients?
We share the happiness of the huge triumphs, but we also share the immeasurable losses. I have seen in our unit and in the community the impactful work that March of Dimes does for our babies and their families. Our patients mean the world to me and I am so grateful to run for an organization that supports them.
Due to my work schedule, my race schedule must be flexible and forgiving. I mainly work nights and weekends, so I have to be able to fit my errands into my life. I try to pick a day of the week that will work for my long runs throughout marathon training, and then build my training and work schedules around that.
I will also be running errands and training with a group this summer. I’ve never raced with a group, so I’m interested to see what it’s like.
I’m very excited to be running the New York City Marathon this fall. I am also running the Cape Cod Half Marathon this fall with my dad. Beyond that, my main goal is to run all six World Marathon Majors.
Running has completely changed my life! He taught me to love and appreciate all that my body can do. It led me to have a positive relationship with food and nurturing my body. It’s my moving meditation that helps me stay mentally in a positive state. It’s something that helps me bond with my dad and so many others. Running has been another outlet for feeling accomplished and fulfilled. Besides that, it just makes me happy to run races. I will literally be smiling throughout the 26.2 miles.
These tips have helped me make my running journey a success:
1. Create your atmosphere
Not every race will be amazing, and that’s okay. But prepare to feel positive and motivated. I listen to lively music that makes me want to move. I even watch YouTube videos of Tom Brady before a race sometimes to get myself pumped up and motivated to “win it”. (I’m a huge Tom Brady and Patriots fan!)
2. Find your fuel
If I eat a salad and go for a run, my stomach will hurt all the time. I eat a piece of toast with peanut butter and honey before a long run, and it never upsets my stomach!
3. Be careful and smart
I always tell someone when I’m leaving for a long run in town and what time I have to be back. I try not to run at night or in poorly lit places. (I have scars on my knees from tripping in the dark.) I always have my phone and I usually run with a water bottle.
4. Don’t take it too seriously
For other runners looking to start a running journey, just start where you are and be proud of it! It took me a while to start enjoying running my first summer training. Some races felt so long and overwhelming. Now I just put on my headphones and enjoy my time. And even now, on a long run, it can take me a few miles before I settle into my rhythm. Some days are going to be so bad you just have to laugh. During the Cape Cod Marathon in 2019, it was absolutely raining and there were high winds. We were hit by waves on the road! You just had to accept that it wasn’t going to be your best race and enjoy it. The weather was so bad that I couldn’t help laughing and smiling the whole race.
Mary Jane’s essential gear
→FitRadio: Fit Radio is my ultimate secret weapon for running. They have practice mixes longer than 45 minutes that stay at certain beats per minute. Nothing is worse than flipping through trying to find a song you want to listen to while you run. With these mixes, I put one on and I don’t have to think about it anymore. And these are just fabulous blends. I can only recommend this app!
→Nike Tempo Luxe 2-in-1 Running Shorts: These are my favorite running shorts. They are so comfortable and they don’t ride up.
→GU Caffeine Energy Gel: I love GU with caffeine. I like most things with caffeine, but I definitely get a burst of energy after eating one. They taste great and are easy to eat while running. I usually take one every six miles for long distances.
→Zensah compression sleeves for running legs: I love these footless compression socks. I wear them to work and for long distances. I love being able to wear my own comfy sock with them.
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