MHR Marathon: Shooting for 3:21, But an Amazing Thing Happened

by Megan Kopp

Hi! I’m Megan Kopp, I’m a 33 year old wife, and mother of two awesome kids plus a dog. I live in Cambridge, NY. I ran my second marathon this past Sunday at the beautiful Mohawk Hudson River Marathon. This was my first full marathon in 8 years and after having 2 kids. The weather and the course were absolutely beautiful, especially with the wonderful fall colors this year. I ran a 20 minute PR of 3:08.45 and qualified for Boston! It was definitely a different journey with balancing training, parenting, and opening up a new Mental Health Counseling Practice along the way.

I had a pretty good base of training that I maintained after running the Helderberg to Hudson Half. So I found an 11 week training plan from Lauren Fleshman on the Oiselle website and followed that long run schedule. I adjusted the mid week runs and mileage to fit my schedule with the kids. I created my own strength and cross training plan by incorporating three heavy kettlebell HIIT workouts per week, along with two 30 minutes of bodyweight HIIT workouts per week. I would squeeze in my strength training at home in the morning and run in the afternoon on our treadmill while my 3 year old daughter napped and when my son was still in school. I shifted my long runs to Mondays so I could spend time with my family on the weekend. My mom lives in Grafton, so I would put my son on the bus, or bring both of them over to her house on Monday (during the end of summer). Then I would run to the Grafton State Park and do what felt like a million loops and out and backs within the park to get up to the maximum 20 mile run. My peak mileage was relatively low at only 47 miles that week. I tapered the last 2 weeks by dropping mileage and kettlebell workouts. I did a few fartlek workouts, but nothing super specific with speed. I ran all of my runs solo except for my last long run during my taper, and I ran that 10 miler with wonderful friends and very FAST runners, Megan Harrington and Jessica Bashaw. That run was so fun and refreshing! We had great conversation and they gave me a lot of good marathon tips. I was shooting to get a 3:21.00 and play it safe so I could just qualify for Boston, but they were like “you are totally capable of running a sub 3:10 with your half time!”

So on race day. I was like, “Well, I’m just gonna roll with this and go out at like a 7:10 pace and see how long I last before I hit the wall.” I totally threw the “play it safe” method out the window. I think I did the first mile in a 7:12 ish, and felt pretty good, so I just stuck with this group of men who were all running around the same pace. The first hill was pretty good, but went by quick. We picked it up to some 7:05’s and I still felt pretty good. I think I broke ahead of that group at around mile 10, and then kept moving ahead at a 7-7:05 pace. There was a big gap between myself and anybody ahead of me. I was basically running by myself in “no man’s land” for the second half. That’s ok for me because I am so used to running alone. I think the training run with Megan and Jessica the week before the race was the first time I trained with other human beings in over 4 years! I was keeping a steady pace, but at mile 15 I got a terrible cramp in my right hamstring, and just told myself to push through. I started hurting pretty bad at mile 18, but seeing my husband, kids, and my mom cheering kept me going strong. I held a steady 7:00-7:05 mile pace up until mile 21, then I think I started hitting the wall because I did a terrible job at fueling. I could only stomach 3 shot blocks the whole race and just drank water at the aid stations. I just gutted it out the last 10k and kept pushing to hold at least a 7:30 pace those last few miles. Then when I crossed the finish line it was such a relief! It was such a treat to have my family there and to get a big PR! The people cheering throughout the race and the beauty of the course were truly wonderful! My husband Steve really did amazing at timing out where I would be along the course and getting my mom and kids there to cheer me on! He was great. I definitely recommend this marathon to both beginners and veteran runners!

Now I will take some time to recover, and plan to run Boston in April 2024! I feel so grateful for all the support from my husband, family, and friends throughout this training journey! Right now I’m going to focus on running my Mental Health Practice, Megan Kopp Mental Health Counseling, PLLC. I provide virtual mental health counseling for adults (18 and older) who are dealing with life stress, life transitions, parenting stress, workplace stress, grief, anxiety, and/or depression. I can counsel anyone living in New York State. I have new openings for clients, and accept insurance, so feel free to contact me or spread the word if there is anyone in need of services.  You can reach me at:

Megan Kopp Mental Health Counseling, PLLC

Or follow my Psychology Today

             Megan with proud family after marathon

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