Name: Meghan Walter
Hometown: Fulton, NY (a small town in upstate NY, Oswego County!)
Current City: Farmingville, NY
Marital Status: Married to my college sweetheart, Ryan Walter.
Children: Emily (4) Penelope (1)
Pets: Francie and Spencer the cats from All about Cats in Freeport
Occupation: MS Orchestra Teacher, Rocky Point
Hi Hillbillies! I’m so excited to be your Warrior of the week, hopefully my stories this week inspire you to keep running and give you some chuckles along the way. Thank you Lou for asking me to be Warrior of the week! Being a warrior of the hills has been such an amazing experience for me this last year. I remember messaging Lou in March of 2018 when I was itching to run with friends and get back out there after having my second daughter Penelope. I have already met some inspiring runners, I love chatting with new faces either at races or weekly runs, and I hope to meet many more of you in the future!
To get to know me further, lets go back… way back to my high school track days when I finally started to get determination to run. I was originally asked to join the track and field team by some great friends at the time and thought “why not?” I loved the aspect of being on a team and working out with other people. The social aspect was great in track but honestly I hated just running around the track while others were watching. The next year, I resigned from track and field and finished my HS days on the cross-country team. Even though we were a small team, we were like family and ran together everywhere. (Even when one girl wanted a frosty, mid-run, at the local Wendy’s… we ran there ate a frosty and returned.) Lagrou, our coach, was always pushing us to go faster and ordered us to not stop at Wendy’s. Whomp, whomp! 😂 Some of my first fond memories were those cross-country days of running with buddies. My best friend, Alyse, and I were reminiscing about Cross-country this past year. Back in the day, we would run and chat and complain about running a mile. Now we are signing up for half marathons and paying to run often! If only I could go back to my younger self and listen to my coach. I did see Coach Lagrou at one of my upstate half marathons recently. The Earth Day half in Baldwinsville NY. (Check it out; you get a tree with your shirt!) At that race, Lagrou was running behind me and I heard “ Go get em Laux!” We chatted a little during that race, caught up and then he said, “You keep going. I want you to finish before your old coach!” My first fastest ½ was that day at 2:05. I was pumped!
In college, I kept running with various friends but I think college was a start of running as therapy for me. Being a music education major had its stressful moments. Normally, I could laugh off the problems with my best friend Lizbeth or with my soon to be husband Ryan, but every now and then a run would do the trick. While at SUNY Fredonia, I often needed to release stress and tension with a run. I remember one day in particular, when I was practicing for hours on a hard passage. My Bach Viola solo was just not where I wanted and just stopped, looked out the window, and thought, “I need to run.” I packed my viola up, went back to my college dorm, put on running clothes and just kept running until I stopped at the nearby creek. I remember feeling better, feeling like things would all work out and my head, and cleared of any worries.
After college, I moved to Long Island and lived with a great friend Tracee. She was a runner. She was always training for the next half or full and I thought, “How could she just run that many miles? “ I think I was my worse critic at the time because even though she encouraged me to sign up for big races I always thought I couldn’t run more then 3 miles. My favorite memory of living with Tracee was slightly after she got Maya the pup. Maya was an eager beaver pup with a ball of energy. Tracee would run with her often to calm her down. That day she wanted me to come running too. I just got home from work, exhausted and she said “Get up! We are going running!” SO hardest part next, running sneakers on and we went. We got slightly lost, laughed the whole time, and came back with about 6 miles under our belt. For the first time, I realized I could run farther if I put my mind to it and I ran with a friend. Running with a buddy is so much better!
Years went by and I still continued to run for fun. After I had my daughter, Emily, I was determined to continue to do something for me that including spending time with her. So I put her in a stroller, ran around the outside track and got some time outdoors while she snacked and sang and cooed. Emily’s babysitter at the time,Marlene, was an avid runner and said she needed one more friend to join in her charity for Fred’s Team in the NYC half. I thought about it, chatted about it with Ryan and developed a running training program with Tracee on how to get it done. Few months later, I finished my first half, endorphins high; smiles, tears, legs sore and I knew it…. I was hooked.
Around the same time I became really interested in running as a lifestyle, I rekindled friendships with people I haven’t seen since college. My friend Tara and I got together in a race and decided we should train and run together. We were always chatting in our runs, pushing each other to do more and my most favorite: meeting at her house in Astoria, running to central park and completing a NYRR City mini race together. It’s always nice running with Tara, we develop crazy running ideas together then somehow complete it together in the future.
How did I know I was a determined runner? Well, when I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter, Penelope, I was planning to run the Queens 10k and the Shelter 10k in the same day! I remember when the Dr. asked if I had any questions the first thing I said was “Can I still run while I’m pregnant?’ Of course I ran in easy moderation and finished all the races I signed up for. However, I couldn’t run the entire time, I was just exhausted being a Mom of one working full time and growing a baby at the same time. So around 24 weeks I opted for walking instead. During that time, I had some vivid dreams and what were they about… running! I told everyone I knew that as soon as I was able, I was going to run again. I couldn’t wait. About 4 weeks after Penelope was born, I was cleared to run and did it that day. I really thought I was crazy, but it wasn’t my most crazy moment in my running career. (I’ll get to that another day this week!) About a week after trying to run after baby, I reached out to Lou and went to the hills for the first time.
My other running partner in crime that I met up with at a race is a fellow hills friend, Jackie. She signed up for the dirty sock 10k, I saw her there and we caught up like no time was lost. After that day, we decided to tackle the hills together and catch up! We continued training on the hills for our upcoming half marathons, me chatting her ear off and her pushing me to go farther when I really wanted to stop. Jackie also saves stories for our runs to make it more interesting. We always use those miles to vent, laugh and plan upcoming things like house buying!
If there is anything I realized in my time in the running community, is that running with a friend is one of the most helpful things you can have. I have since completed 9 half marathons, tons of 10ks, 5ks and other distances with friends. My running story is entwined with multiple people who have encouraged me with those miles and showed me that I can do the unthinkable sometimes! I’m so thankful for all the friendships in running and the constant support from family and friends on the sidelines. Without support and encouragement, I’m not sure I would have made it this far.
“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis