Alice Sherwin’s kids helped her across the line.
Sherwin, who teaches Grade 1-3 classes at École James Nisbet Community School, was the top female finisher at this year’s Manitoba Marathon, held on Sun., June 15. Despite her personal best time of 3:04:38, the 26-year-old said the rainy race was absolutely gruelling, but thoughts of her young students kept her going.
"That was a hard day for me. I had a long run three weeks before the marathon that was 24 miles and it felt great and then three weeks later I run 26 miles and it felt awful," said Sherwin, who was racing in her second Manitoba Marathon.
"Obviously I was going way faster on race day and when you start to dig deep you start to wonder ‘Why am I doing this?’ Then it’s ‘I could always just teach’, but then the kids wouldn’t have anything to ask me about. I was definitely thinking about the kids and the teachers, just thinking ‘The school is going to be really proud.’"
Sherwin, who also won the women’s division of the Winnipeg Police Service Half Marathon in May, just wrapped up her first year as a full-time teacher, graduating from the University of Manitoba last year. Sherwin, who runs every day, including a long run of 18 to 25 miles every week, said balancing training with teaching was difficult, but she stayed disciplined.
"In the winter it was really tough," Sherwin said. "I went to the Y (YMCA-YWCA) after school every day before I even went home, ‘OK, got to go to the Y. Got to run for a couple hours, don’t have dinner until I run.’ You just make it part of your everyday routine."
Helping Sherwin stay focused was her trainer, former steeplechaser Kristjan Hunter, who also happens to be her boyfriend.
"He sees what I eat. He sees how much I’m sleeping. He can tell what’s going on," Sherwin said. "Sometimes he’s like ‘I think you’re just tired from teaching’ and sometimes he’s like ‘Maybe that long run was too long, we’ll change it this week.’ I was corresponding with my old coach through email, so he couldn’t really tell how I was feeling."
Sherwin said she plans to run a marathon again in the fall, perhaps in Minneapolis or Chicago. She’d also like to run in the Boston Marathon next year. She said her win at the Manitoba Marathon has really motivated her to keep racing.
"I feel like this has been a really good end to my first year of teaching and it’s shown me that I can still do the things I want to do," Sherwin said. "I can still be the teacher I want to be. I can stay at school until 7 p.m. at night and still work really hard, but I can also run well.
"When you hear about first year teaching, it’s always ‘You’re going to get sick all the time’ or ‘You’re going to burn out’, but I feel like the running just gives me energy I wouldn’t normally have."