Did you know I am a Guinness World Record holder? Yes, it’s true! Here are 10 things to know if you want to set a Guinness World Record.
I’ve written race recaps for over 60 marathons and ultras on this website but never anything about this.
It’s not exactly something I lead with but it’s definitely what you’re going to see if you Google me because it was covered in 2016 by People, ABC News Parents Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Runner’s World, Good Morning America, & a number of other outlets.
Why now? It’s finally far enough in the rear view that I have some solid takeaways for any would-be Guinness World Record Holder:
Know your WHY
Out triplets were born at 30 weeks and in the NICU for the first 2 months in 2015. It was a huge part of our lives abd ive even linked an episode with my husband in the show notes discussing it
It was 2 months that changed my priorities and personal faith abd trust in God
That was 2015. So, in 2016 I wanted to do something big for their NICU homecoming anniversary. For our family, this was as big a celebration as their first birthday
Find an obscure category
I had unexpectedly won a 5K that May with the triplets in the triple jogger. After a social media post about it, a fellow runner- also a GWR holder coincidentally- wondered out loud if that had ever been done.
Turns out, it had- and 3 minutes faster than my 22 minute time. If you’re a runner, you know 3 minutes is a LOT so I wasn’t going to even try for that record. In my research though, I found nobody had done 13.1 miles, or, a half marathon.
Right there, I decided THIS is how we would honor the work God did through the respiratory therapists, nurses, and neonataligusrs – with a fundraiser for the NICU they were in for the first 2 months of life!
Make time for the application
Let me tell you what the application for a Guinness record is like: a part time job. Seriously, I think I began it in June for a November 1 race and that was almost too little
I had to state my intention with proof of my predicted time from the 5K, get permission from the race I wanted ru run (& if you think finding a race is simple, it’s not! A 3.5 foot wide stroller is not exactly something people want on course for safety purposes), and send video and photo of my stroller with proof it hadn’t been doctored up in any war.
Interestingly, the stroller had to have side by side seating- it could not be a double with a Joey seat on top which would be infinitely easier to push
In terms of the training g itself, the kids were freshly minted 1 year olds which meant they weren’t quite eating solid foods so I had to plan my tray I g runs precisely around their meal times abd be careful not to be gone for too long
I ran in my neighborhood which does not have a lot of traffic. We had recently moved there and it’s safe to say I due for make myself any friends training like this. My close friends have since confessed they thought I was a try hard seeking attention – I get it!
I would do anywhere from 3 to 4 miles with that stroller and incrementally increased only to 10 prior to race day- this is mostly due to a desire to keep the kids comfortable
It definitely became easier once they could have snacks in the stroller, but As they grew and gained weight it didn’t make it any easier to push the stroller, which weighed 55 pounds alone!
At the time we finally raced, the collective weight of the stroller plus the three kids was about 120 pounds, equivalent to my body weight! That, combined with hilly terrain, slowed me down by at least a couple of minutes per mile. This was fine, of course- it was a different type of effort. Nonetheless, a very different running experience
It was important to me to keep the kids under their normal schedule, which Is why I was grateful to be participating in a local race.
The hills proved a challenge with about 2000’ of ascent but it was an easy trade off for having the triplets in their own Beds the night before.
Having discussed my plans with the race director, I purposely asked my support crew to help me get to the starting lines about 10 minutes before the start. I didn’t want the kids to be in the stroller any longer than necessary.
One of the things I did take a timeout for was speaking with the local ABC news station. Part of my application required we have at least 3 pieces of media. That interview would set off a whirlwind of coverage 24 hours later &I’m glad I didn’t know it at the time. It was time to focus on running!
I need to make this very clear: the race director and I were on the same page about me participating in the race and I am very present in my local running community. Most of the people out there knew me personally from Fayetteville running club. I was sort of embarrassed when they asked me to line up in the front and announced what I was doing, but it was a really nice gesture because it meant I didn’t need to Bob and weave the stroller around anyways participants. It was about safety.
After this was all said and done, we got a lot of backlash about safety but even from the starting position, that was already been planned for
The other participants made me feel nothing but supported, cheered us on, and called out to us by name. I actually felt more like a star during this race than any race ever – even ones that I won out right! Everyone was really excited to see us and the energy from the crowd as well as the other runners around us fed me. The hills on this course were no joke, so it was nice to have something to dissociate from pushing 120 pounds of stroller and babies!
The course started downtown and then ventured up on the Cape fear River Trail, which is a Greenway system. It is very hilly, as I’ve mentioned before, but closed to traffic so I felt really good about that with the kids.
I had a camera on the front of the stroller as well as on the handlebars for proof with my Guinness application. I also had people who saw me at certain mileage or ran personally with me Fill out witness statements.
There were strict rules about me being the only person who pushed the stroller, so even when I needed the help for something like getting more crackers or adjusting a camera, I had to explain why someone couldn’t just take it for a few seconds!
There was a point around mile nine when Gabe had to have his diaper changed – he made a cry that only his mother could have recognized as “I’ve pooped my pants and it is uncomfortable”.
I’ll be honest with you- I ignored it for about a half mile, but even if you would have told me in that moment the couple of minutes it took to change his diaper would cost me my sub two hour race, I still would have stopped to change him
By that point, I knew that we were going to hit the two hour and 15 minute mark Guinness had set for us to set the record and I didn’t want to be so uptight about the race that they missed out on a fun time, which is what running had been to that point. Did you hear me? It needed to be enjoyable for all of us! For some people, that is going as fast as humanly possible but for me it was finding a happy medium between “enjoyable” and “challenge”
And challenge it was! Around mile 11 1/2 or 12 somewhere, all the hills caught up with me. My shoulders ache and my back was sore. Anyone who has raised any longer distance even without a stroller knows exactly what this feels like. You sort of have to play mental games with yourself to keep going. You’re going street sign to lamp post. Run through one more song, then another song. That kind of stuff!
I don’t think I would have called it a day at this point or anything but it sure was a blessing to see you one of my friends, Brittany, from Fayetteville running club on the course. She had shown up that day specifically to run me into the finish. She asked my permission to do so and it was greatly appreciated. She jumped off the course again when I had about a quarter mile to go but it was exactly what I needed. I’m telling you, the running community in Fayetteville is like none other I’ve ever experienced. The people are just amazing and really feel like family. This is one of many examples I have.
We crossed the line into hours and one minute, just shy of my sub to our running goal. Nonetheless, it was enough to earn us a Guinness world record additionally, we were able to raise over $5000 for the Cape fear Valley Health Nicu.
The Monday morning after the race, I received a text message that said “you’re on good morning America!”
I was still working full-time at the time, so I actually didn’t turn on the TV or anything. I was in the middle of a spreadsheet! Soon after, my phone started blowing up. A lot of people had seen good morning America and our local ABC affiliate, who I later found out passed the story to GMA (& they had every right to do so!) was hitting it hard.
I don’t know why, y’all. I think it’s because we were at the end of a particularly exhausting election cycle and people just need a good news. Nonetheless, all the ABC franchises started passing it around and it later got picked up by runners world, people, and even cosmopolitan.
If this sounds cool, it was. For about a minute. It actually helped me raise about $1000 more for the nick you so I can’t be mad at that but let me tell you what was hurtful:
She’s a danger on the course for other runners
Her husband looks gay
Adopt, don’t shop
Are those triplets Franken babies?
Those are just a handful of the many hurtful things that showed up in comments on these sorts of articles. I had to get off social media. You say you won’t look, but then you do. The really sad thing is for every one negative comment there were 10 positive. I remember those two. It’s just the negative ones cut really deep.
I know you were waiting on me to come around with some positive spin on this part of the story, but I can’t. The reality is when you say hurtful things to people, even if it’s online, it stays with them.
I am convinced you can put anything online and someone will criticize it. Puppies eating birthday cake and someone will complain about a gluten intolerance. ANYTHING.
5 years later
So, what do I think of all of this five years later? I am proud of it!
I don’t want anyone to think I’m some sort of super athlete because it’s a very niche Record – but it also shows what you can do with a platform.
It wasn’t a record for a record’s sake.
The race was a memory preserved for the kids- The certificate hangs on our school room wall along with the metals from that race.
I have friends, including a few women who have since broke the record, from THIS experience. Good friends! Phenomenal women and athletes I am shocked to even share the same category with.
A couple of them have even Grace this podcast with their presence and I will link a couple of those podcast interviews in the show notes!)
We actually had our family photos done one year on the exact Greenway we ran on; it’s a special place to us!
It was a fundraiser to honor the work God did through the NICU staff.
Our contribution funded a giraffe bed, which is a piece of expensive equipment that is often one of the first to get axed come budget time because it’s got a very speciality use.
Now, we did not know this when we handed over the check. We didn’t know how they were going to use the money and frankly didn’t care. Here’s the cool part, though: Gideon needed a giraffe bed and his first week. It’s saved his life.
This is part of our story and One of my favorite running experiences!