Buffalo, NY – Running, much like coaching, requires a great deal of preparation, dedication, and attention to detail. It takes a unique and skilled person to do one – let alone both. For D'Youville's Kate Mayhook, both are tasks she takes in stride.
Mayhook completed her second year as head coach of the women's lacrosse team at D'Youville this past spring, with the team in its first full season of NCAA competition. Under her direction, the team had three All-Independent Women's Lacrosse School (IWLS) selections and showcased consistent improvement throughout the season.
Just weeks ago, Kate took on another major task: running the New York City Marathon.
She began her training 16 weeks prior to the marathon, using a regiment that she had used earlier this year for the Boston Marathon. Mayhook ran four times a week, adding several days of road biking. She did a fair share of weight training and core workouts in addition with working with a Physical Therapist for each of the 16 weeks.
Part of her work with the Physical Therapist was working on her piriformis, a muscle that assists with rotation and stabilization in the hip/glute area. By working on strengthening, balancing, and stretching of the hips, Kate was able to keep her issue from getting worse while completing her marathon training.
Training the body for a marathon involves allowing your body to recover correctly while simultaneously building strength. That, according to Mayhook, is achieved by eating, hydrating, sleeping, and resting.
"All of those are really important when training," Mayhook recalled. "Being able to push yourself and go hard is as important as resting and recovering when you are training for a marathon. Because of my piriformis issue, I made sure I was stretching, foam rolling, and doing my exercises as often as I could."
With all of her preparation, Kate was able to reach the goal she had set out for herself.
"I had a five minute window of where I wanted to finish – between 3:20-3:25," said Mayhook. "I ended up finishing in 3:18:40 so I was thrilled!"
Kate recalled how she got off to strong start during the first half of the race and wanted to maintain that pace – potentially even pushing for her personal best. With a few slower miles at the end of the race, she ended up not being able to reach her personal best, but she felt that she ran a "smart race and listened to my body."
For Mayhook, it wasn't her first marathon. She has learned to listen to her body by running 10 marathons, with five of her times being between 3:15 and 3:20. Her previous marathons include: Buffalo (3x), Chicago, Miami, Niagara Falls (2x), and the Boston Marathon twice, including this past spring. Her tenth was her recent success at the New York City Marathon.
With two of the biggest marathons in the world under her belt, Kate has been able to reflect on her experiences and what both races have meant to her.
"I feel very lucky to have done both Boston and NYC (Marathons)," she recalled. "They each have their unique qualities making them such different experiences. I love them both and was lucky to have amazing experiences in both races."
In regards to the Boston Marathon, Mayhook was able to take a childhood vision and make it reality. The first time she ran it was the year following the tragic Boston Marathon bombing in 2014.
"The first time I did Boston in 2014, it was a perfect day for racing – I felt strong, ran well and had one of my best times," said Mayhook. "The history and prestige behind Boston as well as my personal connection to the city make it really special to me."
Kate grew up down the street from the finish line in Boston and attended the marathon as a kid. With the Boston Marathon, there was an emotional connection between the race and runner. As Mayhook progressed through the New York City Marathon, she began to feel that connection once again.
"NYC is something all of its own," Kate recalled. "People told me you can feel the energy and excitement in the air; and they are right. NYC is alive on marathon day, there are people lining every step of the course. The crowds are screaming, bands are performing, DJ's are playing music, and it was loud the entire way. Every borough and neighborhoods are out there giving as much support as they can to the runners. I got chills several times when making turns into new neighborhoods, coming off the bridges. It's incredible. I honestly feel that I was able to run as well as I did because of this energy."
That energy from onlookers added to the existing support and energy from friends and family of Kate's both present, and at home. Mayhook had 20 people show their support in New York City while other rooted for her from home, tracking her progress throughout her journey.
"I had so much support from my family and friends that were in NYC watching and knew people at home were tracking me," she said. "Combine that with pretty great weather conditions and things just fell into place and I had a great race, another one of my best times."
Running hadn't always been a priority for Kate. At Colgate University, she was a three-time Collegiate Northeast Women's Lacrosse All-American as well as a two-time Patriot League Player of the Year. She led her team in total points (goals and assists), draw control, groundballs and steals in 1999-2000. Her standout lacrosse career closed in 2000 where she earned her Bachelor degree in Arts and History and was named a Colgate Athletic Hall of Famer.
However, through her passion for lacrosse Mayhook developed an affinity for running.
"It was nothing I ever thought about doing when I was younger," said Mayhook. "The more I ran, the more I liked it and it became my outlet; something to strive for and a goal I enjoyed working towards and fulfilling."
Through the years Kate has taken on new roles and new challenges. She has progressed from lacrosse to running, runner to racer, and player to coach with all being gradual and successful transitions. Throughout all of her experiences and challenges, one thing has been consistent with Kate Mayhook – perspective.
"So many factors can affect you on race day, in positive or negative ways, and I was really lucky to have such a great day and experience."
Whether it is wins or personal bests, Kate continues to strive to be the best she can be. Over her career and as she has worked to bring out the most in herself and her players, and it is clear that one message reigns supreme: progression is a marathon, not a sprint.