Vicksburg’s Holland set to compete in New York City Marathon

Published 9:00 am Friday, November 4, 2016

A competitive nature and a strong will made Vicksburg resident Megan Holland a competitive runner. This Sunday, Holland will participate in the largest marathon in the world, one she only dreamed of competing in — the New York City Marathon.

Two days before Election Day, Holland and more than 50,000 people will make their way 26.2 miles through the city’s five boroughs.

The New York City marathon is not an easy one to get into. Participants are admitted either through a time trial or chosen by a lottery system. Holland found out she made it into the illustrious race March 8, a day she won’t soon forget.

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“I was sitting in my office at work and I got the notification that my credit card had been charged to the New York Road Runners Association, and I just completely freaked out because I knew what it was,” Holland said. “I think I cried a little bit. It’s one of those things that you hope will happen but until it actually does, you don’t get excited until that moment. Even after my credit card was charged I waited hours until I got the official email before I let myself get excited.”

Some runners apply for the race year after year hoping to be selected. This was Holland’s first year to enter and, through luck of the draw, she was chosen on the first go-round.

“This year I think about 80,000 people entered the lottery, and they picked maybe 17,000 or 18,000,” Holland said. “I entered the lottery this year thinking it would take me a while to get in, and I got in on my first try. There were people on the Facebook page saying they’ve been trying for years and years and they’ve never made it in. So I consider myself very lucky.”

Holland wanted to participate in this marathon because New York is one of her favorite places on Earth. She’ll spend a couple of days in the city after the race to see a few shows and celebrate. She’s most excited to see her name printed in the New York Times the day after the race.

“New York is my favorite city in this country for sure. I love it up there. I’ve been several times before, and it’s one of the world’s major marathons,” Holland said. “It’s kind of like a bucket list thing for me.”

Holland isn’t running alone. She will be accompanied by her co-worker and training partner Gaurab Savant who was not chosen in the lottery but will be running for charity. The Engineer Research and Development Center employees have been using the official New York Marathon training plan since mid-July to prepare for the ultimate race.

“We’ve followed their training plan really closely. In all the years I’ve been running this is the first one I’ve followed,” Holland said. “Our longest run was 21 miles, and we did that a couple weeks ago.”

The duo runs five days a week in the Vicksburg National Military Park. Monday through Thursday they run shorter distances between three and seven miles, and then on Saturday they take on longer distances.

“We have run about 380 miles since we started our training plan. It’s a 16-week training plan,” she said.
Holland didn’t grow up a runner but she was athletic, participating in cheerleading and dance through high school and college. She decided to start running just a few years ago when she heard about the

Warrior Dash in Jackson, a 5K obstacle course race.
“I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it,” Holland said. “After I started running I started learning more about races.”

She got in shape to complete the 3.1-mile Dash, and found a drive to push herself to do more. Over time she worked her way up to running longer distances and in 2014 competed in a challenge at Walt Disney World where she ran a half marathon and then a full marathon the next day.

“Honestly I started running because I wanted to go to Disney World and run that race,” Holland said.
Since then she has participated in between 10 and 15 half marathons. Even though she has run one full marathon before, Holland considers New York as her first.

“This is going to be my first real marathon for time. The last one I just wanted to finish, but this one is going to be a little different,” Holland said.

Her goal is to finish in 4 1/2 to 5 hours. A good time for an amateur is in the 3 to 3 ½ hour range, and the top professionals will do it in about two hours.

“I’m very competitive. Every time I finish a race I immediately start thinking about how I could have done better and how I can be more prepared for the next time,” Holland said. “There’s just something about when you turn the corner and see that finish line and you know all your hard work was worth it and you’ve made it through, it’s that moment that keeps me doing it.”