Dream big, set goals, put in the work, be amazed

Winnipegger Selene Sharpe set a big goal in 2018 to run her first marathon (and finished second, I might add). In 2019, she dreamed even bigger, trained even harder, and took the win for the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Manitoba Marathon.  Now she is 20, still studying music at the University of Manitoba and while she is continuing to dream big, she is remembering to focus on the joy she finds in the sport and to make time for all of the things that are important to her. Spending time with family and friends, performing with her choir and in musical theatre ensembles, or just enjoying being outside, Selene is managing to keep her focus balanced and her eyes on the horizon. And we can’t wait to see what comes next for her.

What is the biggest driver for your running right now? Do you feel like you are doing it just for your personal goals or is there a bigger picture in mind?

I run primarily because I love running! Obviously leading up to the marathon, I had personal time goals, and wanted to see what I was capable of, but I try to focus on the joy of running.

You have now run all of the Manitoba Marathon events except for the 10K! At this stage in your running career, what is it that draws you to the marathon distance?

The thing that initially drew me to the marathon distance is the aspect of community and encouragement! I think the marathon is very unique in that runners of all levels of skill and passion get to run side by side. No matter who you are or what your finish time is, completing a marathon is a huge accomplishment!

You are a student in the Desautels Faculty of Music. Do you feel like there is any overlap in skills between music and running? Is there anything with one discipline that you think makes you better in the other, either technically or mentally?

I definitely think there is a correlation between my music studies and my running! Both require a level of commitment, dedication, and time spent practicing behind the scenes.  I’m able to put in so much time and effort in to both of these activities because the driving force is my passion for both sport and music.  Practicing can be difficult sometimes, but there is no better feeling than finishing a great performance, either on the stage or on the road.

Let’s chat about race morning: what does that look like for you? How long before the race are you up? What are you eating in the morning? What is the routine?

The morning of the marathon, I was up at 5:00 AM.  I tried to get to bed early the night before to get a good sleep, but that’s never easy the night before a race when you’re just excited to get to the start line.  My favourite pre-run meal before my long runs is oatmeal, banana and peanut butter so that’s what I had the morning of the marathon. I ate around 5:30 AM so that I had a little bit of time to digest breakfast before the run. I don’t usually warm up a ton before my long runs, so I just did a quick stretch, jog around the block, and a few dynamic exercises before leaving the house with the rest of my family. In the car, I listened to some pump-up music and tried my best to visualize having a great race!

Imagine you are mid-marathon training: what does an average week look like for you? Do you do a cross training or other activities?

When I was out of school, I had a ton of free time to train, so at the height of it, in the months leading up to the marathon, I ran an average of 100 miles per week.  Usually, I would wake up and do a mid-long run, 8-12 miles, then in the afternoon I would run 4-6 miles.  My morning run is when I would implement interval training, and fartlek style running, then in the afternoon I would usually just run at a comfortable easy pace.  Once a week I would do a long run, 18-21 miles, and on those days I didn’t do a second run! It was definitely a lot of running, but I also tried to add in some strength work, especially core workouts, and lots of stretching and foam rolling to prevent injuries!

What new goals have you set for yourself now that you have a full marathon victory under your belt? Does that influence where you want to go next?

It’s crazy for me to look back on my past goals, because it wasn’t very long ago that I set the lofty goal of completing a marathon!  When I set that first goal, it seemed almost impossible, but in taking small steps in training and staying positive, I completed my first marathon in 2018, and really fell in love with the distance. Winning the marathon was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life, and something I had been dreaming about throughout my training journey.  Looking forward, I am excited to see what else I can accomplish, and I know that running will always be a huge part of my life, whether I decide to continue to pursue a competitive career in the Marathon, or simply run for my own enjoyment! I think for now I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, and I’m just excited for what the future might hold!

Seeing your family with you at the finish line this year was one of the sweetest things I have ever witnessed. Can you talk a bit about your family relationship, your sibling’s running activity and what it felt like to have them all with you in the winner’s circle this year?

My family is the most important part of my life! My parents encouraged me from such a young age to participate in sports, they definitely fuelled my competitive attitude but also taught me that the most important thing is to have fun, and love what you’re doing.  I think my brother and sister taught me the same things, and I always looked up to all their success in running, soccer, and sports.  That’s why seeing my family at the finish line was so special to me, because they have all played such key roles in my love of running!

If you could have anyone pace you for your next marathon, who would it be?

One of my favourite marathon runners is Paula Radcliffe, who holds the world record for the fastest women’s marathon time with 2:15:25.  I think it would be so cool to get a chance to talk and go for a run with her to hear about her life and experiences! She’s a little bit older now, and I can imagine her running career has taken a toll on her body so I’m not sure if I would choose her as a pacer but she’s definitely a huge inspiration!

I recently heard that the Dayna Pidhoresky, who came in second at the Canadian Half Marathon Championships held in Winnipeg, made the Olympic standard for Tokyo 2020.  She is a huge inspiration for me, as she is such a well-rounded athlete, being able to run a fast half-marathon and qualify for the Olympics for the full marathon is incredible! I would be honoured to chat with her and get some tips for the marathon, so she would be an awesome running partner as well!


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