Abbey Nyland, assistant athletic director, won the Big Lake Half Marathon in Alton, NH last Saturday, while also coming in 13th overall in a field of 661 male and female competitors.
She averaged just over a 7-minute mile, completing 13.1 miles in 1:32:44.
Brian Purcell, a humanities teacher and frequent runner in his own right, ran alongside Nyland for most of the race. Nyland was positioned, among female competitors, for a solid third place finish.
At the tail end of race, with under a mile left to run, Nyland summoned her last bit of energy to sprint past the second place runner. Nothing but a few hundred yards stood in the way of achieving a life-long goal.
Finish line in sight, and still one runner to beat, Nyland recalled tearing her ACL playing lacrosse at the Division I level. “I was out of the game for months. It was awful,” Nyland says. “After the injury, it was my own personal goal to gain my strength back to the point where I would be strong and fast enough to wine a race.”
Nyland was too determined to lose. She darted forward and crossed the finish line seconds before her competitors. “There is more than just a physical aspect to becoming a successful runner” Nyland says. “You have to believe in yourself, set goals and have a really healthy diet. It is a state of mind.”
In an activity as challenging as running—which requires a mental, physical and emotional component—it is no surprise that Nyland called this victory “among the proudest moments of her life.”
The first place prize was a gallon of authentic New Hampshire maple syrup, a welcome addition to her Mother’s Day chocolate chip pancakes.
“Being a Mother, teacher, and runner is hard” Nyland said. “The first two are my priorities, but whenever I find the time, the track is the first place I go.”