FLORENCE, S.C. — Lisa Groome, a special education teacher at the R.N. Beck Child Development Center, has set out to run all of the World Marathon Majors by the time she is 62.
Groome has four years left and only three marathons to complete out of the six total races, and she already has entrance to her fourth world major this year.
Groome only has the Tokyo and London World Marathons to qualify for through a lottery.
The six world majors are considered the largest and most renowned marathons in the world.
Groome has been running since September 1983. The month after she got married she and her husband purchased running shoes, and she has been consistently running ever since.
“I was 22, and I started running, and I just kept going,” Groome said. “I just loved it. It was like my therapy, I guess. You can kind of solve your problems while you’re running.”
But it wasn’t until 1995 that Groome ran her first marathon.
Groome ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. She had Achilles tendinitis and struggled through the marathon.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it the almost five hours,” Groome said. “I couldn’t walk when I finished. It was like miserable.”
It took Groome nearly 20 years to put her soles to the test in another marathon. She again ran the Marine Corps Marathon, and from there she developed a marathon “bug.”
Groome ran her first world major in New York City in 2016. From there, she qualified through the Myrtle Beach Marathon to run the Boston Marathon in 2017.
Groome said she knew several people who were at the Boston Marathon bombing, and she attended a women’s dinner in Florence, where she met Boston Marathon bombing survivor Rebekah Gregory.
This inspired her to try her best in the Boston Marathon.
“It just really is important to show the world that you can’t be fearful,” Groome said. “You got to live your life and go for your dreams.”
Most recently Groome ran the Chicago Marathon.
During her preparation for the marathon, Groome said, she had several people supporting her. Groome ran with several friends from Sole Blazers, a running club in which she participates, nearly every day before school.
Though Groome runs with several of her “sole sisters,” she said she mostly runs with her friend Mary Kay Haney.
Groome also focuses on weight lifting to keep her muscles strong. Shannon Silcox, a former Fitness World Gyms trainer who moved away, trains Groome virtually.
The Berlin Marathon, which takes place in September, requires a lottery to be given a spot to run. Groome won a spot on her first time entering the lottery.
“I put my name in the hat for Berlin,” Groome said. “It was my first round, and I know people who have tried for eight years and didn’t get in.”
Currently, Groome’s personal best for running marathons is four hours. She said she hopes to break that personal best even if it three hours and 59 minutes.
Running the long distances of marathons takes mental toughness, Groome said.
“Your body is going to hurt. You’ve just got to suck it up,” Groome said. “To me, it’s always miles 20 to 26 are the toughest miles in the marathon because mentally you are exhausted. Your body is just done, and you really have to talk yourself through it.”
Groome’s father was a Marine in World War II. She said she always puts him in her head while running, saying that he stormed beaches in the South Pacific Theater, and this is nothing.
In addition to running marathons, Groome stays active in local races, including lots of the local 5Ks. She also takes vacations with friends to run. Groome has run across the United States in places such as Wyoming, Montana and California.
Groome said she never thought she would be able to run six world majors.
“I hope and pray that people can look at me, I’m an average school teacher, and see that if you set a goal, no matter what, you can do it if you really try hard,” Groome said. “You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete. You don’t have to be the fastest person in the world.”