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Episode 49 – Meggie Sullivan

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“I’m a big believer that all politics is local. Change starts very small. If I’m transparent and vulnerable with my experience, chances are you’ll pass it on. Chances are you’ll give me back that transparency and that dialogue. I hope that as women in this sport, we can continue to openly share those stories.”


Meggie Sullivan is a communications strategist with a specialty in architecture, design, and lifestyle. On the track and roads, she’s one of the fastest women in New York City, who has a 4:18 personal best for 1,500 meters and 4:46 for the mile. She’s just wrapping up her time as a captain and board of directors member with Central Park Track Club and embarking on some new and exciting projects. We talk about that as well as her up and down journey into coaching and getting involved as a mentor for youth runners.


This is Runners of NYC. A biweekly podcast from CITIUS MAG. Hosts Leigh Anne Sharek and Chris Chavez look to bring you many of the untold stories behind luminaries and legends that make up New York City’s running culture. You can catch the latest episode of the podcast on iTunes so subscribe and leave a five-star review. We are also on Spotify!

runners of nyc podcast meggie sullivan central partk track club tracksmith

SHOW NOTES AND QUOTES

– “One more person opens five more doors in this community. I love that about New York.”

– “One recent project that I’ve been working on is putting on a running retreat for adults that really explores out stories and allows runners to share them at the retreat in a very open-minded way whether you’re a photographer, a writer or you can be a tax accountant and still have a story that it’ll be told in some way just from hanging out and connecting with people over a week or so. It was kind of a crazy idea to have amid COVID because it’s not entirely safe to get 100 people together. I decided to design a pilot version, which was a smaller, safer version.”

– “It was 1996 and it was this really epic snowstorm and it snowed four or five feet. When you’re eight, it feels like it’s 10 or 12 feet. We built this incredible igloo in front of our house and made a slide. I was really looking forward to the coming of this blizzard but my dad was like, ‘We’re going for a run.’ I never really was, ‘Ugh..C’mon, Dad. I don’t really want to go for a run.’ I was more like, ‘OK. Awesome! Let’s hang.’ I came running down the stairs in my pajamas because that’s my idea of running wear…My dad is wearing this electric blue tracksuit (which at this point would be super fashionable and fly.) We set out and it was really, really peaceful. I’d say that’s how my relationship with hanging out in nature really started. It was little moments like that where you’re undisturbed and in the presence of someone that you really care about…The last 400 meters was at a slight decline and so whenever we finished our runs it was just an all-out race. He actually tried and I actually did too. We practiced surging on each other. ‘Dad, you might be 50 years old, but I’m about to bring you to your knees.’ I think that’s where I touched on and was introduced to this sensation of flight that running gives us of empowerment. That feeling, idea and concept at the age of eight for a young girl is incredibly important. That moment is time in a bottle for me. It’s driven the rest of my running career. Have fun. Be outside. Soak it all up. Breathe it in. Observe. Get to the grind when feeling inspired and you’ll end up with an amazing runner’s high.”

– “I just wanted to be a student of the sport so much to the point where I will say it was not healthy. I’d go to practice and I wasn’t satisfied with doing just three miles in high school. I’d go back home and I’d go and do hill repeats or I’d bang out a five-miler at 6:45 pace in high school. I was constantly coming up to a starting line depleted and deficient. I strongly advise against that. I learned the hard way multiple times…That whole relationship with running took a while to figure out and maybe not until college or post-collegiately. We’re always evolving with our relationship and understanding about how it fits into our lives in a healthy and productive way. It was not until later on did it present itself as a more healthy outlet.”

– “I think one way that I tried to reckon with the harm that I did to myself – which also presented itself later on at the end of sophomore year up until I was about 23 in the form of an eating disorder – was to be a coach. I tried coaching in 2013 and was a volunteer coach at Columbia and the Windward School in Los Angeles and absolutely loved it. I fell in love with working with kids…To start with dialogue and continuing having conversations like these (thankfully in the age of social media and the internet), we can really navigate and choose our journey and education of information. But, you also have to want that education as well.

 I’m a big believer that all politics is local. Change starts very small. If I’m transparent and vulnerable with my experience, chances are you’ll pass it on. Chances are you’ll give me back that transparency and that dialogue. I hope that as women in this sport, we can continue to openly share those stories. 

I was very lucky to have resources. I was in therapy. I had a caring coach but I didn’t want to listen. It’s hard. It’s not easy and you have to come around to wanting the help. Thankfully I had a wonderful college and a wonderful post-collegiate coach. Also, it takes a village. I had amazing friends and still do to this day. You have to continue to curate that team to uplift you.”

 – “It was to the point where I put on so much pressure that I didn’t show up to my county championship race. I couldn’t do it. I was so nervous. I didn’t want to let myself down. At the same time, my whole world was crumbling. That’s one way where the struggle and the pressure started and it manifested itself into ‘What can I control in my life?’ For me, the eating disorder was this coping mechanism, unfortunately. It took on a life of its own for a couple of years off and on. Everyone’s eating disorder experience is so varied and it’s so complex. 

It continued on through college. I found myself with this chronic knee injury. Especially for me, when my injury would creep up and I couldn’t run, the eating disorder would come right back into play. College was great and I loved my team and my coaches. I had coach Erin O’Reilly, who had an amazing sense of humor and brought that into my running. One time, she said, ‘You know, Meggie, you don’t have to kill it on every run. You don’t have to die and perish on every single easy run. Pick some flowers. Notice if there are some butterflies. Just hang out.’ And I was like, ‘What?! You’re crazy?’ I was so blind. 

It took me a while and it took my teammates to really understand what that concept was. College coaches are so important. They are taking on these boys and girls with so many life experiences and trying to put something altogether – so thank you, Erin O’Reilly and Randy Thomas. 

It didn’t take me until really later on when I overcame my eating disorder by going to a clinic and really putting in the work and time. Two of my teammates walked me there against my will and I just cried all day thinking ‘Oh my God. This is actually happening. Oh my God. I do actually have a problem.’ But, I’m not going to let them down. I’m not going to let myself down. I was there for a reason and I’m going to come out stronger for it. And I did. I’m really proud of that.” 

 – “It felt like I was born to coach. I love children. I don’t feel far from my experience as a child runner. I felt like this was a great way for me to reconcile with some of the mistakes I made or things I wish I had known.”

– “I came into the club as an 800-meter runner. I’m not an 800-meter runner. It’s just a terrible event. I love it and I admire all the people that do it. I came and coach Devon Martin was like, ‘You’re a 1K runner’ and I said, ‘I love the 1K.’ I think I saw that CPTC being sponsored by New Balance and having this elite crew, I found that spirit contagious and thought. ‘I want to do that. I want to be able to call myself elite. I want to give this a real go’ In 2015, I qualified for the U.S. Championships in the 1K. It was this big dream that I’ve had and continue to have since I was really little in being such a big fan of the sport.”


Follow Meggie on Instagram.

Episode photography by Zach Hetrick | Tracksmith

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