SoleMate Spotlight - 2017 NYC Marathon: Paige Banninger

Today we're shining a special spotlight on our 2017 TCS New York City Marathon SoleMate, Paige Banninger! Paige is a teacher in Kailua, Hawaii and will be running her second marathon for Girls on the Run.

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Why did you decide to be a SoleMate for the NYC Marathon and fundraise for Girls on the Run?
Running has always been a big part of my life. I ran in middle school, high school and college. I loved the feeling of having a “running family”. The girls I ran with became some of my very best friends. It was life! During college, I volunteered with Girls on the Run as a volunteer at the school at which I was student teaching. That’s when I fell in love with the program. After I graduated, I realized that I was no longer on a team and could no longer participate in the GOTR program that I began to love. In 2013 I moved out to Hawaii and started teaching at a small elementary school.

Being a coach was something I always thought about, so I started thinking of ways I could get involved in my school’s fitness programs. It finally clicked for me that GOTR is a national program, so I looked into if there was a Hawaii council and luckily there was! I immediately reached out to them and started the GOTR program at my school in 2015. I was so happy to once again be part of something very special to my heart.

In Hawaii, while coaching for my GOTR team, I began to remember how important running was in my life. I always told myself that the GOTR lessons aren’t only for the girls - they totally related to my life as well! Being a role model for these young girls gave me a sense of motivation again. I decided to get back into my passion and started signing up for 10k’s, and half-marathons. Running a marathon was always something I dreamed of, especially the NYC marathon, so eventually, I decided it was time to do it. December 2016 I ran my very first marathon, The Honolulu Marathon! It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I was hooked. I knew that I had to do another. I needed to challenge myself. So, I looked into participating in the NYC marathon. While clicking around on the internet, I came across the Girls on the Run SoleMates. I had no idea this was a thing! After e-mailing with the GOTR council chair and Allison, I was officially signed up to be part of this AMAZING race with an AMAZING group.

What does the Girls on the Run mission mean to you?
The Girls on the Run mission is part of my daily life! Running is an outlet for me to feel strong, confident, healthy and happy. It gives me a chance to reflect and take care of myself. GOTR helps me remember to lead a positive life and see beauty in differences. It also reminds me to not only take care of my physical health but my mental and emotional health as well! I love being able to share these values with my girls each GOTR season!

Favorite place to run?
I really love to run along the beachside streets of Kailua town here in Hawaii. There are some amazing views of the ocean, palm trees, and beautiful flowers all over the place. It is a really popular place to run, so usually, there are lots of other runners out as well. Seeing other people running gives me the motivation to keep going!

I also really love to run in brand new places as well. When I’m somewhere new, I think less about the miles / time and can just enjoy where I am!

Favorite time of day to run?
I like to begin my runs about an hour pre-sunrise or pre-sunset. These are usually the coolest times of day for me to run. If I could always run in the morning I would. It usually puts me in a better mood for the day and gives me a feeling of accomplishment before 7/8am!

Favorite post-run snack/meal?
Sometimes something refreshing like a smoothie or acai bowl. Sometimes eggs, bacon, and mimosas.

Favorite running accessory?
My Bluetooth headphones - I don’t think I could survive without them!

Favorite pump-up running song?
Ah, I have way too many! Here are a few: "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark" - Fall Out Boy, "La Bicicleta - Remix" - Carlos Vives/Shakira/Maluma, "Open Season" - Josef Salvat/Gryffin, "The Buzz" - Hermitude  

Group or solo run?
Both! I love running with a partner or group. I’m always trying to find new running buddies! Running with others gives me lots of motivation. But, I’ve also learned to enjoy solo running - it’s my “me time”. When I have a newly created playlist full of good music, I’m ready to get out and run. Music is a huge part of my solo runs.

When you get tired, what makes you keep running?
1.  My music for sure.
2. Inspiration and support from others keeps me moving forward. My family and friends are always supporting me on my runs and I know I can’t let them down!
3. The fact that the pain is temporary and that I know I can do it. I tell myself that whenever I finish a run, I feel strong, healthy, and accomplished. There has never been a run when I don’t feel that way!

Tell us a little bit about your running history!
I began running cross country and track in middle school. In 8th grade, I was asked to join the high school team. I ran all throughout high school (both cross country and track). 9th grade is when I realized that I loved to run. I made it to states for cross country once - that was fun! After high school, I ran for the University of Vermont for 2 years. After graduating from undergrad, I took a small break from running to move and figure out my life. After I realized something was missing from my life, I continued running and racing on my own and here I am today!

What do you do besides running to keep yourself healthy, confident and joyful?
I love to spend time with my friends by going on beach walks, going to yoga classes, surfing, and hiking! Being outdoors in the sun definitely keeps me happy! Having a glass or two, or three… or a bottle of wine, & going out for happy hour after the work day also helps keep me happy!

Any other fun facts you want to share?
1. I am a NY girl! I moved out to Hawaii in 2013.
2. I teach first grade!

What words of encouragement would you share with a girl starting with Girls on the Run?
Find your Star Power (you’ll know what I mean). You are beautiful, strong, and can do anything you set your mind to. Things are going to get hard sometimes, but don’t give up. You can do it, and you will! Most importantly, have fun. Laugh, smile, and enjoy this time with your friends and coaches!

Any fundraising tips for fellow SoleMates?
Be creative and share ideas that work. Don’t be afraid to repeatedly post your fundraiser on social media!

Thank you for all your support of Girls on the Run, Paige! If you want to donate to Paige's fundraising efforts, click here. You can also follow Paige's journey to the marathon via Instagram - @pbanning19, and check out Paige's school's GOTR Instagram - @kaelepulu_gotr.