By Stephanie Eisemann, news staff
Meredith Parmalee, a senior international business student from Albany, N.Y., made headlines when she decided to knit her way through the New York City (NYC) Marathon.
Using a technique called finger knitting, which forgoes traditional knitting needles for the use of four fingers, Parmalee ran with Team in Training to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The News asked Parmalee about her experience completing her first marathon while she simultaneously knit a scarf.
The Huntington News: What motivated you to run the NYC Marathon?
Meredith Parmalee: I did my second co-op in Madrid, and I was working at a startup called We Are Knitters. Basically, they sell knitting kits and knitting supplies, and I worked in the marketing department… We came across this guy on social media who had run and knit the NYC Marathon a couple years ago… and then I was joking with my boss like, “Oh yeah, just give me some yarn and I’ll go on my next run and do it,” and he was like “Wait, really?”… So I tried [finger knitting] out and I realized it’s not too difficult and this could be a real thing. Then, we looked up marathons that were coming up, and it was about 16 weeks before the NYC Marathon, so it was like the perfect training time.
HN: Why did you decide to do it with a charity?
MP: There’s three ways you can [run the NYC Marathon]. The first is have a qualifying time, which I didn’t have because I’d never run one before. Or you can do it with a lottery system, but the lottery had already passed. And then the third way is with a charity group, which is something that I thought would be a really cool way to get involved in charity work for the brand, as well as for myself. We are Knitters was a corporate sponsor for Team in Training.
HN: You mentioned you had some prior experience running?
MP: I started running longer distances a couple years ago when I did my first half marathon. I did one in Ashland… as a middler. Then, also as a middler, in the spring I did one in Brooklyn. And then I did one last year in Madrid.
HN: What exactly was the training regimen like?
MP: I basically did four to five runs a week… one of them would be a designated long run and the distance would increase incrementally every week up to 20 miles… For all of my long runs, I would always bring the yarn with me.
HN: Have you always been a knitter?
MP: My grandmother taught me when I was 10, and then I did it kind of off and on since then. Then when I got hired at We are Knitters, I picked it up again and started doing it more seriously.
HN: Why did you enjoy the unique experience?
MP: I think it was just…something else to think about while I was running. Especially when I ran the marathon, I finished in just under five hours…. you’re running for a long time, and there’s not much to do.
HN: Logistically, how do you knit for 26 miles?
MP: First, I just had [the scarf] under my arm when I was running…It really decreased my mobility, so then I switched to wearing it just like a bracelet… As the scarf got longer I would just wrap it around my left arm, so it was like a sleeve.
HN: How long did the scarf end up being?
MP: I think it was around 30 feet.
HN: How did you feel race weekend, leading up to the big event?
MP: I was super nervous. Since I’ve never run [a marathon] before, I didn’t know what to expect, and there were so many unknowns, too. I was like “it could rain, I’ve never really done a long run in the rain or with my yarn.” I went to the expo the day before and got my bib and my T-shirt and the race packet, which was so exciting.
HN: How did other marathoners react?
MP: I got a lot of questions of what I was doing before the race started. People were like, “Oh is that like a pre-race, anxiety thing?” … and I was like, “No, that’s like a during the race thing.” So some people took selfies with me when we were running… some people [on the sidelines] would be like “Knit me a scarf! Knit me a sweater!”
HN: How much attention did you think you raised?
MP: I think it was a really great way to spread the word for both [the charity and co-op] and for the organization. I raised a little over $3,500 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society… and it was just a cool way to show people knitting is something that can be contemporary and you can do it whenever.
HN: Do you plan on knitting and running again next year?
MP: I don’t know. I think if I did it again I would want to do a new city because I loved the experience of having a whole new city to explore…I mean Boston would be awesome, but we’ll see what happens.
HN: And would you knit?
MP: I don’t know if I could do it without knitting because it was such a great distraction, so I feel like it would be training in a whole new way.
Photo courtesy of Meredith Parmalee