When and why did you start running? What’s your story?
I started running in August of 2012 because of a comment that a close family member had made to me that cut me to the core ("you are very overweight and will end up with diabetes like your granddaddy if you don't take control of your health"). I was freshly graduated from graduate school and trying to enter the workforce and in a new marriage; it was all super new territory to me and my health had fallen to the way-side. I had been somewhat "athletic" growing up; ran track and played tennis in high school while also performing color guard with the band. In college, I exercised, but nothing religiously or steady. And definitely didn't do much in grad school. After the comment was made, I joined a gym in Haywood County, NC and picked up running, loosely. I did my first 5k that summer of 2012 and in September, I saw an advertisement in the YWCA's gym that said, "want to run your first marathon? Join other first-timers!". I thought, "huh, seems easy enough". (again, very new to the routine exercise stuff). So, I signed up for the free training group and the marathon and began my 6 month marathon training program! Literally, couch to marathon. :)
Now, I run for sanity, peace of mind, fun, friendship time and to push myself to the oddest odds. When I lost my father to cancer in 2015, I swore I'd never let my health go by the way-side again, so I've been committed to doing things that scare the heeby-jeebies out of me. I recently finished my first 100 miler in February in Texas at Rocky Raccoon 100 in a whopping time of 27:10:04. It felt fairly easy, but it's because I committed to solid training for about 5 months where nothing truly got in my way.
Favorite distance? And /or favorite race you have run?
Depending on the time of the year... ha! Right now, I like shorter stuff because my work-life is insane and I struggle finding time to get a 1-hour training run in. In the winter/spring, I love 50+ milers. To be honest, a 50k is generally always "do-able" and I want to stay in good enough shape year-round to be able to complete a 50k at a whim's notice. 50k races are generally hard, but not so bad to the point you cannot walk the next day, and also, they're pretty easy to find around to sign up for.
If you could go on a run anywhere, where would it be? Your ideal run?
I love a good, long run in the mountains in *winter*!!!! I like views, I like tough, I like riking, I like sunrises and I looooooove to feel exhaustion. I enjoy playing in Shining Rock Wilderness with all of the water crossings and lack of running into humanity. But! I also enjoy a simple run/rike up in Montreat, NC along the Seven Sisters route because it's accessible and close. While training for RR100, I had to get really good at running and covering miles quickly. I like miles that take a long time because of the terrain; the more rugged the better for me. ;)
Favorite pre or post run food?
So, food!! Favorite pre-run food: oatmeal. Simple, easy, digestible, cheap. Post-run..well, it depends on how hard I pushed. I don't normally like to eat immediately after (yep, I am one of the few who don't run for beer....), but pretty soon after, I want tacos. :) Mmmmmm, tacos!
Do you cross train?
Cross-training is life. I do yoga, aqua jog (boring as heck), lift, HIIT and hike. Sometimes, my dogs pull me so that's an arm workout in itself ;) I want more time to cross-train but since I find myself regularly signed up for 50k+++, I spend more time running/on my feet than anything else.
One thing I have found that works best for me is hiring a coach. And not to win. I have a coach because a) he's awesome and knows his stuff, and b) gives me what I need, when I need it. I cannot always meet the workouts he gives me (like, last week, when I pulled a 60 hour work-week, and missed almost all of my workouts...hey, sometimes life rules) but he reads my power metrics, heart-rate and pace, and rocks my socks off with making me stronger/fitter/faster than I have ever been before.
Do you use a GPS or track your mileage and if so, which one?
I wear a Garmin Fenix 3 + a heart-rate monitor (chest strap) + a Stryd power meter. It's fun to see my performance improve over time. :)
What have I learned/gained from running?
Running parallels life a lot. In training, you have good days and bad days. Just as in life. I've learned to be gentle on myself when things don't go as planned (whether that's at a race or in training) because I am naturally a perfectionist, type A, "beat myself up" kinda gal. :) I'm still working on that daily, to be honest. But it will help me in the long run. Running helps me to stay balanced and focused and committed to something that isn't work. It helps me to invite others into this awesome sport and be a mentor to someone who was like me 6 years ago.
Your next running goal?
My next A-goal race is Palisades 100 ("PUTS 100") in July of 2019. Literally, it'll take me a year to prepare for it. It will be one of the hardest things I've ever said I'm going to do, running-related. It falls during my slow time at work and it's in a state I've been dreaming of going to. I am very much looking forward to the challenges it'll bring me in training, especially while balancing this new career, but I am glad to have my eyes set on something that I am very eager about. :)
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my little journey; I hope others know they're not alone when they feel burnt out from training or the fear of the unknown of attempting a new distance or event or chasing after a PR. That's what I love about this community. <3
Find Your Blyss,