This week' s guest is a delight to know. New to running, but she' s already totally immerse d inthe challenge and success. She' s ramped up quickly to longer distances and shares a lot of excitement for running in her blog, When I get a little, run run run. She loves her races and turns them into adventures and fun. Currently, she' s training for a marathon in the heat of the Southwest, but not complaining. That' s enough of an intro.
Open Mic Friday readers, meet Lauren!
Your running story is impressive. You’ve been running a relatively short time and you recently completed a HM. Tell us more about your progress.
I don’t know that impressive, running, and I all belong together in one thought! Wow! [shocked and flattered]
I don’t come from a particularly athletic background. In fact, I dreaded the annual one mile run we had to complete in high school. Even though it was just once a year, it was enough to strike fear into my heart every time, and I struggled to beat the 15 minute cut off.
In college I was a rower for the crew team because I loved to be on the water and share the camaraderie of the team. When I wasn’t rowing in my final 2 years, focusing on school work, thesis, travel, and friends, I lost every last bit of fitness I had and packed on some extra pounds. After school, I knew I had to get back into shape, I knew I wanted to challenge myself, and I decided to run the RNR Arizona half, pretty much out of nowhere. I gave myself 6 months to train, starting with the Couch-to-5k plan, and built up from there. In the last year I’ve run about a dozen races, from a miserable first 5k to the half marathon, and recently my second half marathon where I managed a PR well beyond my goals
Tell us what you’re looking ahead to.
I’m currently training for the Marine Corps Marathon in October, which will be my first marathon! I have a few fun races scheduled between now and then, including a redemption run of my first 5k a year ago and a 15.4 mile trail run I’m using as a long training run.
Why did you choose MCM?
From the time I started running a year ago, I knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to do a full marathon, but I didn’t allow myself to really think about it until after RNRAZ. My fiance’s family is a Marine Corps family – most notably his grandfather and late grandmother – and I really wanted to do this race as my first full marathon as a way to honor them and to have a stronger connection with his family.
What are you most excited about running MCM? Most nervous about?
I’m really excited for the challenge of the distance, and I want to prove to myself that I can do it. My fiancé has decided to run the race too, so it’s very exciting to be able to go through the process with him and to see him progress. I’m also very excited because DC is close to our home in PA, and I’m hoping to see all sorts of friends/family as well as a few blogger friends!
I’m nervous about logistics of traveling and the race, but I know a lot of that is out of my control. I’m also nervous about completing my really long training runs in the Phoenix summer heat. I’m a slow runner, so they are going to take me a long time. I’ll be up early to run for sure.
You recently ran the famous and fabulous Bay to Breakers. Most runners will never have a chance to run such a quirky race. Describe it for us.
Bay to Breakers is one part race, one part giant drunken costume party, run through the streets of San Francisco. It’s one of the oldest and largest races in the country, at 98 years old this year’s race had about 30,000 participants. Years past have had up to 110,000.
There are big name elite racers at the front of the pack, tearing through the city for big prize money. In addition to final cash awards, there’s also an award for the first person to reach the top of the Hayes Street hill – a massive uphill from miles 2-4.
The center of the pack has a middle ground of people who want to have fun but run as well. This is where I was this year. The back of the pack is just one giant party with crazy costumes, nude old guys, floats, and plenty of booze. This group traverses along the streets, lined with tailgaters, and maybe half of them complete the full distance.
There are so many traditions that go along with the race; I recommend grabbing a group of friends, researching it all so you don’t miss out, and experiencing it for yourself. And don’t run for a fast time, run for a fun time.
What are some key things you’ve learned about yourself and about running since starting your training for the marathon?
I’ve learned that I really am an engineering nerd. I can’t get enough of all of the number crunching that goes along with running. I’m constantly reviewing different plans, distances, paces, races, splits, trends, totals… I can’t help myself. Regarding running itself, I’ve learned that it’s really what you make of it. Running can be casual and fun, it can be nerve-racking and competitive. It will give back what you give to it.
What would your family and friends tell us about your passion for running?
Most of my family limits their knowledge to ‘sometimes she runs pretty far and I don’t know why’ which I think is funny. My friends are pretty active, outgoing kids. I know my BFF is very surprised and proud of what I’ve done and she’s recently ran her first 5k! Otherwise, I’m just like everyone else – just slower and occasionally further.
Any quirky running traits?
I pick up on every smell around me when I’m running. Most of the races I’ve done have a smell or set of smells associated with them. The Grasshopper Bridge 5k in Phoenix ran through a development. There was a house doing laundry that was clean and fresh, and then 3 others cooking bacon – it made me hungry!
RNRAZ was pretty miserable in this regard, since it was such a crowded race. Every few minutes I’d pass someone with really bad smelling sweat or BenGay all lathered up. There was a lot a gagging. Since I’m so slow, the Cytomax spilled at all the aid stations had turned sour (and slippery!). I think the real reason that I run road races though – I love the smell of fresh rain on hot pavement, and this is exactly what you get at most water stations! Best. Smell. Ever.
What gets you excited about running?
I love looking forward to the challenge, and then conquering it. I always know that I’ll feel good when I’m done. I also get really excited when sharing running with my running partners, both real and virtual.
I like the half marathon distance because it’s a manageable challenge. Can’t wait to see how the marathon treats me though!
Greatest running accomplishment?
I’m really proud of my recent PR at the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon. I was hoping to best RNRAZ by 3 minutes, and I ended up taking off almost 8 – completely surprising myself in the process. I feel that I started to learn how to fuel and pace myself well in training for the race, and I implemented it well!
Current running goals?
Survive the marathon, and break 30 minutes in the 5k before the end of the year. Speed’s obviously not my thing, but I’m going to do it!
Non- running and non-blogging interests?
Spending time with my fiancé and puppy, roadtrips and camping, hiking, miscellaneous art projects, and photography – luckily all of that can more or less be done at once on a good weekend! There’s something about exploring new places and watching the country go by on a long drive that’s pretty fantastic.
A friend from college ran on the varsity team year round while being an active student leader, completing one of the hardest majors at Penn State, in the honors college, and attending / throwing our fun parties. He’s working full time as an engineer and running at a near elite level in his spare time. We didn’t appreciate what he did while in school, but I think I can speak for our whole group of friends that we all are truly inspired and in awe of him.
Greatest running moment?
The morning of my birthday this year, I went out early to do intervals. When I turned around for the return portion of my out-and-back, there was the most stunning sunrise unfolding and I got to watch it as I ran. It’s mornings like those that make me feel very satisfied with knocking out early morning runs, and it was a perfect start to my birthday.
If money could buy you a running dream, what would it be?
I’d love to have the freedom to take time and travel to races, and to take my friends along with me, swapping them around every few runs. I had friends fly from the East Coast to Phoenix and then we drove to SF for Bay to Breakers, taking the scenic route and 19 hours to get there. Pretty darn fantastic. For Bryce Canyon, the fiancé and I did another roadtrip, about 8 hours one way and camped. So much fun.
Best running advice you’ve ever been given?
It’s ok to walk. I’m slow, and I do walk in training and occasionally in racing. In the end, I still cover the same distance that everyone else does. I’m learning what works best for me, and running as I am now would not have been possible without the option to walk.
Best running advice you’d like to share?
Find a plan and a race (or lots of races). The accountability of “3 miles today, 6 miles on Saturday” is what really keeps me going.
And find some really great people to share your running with. If it weren’t for the support system of other runners around me, both real and virtual, I would not be where I am today.