I’m sure many of you are missing your running friends; I know that I am! Even as an introvert, this sheltering-in-place has made me realize more than ever how important those running friendships are, and I can’t wait to run with my friends again.
Since we’re not running together in real life, I thought this was a good time to share an interview with my running friend Christie!
(Thanks to Kim’s blog for the inspiration and questions!) Enjoy!
How did you become a runner?
Many, many years ago I would go to the gym to workout, but would only do the elliptical. I started working with a trainer there; she recommended that on my off days from strength, I either do the stair master or run as it will get my heart rate up higher. After that I started running on the treadmill. Well, some friends from work suggested we all do a race together in Central Park (this is when I was living in NYC). The race was the JP Morgan Corporate Team Challenge that we all did for the company we were working for at the time. Distance was 3.5 miles and man it was hard! Never changing the incline on the treadmill meant you never accounted for hills. Well, if you have ever run in Central Park you know there are rolling hills!
It was one of the first times though that I experienced the runners high. I loved running outside. Someone talked me into running a 5-mile race with NYRR that was the following weekend, I signed up. From there, I signed up for a 10K, then a half, and finally a full marathon.
I have now done 13 full marathons and it was all because work friends suggested a little 3.5 mile race in the park.
What was your first big race? How did you feel about it?
I would say my first BIG race was NYC in 2013. I was so excited to finally be running this race. I had trained to run NYC in 2012 that ultimately was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. It was devasting. That was supposed to be my first marathon, first race my parents came to spectate. There were so many emotions. When the race was cancelled the following weekend some friends and I went to Harrisburg, PA to run a marathon there. So many races that were scheduled close to NYC opened up registration to displaced NYC runners so we jumped on that train. Harrisburg is normally a small marathon of a few hundred runners, but after they opened up registration to NYC runners there were over a few thousand of us registered to run.
I waited a full year and started training for NYC in 2013 and this time was able to finish. Such an amazing race and experience!
Hearing New York, New York play after the cannon was fired at the start line gave me the chills. The screams coming off the 59th street bridge is nothing like I could have imagined; I heard stories about it but nothing what I was expecting.
What is your favorite running event/tradition?
There are a few, first would be Marathon Monday. While I have qualified for Boston but have yet to run it (which I will run it one day), it is still a rite of passage that spring is coming. Also, being unproductive at work that Monday morning streaming the race.
The second one doesn’t have a specific date, but that one September Saturday morning when you are out doing a long run and there are a ton of other runners out as well. It just feels like one big marathon training run for everyone doing a fall marathon. Everyone out on the trails all together on a nice crisp morning.
Last would be the Twin Cities marathon. Twin Cities in Motion does an amazing job with all their races, if you have never run one of their races you should check them out. Twin Cities, for me, is the official kick-off to fall marathon season. Being out there on Summit Ave. cheering on all the runners is so much fun and it gets you thinking about your upcoming race. Gives me butterflies thinking about my fall race but also gives me the last push of motivation to fight through the rest of the training cycle.
What would you say has been your favorite race experience?
NYC has been my favorite race experience. I ran this race as a “fun” race having raced Twin Cities just a month prior. I got to take in all the sights and sounds from the different boroughs. The streets are lined with 1.5-2 million people cheering on the elite runners and the not so elite runners. There is a celebration through every part of the course. Yes, the course is tough. Yes, you sit around in the start village waiting for a long time. But all that is worth it once you cross that finish line in Central Park. Living in NYC, training in Central Park, you run over that finish line spot so many times and visualize that it will be like on race day. Nothing prepares you for that feeling when it actually happens. Best experience, hands down.
What has been your worst race experience?
I know some will disagree but Berlin. I ran Berlin in 2015.
From the first moments at the expo to finishing the race everything was so disorganized. The expo was so crowded with everyone fighting to get in line to get their wristband and then ultimately their bib. The start village was so hard to navigate, I did not check a bag and I was glad I didn’t cause I would have had to walk a long way to check my bag and then retrieve it once I finished. The corral was packed, which is normal for any race. So when the race started I figured the crowds would thin out after the first mile or two and then I could run my pace. I had worked hard to try and PR at this flat, fast marathon. I never felt as though the crowds thinned out. The road would go from 4-lanes down to 2-lanes and then throw in a quick turn. Going around a corner the other runners were pushy and someone pushed me in which I fell into another runner. I was able to stay on my feet but the other runner fell. The water stop tables where short and everyone pushed their way through to try and get water.
There were four of us from our run club running the race that year and all of us felt like throwing up at one point in the race. We all think it was due to the water. The water stops had large buckets or pails of water that the volunteers could dunk the cups into, fill them up with water and put the cup on the tables. Well, that year the race had given runners sponges to use throughout the race. You had to carry the sponge with you but at water stops you could dunk the sponge into the SPONGE Buckets. Have a feeling that many runners dunked their sponges into the drinking water buckets and as such runners were then drinking dirty water.
The timing chip. Many races used timing chips that you would wear on your shoe. The main difference is other races used disposable timing chips that you would throw away when you finished the race. Berlin you had to turn in the timing chip. Before leaving the runners village you had to sit down, take off your shoe, unlace your shoe to get the chip off, and turn in the chip. If you didn’t turn it in you were charged a fee. I don’t know about you, but after having run 26.2 miles I am sore and one of the last things I want to do right away is sit down and take off my timing chip.
Any big running/racing mistakes you’ve committed?
The most common one that everyone makes, going out too fast. Not so much during marathons but definitely for shorter distances, you always pay for it later in the race. If anything, this past fall racing Indy in which the first two or three miles were way slower than anticipated but I felt strong the entire race and didn’t die at the end it proved the theory to be true. Coach James McKirdy said during the shake out run the day before “no one ever looks back on their race and says ‘I wish I started out faster’ but they always wish they had started slower”.
Lessons learned along the way?
Always remember to put on body glide. Very simple yet there are so many times that I forget and I end up paying for it later. Chafing is no joke. It is definitely needed when moving from lots of winter running gear to tanks as well as really hot summer runs.
For the ladies, find a sports bra you love and then go buy several of them. So many times I find a sports bra that I love, limited chafing and I don’t go back to buy more. When I finally want more they are sold out (damn you Lululemon). The right shoes make all the difference. Finally, during this shelter at home period I’ve learned that I love and miss running with my friends. It is such a social part of my world and can’t wait to be able to run with other people again. For now I am running solo, but still running (as that’s not cancelled).
(I miss running with you too friend!)
What are some of your favorite running gear items?
The new Oiselle Roga running shorts are my favorite. They have a large back pocket that can hold your phone (if I ran with my phone, I usually don’t) as well as your keys. Since I don’t really carry my phone I love the back pocket to carry all my gels. Especially during a marathon when you need several gels this pocket is amazing. I don’t feel like it is bouncing around which is really nice. Also, the Oiselle Flyout Long sleeve I am loving right now. With the changing temps so many runs start with a top layer that I end up peeling off. I love this long sleeve shirt as it is light-weight but mostly it has a cut out for my watch!
Got any advice for new runners?
To always remember why you started running in the first place and that feeling it gave you. If you don’t remember why I started running or how I felt during my first race please see question number 1 😊. So many times when things aren’t going right, the workout sucked or didn’t hit your goal during a race those negative thoughts begin to creep in that maybe this sport isn’t for you or that you aren’t cut out to hit your goal. Remember to just keep showing up and keep putting in the work. Last year while running Grandma’s half there was a big sign someone made and it stuck with me ever since “’It’s Okay To Struggle, It’s Not Okay To Give Up On Yourself” Gabe Grunewald. Sorry to say, put with running (like everything else) there will be times you do struggle but keep coming back and putting in the work, you will get there.
What motivates you to keep running?
Boston. I know I will get their one day and when I do it will be an experience of a lifetime.
I keep showing up and putting in the work to know that I qualified once and I am so close to qualifying again (although with a tougher time standard). This has been my goal for so many years that I will fight and continue chipping away at that goal until it becomes a reality.
Thank you so much Christie for sharing more about yourself for this interview. Can’t wait to run together again soon!