Runners Of Vermont is an ongoing series here at the VTRunCo where we get to meet and start to get to know some of the amazing people that call Vermont home and share our affinity for running. So, sit back and enjoy. The people profiled here are the main reason Vermont is such a great place to live and run. Also, if you know someone that lives and runs in Vermont who you think should be profiled here… Let us know. We’d love to be introduced and give them the opportunity to share their perspective on Vermont’s running scene.
Today we’re going to meet Phil LaCroix. Below you will learn a lot about Phil, but we wanted to take a minute to highlight a fundraising project that Phil is working on. Late this summer Phil plans to run the entire 273 mile length of Vermont’s Long Trail in just 10 days! That’s 27+ miles/day and he will be camping and carrying his supplies along the route.
The project is called Enough Is Enough and it’s goal is to raise $50,000 in support of local organizations like Vermont Foundation Of Recovery, and the Vermont Recovery Network. He still has quite a ways to go to reach his $50,000 goal. So head over to his GoFundMe Page and show him some love! Learn More About Enough Is Enough Here.
Name: Phil LaCroix
Occupation: Auto Mechanic
Current Residence: West Bolton, VT
Hometown/Birthplace: Born in Burlington and grew up in Essex Junction
How did you first get involved in running and what was it that kept you coming back? Did you develop your habit easily, or was it something you had to work at?
I ran a bit in high school, I was a thrower on the track team at Essex and grinded through the 1 mile warm up every practice. I even filled in at the 4×100 and 4×400 occasionally because I was decently fast, for a thrower and 2nd string relay runner.I was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2011 and was told that I needed to change my diet and lose some weight, I was up to 235lbs at the time. So I came home and decided to try running again, starting SLOW. I started in October 2012, not being able to make a half mile without walking. I had smoked cigaretes fairly heavily for 4-5 years after high school. In January of 2012 I decided to try my hand at a 1/2 marathon and sign up for the Essex Half in June. My good friend Andy “ADog” Williams was diagnosed with AML, Acute Myleloid Leukemia, and I decided I would run Vermont City Marathon in 2014 for Leukemia and Lymphoma society’s Team In Training and raised a fair amount of money for research. Andy was not able to see me finish that race. He passed the day after Christmas 2013. Every event that I run now is for him. After seeing the fight that he had, I could do no less than see how far I can go.
Racing… Did you start racing right from the beginning? What has been your favorite or best racing experience… Your worst… Why?
I did not intend to start racing right at the beginning, and I am not a competitive runner. I describe myself as and “Elite Mid packer”. That being said, I have surprised myself in a couple of events this season. Most of all my finish at Infinitus 88k where I ended up 11th overall in 15hr 27min.
Do you have a favorite distance…Why?
I will run anything. I enjoy 50k because I can still move fast over that distance. Iam looking forward to my first 100 mile this year.
Any pre-race rituals or superstitions?
Not really, but this past year my wife has come up with a killer baked oat cup recipe that has become my go to breakfast and aid station food.
Non-racing experiences… Besides racing and training, what are some other ways you enjoy running, or running has improved your life?
Running has definately changed my life for the better healthwise. Blood pressure and heart rate are under control and down. I was on BP meds before I started running. I get out on the trails more simply walking around, I have explored more off trail in the last year than I ever have. I feel a lot more confident alone in the woods than I did before.
Your favorite non-racing experience… Your worst?
My favorite non-racing experience would probably be the home births of both of my children. I’m sure that gets said a lot, but seeing how strong my wife is was AMAZING!
My worst, the recent loss of multiple friends to drugs and accidents.
Running In Vermont… What do you love about it? What do you wish was different?
I love just being able to head out my door and be 2 miles from a trail head. For the most part, the people you run into on the trails are very nice. You do occasionally run into a loose dog or 2 that does not think you belong. I was bit by a dog last year, ruined my favorite shorts!! 4 wheelers getting onto trails where they don’t belong are a major pain. They tear up and mangle well groomed portions of trails.
Do you have a favorite route/trail here in Vermont? This doesn’t have to be a route you run regularly. We’re looking for something you think is special and think other people should experience.
My go to for an early morning run is to hit Mt Mansfield, I will either head out from Underhill State park or leave from Stevensville Rd and make a big loop. The section of the LT from Underhill State park back to my place in Bolton is an awesome chunk. It is 22miles from the parking lot to my door, if I have 8-9 hours on a weekend morning I will run that.
During a typical New England winter what do you do to stay in shape, keep motivated, and have fun? Do you continue to run? Do you engage in any other activities?
I normally run all winter long, but I do cut my distances back. If I can get a day in the 20’s I will try to get in a decent long run. If below that I will stay under 10 miles. I try and get some time in on the bike trainer at least a couple times a week. Sledding with the kids doesn’t hurt.
Can you provide some advice for running during the cooler months then into and through winter?
Layers. Always layer up, and make sure to start cold, you will warm up very quickly. I run in mitts if it is really cold, and snowboard goggles. Lastly, YES the $25 for windproof boxers is well worth it!
Do you have a mantra or strategy to get you out the door when you don’t feel like running, through those tough moments in training, or during a long event?
What would Andy do? Andy was a fighter until the end, don’t ever give up!
Favorite/best piece of running gear you own or wished you owned?
Do I need to remind you about the windproof boxers? The new HydraPak soft flasks are AMAZING!
Favorite thing to eat during a long run/race?
My wifes baked oat cups. Maple sap in a hydration bladder… Trust me.
Favorite aid station food?
Whatever my body is asking for at the time.
Favorite reward (do you do anything to treat yourself… food or other) after a long training cycle/race?
Next season what event or events are you are most looking forward to… Why?
My first 100 mile attempt at Infinitus in June, I ran the 88k this spring and it was great. My Long Trail through run in August is really going to push my limits. This is the only thing that I could think to attempt in hopes of raising awareness and money to help with issues related to the crazy opiate crisis in our state.
What are 2-3 Vermont running events/races that people should check out?
What’s the best piece of running or training advice you’ve ever received?
Walk the uphills, Start with Mayor and catch up later on when they start struggling.
Do you have any running/training tips or tricks you’d like to share?
My major break in running came when I transitioned into 0 Drop shoes. A lot less injury, no more foot or knee pain and a heightened awareness of the trail
Who is a Vermont runner that inspires you… Why?
Newton Baker– He is 75, unstoppable, he continues to kick ass and inspire me. Hell, he ran across the country 2 years ago.
Anyone out there you want to give a shout out to?Sponsors/Friends/Partners/Coaches/Etc… Why are they important to you?
My wife and kids first and foremost. Dr Tim Farrell and the folks at Farrell Chiropractic Center in Jericho. Thanks for keeping me going. Jan Leja and Rose Bergeron, thank you for all the help coaches. The companies that support me: DrinkMaple, Dr Squatch Soap Co, Cold Brewtus cold brew coffee and Vermont Raw Nutbutter. I literally could not do what i do without their help. Thank you to the Scotts, Barras and Nickerson for always being down for some miles. Lastly, Thank you to Andy, for never giving up and giving it all you had. I love you brother
Make sure to check my GoFund me page 🙂 https://www.gofundme.com/vfyef-enough-is-enough) for updates on the LongTrail run and find out how you can help.
Thank you for taking the time to read this far. Stay tuned for our next installment of Runners Of Vermont. Our goal is to post a new interview every week until we’ve profiled everyone that lives and runs in Vermont!
Train Smart. Run Well. Do Good.