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.
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?
In high school I played soccer and baseball. I was very slow, and it was only when running on trails in the woods that I felt fast. But out of the woods my legs splayed side to side. When I was 20 years old I was stationed on a ship out of San Diego. One night I saw a shipmate going out to do something and I asked him what. It was nineteen seventy-eight. He said he was going running. I asked him if I could come and he said sure.
I threw on a pair of shorts an old t-shirt and some sneakers and we went. I made it a mile and a half before I had to walk. He kept going and I ran and walked the last mile and a half. He was waiting for me on ship and said you did better than I thought you would. The next morning, I jumped from my top bunk to the floor and went right to my knees; me calve muscles were like rock and I was hooked!
Racing… Did you start racing right from the beginning? What has been your favorite or best racing experience… Your worst… Why?
I didn’t. I had never even heard of a race. I was still in the Navy. I started to run around base and in the surrounding communities. At sea I would run around the deck of the ship time after time. The ship was only 465 feet long, so I did many laps, sometimes running up ladders and down the other side.
My best racing experience has been the Boston Marathon. The reason is I felt just as good at the finish as I did when I started and ran it in a time of 3.24.59. I believe the reason I felt so good was all of the orange slices I ate children along the course were handing out. It was a thrill.
Do you have a favorite distance…Why?
My favorite distances have changed over time. There was a time I preferred the Marathon. My best time is 3.12.15 but as I had children in my late thirties the training required for that became a tough act to balance and so the half-marathon became my favorite. I was still able to get that sense of accomplishment but with a lighter training schedule.
Any pre-race rituals or superstitions?
Two pieces of toast with nothing on them and a cup of hot coffee.
Non-racing experiences… Besides racing and training, what are some other ways you enjoy running, or running has improved your life? Your favorite non-racing experience… Your worst?
My favorite way to enjoy running is my 4.30 a.m. morning runs with my running mates Carrie and Kate. We have been a close-knit group now for four years and going strong. We take turns motivating each other and this has made all the difference.
Running has not only improved my life, it saved it. I failed to mention that when I started running in the Navy I was a pack a day smoker and drank far too much. For the next thirteen years I used running as a way of detoxing when I had destroyed my body with alcohol cigarettes and other substances.
Had I not found running when I did I would never have made it. The love I had formed for running was that one saving grace I needed and used to survive. At thirty-three I finally hit my bottom and running became everything. A year later I quit the cigarettes and the following year I qualified for the Boston Marathon. I have been running clean and sober now for over twenty-seven years.
Running In Vermont… What do you love about it? What do you wish was different?
I love the different types of runs I can get in. I have lived in the cities where running can be difficult and the air not so good and the pavement can take a toll. In Vermont I have many dirt road runs that have trails leading off into the woods that can be taken even during the winter months if I choose.
If there were something I could have different it would be more bike trails around where I live that I could run on.
Do you have a favorite route/trail here in Vermont? This doesn’t have to be a route you run regularly.
I live in the Lakes Region, Rutland County and over here one of my favorite runs takes you up over Scotch Hill with the farm fields below you and the ridges behind them. On a fall day this can be stunning. Then it’s around the west side of Lake Bomoseen following the Lake Road. Then you follow Route 4a back into Fair Haven and up past the town airport which is on farmland and an old dirt runway that will lead you on a dirt road up between ridges and back out into more farm lands before finishing up back in Fair Haven; a distance of 15 beautiful miles.
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 continue to run during the winter often even during extremely cold days. Too many days off from running and I feel the attitude slip especially during stretches with little sunlight. I also turn to lifting weights a little more in the winter. I actually can feel the endorphins kick in during a workout and after all this is what I am chasing but it is my running mates that always keep me motivated.
I also ski and hike in the Adirondacks as I have found the view from the top of a snow-covered peak is incredible. I am an Adirondack Forty-Sixer and continue to hike there often.
Can you provide some advice for running during the cooler months then into and through winter?
The biggest factor I have found over the years is to continue to run throughout the year. In this way the body constantly adjusts to the weather so even on extremely cold days it’s just a bit colder than the day before. This makes it easier to keep going out. After a week off in the winter it becomes easier to wait till Spring so stay with it you will be happy you did. On those cold days, be careful because it’s easy to overdress.
I do cut back on the long runs and I like to pull a turtle fur up over my nose and mouth for the first few miles on real cold days to allow my lungs to adjust to the cold.
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?
I think about how I will feel and look when the goal is reached an this keeps me going. However, the real key is all the while you’re telling yourself why you don’t have to do this right now you are pulling on the shorts and shirt and lacing up the shoes so that by the time you have convinced yourself not to do it, you are already out there doing it!
Favorite/best piece of running gear you own or wished you owned?
Over the years so many knew accessories have come along for runners. I still run without anything attached to me. I run, like most runners do, not so much for my body but for what running does for my mind; the greatest piece of running gear remains a great pair of running shoes.
Favorite thing to eat during a long run/race?
Favorite aid station food?
My favorite food at an end of the race aid station would have to be ice cream!!
Favorite reward (do you do anything to treat yourself… food or other) after a long training cycle/race?
I would have to say I eat poorly for the next few days. In eating poorly, I mean more sweets than normal. But I think it’s that I am just listening to my body and it is telling me it requires sugar.
Next season what event or events are you are most looking forward to… Why?
I hope to do more trail running and of course the Ragnar Adirondack relay in September with all my teammates is the culmination of the season.
What are 2-3 Vermont running events/races that people should check out?
The Queen City Marathon, the Covered Bridges Half Marathon, and the Manchester Half Marathon…of course there is the Rolling Irish Half Marathon if you are up for a tough challenge.
What’s the best piece of running or training advice you’ve ever received?
You must schedule rest days and stick to them. It can be hard to do this. We become driven with our sport, but the body needs those days. I have often been amazed at how much improved my runs are after a day or two of rest. It also helps to keep us running injury free.
Do you have any running/training tips or tricks you’d like to share?
Listen to your body, get to know it, it will always tell you what it needs, be it sugar, rest, protein or carbs. In long distance runs stay out of your head and focus on the world around you.
Who is a Vermont runner that inspire you. Why?
Peter Patten. He was running in our town while I was still in grade school and wondering what someone was doing just running around. Forty years later and he still is out there running. Peter and I have run thousands of miles together including marathons and though he has had some health issues recently he is still out there still showing people it can be done.
Anyone out there you want to give a shout out to? Sponsors/Friends/Partners/Coaches/Etc… Why are they important to you?
I would love to give a shout out to Tom Sullivan wherever he may be. He was my shipmate who let me run with him the first time. I owe you more than I could ever hope to repay in a lifetime.
My running partners Kate and Carrie have become not only my running partners but family to me. I love them and know they do me. You cannot run thousands of miles with someone without forming a bond that transcends so many things.
I also have a group of hiking friends Kelly, Paige and Jen who share the love of the mountains and peaks across Vermont and New York. I am blessed to have such friends.
I cannot forget Erika who I have run hundreds of miles with either. Though it seems the last couple of years our paths have diverged a bit we still get in that occasional run to reconnect.
To anyone thinking about running… Do not be intimidated. It is okay to start out slow and with short distances. If you connect it will be a life long love affair. When I first started if someone would have told me one day I would run 10 miles I would have told them they were out of their head; a marathon would have never crossed my mind and now running is not just something I do…it is my lifestyle. Run on Forever!
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! If you know someone that runs and they live in Vermont… Please connect them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Train Smart. Run Well. Do Good.