Featured Runner: REBECCA

I feel like I should change the name of this section of the blog from “featured runners” (kind of vanilla, right?) to “bad ass runners!” Brad, my first runner, about whom you can read (including his successful 100 mile ultra marathon attempt), and now Rebecca, my smart, no-nonsense, music-loving, goal-oriented, beer loving, adventure-taking running friend . . . these are two bad asses who are usually too humble to admit that is what they are. (Featured photo: Rebecca at the finish line of the Richmond Marathon)

This blog post is so you can get to know a little (or a little more) about her in her words, but I wanted to interject my own perspectives first.  I know Rebecca from the big running group I am part of at Fleet Feet Sports, and I’ve always enjoyed work outs and long runs with her.  I got to know her quite a bit better when we were both training for the Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in November 2015 (her second and my first). We did several of our longest runs together, and she was one of my biggest cheerleaders during that time as I was figuring out if running 26.2 miles was something I could do.  Ten years ago, I would have told you there was no way.  As you’ll see from her answers below, I think Rebecca had felt the same about herself in the far past, that running a marathon would not be a reality in her future. Somehow, we translated that thought into the term “bad ass” for ourselves, a fun way to congratulate ourselves and say “damn, girl, you really can do this!”

A group of us went to Savannah for that race: the two of us running the full and another bunch running the half. It turned out to be a hot, humid November day in Georgia, and we were already receiving heat advisory warnings from the race the night before. To our dismay, we were rerouted at the twelve mile mark by race officials and told to proceed to the 13.1 finish line. The temperatures were close to 90 and the humidity close to 100%, and the officials were deeming it to be unsafe for the race to continue. Our 26.2 dreams were cooked in the heat.

Out for drinks later, we talked about the Richmond Marathon the following weekend.  I was all in to register for it and to finally run 26.2.  Rebecca, however, felt it was time to end her season, celebrate, and wind things down for the winter.  Her suggestion was that I register, and she would accompany me, drive me there Friday after work, get me to the start line Saturday morning, and meet me around the 14 mile marker and pace me for the second half of the race.  She was amazing.  She took my warm up jacket from me so I could wear it right up to the gun and then not have to deal with it.  She was at mile 7 with a cowbell, cheering for me and Lily (another friend who was my running partner for the race). She played music at my request on her phone when I needed a pick up. She played phone interference when our friends waiting at the finishing line were blowing things up wanting updates. She had pizza and beer with me to celebrate, and she drove me and another friend home that night. And we laughed the entire car ride home. Rebecca would tell you she did it to pay it forward, that she had a friend help her through her first marathon the year before, but I will tell you she did it because she’s a bad ass with a golden heart. Just a solid, real, genuine person who has no hidden agendas.

When other people tell me they did not have a good experience during their first marathon, I am forever grateful to my bad ass friend Rebecca for helping me have an awesome race.

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Rebecca (right) and me at the half marathon finish line of Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll, wearing our full marathon bibs and medals, still processing what had just happened to us . . .

Enough of my thoughts! Read about Rebecca in her own words here . . .

Where are you from?  

I’m originally from Vermont.  After living in upstate NY for many years, I moved down to North Carolina 11 years ago.

Where do you live now?  

Raleigh, NC.

For how long have you been a runner?  

About 7 years.

Why did you start running?  

I wanted to be healthier and more active.  After starting a walking routine every day and making more healthy choices with my lifestyle and diet, I felt like running was something I should try for.  I felt that becoming a runner was impossible but I started trying anyway.  First I added running a few sprints during my normal walk.  I just started getting comfortable with run/walking (mainly walking), then I finally pushed myself further until I could run my normal two mile walk.  About that time, I visited a friend out of town for the weekend and while I was there she ran a 5K.  I was so blown away by the energy and excitement around the race that I went home from that weekend and immediately signed up for my first 5K in Raleigh that spring. After running many 5Ks locally and one 8K, I crazily decided to sign up for the half marathon training program at Fleet Feet that fall!

What is your favorite race distance?  

Half marathon.  It’s a good distance to train for, provides challenges to stretch for and is also a manageable training challenge to take on and balance life.

What is your favorite race?  

I really enjoy the local fun races, like the St. Patty’s and Oktoberfest 8K runs.  My most favorite race that I completed was the Richmond Marathon.

What is your favorite training run (speed work, tempo, hills, Totem Pole, long, easy, etc.)?  

I really like the challenge of hill training.  I certainly will moan and complain while running hills but I love the impact that hill training has on your fitness and endurance.  I love doing hill training at the beginning of a training season and then again towards the end and clearly seeing the improvement in your fitness.

What is your running shoe of choice?  

Saucony

What is your favorite running accessory–you don’t leave home without it?  

My Garmin.  There are a lot of accessories that I love having with me for a run but I really enjoy being able to keep tabs on my pace and distance when I’m really training hard.

What is your favorite running weather?  

50 degrees and partly cloudy.  I’m a sunshine and heat girl all other times but, when running, some crisp air really helps out the run.

What is your favorite local place to run?  

At the Lynnwood Brewing Run Club on Wednesdays, of course!

(Click to read about this awesome pub run that Rebecca founded and runs!)

Do you have a favorite place of all places, near or far, to run?  

There are a ton of amazing places to run locally – I love training on the greenways, through Umstead, around downtown and through neighborhoods.  But I always go back to my beginning spot – where I started my run/walking years ago and where I ran my first continuous 2 miles – Shelly Lake is my go-to spot.

What’s your preference for running: solo, with a buddy, pub run, training group?  

I enjoy running with a friend, group of friends or the LBC Run Club the most.  It’s a great opportunity to catch up with my running friends, helps time fly by running and makes the time that much more enjoyable.  Sometimes, after a long stressful day, there’s nothing like a good solo run.  But overall, I’d rather be catching up with good friends and passing the time with fun times.

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Favorite running experience/memory?  

Completing my first marathon.  Although I loved the training and feeling my strength (mental and physical) increasing throughout the training season, the feeling of actually accomplishing the marathon and completing such an amazing goal was a feeling I will never forgot.

The last race you ran?  

The St. Paddy’s 8K in Raleigh.

What was your worst race?  

Tough question.  Even the worst races teach you something, so there’s always something good that comes from it.  And we all know we’ve all had some bad races! My personal worst race may have been the Outer Banks Half Marathon.  While I had been training the season to be ready for the race, I felt very ill-prepared due to having to travel a lot for work and not being well rested.  It was a lesson learned on how impactful your sleep, eating and general health in the weeks leading up to the race can be on your race day.  While I finished the race, it certainly wasn’t my best nor most enjoyable run!

If you could run any race, which would it be?  

Not sure I can answer this – although there are a lot of fun races I’d like to run, I don’t really have a dream race I’d like to get to one day.

What is your most frustrating running injury?  

A few years ago, I started having hip pain the week prior to running a half marathon.  I pushed through and just assumed it was normal training aches.  While running the half marathon, I was in more pain but pushed through.  Almost immediately upon finishing the half marathon, I was in incredible pain in my hip and leg.  After spending several days after the race in a great deal of pain, I finally had it checked out.  After lots of physical therapy and finally an MRI, it was discovered that I had a labral tear in my hip.  It took a lot of time, healing and physical therapy before it didn’t hurt just standing or sitting.  This took me out of running for a season which was incredibly frustrating.  However, I was able to slowly come back and learn how to work with the situation.  Thankfully, I’ve been able to avoid having surgery for this injury and incorporate certain stretches, even years later, to ensure this injury stays manageable.

How many days a week do you run?  

While training, I typically run 5 days a week.

How many miles a week do you run?  

While training, I typically run ~20 miles a week.

What time of day do you like to run?  

I like the very early morning runs.  There’s nothing like getting your run in first thing and feeling accomplished the rest of the day.

What is your biggest running accomplishment?  

Completing my first marathon.  From not even being able to run a mile 6 or 7 years ago, completing a marathon was never even a dream I had thought about.  But once I started working towards that goal, there was nothing I wanted to accomplish more for myself than to reach that goal.  It was a very powerful and personal goal that strengthened me in so many ways.  It is an accomplishment that changed me and I will never forget.

Can you add anything about what it is like to be a runner who is diabetic?  

Being a Type 1 diabetic and being a runner is a balancing act as well as an incredibly rewarding challenge.  There are always extra considerations that come along with making sure I keep things in check with my diabetes.  For long runs, I get up extra early to make sure I eat and take insulin early enough to not interfere with the beginning of the run.  I also keep a very close check on my blood sugar up until the start of a long run or race.  I also use a Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) device that allows me to read my blood sugar throughout the duration of a run without having to stop and do the traditional finger prick to determine my blood sugar.  This helps me adjust the insulin my insulin pump is administering throughout the run.  I have to be careful of my food consumption during long runs as well – not only for energy like all runners, but for maintaining a good blood sugar.  The food that most runners consume during long runs are high carbohydrates, which is great for energy but not so great for my blood sugar.  As with most everything with diabetes, it’s a constant balancing act.  It takes a lot of practice and no two runs are ever the same. It also requires being very proactive and aware, but it can always be done.  Being diabetic is often viewed as a restriction or reason to not do things, but that has always fueled me to prove that diabetes can’t stop you from doing anything you work for.

Conquering distance races is a pretty fantastic achievement.  When I remind myself that I’m doing that while balancing diabetes, it feels pretty bad ass.   

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