Featured Runner: Tiffany

I know Tiffany from the place where I know many and most of my running friends, Fleet Feet Sports.  Tiffany has been training and mentoring there longer than me; I remember her from training runs, but vaguely, as we don’t train at the same pace.  I think the place where I first talked to her at length was during the NCRC (North Carolina Road Runners) Classic Half Marathon three years ago.  I was running with a friend when we came up on Tiffany or she on us (I don’t remember which), and we talked and got to know her a little better. She was pacing the race, carrying a sign that had the time she would finish on it, so that anyone who was running and wanted to finish at that time could join her group, run her pace, and finish with the desired time.  Since then, I realized how often I see Tiffany pacing at local races: a lot! And she does a kick ass job of it; to testify to this, I wrote about her pacing magic extensively in my Tobacco Road Half Marathon Race Recap this past March.  

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I thought today would be fitting to publish this featured runner post about Tiffany.  The second year that I ran the NCRC, I also ran a stretch of it with Tiffany.  And today, my third time running it, I ran with her again for part of it.  I feel like I’ve gotten to know Tiffany better this past spring as we were again training and mentoring other runners at the same home base, and I hope this continues! She is inspiring, funny, genuine, and has one of the world’s sweetest dogs, Layla.

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Tiffany and Layla working on some hill repeats

Where are you from?

Longs, SC (it’s about 30 minutes from Myrtle Beach, SC)

Where do you live now?

Cary, NC

For how long have you been a runner?

Half Marathons- 5 years. I actually ran shorter distance/cross country in college and HATED it.

Why did you start?

Long story short, 5 years ago my Mom passed away. I needed an outlet, a distraction, a “safe place”. Eventually, it became part of my therapy. It taught me to never ever give up. Some days (just like some runs) are going to be harder than others. It teaches me to keep pushing forward.

What is your favorite race distance?

The half marathon. Once I build a base mileage, it’s pretty easy for me to maintain. The full distance, you really have to accept Saturdays (or whenever you do your long run), the day is going to be a wash afterwards. 5ks are like a heart attack, just when you get into your groove, the race is over. I do enjoy 10ks, there just aren’t too many around here. I wish there was like a middle ground between the half and the full distance. I would be good with a 15 miler. 

What is your favorite race?

Too many to have a favorite but I do think those “first races” hold special in my heart. My first half was the Raleigh Rocks Half Marathon in 2012. My first full was the Outer Banks in 2016. I’ve also run 2 half marathons with my Dog (yes, she got her own medal also). Those memories and races hold special places in my runner heart.

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

Long runs help me to clear my head, they sort of “test” me, it’s where I dig deep. Short tempo runs HURT but I know they work. My upcoming race, I plan to implement a lot of speed work.

What is your running shoe of choice?

Brooks, funny thing about me is I wear kids shoes (size 3) and Brooks discontinued children shoes and I haven’t found a pair I love since then.

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

My Garmin Watch and if I’m running solo, my Road ID band.

What is your favorite running weather?

50-65 degrees, cloudy, low humidity with a slight breeze, perfection! (oh you know typical Raleigh weather) lol

What is your favorite local place to run?

Bond Park, Shelley Lake

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

I think any run at the beach is awesome. Something about an early morning run, watching the sunrise with the smell of salt water is refreshing.

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Tobacco Road Half Marathon

What’s your preference for running: solo, with a buddy (with 2 legs or 4!), pub run, training group?

I enjoy running with friends and any opportunity to run with my dog. When you run with other people, you get the chance to break up the mundane of running solo. Running in a group gives you the chance to catch up with friends or meet new people and hear their stories.

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Favorite running experience/memory?

One experience really stands out to me and puts things into perspective. I was running over a bridge and I was having a hard time, I was tired, my legs were ready to be done and a guy passed me in a wheelchair. Here I was complaining about being tired and he wasn’t able to physically run. I’ve been given this gift to run and to not take it for granted.

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The last race you ran?

Rock and Roll Raleigh, paced 2:45 (this past weekend was the Tar Heel 10 miler, 10:30 pace/mile). (Blogger’s note: and of course, she ran and paced the 2:30 group today at the NCRC Classic Half Marathon.)

What was your worst race?

June Race 13.1 Raleigh Half Marathon. It was hot, not enough water spots, I was solo pacing, and several runners were dropping along the route like flies. When you have a co-pacer you can stop and walk some and pick back up or even walk through the water stops. This race just was way too hot. I knew early on, this was going to be a personal challenge.

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

Can we say the Boston Marathon? I’m not saying it’s never going to happen to me, but I do have a lot of time to shave off for Boston to be possible. I’ve been accepted to run Chicago in the fall, and I’m pretty happy for this to be my second 26.2 experience and looking forward to seeing what it personally holds for me. So if I can’t run Boston this year, I’ll settle for Chicago 🙂

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Tiffany in white in the middle, at the start line of her first marathon

What is your most frustrating running injury?

In the beginning, I would get shin splints regularly. You adjust your training, listen to your body (getting new shoes helps also) and make Icy Hot your best friend. Now, my most common “injury” is losing toenails. Super annoying and NOT attractive when it’s summer season. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned over the years is injury prevention. Listen to your body. If I’ve been running more than normal and I’m feeling sluggish, I get more sleep. If my muscles are super sore, I spend more time stretching and foam rolling.

How many days a week do you run?

3 normally, 4 if I’m training for a race.

How many miles a week do you run?

Somewhere around 20-30, if I’m training for a race upwards to 40 miles some weeks.

What time of day do you like to run?

If I’m running solo, I like to get it done first thing in the morning. If I wait until after work, I tend to think of excuses or convince myself that “I’m tired”. That’s why group runs are awesome, you have friends meeting you.

What is your biggest running accomplishment?

Running my first full marathon last November at the Outer Banks. I really thought for years I would never want to run a Marathon. The feeling of crossing the finish line after working so hard and so long for those 26.2 miles is something you can’t describe, you have to experience it.

How did you get into volunteering as a pacer?

I had a friend who was a pacer for this specific race I was interested in and he passed my name along to the race director. That was my first race I paced, so I didn’t know what to do about the next race. So, I just started emailing local races and expressed interest in more pacing experience and took it from there.

How many races have you paced?

29 

Is it easy or difficult to pace runners in races?

In the beginning, I was SUPER nervous. I didn’t want to fail and let people down. It does get better with experience.Now I print or write down the target time and splits. It’s helpful to see where I’m trending at mile 3, 6, 9, etc. It’s better to adjust along the way then to come in too early or too late.

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What has been your favorite race to pace?

I really enjoy Tobacco Road, it’s a super huge local race but the crowd support is one of the best. The weather is usually really nice for running a half. It’s early spring so it’s not too humid yet.

Have you ever paced a race and had a bad outcome?

YES, it happens, we are humans.  And you certainly can’t predict the heat. I paced the 2:15 group at a local race last year and the weather conditions were HORRIBLE. The race started at 7 am and it was already 85 degrees with an extremely high humidity. I knew it was going to be tough before the race started. I was solo pacing this 2:15 group and towards the end I had several runners in my group physically start to decline. At that point, it’s my humanitarian duty to make sure they are okay than to cross in a certain time. After the race, I explained what happened and the race director totally understood. Again, we are humans and it’s more important for runners to be safe. Needless to say, I crossed the finish line but not in the expected 2:15 time.

Why do you continue to volunteer as a pacer? What rewards do you get from pacing?

Honestly, the people. The runners who I meet along the way. The runners that tell me “you helped me PR” or “I saw you at the last race and I wouldn’t have done it without you”. The runners who tell me their story and their journey on why they started. When I pace, it’s not able me, it’s about them. Being able to help other people cross the finish line is why I continue. Pacing helps me fill a place in my runner heart that I didn’t know existed.

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At today’s NCRC Classic
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