Jun 24, 2013

Marathon Runner and Total Beach Babe: Lauren Mitchell

Today I'm thrilled to introduce you to my gorgeous and life long friend (like seriously I'm pretty sure she spoke to me whilst in the womb), Mrs. Lauren Mitchell. What's so special about Mrs. Mitchell you might think? Well, not only is she an elementary school teacher and an overall fantastic human being, she has run a total of 21 marathons! Yup that 2-1! Talk about inspirational. Two years my senior, growing up with Lauren, she was always like my big sis. I would follow her even under the biggest wave. My earliest memories of this babe include spending all day at the beach together, taking a break from the whitewash only long enough to walk to the local convenience store to pick up a snack. Lauren  is still a major beach babe! She continues to inspire me with her discipline and love for life. I am definitely not a runner, so to hear 10.5 miles defined as an "easy" run, elicits a need to know more... Check this super babe out. 

Me & Lauren - Mini Beach Babes
Introduce Yourself: 
I love getting sweaty! I love sand in my hair and dirt on my shoes! I’d much rather workout ouside of a gym but I do enjoy taking classes like spin and yoga and lifting here and there with my amazing husband. We LOVE hiking and camping and thank God for a career in teaching where I have summers off. When I am in nature I am most in touch with the fact that our time on this Earth is so precious, and each day is truly a gift. We are lucky to live in an area in which we can enjoy the trails and the beach in the same morning. My husband and I enjoy staying active and pitching our tent in campgrounds glittered all over the state. This summer we are traveling to Yellowstone National Park. We are enjoying being new dog owners with a new English Labrador named Blaze.  

How has fitness/running affected your life?
Running has given me so many gifts. I have caught the most amazing sunrises and sunsets. I have ran along the most untouched trails, hillsides, beaches and even mountaintops. It has blessed me with amazing friends, coaches and inspiring people. Running has also provided an outlet for me through some very difficult challenges. There is nothing I can’t workout on a run. 

What made you start running and what was your first marathon like? 
I went to UC Santa Barbara so I used the surrounding trails to see some really beautiful scenery and achieve a little solitude.  I was empowered by building the distance in my runs. When you start to experience growth and improvement it fuels your motivation and keeps it as a priority in your schedule. It was around this time in college that a friend convinced me to sign up for a half marathon. Although I thought both he, and I, were crazy, I registered. During the race, at mile 3, I saw the turnoff for the full marathoners. I thought,'what the heck...I'll see how far I can go…’ Well, I ran it, and finished my first full marathon that morning.  Once I crossed that finish line I knew I had discovered a new passion, and I thanked God for that! I have run 21 full marathons since including the New York Marathon, Long Beach, Twin Cities and Boston.

How does fitness/running affect your life?
Running has given me so many gifts. I have caught the most amazing sunrises and sunsets. I have ran along the most untouched trails, hillsides, beaches and even mountaintops. It has blessed me with amazing friends, coaches and inspiring people who enjoy sharing about their history, family and dreams while out on the road.
Running has also provided an outlet for me through some very difficult challenges. There is nothing I can’t workout on a run. I have also discovered some of my greatest ideas (problem-solving, lesson planning) while out on a run. And now, racing and learning how to run smart has given me wisdom and patience.

What's your typical training schedule?
I like to run 50-70 miles per week. A typical week includes four 5-8 “easy” runs, a back bay loop (10.5 miles), a speed workout (track or tempo), a 16-20 mile run and two 60 minute spinning classes. I have just started incorporating at least 60 minutes of yoga per week as well for some quality stretching and to increase flexibility for my cadence. Now that spring and summer are here, I will most definitely be altering a long run for 10-12 miles on the trail. I love taking my shoes out on the dirt one day per week, it’s so much fun!

How do you prepare the week of a marathon?
The week of the marathon is the hardest week of all. You have to ‘taper’, which means stop doing the very thing you are thinking about the most: running. Coming off your peak mileage week, this creates a huge gap in your schedule, as well as mental space. It feels…weird. It’s hard... I like to keep very low mileage the week of a marathon (20-25 miles) with more quality workouts. I have found that trying a new activity the week of a marathon, humbles me and also reminds me of how much I enjoy doing something I am so comfortable with. 

What's your biggest source of motivation?
Growth. I know that with each run, I am building.

How would you suggest someone get started if they're interested in checking "run a marathon" off of their bucket list?

Set a plan. 
  1. Register for the full marathon of your choice (they usually open 8-10 months out) so you are committed. 
  2. Register for a ½ marathon that is 2 months before your full marathon. 
  3. Train by slowly building. One week, get up to 5 miles, the next, 8, the next 10 and then, leave that 13 for race day! 
There is so much encouragement throughout the race course. I don’t care if you have only run 3 miles consecutively before, as long as you don’t have any injuries you can get there. Your mind is the biggest obstacle.

Running can be hard on the knees, back and other joints, as a runner who has prevented injury over the years, what's your secret?
EveryBODY is different. I have the advantage of still being young with less than 10 years of running on my legs.  I listen to my body and recognize the difference between soreness and pain. I stretch before I run,  invest in quality running gear (such as fifteen dollar socks), buy a half size larger running shoe and have different shoes for different types of runs. I also manage my recovery by taking an ice bath after a long run.  

You were signed up to run the Boston Marathon this year. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience there? If given the opportunity, are you hesitant to run in Boston next year?
I traveled to Boston to run in the marathon, but I came down with the flu the night before the race and was up all night.  Regardless, I wanted to run in the race. I arrived at the start line with all the women I trained with all year. I felt so sick to my stomach and couldn’t keep anything down. As I stood there, I couldn’t believe. All that preparation. All that training. God had other plans for me that day. I surrendered my race experience, walked over to the medical tent, and got bussed back to the finish. I was greeted in my hotel room a few hours later by my friends as they finished. The second one entered the room in complete distress; she had been in the corrals as the explosions went off. The rest, is history. As for returning to Boston next year? I’m not sure, yet. I haven’t thought that far ahead.

Words to live by: “Discipline is choosing between what you want now, and what you want most”.

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