COLLEGIATE GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: MICHELLE
Earned Runs™ is pleased to introduce our first ever guest contributor, TULANE UNIVERSITY junior MICHELLE D. To get into the swing of the Back-To-School theme and to kick off the new academic year, Michelle will write on three topics of interest to students. She is pursuing a business degree as a “Green Wave” fan at the New Orleans, Louisiana institution, with a dual major in Marketing and Management. She considers the Cleveland Ohio area to be her home when not at school.
Earned Runs asked Michelle about her running career. Our conversation will serve as an INTRODUCTION before her blog pieces are posted on September 14, 21, and 28. Not a college student? You may find inspiration in these pieces regardless of your educational status.
READ THE INTERVIEW BELOW!
Earned Runs: HI MICHELLE! Thanks for joining our team this fall. Before we begin asking questions about running, how have you fared at the start of the 2017 academic year with hurricanes threatening?
MICHELLE : "I'm loving being back at school and all is well. Tulane and New Orleans were spared serious 'Harvey' storm damage and the campus is as lovely as ever! Watching and waiting to see how 'Irma' affects this region."
Earned Runs: The nation will be with you, hoping the southeast United States is not harmed.
MICHELLE: Thank you!
Earned Runs: You were a soccer player from elementary school through high school; varsity captain as a matter of fact. Has that helped your running?
MICHELLE: I definitely think playing soccer helped my running because it was the reason I developed a passion for running. Initially I ran solely for the purpose to get fit for soccer season, but as time went on I realized that I ran because I found it fun, time for me to clear my head, or burn some steam.
Earned Runs: How old when you first became a regular runner?
MICHELLE: I’d say I became a regular runner at the end of high school going into college. I no longer had soccer practices and training hanging over my head. I had SIGNIFICANTLY more free time to run for fun and not think of it as a burden.
Earned Runs: Do you remember your first run?
MICHELLE: Starting in kindergarten I ran track for my school, it was short lived as my free time and life began to be consumed by club soccer. Club soccer involved 2-3 practices a week and at least 1 game on the weekends. It was an outside of school activity that was year-round, so it was hard to do any other activities alongside that commitment.
Earned Runs: When did you realize you were fast?
MICHELLE: There were a few occurrences when I realized that I was fast, the first being my senior year of high school during soccer season. The first official day of season was our fitness test, and as varsity captain I trained all summer so I could be as fit as possible. I ran the mile in 6 minutes 15 seconds and was the first to finish. I thought it was my big break and that it would probably be one of the fastest timed miles I would run. But then I went to college, found running to be my escape.
Earned Runs: Was there a person, other than your parents, who influenced your running?
MICHELLE: My uncle is the former President of the New Orleans Track Club (NOTC). He and my aunt encouraged me to run NOTC sponsored races when I went to college down in New Orleans. I showed up not really expecting much for a 5k race, but I finished in first place in the women’s division.
Earned Runs: Describe your college experience with running after that race.
MICHELLE: I continued my freshman year of college running races for fun and succeeding in placing and getting medals in each that I ran. I had never run competitively before so it felt crazy and exciting to me every time I finished a race.
My university had a Homecoming Mile race that I decided to run just for fun. I was the first overall female finisher with a personal best mile time of 5 minutes 50 seconds. It was something that I never really thought I would be able to do, and I was so proud of myself!
Earned Runs: Is running effected by the demands of academic life, or vice versa?
MICHELLE: Fitting in runs at certain times of the semester can be hard with exams. Since academics are more important than fitness, classes and studying trump my desire to go for a long run.
Earned Runs: What motivates you to run regularly and train?
MICHELLE: So many things, including wanting to enjoy the nice weather outside to getting some fresh air. If I have just signed up for a race and feel the need to go for a run to make sure I am staying fit – I love to run. It is as an escape for me. If I’m upset, stressed, or even just full of energy, running clears my head and puts me in a better mood.
Earned Runs: You successfully recovered from a health setback to run a half marathon. What was your reaction to being sidelined?
MICHELLE: When I had a health issue in mid-March I thought my running career was over. I had heard stories of people who were avid runners before they got this illness and it changed them forever. The doctors advised me to take at least 6 weeks off from any exercise to ensure that I would fully recover and not relapse. Knowing the importance of a good recovery; I wasn’t going to mess with it. Going from running 8 miles a couple times a week to not being able to do anything and have to sit on the couch or lay in bed all day was the hardest thing. Even after feeling in perfect health, I still needed to wait 3-4 weeks before I could slowly ease my way back into running.
Earned Runs: What were your training expectations for competition?
MICHELLE: In January, 2017 I had signed up for what was going to be my second half marathon, The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon on May 21st. When my health issue came up my parents said I wasn’t going to be able to run it, but I told them that I wasn’t giving up that easy. Once doctors gave the all clear to begin exercising again, I slowly got back into a running routine, easing up to my usual 8-mile morning route, and starting to cross train with the elliptical at the gym. Time flew By. Soon it was final exam season with 2 weeks until race day. I was confident of finishing but with a time not as fast as my first half marathon.
Earned Runs: What were you thinking as you raced and crossed the finish line?
MICHELLE: The day before the race I picked up my race packet, and bib. I had been placed in the A corral! It made me nervous and excited and I couldn’t wait for the race to start. I felt great on race day and it was the perfect running weather.
My family was going to be waiting at the finish line, and in my 2 years of running races this was going to be the first race for them to see me run. The 13 miles went by so quickly. When I saw the end line I also saw my Dad standing ahead, apart from the crowd, about 200 yards from the finish line. I immediately got a rush of energy and was so excited and happy to see him that I sprinted for the finish line, running passed my Mom and brother who were right before the end screaming and cheering me on.
I finished in 1 hour 38 minutes, beating my previous half marathon time by 4 minutes. I was ecstatic to say the least and couldn’t believe that after a spring semester full of recovery that I had pulled it off.
Earned Runs: What advice do you have for women and men of your age regarding running?
MICHELLE: It’s never too late to start running and finding it as a fun activity rather than a chore. If you start small and work your way up you can achieve little milestones that are important to you. The nice thing about running is that no one has to know your mile time or the distance you ran, it is all up to you.
Earned Runs: Thanks Michelle! We’re looking forward to your upcoming blog posts (listed below with dates).
"FINDING TIME TO RUN": September 14
" 'CLIMATE CHANGE' ": September 21
"RECOVERING FROM AN ILLNESS": September 28
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. In 1978 I began participating in 10K road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health and longevity.
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