Cape Island Spotlight – Carrie Merritt

Cape Island Spotlight” will be an occasional series about runners I know and love and think you will too! Runners are an interesting breed – a little quirky mixed with a little masochist mixed with hard work and hard play makes for some of the most fun people I know!

Here, I’ll show you…

Carrie Merritt

Carrie and I have been friends since 2006 when she started working out with the group of ladies I trained with in Ocean City.  Her insane talent pushed me further in workouts, but it was really her personality that drew me to her. She is hard-working, humble and hilarious.  She is an accomplished triathlete and while biking is her favorite, she also kills it on a run course. She is a kindergarten teacher and also a personal trainer at Exodus Integrated Wellness.  Recently, she became the strength trainer for several Ocean City HS teams, most notably field hockey. She is sponsored by Tuckahoe Bike Shop, Scott shoes and NeoSport wetsuits(yeah, she’s good!).  If there were ever a person that would motivate you to reach your potential, it is Carrie!

Who saw the runner in you, ie how did you get into running?

I despised running in high school and college. Softball catchers (as I was in college) are not generally known for our running skills! After I graduated, I noticed that my sister and dad were running a lot and since I was looking for something active to do post-college to get rid of the bulky muscle I had needed when playing softball, I decided to join them. I did not go for speed or distance at first, it was totally based on a slow running pace and blossomed from there. Over time I saw progress – at first I was running next to my dad, then within the same block, and then suddenly my dad was in the rear view. That was my start. I had no aspirations of being a fast runner until I met my wife, Lisa. I have always had a competitive fire, regardless of whether it was being a catcher, playing Uno, or being something like the best dog walker! But it wasn’t until I met Lisa and she started coaching me that I became a faster runner.
How long have you been pounding the pavement/trails?

Let’s see, I started with my sis and dad in 2000 and around 2006 with Lisa.
A moment where you said to yourself “oh my god, I love running!”

I have had 3 great days of running – when it felt natural and easy and like I could go forever. Just motoring! Amazingly, they were all on the same course at the same race over three different years (2009, 2010 and 2011). This was during the final leg of the Danskin Woman’s Triathlon  (ed note: Carrie is too modest to say so, but she actually won –as in, won, won, not just her age group, but the whole enchilada -each year! About 1500 women participate, so it’s no small feat!)

One thing that is really vivid in my memory of these races is the view of the lighthouse. I just followed it visually each year and it reminded me so much of trips I would take as a kid with my family where we would visit lighthouses all over the US.

The other part I want to mention about Danskin is how great it is to compete with Lisa. She has always been within 3 spots of me and if she ever caught me, it would not bother me at all. But her perspective would be “why did you let me catch you when you had the lead off the bike?!?”. She is a great coach who always puts me as an athlete first and our relationship second (on the course that is, not in our daily life!). We maintain this balance of healthy competition that just fuels us both to be better out there and still be genuinely happy with the other one’s accomplishments. (ed. note: they really do, it’s a beautiful relationship to watch!)

A moment when you said to yourself “Whose idea was this again? Why in the world am I doing this!?”

Every run portion of the NJ State Triathlon (I did this race each year from 2007-2011) where the sun is beating down on you, it’s inland Jersey in July, it’s noon and you feel like you are in a desert even though you know full well you are not in a desert! I just despise that run. I made Lisa promise me that I would never have to do it again!

Running adage that is not true for you (i.e. they say to avoid running on a full stomach, but lil sis can house a hoagie and be fine to run immediately)?

That to be really competitive, you have to take every run seriously and have a goal for it. I went from a very relaxed way of running to a much more dialed-in version – running my line, being aware of my breathing. But I find that I also really need runs where I can just be silly and relax, it makes me more productive overall. I do a pretty good job of getting those runs in – last weekend I did the Color Run with my sister and 10 year old niece. It was great! No race clock, no awards, just a bunch of people out for a fun run. It was especially cool to see so many young women (20-23 yrs old) which is not the norm for a 5k and to be out there with my niece. My sister has done an excellent job exposing her to running and it really shows.

Prefer to run alone or with partner/group?

I am right down the middle on this. I have really come to love running with a partner, especially for hard runs. I like being pushed and feeling either one step behind (trying to catch up) or one step ahead (trying not to be caught). I’ve recently been running with a partner who is faster than me and it has given me a much better appreciation for what my clients must go through! The night before our runs I think about how she is going to crush me, torture me… but then I start seeing the progress I am making and it is really satisfying.

On the flip side, after a long day at work there is nothing better than running alone. To be 100% honest, I don’t always write out my lesson plans –they are fully formed and mentally cataloged during my solo runs!

Favorite running gear?

Coconut water and shoes! I love a wide variety of shoes, especially in electric, bright colors. I have recently been wearing  Scott a lot – I really like them because I prefer running sockless and they have a shammy inside that prevents blisters. But I am drawn to anything colorful at the Sneaker Shop.

Bucket list race?

This is going to sound crazy to anyone who knows my issues with swimming, but some sick part of me wants to do Escape From Alcatraz.

Would you (or have you) ever do a bare it all (ie naked) run?

In the right situation with the right people, yes. I still run a lot with my family and I have no interest in seeing that!

What is your favorite race distance?

I would like to concoct my own perfect race. It would be a .25 mile swim, a 25-26 mile bike, and a 5 mile run. Hey, I know where my strengths are!

Do you run on vacation or take a break?

I like running and I love moving on vacation. It’s an integral part of mine and Lisa’s relationship. We were in Boston a few weeks ago and ran some of Heartbreak Hill – it’s just a really fun way to see a city.

What is a running ritual you have that makes other raise their eyebrows?

I have a secret way that I carry around good luck charms for a race – sometimes it might be a letter “L”, sometimes it is the Wonder Woman symbol, but it is always kept close to me to bring me luck. I think if you knew the secret part of this, your eyebrows would go way up, so I am going to leave it at that!

Advice to fellow runners?

I think a lot of us start out thinking we never could be a runner. But you have to keep moving forward, it will get easier!

What is your favorite post-race indulgence?

Starbucks caramel macchiato. I count my miles to Starbucks for sure!

Weird, random fact about yourself?

Here’s three: Lisa says my elbows are on backwards, I am afraid of mice and squirrels and I always really wanted to be a clown in the Ringling Brothers Circus

And there you have it! Isn’t she adorable?!?! Love me some Carrie!

Anyone have questions about Carrie?

11 Comments

Filed under Cape Island Spotlight

11 responses to “Cape Island Spotlight – Carrie Merritt

  1. Carrie Merritt

    Thanks Chris! You rock! If you don’t already know Kashi Kisiel, you truly have to know that she is one of the best people on this planet!

  2. carol Angelo

    I really am so proud of you Carrie!!! Love you and miss you a lot! Always, your Aunt Carol

  3. Lauren Kisiel

    I am just so inspired here sitting on my couch. I just ate a LARGE McDonald’s meal and I want to lace up my shoes and take a jaunt on the boards. Jubilee guys! Jubilee!!

  4. Heather

    Such a great “spotlight” on a fabulous girl…I can say that …she’s my sister. I would also like to add that today when Merritt (age 12…Carrie’s nephew) and I were talking about the fact that La La (yep, that’s what we call her) is doing a spring triathlon on Saturday and a half iron man on Sunday, he said…”She’s Crazy!” That’s why we love her!

  5. What an awesome interview for an inspiring, strong woman!

  6. Pingback: Cape Island Spotlight – Lisa Rumer | Cape Island Runners

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