Cape Island Spotlight – Sherry LaBree

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…

Sherry LaBree

Sherry and I have known each since we were kids running around the Norman Rockwell-esque town we grew up in. We were on swim team together and were always friendly but we lost contact after high school.  The dawn of the MySpace and Facebook era changed all that and we found that our adult selves had even more in common than our teenage ones did and became fast cyber friends. The distance between us (over 1,000 miles at this point, as she and her high school sweetheart and now husband Scott live in Florida) means we don’t get to train or race together regularly (though we did get to do the Philly half a few years back  and are doing the full Philly enchilada this year!) but that does not stop us from being running buddies. We cheer each other on from afar, commiserate on lousy runs and celebrate the great ones! Sherry has fully embraced the runner lifestyle and now helps others do the same. She recently launched her own training business, Endurance in Motion, where she coaches athletes near and far. She has such a warm, supportive personality and her attention to sports science and her own impressive achievements speak of a woman who can take you to the places you want to go!

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

I did not grow up as a runner. I was a swimmer and a cheerleader (ed note: foreshadowing a future as a coach, methinks!) I might have done one run over 2 miles before I was 30. During my 20s I literally sat on my butt, I did absolutely nothing active. It’s so funny, I don’t even know that girl from a decade ago anymore.

Anyway, right after I turned 30 I joined a local gym. I was thinking, “I’m 30, I’m so out of shape, I need to do something”. I met a trainer who had run the Boston Marathon and was training for Ironman Florida. It lit the spark for me, I had this realization that “oh my gosh, real people do this, I could do this”.

In November of 2007, Scott brought home a reminder magnet for a Susan G. Komen 5k for March 2008 and randomly stuck it on the fridge. I looked at it for a couple of days then looked online and saw it was fundraiser, which really appealed to me since we had lost Scott’s mom to breast cancer the year before. In December 2007 I started the Couch to 5k program and I was on my way!  So no one saw the runner in me and I didn’t even really see her in there myself, but it was the realization that I didn’t  have to be a professional or have done it since I was a kid to try it. And that is how I started.
How long have you been pounding the pavement/trails?

Dec 10, 2007 was my very first day. I know this because I have kept a training log from Day 1 (Ed Note: I am so jealous of this!). However, I consider the beginning of my transition into a runner in November of 2007 , right around my birthday. It feels like that is when I mentally got there, even though I had not started running yet.
A moment where you said to yourself “oh my god, I love running!”

Ok, a little background here.  In between doing the Couch to 5k training, I also started to ride the bike as general cross-training and made a commitment to do the May 2008 Danskin Triathlon.  To be honest, I sorta disliked running in those early days. I have a swimming background and was naturally good at cycling. But the running was horrid for me. My times were quite disproportional in the beginning – I had good swim and bike results but not so much for running. At Danskin 2008 I was fast off the bike and then caught on the run. So I hired a coach and she made me write inspirational messages like “I am a runner” and “I love running” and post them up all over the house (like on the bathroom mirror, microwave, steering wheel, etc.). I told her things like  “I can’t run” and she made me write the message like “I am a great runner”. She had me start telling myself that I was a runner and believe that I  could run. By seeing the notes every day and following her guidelines (part of the issues was that I wasn’t running enough) I really started to believe that I was a runner. Fast forward to Danskin 2009  where I raced again. This time, after all that psychological and physical conditioning, I won my age group. And right then and there, for me, I became a woman who loves running.

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

That is a very, very easy one for me – Florida 70.3. It was a horrible, rotten race. The heat index did not dip below 90dF. Three-quarters of the run was on a grassy greenbelt with drainage pools around it and that evaporating water made it a steambath. I’d estimate 70% of people were walking the run, myself included. I was asking myself “who does this??” It was my slowest half Ironman, but I was proud that I finished. I would like to go back and try it again, but the course is different now so it would not be a true redemption. That race, among others, caused me to put into effect my “no races longer than 1.5 hours between May and September” rule. It is just too brutal in the Florida heat. Ed Note: I asked Sherry why and how she kept going during that race and she said: I don’t think you get involved with these sports if you are a person who gives up easily. You are just hard wired to not lie down. You put one foot in front of the other and you keep going. That is endurance sports; you just go no matter what it takes.

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)?

Actually the first thing that pops in my head is “try nothing new on race day”. I don’t advocate it for my athletes, but I have been really fortunate regarding this. I wore practically brand new shoes for the Wisconsin marathon. I remember thinking “what are you doing?!”. I’ve also gone into a half Ironman with a brand new saddle, but I was fine. So I know I have gotten very lucky!

Prefer to run alone or with partner/group?

I prefer to run alone. If I meet with a group, I like to start with them, do my own thing for the run and reconvene for breakfast. I like to be alone with my thoughts. I also do not like to get caught up with other people’s paces, which happens when I run with a group. My rate of perceived exertion also goes through the roof when I run with people – maybe too much time smiling?? The only exception for me is intervals. I do find it easier to go faster with others.

I love the social aspect before and after runs and love my running club, Zoomers Southwest Florida Running and Triathlon Club. Being involved with the club is really great. I recently did a last minute sprint triathlon where I went alone and knew no one there. It was a horribly lonely race – there was no support and I really felt it. You cannot put a price on that support.

Favorite running gear?

Before we start any of our Zoomers meeting, we answer questions like this. This one was asked about 2 months ago. Other people were saying their Garmins, their shoes, etc.… but mine is my training log. It’s not a piece of gear, per se, but every workout since December 2007, everything, has gone in that log. In training for the Philly marathon this year, I am able to look back at my Philly training last year.  It is neat – if you look at the two weeks before I got shingles, you can see a trending off in training performance, an increase in heart rate.  It is an invaluable, powerful tool.

Bucket list race?

Definitely the Boston Marathon (Ed Note: for the uninitiated, Boston is unique in that you have to qualify for it – i.e. run another marathon at a fast enough pace that you can enter it). I really, really want to get there. I know that is a ubiquitous one and many runners want to do it. But I love the big races, the crowds and all the hoopla. You can’t beat Boston if you like that kind of thing. And I love that kind of thing.

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

*laughs hysterically* No way Chris! *laughs* No way!

What is your favorite race distance?

I have to really think about this. I am so enamored with the marathon right now because of my Boston goal…but I think my favorite race distance is the half marathon. It is such a beautiful blend of endurance and speed.  Not just for me – for everyone. The distance is nothing to sneeze at and you have to put the time in for training yet you can still have a life while preparing for it.

Do you run on vacation or take a break?

I do run on vacation, I think exploring a new area by foot is one of the most enjoyable things about going on vacation! I have gotten to the point that wherever we go on vacation there will definitely be a race as part of it. I like to find one that we can take in a taste of local running flavor. They are all a little different everywhere you go. The fist race I ever did outside of Florida was in Memphis, Tennessee while we were visiting Scott’s relatives. The outskirts get petty hilly. At the time I had only been running about a year in the very flat area that we live in. But here I was being presented with all these hills and it was an eye opening experience. I enjoyed the heck out of it! It was a small local race, but I was so excited to get to see something new.

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

Hmm, I must be the most boring runner in the world because nothing obvious comes to mind. Oh, there is something that I do that  I don’t see anyone else do. I do spinoff of around the world lunges.  There is a running guru that came up with the lunge matrix  and a trainer introduced it to me last year. I took to it right away – it hits every muscle in the glutes, hips and thighs. I have noticed that while doing it before local races it garners me some strange looks, which makes me want to hide behind a bush! You have to be brave to do it, just make a little circle around yourself and not care what others think.

Advice to fellow runners?

This is an easy one and I feel like a broken record because I say it so often to my clients –  there is no instant in endurance sports. The “I want it now” mindset is a function of the society we live in so when you start endurance sports, it is sort of deflating at first. You think “why am I not faster? why is everyone else getting so much faster?” I remember being that girl and am very candid with my athletes about my history with this mindset. But over time I learned – there is no instant. It takes time to develop the attributes of patience, persistence and consistency. You must be dedicated and if you are, the payoff is huge. It is not done in months or a year, it is years. Enjoy the ride! You will make great gains in the beginning and it is a lot of fun to watch your numbers fall. As you get better, it gets tougher to knock off even seconds and you have to work harder. But it will come, it will come.

What is your favorite post-race indulgence?

Definitely pizza. And after the Wisconsin marathon, that has been amended so that can’t just be pizza now, it has to be Chicago deep dish. Immediately after a race, I can hit a food tent and down anything. I think I could probably eat a slice on the run! I am perfectly content eating as soon as possible after the race, and I’ll take my  pizza with eggplant and mushroom toppings, please.

Weird, random fact about yourself?

My hidden talent is song lyrics. I am a whiz at them! If I had been smart I would have auditioned for  that show “Don’t Forget The Lyrics” . I would have won enough money to be up to my ears in running shoes! It isn’t something that I developed as an adult – I’ve been able to do it for as long as I can remember. By 5 or 6, I would be standing up in the backseat of the care yelling songs from radio. Ah, the good ol’ days of child restraint in cars! laughs I just pick them up really easily and it’s weird because I am not musical in any other way.

 So that is our fun-loving, hard-working Sherry! Stay tuned on the blog over the next few months to see how she makes out in Philly (I will of course report on her race as well!) and click on over to Endurance in Motion – she’s open for business, coaching runners and triathletes. Oh, and lest you wonder if she is legit she is certified by the Road Runners Club of America and just about done her USAT certification for triathlon training. You can’t go wrong with this one!

Anyone have questions about Sherry?

11 Comments

Filed under Cape Island Spotlight

11 responses to “Cape Island Spotlight – Sherry LaBree

  1. Great spotlight!! I loved reading Sherry’s story. Lots of great perspectives and ideas. Thanks girls.

  2. Linda Kisiel

    Loved the story on Sherry. I’ve become a running friend and am always buoyed up by her advice and positive thoughts for me. I love that girl!

  3. I meant to write this last night but totally forgot:
    I also have an unusual song and song lyric talent! I can recognize songs in a few notes and remember lyrics better than anyone I have seen on ‘Don’t forget the lyrics’. In fact, Chris, Bel also has this talent. Perhaps Sherry, Bel and I should form some sort of super song talent team and go win a boat load of money. Whose with me?!

  4. What n awesome article:)
    Sherry you are amazing.
    Must of been them MOM genes

  5. Lauren Kisiel

    Love this spotlight! Sherry is awesome and always so motivational. I can always count on her to comment on my running moments!

  6. Pingback: Marathon Training Recap – Weeks 5-8 | Cape Island Runners

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