“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…
I think of Lisa as my mama hen as far as racing is concerned. I first got to know her in 2004, when Lil Sis was working at the Ocean City Fitness Center. Lisa welcomed us into a group of women who all worked out together, training and competing in road races and triathlons. She is that incredible mix that is so hard to find – someone super talented yet very open with sharing with her time and experience to help others along. As you can see from the picture above, Lisa is all business on race day… but the rest of the time? She is one of the nicest people you would ever hope to meet. On group bike rides, she was the one that would make sure no one got lost, pedaling back and forth between the groups that inevitably form to make sure everyone was ok. She is the primary reason I never learned to fix a flat – although she taught me multiple times, she would just as easily take care of it for me! She is a great cook and has fed me many a night when my own culinary skills would have left me high and dry (aka eating cereal for dinner). And she takes care of everyone in the same way – from her own family of Carrie and TJ, to their extended one of aunts, cousins, grandparents, to the larger Ocean City community, Lisa is someone we all turn to for inspiration (she really is one of my favorite runners to watch, her form is efficient and beautiful) and encouragement (I did my first tri because of her and started running harder because I saw through her that road running could be a place to push myself and try to reach my own potential). Check her out:
Who saw the runner in you, ie how did you get into running?
I guess that would be my dad. I’m not even sure how it started, but when I was a kid, he would take me out – I would run and he would bike next to me. Then one summer, he signed me up for an Ocean City Rec Run. I think I was 9. There was no running attire back then and I remember I had on my huge glasses and wore a Mr. Peanut shirt, jeans (not even jean shorts) that I kept up with a huge belt buckle! This was an event for kids – it was prior to Fenton Carey and they were just testing out whether a kids run would work. It was a 1-mile run and my clearest memory is thinking it took awhile to get to the turnaround cone. After that, I ran it every summer that it was offered, plus some other races. I remember I was in 8th grade when I did one where they forgot to put the turnaround cone for the .5 marker and we wound up running a mile out so they gave us 2 medals for the 2 miles we ran when we finished!
I had just started girls track the year before and during school I got called down to the office. I was really nervous, thinking, “what did I do?” But it turned out they just wanted to give me a letter from the high school girls track congratulating me on a recent run (ed note: that she had won) and asking if would I run for her next year? I was like, “yeah man, somebody wants me!” so I did– but I remember I got terrible shin splints that first year! I wound up running all four years in high school for all three seasons (ed note: cross-country, indoor track, spring track). I did not run in college, which turned out to be one of my biggest regrets in life. I had a boyfriend at home so I always wanted to come back to see him.
By the time my sophomore year ended, I had gained 25 pounds so I took up running again. (ed. note: I want pictures!!! Lisa is so sculpted and petite I just cannot imagine her with 25 pounds on that frame!) I earned my degree in recreation administration and when I was about 26 I got a job at the Ocean City Fitness Center. About this same time, I started doing road races and triathlons. There were a bunch of us that were pretty hardcore – just a great a mix of people that worked really hard.
Running is my forte but I enjoy all three disciplines of triathlon. I believe that cross training has really helped me be an athlete and it makes it more enjoyable. There are days that your body feels like doing one or the other so that helps with motivation to keep training.
How long have you been pounding the pavement/trails?
I started when I was 9 and I am 47 now, so 38 years.
A moment where you said to yourself “oh my god, I love running!”
Oh, that is so hard…one of my favorites was one of the first times Carrie and I did a race together. It was the Broad Street Run. We ran together the whole time and I remember thinking “we are running hard!”. I just loved that feeling of really working hard and doing it together.
A moment when you said to yourself “Whose idea was this again? Why in the world am I doing this!?”
Oh boy, one would be the Miami Man Triathlon, international distance in 1994 (ed note: .6 mi swim, 22 mi bike, 10k). The run was excruciating! I said to some “older” woman who was probably in her late 30 (I was in my 20s) “Come on, let’s go!” and man, did she kick my ass! That run was so hot and I was working so hard and by the end I was thinking “that was the worst run ever!”
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)?
I pretty much follow all the rules. *laughs* I do always have one drink before race day – either beer or wine. I have it with dinner and it is a bit of a superstition now!
Prefer to run alone or with partner/group?
Umm, I enjoy both. There are times that I am like “it is so nice being out here” , being away from everything but other times that I really like running with people.
Favorite winter running gear?
My Nike running hat – it’s royal blue. It’s not too heavy, not too light, covers my ears, love it. Even if it is almost too warm I will wear that hat.
Bucket list race?
I would really love to do one more national championship triathlon at international distance. It will be in Milwaukee in 2013 and it stays in the same place two years in a row. That area does not really appeal to me so I’ll probably wait until it is somewhere I want to go!
Would you (or have you) ever do a bare it all (ie naked) run?
Yes, I would. It would have to warm enough though! My co-worker was visiting her son out west and was on a duck boat and saw a naked race going by!
What is your favorite race distance?
Do you run on vacation or take a break?
We always run on vacation. A memorable one was Jamaica – I was running on dirt roads with just the goats out and guys driving by yelling “Hey mon!”
And you know something really interesting that I have noticed at work? (ed note: reminder, Lisa works at the Fitness Center in Ocean City, a prime tourism location on the Jersey coast) 20 years ago, the attitude of most visitors was, “I’m on vacation, I’m not doing anything!”. 10 years ago it was, “I’m on vacation, I get to work out! This is great!” And then the last few years it has been “We’re a family on vacation, what can we do together?!”. It’s been really cool to see that transition.
What is a running ritual you have that makes other raise their eyebrows?
Umm, nothing weird, I am a pretty by the books runner. I have my drink the night before, race morning I usually have a banana with PB, and then I do some squats and jumps right before the gun goes off.
Advice to fellow runners?
Stay loose. Running does not feel good when you are tense. So physically, make your body relax. While running, I think to myself, “fast without tension” and also “good arms” to remind myself not to let my arms cross the center line of my body. It’s amazing how bad your form can go when you are tired and equally amazing how much energy you can get back if you just adjust your form. When I’m really hurting, I think “breathe slower and deeper” “stay relaxed” and “foot cadence”. When racing, I constantly think about form and that is what gets me thorough the entire race. I think a lot of runners would improve if they worked on focusing on what their body was doing as they run and race.
What is your favorite post-race indulgence?
Whatever I can get my hands on! I pretty much indulge all the time, so there is nothing specific I wait to have after a race. It is more like indulging while feeling that feeling of success!
Weird, random fact about yourself?
I have this reoccurring dream where I am trying to run and can’t move! I am using everything I have to move even a little bit. I am just trying to move one step forward but I can’t. Eventually I get on the ground start trying to pull myself forward and I can’t. I think it is related to anxiety.
Thanks so much Lis! Lisa is the race director for all the races that happen under the City’s sponsorship. If you have never done the Mayor’s Labor Day Race, the OC Tri or (my personal favorite) the OC Half, you really must! She puts on great races – very well organized, excellent food after, door prizes in many cases. The best!
Since the first photo of Lis is of her fierce racing self, I wanted to also include on that is more in line with the Lisa we see day to day – friendly with a huge smile on her face:
Anyone have questions for Lisa?