Jamie Watts is an incredible athlete with a story that will inspire you no matter your fitness level. She is a runner from the DC area who has completed well over 100 races that range in distance from 5ks all the way to her recent marathon finish. What’s even more impressive than that? Jamie has done this as a runner with cerebral palsy. After using running as a way to get in shape for a family trip to Italy, she quickly discovered her love for finish lines and has been crossing them ever since. In this episode, Jamie shares her story of becoming a runner, what her first race was like, what it is like starting races earlier than everyone else, how she fuels during really long training runs, and what her experience was like for her first marathon. Jamie also offers encouragement to anyone who may be scared to do a road race for fear of coming in last. Jamie’s personality is uplifting and spunky and you are going to love this episode!
Jill Schumacher is a physician’s assistant from Annapolis, Maryland who recently became a Six Star Finisher after completing the six Abbott World Majors. Having worked for 7 years to accomplish this goal, she finally has been able to cross this off her bucket list and in this episode she is sharing all about it. Jill shares how her and her husband met (spoiler: they are Jack & Jill), how she got into each of the Majors, budgeting and saving for each race, her experience at Boston, running with Athletes Serving Athletes, which race was her favorite, and if she plans to run for charity in the future. Our interview was full of great conversation and I loved learning more about this fierce woman that comes in a small package…for real, she’s 4’11”. I learned so much from our conversation and it *almost* makes me want to do the World Majors. Even if your goal isn’t to knock off the Majors, there is so much to take away from this episode and you may be inspired to set your own huge goals.
Mirna Valerio, known on the interwebs as The Mirnavator, is a superstar who truly does it all! Having been featured in National Geographic, NBC Nightly News, Runner’s World, Elle, Self, and Outside Magazines, being the cover model and a regular contributing author for Women’s Running Magazine, and writing her own book, A Beautiful Work in Progress, it is safe to say that she is well known in the running community. Mirna serves as a Spanish teacher, cross country coach, choir director, and much more at a boarding school in North Georgia. Trails are this girl’s best friend and she has quickly became an icon for plus sized runners. I have personally been deeply inspired by Mirna’s accomplishments and how she has changed the status quo for us fat ladies.
In this episode, we talk about her book, her new crazy life that is full of speaking engagements and book tours, her recent experience at the Boston Marathon, her decision to take on a running coach for her training, the pressure that comes with being the “face” of plus sized running, and what she has planned for the rest of this year. Mirna has an infectious laugh and a truly charming personality. You are going to love her in this episode and want to become her best running friend!
Episode 19: All Runners are Real Runners (Kelsey Cansler)
Today I’m talking all about what it means to be a real runner! This past week, the photo in this post was featured on the Runner’s World Instagram page. After reading some of the comments on that post, I realized that there is a struggle going on in the running community based on what makes someone a “real runner” and what those words mean. I discuss the implications of plus sized runners getting lots of media attention, the negative results of saying “I’m not a real runner” or “I’m too slow”, and how powerful words can be. We are all in this together and putting ourselves into little boxes with labels does not help anyone! Hopefully this episode can shed some light on what it means to be a runner and how we can all come together to empower the entire running community.
Tia Stone, better known on the Internet as Arkansas Runner Mom, is a mom of 4 and extremely talented runner from, you guessed it, Arkansas. She has ran Boston, won the same marathon 3 different times, and proudly has several sub 3 hour marathons to her name. She works very hard in her training and her dedication really pays off! On this episode, we talk about her recent races at Little Rock, the Strava Speed Project, and how she braved the crazy weather to run Boston with her sister. Tia shares how running became a family affair for her and also lets us in on how she fuels for grueling races. It is amazing to see someone like Tia balance kids, life, and have such an impressive running resume. You are going to love my conversation with Tia!
On this episode, I recap my race experience at the Pistol Ultra 50k. This was my first (and probably last) ultra and I wanted to capture every moment of the race. I discuss the training plan I used to prepare for the race, what I fueled with during the race and how I pushed through the pain of 31 miles, what my darkest moments were, and how in the heck I made it to the finish line. This was an extremely tough race for me physically, but I kept pushing and eventually finished feeling like I was on top of the world. I am so excited to be able to share this experience with you.
Sho Gray is an extremely talented individual with an extremely positive outlook on life. His self professed goal in life is to encourage others, and he is very good at it. Sho recently won the Pistol Ultra 100 mile race while also crushing the course record with a time of 15:24. He lived in Japan the first 18 years of his life and then moved to Tennessee for college where he ended up staying and now serves as a cross country coach and local youth pastor. Sho has completed countless 100 mile races and other endurance ultra events. His spunky attitude and uplifting spirit really light up a race course. In this episode, Sho shares how he made the leap into ultra running and his experience at the Pistol Ultra race. He imparts training wisdom as well as how he fuels during and recovers from super long race distances. Sho shares his goals for 2018 (spoiler alert: they are BIG) while also giving advice to those who may be on the fence about tackling their first ultra. Enjoy this conversation with Sho Gray!
Today I’m talking to one of my dear friends from undergrad, Jessika Birchfield. Jessika is a wife, registered nurse, graduate student, and Justin Timberlake fan. We met in an exercise class in college and have been friends ever since. Jessika shares with us how she developed an eating disorder her freshman year of college and how she recovered from that. She touches on how an experience in 2nd grade helped shape her view of weight and her thoughts on social media’s role in eating disorder recovery. Although there is definitely some deep conversation, we also share lots of laughs through other stories like when she broke her toe because I forced her to play in an intramural basketball game. Jessika recently finished her first half marathon and she shares what that experience was like for her. I guarantee you will love her deep Southern accent and leave this episode feeling refreshed and not alone in whatever struggles you are facing.
Justin Kirkland is a journalist and runner that lives in Brooklyn. We met my freshman year of college (forever ago) while he was an RA in my dormitory. Justin left small town Tennessee behind to chase his dreams to the big city, and it is paying off in huge dividends. He writes for Esquire and USA Today as well as doing freelance work. His line of work has him covering everything from The Bachelor to personal interviews with Olympian Adam Rippon. We talk about what led him to his career choice, his infinite love of pizza, the freak accident that made him want to become a runner, and what it was like to lose 70+ pounds after spending his life being the funny fat friend. Justin shares some stories that are guaranteed to make you roll with laughter. I gleaned so much from my conversation with Justin, and I know you are going to love his story.
This episode is sponsored by Pressed.TN. Pressed.TN is a locally owned custom vinyl gifts company where you can order shirts, coffee mugs, tanks, onesies, and so much more. Alicia can make any design or quote that your heart desires. Check them out on Instagram and Facebook and be sure to tell them that you heard about them from the show.
Bart Yasso is a legend in the sport of running. Notoriously dubbed the Mayor of Running, he has inspired thousands, perhaps millions, to chase after their dreams and to never limit where running can take you. Having just retired as the Chief Running Officer at Runner’s World after having worked there for more than 30 years, I sat down with him to pick his brain about all things running. He has raced on all 7 continents, completed over 1,000 races including the Comrades Marathon in South Africa and the brutal Badwater UltraMarathon. Bart is the inventor of the torture training workout that are known as Yasso 800s and gas been inducted into the Running USA Hall of Champions. Although these are all fantastic accomplishments, Bart is probably the nicest person you will ever talk to and he is known for being a good listener. We talk about his thoughts on charity runners, his favorite race distance, and what it is like to win a race. He shares so much wisdom and knowledge and I’m thankful for the opportunity that I had to chat with him.