We first met Heather through our favorite NYC running group, North Brooklyn Runners. We saw her around, but she ran so fast we didn't get a chance to talk with her much.
Until the running club's social events, like the annual holiday party
where she won one of our super soft running tops, the Hydrogen Tank. Heather then modeled our running gear in these great photos with a group running along the Brooklyn waterfront, shot by one of our favorite sports photographers, Kevin Morris (who also shoots for the "bigger" brands like Saucony, Oiselle, Adidas and others...so cool!)
Heather is now the food and nutrition editor at Runner's World Magazine (ref photos with famous runners) with a mile personal best of 5:38, a half marathon PR of 1:35, and a 3:31 marathon PR. And here's how she got there with her running story:
Heather Mayer Irvine
Brooklyn, NY (part time Emmaus, PA, aka Runner's World town)
RUNNING GROUP, TEAM, OR CLUB:
North Brooklyn Runners. Runner’s World
Describe what RUNNING is to you, in 5 words or less:
Passion. Livelihood. Escape. Measure of self. (OK that was 6).
How did you get started running and/or what inspired you to run?
I started running when I was 11 for the middle school track team. Our season finale was the 4x400 relay at the Boston Marathon Finish Line (my first BAA medal was from 1999 and it now hangs in my office at Runner’s World). Running fell by the wayside for a few years and I picked it back my sophomore year of high school and HATED IT. I was slow. It hurt. It was boring.
I moved high schools my junior year and joined the Cross Country team to make friends. I hated running less. And then I started to get faster. I ran Cross Country and track (mile) for two years, ending my high school career with a 6:21 mile. I ran less in college, when I joined the Ultimate Frisbee team. I went on short runs (3 miles) to stay in shape but I was mostly on the ultimate field.
After I graduated and moved to Brooklyn, I ran a five-mile race for kicks, with about 8:23 splits. So I started running more. And more. And more. A friend of mine who lived in NYC (and whom I ran high school track with) ran her first (and only) half marathon in Brooklyn in 2010. I thought, hm, I want to do that. So I ran it in 2011. And then I ran another one that fall. And decided I’d go for the full 26.2.
It’s been seven years since I graduated college, and I’ve six marathons (2016 Boston will be my seventh), nearly a dozen half marathons, and a bunch of shorter races, totaling nearly 80 altogether.
I joined North Brooklyn Runners (after stalking the Google Group for a while) to get faster and spice up my workouts. It’s been two years since I joined and I’ve made dozens of new friends, found two hardcore training partners, ran a 5:38 mile, and am leading the morning track workout: the same workouts I dreaded and despised in high school.
Running has become my life. Literally. I landed my dream job at Runner’s World earlier this year, as the food and nutrition editor (I studied newspaper and nutrition in college). For years I’d say, “My dream job would be the nutrition editor at Runner’s World, but that’ll never happen.” And then thanks to one of my tweets to Runner’s World with #dreamjob in it, I landed it.
I’ve made some of my closest friends on the roads - in high school and after college. I could talk running for hours and never get bored.
I’m so far down the rabbit hole now. I’m an above-average runner, but by no means elite (or even sub-elite). My teammates inspire me every day. My mom (60) started (slowly) running half marathons when she was 56. She inspires me. And without sounding too arrogant, I inspire myself. I push myself in every workout and every race. Sometimes maybe too hard (read: collapse due to dehydration at the Chicago Marathon in 2014… but only after I qualified for Boston with a 3:31:42. The hospital folks weren’t thrilled that I ran myself into the ground. But I was). A lot of what gets me to the next level is the mental game (mine and my training partners’). I wouldn’t be where I am without my own motivation and the motivation from my partners.
Your favorite running moment? (anything -- achievement, event, people, race, place, etc):
It’s a three-way tie between crossing the Chicago Marathon finish line in 3:31:42 (and qualifying for Boston), crossing the Fifth Ave Mile finish line last fall in 5:38 - a 20-second PR from the previous year, and both crossing the start line during the 2013 Boston Marathon and making the left onto Boylston Street. I cried all three (four) times.
Who/what do you think you'd be like today if you did NOT run?
I wouldn’t be as happy. Endorphins aside, running has led me to my dream job at Runner’s World. I took a 50%+ paycut from my pharmaceutical advertising job. But I go into work every day HAPPY. I feel lighter (not just because of all the lunch runs). I’m experiencing the saying, “If you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life.”
When I’ve had to sit out due to injury, my world collapses. (Maybe I need another hobby). My weekends feel lazy. I feel lazy. I’m in a bad mood. I miss my partners. I’m envious of people hitting the road.
When I finish a run (a hard track workout, an easy 5 miler, a long run, a race), I am happy. Sore, maybe, but happy.
One of the best feelings in the world is picking up your bib number at a big expo. I get emotional. This is my world. My everything. Running makes me happy.
Why do you keep on running? and running and running...
I can no longer imagine my life without it. And I don’t want to.
What is your favorite post run/race indulgence?
Chocolate milk. A burger and fries. Avocado toast and eggs.
Oddest, most unusual, weirdest running experience...
I peed my pants a bit in the Chicago Marathon. A few miles before I collapsed at the finish.
There you go, folks, that's Heather's runners life! We love runners who can actually talk openly about all the weird stuff that happens to your body when you run, like peeing, pooing and crying during marathons. Love it! Follow Heather and her running nutrition tips here on Twitter: @RunsOnFuel and here in her Runner's World Profile.