This week, we had our very own marketing guru Madeline Hanley write up her Runner's Life story (finally!). You've read about her phenomenal racing season in 2016, from making it all the way to USA Triathlon Nationals and qualifying for Boston and negative splitting the New York City Marathon, and now you can read all about how she really feels about running here:
Describe what RUNNING is to you, in 5 words or less.
My social life, my core.
How did you get started running and/or what inspired you to run?
My parents are both avid runners. When I was in 7th grade, I went out for the volleyball team and worked really hard. My dad spent hours helping me work on my setting and spiking ability, and I somehow sneaked onto the JV team. Once I was on the team, I hated it. It never made sense to me why, if any one person on the team wasn't listening to the coaches or missed a shot, they would make everyone run "suicides" (sprint ladders across the volleyball courts). At first, I hated the sprinting, but as I started getting faster, dreading the sprinting less and less and dreading ball drills more and more. My volleyball coaches noticed this and recommended I try cross country. Cross country was an individual sport that had a really tight-knit team; no quarreling or playing favorites as to whom started on the court, no across-the-board punishment for missing shots, just you against the clock. What's more, after years of frustration with my prior competitive figure skating, an even more subjective sport, it was remarkably refreshing to have a concrete measure of performance and way to compare myself to others.
Your favorite running moment?
Without a doubt, running the NYC Marathon this past year (2016). People had told me how amazing the crowds would be, but I didn't believe it until I was running through Brooklyn and felt this incredible, brilliant elation from the throngs of people on either side of the course, blocked off in busy sections like it was a rock concert. It was incredible, and I couldn't stop smiling for almost the entire race. All summer and fall, I had trained harder than I've ever trained for anything, and it paid off in a huge way. Qualifying for Boston by a healthy 6-minute margin, running the second half over 2 minutes faster than the first, and PR'ing by over 20 minutes was beyond a dream come true.
Who/what do you think you'd be like today if you did NOT run?
My whole life revolves around running- I would be inconsolably sad if someone told me I was never allowed to run again. Without running, I think I would feel really lost, and I'd definitely be a more rotund human. If I had never started running though, I think I probably would have stuck with martial arts and gotten my black belt. Training in a dojo can be very similar to the community aspect that's so integral to my love of running.
Why do you keep on running? and running and running...
Running keeps me centered. And it's my social life! In NYC, outside of a few friends from school, all my friends are from my running or triathlon clubs. Plus, then I can eat whatever I want! See my answer to post-run indulgences below...
What is your favorite post run/race indulgence?
Like Kyle Kranz, I'm a huge fan of ice cream- my friends know to have their freezers stocked with ice cream if I'm coming over- but I'm also pizza and beer's number one fan. In a funny way, it's because of my love for pizza and beer that I found my run club. A good friend of mine from my triathlon team, knowing of my pizza-and-beer passion, urged me to go to her run club with her. "Madeline, these are your people. On Thursdays, they do a track workout and go for pizza and beer after." These do sound like my people! And that was that, for the last year I've spent nearly every one of my Thursday nights with our friends at North Brooklyn Runners, running a track workout, getting pizza (at a place that sometimes has a pizza topped with other mini-pizzas nonetheless), and bringing the pizza to our favorite super divey bar so we can consume it with beer. No surprises here, I'm now a run leader for that Thursday night track session.
Oddest, most unusual, weirdest running experience.
Every time I stepped out the door for a run in China in 2013 and 2014 was my weirdest running experience, although 2016 in New York was tough competition for the "most stares from bystanders" prize. In 2016 I found myself running in public dressed as Buster from Arrested Development, up and down a mountain dressed as Pikachu, and through endless rain doing my first trail ultra while camping (this is the race/wet camping incident I refer to as "RAINSTORM 3000"). Honestly though, I never got as many weird looks in a run as every single time I went for a run in China. Running is still very new there, especially in second-tier cities, and seeing a white girl running down the street is even weirder. I would hear people say "look at that foreigner!" or "what is she running from?" But the absolute worst was this time when I decided to wear my water belt with the two mini-bottles in the front. I bent over to stretch while I was waiting for my running buddy to get out of class. Some friends of mine walked out of the building and I stood up to say hi, not realizing the water bottles weren't closed all the way, and that they had gotten water on my boobs in just the right place so it looked like I was lactating. I was mortified and joked that I was just really well hydrated.