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Open Mic Friday: Meet ExtraOrdinary Runner Award Winner Andrea


This week's guest is Andrea, author of the winning ExtraOrdinary Runner Award for September.  In her story, Umstead 100 Mile Challenge, Andrea quickly abandons her own race story to tell us about an inspirational runner she'd never met and never expects to meet again.  We invite you to take in the rest of Andrea's ExtraOrdinary Runner story.

For her winning story, Andrea has won a free pair of shoes from our partners at Onlineshoes.com.  

Welcome Andrea!

What have you learned about yourself through running?

The most important lesson I’ve learned from running is to believe in myself. You can’t plan for every contingency that might occur on a 20+ mile run. One thing you CAN pretty much be sure of is that at some point on the long run it is going to get hard and it is going to get uncomfortable. I’ve learned that I can be okay with that and I can deal with it when it happens. This is a good life lesson in general - worry  less and just wait to see what life brings.

Finish How do you get through those long training runs?

Running in a group is the best way to pass the time.  It is surprising how those hours really can fly by.  We talk about everything but we mainly talk about food.  We talk about what we ate the night before, what we wish we could eat right now and what we are going to have as soon as we finish the run.  My running pal Heidi always talked about cheeseburgers and how one day she was going to bring money and stop at McDonald’s mid-run.  We’d been having this conversation for two years. Sure enough on our 20 mile run this past summer, she and her dad brought money to buy cheeseburgers at Mile 17.  During the run I kept asking her: “Heidi – are you sure you want to eat a cheeseburger and then run three more miles?” Well, she meant it, so I decided I could tough it out too.  We got ourselves all psyched up for the meal, stopped at Mickey-Dee’s, placed our order and were rewarded with the bewildered response: “You want what? We don’t serve hamburgers at 9 am!”

Best race experience?

Shortly after my first marathon my 23 year old daughter asked me to run a marathon with her.  I warned her: “You may be young and strong, but 26 miles is the Great Equalizer.  I WILL catch you before the end of that race!”  She flashed back: “I will die before that happens!”  Thus the gauntlet was thrown down.  I trained religiously.  Kaitlyn, then a first year medical student, ran when she had time. I don’t think she actually ran farther than 13 miles in training. She finished the marathon almost a full hour ahead of me.  She was looking as fresh as a daisy and full of beer when I finally made it across the finish line.  It was a happy success for the both of us.

Andreas Visit Favorite marathon mantra?

I can’t take credit for this one, but I love it.  It was written by someone named Marnie Mueller.  I keep it in mind during the long runs and the marathon.

I will start when the gun goes off.
I will run for five miles.
Feeling good, I will run to the tenth mile.
At the tenth I will say, "Only three more to the halfway."
At the halfway mark, 13.1 miles, I will know fifteen is in reach.
At fifteen miles I will say "You've run twenty before, keep going."
At twenty I will say, "Run home."

Most embarrassing race moment?

Being passed in my first marathon by a juggler.  This runner juggled throughout the entire Richmond Marathon. I also was passed in that same marathon by a beer-drinking, nine-iron toting runner dressed in an argyle sweater and golf kickers.  These were probably more memorable than embarrassing.  I’m not willing to put the really embarrassing ones in print!

Favorite running shirt?

I don’t have a favorite shirt, but I am all about running SKIRTS.  At a race expo this year Heidi and I came across a new company (Spunkwear) that makes a great variety of skirts and shorts.  We couldn’t resist buying several and wearing our new purchases the next day in the race (half marathon).  The hot humid race.  It was a risk because if the new clothes turned out to be uncomfortable we’d be in for a miserable race.  But, hey, looking good is half the battle.  The skirts turned out to be a treasure and now I won’t run in anything else during the summer months.

Umstead100 Running Heroes?

Barb (the woman featured in my story) is my running hero.  Even though I’ve seen it with my own eyes, I still can’t fathom anyone running 100 miles.  Barb went quietly about the task and just got it done. She didn’t second guess her ability and she didn’t complain when it got difficult.  She just did it. She demonstrated to me just how powerful the human spirit is.

My other running hero is my training partner Heidi.  She ran a recent marathon with her dad (his first). At about Mile 18 she experienced a very painful injury – one that would sideline most runners.  But her determination to realize her dream of running the marathon with her dad kept her going.  She pushed on and finished the race and with a new personal record!

What’s going on in your life outside of running?

I am recently married (blush!) and I have two grown daughters that are amazing women.  I also have a horse (Libby) who loves to run and jump. She’s old now, but still always wants to goes just as fast as I will let her. When I am racing and get tired I just think: “What would Libby do?”… and I keep running.

I started running seriously after I turned 50. I love the idea that each year now I am getting stronger and achieving more. I think that too many people reach middle-age and expect a decline in their physical abilities.  They allow their worlds to shrink.  I am not willing to do that.

Most recent race?

The Wineglass Marathon 10 days ago.  It was a beautiful run through wine country in upstate NY.  My daughter bought me a running jacket to wear that said: “Will Run for Wine”.

Best running advice to share?

Make it fun so you always want to do it.  I don’t take myself too seriously.  There’s no such thing as a bad run.  If it’s not feeling right, I let myself walk.  I run with fun people or bring my ipod for company.  I even drink beer during a marathon when it’s offered (usually at Mile 23).  At that point I figure – what have I got to lose?  It hasn’t stopped me from finishing my race yet.

Finish line photo republished with permission by Brightroom.com



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Andrea is my best running pal. She's an amazing runner and an incredible writer. Enjoy reading her story - she really captures the essence of what post-20, post-50, post-80 miles must feel like!

Congrats on your publishing, Andrea! I'm thrilled for you. We'll be back on the trails in no time...and now that it's winter, maybe our McDonald's trip will be more well-timed. If not, I'm bringing my own burger. ;)


Laurene McEneny

Hey beauatiful blushing bride ... we are very proud of you. No grass growing under your running shoes after 50! Congratualtions on being published and best wishes for lots of healthy years and great races in the years ahead! T-Mac and Laurene :-)

Erin Bailey

I love you mom and I'm SO proud of you!!!

Clarissa Lewis

Hi, Andrea! What a great article! I loved the tidbits about running with your daughter. Congratulations on being published!


Great and inspiring.. how do you do all those wonderful things. I'm glad some are recognizing you for your inherent Greatness... Love ya!

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Nice one, there is actually some good points on this blog some of my readers may find this useful, I must send a link, many thanks.

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