Wednesday, December 9, 2009

At Thunder Road, she'll tackle her first 26.2

This is the third in a series of profiles saluting everyday Charlotte-area runners who are tackling the 13.1-mile and 26.2-mile distances for the first time at the Thunder Road Marathon on Saturday.

Alyson Vaughan, 27, Charlotte
Occupation: Analyst.
Competing in: Saturday's full marathon.
Years of running experience: "About 14 total, but I've really gotten into it within the past four years. I ran track in high school at Myers Park, but I did sprints and jumping field events. In college, I started running for exercise. Chapel Hill was a great place for running, so my distances slowly increased, and I started signing up for 5Ks and 10Ks, just for fun and for T-shirts!"
Longest race to date: Half-marathon ... "unless you count the total of my three runs in (September's) Blue Ridge Relay, which was about 22 miles."
Longest training run: 22 miles.
Goal for Saturday's race: "I just want to finish, uninjured, with a smile on my face. But if I had to put a number on it, it would be nice to break 5:00:00."

Q. Why are you doing this?
I'm doing this because I know how fortunate I am to be physically capable of running 26.2 miles -- even if it isn't very fast. And ... because I want to support our local race.

Q. Have you learned anything surprising about yourself during this journey?
I've learned that I'm more of a morning person than I thought, that I love colder weather, and that I hate running with an iPod. I also learned that this is one thing in my life that I don't have to be "good at" to truly enjoy. I'm a middle-of-the-pack racer -- or sometimes back of the pack! -- and that doesn't make me enjoy what I'm doing any less.

Q. What was your most significant training breakthrough?
My "accidental" 22-miler -- I actually finished it about 30 minutes faster than my first 20-mile run. I don't run with a Garmin or a watch, so I didn't know until afterwards that it was two miles longer than planned. Maybe I should just ignore the mile-markers on race day!

Q. Who's been your biggest supporter?
My family and friends have all been incredibly supportive, and I'm very grateful for that. But my husband, Ryan, ranks at the top. For our one-year anniversary back in October, he got me a "grab bag" full of different flavors of GUs and Sharkies, Body Glide, technical socks -- that sort of thing. It was the perfect gift! He's helped me map out runs in other cities when we've traveled on weekends, he's riden his bike to check on me and bring me extra water during a hot 20-miler, and he's held up funny motivational signs for me at races.

Q. Any other sources of motivation?
I have a friend whose 11-year-old sister is blind, suffers from a neurological disease, yet has completed two 5K races. (Read more about the girl, Taylor King, here.) Some of the great runners you've featured in your blog have been an inspiration as well. It feels good to have something in common with people like them.

Q. Are you nervous about Saturday?
Yes! I try to think about fun things like how it will feel to finish, and what flavor milkshake I want afterwards. But then my mind drifts to the long hill I have to climb in NoDa first!

Q. Can you say yet whether there'll be more marathons in your future?
I would love to do more! I don't want to be a "bucket list" marathoner. I'm doing [Thunder Road] this year because I know it'll be much harder to put in the hours to train once we have kids! ... I really want to do a destination marathon someday. Big Sur or Dublin come to mind.

Nearly 2,000 marathoners and more than 4,000 half-marathoners are expected to run Thunder Road on Saturday. For details on the race, click here.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like Alyson has a hobby she really enjoys and is good for her. Family support is important - GOOD LUCK RACE DAY!

Anonymous said...

Good Luck on Race Day. On that bad hill into NODA- realize that all that effort is going to make that Milkshake taste even better!

Chaz said...

Three cheers for the anti-iPod attitude!!! Sounds like she has a lifelong pastime ahead of her.

The hill in NoDa is no big shakes. Trade Street however... That's the one I remember from last year.

Anonymous said...

Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

Go, Alyson! We'll be there to cheer for you...(You know who.)

Anonymous said...

You're worried about the leetle hills in NoDa after you whooped the BRR? Ain't nuttin budda thang mm-hmm! - Governor Sanford's Search Team Mascot