I’m constantly inspired by those around me and rarely do we get to thank those people enough for the impact they play, many times without even knowing it.
Two ladies that have have been a constant source of inspiration, as well as running companions over the past few years, are Lauren Evans and Gelsey Klein. They were both training for different marathons when I met them and are still training for marathons- their goal is to complete the six World Marathon Majors- Boston, New York, Chicago, Tokyo, London, and Berlin. So far they are halfway there with all three of the US World Major Marathons completed.
Lauren is a nurse, wife and mother. We met a few years ago when our babes were still tiny at a mom group workout. My first legit long run of 16 miles (which I felt very overwhelmed by) was done with Lauren and at the time seemed exceedingly far. I admire Lauren’s ability to make time for herself in reaching her goals while juggling life.
Gelsey was a sprinter for the University of Wyoming. She is also a wife and mother of four (she has twins!) and works in the financial aid department for CSU. She currently runs for our local Runners Roost. Gelsey is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to marathoning. She knows all the qualifying times, course layouts, dates, etc. Researching marathon specifics makes me nervous, so if I need to know anything, I just go for a casual run with Gelsey and she will fill me in.
We have chatted about everything during our runs together. This time we sat down, had a glass of wine, and focused on the goal that keeps driving them to train and qualify for races- completing all 6 WMM. (So far, together)
Let’s start at the beginning how did you two meet?
G: A long time ago- it was through a mutual friend at a party in our neighborhood. Lauren was pregnant so it must have been 2013.
When did you start running together?
G: We didn’t start running until awhile later- I knew Lauren as runner but I didn’t really know how much she ran. She was training for a 50k (2016) and that’s when we started training together. We found out we were going to be going to Boston the same year because I had gotten cut from Boston in 2016 so we ended up on the same timeline.
L: I did my last 10 miler with Gelsey (when training for the 50k) and fell in the mud at the start so did the whole run with a muddy booty.
G: Right, she wasn’t frazzled at all, it was funny.
What made you set the goal to run all the World Majors?
G: I qualified for Boston in 2015 and that was the first time I heard about the World Marathon Majors. It was appealing to me because it was a goal that wasn’t numbers or time driven. At the time running was feeling kind of competitive and this was something I could do that was different and cool without the pressure, it was just fun.
L: I got the dream from Gelsey- we started talking about it on a run and I thought it sounded really cool too.
Where does your inspiration to run come from?
L: I don’t really watch professional running but for me its people that I know in the community. Other moms juggling life and work, but still make taking care of themselves a priority. I also like it for my on sanity, It’s my time for my own space to breathe, think things through, and it’s a huge part of my social life.
G: My sister was the one who got me started. I ran through junior high, high school, college and I was a sprinter. After college I took 2 years off and didn’t run at all. It was strange because it was such a huge part of my identity. Then my sister told me she was going to do a half marathon and convinced me to do a 10k which seemed super long at the time. So she got me on the distance train. But really, there is inspiration all over from people in the running community.
What is your average normal weekly mileage?
G: During marathon training its 40-50 with about a max of 60. During the off season I like to stay around 20 miles/week
L: I rotate as well. Around Oct./Nov. I take a whole month off, then start back up in Dec with about 25 miles and ramp up in January to start training for a spring marathon. During peak week in a marathon segment I’ll hit about 50miles. (laughs) I’m the laziest marathon runner, I don’t run more than I have to.
Do you have any mantras?
L: I had a rough time at Boston- it was really hot, my music stopped working, and before 10 miles I wasn’t even sure I was going to finish it. My friend Liz had sent me a text “head up, wings out” (Oiselle’s tagline). I started repeating that halfway through and it carried me. Around mile 21, I started thinking “how much can I slow down and still meet my time goal?” The competitive part of me snapped me out of my misery and I kept repeating “Goals are for crushing, not giving up” As in, I wasn’t here to just cruise it in without trying my hardest. I couldn’t use my goal time as an excuse to slow down.
G: I run marathons for fun mostly, because I want to be out there having a good time. However, when I have a time goal I tell myself towards the last few miles of the race “You can work hard for the next 20-ish minutes or you can work hard for another 4 months and redo this.”
L: Oh- one of my favorites is: I can, I will, watch me.
G: I know a Lauren mantra- “Don’t wish for it, work for it.”
What is the hardest part of marathon training for you?
G: The tempo- I just dread it. The stamina work stresses me out
L: Which is funny because she always kills it.
(I can vouch for that, I’ve run a tempo with Gelsey and yes, she was way under her goal times she wanted to hit.)
L: I get really tired the last month and running isn’t so much fun anymore. I do enjoy the long run, its just the weekly life that makes running difficult. It’s the stress of getting them in. And at that point the runs are so long its hard to fit them in.
G: I say I don’t like the tempo- but it’s the one that in the end gives me the most confidence on race day.
Which marathon is next?
G: We both have our name in for Berlin so we find out between Nov. 30-Dec 2.
L: For me, I’ll try to get into London in 2019 and if I don’t get in, I’ll do it as a charity run next year. Next I’d like to do Tokyo but I’d really like to finish with Berlin. I have German ancestry and my whole family would come and celebrate. Then we could finish, hop on a train to Munich and its Octoberfest. Really though, its hard to get into any of them, we will take them as they come.
After you have completed all 6 Majors, will you keep running marathons?
L: Yes, I would like to run a marathon on each continent.
Would you count the continents you’ve already done Majors on?
L: Yes, you bet. (laughs) I’m seriously the world’s laziest marathoner so you bet I’m going to count them towards it.
G: For me, it depends on when I get into London or Tokyo. It might take 6 or 7 years to get in to. I like marathoning, but it is very time consuming. If I were to finish all 6 in 2019 I’m not sure I would be done, but I could see in 6 or 7 years calling it good if it takes that long to get in.
Which marathon was your favorite?
G: I think we both have the same favorite.
L: Yes, New York.
G: Boston was really neat and it was my first, but it was a really hot day. I remember hating the last 10 miles and I thought I had trained really well for it but I was just suffering. I want to go back because I want to change that memory. I put pressure on myself to get a certain time because the year before I had been cut so I wanted to prove I deserved to be there.
L: New York was just nice, the weather was perfect, there wasn’t pressure to run a certain time, it was just all supposed to be fun. I literally ran 26.2 miles giving high fives. The crowds were amazing and it was a party.
G: If I could do one marathon every year it would be New York. There were a lot of bands and distinct differences in all the burrows which made the course fun.
L: Boston was fun for me though, I kissed a girl for the first time at the famous Girls of Wellesley corner (unlike Katy Perry, she did not like it). It was hot, but I just decided at mile 13, it was going to be about being out there and taking it all in.
This is a broad question, but for a first-time marathoner give your best beginner tip- What is step one for someone who wants to start running?
L: Get a good pair of shoes and go for a run to figure out what running feels like for your body. Everyone feels miserable when they first start, run until you get past that point.
G: When I first started I used a training plan, it was a Hal Higdon beginner plan. It’s important to have a plan, which there are a ton of. Anyone can do it, but it’s the steps it takes to get there. I think most people hate running because they never get past the warm-up where they feel awful.
L: Yes, that’s exactly what I mean- get past the warm-up. Get to that point, find where that point is in your body and then give it a chance. And I agree about a plan, I’ve always had a coach, he’s a local runner, Walter Hickman, and it helps me so much to not have to think about what do to if I’m sick, what adjustments to make if something comes up, injured, he just tells me and I trust him so much. Every time I’ve set a goal with him, I’ve reached it.
Thank you Lauren and Gelsey for all of your insight and inspiration, miles and smiles!
This seems like a positive note to end on. I really could go on and on because we love talking running and there are so many stories to tell. Thank you for sharing my inspirations with me. I hope the main take- away from this is that anyone can make time for something (anything, it doesn’t have to be running) they love. We should all get the chance in life to feel, as often as possible, the joy of accomplishing something we previously deemed “impossible”.
Memories in the rain
Lauren with Katherine Switzer