Featured Rogue for June: Jennifer Brase

Jennifer Brase trains with the Rogue Sole Survivors coached by Bobby Garcia. She is our featured Rogue for June. Here is a quick intro from her coach on her running journey and why she is an inspiration to us all:

“Jennifer has been with Rogue and on my team for two years and she is exceptional. Smart. Very smart. Dedicated and focused. Hard working. She has run the Austin and Portland marathons and will be running

Chicago this year. She ran a little over a 4:00 marathon in Portland and wants to (and will) run a sub 4:00 this year.

What impresses me so much is her discipline and commitment in working towards a goal. She recently passed her Professional Engineering exam which is a very difficult exam. Last fall she took a four week pre-exam course that conflicted with our very important 20+ mile LONG RUNS. Before she signed up for the course, she and I talked about balancing training for a marathon with studying for her exam as she was unsure about the exam. She was very concerned about missing four weeks of long runs at an important point in the program.

I told her that if she decided to sign up for the pre-exam course and it conflicted with our long runs that I would meet her as early as she needed to start so she could run her miles. So, we met a little before 3:00 a.m. at Rogue for two straight Saturday mornings and she did her long run. 20+ miles both times. She ran the streets and hills of Austin including the Run from Hell on one of those Saturdays. I provided her water support and other food items. She wanted to both complete her pre-exam course AND also complete the required 20+ LONG RUNS that were called for in the program. And, she did it with no shortcuts. I am very proud of her, personally and professionally.”

Q&A with Jennifer:

When and why did you start running?

I cannot stress enough that I was the furthest thing from a marathon runner for the first 23 years of my life. I did not play sports, I did not particularly enjoy breaking a sweat nor being outside (unless it was poolside), and I was not confident in my body’s ability to achieve anything athletically. I did not develop a desire to run, or at least train for a race, until the summer after I graduated college. To be quite honest, I was struggling through a recent breakup, and I was on a run one afternoon when it occurred to me that it was having a therapeutic effect- I felt strength in my steps that I had not felt in months and a re-centering of my spirit. I decided that day to train for a half marathon.

From that moment, running for me has been about confidence, purpose, rejoicing in the legs that I have and their ability to accomplish great distance with small, repetitive steps. Running has been about the ability to connect with the neighborhoods, trails and the outdoors in a way that I miss when I am trapped inside a vehicle or sitting on a couch. It is to be cognizant of weather patterns, sunrise and sunset, temperature, and to be more in-tune with the world around me. The transformation in my outlook and character over the last 3 years as a result of running astounds me. Even though I still consider myself in many ways an amateur marathoner, I have had to in many ways redefine what I believe that I am capable of.

Describe your first marathon race experience.

My first marathon was Austin in spring of 2016. I am confident that even through training 20+ mile long runs, there is just no way to be fully prepared for your first marathon. There is a big black hole in my memory between miles 16-23, perhaps stress-induced amnesia? I remember finishing and swearing to myself I would not subject myself to that, ever again. And then I did, 8 months later.

What has been your biggest running-related challenge and how did you overcome it?

To know me is to know that I’m an overcommitter- I often think I am invincible and subject myself to as much as I can handle, and then some.

Last fall, training for my second marathon coincided with a career goal as I began to study for my Professional Engineering licensing exam. I was committed to a prep class for my test which would swallow my weekends, but I also needed to get my long runs in, and I was in the peak of training where I would be running 20mi+ long runs on the weekends. Both were imperative to my success and I felt strongly that neither could be sacrificed or cheapened as a result of the other. After talking it over with my coach, he and I moved the long run start times up to 3am for those weeks (when you’re waking up at 5am on a Saturday, what’s another couple hours of lost sleep, right?). My coach, Bobby Garcia, woke up with me (multiple times) and followed me along the route in his truck, providing water support, oranges, and encouragement. Anyone who knows Bobby knows that he coaches with his whole heart, and I would have never been able to accomplish these things- a successful race day, to pass my exam- without his selflessness and unending support.

What has been your biggest running achievement, or defining moment?

Aside from the race highs, my defining running moment was a trip that I went on last year. Shameless plug- I was so fortunate to go to Patagonia, Chile with Rogue Expeditions, which had been a long, long dream of mine to travel to this part of the world. The last day in Torres Del Paine National Park, after the reality of where we were had finally caught up with me, I was flying down a mountain trail with pure adrenaline spurred on by the beauty around me. The liveliness I felt in that moment was truly remarkable, keeping pace with other runners much better than myself. Whoever thought that a running vacation could be one of the most rewarding endeavors? Sightseeing on your feet is the way to go.

What’s next?

I will be running my third marathon in Chicago this fall, training with Rogue Sole Survivors through the Texas summer. Stay thirsty, my friends.

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Training tips from coach Marilyn Faulkner

Some people just embody positivity, and Marilyn is one of those people. She has been running for 13  years and coaching for six, passing along insight, support and serious motivation to all who have run in her groups. You can find her coaching our Austin Half Marathon and Austin Marathon programs, and you can find her top four training tips right here:
1.  I can do anything for two miles.  Killer time trial?  Yep.  Ladera Norte & the lead up?  You bet.  Long run with a tough close?  Done.  Last two miles of the marathon?  Kill it.  Once you’ve proven it to yourself once, you’ll know that you CAN do anything for two miles.  Believe it!
2.  Positive Progress – Always keep positive progress, both in mind and in body.  Keep moving forward no matter what.  Never backwards, never negative.  Doing this will always keep you moving towards your physical goal in a positive light.
3.  Meet the Pain – Oh, hiiiii Pain.  Nice to meet you.  Or see you again.  You always show up at some point, don’t you?  Although you make my legs want to fall off, make my mind almost turn against me, put hot fire pokers in my hips, and make me think I’m going to keel over, I know I won’t, because I’ve met you before.  And I’ve beaten you.  And I will beat you again.
4.  Run like an antelope out of control – Be wild.  Be a wild animal!  Be free.  Let go.  Surrender to the Schedule, Surrender to the Moment, Surrender to the Flow.

Training tips from coach Tori Howard

Tori has been running since she was a kid and has twelve marathons under her belt – you can bet that she’s got more than a few great pieces of advice! She regularly imparts her wisdom to the half and full marathoners that she coaches in Cedar Park, and has shared her top four tips here for everyone:
Enjoy the journey. Having goals is important and goals serve as solid reminders of why we work so hard but what about having fun?   Take time to make new friends, run in new places, smile and laugh a lot.  Life is a grand adventure.  Go Run It!
Be a hill seeker.  Some runners try to avoid hill work but you might be surprised by how badass you feel after a hilly run.   Hills are opportunities to prove to yourself that you’re stronger than you ever imagined.  Life Happens On The Hills!
Believe in yourself.  Your coach believes in you but that won’t make a difference if you don’t believe in yourself.  Once in a while blow your own damn mind.  We are what we believe!
Make running a priority.  No one is too busy to run, it’s just a matter of priorities.  Make a list of things to do and put running at the top of that list.  Replace excuses with effort and determination.  Love yourself!

 

Featured Rogue: Meagan Lawlis

I have been coaching Meagan for the last 10 months and am blown away by her tenacity and talent. When she came back from a devastating Boston Marathon last year she wanted and needed a break. I kept hounding her to sign up for Boston again for redemption but she resisted. Have you ever had the worse race of your life, only to sign up to do it again? I am sure you have but taking the plunge is not an easy feat.  Eventually, she did.

Physically and mentally she wasn’t ready to train again. Each run she struggled and ran slower than she had in years.  I watched her go through this for months as self doubt started to sink in. She went through tests with her doctor to check for everything under the sun. What was wrong? Why couldn’t she run like she used to? We tried adjusting her goals, tried not wearing a watch, and tried different workouts. Slowly, her persistence paid off and she once again started having good runs and workouts. She stayed the course, all while balancing work, family, and her passion for weight lifting. And now, she’s ready for redemption!

When and why did you start running? I started running 6 years to lose weight. I had to do the whole walk/run combo on the treadmill at first, but got to where I could run 2-3 continuous miles and started running outdoors. I had never run a 5k, 10k, or half when I signed up for my first full marathon…perhaps not the smartest decision, but I’ve been hooked on distance running every since.meagan 3

Describe your first race experience. My first race was the Frankenthon Monster Marathon. I trained for it on my own and didn’t  know what I was doing. The course was 3 loops and I smacked the wall pretty hard on the 3rd loop. Thankfully my best friend jumped in and ran some legs of it with me, and pulled me through the final 3 miles. 4 hours and 18 minutes later…I was exhausted, but I felt the greatest sense of accomplishment too and knew I’d race another one.

meagan 1What has been your biggest running-related challenge? This past year of training has been my biggest struggle. I had a tough race in Boston last year. I fell into a slump for a while after and really struggled both physically and mentally to get my body to respond and do what I know it’s capable of doing. It took a lot patience and consistency to get back to where I am now. But I know I wouldn’t be Boston bound again without the constant support of my Team Rogue Cedar Park teammates and coach. They kept believing in me and encouraging me, even when I felt defeated.

What has been your biggest running achievement, or defining moment? I’d have to say earning my first BQ at the Chicago Marathon.  Everything came together perfectly that day and I had an amazing race and I had my fan base there with me. So many of us spend so much time literally chasing down that BQ. When the dream finally becomes a reality, it’s a pretty sweet feeling.meagan 2

What’s next? Hard to say right now. At the moment, I am solely focused on Boston and don’t have another race on the horizon. But long term, I think I would ultimately like to knock out all the majors. I have 2 of the 6, so it’s a start.

Training tips from trail coach Brandon Ostrander

Brandon leads our trail running groups throughout the year, coaching both complete newbies and those with big miles on their legs. He’s been running for 18 years and has found his happy place out on the trail – he suggests that runners leave their tech, splits, PRs and  ego in the parking lot. Here are four more of his top traning tips:
1) Decipher your pain.
Is it soreness or injury? Soreness will subside, but an injury will eventually alter your form if hasn’t already. To avoid further stress and imbalance to your body, pay attention to how pain is affecting your form.
2) Discover other forms of exercise.
Weight-lifting, biking, swimming or <gasp> walking are a few suggestions that will not only compliment your running but also give you options when you just can’t run.
3) Develop your own clean diet.
Because you have a unique chemistry, I’d stray away from a fad diet. I would take note that their foundations are based upon whole foods and eliminating highly processed ones. Develop this by taking note of what makes you feel great before, after and in between your workouts.
4) Try Meditation
Even it’s just a few bouts a week. Watch it transform your running, your relationships, your perspective, etc. This and your personalized diet will make you a better human being.

Featured Rogue: Jennifer Acosta

jen-1People often ask me, “Why do you run?” and I respond with “Why don’t you run?” In many ways, running has always been a big part of my life. When I was in high school, I was always seen as a “fast” kid. I was on the cross-country, track, and soccer teams. In my junior year of high school, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. What did I do when I first heard this? I asked my parents to drop me off at the track and I ran until I couldn’t anymore. After undergoing treatment and brain surgery, I was told there was a great possibility that I would never be normal again.

My recovery was a rough year, I couldn’t do things I once took for granted. I couldn’t walk, was bound to a wheelchair for six months, had aggressive physical therapy, and was trying to retrain my brain to move my legs again. In addition to my walking abilities, there were other things I couldn’t do like button my shirt, speak properly, or remember things. I worked tirelessly to build up the strength to stand and then to walk around for a couple of seconds before my legs would give out. After a year of recovery, I tried to run again. I’ll never forget this particular run because I made it halfway down the block, felt like everything was loose in my brain, and started vomiting.

Many years have passed since that first run post brain surgery and I have since encountered others who have inspired me, motivated me, and shared my enthusiasm for running. Last year, I found myself once again motivated to go beyond what seems possible by one of my patients, Sharon. After talking for a while, she encouraged me to try to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Most people don’t understand what a “BQ” is or why “I must run Boston.” In my clinical experience, I have encountered patients who had the same diagnosis as me but their story did not end like mine. They are not by societies standards “healthy and normal.” They are in a wheelchair with a trachea tube, have an abnormal gait, or slur their speech. God has obviously guided me for a greater purpose. I promised myself if I were healthy enough to run, I would run with the best at the Boston Marathon.

jen-2To achieve my goal of qualifying for Boston, I joined Rogue and started running with Coach Larry’s group. Coach Larry suggested I train for the Houston Marathon to achieve my “BQ”. It was here that I bonded with fellow runners over long runs and happy hours. The miles just pass when you’re having a good time with friends! And then there’s Eddie, my best friend that I’m fortunate enough to call my husband. Eddie has always supported my crazy decisions, and is the only person who has patience for my stubbornness. Anyone who has met Eddie knows he hates running, yet he has completed two marathons and helped pace me during our runs.

On January 15th, 2017, the Houston Marathon had arrived. The start was 67 degrees with 97% humidity with mention that the temperature was expected to escalate into the 70s. I had trained in the humidity and heat before, so I thought I was ready to embark on this journey. I told myself that I would aim for my original goal, which was to get my “BQ” and run a 3:35 marathon. I would start off running negative splits and then pick up the pace as the race went on. The first two miles were fun and crowded; there were so many people, it was like a herd of cattle trying to get through a corral. I was on target with paces until mile 16 on Memorial Drive. Eddie told me that if I wanted to keep my initial goal, I would have to pick up the pace. It was at this point I was feeling lightheaded, my legs felt weaker, and my heart felt a little faster than usual. I almost gave up.

I felt like a cloud slowly drifted away and I cried a little. Memorial Drive was never ending. When we reached mile 23, Eddie told me he needed a break but for me to keep going. I guess that gave me some adrenaline, so I kept moving forward. Ironically, I clocked my fastest mile at mile 26, when I felt like I had nothing else left. I’m a strong believer and have a lot of faith…as soon as I crossed the finish line, the sky broke open and rain started pouring down.

It was a sign from above. God was telling me you didn’t meet your goal but you’ve completed this chapter. Not all stories have a perfect ending. Sometimes we must fall before we can learn to walk again. If we never challenge ourselves how will we know what we are capable of accomplishing?

jen-3

Training tips from coach Bill Schroeder

finishkickzilkerrelays2014If you don’t use it, then you will lose it.  This applies to using your body and your mind.  It is always easier to stay in shape, than to get back into shape.  Always.  It is even truer the older you get.

I truly believe that running has given me so much more than I could ever give back to the sport.  By being fit and active I have seen so many places around the world that were only possible because I was a runner.

My mantra is “Focus Up!”  This is a mental as well as physical philosophy.  Focus Up reminds me to keep my head up (good form) and to mentally stay positive!

Running everyday keeps me healthy and injury free but it takes discipline to remind yourself that you can’t have 2 hard days in a row.  When it is an easy/recovery day then no matter how good you feel you must not run hard/fast.  I have 2 long running streaks of running at least 25 minutes every day.  The first was 13 years, 2 months, and 3 days long and my current started on Oct 16, 2011.

Running thoughts:

Some of my best workouts are ones that I almost didn’t start.

The hardest part of the workout is the first step out the door.

If every run was great then they would all be average.

The bad runs make the good ones even better.


Bill has been running since 1974 (from the 300m low hurdles to the 50K and everything in between) and coaching for 35 years! He currently coaches The Jets, a year-round group in Cedar Park that welcome runners of all levels.