Featured Rogue for July: Ryan Campbell

Ryan Campbell is a member of the Rogue Killer Bee’s coached by Brent Stein and Amy Baker. Ryan is our featured Rogue for July because of his inspiring journey from smoker and non-runner to half marathoner, with a marathon coming this fall! Here’s a brief Q&A with Ryan:

When and why did you start running?

At no point in my life, prior to taking up running, have I been the least bit athletic. I have exercised in fits and bursts, and gone on healthy diet kicks, but I never really stuck with anything and my weight fluctuated wildly. By the summer of 2015, I was about 250lbs, and living on a steady diet of pizza, beer, and cigarettes. After making some changes to my diet and seeing some positive results, I decided to find a good exercise plan that I could stick with. I had tried running several times over the years, but I never stuck with it for very long. So, in September, with the encouragement of a good friend, I signed up for the Brown Santa 5K, downloaded a couch-to-5K app, and began training on my own. For the next four months, I trained exclusively by myself on a middle school track down the street from me.

At first, running was simply a way for me to lose some weight. While it has certainly done that (I’ve lost close to 70lbs now), it quickly became much more than that. It became a huge source of confidence and a way for me to prove to myself that I could overcome huge challenges and accomplish what I put my mind to. Running has become one of the most important elements of my life, and I hope to keep running for many years to come.

Describe your first 5K or half marathon race experience. What did it mean to you?

My first race was the Brown Santa 5K in December 2015. I quickly learned that training on a track was not adequate preparation for running up and down hills on asphalt. The second half of the race was pure pain. This felt like the longest 3 miles I had ever run. I finished in about 32 minutes — a full 3 minutes slower than my fastest time on the track, and my shins were on fire. Regardless, I was thrilled to have completed my first race.

A month later, a friend convinced me to join Rogue Running and to sign up for the Grand Canyon Half Marathon. I needed a new challenge, and a 13.1 mile trail race at high elevation seemed like a reasonable idea at the time. When we woke up on race morning, there was snow on the ground and it was about 36°. The first 2 miles of the race were on a gravel path, and the weather wasn’t too bad, other than being cold. Then about two miles in, we took a sharp left turn onto a jeep trail. The next 11 miles were a blur of rain, sleet, snow, ankle deep mud, rocks, hills, and pain. I finished in 2:36, faster than anybody expected. This was a huge milestone for me. By now I was 45lbs down from my peak weight, four months smoke free, and I had just completed an extremely tough race.

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

My biggest running-related challenge has been my own self-criticism and doubt. For most of these first two years of running, I have never been fully satisfied with my results. 32 minutes at my first 5K wasn’t good enough. 2:36 at my first half marathon wasn’t good enough. 1:52 at my second half marathon wasn’t enough of an improvement because it was a street race, not a trail race. A 10 minute PR at 3M two months later wasn’t impressive because 3M is “downhill” and “easy”. Then I shot for another PR at Austin on a humid 70°+ day — yeah, didn’t happen. Finally, running 8:00 miles on my third leg of a 30 hour, 200 mile relay a month later was somehow a letdown to my team. My only accomplishment that I was fully satisfied with at this point was an 8 minute PR at the 2016 Brown Santa 5K. After all these races, I was burnt out and getting close to a serious injury. I decided to take a month off from running to nurse my busted shins and to reflect on my accomplishments so far. I looked back at that last year and a half, and realized how much I had accomplished. I started to to really be amazed with myself. I knew that if I kept pushing myself this hard, I was going to seriously injure myself and not be able to run for a long time. So now I’m trying to focus on the big picture and not look at every single run and every single race as something I need to impress myself or anybody else with or turn into some kind of major accomplishment. I’m finally learning what it means to JFR.

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

Every race has been a great learning experience for me. However, a major turning point in my maturity as a runner occurred at the 2017 Grand Teton Half Marathon. I was just getting started on base building for Fall marathon training, and I really needed to be smart about this race. My coaches, Brent and Amy, were adamant that I didn’t race this. Up to this point, every time I said I wasn’t going to race, I did. That’s how I managed to burn myself out and nearly injure myself. This time, I took my coaches’ advice, and just had fun on the course. I took my time and soaked in all the amazing scenery around me. I felt like I didn’t have to race against myself or anyone else. I was just running for the sake of running, and doing it in the most beautiful place I have run to date.

What’s next?

This summer, I will be training with my fellow Killer B’s for my first marathon at Chicago with a goal time of 3:45. After that, the quest for the BQ begins!

Training tips from coach Amy Baker

Amy has been running 18 years and considers it an essential part of what makes her Amy. She has some fast PRs and lots of philosophical, been-there-done-that advice for other runners, which she gets to share through her role coaching half marathoners and marathoners in the Killer B’s alongside head coach Brent Stein. Luckily, she shared her top four tips here as well; check it out!

  1.  The struggle to achieve is what makes the achievement worthwhile. We measure my success by the sacrifices and struggles that we overcome. No one truly gets satisfaction out of accomplishing something easy for them, even if it may seem impressive to those on the outside. Remember this when you struggle and you won’t look on hurtles with distain, but instead, see them as exactly what makes the success you find meaningful.

    2. The numbers are not important, it is the effect on YOU that is important. I got this idea from Lydiard’s chapter on Physiology of Exercise. Really the number of reps, the paces, and the distances is NOT what makes you fitter. Putting the right amount of stress on your system so your body can make adaptations is what makes you fitter. A successful workout is not completing the number/pace/distance, but rather getting what you need out of it.

    3. Run your own workout, not your teammates’. Everyone is going through their own struggles; the most you can do as a teammate is be kind, patient, and understanding. Don’t be their coach – let them go, sometimes people need to make mistakes for themselves. Lead by example and let the long term results speak for themselves. A positive environment is an essential key to success. Energy is contagious, so contribute to it, don’t take it away.

    4. Choose Today. Remember this every day, but especially on race day. You chose this specific race for a reason. The sacrifices and struggles were to make TODAY possible, so really go for it. You get one shot to be your best, don’t let the opportunity pass. This will forever be one of my mantras. It reminds me that I am here because I want to be here, because I made a choice. I am forever grateful for the opportunity that today presents.

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.

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.