Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Checking in with. . .Women's Olympic Marathon Trials

We've noted that several women have gone on to shatter the 3 hour mark in the marathon - Chris Brough, Catherine Feeney, Kari Bertrand, Monica Olkowski (if others, please let me know! ). Next month two former Hoyas will lace up their shoes and compete in the Olympic Trials at 26.2. I checked in with Kristen Gordon Henehan '00 (KGC) & Caryn Landau Heffernan '95 (CLH) to find out more about their post-collegiate running careers.

SSC: Where are you working/What do you do? Is it tough to balance work/training?:

CLH: I teach high school at Newport High School in Bellevue, Washington. I teach AP economics and AP world history, in addition to coaching both cross-country and track. (Our girls XC team won the state championship this year!). (Editor's note: In the "its a small world" category, Caryn & Brendan took over the coaching position from Mindy Schneider Leffler '94 & her husband Mitch Leffler). Leaving the world of management consulting to teach actually reopened the door to running for me. I had taken several years off while working corporate b/c I just couldn't find the time or energy to run much. I didn't start running seriously again until taking a shot at the marathon back in 2004 (I missed qualifying for the 04 trials by 23 seconds). While teaching is time consuming, there are no billable hours involved, and it was easier to make time for myself. Plus, I get some of my mileage in running with the HS team.

KGH: I am the Director of Legislative Affairs at Evans Capitol Group. Evans Capitol Group is a government relations firm that provides Washington strategic guidance to our corporate, non-profit and trade association clients. I serve as the Washington, DC representative for our clients and follow the public policy issues that affect their business operations. It is tough to balance work and training, but luckily I have been at my company for six years so my boss is very understanding and supportive. I typically get up early and run before work so running doesn’t effect my work day or evening work events.

SSC: What events did you run in college? What's the biggest difference between competing in the marathon vs. at collegiate level?

SSC: I ran the 5k and 10k (Editors note: Caryn was runner up in the 1993 NCAA 10k and a multiple time XC All -American). Running is a lot lower key for me now. I run a lot of miles, but it's more of a hobby these days and when I can't fit it in, it just doesn't happen. College was a lot more intense. Also, until this training cycle, I did most of my marathon training alone. Now since I moved from NJ to WA however, it's more like college. I'm training with a group of 5 other Seattle area women who all qualified for the Trials. It's awesome!!

KGC: In college I ran the 3K and 5K. Every now and then I ran the 1500m. (Editor's note:
"Ran" = All American. These women are modest)
I would say the biggest difference for me is the intensity level and my mindset. In college, running was such a large part of who I was. Back then, I definitely took things more seriously and focused on doing all the little things like lifting, doing drills, getting in the cold whirlpool, etc. Today, I have so many other things in my life that take precedence over running that I am lucky to just get a run in. I don’t really get nervous before races like I used to and I look at running as more of a “recreational activity” now.

SSC: What was your most grueling workout memory while at Gtown? What’s your most grueling workout for marathon?
CLH: Well, I think just about anyone on the women's team from my era probably remembers Helmer's famous Tow Path 12. That was brutal. We also did a 3x3000 workout a few times and we ran those babies pretty darn fast! (Editor’s note: I think the rest of the team had showered and finished dinner & karaoke night in New South by the time we finished.)

KGC: It is funny how things come full circle. At Georgetown the most grueling workouts occurred on the Towpath and the same can be said for the marathon. Upon graduating, I thought my time on the Towpath was behind me, but I find myself there quite often these days. The most grueling college workout was when Coach Helmer would load us all in the van and drop us off 12miles out. We then had to do some variation of a tempo back to campus. What made it dreadful was that Coach Helmer would suddenly appear along the Towpath making sure we were on pace. The most grueling marathon workout I have done occurred on the Towpath. It was a 22 mile run with an 8 mile tempo at the end. (Editor’s note: Coach Henner – do you still do this? Coach Helmer – do you do this in Indiana?)

SSC: What race qualified you for Trials?

CLH: After my near miss in '04 I made sure to get in this time and qualified twice. :o) I ran 2:44:18 in Austin in 2006 and then ran 2:46:11 in Chicago in 2006. Both races were in cold nasty weather. Come to think of it, I've had REALLY bad luck with weather and marathons. I'm hoping the Trials breaks that streak.

KGC: I qualified at the P.F. Chang’s Rock-n-Roll Marathon in Phoenix, AZ in Jan. 2008. When I signed up to run Marine Corps Marathon, I had no intention of trying to qualify for the Trials. But, Marine Corps went better than expected and got my competitive juices flowing. The race directors at Rock-n-Roll offered to cover the travel and lodging expenses for a group of women trying to reach the qualifying standard. I figured I am in shape for the first time in a long time so I might as well take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

(Editor’s note: The only thing that now resonates with me in this Q&A is the reference to P.F. Changs. I am addicted to the Kung Pao Shrimp.)

SSC: Favorite memory from your time at Georgetown?

CLH: Meeting Brendan of course! Gotta love the Christmas Party.

(Editor’s note: Caryn, what about getting lost on a 14+ mile run and climbing barbed wire fences in Hot Springs? How does that not count as a favorite memory?)

KGC: My favorite running memory was when our cross-country team got 4th place at the NCAA Meet in Lawrence, KS. There was something so special and unique about running at Rim Rock Farm. I also got 4th in the individual race so it is a day I look back on with fond memories.
My favorite non-running memory was meeting my husband, Mike Henehan, of course.

SSC: Any advice for current student athletes?
CLH: Make sure you appreciate being a Hoya while you can. It's a great time.

KGC: Just enjoy every minute of your time on the Hilltop and take advantage of all the opportunities you have as a student athlete at Georgetown.

SSC: Any inspiration for your fellow track alumni who put themselves in more of the "couch potato" category?

CLH: Nope - they're probably much wiser than I am.

KGC: After this marathon I am ready for “couch potato” status! I guess I can tell anyone that has ever thought of running a marathon to go for it! You will love it. It is such a different type of racing than running a 5K or a 10K. I find it much more enjoyable because you never have that “gasping for air/I think I might die” feeling. You actually have time to enjoy yourself and take it all in. In my mind, everyone should do at least one marathon in their lifetime.

SSC: What other track alumni do you stay in touch with?
CLH: I have to admit - I'm really bad about this in general. But, the cool coincidence is that Mindy (Schneider) Leffler used to be the Newport coach before I moved out to WA. She helped hook me up with the district. After growing up on different coasts, we now live close by.

KGC: My friends from Georgetown remain some of my best friends today. Emily McCarthy (Dent), Melissa Akkaway (Richardson) and Emily Enstice were all bridesmaids in our wedding. I also am still close with Autumn Fogg, Lisa Roder, Kathleen Monforto (Linck), Erin Tshinbangu (Sicher), Erin Flynn and Carly Nuzbach.

SSC: How will you celebrate completing the Trials?
CLH: A huge lunch at Vinny Testas will be in order for old time's sake and to make Gags proud.

KGC: My sister went to college in Boston so she is in charge of the post-marathon celebration. I am sure it will involve drinking heavily, eating a cheeseburger and French fries and enjoying the company of all my friends and family. I am trying to convince my husband that I deserve a tropical vacation as well.

SSC: Thanks Ladies! Good Luck!