Friday, March 22, 2013

My Marathon Hero

Hey runners (and those who want to be)!  I have something super special for you today.  I "interviewed" one of my friends who is a marathon crazy.  Her name is Rebecca.  I call her Becca.  I actually met her through her sister, who was one of my mission companions (LDS mission).  I used to eat dinner at their family's house like every Sunday.  Once we ran a 1/2 marathon together.  We didn't sign up, just drove to the starting line and ran it.  One of the reasons I love her is because she wears cute things like this and runs 30 miles on her 30th birthday just to do it. 

(I stole all these pics from her FB page.  Hope that's okay, Becca.)

Will you tell a little about yourself?  My name is Rebecca Rampton Sondrup and I am 30 years of age.  I lived in Utah for 28 years and then I met my handsome husband and moved to Texas two days after we were married.  I majored in Modern Dance at the University of Utah and I have my teaching endorsement to teach grades K-12.  Growing up I danced and performed for my physical fitness and well-being.

I started running when I was 21 years old.  I have completed 22 marathons and 1 ultra-marathon.  I have completed too many half marathons to count.  My PR in the half marathon is 1:31.  I am still trying to break twenty minutes in the 5k, I have been within seconds.  I have run the Boston Marathon and have qualified for the Boston Marathon ten times.  My goal for the marathon is to run it as close to 3 hours as possible. 

Why did you start running?  I knew deep down that I could be a good runner and running could help with my fitness.  I didn’t realize there would be so much pain involved in the beginning, so I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

How did you start? Growing up, I refused to run at school.  In Junior High I decided I wanted to run and do the hurdles on the track team.  I went to one practice and it was the most difficult and grueling thing I had ever done physically up to that point in my life, I never went back. I also thought running would ruin my body for ballet.
Later in college I had to run the mile and a half in my Fitness for Life class.  I was the fastest girl and I enjoyed running around the track, I figured I would be good at running, if I tried it.

How big was your first race? Marathon, 26.2 miles long.  I had never run a 5k, 10k, or a half marathon.  I registered for the St. George Marathon lottery and if I got in, I would do it.  I got in and I didn’t even know where to begin.  During training I ran a half marathon and it was then I realized what I gotten myself into.  I just stopped trying to think about how long the marathon was going to be.

How often did you train? In the beginning, I trained three times a week; 25-30 miles a week.  Now I run between 50-55 miles a week with cross training.  When I get serious about training, mileage goes up to 60-70 miles a week.  I just have to be careful when my mileage goes up because I could get injured more easily.

My friend Kelli (yes, The Turquoise Piano Kelli) had qualified for the Boston Marathon.  She was my inspiration at my first marathon.  I didn’t realize how fast that pace was until the day of the marathon.  I was left in the dust by everyone that was trying to qualify for Boston.  At the end of the marathon, I was really happy with myself that I just had completed the race without giving up.  Deep down I knew I wanted to eventually qualify for the Boston Marathon and run it.

I ran eight more marathons trying to cut my time down to my qualifying standard, which was three hours and forty minutes.  A few marathons I had run within minutes of my goal time.  It wasn’t until my dad sat me down, looked me in the eyes and told me I was just not doing enough.  If I wanted to qualify, I had to run more, run harder and get serious.  For eight months I ran my guts out and at my ninth marathon I missed my time by five minutes.  Two weeks later a miracle happened, someone got me into the St. George Marathon!  That course is one of the fastest courses in Utah and my favorite place to run.  I ran that marathon in rain that was blowing sideways and qualified with five minutes to spare.  I was in tears at the finish line.  I ran Boston a few months later and it was worth every mile, the tears I cried over not achieving my goals, and the injuries I had to deal with along the way.

How do you feel you have improved since your first race?  Leaps and bounds!!  Over the years my body has learned how to run, be more energy efficient, and I have gotten faster.  Literally it takes a runner YEARS to improve.  I also had to get over with the fear that I wasn’t going to achieve my goals.  Sometimes I would get so flustered with my timing it interfered with my performance.

What are some differences of your first and most recent marathons?
1. Hitting the wall.  The first marathon I did I basically fell apart at mile 18.  I figured I had gone 18 miles and I could walk the rest of the way.  That was until a man yelled out to me and I started running with him.  When I run marathons now I rarely get to the wall where I think life is over.  I just keep plugging away the miles and I know that the marathon will end faster than thinking and fretting over it in my mind.
2. After my first marathon I spent HOURS in the bathroom.  My body was not accustomed to the pounding and everything in my system cleared out.  I didn’t fuel properly, so I was also probably dehydrated. I just wanted to lie on the floor and cry all day.  When I run marathons now I get a blast of energy at the end that lasts a few hours and then later I fall asleep.  A lot of races I am rarely sore the following days.
3.  The first marathon I ran, I wore the wrong clothing.  Cotton T-shirt, Capri pants made out some weird synthetic material, trail shoes that were too small (?!?!), cotton sports bra, I didn’t use Body Glide and didn’t have any tunes to jam to.  I was chafed in places I didn’t know existed! Plus, there is no way today I would even run 3 miles in the outfit I ran in for my first marathon.  I just didn’t have a clue. Rarely do I even go out the door without an iPod or another runner to listen to, I hate running in silence. 
4.  Have a training plan! I don’t think I even ran 17 miles before my first marathon.  I was so scared to ask anyone what I was doing wrong because I didn’t want to talk myself out of doing the race.  Today I double the miles I used to run and I have set workouts and long runs I do.

How have you improved your times? I have improved my times mainly by running more.  If you are trying to get faster and add mileage to your weekly routine, use the 10% rule. An example would be if you are running 30 miles this week, run 33 next, 36 the next and take a step back on the fourth week.  Slowly add mileage to avoid injury. 

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I do some kind of a speed workout and Saturdays is long run day.  The other days of the week I run easy or cross train.  I don’t recommend running fast every day, which is a way injuries can acquire.  You will also just get really tired and burn yourself out.

When I started using my times and workouts started soaring!!  I read what other runners in the Utah running community were doing and I really knew I had a lot more I could accomplish in my running.  Plus, I met a lot of friends to run with on a weekly basis.  You don’t have to live in Utah to use this blog, a lot of the runners are from Utah and they discuss a lot of the Utah races.  There is a tool you can keep track of the mileage on your shoes, save all of your race reports and all of your daily entries.  I didn’t start getting my fast times until I started using this blog. 

What was the time of your first marathon? 4:12

What is your marathon PR? 3:21- That time was run on the same course as my first marathon.

What suggestions do you give to new runners/people wanting to start? To those who are going to be doing their first marathon? New runners: Don’t give up!  Sign up for a race to keep you motivated, even if it’s a 5k three months from now.  If you want to be more serious with your training, sign up for a half marathon and be accountable to your training plan.  You can find all sorts of training schedules online for free.  It took me about two years to actually LIKE running.  It was more of a challenge in the beginning, but I stuck with it.  It really takes a few years to really see the progress you make from running on a regular basis.

If you are training for your first marathon, it is important to get fitted for running shoes that will be good for you.  Go to a running store and invest in a good pair that is comfortable to you.  Keep track of mileage of your shoes; shoes should be replaced every 350-450 miles.  Right now zero drop minimalist shoes are popular, don’t get them if they aren’t comfy on your feet!  I promise you will enjoy running a lot more when your feet aren’t in pain, I speak from experience. 

I think it’s important to find someone that runs your same pace, or a little bit faster and train with them.  You also want to run your longer runs on a profile that will be similar to the race course you are training for.  If there are rolling hills in your race, run rolling hills.  Is there a lot of downhill in your race?  Go run a downhill training run to get your legs ready for the beating a good downhill has to offer.

I strongly recommend practicing fueling during your training runs.  There are a lot of different power/energy gels on the market.  You need to figure out what tastes good (or what you can manage to keep down) and how your body will react to certain energy supplements.  Figure out what kind of fuel the aid stations will have for you at the race and train with that brand, if you don’t plan to carry your own supplements.  I usually pack my own power gels in case the race doesn’t have what I like and when I like to take it.  I also take ibuprofen a few times during the race as well as salt tablets called Salt Stick.  When I fuel properly, I set myself up for feeling good throughout the race. 
I have suffered from a lot of stress fractures in the past, hopefully not in the future… I got them when I was adding more mileage and I don’t think my body was ready for the stress.  I would suggest taking a multi vitamin, calcium and iron supplements.  Take the rest you need when something hurts.  It’s better to take a few days off rather than letting the problem get worse and having to stop running all together.  Easier said than done.

How did you become a marathon pacer?  My friend paces races and she suggested that I pace as well.  I am looking forward to getting people to the end of the race at a designated time.  If you haven’t ever run with a pacer during a race, I suggest trying it!  They are so evenly paced and keep the crowd of runners around them somewhat entertained. The races I have run side by side with pacers are the ones I have had the most success with.  When I do run with pacers, I usually keep myself a few yards ahead of the pace crowd.  I don’t like bonking elbows with my running neighbors or stepping on a shorter person in front of me.  Do what works best for you.


  1. Wow, it would be hard to sit around eating bonbons in her presence! lol I bet she's an inspiration to everyone who knows her.


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