The Run Faster Mommy Interview

The Run Faster Mommy Interview – A chat with Heather Gannoe

Welcome to the Run Faster Mommy Interview with Heather Gannoe. tracked down Heather for a chat about running, being an active parent, and her running goals. She keeps everyone updated on her latest adventures on her blog, Run Faster Mommy.

David Tiefenthaler – Did you run competitively in high school, or did you get into running later on?

Heather Gannoe – I played soccer all through high school, that was my sport of choice, and I dreaded the days we had to do our 2 mile run during practice. At some point, someone convinced me that joining the track and field team would be a good way to stay in shape for soccer. It was a walk on team, so I joined. Needless to say I was far from one of the top runners! I ended up competing in the 100m hurdles and the high jump. Again, I dreaded the days we had to run distance (in my mind at the time, anything further than 100m!) at practice. I didn’t develop my love for running until after I gave birth to my first child, almost 8 years later. I always joke “if my track coaches could see me now!!!”. They’d probably be shocked!

DT – Why do you enjoy running?

HG – Running is something I just feel compelled to do. It feels natural, freeing. When I run, I almost always feel untouchable. Running clears my mind and allows me to think straight. And even on a bad run, I still come home feeling on top of the world. I love the competition of racing, whether it be against other runners at a local 5k, or against myself at a huge marathon. I love the camaraderie of the running community. I love that no matter how long or far I run, I can always push myself to do better the next time.

DT – When did you first start your blog, Run Faster Mommy?

HG – I started Run Faster Mommy in March of 2009. I had given birth to my second son in October of ’08, and really struggled getting back into my running routine. I started the blog as a way to hold myself accountable for my running, and as an outlet to track my progress and fundraising for the running team I had just joined, Team Fight, as a part of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

DT – Did your love of running lead to your decision to earn your degree in exercise and sports science?

HG – Absolutely. I started running simply to lose the baby weight, but it very quickly became much more than that. It really changed my life for the better, and I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to share that passion with others.

DT – How do you balance running with work, school, and parenting?

HG -Hmmm, some days I’m not sure how I do it!! I’m not really a planner, so I try to just go with the flow, take things one step at a time. I try to get my workouts in early in the morning or between classes. And if that doesn’t work out, there is always the jog stroller with the kids after school. Homework is done at night after the kids go to bed. As hectic as it sounds, they all balance each other out. I couldn’t not keep my sanity between school and parenting if I didn’t have the stress relief of running! But I know for a fact I wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of my partner Rich. He is very supportive of my schooling, my running, and is a wonderful father!

DT – How much school do you have left, and what type of job would you like to get with your degree?

HG – I have one semester of classes left, and then one semester of a full time internship. I will graduate with my bachelors degree in May of 2011. I want to work hands on with people, personal training. I would love to one day develop programs, either at a gym or on my own, to help people train for their first races…5k’s, half marathons, sprint triathlons, etc. I really want to help introduce people to the world of endurance sports. Bottom line, I want to show people that exercise does not have to be a miserable experience or a chore, butinstead show them that exercise can be fun, and WILL change your life!

DT – My wife runs with me while my oldest son (who’s 4) bikes, and I push the jogging stroller with my 3 year old daughter and 1 year old son. It’s fun and we get fit. Does your husband run too, and do you ever run together all the while pushing the jogging stroller?

HG – I have been pushing for YEARS to try and get him to run! Every now and then we will go for a family run, but he prefers other forms of exercise, like plyometrics and strength training. Just recently he completed his first 5k with me, and says that maybe one day he’ll do a half marathon. I realize that running is not for everyone, but I’m hoping I can convert him!

DT – Our kids run all over the place. Do your children do the same? Oh, by the way, I loved your post about trying to get your children to run in a couple of little races. They didn’t seem to cooperate. We had a similar experience with our children at a little race. My son was running all over before the race, but when they started the official run, he took about 10 steps and started crying.

HG – My two boys do not sit still! I know that is typical of preschool boys, but I know without a doubt they have inherited my energy! Yes, we have had hit or miss experiences with tot trots! The baby loves them, my oldest doesn’t seem to like the pressure. Of course I hope that one day they will also develop a love for running and racing, but if they don’t, that’s OK too. I’ll just keep presenting them with the opportunities until they are old enough to tell me “give it up already mom!

DT – You have such a strong voice in your blog. It’s descriptive and very entertaining. Do you enjoy writing, even if it isn’t about running?

HG – Thank you very much! I love to write about everything, it’s very therapeutic for me. I never imagined that people would actually enjoy reading the things I ramble on and on about! I would love to someday write a book, but it would probably take me a while. Deadlines seem to suck the creative voice right out of me. I failed miserably at a short stint as a Mom blogger for the local newspaper (and it wasn’t even a paying job!) I don’t like the pressure, it makes my writing feel insincere.

DT – It looks as if you are getting into Triathlons. Is running not challenging enough for you?

HG – Long before I started running, I watched my sister complete her first triathlon, an Olympic distance in Columbia MD. At the time, I never fathomed that I would ever do this sort of thing, but I remember being very intrigued by the whole culture of triathlon. I loved that elite athletes and weekend warriors could all come together and compete in the same race, at the same time. Over the years, I’ve seen my sister finish half ironmans, and was at the finish line when she completed her first full ironman distance triathlon. To me, the Ironman distance is my ultimate goal. And while running is certainly incredibly challenging for me, I need to start somewhere to work my way to the ironman goal, so I’ve begun competing in my first season of sprint triathlons this year.

DT – As I read your blog, I get the feeling you are not looking forward to the swimming portion of the Irongirl Triathlon you have coming up.

HG -Haha! It’s not that I’m not looking forward to it…it’s more that I’m a little terrified! Running and biking come pretty naturally to me. Swimming is a horse of a different color. I never took formal swimming lessons growing up, heck I had never swum laps with a purpose until this February. I am still struggling to be comfortable in the water, and the swim at Irongirl is more than 3 times the distance as the swim in my first triathlon!

DT – Another event you participated in was the Warrior Dash. Can you explain exactly what this was, and why in the world you wanted to do this. It looked quite extreme and you didn’t come away from it unscathed.

HG -The Warrior Dash is an obstacle course 5k that is held in different locations across the country. I ran the Southeast Warrior Dash in Mountain City, GA this May. Over the 3 miles we walked through chest deep water in swamps, crawled through mud pits under barbed wire, climbed over cars in a junk yard, ran through trails in the forest…just to name a few obstacles. Most notably, just before the finish line you have to leap the “warrior roast” ….or two fire pits. And these aren’t smoldering coals…those flames where knee to waist high! Luckily you are soaking wet and full of adrenaline at this point, so you don’t even feel the heat. I wanted to do this race the second I heard about it. I love to push myself to new limits and try new things. Plus, they give you beer and a fuzzy viking hat at the finish line. What’s not to love?

Unfortunately right before the finish line, I landed right on a log that had rolled out of the fire and tore my anterior tallofibular ligament (nasty ankle sprain). I hopped to the finish line, sat down, and watched my ankle start to swell up! I’m now in the middle of 6 weeks of recovery.Though it took me out of the Vermont City Marathon this May, and has put a HUGE dent in my training for Chicago this October, I still say it was worth it, and I’ll be back next year to tackle the course again!

DT – Do you have any ultimate goals for your running? Complete a specific race, or run a specific time?

I really want to qualify for the Boston Marathon, which for me is currently a 3:40 marathon. I know I am more than capable of the pace, it’s just training my body to maintain that pace for a full marathon! I get frustrated because with all I have going on in my life, it’s hard for me to stick to a full marathon training cycle. But I know I will get there eventually. I also aspire to run a marathon in every state. The Chicago Marathon in October will be #5 for me, and I have a list of “must do” races around the country! As I mentioned earlier, one day I hope to complete a full Ironman. And if all of that is done and I have plenty of time and energy to spare…I recently read about this marathon at the base camp on Mount Everest… and it’s been lingering in the back of my head ever since.

DT – Thank you Heather for your time. Good luck in the future with your running, biking, swimming, warrior running, and any other aerobic activities you pursue. Just keep on writing about it please!

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