20 Running Questions, Answered

I was recently profiled in my running club's monthly newsletter. I'm not quite sure how I was picked, but I had fun with the question and answer style format and consider it an honor to share it with you.

Twenty (or so) questions with Shirley LeMay
by Bruce Butler
I was pleased to have a chance talk to Shirley LeMay about her running exploits. Despite having zero involvement in sports during High school and college (was and still is a music nerd), she somehow found her way to hitting the pavement. It all started at the age of 25 when the local Y closed down the gym (and fitness classes) for two weeks and she had no other way to get her workout endorphin rush.

Running - June July 2016
Running in June and July 2016
1. Why do you run? So many reasons! To lose myself, to connect with nature, to socialize, to feel good about myself. It is the best “free” therapy one can get.
2. Do you have a mentor that has helped? I think I learn from almost everyone
3. What’s the best advice you ever received? Trust your training, especially when it comes to those longer distance races.
4. Would you rather it be 10 degrees or 85? 10, for sure. I can always add clothes when it is cold, at 85, there’s just a ton of suffering and sweat.
5. What are 3 things every runner should know? Take time to Cross train. I consistently take time for strength classes, yoga and swimming.
Strong hips and butt = happy running life
Rest days are just as important as that long run.
6. Trails or roads? I like them both, roads are more convenient, but the trails are better for me as a runner.
7. What’s your go-to shoe right now? Altra Paradigm 1.5
8. Best running book you’ve read? Of course, Born to Run, but I also enjoyed What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Murakami.

Running - May 2016
Running in May - Abroad in the UK and at Home
9. What is your occupation and how do you fit running around work? I am a chemical engineer and I lead the IT / Automation department a chemical manufacturing facility. I run in the morning before work.
10. What’s the worst running injury you’ve had? While not technically a running injury, tearing my ACL while playing soccer in 2012 put me out of running commission for 5 months and delayed my first marathon attempt. I had it reconstructed and ran my first marathon 2 years later.
11. What is your second favorite race, behind the Illinois Marathon? The Chicago Marathon is a great race with tons of crowd support and gives the runner a unique perspective of the city.
12. Which PR are you most proud of? When I was in my 20s, I ran a 4 mile night race in 29 minutes. But, since those really fast years are long gone, I am happy with any “good time” nowadays.
13. Are you a supporter of wearing compression clothing? Yes! For my calves.
14. Favorite running app? I’m on Runkeeper because I have data back to 2011 logged, and it is fun to see the progression over the years. Through the magic of app integration, my Garmin data automatically syncs to RK. I also like to take photos when I’m out running (#shirleyruns) and RK allows the user to upload those too.
15. Current running watch? The Forerunner 220.
16. Would you rather watch a live sporting event or go on a 12 mile run? 12 mile run
17. I’ve heard others talk about how difficult mile repeats are. Any particular workout you dread? I really don’t like speedwork. At. All
18. Can you get yourself out the door without a group or running partner? Yes, I ran alone for many years and still enjoy running alone. The key is to get into a routine / schedule and not to think about it until you are out the door.
19. Average weekly mileage? When I’m not training for a marathon, 25-30 miles
20. What’s the earliest you’ve ever started a run? 5am, but would start earlier if need be.
21. Longest run on a treadmill, or will you just run outside regardless of the weather? I call it the Dreadmill for a reason. The longest I’ve ever managed is 5 miles. I’ll run in almost any weather with the exception of lightning.
22. Longest distance where you put the word “just” in front of it when telling your friends how long your run was? 14
23. Ever lost a toenail? Yes…that was an interesting experience...
24. Biggest mistake you ever made in a race? I struggle with calf cramps. I think I under estimate how much I sweat, and it has impacted a few of my recent long races.

Running - April 2016
April Running - Culminating in the Illinois Marathon
25. Please provide us a little background on the Wednesday morning running group.
Somehow, I’ve convinced a bunch of people that it would be “fun” to run each Wednesday morning at 5:30. The group meets at the local YMCA and we run a 6-8 mile loop in the surrounding neighborhoods. I live close to the Y, so I run from my house and meet the group on the road.
The group originally consisted of members from a Wednesday morning yoga class. The class was moved to Monday, so the Wednesday 5:30 spot was now “open” for other endeavors and I suggested a group run. We’ve invited friends, co workers, people we’ve connected through 2nd Wind and the Marathon training groups. The group started last September and continued all winter long, through the dark, the cold, some snow and rain.
Participation averages around 5-6. We’ve had as many as 10 people and as few as 1 person (um, yeah, that would be me, running in a pre-blizzard). We generally run 9-10 minute / mile pace, but have some speedier and slower folks that morph into casual “pace groups”.
26. Describe your ideal running conditions. An ideal temperature for me is between 45-50 deg, warm enough for shorts and a tee shirt. Add in a crisp fall day with the leaves turning along the route or a vivid sunrise and that is running perfection.
I also enjoy running after or during a gentle snowfall. The snow dusts the trees, softens the impact of the road and muffles ambient noise. You can’t run as fast, but in those conditions, it’s just nice to be out there in the snow globe.

And as Jimmy Buffet sings, “Go fast enough to get there, Slow enough to see”.


Lisa Gordon  – (July 18, 2016 at 9:25 AM)  

I enjoyed reading this, Shirley.
Happy day to you, my friend!

Anita Johnson  – (July 18, 2016 at 2:41 PM)  

Thanks for your comment and prayers....thankfully we are never alone. Trust Him....keep running.

Barb  – (July 18, 2016 at 8:41 PM)  

Shirley, I really enjoyed your answers to these questions. I ran for so many years, and I still miss the experience. The photos included in your post are wonderful - taking the time to see as you run. I never read that Buffet quote before - its going to be my new mantra. Good running to you.

Nicki  – (July 24, 2016 at 6:41 PM)  

One of my friends got into running several years back after her husband passed away from a brain tumor and she managed to graduate her last child from high school. She has never looked back and loves every minute of it.

shirley  – (July 27, 2016 at 12:42 PM)  

@Nicki - I know of so many people who have used running as their way through tough times. One of my running friends lost his 10 year old daughter two years ago and the running has certainly helped with his healing process.

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