Name: Liz Elko
Years Running: 13
Favorite race distance: It’s a toss up between 10 Miler and Half Marathon
4 Miler: 25:18
10 Miler: 1:05:23
Half Marathon: 1:27:10
Do you cross train or lift weights: While I see the value in cross-training, I’ll admit I’m pretty bad at it. I’m too addicted to that runner’s high to switch it out for another activity. While I don’t lift weights, I do fit in core exercises a few times a week after my runs.
How do you find/make time to train: I’m motivated by the fact that I always feel better at the end of each day if I get in my run in. Most days, it just requires lacing up my shoes and running right out the door on the trails near my office (and not giving myself time to plop down on the couch after the work day). Sometimes it requires sacrificing other social outings, but I never regret my decision, and it is always helpful to schedule runs with friends to make it fun and to make sure I stick to my training plan.
Favorite place to run: Charlottesville, VA – Throughout my college experience, I relished the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and enjoyed all the challenging hills.
Most unique/memorable race: Running the Half Marathon while on a missions trip to Kampala, Uganda!
Favorite pre-race meal: My finicky stomach can only handle a few Vanilla Bean-flavored GUs before a race.
Favorite post-race food: “Seafood Medley” of tilapia, shrimp and mussels mixed in brown rice with mixed veggies and some Woodchuck hard cider to celebrate!
Favorite quote: “Run towards what is uncomfortable. That’s when you find the most beautiful thing.” I don’t remember when I first heard this or who said this, but I love that it doesn’t just apply to running, but to any adventure in life we take on. This quote always motivates me to push my own boundaries, as I’ve found that the most uncomfortable of endeavors are the most rewarding in the end (for all those who’ve run marathons, you know what I’m talking about…)
Best running advice that’s the hardest to take: “Trust in the taper.” Tapering is so important and DOES work, but let’s be honest…it can drive a runner crazy! I personally get so antsy the week or two before a big race because the mileage is decreasing and my head is spinning with thoughts such as, “Did I do enough?” or “Maybe this one last hard workout will help me…” but it totally pays off on race day to practice patience and get through the taper phase.
Running accomplishment I’m most proud of: My finish in the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon. It was a big PR for me (I knocked off 6 minutes from my previous marathon) and placed 1st in my age group (20-24) and 25th overall female. For once, I actually ran a “smart” race, meaning I didn’t go out in my (typical) frenzied fashion or get caught up starting out too fast. Rather, I picked up the pace little by little in the later stages of the race. I was feeling strong and never hit the wall at Mile 20 and was catching people during the last 10k. I felt such joy running that day, and I knew I had given my all when running up the little hill at Iwo Jima towards the finish line…my legs literally stopped dead in their tracks once I crossed the mat.