Monday, February 22, 2010

RunnerDude's Runner of the Week: Gina

I feel like I can call this week's runner (Gina) an old friend, even though, I've never met her in person. Gina has been following the blog almost since its beginning. I've also enjoyed following her blog (Running Grandma) as well as being Twitter, FaceBook, and DailyMile friends. Gina's own running experiences as well as her constant encouragement and support are an awesome thing. Read on to find out more about Gina.

RD: Gina, I know you live out in the northwest. Oregon, I think. Exactly where in Oregon do your hail from?
Gina: Aumsville, Oregon (just East of Salem). We're actually in the country about halfway between Salem & Aumsville.

I know you're an avid runner, but tell us a little more about yourself.
Gina: I'm 56 years old, married, and have 3 grown children. I have 4 granddaughters, ages 14, 11, 10, and 9. I am not working outside the home at this time, but spend 7 hours a week volunteering at a homeless shelter for women & children. I also make quilts for the shelter, making at least 40 a year to give to the women as Christmas gifts. I also make quilts for a shelter for teens coming out of the gang lifestyle. I'm blessed to be able to use the talents God has given me to help others. I also enjoy reading and, of course, the computer.

RD: Man, Gina, you are one busy lady! I'm surprised you have time to fit in your running. When did you take up running?
Gina: I began running in the Fall of 2006, at the age of 53. Better late than never.

RD: After 53 years, what got you into running?
Gina: A good friend of mine began changing his lifestyle to a healthier one and started me thinking about my completely sedentary life. I first began strength training and using the elliptical, and then finally took up running. It has changed my life.

RD: What about running do you enjoy the most?
Gina: The best thing about running is how it makes me feel, not only physically, but emotionally, mentally, etc. When people talk about "runner's high", they aren't kidding. It's real and a documented physical fact. When I can't run, I actually get depressed. Gee, I never thought I'd say something like that? hahaha!

RD: One of the things I talk about a lot on the blog is food and fueling the body for your runs. What are some of your favorite running/training foods?
Gina: Before I run (about 2 hrs) I have a bagel with peanut butter and an Activia yogurt. I hate to say it, but I also have a Diet Coke. During my longer runs, I use PowerBar gels and water only. That's all I am able to stomach. I like them because they are thinner and easier to digest. After my run, I usually have a recovery drink (if it's a long run), chocolate of course! Then later I'll have my favorite after run lunch - peanut butter & jelly sandwich. I'm such a child at heart.

RD: Are you a lone runner or do you run with others?
Gina: I am a lone runner, mainly because it fits into my lifestyle best. I'm not against running with other people and enjoy it sometimes, but I'm a slow runner and don't like to hold anyone back.

RD: Many of the blog readers know, I've had some interesting encounters and funny things happen to me on my runs. What's the funniest/most interesting thing that's happened to you while on a run?
Gina: I'm not sure I should say this, but I will. LOL! I had a wardrobe malfunction. Let's just say it was a little mishap with a new sports bra I'd never worn before. Thank God I run in the country where there are few people around. hahahaha!

RD: What do you feel is your biggest running accomplishment?
Gina: I think my biggest accomplishment is actually my slowest marathon - the Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon last October. I had a serious bike wreck 3 weeks before, was knocked unconscious and suffered a concussion and bruised ribs. The marathon is held in Susanville, California and is over a mile high at the start, ending at about 4200'. I train at about 500' so it was VERY difficult for me. I ended up walking about 22 miles of it and still had an average heart rate of 178 for the entire 6 hours and 45 minutes it took to finish it! I'm amazed sometimes at my stubbornness! My motto is "Finish or Die!"
RD: Man, Gina. You do have one strong will and some kind of determination. I'm thinking we need to nickname you The Gina-nator!

RD: Do you have a favorite brand/model of running shoe?
Gina: Right now I am running in Newton shoes. I have tried different brands and think I like these the best. I am a natural forefoot runner so these help me do that.

RD: Is there one race distance you prefer over another?
Gina: I'm not sure I have a favorite race distance. I seem to be hooked on marathons right now. Crazy me. I usually try to run the MLK Stride Toward Freedom 5K and the Keizer Iris Festival 5K here in Salem each year.

RD: If you were speaking to a group of non-runners or runner wannabes and trying to encourage them to run, what would you say?
Gina: I would (and DO) tell people to get out and do what you can. It sure beats sitting around and not doing anything. I am not a competitive runner and when I started, I NEVER planned to run a race. I just wanted to become healthier. If you can't run due to a physical problem, then walk or do some other cardio exercise. Doing so will add years to your life and will make your life much better. Find someone who will hold you accountable, preferably someone who will exercise with you. That makes all the difference. I will never go back to not exercising. Yes, I hate it at times, but I love how it makes me feel. The worst thing you can do is not start; just begin and go at your own pace. You'll be glad you did, I promise.
RD: I love that phrase...."the worst thing you can do is not start; just begin and go at your own pace." Whether it's your first time putting on running shoes or you're just trying to get the gumption to go on that 20-miler, those are awesome words to live by.

RD: Open Mike: Share anything you‘d like about your running experiences, past accomplishments, goals, dreams….anything you haven’t previously shared.
Gina: Running and exercising (biking too) had never been a part of my life. I was never athletic in school. I actually got bad grades in P.E. I never thought I could do anything physical and hated the thought of it. Forcing myself to get out of my comfort zone was really hard, but I did it gradually. I'm very stubborn and will stick to something like glue once I've made up my mind to do it. However, I know I could have easily given up if I didn't have the support I get from my running friends on Twitter, FaceBook & Dailymile. They are the only support I have and I SO appreciate them.

Gina, I must say, you have been a wonderful source of inspiration for me over the past year while I've gone through a job layoff and a life/career transformation. I'm sure you've been the same kind of inspiration for many, many other's who've found your blog, know you from Twitter, FaceBook, DailyMile, or are lucky enough to know you in person. Thanks for sharing your story!

Be sure to check out Running Grandma, Gina's blog.


Lisa W said...

Nice interview, thanks to both of you for inspiration.

Johann said...

Nice interview. So great to hear/read what inspires and drives others.

misszippy said...

Gina is awesome! I love to hear about people discovering running a bit later in life. Thanks for the interview.

Samantha said...

So inspirational! Gina has such a great attitude & with a marathon just weeks after a bike crash?! Man, she really is a stubborn one! :-)

Jill said...

Congrats to Gina! Thanks for inspiring us all!!

Run2NY said...

I have been lucky enough to know Gina through DailyMile and Twitter and I think she is great! Such an inspiration! She is always there to motivate and inspire you. Not only that, it is just awesome that she is out there doing what she does! Way to go Gina! And, thanks RD for the interview :)