Name: Andrea Merber
Location: Alexandria, VA
Years Running: 9
PRs: 5K: 19:49 10 mile: 1:14:31 1/2 marathon: 1:32:57 Marathon: 3:34:04
How did you get into running? I got started running toward the end of college. I was studying abroad in Athens, Greece and after indulging a little too much in the local cuisine, I decided to join a gym instead of buying bigger clothes. I started out by walking and lifting weights. Slowly over the next year I began adding jogging segments into my walking and eventually built up to running. I quickly realized how much I loved running, and it became a real passion.
How many marathons have you run? 5 (Chicago, Marine Corps, DC Rock ‘n’ Roll, Boston, and Richmond).
Do you cross train or lift weights: Yes to both! Unlike most runners, I actually like to cross-train and lift weights. My favorite modes of cross training are cycling and swimming (I spent a couple of years doing triathlons). I lift weights both to stay strong and to help prevent injury.
How do you find/make time to train: I prefer to get my workouts done first thing in the morning so that I make sure they get done. This sometimes means getting up at 5:30 AM, even in the dead of winter. It can be rough to get up that early, but I’m always glad I did once I get moving.
Favorite place to run: In the DC area, I love running the hills on and around Military Road. My favorite place in the world to run is Whistler, Canada. Running on the trails there in the fall is really quite beautiful and peaceful.
Favorite/most memorable race: My most memorable race was the ½ marathon I ran that was part of the National Marathon here in D.C. (before it became the Rock ‘n Roll USA race). It was a cold, crisp day (excellent running conditions for this hot-weather hater!). It was my perfect race to date – I ran negative splits, I felt strong the entire race, and I ran a bigger than expected PR. I’ve yet to duplicate this magical race experience, but I keep trying!
Favorite pre-race meal: Either a small bowl of oatmeal or some cinnamon raisin toast. I run best (i.e. don’t need to make bathroom stops) if I run on a mostly empty stomach so I try not to eat too much before a race. Instead I make sure to have an early dinner the night before and a good-sized snack before bed.
Favorite post-race food: Whatever I’m craving! Most often it’s pizza or a cheeseburger.
Favorite quote: Everyday is a good day when you run.
Favorite running shoe: I’ve been wearing Mizuno Wave Rider’s for a while, but I’m leaning towards trying a more minimalist shoe with a lower heel to toe drop.
Best running advice: Consistency and patience are key! It is better to make gradual gains in speed and mileage than to do too much too soon and end up sidelined with an injury. (Been there, done that – and it sucks!)
Running accomplishment I’m most proud of: Not quitting during my worst race. I had a horrible Boston race in 2009. I developed stabbing knee pain somewhere around mile 15 and couldn’t run without significantly altering my gait (definitely a sign to stop running!). I was pretty devastated. After running a ½ marathon PR just 4 weeks earlier, I was expecting a great race. I wanted to cry and quit, but the thought of not crossing the finish line at Boston was even more upsetting. It didn’t hurt my knee to walk so I ended up walking the rest of the race, finishing over an hour past my expected time. I did shed a few tears as literally thousands of runners ran past me. I realized though that even though my time would be slower, I would still finish and that I was lucky to be a part of such a special race. Now I just need re-qualify so that I can go back to Boston and have a redemption race!
What races are you currently training for? I’m currently 32 weeks pregnant so the only thing I’m training for is labor and delivery! I stopped running early on in pregnancy, so my return to running will be pretty gradual because I’ve had such a long layoff. I’m hoping I can do some shorter distance races in the spring and then do another marathon in the fall of 2014. Many women experience running gains after pregnancy so I’m excited to see what I can do next year!