Were you confident you’d repeat as winner this year?

Absolutely not! I knew of three competitors that had faster PR’s than me. My training was ahead of last year but I thought at best I would run 2:40. I thought the winning time would be a few minutes faster, 2:37 or so. I am glad I had reserved myself to running my race and placing as high as I could because that strategy paid off in the end. If I had tried to run with the leaders, I don’t think I would have won. I would like to add one other thing. There was a part of me that was very nervous about being the defending champion. I wanted to prove to everyone that last year wasn’t a fluke. I wanted to prove that I belonged at the top of the podium. I think this nervousness helped me train harder and in turn focus on speed. Knowing there was a handful of fast runners in the race, helped me relax and run my race. As they say, “It’s easy getting to the top, the hard part is staying there.”

Did the weather help or hinder your race strategy?

I really felt the difficult conditions would help me because over my ultra running career I had seen it all. Hot, cold, rainy, windy, you name it. I have seen it. It didn’t make me nervous. It gave me confidence that I might get lucky and the front runners would wear each other out. I don’t know if that is what happened but I was able to pick up the pieces.

What is your marathon PR? How long have you been running?

This race was my marathon PR.(2:39:42). I know it wasn’t ideal marathon conditions, but I benefited from a well thought out race strategy, solid training, and a little (a lot) bit of luck sprinkled in.

How many marathons have you run? Ultras?

Nine marathons and 32 ultras.

Are you training for any race in particular?

I am currently training for the Ruth Anderson 100k April 23rd, which is also on roads. My training leading up to the Modesto marathon was to prepare myself for the 100k but with an emphasis on speed tempo runs. I have no plans after this. I am considering training for another marathon in late August or run 100 mile road race in late August or middle of September.

What are your future running goals?

I want to dedicate the next four years to see how fast I can run the marathon. I have plenty of ultra years after that (age 41 by then) but I have only so many “speed” years left. Breaking 2:30 in the marathon would be nice, but I don’t know if it is realistic. I’m going to give it a shot though. My short term goal … is to run sub 7:20 for 100k on road. I ran 7:32 last year, but I went into that race a little banged up and tired. This year my body feels good and I think if things go my way, it is a possible to break 7:20.

What did you think of the Modesto Marathon? The course?

There are a couple of things I like about this course. The first thing is the “flatness.” You can really get into a rhythm out there and living here, my training is primarily on flat surfaces like the Modesto Marathon. I also like the out and back format as a front runner. You can see your competition and all the other competitors on the course that you generally might not see. The marathon is well run. The volunteers are friendly and ready to help and that helps for a smooth race for everyone in the race.

You are a TRM coach. What do you have to say about that program and your students this year?

It is a major success! Our group size increased from 14 in 2010 to 40 in 2011. When you can get 12 to 14 year old kids to train for six months, four days a week, to do anything not only a half/full marathon, that is amazing! We are reaching at-risk kids along with academically socially economically gifted kids. One of the joys of this program is to see these students, that would normally not hang out together, overcome those obstacles to become friends.

Where is your favorite training route?

A boring 16 to 17 mile recovery run on the canal near my house out to Waterford. I typically will do this run on Sunday afternoons while my kids are taking a nap. I love looking out into fields and see the changes as the seasons change. I can just get in a rhythm and just enjoy the day. The run seems to always feel effortless.

Do you train with someone or mostly solo?

I train with John Souza a couple days a week when both of us are healthy. That is a rarity these days however. So, I mainly train by myself. I don’t mind it but after a while it can become wearing.

Advice for new runners and future TRM runners?

Don’t run too much too early when you are just getting started. You will open yourself up to injury and a lot of soreness. Incorporate some walking into each workout. This will give your body the needed time to adapt to your new activity. Those running muscles need time to grow and heal. But overall, just have fun! Don’t get caught up in the competitiveness of running that sometimes can monopolize the sport. Enjoy the thrill of completing the distance and the time spent with friends. Life is too short.

michellemeyer2011What made you enter the Modesto Marathon? How did you hear about it?

I discovered the Modesto Marathon online on and saw that it was a fast, flat course that was relatively close to my home in San Francisco. I thought that this marathon would be a perfect final long training run for the Boston Marathon, so I signed up!

What is your marathon PR?

My marathon PR is actually what I ran at the Modesto Marathon this year: 2:52:25.

How long have you been running?

I began running as part of gymnastics training when I was about ten years old. I was a competitive gymnast during elementary and middle school, but when I grew too tall for the sport, I switched to volleyball, basketball, and track in high school. I raced the 1600m and 3200m for Carmel High School (2001-2005), occasionally competing in the 800m and 4x400m relay as well. At Stanford, I trained on my own and ran several marathons (Napa in 2006 and Boston in 2007), but didn’t really start running in many races until graduating from Stanford in 2009. Since moving to San Francisco in the fall of ‘09, I have run in 40 races, ranging in distance from 5Ks to marathons. I love running and racing, and I hope to continue running for as long as possible.

How many marathons have you run? Is that your specialty? Are there different distances you prefer?

The Modesto Marathon was my 7th marathon (so far!) I enjoy running both marathons and half-marathons – I’m currently training with the goal of improving my marathon time, but the half-marathon might be my favorite distance because it doesn’t take quite as much of a toll on your body.

Previous marathons:

  • California International Marathon (2010): 2:53:19 (2nd place for 20-24 age group)
  • Nike Women’s Marathon (2010): 2:56:25 (2nd woman overall)
  • Oakland Marathon (2010): 2:59:25 (1st woman overall)
  • California International Marathon (2009): 2:59:27 (4th place for 20-24 age group)
  • Boston Marathon (2007): 3:14:51 (2nd place for 19-and-under age group)
  • Napa Valley Marathon (2006): 3:16:14 (8th woman overall, 1st place for 19-and-under age group)

Are you training for any race in particular?

I’m currently training for the Boston Marathon in April and for Grandma’s Marathon in June. I hope to run a variety of shorter-distance races over the next few months as well, including Bay to Breakers in May, but I haven’t set any other firm racing plans yet.

What are your future running goals?

My long-term running goal is to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the marathon! The current “B” standard is 2:46:00, so I still have quite a bit of work to do before making this cutoff, but I would love to give it my best shot. In the short term, I hope to break 2:50 in the marathon and 1:20 in the half marathon. I haven’t really trained strategically before for a specific race – I’ve been running mostly on my own, just for fun without a specific training schedule. However, I recently joined the Impalas, an all-women racing team in San Francisco, and I hope to improve my running times while training with this amazing group of women. Don’t tell them, but due to the warm welcome and how accepted I feel in the group, I think I may start looking around for customizable tops or jackets for our team warm ups before the group runs!

What did you think of the Modesto Marathon? The course? Our weather?

The marathon course itself was very fast and flat, though the headwind on the way back was pretty brutal! It would be great to run this course on a beautiful day.

Are you originally from SF? What do you do for a living?

I grew up in Carmel, Calif., studied Human Biology at Stanford; then moved to San Francisco after graduating from college in 2009. I work as a clinical research coordinator in the obstetrics and gynecology department at UCSF and am currently applying to medical school. I’m very excited to have been accepted to several medical schools, but I am waiting until the application process is over before making a final decision.

Where do you train in SF? Best routes?

I love to run everywhere in San Francisco – I feel that running is the best way to get to know a place and to see parts of a city that you would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience. Some of my favorite longer running routes are:

  1. Starting from the Marina, run along Crissy Field, across the Golden Gate Bridge, through Sausalito and back. Great views and relatively flat.
  2. Starting from Kezar Stadium, run through Golden Gate Park, along the Great Highway, around Lake Merced and back. This is actually part of the Nike Women’s Marathon course.
  3. Starting from the Marina, run along Crissy Field, underneath the Golden Gate Bridge to Land’s End and back. This run has stunning views of the ocean on a clear day, and the trails in Land’s End are fantastic.
  4. Running along Embarcadero in the early morning – fast, flat, and the tourists aren’t out yet!
  5. Running up Twin Peaks and Mount Davidson – these are some great hills and offer some terrific views of the city.
  6. Running in the Marin Headlands or Mount Tamalpais. There are some stunning views of San Francisco from the Headlands, and Mount Tam offers some great hills and trail runs.

Do you train with a club or group or do you mostly solo?

Although I have been training mostly by myself for the past few years, I recently joined an awesome racing all-women racing team, the Impalas, and have begun training with them as well.

Advice for new runners?

Congratulations on finishing your first marathon! (or half-marathon!) It’s an amazing accomplishment, and hopefully you have been inspired to do another one (or two, or twenty…) If you ever find yourself getting bored with running, think about what motivates you – do you love to run because of the “runner’s high”? The people you train with? The excitement of racing? The challenge of setting and meeting new goals? It helps to know what motivates you and to use these motivators to give yourself an extra push if and when you need it. It’s also good to keep your running exciting by changing up your current routine – if you run by yourself, try running with a group; if you run the same route every day, explore a completely new place; if you run on mostly flat terrain, challenge yourself with some hills; if you run with music, leave the iPod at home for a few days; if you run on roads, get out on some trails, etc. If you love to race, try different types of races, distances, and locations – each race definitely has its own unique character and different appeal. Just keep running!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for putting on such a well-run event! Everything was great, from the pre-race expo to the flat course to the awesome spectators cheering in the rain (thank you so, so much for your support in that weather!)

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