We know something special motivates every runner to do their best in each race they compete in. In the months leading up to the Big Wild Life Runs in August 2014, we will be profiling runners coming from all over the country (or right down the road!) to run distances from 1 mile to 49 kilometers. We are so excited to share these stories with you! If you would be like to be a featured runner, reach out to us!
Featured Runner: Mallory Billings-Litke Home: Rhode Island Running the Skinny Raven Half-Marathon
Q: What encouraged you to come from Rhode Island all the way to Anchorage, Alaska for this race? A: I’ve never been to Alaska before and I am so excited for this trip! Ever since I can remember, I have loved Alaska and been slightly obsessed with it. I love watching shows that involve Alaska because the views are amazing. My wife and I are in the process of running a half marathon in each state. We are trying to do one "big" trip per year so this year we chose Alaska. This will be state number 11 for me! I’ve completed half marathons in Illinois, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, Utah, and Colorado. By the time I run the race in Alaska, I will have also completed Maine. This year we are scheduled to run Vermont as well!
Q: What got you into running? What do you find to be rewarding about it?
A: I first got into running in May 2007. I am a social worker so my job can be pretty stressful at times. Going for a run gives me time to chill out, clear my head and refocus.
Q: How many times have you done this distance? A: This will be my 17th half marathon! My current PR is 1:58:27 and I would love to beat that time in Alaska but I think my main focus during this race will be to look around and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Q: What are your favorite races that you’ve done before? A: My two favorite races so far were the Wineglass Half Marathon in Corning, NY and the Utah Valley Half Marathon in Provo, UT. Wineglass had superb organization for race weekend, great discounts throughout town and spectacular scenery. Utah Valley is an almost entirely downhill course, but not so downhill that it hurts, with crowd support along the way and a great finish downtown, where you get to ring the "PR bell" if you set a PR. If you get the chance to do either of these races, I highly recommend them both!
!/perch/resources/image-1.jpeg! Ringing the PR bell at the Utah Valley Half Marathon
Q: You post on your instagram about your running streak. What motivated you to start, and how did you stay motivated to continue?
A: I started my running streak on 4/15/13, the day of the Boston Marathon bombing. At the time, I worked three blocks from the finish line of the race. We worked from home that day due to how busy the city would be, but the aftermath of the bombings, including armed guards patrolling the streets, the shutdown of the city, and the lives forever altered and lost had such a profound impact on me. For me, the streak was about coping and doing something bigger. Initially I was going to just do a 26 day streak, one for each day of the race, but I decided to keep going with it. In that time, I set PRs in the half and 5k, got my first age-group award, got called onto stage by Bart Yasso [of Runner’s World fame] at the Utah Valley Marathon expo to talk about my streak and was featured in their race booklet. But in it, I got a lot of support from friends and family. I kept going because I was enjoying it. There were days that I didn’t want to run, particularly after my grandmother passed away, but her spirit kept me going and I knew that she would want me to continue to run. My last day of the streak was on 1/13/14, day 274. I was having a lot of pain in several places on my body and needed to be smart about my running.
Q: What’s your training process? How do you mentally and physically prepare?
A: I try to stick to a training plan. I recently ended a 274-day running streak where I was running at least a mile each day. My body needs a bit more rest than that so my plan is to get back to 3-4 days per week of running, plus combining cross-training activities. I get myself pretty psyched up for races but I try to focus on how my body is feeling. If I wake up and am not feeling it, I don’t push myself too hard at the beginning of the race. I try to go with how my body feels, hence stopping my running streak.
h2. "I get myself pretty psyched up for races but I try to focus on how my body is feeling."
Q: What activities do you do to cross train? A: Besides being a runner, I am also a Registered Yoga Teacher, so I teach and practice yoga multiple times per week. I enjoy cycling, weight lifting and hiking as well. I love to be outdoors and being active.
Q: What are your hobbies outside of running?
A: Other than what’s listed above, I also love exploring new places, going to the beach and reading.
Q: Any race day rituals?
A: Mountain Dew in the morning! I know that sounds crazy but I need that little kick. Also, the night before I typically have spaghetti for dinner and then lay out everything that I will need for the race. I keep a "Race bag" stocked with arm warmers, gloves, sunglasses, hat, compression sleeves, safety pins, etc to make sure that I don’t forget anything!
Q: How long will you be in Alaska? What activities (beside running our half marathon!) are you excited to do while you’re here?
A: We will be in Alaska for 9 days. We will be staying in Anchorage for the first few days of our trip and exploring what it has to offer. I’ve been told we need to drive Turnagain Arm. After the race, we will be headed to Denali where we are going to camp for the next 6 nights, staying at various campgrounds throughout. We have scheduled a White Water Rafting excursion for while we are there and are planning to do a lot of hiking, too. On our way back to Anchorage we are planning to stop in Talkeetna, which I’ve been told not to miss!
You can find Mallory on her blog, www.mwrun6.com, or her Instagram, runyoginirun! She loves sharing posts about her life, yoga, and running.
Interested in running with Mallory in the Skinny Raven Half Marathon? Register online and we’ll see you in August!
*All photos provided by Mallory Billings-Litke
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