Boston Bound Athlete for Yoga: Liz (Running on Venti) McHutcheon

You probably know Liz as Running on Venti. She just turned 50 this year and will be fulfilling a lifelong dream on Monday, April 17, 2017 by running the Boston Marathon. While she has tried (multiple times) to qualify, she won the jackpot in the form of a waiver to toe the line in Hopkinton. Her goal is to hit the qualifying time on race day. Read Liz's story to learn how her goals and relationship with the sport have changed, how she uses Jasyoga daily, and soak up her contagious love of running. Honored to know this Athlete for Yoga!


When did you start running? 
As far back as I can remember, I was running. As a kid growing up west of Cleveland, I ran fast, walked fast, talked fast, read fast, and used to finish timed math tests fast. You could say I was just a little competitive. We played many a game of kick the can in my neighborhood and I did not like being tagged before I kicked those cans. As a teen I loved running alone. I wasn’t running competitively and would run in the mornings before school when no one was around. My mind is always going and running was always and still is a way to clear it.

In ninth grade I joined the basketball team to get ready for track. I sucked at basketball but I knew that any running drills or doing laps on the indoor track I was faster than everyone on the team. For reasons I can’t remember… I never did track. I hope it wasn’t because of some boy.

When did you decide you wanted to run Boston? 
Post college when I transferred to Boston, the running mecca. This was when my true running obsession/addiction truly came to be along with my love of the Boston Marathon. I saw my first Boston Marathon on April 17, 1995 and knew I had to run the marathon. And every year since then, when April comes around the dream of running Boston resurfaces.

Where did you qualify? 
I didn’t. I wish right now I could say I did. I wanted to try and qualify last year by doing a Spring marathon but it didn’t work out for me. I can look back and see that I just wasn’t ready mentally to take on the marathon again. Even though my heart wanted to, my body wasn’t going for it.

So fast forward to this past Fall. I belong to a local running group that receives two waivers every year. You can apply for one (as long as you haven’t received one in the last three years) and they base who receives one of the waivers by volunteer points. I did a good amount of volunteering this past year so I applied. They announced who got the waivers at our December brunch. So on December 11, 2016 they said my name. I cried. For a reason I can’t explain I just knew I was somehow going to run the Boston Marathon the year I turned 50. So then the big goal became qualifying for Boston at Boston. Eeek! Did I just say that out loud. Qualifying time for me, at age 50 is four hours.

I did try and qualify for Boston one other time in my life. It was after I moved to Boston and joined the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), I had started working on improving my speed, and had some PR’s. One race I was seventh female overall and won $25. Wow, was I professional now, HA! Typical of me I didn’t take the next logical step to maybe a 10 miler or half marathon (at this time my longest run had been a 10k). I took a giant leap: I signed up to run my first marathon, the Baystate Marathon, to qualify for Boston.

To recap: one year after moving to Boston, the Fall of 1995 when I was 28, I ran my first marathon. I ran 3:57. I did not qualify. Life and work intervened after this and although I continued running and doing some local races here and there I never tried to qualify again until the running obsession hit me hard again when my older daughter joined the XC team at her school.

You turned 50 this year, we loved the countdown, how has running changed over the years? 
I would say the biggest change has been my need to win and race and beat everyone else all the time. My running was very ego focused for a very long time, especially before I had my two daughters. When I first failed to qualify for Boston all those years ago, I felt like I had failed (here come the tears). Now, I have a very different perspective. A respect for the marathon distance and what an accomplishment it was to run a sub-four hour marathon. I did the best I could with what I knew to be true mentally and physically. It has definitely been a journey. With highs and lows. Races where I PR but question whether I could have pushed it a little more and had more of a PR. Races where I didn’t PR and had the best time and was reminded why I love running. I have also realized I love the half marathon distance and have added it to my racing.

In the last couple of years I have been coached and realize I love to be in training almost more than the race itself, almost. I would also like to be able to say I am completely over wanting to win, I’m human and the competitive bug is still strong, although at least there are age groups. Running now is more about seeing what I can do, how fast I can go, and sometimes the run is just to help me work through whatever craziness is going on in my life.

What are your A, B, C goals on Monday?
A) Right now my bigger goal would be to run Boston and also qualify. I just turned 50 and my qualifying time is now four hours. 
B) Although I don't want that goal to make or break the marathon for me. I want to enjoy every minute of running Boston. I have been dreaming of this for 22 years and want to take it all in. 
C) Remind my self not to go out too fast. Start out and settle into my pace and high five as many people as I can.

What was your most challenging workout?
I would have to say the day I did a double long run. It was February 18. It was actually a beautiful day here in Boston. I had an awesome progression run of almost 10 miles in the morning. Totally nailed it and felt awesome. Then around 2:30pm it was time to do the same run again. Earlier I felt that I would have another great run. As the day went on though I started feeling tired and my legs were feeling tight. For my second run I was able to wear shorts. So awesome especially since it was February here in the Northeast.

However that was not enough for this run not to become mentally challenging for me from the very first step. My legs started to protest. I believe they thought they were done for the day. Boy were they wrong. I focused on each step and my breathing. Then about 15 minutes later I had to turn around and go back home to use the bathroom. I was determined to do this run and went back out. I worked really hard to keep my energy positive and not go down into that place of frustration and wishing it were different. I really thought I was going to rock this second run. Thought I did everything right.

This run wasn't about the physical part of running, this was all mental. That's the point sometimes. Not that I meet the paces set before me but what am I going to do when it starts to fall apart. Am I going to quit and turn around and go home or am I going to take a breath and remind myself that every effort matters and keep moving forward. This is why I love running. When running intersects life. Challenges are going to come. Crap happens. But we keep going. Step by step. So, I didn't quit. I ran another nine miles. I did it!

What was your most encouraging workout?
My most encouraging workout was my last 20-miler of this training cycle. This run started at mile 20 at the Heartbreak Hill Run Co, went 10 miles backwards along the route and then you turn around and finish on the hills. I was nervous for this one because before this I had been battling some glute and hamstring tightness during my long runs. The weather was perfect for running, 40s and cloudy. It was March 25, a Saturday. There were so many people running. There were people I knew calling my name, there were high fives. I was in a zone. Smiling at everyone going by. Taking it in.

During this run I was also practicing fuel and I felt good. Glutes, good. Hamstrings, good. Fuel, good. I passed mile 17 and knew the hills were coming. I felt strong and took on those hills. Couldn't believe when I hit mile 20. I kept going for a half mile more. Why? So when I stopped my Garmin it would tell me it was my longest run and new record reached. After this run was when I realized that I could keep going, I could get to the finish line.

How have you used Jasyoga in your training?
I use Jasyoga before my runs and after. I love the Workout Day Warm Up, Running Efficiency Boost, and Quick Post-LR Reset. Or sometimes I just need a hamstring reset or my favorite Booty Lock Mitigation. My training for that day isn't over until I've done my Jasyoga. I've pretty much done most of the videos. My current favorite for race day is Run Visualization and now that I'm tapering, I have added the Taper Meditation. These videos easily fit into my daily schedule and life.

What's your go-to video before and/or after a big workout?
My go-to video before a big workout is Workout Day Warm Up or Starting Line Warm Up. After, I have been doing either High Mileage Reset or Sunday Reset. Makes me feel good to use those recovery video's. Find my body recovers faster and feels better when I do Jasyoga.

It's mile 24, what will you think of to pull you to that finish line?
I will remind myself I have trained for this and know the finish line is only 2.2 miles in front of me. I will remind myself I can do anything for two miles. I will remember how I pulled myself through my double long run. I will think of my daughters and my husband. I will think about all those running with me. All my sister heroes. All my Oiselle birds. I will remind myself that I have been dreaming of crossing that finish line for 22 years. Then I will see it, I will see that finish line. 

Do you have a mantra?
I am Fit, I am Fast, I am fearless.

And we have to ask…what's in your celebration Venti cup? 
Iced Venti Cold Brew with extra ice, coconut milk, and hazelnut.

Follow Liz on Marathon Monday (and beyond)!
Boston Bib: 27466
Twitter: @runningonventi
Instagram: @runningonventi

And keep sharing your own journey with #athletesforyoga!