Things are going to heat up with our next featured member in this month’s Meet A Trail WhippAss!! I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and becoming very good friends Heather for many years! We first became friends at our road running club Raritan Valley Road Runners in central NJ and developed the love of trail/ultra running together! Recently, our bond has gotten even tighter when she became an officer for TWA!! Not only do I think she is a badass athlete she is also the most compassionate veterinarian you will ever meet!
First, what is your name?
Do you have a nickname?
Not really. When I first started running they called me “One Speed McGee.” Now my Trail WhippAss name is “VetRunner.” A good friend of mine wants to add “crazy” in there for some reason. So I guess it would be, ”Crazy VetRunner.” We’ll see if it sticks!
How old are you?
Where were you born?
Where are you living now?
What do you do for a living?
Do you speak any other languages?
I dabbled in languages (Italian/French), but I do not speak any fluently
What age did you start running?
Why did you start running?
Probably like many people, I was dealing with a lot of adversity in many areas of my life at the time. I ran to stay healthy and de- stress. I quickly became attached to that great feeling you get after a run.
Why and when did you start running trails?
A few people from Raritan Valley Road Runners (RVRR) ran trails, so I tried it one day. After that there was no turning back.
Do you have a running idol? If so, who is he/she and why are they your idol?
Kilian Jornet is pretty inspiring. He has just accomplished so much at such a young age. He seems so natural when he runs; even when he is running the scariest, most gnarly trails. I love his passion and his appreciation for nature. He always seems to take time to soak it all in and take pictures and enjoy every moment.
I also admire and can really relate to, Molly Sheridan. She is an ultra-marathoner who ran her first marathon at the age of 48. She injured herself prior to this marathon and was told by the doctor that she should not run….that she was too old to run. I read her book recently. She did everything she could on her own to get herself better and prove this doctor wrong. When I read the part about her sending a "screw you" letter to the doctor who told her she was too old to run, with a picture of her at the marathon finish line, I immediately liked her. What a determined and awesome person!
Where is the best place that you've run? or where was the most interesting place you've ever run?
So far, hands down, the Grand Canyon R2R2R.
Where was your most favorite race?
Probably Salomon Pinelands Trail Festival (50 miler). They put on a well organized race! It was also my first time seeing Maine and I went with a great group of friends. There is nothing better than combining a road trip/vacation/race/run all in the same package!
What's the longest trail distance you've ever run?
I just finished my first 100 miler - Rocky Raccoon 100
What is your favorite trail distance to run?
50Ks are by far my favorite distance. I think it’s far enough to enjoy hours and hours out in the woods or on the trails, but it’s not super intimidating and there’s always time to have some fun for the rest of the day!
What's the most you've paid for a race?
I suppose that would be Rocky Raccoon - I believe it was $200.
Where is the farthest you've travelled for a race?
So far, Wisconsin.
What's the highest elevation you've ever run?
The Grand Canyon
What's the longest distance you've ever run on a treadmill?
I have not run on a treadmill in years, but I did 15 miles on one once. It was incredibly boring!
What's your next trail running goal?
My big goal for the year was the 100 miler, which I just accomplished. It was my first one, so I was pretty excited about it. I suffered from an injury three weeks prior to the 100 miler. But I trained so hard and all of the endurance was there, so I ran it on an injured knee. It was painful. I was pretty proud of myself for pushing through that, because the from the beginning it proved to be a huge mental and physical challenge. The next big goal after that was set to be my 95 mile race in Scotland in June. However, due to the knee injury I may have to forgo this race and make my next goal getting healthy and strong! And save Scotland for next year! Since I have started running a few years ago, I have run many many races and have not taken any time off....I think my body is trying to tell me something!
Do you do something quirky when you're running?
Hmmm....I’m not sure. If I do, no one has ever told me! I am very aware of the fact that I have a horrible short term memory and a horrible sense of direction. Two things that you would think are pretty crucial for a trail runner! So sometimes I make ridiculous funny comments that pertain to this flaw of mine and I get tortured by my running friends.
What is your favorite pre-race meal?
I LOVE bananas with peanut butter and sprouted grain toast with avocado and a bit of salt. And of course, several cups of coffee!!
What's your favorite food choice during ultras?
Potatoes and salt. I just had Nutella on a bagel at my recent race and that was pretty tasty! Recently I have started to make my own “energy bites” (oats, coconut, peanut butter, flax, chia seeds, honey, chocolate). In the cold months I love the ramen soup they have at the races.
What's your favorite post race meal?
Beer. Haha! I’m not too particular about my post race meal. I try to get some veggies and protein in there. I usually do enjoy a nice beer after I have worked so hard.
What can you not run without?
I usually feel pretty naked without my watch. I definitely use my GPS watch for mileage/pace etc. But I delete all of the data. I have never uploaded, saved or recorded anything.
What's on your mind when you cross a finish line?
It depends on the race. Sometimes I am just so glad to be done and excited that I conquered another race or distance. But every once in a while I’m a little sad it’s over; like I want to run more....get more out of it.
If anyone in the world could congratulate you at the end of a race who would it be and why?
This is going to sound really sad. And I debated whether or not I should write it. But this whole thing is about being honest and getting to know each other. I would have to say, my husband. I would be so happy if he were waiting for me at the finish to hug me and congratulate me.
Do you have a running philosophy? If so, what is it?
I do. Work hard, but always thoroughly enjoy it. I try to take in my surroundings, take pictures, laugh, enjoy nature. And if I am running a race, I make sure to encourage other runners and I am very grateful to those people volunteering for that race. I am very thankful that I am healthy enough to be able to pursue my passion. I never want to take that for granted. Never.
What's your preferred terrain to run?
B. Flat rail trail
C. Rolling hills single track
D. Gnarly roots and rocks with tons of elevation gain
E. Combination of above
I enjoy trail much more than road....so it’s probably all of the above, with the exception of A. I love the gnarly roots, rocks, etc. I think that technical, difficult trail are by far my favorite. But sometimes it’s also nice to have a terrain out in the woods or on the trails that are less challenging, where you can run with friends and not have to concentrate so hard on your footing.
Do you own any TWA gear? If so, which one is your favorite? (If not, why don't you??)
Of course I do!! I have a visor, singlets, t-shirts, sweatshirt, sunglasses, a neat bag! The visor has come in super handy!
If you could have any superhero power what would it be?
It sounds pretty cheesy, but I would like be able to communicate with animals. I love running, but I also love being a veterinarian. I get pretty attached to my patients. Sometimes it pains me to know an animal is suffering and to not be able to fix it or know why.
If you could go anywhere on the planet for free where would it be?
It’s not really exotic, but I still have not been to France. I am a Francophile who has never actually seen the country. I love all things French. (Language, music, food, wine, poetry, etc.) This needs to be fixed!
What was the most badass thing you've ever done?
Running the Grand Canyon twice in one day was pretty bad ass for me! The Escarpment Trail Run was also pretty challenging.
If we are talking non-running bad-assery, I am a tattoo, piercing type of gal. I have a few tattoos....I had a tongue piercing that I miss every so often.
Tattoos: 1) First tattoo when I was 18 years old on my lower back - says “Security is a kind of death.” Tennessee Williams quote which means, don’t stand on a square foot of stable ground - live life - take risks. I think he realized that when you are “comfortable,” have money and are “secure” sometimes that is when ennui takes over...when you are sipping a drink lounging next to your kidney-shaped heated pool. 2) Second Japanese Haiku on my left hip which means to have patience/ to let life carry you (this advice will probably come in handy now while I am injured and need to let my body heal!) 3) Right wrist “Amor Fati” Nietzsche quote with an ouroboros to symbolize eternal return. Amor fati means love your fate. It essentially means, if you love your life and love who you are now, you wouldn’t want to change anything about your life or your past. Everything you have experienced thus far has made you who you are. Hypothetically, if you love who you are now, you would wish to live your life EXACTLY the same over and over again - of course, all of the joy, happiness, love; but also all of the pain and suffering. If any ONE thing were different, YOU would be different. 4) “Alis volat propriis” - She flies with her own wings. This is my most recent tattoo on my left foot. It essentially means that I am a fiercely independent, free spirited woman. The wing and the location of the tattoo also allude to my passion for running!
How did you hear of or become a Trail WhippAss (TWA)?
Through friends like Shelby!