Pacific Association/USATF conducted its annual Long Distance Running Awards Banquet on Feb. 19 to honor the outstanding individual athletes, teams, and volunteers who participated in the four 2011 PA/USATF LDR Grand Prix circuits (Short LDR, Long LDR, Cross Country, and Ultrarunning), and in PA/USATF’s Physically Challenged division. The banquet was capably organized and hosted by the Lake Merritt Joggers & Striders Running Club.
Magdalena Lewy Boulet was the guest speaker the Awards Banquet. Her talk was highlighted in the April-May issue of California Track & Running News. Here are the highlights from the Q & A follow-up.
What’s a typical day like for you? How do you fit it all in—having a family, being a mother, and being a world-class athlete?
Good question. It’s never the same. Usually, my son is my alarm clock. It might be at 6 in the morning. Right now, he’s really into rock ‘n’ roll music, so he’s rocking out to Led Zeppelin at 6:30. I make oatmeal for him every morning. He doesn’t know any better, so that’s good. Then, I take him to school and go on my morning run. I have the privilege of having many people to run with. It makes my running much more fulfilling, even if takes 10 text messages the evening before.
Then, I usually head to strength work which takes me 30 to 40 minutes. I have a lot of administrative work that I do for the Bay Area Track Club and for the coaching I do. (Editor’s Note: Magda is a founder of the club, formed in 2009 to support Olympic athletes, develop emerging elite athletes, and promote running, health, and fitness among local high school and youth groups.)
Before I know it, it’s time to pick up Owen from school. Sometimes, if he has something going on after school, I can get in another run. But usually, it’s at home on the treadmill. My husband [Richie Boulet, a former elite miler who co-owns TRANSPORTS running store in Oakland] usually works until 7 p.m. I’ve gotten very good at cooking and treadmill running at the same time. I can put certain grains on the stove and be done with my 4–6 mile treadmill workout when the food is ready. So you get creative. I think the worst thing you can do is give up a routine that works.
Richie has always been my [role model], putting his life and passion into what he really loves. Our running at the elite level never really overlapped. When he quit running is when I found the marathon. He’s my biggest supporter. I really couldn’t have done this without him.
What was it like running in Poland at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships (2010), since you were born there?
I was never a runner when I was young in Poland. My dad was a swimmer, so I swam, too. So I don’t really know the running community in Poland, although their athletics federation has been very supportive of me over the years. But World Cross Country was an amazing experience. I was competing with a team of American women who were capable of winning medals. People in Poland were talking about that and I actually understood what they were saying. It was very emotional for me, spurring me on to perform at my highest level.
My family [in Poland] drove for 5 hours from the middle of nowhere to watch the race. I brought my son there to meet them. My grandmother was 98, and I knew it was the last time I’d see her. She passed away at the age of 99. It was really full of excitement, and we really kicked butt. (Editor’s Note: Magdalena finished 20th individually and 3rd American, helping the U.S. women’s team earn a bronze medal.)
How did you gravitate to the marathon from shorter distances? Was it difficult, and how did you change your training?
When I finished college, I was running the 5000m, and I wasn’t that good in the mile. The specialty of my coach at Cal was probably the 800m and 1500m, but I showed very little talent in those events. So I gravitated to the 5K, which is the longest event that he could handle—watching. I never ran a 10K in college.
After college, I obviously wanted to continue running. I’d only had 3 years of real training in the sport. But I had two part-time jobs. I was completely lost and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. It wasn’t really “in” to be a professional runner unless you were at the very top. I stepped off the track after finishing third at NCAAs, and it was, like, “it was great having you here.” No one really said I should continue running. So I was done. But luckily, Richie—my boyfriend at the time—supported me.
I found the marathon because it was really difficult for me to get up really early before work and do track work. If you want to run distances at 5K or below, you need to give your body an opportunity to run fast. Doing workouts at 7 a.m. isn’t the optimum setup for a 5K. It’s not what your body could be doing at 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. when your body is fully awake. But I could crank out 10-mile runs at 5 a.m. if I had to.
The training itself isn’t that much different for marathons. Basically, I’m still doing the same workouts. The mileage is a little bit higher. The amount of 200s and 400s [intervals] that you do for a 5K is definitely greater than what you do for a marathon, but you still do them. The transition really wasn’t that difficult. But the most wonderful thing is that when you train for a marathon, and then come back and race the shorter distances, you get amazing results. You just need a little sharpening up and tweaking the ratio of speed work to mileage. You really learn the power of endurance training, and all the miles that you’ve put in.
What is your favorite and most memorable race?
That’s the race when you line up at the starting line, you start racing, and everything is just clicking. Everything falls into place, and you feel that you can do anything that day. At the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials [where Lewy-Boulet finished second in a PR at that time of 2:30:19—Editor]. I really thought I was going to walk away with the win until Deena [Kastor] caught me at mile 22, and I realized that everything was getting harder. Up to that point, everything was just cloud nine.
We can train for years, but those kinds of races don’t come very often. But when you get that one great race, it’s worth all the struggles that you’ve had. You never give up. That one race makes your whole running career worth it.
by Mark Winitz
Original article found HERE.