I have written on my blog a lot about the amazing group I train with here in Baltimore. Sponsored by Falls Road Running store, Team That’s What She Said serves as a training group for many of the elite runners that have come through the area. I am just lucky to tag along for the ride. One of said runners is Christine (Chrissie) Ramsey. I first met Chrissie in 2008 when I moved to the area. Looking for a reason to meet more runners, I agreed to run 200s with her at the track. In my non-track-knowing brain, I figured 200s wouldn’t be that bad because they aren’t that long. Seemed like an appropriate way to break myself in. If I knew that I had agreed to run 200s with a future Olympic Trials marathon qualifier…I probably would have made alternative training plans that day! Nonetheless, Chrissie met me that day and sure enough, we ran 200s. Granted, I was quite a ways behind. But that is one of the great qualities Chrissie has – She appreciates all of the people in the training group….she would have never turned me away despite being slower than her. As recently as October 23rd, Carly and I ran into Chrissie in Baltimore as we were beginning the tempo portion of our long run. Chrissie threw away previous route plans of the day and helped Carly drag me through the rest of the run!
Since 2008 my own knowledge about competitive running has evolved and my appreciation and respect for the athlete Chrissie is has grown as well. When I am going to be spectating a race that Chrissie is running I am excited, because I know she will put on a good show. Watching her run is fun. One of my favorite memories of watching her race was at the 2008 Baltimore marathon. This was not her goal event for the season, it was more of a testing ground for her legs. We watched Chrissie come through the half in about 1:34. She then proceeded to drop the hammer and negative split the second (harder) half of the marathon with a 1:24….ending up at 2:38. That phrase of dropping the hammer really is the best way to describe the way Chrissie races. It is a really amazing thing to watch the moment when it happens, when her form changes, her eyes lock forward, and you can just see the utter concentration.
Unfortunately I missed one of the most recent times she raced to greatness, no doubt dropping that hammer yet again, to qualify for the marathon Olympic Trials by running the Philly Half Marathon in November. After a tough spring in which she faced a serious injury while peaking for a marathon-trials attempt, many athletes would have written off the year as a loss. Chrissie chose the other route, and tells about it in her own words here.
As a result, she is heading to Houston this weekend!! I caught up with Chrissie and asked her to answer a few quick questions. Here’s the interview:
What is your favorite workout? Progression runs. I do them about once a week for 60-85 minutes starting at a comfortable pace and gradually getting faster until my last mile is at a 10K race effort.
I also find that 10-20 x 1 min hard one min easy starting at 5K effort and progressing to mile effort or faster is a great way to build speed without overtaxing myself.
Generally I don’t like running on the track or taking too many splits. I find that doing things based on effort and perception keeps me from pushing myself beyond my current fitness level. If I let my body tell me how fast I’m able to run instead of the other way around I’m more likely to avoid mental burnout and injury. And it’s a lot more enjoyable 🙂
What is your favorite place to run in Baltimore? Honestly, I don’t love running in Baltimore. There are a lot of great people to run with, but not a lot of green space. I do most of my workouts in Druid Hill park and mix up my long runs between the city and Patapsco state park. Mostly I try to find places with as little traffic and road crossings as possible since I tend to get too focused on the running to pay attention to my surroundings, especially if I am doing anything at effort.
What is your favorite quote to run by? “Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.” ~Erica Jong
And to live by? “Life does not accommodate you, it shatters you. It is meant to, and it couldn’t do it better. Every seed destroys its container or else there would be no fruition.” ~Florida Scott-Maxwell
Do you train with an iPod? Yes, pretty much anytime when I am not doing a workout or running with people. I also commit other “serious athlete” faux pas like running on the treadmill in cold weather and eating cheesecake icing directly out of the container.
Does being faster than most men ever get old? Absolutely not. I have nothing else to say here.
Putting the marathon aside, would you rather go to the Olympics for the Javelin or Synchronized Swimming? Tough call. The Javelin scares me, but I also can’t hold my breath for very long, I also don’t swim very well. So I’m going to go with choice C: curling.
THANK YOU AND GOOD LUCK, CHRISSIE! You can follow her on Saturday and beyond at @CRamsey1982!