Chris Vettel – Running Should Be Fun

One of the best things about running is the community that runners feel as a whole. I know that I personally love this classification, runner, and that it has inspired other people I know to lace up their shoes and go for a run. What is amazing to me about the sport is that it doesn’t discriminate at all, and no matter what your age, you can start today.

One such person that fits this bill is Chris Vettel. At 55 years young, she decided it would be a good time to start running races. Disneyland was offering an inaugural Neverland 5k race in 2012 and Vettel, with a group of her “Disney Friends” decided that it would be fun. “My first running event was the inaugural Disneyland Neverland 5k. I was nearly 55 and I had never run in my life. I have a core group of friends and I thought I would try it with them.”

Disney is very forgiving in their time requirements of a 16min per mile pace. Even with this lenient pace compared to other races, it still was a daunting task for Vettel. So she started to train, with the goal of being able to walk the race in under the time limit. “We knew we had to train in order to keep the 16 minute per mile time allowance. Walking was my main form of exercise along with a weekly zumba class. I was determined to finish within the time allowed. I often trained with a friend who was preparing for the Avon walk. I would walk several miles with her group each week around local neighborhoods. Then she and I would walk at the San Diego Safari Park or the Zoo to get in some good hills and we occasionally got to stop to look at the elephants. I found myself getting stronger and more confident that I could keep up a 16 minute mile for 3 long miles.”

This race was important to Vettel, and completing it was even more so. “This race was a celebration of sorts for me. A year prior I had open heart surgery and this race would be the one year anniversary of that. I finished the race, exhausted from the effort, and way in the back of the pack, but I finished.” After, she knew she wanted to do it again even though in her words, she still hadn’t run a single step.

It has been three plus years since that race and Vettel still gets outside to train and race. In 2015 alone she has raced eight races already and still has five more to go. For her it is about getting better and stronger. She has gone from running at almost a 17min mile to a 14-15 min mile. “I want to get better. I want to be strong, faster, and truth be told, I want it to get easier. Running is not natural for me. So starting this sport in my mid 50’s was tough. But I’m getting better, and that somehow makes it all worth it. My goal is to finally get to a 12 minute mile.”

Most runners pick races based on the location or the medal that comes with it. A lot of times they will run the same race each year and Vettel is no exception. “I’ve done the Jump Start Your Heart San Diego 5k every year for the last 3 years. I love the charity which supports the Children’s Heart Foundation. The course is beautiful and this year I ran it in 42:35 which is just under a 14 min mile.”

Of course, runners who run a lot of races all have things they look for in a race or try to avoid. “I don’t have a lease favorite race, but there are some things that will make me think twice about signing up for it again. The ease of parking and getting to the race start and the course support. If I have to spend a half hour circling neighborhoods looking for parking, or waiting in line for 45 minutes for the bus to take me to the start, that’s something I don’t care for. Also I am not a fan of races where the last half of the water stations are being taken down or already gone when I go by, especially as I have finished all of my races within the timeframe.”

Vettel surprised me with her answer to the question of what the one thing is she needs to have for a race. “Confidence that I can finish. I put in the training, so now I need to remember that I can do it. It’s easier if I have my Garmin on my wrist, my Sparkle Skirt on with pockets filled, my fitletic belt holding my bib and sports drink, my sunglasses on my head, and a little Skin Glide to keep everything comfortable. But without the confidence in my training, the race could be a struggle.”

Vettel would like to thank all of the following: “Thanks to my walking and training buddies, Jill Foster, Suzy Brase, and Lesley Barrier. My coach Jennifer Gill with Sole Health and wellness and my non-running husband of 37 years, Jim Vettel who supports this crazy running thing I do by giving me the best running gifts and letting me buy Sparkle Skirts and Raw Threads tops. He understands that if I have the fun clothes, I’m more prone to get out there and do the work. After all, running should be fun right?”

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