If you are familiar with the Elites in distance running, the marathon specifically, then you already know who Rita Jeptoo is. But if you are not, then she is the most recent female winner of Boston with a course record. She also won Chicago last year and will be returning in October to defend her Chicago Title.
When I first heard of the opportunity to meet her… I had mixed emotions. Of course I wanted to take advantage of this incredible opportunity but it was also on an evening that happened to be my mom’s last evening in town. So I tried to put it out of my mind… But I just couldn’t. Luckily my mom is awesome and knows how awesome an opportunity this is so she happily gave her blessing.
I stayed at work a little later than normal… which ended up being good since I had major email issues. But once I left I made the short walk to the Blue Line train to go to the Nike Store in Bucktown. The train ride took less time than I anticipated and I was super early… par for the course for me. So I opted to wander around just a bit. Eventually I made my way into the Nike Store.
It was then that I found out that there was a delay and Rita would be a little later than anticipated (due to a run and traffic). I was the first one there so I just hung out and tried to avoid looking at all the pretty things that I really shouldn’t tempt myself with purchasing.
Eventually, one of the coordinators of the event, Lisa, came up to me and we started to chat. It was then that I learned that we would be given an outfit to wear (if we so desired). Of course this thrilled me. First of all, who doesn’t love free stuff? Second, I happen to LOVE Nike bottoms (shorts, tights, capris, etc). Pretty much the only bottoms I run in are Nike… I have one or two pairs of bottoms from other places but I still always prefer my Nike ones. They just fit me well.
Then I decided to take a selfie… Even though I am HORRIBLE at Selfies. If anyone has the secret to good selfies, please let me know.
Shortly after that, Rita arrived. She met with the bloggers privately for a Q&A. Since she is such a huge part of the sport, I had expected her to be a bit more outgoing but she was very shy and soft-spoken. However, she seemed to relax and open up to us quickly. We each asked her a question and she responded honestly to each of us.
We then joined the large group of runners who gathered to go on their weekly training run. Rita was given a mic and she talked openly about her training and a little bit about how she got started.
She used to run a 40K a day in order to travel to/from school. I later found out that she had joked earlier about how she couldn’t believe she had to drive her son to and from school… this is her equivalent of the whole, “I used to walk in the cold and snow up hill both ways to get school” joke that we used to hear.
Her training is intense… She starts out doing 3 a days to get her body prepared for the beating it will undertake. Then she moves to 2 a days but the time she runs each time is longer. This is how she prepares for a marathon. She mentioned that she really does love the Boston course because she likes hills. But she also mentioned that she loves Chicago because of the wonderful crowd support. Chicago is not a course to be taken for granted because it is fast and your competition will be fast as well.
One of the things she mentioned that struck a chord with me was that in order to be an athlete, you should cook your food. You need to eat rice, fish and chicken. Oils are ok but should be consumed in very low quantity. Eating out should be a treat but done seldom. As someone who used to always eat out and almost never cooked who now rarely eats out. I thought it was great advice. She also mentioned mango juice over any other type of juice. Coffee is ok but tea is better.
Once she was done speaking, we took a large group photo and then she took a photo with just the bloggers (which I do not have a copy of). I loved the fact that she wanted a picture with the bloggers on her own personal cell phone. I thought that was very cool. I was then able to get a personal picture with her.
After, a bunch us were chatting for a little bit and we were told a story about how, after she won Chicago last year, she saw herself on the cover of the newspaper and couldn’t get over it. She was so surprised and so giddy at the same time. She is truly down-to-earth and modest. It is very easy to like this incredible women. I look forward to cheering her on when she goes zooming past me around the 9 mile mark in October.