FEBRUARY 2014: INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS LLINAS

1) How long have you been a runner and what sparked your interest to begin running?

Though I’ve been an athlete since I was a kid, I did not become a “runner,” per se, until the year 2000, when I trained for and completed my first marathon, the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, VA in March 2000. I’d always loved running, but lacked the mental discipline to make it a daily practice. What got me going in 2000 was the suggestion of a good friend that we train for and do the Shamrock. I was somehow up for the challenge, and have been at it ever since.

2) Where are some of your favorite places to run?

Anywhere outside – especially Ocean City and the southern Delaware beaches during the off-season, with the cool, fragrant ocean air filling my lungs; Ocean Pines, before sunrise and after sunset, on the interior roads, all quiet and mystical; and wooded country roads like Holly Grove Road, Lewis Road, and Sinepuxent Road.

3) What is your “fuel” of choice (aka pre/post workout meals, supplements, etc)? What are your favorite recovery foods after running?

Part of why I love running is that it allows me to eat like a ravenous 14 year old, though I have cut it down a bit to account for the slowing metabolism of a ravenous 48 year old. I do eat a pretty healthy diet, generally –smoothies, cereal, pasta, soups, salads, whole grain breads, assorted juices, almond milk, peanut butter, and a bit of meat here and there. Lots of Gatorade – it’s pretty much a separate food group, for me. I like to be relatively empty when I run, so I don’t eat before early morning runs, and eat pretty light well before daytime and evening runs – fruit, nutri-grain bars, granola bars, and/or bagels with peanut butter. Ice cream is my main vice. And I like a little cake with my frosting.

4) What are some of your goals/accomplishments as a runner?

I would like to run the Boston Marathon at least once. I qualified last year, on a lark (I hadn’t really trained to the distance at that point), but did not qualify by enough to get in. So this year I’ve been training hard with the intent to qualify with 10 minutes to spare. That way I’ll get in without a hitch. I also started doing triathlons, in earnest, in 2009, and have been doing an Ironman a year since 2012. So, of course, I would like to race Kona (the Ironman World Championship course in Hawaii) at some point. And finally, I would like to do the Norseman triathlon in Norway. It’s an extreme Ironman-distance triathlon where you swim in the frigid waters of a fjord, bike over 5 mountain peaks, and do a run where the finish is this tough 6-mile mountain climb. It’s pretty insane. I guess I’m pretty insane. But I love it.

5) What are two hobbies outside of running you enjoy doing?

Swimming and biking, though I don’t know if they count, as they are so closely connected to running for me. Surfing, hiking, and camping. Laying around and reading a good book or watching a good film or tv show. And sleeping – God, I love sleep.

6) What do you love most about running?

The peace and balance it brings me. For me, it’s moving meditation.

7) What’s your most embarrassing running moment?

Letting my ego take hold and going out way too hard at the Seashore Classic Half-Marathon in 2012, straining a hamstring hard at mile 9, and having to walk and then be driven back to the finish line. So unnecessary and foolish. I spent the rest of 2012 getting over that injury.

8) How do you juggle busy life/running?

First off, I make running a high priority. And I’ve reached a point where I need to do it, such that I feel “off” if I miss a couple days. Second, I plan my training – I write it out, and then I follow the recipe. This year I have two big races – the Shamrock Marathon and Ironman Louisville – where I am doing specific training programs to prepare. So back in early November, before the marathon training started, I got a 2014 calendar book at Staples and mapped out my training from mid-November 2013 through late August 2014. I wrote it out, day by day. And I now follow it, pretty strictly. That doesn’t mean that I’m not flexible. Unexpected important stuff always comes up every now and then, and I adjust to deal with it. Sometimes I move runs around. Sometimes I just skip a run. But I always get back to the plan quickly. Finally, I plan and prepare for my daily workout(s) the day before and make sure everything is set – mentally, clothes-wise, course-wise, food-wise, dog-wise, etc.

9) What’s your favorite race and why?

That’s a tough one, because all races, generally, are awesome. Nothing like a good gathering of runners – so healthy and positive and bright – no matter where it takes place. If I had to choose from the races I’ve done, I would have to say I love the OC Half Marathon, because it’s good and long and close to home, and all of my friends are either running the race, working it, or volunteering in some way. I also love the Philadelphia Marathon – it’s such a great race, in a great city, and held at a beautiful time of year, right before Thanksgiving, a great time of year for running. Finally, I love any Ironman anywhere. The atmosphere surrounding an Ironman is incredible – nothing like it anywhere on Earth.

10) What are your favorite stretches after running?

Forward fold, for my hamstrings. Standing quad stretch. Calf stretches, leaning forward against a wall and/or letting your heels hang off a stair. Pigeon, for my hips.

11) What part does running play in your life? (Are your loved ones runners?)

It is central to my existence. It is my spiritual practice. As for my loved ones, my dad has always been a runner, and I think that has had a big impact on me. And though neither of my boys were much involved in athletics growing up, my older son has gotten involved in running, and often runs with me when he’s home. I expect the same will happen with my younger son eventually. I look forward to helping each of them run their first marathon at some point in the future.

12) Why did you start running (aka, health, family, friends, or something else entirely)?

I first started running seriously, back in 2000, on a challenge to train for and complete a marathon. I stuck with it, to an extent, because I got hooked on the moving meditation and stress relief associated with the experience. As well, I think there was a certain extent to which I was into it for vanity’s sake – I was in my mid-30’s, with many of my friends of the same age letting themselves go, and this was a means by which I could stay in shape, look good, and continue to eat and drink what I wanted (I was a pretty hard partier). Then, in late 2005, my world fell apart, and though I’d already been running pretty seriously to that point, I recommitted myself to the experience with a renewed vigor, far more so as a spiritual practice, far less so as an ego booster, and ultimately as a grounded means towards the end of slowly putting my life back together, one day at a time.

13) What is your favorite cross-training activity and why?

Yoga. Definitely yoga. I started doing yoga back in June 2012 to help address a hamstring strain, and I was immediately drawn the bright, centered, and positive vibe of the teachers, the participants, and the classes. For me, it’s really hard, as I’m very tight – a veritable “tin man” in a room of fit and flexible women and (occasionally) men. But the more I do it, the more I get into it, the more I get out of it, and the more I like it. Plus, yoga is an ancient spiritual practice, and, aside from the increased flexibility and groundedness, what it teaches me is applicable to running and triathlon, specifically, and life, generally.

14) What is your biggest accomplishment or what are you most proud of in your life outside of running?

Getting and staying clean and sober.

15) What advice would you give a newbie runner?
Start slow and short. But start. Do it daily. Move through the initial pain and confusion. It will pass. Stay slow and short, and increase your time and distance slowly. There’s no rush. You are in competition only with yourself – the little voice inside of you that wants to stop. Stretch a lot, especially afterwards. Use good running form. Match your breath to your stride – breathe in for 2, 3, or 4 strides, then breathe out for the same. And, finally, be easy, and kind, and patient with yourself and your progress. Being a runner is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time. And smile . . .

A hangout is a web-based tool created by google for communicating through http://writemyessay4me.org video

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>