A blog by runners. For runners.

Women's Health's RUN 10 FEED 10 Chicago Action Hero

In this blog post, Women's Health's RUN 10 FEED 10 Chicago Action Hero Mary Santos shares how she got started running, and why she's excited about the upcoming race.

WalkJogRun: Why did you decide to sign up for the RUN 10 FEED 10 event?

Mary Santos: I signed up for the RUN 10 FEED 10 probably for the same reason everyone else did; it was an opportunity to do what I LOVE doing most while helping a great cause! I remember reading the ad in Women's Health Magazine that said, “looking for Action Heroes” and though I don't consider myself a “Hero”, I thought doing this race would be a great first step in that direction.

WalkJogRun: Why is it important for you to run the RUN 10 FEED 10?

Mary Santos: There are starving children all around the world. Solving that problem starts here, in our country and in my home city. Each person I recruit to run this race feeds 10 mouths. I can't see any other reason not to participate in such a great race.

WalkJogRun: Which event are you participating in?

Mary Santos: I am participating in the RUN 10 FEED 10 in the beautiful Windy City of Chicago on September 23rd. GO BEARS!

WalkJogRun: What's it like running in Chicago?

Mary Santos: Like being given the best backyard an athlete can ask for. We have all the room to play, and have some of the best athletic retail shops that offer all the apparel we need. Rain, sleet, snow, or shine, they've got you covered! Chicago's like a box of chocolate…you never know what kind of weather you're gonna get. ;)

WalkJogRun: What's the running community like in Chicago?

Mary Santos: Understanding. You have those mornings where you're having a tough run and the weather is just real crappy. You start talking to yourself and ask, “Why am I out here again? Maybe I should just turn around and head home” . But THEN you come across another runner going the opposite direction. You guys don't wave at each other, don't say a word to each other, but you both just give each other, the “runner's nod”. You both UNDERSTAND that you're out there for a reason, whether it be to train for your first 10k, workout for that upcoming beach vacation, or just to start the day off right, you're out there, and so are they.

WalkJogRun: How did you get started running?

Mary Santos: AI didn't always want to be a runner. Growing up I wanted to make it in the WNBA. At 5'2, and not much opportunity for practice other than my driveway, I realized maybe being the female version of Michael Jordan wasn't in the cards for me. So one day, during 6th grade gym class, Mr. Wickersham (my PE teacher and also X-Country coach at the time) told me to come out and try out for X-Country. I remember not even owning real running shoes. I'm pretty sure what I wore were aerobic dance shoes or something like that. Regardless of the shoe, my legs fell in love with the sport and from that day on, I left my basketball at home, and asked my mom if we could go out and buy my first pair of running shoes. After making it to conference, sectionals, and state that first year, I knew my legs weren't made to jump, they were made to fly. ;)

WalkJogRun: Are you a morning runner or an evening runner?

Mary Santos: I used to think there was no better way to start your day off than with a run. Now that I live right along LSD, I did find something better than waking up with a morning run; it's waking up for a morning run, AND watching the sun rise while I do it.

WalkJogRun: Have you ever run a 10k before?

Mary Santos: Absolutely. In fact, a 10k is the perfect distance that my boyfriend and I like to squeeze in before getting ready for work. We try to run it at least 3x a week.

WalkJogRun: Did you start with a 5k before moving up to a 10k?

Mary Santos: Yes I did. Actually, just recently I found all of my old race bibs, (yes, I keep all of them). I came across my first ever organized race, The 5k Main Course. I don't even think Chicago does that race anymore, but that was all the way back in 2002. After a few 5ks, 10ks, and a half marathon, my next goal was to do my first marathon. This year will be my 5th.

WalkJogRun: How has your training been going so far?

Mary Santos: This training season has been a hot one, yet successful. I've spent most of my summer training for other races, so I feel well-prepared. I think come race day for the RUN 10 FEED 10, I'd like to change up my pace to be able to run alongside different friends and family who will also be running.

WalkJogRun: What are your running goals after RUN 10 FEED 10?

Mary Santos: To improve my time at this year's Chicago Marathon. Once I accomplish something, all I can hope for the next time is improvement. You only improve with how much you put in, so I know as long as I train, I can only improve. Timing is everything.

WalkJogRun: What's something you've learned since you started running that could help other runners?

Mary Santos: Not every day, and every run will be a good one, but do what you can today, and come back tomorrow. Most importantly, just come back.

WalkJogRun: Do you enjoy any other sports or cross training?

Mary Santos: Absolutely. I cheered my boyfriend on for his triathlon a few years back. After that, I bought my own bike, got in a pool, and did my first triathlon. I already had the running down, but doing a B.R.I.C.K. is very different than a regular run. If you don't know what B.R.I.C.K means, some like to say that's how your legs feel after getting off the bike and transitioning to a run. After completing my first international distance triathlon, I went on to do my first Half-Ironman this past summer. I've got a lot of work and quite a few years ahead of me before I even consider the full Ironman, but I've definitely fallen in love with triathlon-ing. In addition to that I love volleyball. In fact, this season I reunited with some fellow Wheeling Wildcat alumni to play together for a women's volleyball league. Just like the old days!

WalkJogRun: What are your fitness goals and how is the Women's Health 10k going to help you achieve them?

Mary Santos: My fitness goals are to continue racing and being active even after race season is over. The RUN 10 FEED 10 will help me to achieve this because there is always a “race lull” between my last race in August and the Chicago Marathon. Now that I've got the RUN 10 FEED 10 to run in September, I can continue training and keeping my head in the game!

WalkJogRun: What are you excited for the most about the Women's Health Run 10 Feed 10?

Mary Santos:Running with all those who have signed up! Everyone has been so supportive whether it be by signing up for this race, or donating to the Feed Foundation. I cannot wait to just be with my friends and family in such an intimate race and crossing that finish line together.

WalkJogRun: Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Mary Santos: You CAN run a 10k, a 5k, even a marathon. There are so many times I talk to people about the races I do, and the training I've done, and they say, “I could never do that.” Well, you need to know that you CAN. Anyone can, with the right amount of training, dedication, and determination. All you have to do is want to do it. No one will make you, or carry you across the finish line. If you want it, do it because YOU CAN.

This blog post is brought to you by Women's Health. For more information, please visit RUN10FEED10.com.