Chandra Graham is the club’s newest ultra runner. At her first attempt at the 50K distance, the Hat Run on March 27, Chandra exceeded her goal time with a performance that placed her among the top 25 female finishers on a muddy, rocky, hilly course. Fortunately, Chandra is sure-footed and loves the challenges of trail running, which is good because her next ultra is another tough course! Chandra’s grueling racing schedule reflects her dedication to running courses and distances that many seasoned marathoners would never undertake.
Q: Chandra, what’s your favorite running route?
A: For weekday runs it’s Custis Trail, as I live near it and don’t have time to explore other options.
Q: What is your favorite SLR route?
A: What’s your favorite SLR route? Ross Drive–the site of one of my first SLR runs and the first time I truly enjoyed a run. (Thanks for leading the way, Max.)
Q: What SLR trail should Max and other course planners never have charted and exposed unsuspecting runners to?
A: Mount Vernon out and backs, Custis out and backs, C & O out and backs, etc.
Q: You had a big speed breakthrough in the marathon at Houston in December 2003. Tell us about your experience there.
A: I just didn’t walk when I felt tired. Sadly, I had never before realized you should actually run the entire thing.
Q: You’ve done FOUR (!) marathons already in 2004. What made you so ambitious or (alternatively) crazy (!)?
A: I decided to do at least one ultra or marathon every month this year to annoy my mother. So every race suddenly became a training run for the next, and then it started to seem normal. But you don’t want to tell anyone at work that you’ve run two marathons and one 50K so far in March, it just doesn’t sound good.
Q: You’ve set out to do at least three ultra races this year. Tell us about them and how you caught the ultra bug.
A: I caught the ultra bug the day after I completed my first marathon. It was inevitable. They involve harsh environmental conditions and tend to reward the slow and steady.
Q: When you got married in February, did your husband know he’d be crewing at your ultras or did you spring that on him after the ceremony?
A: He still doesn’t know–I’m shooting for a successful marriage.
Q: What’s your most memorable race?
A: The HAT 50K: my first ultra, my longest run to date, first time running in water, first time running in real mud, first time running behind a horse, first time I couldn’t walk the day after a race. And the first time I got a hat for finishing a race.
Q: What’s your race from hell?
A: Marine Corps 2003 felt like it would never end. I only finished because I heard Richard Rapine finished Chicago after getting some medical aid, which inspired me. Also, I realized that, since I was downtown and had no money, I would have to walk the distance back to Iwo Jima anyway. So I walked to the finish and threw the medal in the bottom of a drawer.
Q: After a race, which do you prefer: (a) beer and ice cream, (b) a hot shower, (c) blister popping, (d) complaining about the weather/course, (e) applying Vaseline or other ointments to chafed areas.
A: Can I choose a double margarita with salt and an early bedtime??
Q: What was your worst job?
A: UPS complaint line customer service agent. (“No sir, I do NOT know where your package is!”)
Q: Tell us the funniest aspect of/experience in your current job?
A: Nothing funny about it, I have a very stressful job.
Q: Where is the creepiest place you ever gone to/stayed at for work or a race?
A: Lone Pine Trailer Park in Petersburg, Virginia.
Q: What’s your favorite book?
A: It’s not very PC for a modern woman, but John Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom series recently changed my life somehow.
Q: Hot chocolate or espresso drink?
A: Mocha, the best of both worlds.
Q: The real news (CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN etc.) or the fake news (Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central)?
A: Real news–the newspaper (with fashion ads & crosswords)
Q: What question didn’t we ask that you’d like to answer?
A: Which SLRer do you most admire/aspire to be like? I have always admired Jessie Sackett, who seems like a serious runner and a tough person.