Runner Spotlight: Robin Martz

I first noticed Robin at the Al Lewis 20-miler on Jan. 3, 2004. She and Betty Blank were right on my heels. I had gone out too fast and Betty passed me before mile 14. As I ran down the big hill just after mile 15, I saw Robin breezing up the hill as if she were running a flat. She would catch me in another mile and put 4 minutes between us in the last 3.5 miles. What a kick!!!

Since that day I’ve seen Robin at the track and at several races. She always puts in a great performance yet remains self-effacing. Next time you see her, wish her luck on her second appearance at Boston. And ask her about her training for her first triathlon!

Q: Robin, what’s your favorite running route?
A: Because I recently moved here from Ann Arbor, Michigan, I’ll say the Potawatomi trail or “the Poto” in Pickney, Michigan. It’s an 18-mile hilly trail that loops around several lakes. Beautiful, but brutal in the winter time, especially running through the snow! I don’t really have a favorite around here, but I’ve been happy with the W&OD’s proximity to my house.

Q: What is your favorite SLR route?
A: I have only participated in 3 SLRs so far. The first time I came late and ran a faster than tempo pace to catch the pack–great motivation to show up on time! The second time I got stuck in front of and behind all SLRers and ended up getting really lost, i.e. having to climb over the cement barrier on one of the bridges, cross I-66, and shimmy up a hill just to get back to Iwo Jima! Considering my first two experiences, I would have to say I enjoyed the third SLR the best. We did it mostly on a dirt trail–a nice run through the woods then through the zoo and back Rock Creek Parkway. Each run has been really nice as I have met some great people.

Q: What SLR trail should Max and other course planners never have charted and exposed unsuspecting runners to?
A: The courses are fine, but can someone do something about that wind?!!?

Q: You are running Boston on April 19. What’s your race strategy? As a second-time participant, what advice would you give first timers?
A: Race strategy for Boston 2004: the non-strategy. I TRIED to run hard last year and fell on my face (not literally!). I got dehydrated as I had trained in single digits/wind chill below zero in Michigan for months and it was 70+ degrees at the start of Boston 2003–ugh! I overheard someone on my bus to Hopkinton last year say “I’m running Boston as a victory lap. The challenge was getting here.” When I was dying at mile 11, I thought to myself I bet that person is having a lot more fun than I am right now! L So, this year, I have no lofty goals in mind?3:45, maybe 4 hours?I will run as fast or slow as I feel like and ENJOY every minute of it! Advice to first timers? ENJOY IT!

Q: What else is on your race schedule this year?
A: Just finished the DCRRC snowball series, will do Cherry Blossom, Boston, Virginia Beach 1/2 Marathon, and then NYC in November. Also, I hope to do my first triathlon in June.

Q: What’s your favorite marathon?
Compared to some DCRRC members, I haven’t done that many. I have run Chicago (1999), Detroit (2001), Nashville (2002), Chicago (2002), Boston (2003), Marine Corps (2003), and Tampa Bay (2004). I would have to say Tampa Bay was the best. I ran it this past January to qualify for Boston and did. It’s a flat course with fewer than 1,000 runners. You start at 6AM and run in the dark for an hour before the warm sun comes up. I remember lots of water and Gatorade stops and VERY friendly course volunteers. In fact, after the race, a guy walked up to me with a bag of potato chips and offered me some. He wasn’t even a volunteer. He was just walking around giving them out and congratulating people! Too cool! The run around the bay is beautiful and the weather was a balmy 65 when I finished. I also like the out and back along the bay as I got to see the lead runners at mile 23 (I was only at mile 17!). I highly recommend it. Only downside: cobblestones at mile 21–OUCH! It only lasts about a half mile though.

Q: What’s your marathon PR?
A: 3:31 at Tampa Bay. Because its such a small race, that got me third in my age group (30-34), woo-hoo!

Q: What’s your most memorable race?
A: Marine Corps Marathon 2003. My older brother was running it, and it was his first marathon. We ran the first two miles together at about a 9:30 pace. I never caught my pace team and finished 7 minutes too slow to qualify for Boston. I waited at the bottom of the hill of Iwo Jima after I finished in 3:47 and as soon as I saw my brother coming I threw off my foil blanket, tucked my finisher’s medal in my shirt, and ran up that stinkin’ hill AGAIN to finish with him. I talked him up that hill and all the way to the finish and we crossed the finish line together. AWESOME! I was so proud of him as he is an officer in the Navy, was deployed on the USS San Jacinto in the Med and Red Sea during the War, and had to do some training runs on a treadmill in a cramped gym below deck staring at a steel grey wall. YUCK!

Q: What’s your race from hell?
A: All of the races where I didn’t qualify for Boston tie for first. Boston 2003 a close second. I was so dehydrated and completely gorked out that I told my friend, Jenn, who had flown from DC to run the last 10K with me, that I didn’t think I could finish–meanwhile we were in front of the bandstands and past the 26 mile marker. She looked at me like I was NUTS!

Q: What is your most surreal run?
A: I ran laps on my brother’s ship, the USS San Jacinto, with the Captain. I was aboard with other family members from Jacksonville, Florida, to Norfolk, Virginia, at the tail end of his six-month deployment. Before we ran, the captain of the ship, a runner, called the bridge to have the boat slowed down so we wouldn’t be rocking as much!

Q: What was the hardest thing you had to do to get in your daily run?
A: While on our family island in northern Ontario, I have to take a 20 minute boat ride to the mainland to run down a dusty dirt road avoiding bears and other wildlife.

Q: WWhen/how were you inducted into the running cult?
A: In 1999, I was playing on a men’s lacrosse team in MI and wanted to train for a marathon. I ran the Dexter-Ann Arbor half-marathon in May and at lacrosse practice the next day blew out my knee. Torn ACL, torn meniscus, bruised femur, fractured tibial plateau–basically a mess. After reconstructive knee surgery in July and months of rehab ending in April the next year, I started training for Chicago in June. I ran it four months later in 4:17. I’ve been running ever since and my family calls it my bionic knee.

Q: Have you recruited anyone into the cult?
A: My husband, who is more inclined to bike, has run Nashville and Chicago (2002) and countless half-marathons. My brother (the same first-timer above) is signed up for Cherry Blossom, the Virginia Beach half , and maybe a fall marathon! My grad school friend, Amy, who was more of a swimmer has now completed two half-marathons: Indy and New York.

Q:Does your spouse commend you for your running or gripe about the time you spend training and racing? (Please lie if need be to preserve harmony.)
A: Definitely commends me. As long as I don’t wake him up when I roll out of bed at 7AM on a Sunday to go to a race, he’s OK with it. I’d like to think he enjoys knowing that he always has a run, bike, walk, swim partner when needed.

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 vasoline or other ointments to chafed areas.
A: EAT FIRST–the last DCRRC race I must’ve eaten 20 fudge stripe cookies–someone needs to NOT brings those things to races! I try and go for fruit first and I LOVE cereal (we currently have 12 boxes on our fridge at home, Seinfeld’s got nothing on me!) and I LOVE taking a long, hot shower. Then I ice my knee, during which I eat AGAIN. Do you see a trend developing? I like to keep moving, so I like to go DO something and then, of course, eat. 🙂

Q: What was your worst job?
A: Selling Cutco knives to raise money before heading to Africa in the Peace Corps.

Q: Tell us the funniest aspect of/experience in your current job?
A: Currently unemployed but hoping to soon land a job in my field: international public health.

Q: What books have you read and enjoyed in the last year?
A: I loved The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and also the very funny I’m With Stupid by Gene Weingarten and Gina Barreca. I am currently reading Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. Also currently on my nightstand are Lies and Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right by Al Franken and The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.

Q: Your favorite book?
The Da Vinci Code.

Q: Hot chocolate or espresso drink?
Definitely hot chocolate.

Q: The real news (CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN etc.) or the fake news (Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central)?
I guess the real news. But, I am rarely home to catch it and so like reading the paper instead. I do like the Daily Show. Jon Stewart is a trip!