Monumental Runner – Stephanie Balaconis

Name: Stephanie Balaconis

Self-described age group: Female 31-40

Residence: Alexandria

Occupation: Corporate Digital Marketing Manager

Volunteer roles in the running world: I led a running group in Ohio before I moved to D.C. (shout out to Up and Running)

Why you run: I run because it helps me clear my mind and relax.

When did you get started running: I started running in high school with my dad. It was a way to spend time with him and do some conditioning for softball. He was always a runner and had ran a marathon when I was small. I always thought, “how cool it would be if I could do that too!” So, I started running too.

Have you taken a break from running:  I did the Boston to Big Sur Challenge about two years ago and really hurt my left hip/glute area. I had to stop running for 6 months. Now, my mileage is much (much) lower than it was before, but I cherish every mile I’m able to run!

Training shoe: Brooks Glycerin

Coach or training group: I used to be a part of a group in Ohio, but since moving to Virginia, I’ve found that I like running on my own. It gives me time away from the hectic day to decompress. I do OrangeTheory at OrangeTheory Kingstowne about twice a week and love getting in some fast sprints and lifting in with the friendly faces and amazing coaches there.

The hardest race you’ve ever run: Big Sur Marathon

Most adventurous decision you’ve made with your running: I ran the Boston to Big Sur challenge (Run the Boston Marathon, then the next weekend, run the Big Sur marathon). While some people can handle that kind of mileage, it broke me. Years later I’m still getting over the injury I got there.

Running mentors: My dad!

My favorite place to run in the D.C. area is:  Mount Vernon Trail

Favorite local trail:  Burke Lake is a fun trail!

My best race was: The Indianapolis Marathon in 2016. Beautiful weather, great course!

Favorite local race: GW Parkway Classic

Ideal post-run meal: I like to do my runs early, so breakfast, with a LARGE coffee.

Favorite flavor of gel, gu, etc: I’m pretty simple, I like vanilla

Pet peeve: When there’s a large group of people walking towards you taking up the whole side walk and they don’t move over to give you space to pass by.

Goals: I’ve shifted my mindset from chasing a medal and a new PR to just enjoying running! I’ve raced hard, running 50+ miles a week for years and now I’m just enjoying running lower mileage and enjoying the ride. This past year I started doing OrangeTheory and love my OrangeTheory Kingstowne family. I’m aiming to hit a six-minute mile on the treadmill by the end of the year, but I won’t be devastated if I don’t. I am doing the Richmond half in November and the Army Ten-Miler this fall and look forward to experiencing new courses I’ve never seen!

Your advice for a new runner:  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and be sure to enjoy the ride.

Favorite running book: Marathon Woman by Kathrine Switzer. This book is so well written and goes over the history of the marathon, particularly women’s running and women’s marathons.  I actually got to meet Katherine Switzer at the Boston Marathon Expo and she is as cool as this book makes her seem.

Song in your head during a run: currently, “Tempo” by Lizzo

Have you dealt with a major injury: I still am still getting over an injury to my left hip/glute from a race two years ago. I couldn’t run at all for six months. Now I’m just glad to be able to get out there and hit the pavement for however far I can manage.

Running quote: It doesn’t matter if you run 50 miles a week or five miles a week, you’re still a runner!

Why is the D.C. area a great place to be a runner: There’s always somewhere new to explore and a new race to run!

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