Name: Caitlin Briere
Self-described age group: 30-34
Residence: Old Town Alexandria
Occupation: Federal Employee
Volunteer roles in the running world: I’ve been volunteering each year at an aid station at the Umstead 100-mile race down in Raleigh, North Carolina. A few friends and I have made an annual girls’ weekend out of it.
Why you run: Because it helps me feel strong physically and mentally. I manage stress much better when I run regularly, and I find that I feel more energetic and am more productive when I start the day with a run or cross-training workout. Running also gives me necessary “me time” when I don’t have to be accountable to anyone else or focus on anything other than putting one foot in front of the other. Also because it helps balance out my massive sweet tooth!
When did you get started running: I ran XC for two seasons in high school freshman and sophomore years (2000 and 2001), but I’d really only joined to make friends in a new school, and I kind of hated the running part! I quit after the fall of sophomore year and didn’t run again until I started Couch to 5K in June 2011. I liked the more gradual approach and have stuck with it ever since.
Have you taken a break from running: I took a 10-year break between high school XC and starting to run again for myself. Since I started Couch to 5K in the summer of 2011, I’ve only taken breaks necessitated by injuries.
Training shoe: Hoka One One Clifton 6 at the moment, though I love my Altra Timps for the trails.
Coach or training group: I’ve been running with the Pacers 14th Street fun run group for several years, since it was the Pacers P Street group!
The hardest race you’ve ever run: Patapsco Valley Trail Fest Marathon in September. It was my 21st marathon but first trail marathon, and I was not prepared for how much harder it would be, even after spending the summer running lots of shorter trail races. I’ve never been in so much pain during a race, and in a trail race you spend a lot of time alone, which makes it way too easy to sink to some very low mental places. I seriously questioned why I’d ever wanted to run a trail marathon, and whether I wanted to keep racing or even running at all any more. But I’m registered for three more races this year, so thankfully I felt a little more optimistic about my running future after the DOMS went away a few days later.
Most adventurous decision you’ve made with your running: To register for the inaugural Marine Corps 50K! It’ll be my first ultramarathon and given that it’s also the first year that MCM is putting on that distance, I don’t know exactly what to expect on multiple fronts. But MCM holds a very special place in my heart, and I’m excited that my first ultra will be part of this milestone for MCM too!
Running mentors: My friends Carissa, Jen, and Angie. They are incredibly accomplished ultramarathoners who manage to stay focused on the fun, playful side of running while conquering ridiculous mileage.
My favorite place to run in the D.C. area is: The National Mall. Even after all these years, I’m still not tired of running past the monuments and museums. Whether it’s full of tourists after work or nearly empty before dawn, running on the Mall always feels special.
Favorite local trail: For road running, the Mount Vernon Trail. For off-road, you can’t beat the Bull Rull-Occoquan Trail.
My best race was: The 2018 George Washington Parkway Classic 10-Miler. My training had gone really well and it was one of those rare races (for me at least!) where everything came together. It was one of the few times I managed a negative split in a longer race, and I PRed by over 7 minutes to finish in 1:15:40, which was faster than my goal time.
Favorite local race: The Parkway Classic 10-Miler. I’ve done it every year since 2012. Pacers Running does a great job putting it on, and it’s become the highlight of my spring.
Ideal post-run meal: Shake Shack double smoke-shack burger and a beer
Favorite flavor of gel, gu, etc: Campfire S’mores Gu and margarita Clif Bloks
Pet peeve: Shorts that ride up; people who litter on trails; people who walk (or stop to stretch, push strollers, go the wrong way, etc.) in lane 1 of the track; being told that I don’t have the body for distance running – my wall full of race medals would beg to differ!
Goals: My immediate goal is to finish the Marine Corps 50K on Sunday! After that, I’m not really sure. I would love to qualify for and run Boston someday, but I’ve got some big career and life changes happening over the next couple of years that are awesome and exciting, but that mean I don’t feel that I have the time or mental energy I’d need to dedicate myself to shaving those last 9-10 minutes off my marathon time. So after the 50K, I want to take a break from long distances and just run for the fun of it, and maybe focus more on short distances and try to PR in the 5K or 10K.
Your advice for a new runner: I would say don’t compare yourself to any other runner. Everyone comes to running with different histories, different motivations, different goals. Your running journey is entirely your own, and as long as you’re feeling fulfilled with it, you’re doing great!
Favorite running book: Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor.
Song in your head during a run: Lately it’s been Baby Shark thanks to the Nats’ amazing post-season!
Have you dealt with a major injury: Yes, I broke my lower leg in two places playing kickball on the Mall in 2012. It was the summer before I was supposed to run Marine Corps as my first Marathon, and I was devastated to miss it. Once I was able to start running again after being in a cast and a boot, I ramped up too quickly and was sidelined for a while longer with over-compensation and imbalance-related injuries. It was almost a year before I was really running full-strength and healthy again.
Running quote: “If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” – Kathrine Switzer
Why is the D.C. area a great place to be a runner: So many reasons! There are a ton of runners in this area, so no matter when or where I run around DC, other people are running there too. We have some of the most scenic city running available, and it’s also easy to get to super challenging trails within an hour, so we’ve got the best of both worlds in easy reach. I also love how many races are offered in the DC area throughout the year; there’s something for everyone at any distance in pretty much any season.