Name: Julie Lawson
Self-described age group: 41
Residence: Takoma, D.C.
Occupation: I am the Director of the Mayor’s Office of the Clean City, which means I work with agencies and advise Mayor Bowser on environmental policy, particularly on trash and litter. Before this, I was founder and executive director of Trash Free Maryland. I love the Anacostia River, Chesapeake Bay and oceans!
Volunteer roles in the running world: I loved coaching for Girls on the Run, and especially their middle-school program, Girls on Track. The girls inspired me every day.
Why you run: Over the years, the reasons have varied–fitness, clearing my head, burning off my dog’s energy. The reason I keep at it is because it makes other things I like to do, like riding my bike or hiking, easier and more fun.
When did you get started running: I started running regularly in 2003. I was one of those who started with a marathon from the get-go, knowing that I needed a lofty goal to pursue in order to build fitness into my lifestyle. It took a couple tries to really commit to the level of training needed to do it well, and then it became my life for the next decade.
Have you taken a break from running: I’ve backed off a lot since having my son in 2011, but I still run at least one race every year (Cherry Blossom!). I tend to spend summers on my bike.
Training shoe: Saucony Ride
Coach or training group: None. I used Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning plans when I was learning how to train.
The hardest race you’ve ever run: Bull Run Run, 2009. A month or so prior, I had set out to run the AT through Maryland solo, and I sprained my ankle about 7 miles in. And then I kept going. At Washington Monument State Park, I gave in and called my ride to come get me. I probably could have finished, but it wasn’t fun anymore. Then a couple weeks after that, I ran the old National Marathon. My ankle was killing me; when a friend saw me at the mile 21 water stop and encouraged me to quit, it only motivated me to keep going. Then I showed up to Bull Run Run in April and slogged through the lonely hills of Northern Virginia. I was the last official finisher under 13 hours; I joked with my friends who had finished in half the time that I ran twice as long as they did. I’m really super proud of it, even if now I realize how dumb all that was.
Most adventurous decision you’ve made with your running: If the above story isn’t enough, maybe running Cherry Blossom 10 weeks after giving birth counts.
Running mentors: I get inspiration from Kara Goucher and Mike Wardian’s Twitter.
My favorite place to run in the D.C. area is: I can usually be found on Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park.
Favorite local trail: The C&O Canal towpath, especially around Widewater and Old Angler’s up to Great Falls, is my happy place.
My best race was: I had a blast at Steamtown when I challenged myself to run without a watch, and just pace myself on feel. I ended up finishing 20 minutes ahead of my goal time.
Favorite local race: While I generally prefer small races and running alone, I love Cherry Blossom. Even with the crowds, it’s a well-managed, straightforward race on a pretty course.
Ideal post-run meal: Strawberry milkshakes are the best.
Favorite flavor of gel, gu, etc: Plain Honey Stingers, cherry Clif Blocks, or a baggie of Teddy Grahams. The Teddy Grahams hold up better than regular graham crackers and create less waste than gels.
Pet peeve: Off-leash dogs. I don’t care if your dog is friendly, mine doesn’t want to be bothered.
Goals: I still think someday I’ll do a 100-miler. In the meantime, now that my son is older and able to run or ride his bike alongside me, I’m hoping to fold regular running back into my life again.
Your advice for a new runner: The long runs are important but consistency is even more so. Spending time training yourself for consistency, and building a base, will make training for a race that much more successful. Bonus: that base stays with you for a long time.
Favorite running book: Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall
Song in your head during a run: I had No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” in my head for hours when I ran the JFK 50 Mile. I don’t even like the song that much.
Have you dealt with a major injury: Knock on wood, I’ve been lucky.
Running quote: Kara Goucher, in a 2009 issue of Running Times: “My best races have been when I decided right from the get-go, I’m here, I’m going to go until I blow up.”
Why is the D.C. area a great place to be a runner: We are really fortunate to have so many trails and interesting routes right here, and even more a short drive away. The humidity makes us stronger!