Dani Micsan turns dedication into PRs and age group honors

Dani Micsan’s name may sound familiar to local runners in the female 60-64 age group.

Micsan, who lives in Reston, turned 60 in early 2019 and won her age group at the Reston 10 Miler on March 3 that year. The next Sunday, she won her age group again at the Pot O’Gold 10K. One week later, she placed second in her age group at the Lucky Leprechaun 5K. 

And plenty more age group honors followed.

“Last year, all I did was train for different races,” said Micsan, who is now 61.   

And, she got faster, too.   

Micsan ran her 5K personal record at the 2019 Baltimore Running Festival, where she completed the BaltiMORON-a-thon challenge — and the King Crab Challenge, which included races earlier in the year. She ran a 5K in 23:58 and then a half marathon in 2:02:02 on the same day, taking second place in her age group in the 5K and third in the half marathon. 

She said she’d done some jogging many years ago and ran a 10K in 1980, but she didn’t really get into running until she was part of an exercise boot camp in the mid-2000s. 

In 2007, the boot camp instructor made the group’s end goal the Herndon Festival 5K.

Micsan, then 48, ran the 5K in 28:29 and placed third in her age group.

She started to run a few races per year, and she got involved with Potomac River Running’s =PR= Training Programs in Reston, which she is still part of.

After realizing she wasn’t getting faster, a coach recommended she try longer distances, she said. She ran her first half marathon in 2013, which was the Divas Half Marathon in DC’s Wine Country. There, she ran 2:15:50, and she’s since gotten her time down by 15 minutes.

“I went from not even being able to run a quarter mile to being able to run a marathon,” Micsan said.

Two years after her first half marathon, Micsan ran her first marathon — the Marine Corps Marathon, which she ran in 5:05:29.

“It was my first miserable experience, and I said I was never going to run another marathon after that,” she said.

It took three years, but she ran the Marine Corps Marathon again in 2018, improving her time to 4:50:56.

Micsan took another shot at the marathon distance in 2019, running the Richmond Marathon in 4:20:20 — just 20 seconds away from the Boston-qualifying time for her age group.

Last June, Micsan earned a senior grand master title at a Maryland RRCA Championship Event Series race by winning her age group with a time of 1:29:28 at the Baltimore 10 Miler.

She kicked off 2020 by completing the Dopey Challenge — a 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon on four consecutive days at Walt Disney World.

After a year of racing, Micsan realized she needed to slow her racing schedule down. Of course, in-person races aren’t happening at this time because of the coronavirus pandemic. But in March, she was recovering from a knee injury.  

In addition to being part of the =PR= group, in her training for the Richmond Marathon, Micsan followed a plan from Run Less, Run Faster, which includes three days of running per week — track, tempo and distance.

To plan her workouts for the program, Micsan used an average 5K time, she said. The paces were just tough enough. 

“When I saw that I could reach those goals, I got more confident and I was able to run a little faster,” she said.

Micsan also normally takes classes at the gym; of course, gyms are currently closed. She likes to do yoga two or three times a week. Yoga originally wasn’t active enough for her, but now, she can see that it’s helped her running — it’s good for the stretching that runners don’t always make time for.

“The older you get, you kind of have to do that,” she said.

She also mentioned spinning and high-intensity interval training classes.

Micsan is retired from a government job, and she plans to stretch out her future training weeks to about 10 days instead of seven, getting the three runs in over 10 days.

“I probably need an extra day in between for recovery at this point,” she said.

Mike Gibbs, one of =PR=’s head coaches, said normally, when someone races so much, he wouldn’t expect all their races to be “A” races, but Micsan is consistent, he said.

He described Micsan as friendly and supportive of other runners. She’ll also take criticism and give feedback, he said.  

“She’s a very energetic and joyous runner,” Gibbs said.

Tory Schulte, who trains with the same =PR= Reston group and is also Micsan’s Chi Omega sorority sister from Colby College in Maine, said Micsan is a social runner and direct person who will let Schulte know if she’s running faster than she should be.

“She’s a very dedicated runner,” Schulte said. “She puts out a plan and she sticks to it.”

Schulte mentioned that if Micsan has 13 miles on the plan, she’ll run 13.1. She also learned about virtual races from Micsan.

Micsan is signed up for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon this fall. She plans to be done with marathons after those, although if her knee cooperates, she’d like to see if she can qualify for Boston.

Micsan hopes to continue to stay healthy.  

“Being able to run into my 80s would be great,” she said.


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