Monumental Runner – Alayna Bigalbal

Name: Alayna Bigalbal

Self-described age group: 25

Residence: Reston

Occupation: Civil Engineer

How has your running changed in the last few months: My running has definitely become more solitary due to the current pandemic and race cancellations. However, I am using this time to build up a strong running base, incorporate more strength training and drills.

Why you run: I run to challenge myself and give myself something to strive for. I love the sense of accomplishment after reaching a goal and then the determination/anticipation of hitting the next one. It is also a way for me to cope with stress and anxiety.

When did you get started running: I started running my sophomore year of high school.

Have you taken a break from running: I have never really taken a long break from running, just the typical breaks between training cycles and rest days. I love to cross train during this time. I typically bike or swim.

Training shoe: New Balance 880 and New Balance Tempo

Coach or training group: Pacers Select Team

The hardest race you’ve ever run: Mt. Roberts Tram Mountain Race in Juneau, Alaska. It was a four-mile race straight up Mt. Roberts on a technical hiking trail. One literally has to be a mountain goat to run this thing (ascent ~2,070 ft.).

Most adventurous decision you’ve made with your running: Running 2 Ultra Trail Ragnars (Appalachian Trail). As you can imagine, no sleep, small breaks, thunderstorms, and 30+ miles of running in less than 24 hours makes for a good time. I also told myself that I would run wherever I travel, which has gotten me into some interesting situations. For example, when I traveled to Ireland a few years ago, I ended up at a nude beach by accident. I immediately turned around and headed the other direction.

Running mentors: I’d like to change “Running Mentors” to “Running Mentors/Supporters.” I wouldn’t be the runner I am today without the support and advice of my family. Running is not only a physical challenge, but also a mental challenge. My family has and continues to provide me with the encouragement and tools to improve. My kinesiologist and chiropractor have also been great mentors/supporters by providing me knowledge on how and why the body works the way it does, how different parts of the body interact, and giving me tune-ups after countless miles.

My favorite place to run in the D.C. area is:  The Mall

Favorite local trail:  I have a lot but the top four are the W&OD, C&O Canal, Fountainhead and Burke Lake.

My best race was: Marine Corps Marathon 2019. This was my first marathon. Despite the pouring rain and unfavorable weather conditions, I was able to achieve my goal of breaking three hours (2:59) and placing in the top 10 females.

Favorite local race: PNC Parkway Classic

Ideal post-run meal: Skip the meal and take me straight to the the ice cream

Favorite flavor of gel, gu, etc: Any flavor of Huma Gel

Pet peeve: Not rounding off my run to an exact mile or half mile.

Goals: Break 2:50:00 in the marathon

Your advice for a new runner:  Listen to your body. Everyone is different. I truly believe in adjusting your training, diet, etc. based on how you feel, your goals and your lifestyle.

Favorite running book: Run Fast, Eat Slow by Elyse Kopecky and Shalane Flanagan. I love to cook and nourishing food is key for performance. I also got to meet them and get the book signed at the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach.

Song in your head during a run: I prefer not to listen to music when I run. Running is the only time I can clear my head. But when I bike, I have a very eclectic playlist that includes rock, heavy metal, alternative/scream, rap, and pop. Just NO country music please. 

Have you dealt with a major injury: Thankfully, nothing major. Just some nagging knee and foot injuries here and there.

Running quote: “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” –Hebrews 12:1

Why is the D.C. area a great place to be a runner: The running community. I have met so many kind and inspiring runners here and have made strong friendships.

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