Monumental Runner – Chris Denno

Name: Chris Denno

Self-described age group: 30s? Mid 30s? … Late 30s 🙁

Residence: Suitland, Md.

Occupation: Special Assistant at the U.S. Census Bureau

How has your running changed in the last six months: Covid running has been unique, that’s for sure. My main running groups have met less frequently, so I’ve been relegated to the treadmill a bit more. That said, I have been fortunate to still have a small core group of people that are safe and responsible enough to continue to meet up. I had been training for two marathons in Fall 2020 (Bmore and Philly), so I had been in great shape. I’ve mostly been trying to maintain and not fall to far behind (the Covid 15 is real!!).

Why you run: I call running my asphalt therapy. Running literally saved my life and I continue to do it to maintain my sanity, especially during these sideways times. It is a great way to both spend time outside with some friends, but also spend some time alone, with few distractions, really focusing on yourself. Running gives you back whatever you put in, and you can push yourself as much as you want. I also run so I can maintain my beer and bread consumption, which is obscene.

When did you get started running: My first race was in May 2017. Before that I barely ran, I never ran in high school or college, and very minimally for fitness. A friend convinced me to sign up for a half marathon.

Have you taken a break from running:  Nope! One I had a taste, I never looked back.

Training shoe: Nike Free and Nike Rival Zoom

Coach or training group: I run with a few small social groups, but my REAL group is the Howard County Striders.

The hardest race you’ve ever run: RRCA Club Challenge. It is a 10-mile race involving all of the local running groups. There are no frills, but every group shows up to race hard and win. The course is brutal, and it is by far the hardest race and my favorite race.

Most adventurous decision you’ve made with your running: After my first marathon (Baltimore) decided I needed to run Boston, so, on a whim, I committed myself to running a sub-3 hour marathon in my next race, Chicago.

Running mentors: Hannah Cocchiaro, Caroline Bauer, Julia Roman-Duval and Zach Valentine. All HoCo Striders. Without them, I’d still be meandering around Columbia lost and alone. They pushed me and inspire me everyday to work harder.

My favorite place to run in the D.C. area is:  The Mall, obviously. I have a nice 23-mile loop from Suitland, down along the Mall, up through Georgetown, through the Zoo, down 16th, then back to Suitland. You really get to see the best of the city along that route.

Favorite local trail:  Anacostia River Trail. Close to and feels like home.

My best race was: 2019 New York City Marathon. Set my PR in my last marathon and can’t wait to run another and crush it!

Favorite local race: RRCA Club Challenge (in Columbia, Md.)

Ideal post-run meal: Beer, beer, and Jameson. Maybe a slice of pizza.

Favorite flavor of gel, gu, etc: This may make people gag, but my go to is gu Carmel Macchiato

Pet peeve: In the winter, guys wearing tights without shorts. No one needs to see that…

Goals: Sub 2:45 marathon and also running the JFK 50-miler.

Your advice for a new runner:  Don’t get frustrated. It is so easy to see others who are faster, can run longer, and look better while doing it. Don’t give up!! I’m still the fattest slowest guy in my group. Running gives you back whatever you put in. If you want to be a good runner, be persistent and ask for help. The running community is the most supportive that I’ve ever been a part of.

Favorite running book: Running is My Therapy by Scott Douglas… see EVERYTHING above 🙂

Song in your head during a run: Song singular? I’m on a HUGE Lost Dog Street Band kick, September Doves is my favorite. But anything Bluegrass really. If I want to run angry, I listen to my Philly Eagles podcasts, since they STINK.

Have you dealt with a major injury: Some shin splints, some knee pain, some back pain… but I’m old, so nothing out of the ordinary. I’ve been VERY lucky!

Running quote: Maybe not specific to running, but: “On some nights, I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.” – Hunter S Thompson

Why is the D.C. area a great place to be a runner:  The amazing warm and accepting running community and out of this word views. So many people who are transplants, mix in a few natives, strong political views and some great local beer and you have a recipe for running success


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