We are excited to welcome Anna Weber to the Haute Volée. She joined the Volée with her eye on that Olympic Marathon Trials Standard and nailed it at Twin Cities Marathon just two weeks ago with a time of 2:38:39! Her story is one of guts and belief, sacrifice and a lot of hard work. We were lucky enough to catch up with her and get all the behind the race and training details. And be sure to subscribe to Anna's blog to follow along with her journey.
You took a year to dedicate to your goal of making the Olympic Trials Marathon. When did you decide to do that? Was there a performance that inspired you?
My official leave of absence from grad school is August 1st 2015 - January 1st 2016 (which will now have to be extended :) ). After the Pittsburgh Marathon, where I ran a PR of 2:47:54 on a tough day and even tougher course, I knew that I was closer to 2:43:00 than what appeared on paper. In July, when I was building my mileage back up and starting to gear my workouts towards Twin Cities, I was doing a 6 x mile workout at 5:00 AM before work (as I did on most days) and was struggling to hit 6:00 miles. I realized then and there that living and training in this way wasn't sustainable for me. I knew that if I was going to make this happen, I was going to have to make some changes.
What did you take a year off from?
I took a semester off of graduate school at Indiana University where I am pursuing a PhD in analytical chemistry.
Did people's reactions to your decision surprise you?
I had a lot of negative reactions to what I was doing, which did surprise me, to an extent. Prior to taking the time off of graduate school, I had saved nearly enough money to support myself through the fall semester. Ultimately, I had to spend all but $300 of my savings after a string of car issues (first my transmission, then an expensive sensor, and then the filters). I decided to try crowd-funding (along with selling my things, participating in research studies on campus, road racing, and coaching on the side) to help support myself through the semester via gofundme. Many of my friends and family had already offered their monetary support, so I thought this would be a simple solution to organize those offers. The majority of negative reactions (tweets, facebook posts, and even blog posts written about me) were geared towards the fact that I was using crowdfunding to support myself, instead of getting a job (which wasn't an option per my contract with the university). In the end, though, for every 1 person who was negative towards me, I had 9 people who supported me beyond belief, which I truly appreciated.
From reading your blog I know you were on a tight budget, any tips for running at an elite level on a budget. (Read: how did you maintain nutrition?)
In July, I visited with a sports nutritionist (also a 2x OTQ'er, Jackie Dikos), who helped me create meal plans on a budget while also maintaining calories and macronutrients. I also found out I have a soy intolerance, which necessitated that I cut out many expensive packaged foods that were previously staples in my diet. By basing my meals off of healthy whole grains and ingredients that can be bought inexpensively in bulk (like quinoa, black beans, steel cut oats, etc), I've been able to keep costs down. The flip side of this is that I have to plan out my meals a little bit more carefully, and in advance, because life on a budget (and with my soy intolerance) isn't as easy anymore as running out to buy a frozen pizza. I have also found that I'm not as ravenously hungry 24/7 since working with Jackie. I aim to always have a healthy fat, lean protein, and a complete carbohydrate source at every meal, which actually leaves me very satisfied. Before, I typically neglected one of those three food groups at each meal, which left my hungry and constantly snacking. My grocery bill is lower since I began seeing a nutritionist! A staple meal for me is "southwestern quinoa": quinoa with corn, black beans, salsa, cheddar cheese, and avocado.
In shoestring life, what did you miss the most?
I really miss chai lattes from the local cafe!
How'd you celebrate getting the Olympic Trials Marathon Standard?
My boyfriend, coach, and I went to French Meadow Cafe in Minneapolis right after the marathon and ordered half the menu. I had a chai latte, bison burger, french fries, chips & guac, and a rhubarb tart. A few days later I flew to New York to be a bridesmaid in my college teammate/roommate's wedding. I spent a few days eating very good food, drinking very nice wine, and enjoying a few days off from running.
What's next for you? Besides LA on February 14th of course...
Originally I had planned to run the World's 50k in Qatar, but I actually just dropped the race from my schedule so that I can focus solely on Trials. I am really looking forward to running a few shorter races during my build up and chasing PR's in the 5k and 3k. Central Indiana has some great indoor tracks, so I would love to have a mini-indoor season.
Outside of running what are your loves?
Outside of running, I love to cook, read/think about science, and foster dogs. My boyfriend and I started fostering through a local rescue two summers ago and have really enjoyed helping dogs in need. Since July 2014, we have fostered 7 dogs (in addition to our crazy beagle), and have helped them find homes all over the country. Being involved in rescue can be hard sometimes, but it's really rewarding to not only help the animal, but help people too. We have made some great friends, either people who sadly had to give up their pet, but could be at ease because we saved their dog from the shelter, or people that we were able to match our foster dogs with. One time we literally walked three dogs into a bar in Indy, met a woman from Missouri who immediately fell in love with two of them, and then drove the dogs out to Kansas City a couple weeks later for her to adopt. We still keep in touch, and she has been a big supporter of my running.
LIGHTNING BOLT ROUND
Beyonce or Taylor Swift?
Summer or winter?
Summer for training, winter for racing
Speed work or strength work?
Brachs: pumpkins or candy corns?
Jacket or vest?
East coast or west coast?