Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 45 - Hope Phelan - Paint the Miles - Part 3 of 3

Yeah, it's always a little bit gratifying, especially in that kind of situation where it's like, almost no expectations like coaches like yeah, I don’t-- You can come out if you want I guess, then you're like, really showing up, I feel like that's gotta feel pretty nice.
Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 45 - Hope Phelan - Paint the Miles - Part 3 of 3

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JESSE: Yeah, it's always a little bit gratifying, especially in that kind of situation where it's like, almost no expectations like coaches like yeah, I don’t-- You can come out if you want I guess, then you're like, really showing up, I feel like that's gotta feel pretty nice. HOPE: Yeah, it was pretty cool and it just, it shows you just-- the more you run, the better you get at it. It's not-- I mean a lot of people are born with natural talent, but also it's something you really can just work at and get a lot better which is really nice. JESSE: Yeah, there was a swim coach, I talked to. So, after I ran in college and then transitioned to triathlon, and I kind of worked with the college's swim coach for a little while. And he always said and I think this applies to running too is that he-- the sprinters, he was just like, it's genetic. They're either fast or they're not. And there's not a whole lot you can do about that. There's some training but he's like, he loved working with the distance swimmers because it was all about hard work. Obviously, there's still some genetic component, but he was like there's much more play in terms of how you train them and how good they can get through training alone than just being limited by that genetic component. HOPE: That's a kind of special thing about a sport, I think. JESSE: Yeah. So, then this is another thing I love to ask because I've only, you're the only, I think the second person I've had on that does the steeplechase, so I so steeplechase as well. What convinces you to do the steeplechase? Because people come to it from different reasons. I'm sure you saw there are plenty of teams that are like you're not good at anything else so go do the steeplechase. Was it that? It doesn't sound like you came at it from that approach. So, how do you get to there? HOPE: I did gymnastics all up until senior year of high school. So, my coach just thought I'd be good at it and said you should give it a try. And it's so much fun. I love that event, it’s a great event. JESSE: How did the first, this is what I love to talk about with steeplechasers; how did the very first time go if you remember? HOPE: Oh, I think it went slowly and painfully, but fairly well besides that. No major wipeouts and made it to the end of the race and yeah, I was hooked after that. Loved it. JESSE: Yeah. It's much like, to me, it's almost like another level of running where it's like, you talk to people like you mentioned earlier, you talk to people and they're like, why do you run? And then you're like, oh, yeah, I do the steeplechase. It’s like, what's that? And you're like, oh, there's if I remember right, 24 barriers and then seven jumps over the pit. And people are like, wait, why do you do that? That sounds even worse. And then you say it is with a smile on your face. HOPE: Yep. Exactly, but it's also so gratifying and I don't know there's just something fun about it, getting all wet and kind of like jostling for a position in the water pit and it's more like what's it called, like an obstacle course, like a tough mudder or something, it’s like that ?? 03:23>. It's just fun. JESSE: I always felt-- the reason I asked about the first time is because I know, so I mean, we trained for it and like you're doing hurdles and practice, do like you know 400, 800 meter repeats with hurdles so you get used to going over the hurdles and then also running. And despite all that training, I just remember the very first time my lungs being on fire by the end of it, just incredible suffering. And I was just like why did I decide I want to do this and I ?? 03:57> continue to do it, but I just remember it being incredibly painful to me. And then, as I asked, that seems to be the common experience with almost anybody. So, that's why I like to ask. HOPE: Yeah, you hit the wall in that event like no other. JESSE: Yeah. Because we're not really built to run and jump over and over and over again. That's like, it's like a, what do I want to say, it's like a very brutal fartlek because you're already running at top speed, but you also have to put in these little bursts every 20, 30 seconds. HOPE: Yeah, and hope that you don't crash into the barrier and wipeout. JESSE: Yeah, that was, I can't remember what my coach always said. He had a phrase basically, it was like hurdlers don't have to worry about the hurdle so much. If they hit a hurdle, the hurdle will move. If you hit a barrier, you're the one that's going to move, the barriers not going anywhere. HOPE: You’re going down. Exactly. Yeah. JESSE: So, you apparently loved it enough to continue after college. You're saying there weren’t... I think this was before we got going, you're mentioning there weren’t a ton of people doing the steeplechase post-collegiately. So, why continue, apparently you liked it that much, but I mean, why not just be like, I'm gonna do the other stuff that doesn't hurt as much? HOPE: I just, I knew I ?? 05:28> and I just liked this event. I don't know. I just wanted to keep doing it. And I guess I kind of ended my collegiate career a little bit like I was a little annoyed at how I didn't ever make it to Nationals for the steeplechase. Because one year I broke my ankle in the water pit, landed on a little funny and then senior year, it was-- I had one last chance kind of to make it and it was the night of graduation and I convinced my parents to drive me up to Chicago to do this like last chance meet. And somebody, the girl behind me jumped on me in the water, jumped and spiked my ankle and I had to go to the emergency room to get stitches. I was kinda like, oh, like unfinished business. So, yeah. So, I couldn't give it up quite yet. I had to keep doing it a little bit post-collegiately. JESSE: Yeah. When you're saying you thought that was 2014, 2015, somewhere in there, and you graduated in 2010. So, it wasn't just a matter of like, during the next year. I mean, that's a few, I mean, that's a whole collegiate career later, that you're still after it so it had to have bothered you at least a little bit. HOPE: Yeah, I didn't do it very many times ?? 06:50> They don't have very many races post-collegiately that offer the steeplechase but just you know when ?? 06:59> give it a shot. JESSE: Yeah. So, what are you doing now? So, now we're, this is the same kind of position I'm in, where we're basically 10 years post-college. I don't know about you, but you know starting to slow down maybe just a little bit trying to stave that off, still running marathons. What’s the plan now? HOPE: I had a baby in ?? 07:26>, so that put a little damper on my career for a little while. But I‘m just starting-- JESSE: ?? 07:32> like nine months pregnant finishing a marathon? HOPE: No, I ran half with him when I was three months pregnant. But yeah, so I did stop for a while. And then giving birth, of course, you can’t run for a little while. So, I’m just getting back into it now, really nice. It feels good to be back and my dog appreciates it wherever he is. He's my running buddy and he has been going crazy with me not running. ?? 08:08> no, come here, say hi. He's being stubborn. But, yeah, so I'm just getting back into it now. So, I don’t know, I'm hoping that I can run a qualifying marathon this year so that I can run Boston next year. So, hopefully, the qualifiers, you need to be in by September. So, hopefully sometime this summer, I can try and run one. We'll see if I'm in good enough shape by then. JESSE: I would -- So, I was obviously giving us both a hard time about getting older. But as far as marathon times go if there's any inspiration, so one of my high school coaches, she ran it, ?? 08:50>, and a couple-- the last few years, she just felt like I'm getting older, I'm getting slower. I'm just not gonna do anything. And she finally figured out, she had, I don't know if she had like an iron deficiency, but she did something and kind of broke through and then has been running her best marathon times ever. And she's now in her I want to say early 40s. So, it can still continue, especially with those longer distances, like you got plenty of time. So, no matter what happens, I would just say, stay the course. Don't worry about it. You know, if you want to do it, keep doing it because I think our bodies have, especially in those longer distances. I think we've got more room to run, no pun intended than we think we do. HOPE: Yeah, I agree. I think they said peak is mid-30s, I think for marathons. JESSE: Often, often. HOPE: So, I think I still have a couple good years hopefully. And I would love to break three hours. I don't know if it'll happen but would be, that'd be great. But had to take some time off to have a baby and that was definitely worth it. So, not regretting that at all. JESSE: No, absolutely, absolutely. And I hope that what you find is that time off serves you better than just continuing through. I know that for the longest time, over a decade, I only took off maybe a week or two weeks consecutively in a year at all. And then several years back, my coach said, okay, you take like three to four weeks off between seasons. And there's definitely a curve getting back in, but I noticed my ability to improve was much greater having taken that little longer rest period, and really fully recuperating. So, like I said, I'm hoping that you actually see that as a positive thing over time as you get back into it. HOPE: Yeah, that would be great. I'm definitely feeling like mentally ready 'cause, taking time off, you're like I just want to get back out there. JESSE: Yeah, yeah. So, this is kind of the news of the day. So, I saw stuff about Boston and they're trying to figure out whether to cancel this year because of the coronavirus. I know this is as this recording comes out it will be several weeks past this, but as we're doing the recording, this is basically the weekend for all the St. Patrick's Day parades here in town that have now all been canceled. And like Kansas City has declared a state of emergency and every gatherings over 1,000 people are canceled and the race this weekend was canceled and NCAA Tournament’s canceled and everything's canceled. HOPE: I know. JESSE: So, I'm wondering in your neck of the woods since you're in kind of a rural area, are you being affected much are people as, you know, are people hoarding toilet paper where you are? HOPE: I haven't noticed much 'cause I've been on maternity leave, so I’m just hold up at home anyways, but I did, our school was canceled for a couple days just like sanitize everything and make sure, I don't know, I think people don't really know what to do. So, they're tempting to make some sort of precautions, but yeah, I mean it hasn't been affected too much that I've noticed. JESSE: Yeah. Well, my thought is if Boston cancels, what kind of painting do you do for that race? HOPE: I know, it's interesting. I heard that they're going to move it to September. So, I guess maybe some more fall colors instead of spring. JESSE: Okay. Okay. See, I hadn't seen that, that they would move it which makes sense. It being such an iconic race, you don't want to just like outright cancel it if you don't have to. HOPE: Especially for the people who are qualified, it'd be kind of a bummer for them not to be able to run especially if they're coming from another country or this is their one opportunity to run which it is for some people ?? 13:07> event of a lifetime? JESSE: Well, it’s all, you qualify and it's a lottery, isn't it? HOPE: No, not-- Well, okay, so for Boston, you qualify based on your age group, there's different times and based on how fast, how much faster than the qualifying time you get to sign up earlier. So, just the faster you are the earlier you get to sign up and then once it's filled up, it's filled up. JESSE: Okay, okay. For some reason, I thought there was some lottery system with it. Maybe I'm thinking of Kona, though with Ironman. There is a lottery system for amateurs-- HOPE: ?? 13:46> New York Marathon, Chicago, I think it’s a lottery now. A lot of them are but not, Boston's just based on times. JESSE: This seems to make sense though, right? I mean, it's like it's a little ?? 12:59>, I suppose, but I guess that's part of the point in that yes, you are the fastest so you get to go, and it's just like first come first serve. And it works similarly, for like World Championships in triathlon, or yeah, for like 70.3, which is a half Ironman's or even like the Olympic distance. If you qualify, it's top whatever 15, 20 in a race, you have to go afterwards to sign up. If you don't, it rolls down to the next five spots kind of first come first serve, which is fair, I think. HOPE: Yeah, it's nice. And there are charity spots. So, people run, if you haven't qualified, you can run for charity. You have to raise money, but you know. JESSE: Yeah, a little extra layer. So, hope as we're starting to run a little bit out of time, there's a question I'm asking everybody this year since it varies from person to person and I love to hear this. I'm asking everybody, what do you think the purpose of sport is? HOPE: I think it is maybe keeping yourself mentally physically sharp and happy and just, yeah, feeling alive and feeling good about yourself, I think and not because you're accomplishing something just because you're getting out there every day and you're moving your body and yeah, keeps me sane. So, I think it's a good thing for everyone to do. JESSE: It's good. Like I said I love everybody’s answer because everybody's different. And it kinda comes from, like I think we both come from this place where it's like running is more than just getting out and moving your legs. So, asking that question, at least for me, kinda gives me the opportunity to see what are people's motivations and like what feeds you what feeds your soul? You know, that's kind of the heart of like what I'm after. So, I appreciate you answering it. Hope, if people want to find you, see your artwork, maybe commission an artwork from you, where can they find you? HOPE: My website is, and that's also my Instagram although I don't update all that often since I live kind of off the grid. But yeah, so, and also my email is JESSE: Sounds good. Thanks for spending some time with me today, Hope. HOPE: Thank you. Nice talking to you. JESSE: Take care Go to Part 1 Go to Part 2

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