When Lauren Fog quit her teaching job in Illinois and moved to Boulder to train with Coach Lee Troop, she had a concrete goal in mind: to make the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials. Yet after running only 3 marathons without much serious training, Lauren was over 12 minutes away from hitting the B Qualifying Standard of 2:43:00.
This goal may have seemed far off to an outsider, but she and her coaches knew that with the right atmosphere and training, there was much more to be accomplished. So she put her elementary teaching career on hold, got multiple part-time jobs in Boulder, and put high mileage marathon training as her #1 priority.
When Lauren started training with Boulder Track Club in 2013, she and Lee both knew they had some work to do. Her 2:54:53 marathon PR required her to cut over 12 minutes off her personal best to hit the 2:43:00 B Standard. So they got to work: Lee with coaching, and Lauren with training and working 3 part time jobs.
After almost two years of Boulder training, Lauren ran a PR of 2:44:58 at Grandma's Marathon in June, 2015. This was a huge 10 minute PR. Though it was exciting to cut so much time off her best, she was still 2 minutes away from making the trials. She decided to give it another go at CIM in the fall. She ran just over 2:45, seemingly falling just short again. Lauren thought she was done, so she did the natural thing to do when things don't go according to plan: purchased a trip to Hawaii to "drown her sorrows".
Training in Boulder, CO with another one of BTC's trial's qualifiers, Carol Smith.
Yet, while in line for security at the airport to board her flight to the tropics, Lauren got a call from her coach, Lee Troop:
"One week after CIM, I was actually going through the security line, on my way to Hawaii for a getaway vacation to "drown my sorrows" when Lee called me and told me that I was, in fact, going to the Olympic Trials. That's when I found out that the IAAF and USATF had amended their qualifying standards and my 2:44:58 would qualify me.Honestly, it's now only a few days until the actual race day and I still feel like it's a dream. I was in shock. I might still be in shock. It was the most amazing feeling in the world."
The roller-coaster continued, though! Shortly after this phone call, Lauren and Lee got word that Lauren's chip time, which was 2 seconds slower than the standard, was being accepted rather than the gun time (USATF regulation). Lauren and Lee appealed her time, and were able to get her gun time accepted. Lauren had made it in officially by a narrow 2 seconds.
We love Lauren's story because it's one of risk-taking. She put everything on hold, without any concrete evidence that she would attain her goal, just to pursue a dream. Though she isn't vying for a top 3 spot tomorrow, Lauren will race 26.2 miles knowing she earned the opportunity. We're a company inspired by athletes, and Lauren is the pinnacle of an inspirational athlete.
Read on to find out about Lauren's running roots, and her journey to tomorrow's Olympic Trials Marathon:
When did you start running and how did you get started with marathoning in particular?
I started running track in elementary school (the 200m!!) and finally got the courage to join cross country my sophomore year of high school (the distance seemed so long at the time!) I ran cross country and track through college for Bradley University where I was able to have a lot of fun with it but never took it seriously enough to feel burnt out on running. I signed up for Chicago Marathon 2011 immediately after graduating from college, just to stay in shape. However, I knew even as a struggled to complete that marathon in 3:21 I had found my passion in marathon running.
What is your lifestyle and training like now that you live in Boulder and train with Lee Troop in the Boulder Track Club?
I currently work several part time jobs including tutoring elementary students, nannying, and as a shift supervisor at Starbucks. It's perfect because they are all very flexible jobs that allow me to make training my priority. Training with Lee is great because he is so hands on. He wants to help us as much as he can and he's so passionate about the sport. He makes it to all of our workouts - Sometimes coaching from the sidelines, other times he's right there in the mix of the workout with us. The Boulder Track Club is also great because there is always someone to run with, or someone you'll run into. There is rarely a day that I'll go out for a run and not see at least one person I know from our club.
"Moving to Boulder and committing myself totry to make the trials was the hardest thingI've ever done. Even if I hadn't qualified,I'd never look back and regret taking a chance on my dream.I can't imagine the regret I'dfeel if I hadn't taken the chance."
What made you decide to move to Boulder and train for the Olympic Trials?
After running a 2:54:53 in my third Chicago Marathon 2013, my coaches (Blair Gorsuch & Greg White) in Peoria, Illinois planted the seed in my head and told me I was capable of making it to the trials. Also looking for a lifestyle change, I reached out to several coaches outside of Illinois knowing that my current marathon time was nowhere near the qualifying time but just hoping for some options. Lee was quick to respond with a phone call simply stating that my goal was a long shot, but I should come out to Boulder and see if the Boulder Track Club was a good fit for me. Two days after my first ever visit to Colorado, I told Lee I'd be moving to Boulder as soon as possible.
Tell us a little bit about your move to Boulder and lifestyle change in pursuing the Olympic Trials qualifier: The most difficult part about my decision to move to Boulder was knowing that I was giving up my second grade teaching position at a great school I had been at since I started my career. I was incredibly blessed with great students and a great faculty who still support me to this day, so it was hard to leave that behind. In Boulder I decided that I would put my teaching career on hold to fully commit to my goal, knowing that the future had a lot of unkowns but I had to give it a shot.
You hit the USATF B Standard at CIM, did you feel pressure going into this race knowing it would be your last chance?
I ran a 2:44:58 at Grandma's Marathon in June. It was a 10 minute PR but so bitter sweet because I knew I had been so close to the standard, yet just missed it. After Grandma's, Lee and I decided that CIM would be my last attempt to qualify. I trained harder and better than I had ever trained before and I felt so confident going into CIM. However, I fell short again running just over 2:45. I was devastated knowing that was my last chance to get the standard.
One week after CIM, I was actually going through the security line, on my way to Hawaii for a getaway vacation to "drown my sorrows" when Lee called me and told me that I was, in fact, going to the Olympic Trials. That's when I found out that the IAAF and USATF had amended their qualifying standards and my 2:44:58 would qualify me. Honestly, it's now only a few days until the actual race day and I still feel like it's a dream. I was in shock. I might still be in shock. It was the most amazing feeling in the world.
Breaking tape at Good Life Halfsy Half Marathon in Lincoln Nebraska
There was an appeal with your qualifying time— how did you feel when you found out that you had officially made it in?
Yes, the 2:44:58 was CHIP time. The rules state you must qualify with GUN time. My gun time was 2:45:02. Hearing the news that I was possibly out of the trials, again, was gut wrenching. The days I waited to hear if the appeal went through were excruciating. I was on an emotional roller coaster. Again, Lee was the one to call me and tell me that I had officially, officially made it. I felt like my heart had been lifted out of my body and broke down in tears of relief and happiness.
What would you say to aspiring runners who hope to improve their times, but don't know if they are capable of reaching their goals?
Take the opportunities that life presents. You will never know what you're capable of until you put in one hundred percent of yourself into your dreams. Moving to Boulder and committing myself to try to make the trials was the hardest thing I've ever done. Even if I hadn't qualified, I'd never look back and regret taking a chance on my dream. I can't imagine the regret I'd feel if I hadn't taken the chance.
Do you plan to return home and go back to teaching after the race?
No, I'd like to consider Boulder my home now. I'm currently trying to convince the rest of my family to move out here! Teaching is definitely still in the plan though. I'm just not sure when. I'd love to get involved in a classroom again as soon as possible. However, I'm still hooked on this running thing and would like to see how far I can go with it.
Competing in the Bolder Boulder 10k
What goals do you have for races in the future?
My goal for the trials is honestly just to learn from it and enjoy it. I don't have any experience in championship racing and I've ran every marathon I've ever done for a time, so in this race, I want to race my competitors and take it all in!
I don't have any races in mind after the trials. I know I'd like to take a break from marathons until 2017, just run some fun road races, and work on my speed. How do you stay healthy while marathon training? I've been very lucky with minimal injuries in the past 18 months of marathon training. Also, I think Lee's training has been great for me in avoiding injuries. There are always opportunities to push when you're feeling great, and opportunities to scale it back when you're feeling exhausted or sore.
Click here to see the different ways to watch and keep up with the trials live tomorrow. They will be broadcast on NBC starting at 1pm ET time. Lauren has received support from her hometown, from her Alma Matter, and has made a significant impact on the Boulder Running community with her sacrifices and hard work.
Last week, we announced that we would reimburse all athletes competing at the Olympic Trials Marathon for their $30 entry free. Many athletes were so kind enough to email us asking that we donate their $30 to other athletes on the list. Donations from these athletes have gone to pay for Lauren's flights to LA. Thanks to all.