Runner Profile – Elyse Houck

I chatted with Elyse one week after completing her first marathon. She is a force to be reckoned with, and has obviously been bitten by the running bug hard, going in under a year from her first 5k to her first full marathon.

Elyse’s first running experiences were as a student athlete involved in crew, and she says,”I think they would make us run more than the track team!” She picked running up again in her early 20s and ended up running Broad Street for the first time in 2010. She was attending college, met her husband, moved, and found she gained a lot of weight. In October of 2015, she started looking into weight loss surgery. “It was right after my wedding and I felt like I did so much to try to lose weight for my wedding, and nothing was working. I felt like I tried everything and this was the last straw.” She went to an informational session and there was a lot of emphasis on exercising to really see the benefits of the surgery. She started a walking routine right away, and continued it through her surgery. She has lost about 170 lbs since having weight loss surgery.

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Elyse’s “before” picture

“I was down the shore one day and I was walking one of the streets that I used to run when I was younger, and I was just so bored with walking, I was like, I’m just going to try to run a block. So I ran a block and I was like, I didn’t die!” The next day, she started Couch to 5k or C25K. She used that plan to train up to her first 5k which was the Rocky Run in November of 2016.

She joined the Mullica Hill Women’s Tri Club, and she did Queen of the Hill as a member of a relay team. She has also done the Hightstown duathlon. As a relatively inexperienced swimmer, she hasn’t yet done a full triathlon.

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At the finish line of the Cow Run in Salem, NJ. Elyse organized a team called the “Double Whoppers” and they ran the 10 mile distance twice to make the 20 mile run day in her training plan.

After doing the Rocky Run, she was planning to do Broad Street, but ended up signing up for Love Run as her first half marathon. After Love Run, she started thinking about doing a marathon, and people encouraged her to look at Marine Corps Marathon for her first full. She came home and started looking into it, and found the lottery was open for MCM. “Literally the day after my first half, I’m going to enter it, and leave it up to fate.” She ended up getting into MCM through the lottery.

Early in her training, she suffered a bout of achilles tendonitis, and was referred to Dr Kemenosh. She was treated there with the active release technique and feels it helped her to be able to return to her training quickly and continue through her plan and her race without further injury.

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Of MCM, she says, “I’ve never been in a race with so much crowd support.” At the expo, she picked up a bib from the Medals of Honor program, and she ran for a fallen Marine with a bib with his name on it. Around mile 11, there is a mile called “The Blue Mile” where there are photos of fallen Marines, and there are people out from the Wear Blue, Run to Remember program. Elyse said the last three miles were the roughest; “I think at mile 23 I could have laid down and taken a nap.” The last mile gets a little sparse but the .2 to finish is packed with spectators. At the finish, a Marine gave her her medal, “He was telling me I’ll take a picture but you have to hold up your medal, but I wasn’t even comprehending it, so in the picture, he’s holding it up for me because I couldn’t do it.”

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“You have to hold up your medal!”

Elyse used C25K at the beginning, but has used Hal Higdon’s plans since then. She says the plan for the full marathon was tedious at times because the runs weren’t varied enough. She says the half plan she used included more speed or interval runs, and she wants to go back to a plan like that. She highly recommends C25K for anyone new to running.

For 2018, Elyse hasn’t signed up for any races yet. She is thinking about doing Love Run again, but is still trying to figure out what to do race-wise next year. At the time that we met, Elyse was planning for the Run the Bridge 10k and also a repeat of the Rocky Run. She had a goal to break one hour for the 10k, and she indeed crushed that goal. She recruited her husband into running, and he did Rocky Run 5k with her as his first 5k. She also has been putting some increased focus into strength training to prevent further injuries. She started a training plan with B Fit with Brandi Dockett and is working on strengthening some weaker areas.

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After the Rocky Run with her husband.

Elyse stays active in some post-weight loss surgery groups as well, to maintain that support for herself, and also to provide support to other people who are dealing with the same issues.

She says, “There will absolutely not be another marathon in 2018.” I have heard people say those words before, only to eat them later, so I’m interested to see what ’18 brings for Elyse!

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