Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Getting to Know the TARC - Marilyn Oberhardt

I remember her face, and now I have a name to go along with it. Marilyn and I do not know each other, but as I write this I believe we've had at least one encounter. During the 2011 TARC Spring Classic, Marilyn ran the half-marathon and myself a volunteer. I'm not sure if she remembers, but I was the guy directing runners at a confusing intersection for what was to be a few laps (thanks Katzman!) on a cold, rainy, bone-chilling, finger numbing (I could go on...) day. Marilyn and I connected a second time for this informative interview via email in which you will also place a name and a face. Enjoy everyone!

TARC Spring Thaw 2013

Your first ultra was Way Too Cool out in California. Was this your first trail race as well? What drew you to that particular race or part of the country?

Oh no – I have been trail racing for eons. And I have a long-standing connection to California. Back in the early ‘90s, my husband and I lived in San Francisco and I ran and raced a lot in California. My absolute favorite trail race of all is the Dipsea! Running in Northern California is pure bliss for me. I have family and a lot of friends out there. One of my best friends, Eric Ellisen, ran Western States in 2009 and I crewed and paced him in that race. That is what turned me on to running ultras rather than thinking it is a sport for crazy people. Then I had a slow California International Marathon (CIM) in December 2009, and decided that I was probably done with road marathons. My brother and Eric crewed me for the CIM and agreed to do it for Way Too Cool, so running Way Too Cool in 2010 as my first ultra was perfect. Pretty funny to think about having a crew for a 50k now!!

How did you get involved in running (generally speaking)?

It started as a great escape for me when I was young, middle school age. It was an outlet that I really needed. Running gave me some wonderful friends and grounded me. And I am hopelessly uncoordinated, so running is the perfect sport for me. Except for all of the falling that I do on the trails!

Tell us about your typical training week.

If I am on my game, like I was in 2012, typical training week ranges from 45-65 miles. I take rest days on Monday and Friday and do back-to-back long runs on Saturday and Sunday. I will do either a track workout or a dedicated hill workout on Tuesdays or Thursdays of those weeks. I’ll do 3 weeks hard with 1 back down week. I plan it all in a spreadsheet with a calendar, so that I can adjust for work and family commitments around planned races. Right now, I am ramping back up to my “A” game in training after taking too much time off since November 2012. I had planned a 2 month break, but that kind of stretched out this winter with my whole family and I battling one bug after another.

Job? Family? Balance? Have you got the answer?
I had about a decade hiatus (1998-2008) from real running with young kid and work demands. After decades of seeking the balance, I have it for now due to a perfect convergence. My kids are old enough for me to leave them while I train and they are very supportive of my running. My ever-supportive husband bought me a treadmill in 1999 when our daughter was born, which helps me fit in a workout when there is no other option. And I am currently self-employed which gives me the flexibility to fit in all of my work, family and training demands. I couldn’t do this level of training otherwise.

You wrote on the Facebook thread describing your first ultra, that you hoped “to keep going forever” in terms of running longevity. I love this and feel the same way. How do intend on doing this for the long haul?

I have found that by doing as much of my running on the trails as I can, I am staying relatively injury free. I also don’t try to really race hard anymore which I think helps keeps the injuries at bay. For me, long and slow on the trails equals the long haul, I hope. I think that doing it for the joy of it helps, too. I love that I can go places and see things that I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise; crossing the Grand Canyon is a great example of this. Integrating adventure into the running is key.

Camp 10 Bear at the Vermont 100 2012

What and where is your dream race? Money and time off is not an issue.
I am entirely obsessed with Western States 100!

Favorite New England trail you’ve been on and why?
That’s funny, because I have never thought of having a favorite in New England! I think that that is mostly because the stuff that I love to run is out West. New England trails are my “utility” trails. I like the Fells because it is close to home and I like the trails at Mt. Wachusett that give me some mountainous challenge relatively close to home. I also like the Bay Circuit trail because of all that it touches. And I have run the Battle Road trail from Fiske Hill to Concord so many times, I think that I could do it in my sleep! Battle Road is a nice one to do repeats when you are doing solo long runs because you can self-support with your car as an aid station and there are bathrooms available from March to November.

You’re entered to run the inaugural TARC 100! Do you have any specific goals for this race?
Quite honestly, finishing and getting that buckle! Anything else is pure gravy.

I would also add that the buckle is soooo sweeeeet!!!

10 in 60 (10 questions in 60 seconds. One or two word answers will suffice or the first thing that comes to mind)

1      GU’s? Chomps! Feel more like real food and less messy trash in my pockets
2   Compression gear? Yes, CW-X tights and socks
3     Music on the run? Only on the dreadmill
4    Soda at the aid stations? Coke is the elixir of life after about 4 hours into an ultra
5.     S caps or boiled potatoes and salt? S-caps
6.     In and out of aid stations or take a breather and feast? In and out as fast as I can
7.     Road training: yea or nay? When I have to
8.     Favorite State Park – Mt. Tamalpais, CA
9.     Blisters? Rarely; I swear by regular pedicures and “Fixing Your Feet”
10. Favorite Trail Shoe? Inov-8 Roclite 268s


  1. Justin - this is such a great idea. Marilyn is awesome and I love when we occasionally bump into each other while training. Can't wait to see you both wearing that buckle!

  2. Glad to see some very worthy TARC-mates getting the coverage they deserve. Kudos for another great installment, Justin!

  3. Thanks guys! It's been a lot of fun on my end meeting some new TARC members and hearing about their experiences. More is on the way!!