Lauren Pfendler

Disney Marathon

Disney World Marathon, finish line in sight!!

Growing up, I was very active, participating in Swimming, Figure Skating, and Dance. Being a member of the Clinton Cudas Swim Club occupied most of my time, and swimming became my passion. In addition to being part of the Cudas, I swam independently for Clinton High School, as they did not have a varsity swim team. I continued swimming in college at Boston University for 1 season. With a heavy course load, I unfortunately had to give it up. I shifted away from my active lifestyle for the remainder of my college years. During my first year of Optometry school, disappointed with how out of shape I was, I picked up running. I signed up for my first road race as motivation, the Boilermaker 15K in 2008. The Boilermaker is perhaps the most unique and fun race I have ever participated in.  I was hooked on running after that, and went on to complete the Boilermaker 15K in 2010, 2011, and 2012. My time improved by 25 minutes from 2008 to 2012.

During Optometry school, I accepted a scholarship from the Air Force to help cover the financial burden. I found out in mid-2013 that I would be stationed at Barksdale AFB in Shreveport Louisiana. To my pleasant surprise, Shreveport was home to a vibrant running community. I completed my first Half Marathon in November 2013, posting a time of 1:42.33 and winning my age group. That time still stands as my Half Marathon PR. The competitiveness that swimming instilled in me began to present itself again, and I wanted to push my running further. I signed up for the 2015 Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge, taking place in early January. The Dopey Challenge (aptly named) is running a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and Marathon over a 4 day period. Crossing the finish line of my first Marathon filled me with an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment.

Prior to and following the Dopey Challenge, I was running myself into the ground, posting long runs on a daily basis, barely consuming enough calories, and not allowing myself any recovery time. The remainder of 2015, I watched both my race times and health decline, culminating in the diagnosis of a triple stress fracture in my right pubic bone. I spent almost 11 months trying to rehabilitate my stress fracture, as well as performing a nutrition overhaul and trying to regain all the strength I had lost. I was motivated to pursue Triathlon. I thought that the cross-training aspect of Triathlon would not only improve my running, but make me a more well-rounded athlete. I signed up for my first Triathlon, Ironman 70.3 Hawaii! I had no idea how to approach training for such an event, and decided that I needed some help. I grew up swimming with Alison on the Cudas, and reached out to her to hopefully learn more about Matt’s team.

Moving to Alaska in the summer of 2015, I made my return to the racing world in September 2016, with a 10K and a Half Marathon only a couple weeks later. In November 2016, I traveled to Disneyland for the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge, a 10K and Half Marathon over 2 days. I had only been working with Matt a couple weeks between the races in Alaska and Disneyland, but saw a 2 minute drop in my 10K and 5 minute drop in my Half Marathon. Not only did my times improve, but I finally felt strong again, something I had not felt in a while.

For 2017, I hope to continue to improve my strength and ability with hard work and excellent guidance thanks to Matt. I will be moving to Hawaii for a few months this year to help cover one of the Air Force Optometry clinics down there. While there, I plan to participate in my first Triathlon in Honolulu to hopefully work out the kinks before Ironman 70.3 Hawaii. Beyond that, I am eyeing another Marathon back home in Anchorage in August. I am very excited for what lies ahead this year, and can’t wait to see what I am capable of with Matt’s coaching along the way, and maybe crushing the Half Marathon PR I set way back in 2013!!