Lesley Strauss did not start running marathons until 18 days before her 60th birthday. “I decided the best gift I could give myself was to train and run a marathon.” Though running wasn’t on her fitness resume, she and her husband have always been active; in fact, they coined the word “run-ride.” Bob would run and Lesley would bike alongside.
Bob helped Lesley put together a training program, increasing her miles week after week. She built up her miles to 20 before her first marathon.
“Knowing I got to 20 miles gave me the confidence needed to complete my first marathon.” Now less than four years later, she has done 33 full marathons, 24 half marathons, and is a Marathon Maniac. The Maniacs are “a running club for like-minded marathoners in their quest to boldly go where they have never been.” It’s that adoration of running and sense of travel that fuels Lesley and Bob. Running allows the retired business owners to explore new parts of the US and catch up with old friends. The couple has run a marathon or half marathon in every single state.
“We enjoy visiting family and friends on our marathon weekends. Bob enjoys adding a surprise point of interest along the drive,” said Lesley. Whether visiting Limoland (where they learned how stretch limousines are produced), a Vacuum Cleaner Museum, or a Tow Truck Collection, they make the most of their travels.
“I have a special memory from all of my marathons, but my most memorable race would be my first--The Chicago Marathon, which takes runners through more than 25 neighborhoods. I crossed the finish line holding my husband's hand,” Lesley said.
An instant running and "Sparkle girl" enthusiast, Lesley discovered SparkleSkirts from a Martha's Vineyard marathon pacer in May of 2017. Her first skirt, which she said fits perfectly was GameOn. From checkers to Monopoly to Pacman, Lesley said every game has a special memory, but Pacman is her favorite.
Lesley said at every start line at least 10 runners will ask about and compliment her skirt. “It's easy to see that a lot of thought was put into designing the skirts. They are light weight, super comfortable and easy to reach pockets.” Bob jokes that Lesley is a running convenient store, a particularly funny statement since the couple formerly owned a 7-Eleven in Glencoe, IL. “I love having snacks along the 26.2 miles. The pocket holds my energy bites as well as my music.”
“I hadn't really thought about being addicted to running, but I must be. I get up at 5 a.m. twice a week to run with The Glenview Running Club,” she said. Lesley and Bob have been fortunate to stay injury free and given the frequency of their marathons, she said they don't need to do any long training runs.
Lesley encourages running hopefuls to look at the various distances. “Start with something you can be successful at and enjoy. The finishing time doesn’t matter. What matters is that you went out and accomplished something you might not have thought you could ever do.”
She wanted to remind those who are just starting out that they are undertaking something very special. “You are working towards doing something only a small percentage of the population can do.” If there is a running club in your neighborhood join it encouraged Lesley. “You will make new friends as you run mile after mile, encouraging each other along the way. If a race has a pacer join in, they are the best support you could ask for!” Lesley’s final piece of advice is everyone is a winner when you cross the finish line and receive your medal. Wear your medal proudly.