LAUREN PASLEY, 51, and her son began running when her daughter, Colleen, started running track in middle school. Seeing her daughter enjoy the sport ignited a fire in Lauren to get into running herself. However, just as Lauren was getting her legs under her, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor that put her running plans on hold for six months. By December of 2008, Lauren was back to good health and back to hitting the pavement. She ran her first half marathon with both her children in 2008 and later ran the New York City Marathon in 2011 and the Chicago Marathon in 2012.
After the Chicago Marathon, she wanted to test her limits and endurance by training for a 100-mile ultramarathon. She succeeded in her goal, and her daughter joined in for the last 25 miles of the race to help pace her mom to the finish. “The runners go through so much on those trails, and you see the different stages of it,” says her daughter, Colleen. “I think one of the reasons I love being her pacer is because I get to take care of her for once.” To date, Lauren has completed five 100-mile ultramarathons and is training for her next one in June at Bryce Canyon.
“Running ultramarathons is a second job. It’s not for everybody. You have to be just crazy enough to try it.”
Training for ultramarathons is no easy task, especially with a demanding career as an attorney. When in serious training mode, Lauren logs 75-80 miles per week. “I train to better myself. If you love doing it, that beats everything,” she says. “Initially, the challenge of completing an ultra was my favorite part. After completing my first 100-mile race, it has become more about weathering the ups and downs and mastering my skill. You have to be able to deal with all the elements like rain, cold, and heat. Everything is a guess.”
Lauren says running and training with her daughter has had a positive impact on their relationship. Crossing the finish line of all five ultras with Colleen has been a special bonding experience for the two of them. “She doesn’t know it, but I cried when she finished her first 100-miler,” says Colleen. Lauren’s son, Sean, also runs with her on occasion, and they’ve run the St. Jude half together. “As a parent I can tell them to do things, but it’s better to lead by example and really demonstrate to them that I’m challenging myself to achieve my goals,” Lauren says.
By Christin Yates. Photo by Philip Murphy.