Meet Kristen Heckert

Kristen Discusses the LA Olympic Marathon Trials & Why CARA Membership is Important to Her

Kristen Heckert is a CARA and New Balance Chicago member. During her college running career she ran at three different colleges: Murry State University, College of DuPage, and University of Illinois Chicago.

In February of 2016 Kristen represented the midwest by competing at the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials in LA. Kristen finished with a time of 2:43.39 and placed 27th out of the 205 that started the race!

Below is a Q&A about the trial race, her start to running, and why CARA membership offers her a chance to be more involved in the Chicago running community.

The questions below refer to the Olympic Marathon Trials in LA in 2016

1) Take a moment to think about your nerves leading up to the race and on race day. What do you do to keep yourself calm and level-headed?

I am normally a very nervous racer. I always have been. For this race, leading up to it I was very calm. I think that’s because my buildup leading up to the race went as best as possible. I remained uninjured, and I ran my mileage every week, never missed a workout whether it was running, biking, or swimming. It gave me a lot of confidence. I knew I was in the best shape of my life.

On race day I started getting nervous. I kept telling myself I put in all the work; all I have to do is go out there and run smart. I also had such an amazing support system out there that just kept me calm and focused without putting any pressure on me.

2) What were you most concentrated on during the race?

During the race I was most concentrated on getting enough liquids and cooling down at any point I could in the race. Whether that was dumping water on myself, getting the ice towels or running in the limited amount of shade.

3) What did you feel was your greatest accomplishment during this race?

I feel like my greatest accomplishment was trusting my coach, Michael Lucchesi (who is also my husband), and running my race plan. Going out easy and trying to maintain pace throughout the very hot marathon in LA.

Just getting to know you.

4) Who makes up your running support network? Is it your family, running partner? In what ways do they help you?

My running support network is amazing. I feel so lucky. My family is very supportive of my running and so are all of my friends. They understand that at times I have to be focused and need to go run during holidays and get togethers. I also have an amazing support system with my job at Plainfield South High School. They are very supportive of what I do. I am the assisstant coach for the PSHS boy’s cross country team and they give me so much motavation and support along with the head coach Jason Crowe.

I also have the Chicago New Balance team. They give me motavation at all times. They are such amazing people, and the best training partners anyone could ask for. Not to mention my amazing friends. I feel so lucky to be a part of such an amazing team, but my most supportive person is my husband, Michael Lucchesi. He keeps me honest, and gets me out the door whether it’s getting to work on time or making sure I get in all my workouts. Without him I would not be the runner I am.

5) Whats your favorite pre-race dinner?

My favorite pre-race dinner depends on the race. I love chipolte so shorter races that is my go to. Longer races it tends to be pad thai or chicken and sweet potatoes. I always have ice cream!! That is a MUST!

6) Do you have a lucky item of clothing you wear for big races? If so, what is it and why?

I don’t have any lucky clothing but my husband gave me a necklace before my first marathon and I have never taken it off, so maybe that is my lucky charm.

7) Was running always your sport of choice? If not, what was it and what made you transition to running?

Running was not always my number one sport. In middle school and high school I did cross country, though I was not very good. My main sport was basketball, but I was not good enough to play in college. I also loved track. I was a 300 hurdler and 400m runner. It wasn’t until I went to run in college that I started really running distance. I was to slow for sprints and they kept moving me up in distance and I kept getting more competitive. I ended up loving long runs and the rest is history.

8) What has been your greatest setback in your running career? How did you move on mentally and physically?

I have had some setbacks in college. I was injured most of my college career due to my own mistakes. I was very hard headed and felt I knew what was best so I over trained when I was at UIC. What has helped me now is first learning what my mistake was (overtraining), and trusing in my program. I belive in what my coach and also my husband has me do. I understand the reason behind it. That is the most important thing for me. I like knowing why I am doing excercises. I also communicate with him about how I am feeling and if the training is too easy or too hard and we are able to adjust.

9) What CARA Runners' Choice Circuit event do you most look forward to competing in this year and why?

There are two CARA events that I am looking forward to. First being the Shamrock Shuffle. I love that we are able to compete as a team. It is also a great course and a very fun atmosphere. It is a shorter race for me so it is good to get the legs moving and try my best to shake out the rust usually it is my first race of the year. This year it is a little different but still have the same objective, try and learn how to run fast again. Also, I am very excited to run the Chicago Marathon. It is my favorite race all year. It was almost painful not to run it this year though it was the right thing to do. There is nothing like the atmosphere, the course is great, and it is so wonderful to run races around where you live.

10) You’re already an accomplished runner, so what made you join CARA?

Joining CARA lets me become part of the Chicago and Chicago area running community, which is important to me, my team, and New Balance Chicago. With memebership, I am not only part of the community but CARA also offers volunteer opportunities so I am able to help support the running community in the Chicagoland area.