Meet Stacy Nigrelli

20 time marathon runner and CARA member Stacy Nigrelli discusses winning her age group at the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and placing second in the 2015 marathon, plus training with the CARA Summer Marathon Training program!

1) The night before the 2015 Chicago Marathon, what were you thinking?

With training and planning behind me, I looked at the race map to visualize the course one last time. But rather than focusing on splits, my thoughts filled with the excitement that the next day would bring and on feeling happy to run. Kid President’s “Pep Talk” video always puts a smile on my face, so I watched it and was ready to “get to it!” as the Kid directs. The last order of business was a good night’s sleep.

2) What was your greatest accomplishment during the 2015 Chicago Marathon?

My goal was to run a 3:25 and break my previous PR set at the 2014 Chicago Marathon. I did it!

3) What was CARA’s greatest training tool in your opinion?

CARA is a wonderful organization and resource for runners. The many offerings from speed workouts, training programs, run specific strength training and gait analysis together make a complete program. Collectively, I believe they make the greatest training tool.

4) What was your greatest challenge while training for a marathon?

The daily discipline to get out and complete the workouts no matter the weather conditions or demands of life. That is where CARA and Chicago’s terrific running community come in. Training and running with others makes it possible to overcome the challenges. On second thought, this may be CARA’s best training tool.

5) What was your greatest challenge while running the marathon?

My greatest challenge while running this year’s marathon was to make it through without a fall. Memories of my mother who passed away the year before were with me throughout the race. I dedicated this marathon to her again as I had the year before.

Last year she was critically ill in the days leading up to the 2014 Chicago Marathon and passed away 10 days later. And, at mile 17, I was tripped and thrown to the ground.

Thanks to the encouragement of other runners, I got back on my feet and kept moving. In the scheme of things, a little spill could not compare to what my mother endured. I finished with a PR and first place in my division. It was all for her.

Fortunately, there were no falls this year (instead a little choking on an electrolyte capsule  – there’s always something). And, I kept moving to run my best race for her once again.

6) What first inspired you to run a marathon?

My dog, Image . . . a remarkable Kuvasz. She was a Westminster Champion and Pedigree’s Best of the Best of the Breed. When she retired from the show circuit, a career in performance events, namely agility and obedience ensued. No couch potato bone in her body, Image was a girl on the move. She was big and fast, and could out maneuver me in a flash. I needed to step up my game and saw an ad to train for a half marathon never imagining where it would lead. All of this occurred at a milestone time in life . . . I was about to turn 50.

7) Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to runners that are just starting out in marathon training or thinking about starting?

It’s never too late to start and it will change your life in the most extraordinary ways.

With no running background, I never would have believed that I would run a marathon at age 50. And now at 61, I continue to run faster.  If I can do it, so can you!

8) What were your biggest doubts about running the 2015 Chicago Marathon and how did you overcome them?

Like others, forecasts of less than ideal weather conditions began to concern me as the temps climbed and wind gusts increased with each days reporting leading up to the race. So I planned my race accordingly and put together a Plan B (signed up for a fall back marathon 4 weeks later) just in case.

9) What was your favorite part of running the 2015 Chicago Marathon?

Always the people . . . Chicago is a great city with a great big heart displayed by all who came out to cheer and help and run.

10) If you could do it all over again, would you change anything? If so, what and why? If not, why not?

Nothing to change . . . only to savor. I’m appreciative and grateful for it all. There is always the next race to strive to run faster than the one before.


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