Chicago Marathon Edition: Limitless Looks Like Carolyn Simpson
October 03, 20226 min read
It's never too late to discover what limitless looks like and it's never too late to start running! Zensah's Ambassador, Carolyn Simpson, is proof of that! It all started with her daughter enticing her with a medal from the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, and now? She's ready to conquer the streets of Chicago this Sunday! We spoke to her about her journey to this major marathon, and well...we can assure you that if she isn't limitless, we do not know what it is!
Read on to get to know Carolyn's story, get inspired, and (if you will also be at Chicago) say hi to this inspiring and very limitless member of the Zensah community!
ZS: Describe yourself in two sentences:
CS: She may be little, but she is fierce. Must love dogs.
ZS: How did you get into running? Why do you run?
CS: I was never a runner growing up. I raised four children and enjoyed swimming, tennis, skating and bike riding with them. While I was always running around after them, I never laced up and toed a line. My kids were all involved in sports and bands, so I spent hours sitting and watching them. As they were starting to leave home, my mother began suffering from the debilitating effects of Lewy Body Disease. I saw in firsthand what happens to your body when you don’t use it. After her passing I decided it was time to concentrate on me. I joined a health club and started out with water aerobics. Eventually I added body pump, step, and Zumba. Then one day, my daughter showed me her beautiful Tinker Bell medal from running the half marathon at Disneyland. I decided that I wanted a medal too. So, I began a plan of six months of couch to half marathon. No training group, no coach, just went out and ran circles in my neighborhood. I did it. I ran the Tinker Bell half marathon in 2014 at the age of 55. I haven’t looked back since. I owe so much to running. I lost twenty pounds but gained at least two-fold that amount of confidence and close friends.
ZS: Why are you running in the Chicago Marathon this year?
CS: I have often heard from friends who have run the Chicago Marathon that it was a wonderful experience. So, I put Chicago on my bucket list. I’m not sure how many more marathons I will run, but I knew I had to run Chicago before I say goodbye to marathoning. I entered the lottery in 2019 and did not get in and then we had two years of COVID. I entered again last winter, and was happily surprised with an entry. I love to travel and am excited for this upcoming trip.
ZS: What are your expectations?
CS: I have heard that the crowd support is amazing, and you can expect every neighborhood to have its own flavor. I expect that it will be as fun as running 26.2 miles can be. I don’t want the pressure to complete the run in a particular time. Although I have been training with a specific goal in mind. If I make it and hit that elusive PR...great! If I don’t I will still have had the experience.
ZS: How's your training going? Both physically and mentally? (You mentioned the 12th time is the charm, how so?...)
CS: Here we are twelve days out and I am healthy. I think this might be the first time in twelve marathons that something doesn’t hurt, and I didn’t cry on either of the 20-mile runs. That makes me excited for a great run. I have been training on my own, using the Hal Higdon Appand listening to the guided runs on the Nike Run App. I feel so blessed that I have completed about 90% of the runs in the Higdon App. In August, I ran the most miles ever in one month. I keep track of my runs, mileage, and times, in a calendar. I can see the improvements right there in black and white. That is so encouraging mentally. The guided runs on the Nike App are terrific. I love Coach Bennett. He says what I am thinking or what I need to be thinking. I will certainly return to his runs many more times.
ZS: What advice do you have for fellow runners or those working towards marathon goals?
CS: Beyond the usual listen to your body, eat right, hydrate, cross train, and rest, I would say, “you do you.” I have trained with organized groups and it can be daunting when you end up comparing yourself to everyone else in the group. There is always going to be people, younger, fitter, faster. Your training is going to look different if you are a full-time working mom or retired like I am. I can run when I feel like it. You may have to run early or late in the day. I run intervals; you may hate intervals. You may want a BQ and I don’t. Find one or two people in your running group that get “you.” Run with them, cry with them, celebrate with them. They will be your friends for life. But mostly, be you.
ZS: What are your Zensah must-have products? Why?
CS: I love the mini crew socks. They fit perfectly and come in so many fun patterns. I wear sleeves for a little extra support when I run trail and/or when it is cold. My new favorite is the running hat. I know I should wear a hat for sun protection but I just don’t like wearing them. They are too hot. Enter the Zensah hat. It is amazingly light weight. I don’t even know I’m wearing it. And on those triple digit weather days when it’s already 70 degrees when you wake up, it’s great to get it wet to keep your head cool. And score for me – I already had the matching socks. I have two items on my want list – arm sleeves for winter running and the new recovery shoes. Maybe they will be under the Christmas tree.
ZS: What is one quote you live by? Or a personal mantra? (can apply to running or life!)
CS: “Never give up – never surrender” – Commander Taggert, Galaxy Quest
ZS: What is your favorite place you’ve ever ran?
CS: Asking me to choose a favorite place is like asking me if I have a favorite child. I love everything about running Disney, from choosing Disney inspired running outfits, shopping at the expo, running through the parks with friends, and the medals. I have been fortunate to have been able to take some run- cations to beautiful places: The Monterey Bay, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe. I have run across the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bridge of the Gods. I have run in my State’s capital and the Nation’s Capital. I’ve run the eastern most part of the United States and the beautiful red rocks of Utah. As they say, there’s no place like home. Running the trails along and around the American River never ceases to take my breath away. But if I must choose, I will say running Vacation Races, Grand Tetons – Moose Double. It’s my favorite because all four of my children, my grandson and my husband were all there. We all ran the 5K the evening before the half. My youngest son and I ran the half. There was a spectacular view of the snow-covered Tetons along the route. Wyoming is certainly a beautiful state. Every place has its own special charm and I can’t wait to see the places I’ll go.
ZS:What other hobbies do you love (in addition to running of course):
CS: If I’m not running, swimming, dancing Zumba or walking my dog, you might find me building Lego. When my grandson turned five, I pulled out the big Rubbermaid tub of Lego. I sorted them all out by color first, and then resorted by brick type. Then we started building the sets that had been his mom’s and uncles’ when they were kids. We are about halfway through all of them, and he turns seven next week. He loves to play with them. Both my house and my daughter’s house are both filled with Lego cities. But I know that it’s only a blink of an eye before the Lego will go back to storage in the big Rubbermaid tub.
ZS: Where can people find you? (on social media and at upcoming races in addition to Chicago!
CS: Social Media: Facebook: Carolyn Simpson | Instagram: Runningto100 | YouTube: Running to 100
Upcoming Races: Urban Cow 5K, Chicago 5K, Chicago Marathon, Shelby Bottom 5K (Nashville), Folsom Blues Breakout 5K, Dia De Los Muertos 5K, Monterey Bay Half Marathon, Run to Feed the Hungry 10k, California International Marathon Two Person Relay.
ZS: Zensah’s motto is #withoutlimitz meaning we want you to feel limitless in everything you do. Limitlessness can look different for every person. Limitless might look like finding balance, reaching goals, acing the race you have coming up, or manifesting your future. What does limitless look like for you?
CS:My limitless looks like being a role model for my granddaughter and women of all ages that getting out and moving your body is essential to a long and healthy life. I found running later in life and I am so glad I did. The running community is so supportive. I always run into somebody that I know. I have met so many people online from so many places, I love chatting with them, too.
I hope that you will want to join me in my journey, as I go running to 100, years that is … #withoutlimitz.