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TRL Member Spotlight: Stephanie and Dave Ross

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How long have you been running and why did you start?

Dave: I started running my freshman year of high school. I was a very unathletic and nerdy kid, and my buddy and I turned out for cross country only to make friends. I ended up being a 4-year letterman and captain of the team by my senior year. That was 1981, so I’ve been running for almost 42 years now.

Stephanie: Since the summer of 2001, so 22 years. I was 14 years old, grew up actually hating running, and was unsuccessful at any sport I tried. I had dabbled in soccer as a benchwarmer when I was younger, so when I got to high school, I thought I’d try that. I didn’t make the team and the experience of being cut was traumatic. Although there were other girls cut, the two coaches singled me out and asked me to their office. Then they spent at least 30 minutes berating me, asking me why I bothered to try out, and discouraged me from trying any other sport. It was a blow to my already low self-esteem. I got so mad at myself, that I flipped a switch and wanted to prove them wrong. I started running over the summer between my freshman and sophomore years. My sister was on both the soccer and cross country/track teams. When she saw me start running, she encouraged me to join cross country that fall. After she mentioned they don’t cut anyone, I agreed, and the rest is history. I was hooked on the simplicity of the sport: whatever I put in, I got out. There wasn’t anyone judging me.

How long have you been part of TRL, and what drew you to the club in the first place?

Stephanie: When I moved to the Portland area in the spring of 2012, I looked up all the local running groups and ran with most of them, including the Red Lizards. I believe I finally became official 2 years later. What I’ve always liked about the team is its culture. There is a range of ages, talents, experience, and goals. No matter what state my fitness is, there’s always someone to run with.

Dave: I think that I’ve been a member for 5-6 years. I knew most of the people in it and had always hopped into the Sunday long runs, which I really enjoyed. It’s a great group of people and I love how diverse it is, from personalities to running talent. 

What do you do when you’re not running (job, family, school…whatever it is you’d use to introduce yourself outside of running)?

Stephanie: I don’t do much outside of running because my husband and most of my friends are also runners! I did recently give birth to twins, so they have kept me busy. Career-wise, I’ve worked in digital marketing and sports media.

Dave: I work for Kaiser Permanente in a glorified customer service position. I get to work from home now so that’s been pretty great. We have 4-month-old twins at home now so they’re our top priority. Running and most other aspects of my social life have been put on the back burner. I’m pretty active in track-and-field media and sharing news about the sport. My Facebook page, RossRunning, now has over 45,000 followers around the world and through that I’ve gotten to meet a lot of cool people and do some really fun things (like go to Vienna for Kipchoge’s sub-2 marathon.) Lately I did a lot of postrace video interviews with athletes at the U.S Track and Field Championships. 

What’s your favorite distance/type of run (5K, half-marathon, marathon, ultras, relays, track, trail, etc.)?

Dave: When I was younger it was the 5k, which I was still running in the low 16-minute range into my early forties. Now the distance I’m probably the most competitive at is the half-marathon. I’d still really like to do the three marathon majors that I haven’t done (Berlin, London and Tokyo.)

Stephanie: My favorite distance is a road 10-miler. There aren’t many opportunities to race this distance, but it’s the perfect distance for my strengths. My second-favorite is a road half-marathon, but I tend to hit the wall after 10 miles! I have raced every distance from 1500m to 50K, and have participated in cross country, track, road, and trail races.

Where is your favorite place to run in the greater Portland area?

Stephanie: The Banks-Vernonia Trail. It’s a 21-mile paved path from Banks to Vernonia with very little car interaction. It’s great for long runs and marathon workouts.

Dave: Probably the Banks Vernonia Trail. So quiet and I love that you get shelter from the weather with all of the trees. The Crown Zellerbach Trail is pretty cool as well. 

What’s your most memorable running experience (or experiences)?

Dave: Winning my hometown race (the Seaport River Run in Lewiston, Idaho) six times between 1986 and 2000. I was probably 2nd place at least another 5 of those years. For other events it was watching Kipchoge running 1:59:40 in Vienna and finally getting to meet him in person. We’d been friends since about 2012 and he had sent me an autographed singlet before that, so it was really cool. Such a humble man and probably my favorite international athlete. 

Stephanie: I have a ton of memorable running experiences, but my favorite has to be the 2015 Boston Marathon. After the 2013 bombing experience (I was there), I returned to run a PR and get engaged that evening after the race.

What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received?

Stephanie: The best advice I’ve heard about running is that you don’t get faster when you run fast. It happens when you rest. When you run fast, you break down the muscle. You must rest for it to recover and grow stronger.

Dave: To take more easy days or to rest or recover better. I have a tendency to constantly push myself way too hard and I have a much harder time trying to run slow than I do trying to push the envelope. 

Tell us one fun fact, hidden talent, or something we don’t know about you, but should?

Stephanie: I met my husband through the message board. When I tell people we met online, they assume it was through a dating site. Nope, just a couple of running geeks who bonded over the sport. 

Dave: I’m one of the world’s biggest Batman fans and my dream growing up was to be a comic book illustrator. I have a TON of Batman memorabilia. 

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