Tag Archives: Rod’s Racers

Spotlight On: Meggan Franks – Winner of the New Orleans Rock N Roll Marathon 2012


This  feature is on New Orleans Rock n Roll Marathon winner, Canadian native, Mississippi State University Alumni, wife/mom and fellow Rod’s Racers teammate, Meggan Franks. I first heard Meggan’s name after I’d finished the Rock n Roll Marathon and had gone back to our hotel. (Meggan was probably already packed up and on her way home by that time, lol!) Imagine our excitement and how proud we were when we heard that someone from our state was the female winner?!

Crossing the finish line at the Rock N Roll Marathon in New Orleans.

Meggan was gracious enough to answer some questions so we could get to know more about her.

Slow is the New Fast (SITNF): How long have you been running?

Meggan: I have been running since about 1998, I think. One of my friends in high school ran hurdles and I thought she looked beautiful doing it. She was running club track at the time, so I decided to run club track too. I was so shy, it took me almost a month to ask if I could go to practice with her.

SITNF: Your thoughts on being the number 1 rated female marathoner from Canada?

Meggan: Well it was great while it lasted! I survived a few months in the #1 spot. Athletics Canada has me ranked 6th but unofficially, I am not ranked that high. It’s ok though, I’m running a Fall marathon and …if everything goes as planned.. .I will run much faster than I did in the Spring.

SITNF: What brought you to Mississippi from Canada?

Meggan: Running brought me here. I was terrible at running until about 12th grade when I decided I wanted to run in college. I ran twice a day for about a year and contacted Mississippi State University about joining the team. The offered me a scholarship. I packed my bags, jumped on a plane, and started class in August 2001. I have been here ever since.

SITNF: Biggest race to date?

Meggan: I’ve ran a lot of big races but the most memorable one for me was winning the Rock’n’Roll New Orleans Marathon this past February in 2:49:06. Frank Shorter gave me my award….I kept the finish line tape. Every time I drag it out I get excited about running another marathon.

Meggan accepting her award from Frank Shorter and Rod Dixon

SITNF: Favorite running distance?

Meggan: 26.2 glorious miles!

SITNF: Most exciting running experience?

Meggan: Oh wow….this one is hard. I guess when I won my first marathon – Niagara Falls Marathon in 2011 (2:52:16). I couldn’t believe I was going to win, I was hyperventilating the last mile because I was so excited. There is a picture of me screaming as I crossed the finish line. I couldn’t help it!

Meggan crossing the finish line at the Niagara Falls Marathon

SITNF: I’ve only been running since 2010 but I have really struggled with being a faster runner. (Hence the blog name, Slow is the New Fast, lol) Do you have any suggestions for runners wanting to get better/faster?

Meggan: Congrats on sticking with it! I would try to incorporate some speed work, like tempos and intervals. I rarely run on the track, you don’t need a track to get fast. Find a marked loop and run intervals workouts, start short with 4X800m at goal 5k pace, and tempos of 3 miles. Work up to 8x800m and 6-8 miles of tempo. Tempo should be run at 10k-marathon pace depending on the length of the run. Also incorporate strides at the end of your regular distance runs, 4-6X100m at a pace you could hold for about 1 mile.

SITNF: What do you do as a part of Rod’s Racers?

Meggan: I run races as part of the Rod’s Racers team and I try to win as many as I can (haha, kidding). I also take pictures for the Rod’s Racers facebook when I get the chance. I have started the new Rod’s Racers blog. You can visit it at rodsracers.wordpress.com it is a work in progress but it’s going!

Meggan, representing Rod’s Racers at a local event.

SITNF: I know I have certain things I always do before a race and if I don’t, I feel very thrown off. Do you have any pre-race rituals?

Meggan: I usually start my warm-up about 50 minutes before the start. I usually run about 3 miles then stretch, take a GU and some water, then I go to the start line and do strides for about 15 minutes before the race starts. I always eat something the morning of a race, maybe a Luna bar and a banana or something like that.

SITNF: What you eat during the marathon?

Meggan: I am big on GU. I will take about 6-7 Gus during a marathon, I figure we only have 20 miles worth of glycogen so I am not going to hit the wall because I didn’t take in enough fuel! I like Blackberry and Tri-Berry Gu. I take fluid at every stop, too. I also take SaltStick, I take one every 30 minutes or so because I have dealt with cramping in the past. Take the SaltStick with water or you will throw up – just to warn anyone reading this!

Meggan running the Atlanta Half Marathon

SITNF: I have found that it can be hard to train like I need to (especially long distances) and juggle the responsibilities of being a mom. Do you have any difficulties in training for a marathon with a young child/how do you do it?

Meggan: Well, I have a treadmill and I have logged a lot of miles on it…last Saturday I did a 20 miler. It is very hard to balance being a mom and running 80-90 miles a week and working 40+ hours and some weeks I struggle. Running helps me prioritize and I really don’t have any other hobbies…and I love my job. My husband is a track coach at MSU so he travels a lot during the year making it even harder (me and my treadmill get along pretty well). I have a regular sitter on Saturday for my long runs, and I have a group I run with during the week…very early. I sometimes start my runs as early as 4:30am, most of the time at 4:45am. If I have to add miles in the evening I usually take the baby jogger out around the neighborhood. I will say that none of this would be possible if I didn’t have an extremely supportive husband who is also a fabulous father..and coach!

SITNF: Did you run while you were expecting?

Meggan: Yes I ran till the very end…except for the week 40 (I was overdue). I think it helped keep me strong and I was able to get back to running PRs in about 6 months. I was very careful not to run in hot weather and I took a lot of walking breaks. I also tried to keep things interesting by riding the trainer and power walking. I made sure I got an hour of activity every day.

Marathon mama, Meggan with her baby girl, Maddy.

SITNF: What are your goals/aspirations?

Meggan: I would like to run under 2:40 for the marathon someday. I want to run a big marathon like Chicago or Boston, too.

SITNF: Little known facts about you that you’d like to share?

Meggan: I have an addiction to Dove chocolate. When I am logging lots of miles I can go through 3-4 bags in a week. I can’t help it!

SITNF: What shoes do you wear for training and are they the same ones you race in?

MF: I wear the Brooks Launch for Training. I wear the Brooks Green Silence for racing.

SITNF: You are an inspiration to many of us runners. Do you have someone that you look to as your inspiration?

Meggan: I have a high school friend from Canada that I follow, she is my inspiration! I also follow most of the top Americans, and I have many friends through blogging that are much faster than I am, they help keep me training hard!

SITNF: I have to have music when I run. Do you ever use an Ipod? If so, what do you listen to?

Meggan: I have a Sony MP3 player that is wireless. I love it, I only paid $49 for it. I can’t stand cords. I need music too when I am running on the treadmill. I usually just listen to pop music or anything with a nice beat.

SITNF: What do you do when you aren’t running? (ex: family, church, work, volunteer work)

Meggan: Well I oversee the Maroon Volunteer Center at Mississippi State University, so yes you can say I take part in a lot of volunteering and volunteer projects! I also support my Track and Field Dawgs whenever I can!

SITNF: I clearly remember my first real run. (Mainly because it wasn’t that long ago, lol) What was your first running experience?

Meggan: I ran in my schools cross-country race in 5th grade without shoes. I ran without shoes when we ran during gym class in Elementary School. I think the race was 1 kilometer.

SITNF: What got you into running?

Meggan: When I started running club track in high school I was last in a lot of track races. I was determined to get faster and to stick with it.

SITNF: Where do you train (indoor/outdoors) and how often?

Meggan: I try to vary my hard sessions between the treadmill and a few hilly road loops. I only run inside if I don’t have a sitter or my husband is traveling. I run between 80-90 miles a week, mostly in 1 run per day. That means most mornings I log about 12 miles. My long run is usually between 16-21 miles. I also run with Boardtown runners (boardtownrunners.org) on Saturday…which is good because after my long runs I am hungry!

SITNF: Personally, I have a horrible time running here in the summer. I feel like I can’t breathe, so the winter is my favorite time to train. How has the Mississippi heat affected your training, if it has?

Meggan: Oh gosh, I know what you mean! It took me years to get used to it and I will always struggle, too. On long runs I usually take fluid every 3 miles and I take SaltStick too. These things help! I try not to run between the hours of 8:00AM and 6:00PM. My husband runs in the heat of the day and I tell him he is crazy!

SITNF: Do you have any suggestions for new runners?

Meggan: Keep running, no matter how slow you are or how out of shape you think you are. Join a running group if you can so that you have others to push you and share in your pain and suffering on the hard days.

Here are some of Meggan’s stats:

Life Time Bests

-1/2 Marathon: 1:19:01 (2012)-Marathon: 2:49:06 (2012)-3000m Steeple Chase: 10:46 (2005)-5000m: 16:59 (2003)-5k road: 17:26 (2012)

Recent Achievements:
-Niagara Falls International Marathon Women’s Champion 2011 (2:52:16)
-Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon Women’s Champion 2012 (2:49:06)
-6th at Canadian Half-Marathon Championships, 2012 (1:19:01)
-State of Mississippi Record Holder in the 5KM, 10KM, and Half-Marathon

2012

1.) UAB Invite 5k: 17:51 (1st)
2.)Frostbite Half-Marathon: 1:20:07 (1st) CR
3.) Mercedes Half-Marathon: 1:19:38 (2nd)
4.) Rock ‘n’ Rock New Orleans Marathon (1st) 2:49:06
5.) Killer Kudzo 5km: 18:01 (1st)
6.) Canadian Half-Marathon Champs: 1:19:01 (6th)
7.) Gum Tree 10k: 37:10 (8th)
8.) Red Hills Festival 5km: 17:26 (1st)
2011
1.)Frostbite Half Marathon: 1:27:29 (1st) (14 weeks postpartum)
2.) Germantown Half Marathon: 1:23:40 (1st) (5 months p.p.)

3.) Renaissance at Colony Park Half Marathon: 1:23:12 (1st)CR, SR, PR, (6 1/2 months p.p.)
4.) 2nd Annual Red Hills 5k, Louisville, MS: 17:48 (1st) (7 1/2 months p.p.)
5.) Manitoba Marathon, Winnipeg, Man.: 2:58.09 (2nd) (8 months p.p.)
6.) Oxford Endurance Weekend 3.3miler (1st) 18:44 (9 1/2 months p.p.)
7.) Ridgeland Run for St. Jude (1st) 18:10 (10 1/2 m p.p.)
8.) Atlanta 13.1 (3rd) 1:20:37 (11 1/2 m p.p.)
9.) Niagara Falls International Marathon (1st) 2:52:16 (1 year P.P)

Thanks again to Meggan for taking time to answer these questions for us!

If you’d like to keep up with what’s going on with Meggan and racing, you can follow her blog – Mom Against the Marathon.

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Spotlight On: Rod Simmons


Rod Simmons

If you’re a runner or walker in Mississippi who makes the racing circuit, you’ve probably seen or at least heard of Rod’s Racers. It doesn’t take long to realize that if you need information or pictures of you or a loved one in a local race, Rod Simmons is the person to contact. The best thing about this is that it’s free for you!  A few months ago, I decided to spotlight runners or walkers from Mississippi that are making an impact in our running communities. The first person that came to my mind was Rod. He works hard to not only promote races but also the importance of being healthy and active. I also believe that through Rod’s Racers, he’s brought a sense of camaraderie among the racers. 

We met up with Rod at the Run for the Roses 5k Race in Prentiss back in April of this year. He is an extremely nice person who has an obvious love for this sport that only a runner/walker could understand. When he found out about my blog and Facebook page, he’s promoted it regularly amongst his many followers. Rod was also my right hand man when I began planning my first 5k race as a race director. He also was more than ready to advertise it for me when we were ready to promote it.

Rod was nice enough to stop and snap a picture with Jason and me.

I really appreciate him taking the time out of his extremely busy schedule to answer a few questions to help you get to know him and about Rod’s Racers.

1.)Tell us about your family and work. I know April is at a lot of the races taking pictures and I’ve seen her race before too!

April & I have been married for 14 yrs. Our daughter Roslyn is 12. I’ve been nursing at the University Of Ms Medical Center since 1995.

Rod with his wife April and a fellow racer at an event.

2.)How did you get started in running?

I started running in 1990 as a Sophomore at East Flora High School in Flora, Ms. I ran the 2 Mile for the track team that went on to finish the season as state champs that year.

3.)When did you start race walking?

I started race walking in February 2009 after a 19 yr layoff from high school. My doctor gave me 3 months to chang my lifestyle after having repeat high cholesterol.

Rod is also on the Board of Directors for Bike Walk Mississippi. (Click to visit link.)

4.) Race walking looks so difficult! Do you find it to be harder than running?

Race walking can be difficult. You have to be disciplined to be a walker.

5.)What’s your favorite distance?

I love doing 8k or greater.

6.) Do you have a favorite race that you look forward to every year?

I enjoy Run 2 Eat 5k in Hattiesburg, YMCA Cotton Classic in Greenville & 300 Oaks Road Race 10k in Greenwood.

7.)What’s your best and worst racing experience?

Best – When I PR’d in Oct 2009 with a finish time of 32:50.

Worst – Sept 3, 2011. At 1/4 mile into the race, I hit the wall. All of my energy was gone but I still finished 4th overall in the walk.

8.) What’s an average training week for you?

A training week varies based on my work schedule and the weather.

9.) Do you do any cross-training?

I ride a mountain bike, stationary bike, elliptical machine, dumbbells, and strength training.

10.) What is Rod’s Racers and how/when did you decide to form this group?

Rod’s Racers was started a year ago. We promote road races in Mississippi. I want to help promote small races and support the race directors. We are made up of 5 people: My wife April does photos, Tim Irvine and Evelyn Watkins, from Meridian, cover East Mississippi, Frank Barrett, from Laurel, covers South Mississippi and takes photos. I am the founder and cover Central and North Mississippi.

Evelyn Watkins, Tim Irvine and Rod Simmons of Rod's Racer's

Frank Barrett of Rod's Racers

11.)How can runners, walkers or race directors connect with Rod’s Racers?

They can visit in 3 ways: www.rodsracers-ms.net, www.facebook.com/rodsracers and www.twitter.com/rodsracers

12.) What are your goals for Rod’s Racers?

My goal is to create a chapter in each state to promote road races in those states.

13.) Approximately how many races do you/Rod’s Racers attend a year?

30 plus.

14.)If you could give someone advice that’s just starting out running or walking, what would you tell them?

Always consult your doctor before starting out to be sure you’re healthy.

Rod and his team do an outstanding job!  Click the link on his logo below or give him a call if you need him at your next event or would like it promoted!

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