Mother’s Day Q&A

Our runners are an inspiration – achieving impressive feats and maintaining lifestyles that align with their personal goals. We are always motivated by how our runners inspire each other along their journey. This year for Mother’s Day, we had a chance to sit down with Lisa Gonzales for a Q&A session about what inspires her the most and keeps her going the distance.

What runningdid running help you achieve last year?

Last year was my first year as a school district Superintendent and the job is certainly higher stress with more responsibility. Under my leadership, I have a staff of nearly 100, more than 625 students, and an operating budget of over $13M. Being able to hit the trails or the streets, process my work and decisions, and reflect with running mates helped me make it through the year with flying colors. The year went so well that I was one of 100 Superintendents who are technology leaders invited to the White House to meet with President Obama in November.

What were your training/running goals last year – did you reach them?

My goal was to survive an overly ambitious year injury free. I ran three marathons last year, including Napa, Big Sur and San Francisco. As I’ve matured as a runner, I’m still cognizant of my times, but they aren’t the end all be all – “it is all about the journey.” And while I still have the aches and pains of an endurance athlete, I can say I finished the year injury free!

What were you most proud of last year around your running/training?

I headed to the Napa Marathon with my family last year. While I was running the full (with no iPod…that was a first!), my then
eight-year old twins were running the Napa 5K, a timed race. A good part of running for me is being a good role model for my daughters. I finished the marathon in a respectable time and made new friends from a Reno racing team in the process. While I was running, my daughters posted fabulous times themselves: 7:30 and 8:10 minute miles for them. Knowing that I’ve inspired the next generation? Priceless!

What was your favorite training run last year? Why?

My favorite training run was in the late spring. A number of us were training for Big Sur so early one Sunday morning, we set off on a 16 miler around Lexington Reservoir in Los Gatos. It is a great course with rolling hills but one of those where you set out to run and you have to commit to the distance because it is remote. No water. No bathrooms. Little vehicle traffic if you need help. About 20 of us ran that morning with the steam coming off what little water there was in the reservoir and we just had a great time bonding. It is those times when you really get to know other runners. We just chatted and ran and laughed.

What did running/training teach you last year that was unexpected?

This may sound silly, but when I was at the White House with the 100 Superintendents from around the nation, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said something about our work in public education and leading school districts being like running a marathon. Then he asked if there were any marathoners in the room. I kid you not – at least 20 of us raised our hands. He was stunned. He asked us to raise our hands again and so many hands were raised. I was surrounded by amazing leaders from around the country, and a great number of them not only work hard but train hard like me…much more representative than any average group of individuals. I think it speaks to how we live our lives: work hard, run hard.

What/who inspired you last year? Why?

One of our teammates in the South Bay is a 65+ female runner named Lynne. Supporting her and watching her run races, share the love of running with others, and then hearing about the medals she is earning for placing in her age group inspires me every time. She inspires all of us. But I really think her story is one like so many others. Each of us has a story. Each of us brings something special to a team. The joy is to find out what each person has inside him or her that can inspire each of us. Sometimes it is adversity they overcome. Other times it is the achievement of personal goals. Still others are trying to lose a great deal of weight or setting out to achieve a new goal. I think we can find inspiration in everyone if we take the time to find it.

What was your happiest running-related memory last year?

The Santa Rosa Half was on my bucket list and the earthquake that morning at 3:30 am was a bit unexpected! I showed up to the starting line and met some new people who noticed I was wearing my “SF Marathon Pacer” hat. Because I was doing a walk/run, they asked if they could run with me. I pushed two other runners the last two miles of the race and both finished wit PR’s, including one who I helped take FIFTEEN MINUTES off her half time! While it wasn’t a great race for me, helping her take that time off (not to mention making a friend for life) was the best memory of the year!

Was there anyone you impacted last year with your running beside yourself? If so, who and how?

I often hear that I help other runners, and that’s what really makes a difference for me. No longer am I chasing the clock, as those days are behind me. Many a race has taken place where I’ve been an official pacer (San Francisco, Berkeley) and other runners have graciously shared that their PRs were a result of my pacing. I ran the last two legs of the California International Marathon in early December (as one of the Run365 teams). Around mile 23, one of the men who we coached in the South Bay found me. I paced him in the last three miles, and he set a new PR. I’d like to think that I’m on the trails and in races these days to support others. There really is no better role than that, in my opinion.

If you had one reason for running last year, what was it?

I can only have one? I run to be a role model for others. It is important to have a healthy body and mind. I’ve been able to achieve that with running. Most of my closest friends are runners. I love to be able to inspire that in others and help them achieve what often appears to be an unbelievably challenging goal.

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