The following article was written by Amy Desselle, a resident writer for our neighborhood magazine The Neighborhood.
When Kristen Lippencott first started distance running in 2010, she never planned on running a marathon. Her exact words were, “I mean, who wants to run for five hours?” Just a year after those fateful words were spoken, Kristen completed two half marathons and was hooked. By December of 2011, she found herself running and completing her first full marathon.
Kristen grew up athletic and fitness-minded. She credits this mentality primarily to her father who was actively engaged in sports during her childhood, participating in basketball and softball leagues. Growing up in Pittsburgh, Kristen liked the idea of running but hated running indoors, and the Pennsylvania winters typically put a damper on any outdoor runs she attempted. Regardless, Kristen’s passion for fitness followed her to college at the California University of Pennsylvania where she earned an undergraduate degree and later her masters in exercise science and health promotion.
Health, exercise, and wellness are key components of Kristen’s life and a passion of hers off-hours but also during the week. Kristen works as a Wellness Consultant and spends her days developing and implementing programs that center around importance of physical activity and exercise for employees at Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield. She strongly believes that you can never do too little when it comes to being active. Outside of the office, Kristen teaches fitness classes several nights a week, making sure that she mixes up her own workouts frequently to keep her body guessing.
Kristen took up running in earnest after moving to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 2009. She ran sporadically prior to this move--the occasional charity 5k, a short jog to her local gym, an infrequent mile on the treadmill. She credits her eventual love of running to a group of five girls she met in Myrtle Beach. Without those girls, Kristen feels she would have never been motivated to start on this journey. When she needs an extra boost, she often thinks of them. They’ve spread out across the country now, but they remain her silent motivators. Just six years after the start of her running journey, she has completed six full marathons and five half marathons.
Driven by the sense of complete accomplishment and the thrill when she crosses a finish line, Kristen continues to train and to plan. She loves running because it is hers and hers alone. She sets the pace and the intention. She acts as her own competition. Five hours IS a long time, as she noted so early on in her running journey. But it's her choice as to how she fills those hours--music, podcasts (current favorites include This American Life and Freakonomics), mental rundowns of her upcoming events, or the just mundanities of life. In short, Kristen thinks about anything and everything she wants--except the physical act of running, that is. And while she values the solitary of aspects of running, the sport has also been a great bonding experience and an opportunity to meet new, like-minded people. She has met temporary friends that last a few miles and lifelong friends who are willing to meet at 5:00 a.m. just so no one is left in the dark to run alone.
When Kristen isn’t training for a race, she typically logs five to fifteen miles per week, preferring to cross train with spin classes, yoga, or a little off-trail mountain biking with her partner, Michael. Kristen and Michael moved to Little Rock five years ago for Michael’s work and were quickly won over by the natural beauty of the state. Not a runner himself, Michael often bikes alongside Kristen during her runs. Some of their favorite places to exercise are along the Arkansas River Trail, either back at Two Rivers Park or through the Rock Quarry and along the bluffs on the North Little Rock side of the river.
As the new year begins, Kristen’s training will be ramping up. In 2017, she is planning to run the Walt Disney World Marathon, the Little Rock Half Marathon, and the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. As she prepares, she will be running anywhere from fifteen to thirty-five miles per week, with her weekends reserved for longer runs and yoga sessions for rest and recovery. There’s no telling how many races are in Kristen’s future, but it certainly seems like she won’t be slowing down anytime soon.