Ron Marinucci November Column: "Lauren Lapka"

Ron Marinucci November Column: "Lauren Lapka"

“Sturm und Drang” the German Romanticists of the 19th Century called it.  “Sturm und Drang,” the storms and stresses people experience and struggle with in their everyday lives.

Despite the technology, gadgetry, and other advances of the past decades, maybe in part because of them, many Americans seem more frenzied and even swamped than ever.  Runners are not immune to this.  Family, home, job/career, school?  There are only twenty-four hours in each day.  Running?  How do we fit that in to our busy, often frenetic schedules?

When I was still working full-time, often with two or three or four or even for a while five jobs, to get in my run, I’d awaken and get out the door at 5:00 AM most days, at least Monday through Friday.  Even now, working just two or three days a week, I still often am out there at 5:30 or 6:00 AM.  At this time of the year, that means starting and finishing in the dark.

That’s why I was very impressed to discover how Lauren Lapka manages to keep running despite one of those very busy schedules.  A key word for the 30-year old is “balance.”  She laughed, “It’s one of the most humorous terms in my vocabulary right now.  I have somehow managed to find balance in all of the craziness my life currently is.”

Lapka has worked full-time at Varsity Lincoln in Novi “for a little over seven years.”  She graduated from Caseville High School in Michigan’s Thumb area.  “I’m currently a full-time returning student at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.  I am finishing up my communications degree with a double minor in marketing and management.”  Enthusiastically she added, “I will be walking,” that is, getting her degree, “on April 25, 2020.”  Yes, she knows the date.  She quipped, “I’m counting down every minute!”

A full-time job.  A full schedule of classes, with not only a major, but a double minor.  Homework.  Drive time to the Ypsilanti campus after work.  “Work and school and life in general can be extremely stressful,” she sighed.  “So I use running as my release.”  She said, “I push myself during the day to get everything done so that I can make time directly after work to go run for a few miles.”

Lapka didn’t begin running until after high school and a first stint at Eastern Michigan.  She had just moved to Novi and took to running for a few fairly typical reasons.  “I wanted to lose some weight, find a hobby, and do something challenging.”  Running satisfied the bill.

“I keep running because it is the one thing that I am good at that benefits me physically, mentally, and emotionally.”  That is, running provides “balance.”  She admitted, “I am a very competitive person.  Nothing is more liberating than beating people during runs.  Running also makes me push myself to limits I never really thought possible.”

For her, squeezing in running has been a challenge.  “Lately, I’ve been pulling around ten miles a week.  I try to go out three times a week, about three or four miles [at a time].  I don’t have a day scheduled for a longer run because I’m not training for anything crazy [long] right now.  Sometimes I don’t have time to blow dry my hair lately,” she said.  “School and work have been very demanding.”

Whether she can fit a run into her daily schedule “depends.  It depends on the day and the weather.  If I have a ton of homework due or things going on after work, I’ll take a lunch and head to the gym to run.”  She noted, of those gym runs, “I love the treadmill.  I don’t know why so many runners hate it so much.”  The treadmill not only helps her fit a workout in during the busiest of days.  “I get to run and catch up on Bravo shows all the while [if raining] staying dry inside.  I don’t see the problem.”

But she also enjoys running outside, in favorable conditions.  “If I have nothing going on and Michigan wants to give us a day with no rain, Brian [her boyfriend] and I will go for a few miles after work.”  The couple enjoys running at Dodge Park in Commerce Township.

“I do enter races and I love them!” she gushed.  Her times are not exactly where she wants them, but acknowledges, “I haven’t been able to train to the best of my abilities.”  Her current goal is to race at least once a month.  “I love a nice 10K, a perfect distance for me.”

Lapka recently finished the Growler Gallop in Detroit in September.  She enjoys the theme-based runs such as Chill at the Mill and Run Scream Run.  And, she “plans to persuade” Brian to do a Thanksgiving run with her.

In something of an understatement, she confirmed, “I’m a very active person.”  She chuckled, “I usually can’t sit still for more than five minutes.”  She likes taking exercise classes such as Pure Barre and Orange Fitness, “but with my schedule it is very challenging to find classes to attend.”  If she runs on the treadmill at the gym, “I will lift.”  And, she noted, “I love taking my dogs for walks!”

She anticipates that 2020 will help her to amp up her running.  “I will have a much lighter load,” especially after graduation in April.  “I plan to get my miles back up to twenty or more a week and sign up for two races a month.”

Lapka has learned some lessons from running.  “Never be afraid to push yourself or dip your toe into new adventures.  And don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.”  She recalled what “a few guys I work with who are runners” told her before her inaugural race.  “I can’t believe you signed up for a half marathon for your first race,” they said.  “You’ll never be able to finish.”  Well, she did finish and “without stopping one time and I beat one of their half marathon times!”

“Running is a mental sport.  Have faith in yourself.  You’ll be surprised by what you can really do.”  She added, with a big laugh, “Also always carry flushable wipes in your car.  You’ll be thankful one day.”

Job/Career.  School/Studying and Homework.  Family.  Other stuff.  Lauren Lapka shows us that, if we want to run, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  She seems to have struck the right “balance.”