Why Steffan Runs

Jessica Wagner

While the popular Chicago Marathon took place yesterday, another awesome race was happening on the West Coast - the Long Beach Half and Full Marathon!  The Long Beach Marathon runs along the coast of the LBC, on the beach paths, and around other beachy areas in the city.  If you're looking for a good runcation, this is the race to do.  It has great scenery, and since it's not as big as other marathons along the coastline, it's a cheaper race.  Plus, Long Beach always has fun stuff going on and is a great, highly underrated place to stay in Southern California!  While I've never done the Long Beach Marathon, I watched it last year and plan on running it one day.  In the meantime, I'll share Steffan's story about running and about the race with you...

This was Steffan's second Long Beach Half Marathon. He lives in Long Beach and had a free offer to sign up last year, so he figured, "Why not?".  The half marathon option that he did is preceded by a 20 mile bike ride.  He prepared the night before by drinking and eating at Long Beach’s Annual Beer and Wine Festival and he did the bike ride on his fixed gear bike.  He used the same ritual last year before the race, so as they say, "Don't fix something if it isn't broken".

(He also did the 5k on Saturday this year to complete the "super combo".)

Last year, I saw him around the halfway point and to this day, I feel guilty that I forgot to take a picture of him during the race.  But I did save this proof picture that I found online: 

(2014 Long Beach Half Marathon)

Steffan was a runner way before I knew him.  He started as a baseball player all through high school and college.  He was also a three-time dodgeball champion at Northwestern University and is now a two-time dodgeball champion in Long Beach (he has more pride in his dodgeball accomplishments than any other life accomplishments).  Ever see the movie Dodgeball?  That is the level of seriousness that Steffan holds for the sport.

(He likes to wear the most obnoxious outfits possible when playing.)

Running for Steffan is a way to stay in shape with this annual dualathlon thrown in.  He did the Huntington Beach triathlon with me in 2014 (yes, on his fixed gear bike) and I even convinced him to sign up for the 2016 Big Sur Marathon lottery.  Steffan and I didn't get picked for the lottery, but he's getting closer to doing a full marathon.  ;)  Our friends Andy and Lydia were both accepted and will be running Big Sur in 2016, so more on that later!

 (Before the Huntington Beach Triathlon 2014)

Regardless, Steffan runs for fun and is competitive during the races, but it’s not something that he thinks about on a day-to-day basis.  Running can be that for a lot of people - you don’t HAVE to be training for something to go for a run.  If you want to create goals and beat your times, you can.  Or you can just use it to stay in shape and blow off steam.

For those of you who don’t know, Steffan and I dated while I lived in California (yes, I know, I will never EVER get a date after this - I’m okay with it).  We met at a networking event, but didn’t start talking regularly until we'd see each other at our work’s gym.  FYI - having a crush and/or love interest at the gym may be the single best motivator for working out on a regular basis.

One of the first times we hung out, we went for a run on the beach.  Embarrassingly, my calf cramped up almost immediately and we had to walk most of the three miles that we planned on running.  We’d occasionally run together over the time we were dating and it was always a great experience.  Running or working out with your partner is a great bonding experience and motivator to actually get out there and exercise.  It always helps to have someone else to push you.  And as my friend Kaycee once yelled to us while we were running on the track at work, “Couples who run together have fun together.”  It’s true.

(We also did a lot of hiking, camping, biking, and other outdoor activities - still not sure what we were looking at in this picture, but it sums up our relationship pretty well.) 

A few other things about Steffan:

1)  Don’t ever tell him that he can’t do something, like drink a lot at a beer and wine festival then run a half marathon the next day - it’ll only make him want to do it more.

2) He’s the second hardest working guy I’ve ever met (second only to my dad).  By the time he was 24, he already had a Master’s degree in Materials Science, had a good full-time job, and owned a condo.

3) He gives back to his community by tutoring kids at a local elementary school in Long Beach (yes, I’m basically writing him the perfect online dating profile right now).

These are all qualities that I value in my close friends and in the Run Life Co. community - hard workers that care about their communities.

Steffan is also one of the only guys that I could convince to buy a women’s Run Life Co. shirt:

(His verdict is that while very comfortable, “They’re weird because guys shirts aren’t made like this,” referring to the racerback.)

While it was 96 degrees by the end of the race yesterday, Steffan said it was easier than he expected.  That's what training will do - make running easier!

Anyway, if you want to run, you don’t need to run for long distances, you don’t need to run fast, and you don’t HAVE to do races.  You just need to put on your running shoes (and Run Life Co. shirt), get out there, and run. :)

Congrats to all the Long Beach and Chicago marathoners, along with all the other runners out there.  You are all awesome!!

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