Pick up a copy of the latest issue of Competitor on Aug. 1 at your favorite running retail shop or another retail outlet across the U.S.
Although she owns a 2:43 marathon PR, DeAnna Ardrey really only began running four years ago. After six months of running on her own in her transplanted home of Boulder, Colo., a friend encouraged her to join a training group coached by a fiftysomething guy with a British-sounding accent who’d often ride a bike next to the runners and shout out bits of encouragement along the way.
“I kept thinking, ‘Who’s the old guy on the bike?’” she says with a laugh. “Finally, after a few weeks, I decided to Google search his name. And that’s when I realized I was being coached by a running legend.” The “old guy on the bike” just happened to be Steve Jones, the former world record-holder in the marathon and winner of the Chicago Marathon (twice), London Marathon and New York City Marathon who has since become one of the top marathon coaches in the U.S.
Despite not becoming a runner until her late 20s, Ardrey, 30, has risen quickly under Jones’ tutelage, thanks to consistent weekly mileage that ranges from 85 to 110 (depending on where she is in her training cycle). She lowered her marathon PR to 2:43:12 at the 2011 Chicago Marathon, where she finished 12th overall and second among American runners. That effort qualified her for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston, where, in January 2012, she ran 2:44:27 and placed 71st out of 152 runners. She returned to Chicago last fall and ran an almost identical 2:43:30 to place 13th overall and fifth among American runners.
Most recently, Ardrey placed 31st at the U.S. Half Marathon Championships held on June 22 in conjunction with Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn. She finished in 1:17:12, just eight seconds off her PR. Now she’s training for the U.S. Marathon Championships on Oct. 6 at the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
On the cover of the August issue of Competitor, Ardrey is running on Magnolia Road, west of Boulder, Colo., with the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop. She’s wearing Oiselle’s Free2Be Tank ($44; oiselle.com) and Stride Shorts ($39; oiselle.com), a Soleus Dash Watch ($55; soleusrunning.com) and a pair of New Balance 1600 shoes ($110; newbalance.com).
What sports were you involved with when you were younger?
I played soccer all my childhood through high school in Sayre, Pa. I was on a traveling soccer league as well. I lived and breathed soccer. It was my passion. I use to dream of one day being a professional soccer player. I even slept at night with my soccer ball by my head. I was offered a NCAA DI scholarship to play at a university, but ended up not going to college then. One of my biggest mistakes in life. We’ve all got them! Instead I traveled and went to college later in life.
How did you start running?
Well, my first marathon was in 2006. It was just a task that I challenged myself with and did. I ran for a few months leading into that event and ran a 3:41. After that race I put the running to rest. I did what I set out to do and was finished. Then in June of 2009 I started running again. I had moved out here to Boulder, Colo., and wanted to stay fit. I had no goals other than to have fun and be healthy. I ran about 30 to 40 miles per week, but no workouts. It wasn’t until I met my coach, Steve Jones, that I did my very first workout. That first workout I remember running next to former University of Colorado runner Morgan Ekemo and keeping pace. I was surprised to be running a workout next to someone as fast as her. That’s when I thought maybe this is something I can be good at. So I decided to keep coming back to the workouts.
What’s it like being coached by Steve Jones?
At this time I knew absolutely nothing about running. I was running for about six months before meeting and training with “Jonesy.” I’ve been with him for three years now, and I follow his training and guidance 100 percent. When I first started running with him I had no real goals. I was just running for the pure fun of it. I had no idea what the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon was at all. Little did I know that I’d end up running in the 2012 trials with so many of the country’s top women runners.
Jonesy is the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life. He’s my coach, mentor, best friend and my Boulder dad. Before meeting him I always felt a little lost and a bit of a misfit in life. Through running I have found purpose, friendship and contentment with myself. Everything positive that has happened to me since moving here can be connected to running.
How’d you meet Jonesy?
I met him through a running buddy I had met at a Fleet Feet fun run. I was telling her that I was new to running and was looking for some girls to run with. She mentioned training with Jonesy. She suggested I might like doing it. I had no idea who he was, so I just showed up to practice one morning, pretty much uninvited, and jumped in the workout. I never did speak to him that day. The next week I went to another one of his workouts. This time before the workout I went straight up to him and said, “I really like this and I’m joining your group.” His response was, “Why don’t we test it out for two weeks and then decide if it’s a good fit.” I agreed, feeling a bit sensitive that he wasn’t as excited as I was. Three years later and he’s still my coach. I guess it’s a good fit.
Where is your favorite place to run?
Running Boulder is really great because there are so many good places to run. There are great trails down low in town and up high in the mountains. Plus there’s Magnolia Road, which is a long, rolling road at about 8,500 feet. I think my favorite place to run is the trail up Pawnee Pass west of Boulder. It’s a trail that goes up to the Continental Divide at 13,000 feet. The views are spectacular. I think when I die, my soul will go there to rest.