I think my favorite thing about running is that races really come down to who wants it more.

Tell me a little about yourself, not running related.

I’m a junior at DSA. I was born here in Durham and have lived here my whole life.  My favorite subjects in school are math and science, and I hope to some day work in the medical field. Besides running, I love to play other sports, like basketball.  I also really enjoy playing piano and singing in my school choir.

When did you first start running?

I first started really running in 6th grade. Through most of elementary school and all of middle school, I was a year-around swimmer, and I kept finding that my favorite practices were the ones where we were able to go for a run as part of our cross-training. Then later that year when I took gym, we had to run the mile and I ended up being pretty good at it, so I decided to try my luck with cross-country the next year. I ended up loving cross-country and track, and so I’ve stuck with it ever since.

What is your favorite running workout and your least favorite workout and why?

My favorite running workout would have to be 8×400 @1600m pace, with 60 seconds rest between each. I did this workout for the first time last year during track season, and really liked it. For me, 400s are my favorite workout distance because they are long enough that you can settle in and do some work at pace, but short enough that they don’t seem overbearing. The rest also keeps things interesting because it is relatively short. I like to do this workout (or a slightly modified version) a week or so before a big race because it’s a big confidence booster for me. On the other hand, it is my least favorite work out would probably be 5×1000 on the track. 1000s are great for your fitness, and I do them frequently, but they are just long!

Do you do any other sports other than running?

I don’t do any other sports at school, but I love just playing them for fun. I really love playing pickup basketball, and the competitive nature that surrounds other team sports like it.

How do you fuel your body the week before a race?

I usually try to keep my diet pretty regular so I don’t upset my stomach, but I do take extra care to drink lots of water and to make sure I have enough electrolytes in my diet as well. Typically, I like to have a lot of carbs two nights before a big race, and something lighter the night before. Race morning, I usually have a hearty bowl of oatmeal and a banana; sometimes if my race isn’t t until later in the morning or afternoon, I will have a protein drink as well.

Do you have a favorite person to run with?

I really like running with my varsity team at school. They’re all great guys and we have lots of laughs on runs that make them go by so much faster.  I also like it when our coach runs or bikes with us because he has some great stories as well.

What’s your favorite thing about running?

I think my favorite thing about running is that races really come down to who wants it more. There’s a famous quote by one of the greatest American runners ever, Steve Prefontaine, where he says “the best pace is a suicide pace, and today seems like a good day to die.”  I really like this quote because it shows how running is really just a competition of who can be the most uncomfortable for the longest.  Desire to win in this sport is huge in deterring the outcome of a race, and that is just one of the many things I love about the sport.

What’s your favorite running distance?

My favorite racing distance is probably the 1600. I love the 1600 because by the time it really starts hurting it’s halfway over! There’s just enough time in the race to have a few surges and make a tactical race out of it, but it’s also long enough that it’s not a complete sprint.

Do you have a favorite running outfit? Or a lucky clothing item?

I used to always wear the same socks in race crazy socks on race day, but after a few bad races in them I realized I was just being a little superstitious.  Now I like to change it up a little bit, and vary my racing outfits, especially socks, and in the rare occasion, headbands.

How do you fit running in with your school, social life and family?

It’s really tough to fit in running and school and family and everything else that goes on in a typical high-school life, but I’ve found that if I’m not running most of the other things seem to fall apart. When I’m not running, I can’t concentrate as much in school, and I’m just generally in a less optimistic mood. Because of this, I try to fit running in first. Sometimes this means waking up at the crack of dawn because I have a super busy day ahead, or just doing a short 20min run around my neighborhood at 10:30 at night. Fitting it in has been tough at times, but once I realized how important it was to my overall well-being, I try to fit it in as often as possible.

Do you have a running bucket list of places or trails you would one day like to run?

I think it would be really cool to go for a run on all seven continents, but that might be pretty tough. I also really want to run at Hayward field in Eugene, Oregon.

Would you like to run at college?

I would really love to run in college. As I’ve gotten a little bit older I’ve realized just how tough that goal is, but it’s still something I would love to do. If I decided not to run for the college I go to, I would definitely still keep running and maybe try a triathlon or two.

What does your team mean to you?

I really love my team, and the fun atmosphere that they help create. My school team is pretty big compared to other schools, but that just adds to the fun. Meets are awesome and you can really feel the support from other runners and teammates. Even during workouts, there are always teammates cheering each other on and having a good time.

Who inspires you?

My coaches and parents are probably my biggest inspirations. Hearing stories from their past about challenges they have overcome always helps encourage me to work harder. My parents have been there throughout my entire athletic career, and have always pushed me to dream big and work for those dreams. Coach Huggins has been there since the start of my running career as well, and has taught me very important lessons about running and life in general.


Thanks so much for the interview. We have a similar bucket list – I want to try and run on all seven continents as well. I will be running a 5k this summer in England and one in Scotland. My family is planning a trip to Australia and Singapore in 2018 and I have already found a 5k Park Run in my grandparents home town in Australia – just need to find something in Singapore. We can figure out Antartica together!




There is so much to learn and do in life!

Hello Coach Magee – thank you for allowing me to interview you for my new blog segment – ‘Running Interviews’. It seems that we not only share having Celiac but also the same reasons why we don’t like running track. 

Not Running Related:  Basic stats:  I’m 53, married for 27 years, lived in Durham 20 years, grew up in Iowa & Michigan, mom to 2 boys, I am the oldest of 3 siblings, and my Mom lives across the street.

Various Jobs: Theater Teacher (Tech & All levels of Acting), English Teacher, writing coach, Theater Director, XC & Track Coach.

Loads of unrelated skills: Instant Costume Construction, various arts & crafts (macramé, batik, tie dye, knitting, crocheting, stenciling, soap making, candle making, linoleum prints, etc.), short order breakfast cook, interior & exterior house painter and lots of vital & trivial knowledge of literature & Durham.

Name story:  My mom was a Children’s Librarian so if I been a boy my name would have been Christopher but since I was a girl my name was Robin.

Also, it takes me forever to learn people’s names.  I will learn all the details about their lives and remember those but it takes me lots longer to remember their names.  I am very good at calling people the names of their best friends or siblings.  I even call my own family members by other family members’ names.  My grandfather used to do this and it drove me crazy when I was a kid.  Now I do it!


  1. First Running: I first started running for a team my freshman fall of high school. September 1977.  Before then I used to run home from elementary school through the woods to my neighborhood.  I loved to do that!  It was the closest I’d ever felt to flying!  Early trail running?
  1. Favorite & Least Favorite Running Workouts:

Faves:  a long distance run with friends in the woods or on dirt roads or anywhere (lots of time for chatting), a challenging hill work out, running with friends or a team.

Least Faves: anything on an indoor track!!  Hate it (the indoor track hack, the tiny turns….argh!)

  1. Other Sports: These days I practice yoga regularly which I love. I also like bicycling to get around town or to chase XC runners. I also love hiking & backpacking.

4:  A favorite race:  I have two favorite races the mile and a 5k XC race. From my high school career my two favorite races were the 1979 Class D State XC meet and the 1980 County Meet of Champions (track).  Locally I have 2 favorite races: The Pumpkin Run (in Chapel Hill) & the Miracle Mile (in downtown Raleigh).  They are both fun & benefit good causes.

5: Fuel the body:  Wow, that is a tough question because I didn’t find out I had celiac until well after my running and racing career were over.  My go to fuel is one of four types of Lara Bars.  They are great for any time my I’m feeling hungry.  I always have one in my purse.

Nowadays (if I were racing) my answer would be I would make sure to have plenty of carbohydrates and protein throughout the week.

My diet tends to be paleo because I can’t eat dairy anymore (wah!) & I’m even sensitive to some GF grains (I think it is because I didn’t learn until my early 40s, so I became sensitive to lots of foods along the way).

In the winter: Hot Chicken & Rice, salads, Beef stews, Chili, meatloaf & veg’s, sweet potatoes & eggs, giant stir fry dinners, Tomato Soup & Rice (some of my favorite dishes), slow cooked root veggies & a really awesome steak.

In the summer:  more fresh veggies, fresh salads, fish dishes, cold chicken salad, tuna salad, Rice Salads (loads of veg, cold meat & balsamic vinaigrette).

Anytime of year: spaghetti & meatballs, King Arthur Mix pancakes with blueberries, Lara Bars & Tanka Bars.

6: Favorite Person to Run with:  a good friend or anyone who I want to get to know.  Nowadays I’m more likely to go walking with my friends than running.

7: Favorite Running Outfit or lucky item:  I didn’t really have “lucky” items but I do have some historical stories about what we wore back in the mid 70s & early 80s.

Summer:  I used to love running in XL t-shirts because they were so roomy (lots of air circulation).  For some reason I didn’t wear tank tops.  Running bras had not been invented yet so there was no way to run “shirtless” like the guys.  But then the weather wasn’t too hot & humid in Michigan during the summer as it is in North Carolina.

Winter Competition:  Running tights had not been invented yet so we used to wear waffle weave cotton* long underwear under our uniforms.  My mom used to knit me the cutest lightweight wool running hats for competitions.  One time, when I was competing at the age group XC Nationals in Kansas, I showed up a little unprepared for the weather.  It was below zero with snow everywhere.  The course we ran on was hard packed snow so spikes were essential! I had forgotten the long underwear for my legs so my coach took me to a store to buy pantyhose to wear under my uniform.  The only type of pantyhose was control top (which had a weird weave from the knees up).  I looked ridiculous but I was a bit warmer!

*by 1979 the Duo-fold long underwear company invented a warm wool-cotton blend with super cute prints & colors.  This became my winter running gear of choice for late season competitions & my base layer for winter outdoor training.  Fortunately wind suits for running had been invented by 1979 so wearing one really helped make training more comfortable during the seasons with cold wind (fall, winter & spring).

8: Fitting running in with my family:  I usually walk or run right after the kids go to school.  If I wait too long then I never get around to it.  When one of my boys ran with the Durham Striders, I would go jogging while he was doing a workout.  That was great because then I was sure to run 3 days a week!

9: Running Bucket List:  I don’t have one yet. I do have some places I’d like to hike…parts of the John Muir wilderness in California, Canadian Rockies, the 100-mile Wilderness in Maine, various regions of Switzerland, France, Spain, Scotland, the Lake Country of Britain, and some of the trails in New Zealand.

10:  Team:  In high school my team was vital to my success and enthusiasm for running.  When I first started and could barely run a mile my coach and my team mates were so kind and encouraging and ran with me.  Once I got in shape it was lots of fun.  We had so few girls running XC and track that everyone was welcoming and encouraging.  Each member of the team was valuable.

In college some people were inspiring generous people and some were unpleasantly competitive.  It was a big team so I could train and enjoy the people who suited me.

11:  Who inspires you?  On any given day I could come up with a different list of people who inspire me. There are so many people who inspire me. I’ve been lucky to meet, to work with, and to be friends with some truly incredible people. There is so much to learn and do in life!

Coach Magee

To tell you the truth, all my high school runners inspire me.

Hello Coach Huggins – thank you for allowing me to interview you for my new blog segment – ‘Running Interviews’.

1) Tell me about yourself? I was born in Okinawa Japan since my father was stationed there while he was in the Air Force. I was only there for about two weeks so I don’t remember anything about Japan. I grew up just outside of Atlanta GA in a medium size town called Decatur. It’s was a lot like Durham when I was a kid. I went to college in Greensboro NC at Guilford College (Go Quakers!). After I graduated college I moved to Boston MA where I lived for about 10 years. While in Boston I became a school teacher, met my future wife, and eventually decided that it was too expensive and too cold to live up north any more so about 8 years ago my wife and I decided to move back down south and we chose Durham. I had taught in a fairly rough district in Boston and had decided that I was never going to teach again. Maybe I would open a bike shop or something. Randomly I met someone that knew Mr. Hawks at DSA and I was asked to apply for a job. I told Mr. Hawks that I didn’t really want the job and that I was thinking of opening a bike shop. He said maybe I should think about being a teacher again. I said ok. A week after accepting my new job as the 7th grade science teacher at Durham School of the Arts I was out doing a track workout on the Duke Track when I saw two runners wearing DSA shirts. I went over and talked to the Coach. I introduced myself. The coach was named Dow Needham and he said that he was the coach of the DSA cross country team. Then he asked me if I’d like to come and help out with the team. I said no. I was going to be too busy opening my bike shop. Later that year I decided to help Dow out a little bit. By the end of that first season Dow let me know that I was going to be the new head cross country coach and the rest is history. I’m still waiting to open up that bike shop. 

2) I ran for fun all through my childhood but never competitively. I could usually beat most of the kids in my neighborhood but by the time I got to high school I was far too cool for running seriously. I started to get back into running my junior year of college and starting running a few 5ks. I placed pretty well and thought that maybe I could get good at this if I focused on it for a while. After I moved to Boston I started taking running much more seriously and started entering larger and more competitive races. Most of my years in Boston were spent running seriously. 

3) My favorite workout is Yazo 800’s. This is basically running 10-12 800’s at the same minute pace that you would run your marathon at. So if you want to run a 3 hour 20 min. marathon then you run 10-12 3:20 800’s. When you are in shape this workout is just a great confidence booster. You can just settle into each 800 and if you do it right by the last one’s you feel your best and you’re running your fastest. My least favorite workouts are sprint intervals. Anything shorter than a 200 meter and I just feel like my legs won’t go any faster. I’ve never been a sprinter and I’m reminded why each time I try to run a fast 200 meters. 

4) I mostly played baseball growing up until high school but I’ve tried just about everything. Tennis, golf, cycling, swimming, karate. I even tried fencing for a while. Oh yeah and there’s that whole skater phase if you count that as a sport. These days I mostly just run. Last year I tried to become a cyclocross bike racer but that didn’t pan out too well so I came back to running. 

5) How do I fuel my body before a race. My diet has always been pretty good. I’ve never had to change my diet too much since I began running seriously. One thing that I do always do is eat a bowl of oatmeal before a morning race. Good fuel for long runs as well. 

6) Do I have a favorite person to run with? Sure, I’ve had a few groups of runners that I’ve really enjoyed. Right now I’m running with two local guys. Pat Morris and James Umbanhowar. They are both ex cross country and track guys and though we are all beyond our days of true speedy running we are each competitive in our own respects and enjoy the occaisional race. We’ve won a couple races as a team and really enjoy making fun of each other and not getting too serious about our speed. James recently ran 400 days in a row. He is out of his mind. 

7) What’s my favorite thing about running. Freedom. I love the feeling of just being out in the world and moving around my city by my own power. When I’m in good shape and I can just run forever it’s possibly the best feeling in the world to just go out for an easy 8 mile run and do some running on the roads and trails of Durham. I love exploring when I run. I always try to keep my head up and look around when I run so I can see everything around me. 

8) My favorite running distance? Hmmmmmm. My go to distance for regular runs is 6 miles. Just enough to feel like I did something but not so long that I’m out there for too long. In terms of racing I’d say my favorite distance is the 10k or half marathon. Both of those races allow you enough time to settle into your pace and really feel your fitness. 5ks are for kids who can run fast. I’ve run 3 marathons and though I enjoyed them all they took so much work and so much recovery time that I’m not sure I’ll be doing another marathon any time soon. 

9) Favorite running outfit/clothing I’ve always run in Mizuno shoes, specifically the wave rider. I love that shoe and it’s always performed really well for me. Other than that I’ve never really had a piece of clothing that was my favorite. Most of my running gear gets destroyed pretty quickly so I don’t have it around long enough to get too attached. 

10) How do I fit running in with my family? That’s a tough one. Ever since my wife and I had our two boys (Grady and Brendan now 7 and 5) running has been hard to fit in like I used to. When I was at my peak I was running 50-60 miles a week with workouts 2 times a week and long runs of nearly two hours every weekend. Talk about being fit. Now it’s hard to fit in 3 runs a week and get in a long run of an hour on the weekend. What I try to do these days is run when I have an off period during the school day. The problem with that is that I have to come back to school, dry off, and teach again. Not optimal but I’ve got to fit it in where I can. Up until this year, I ran everyday with the cross country team and that definitely helped to keep me fit but since we’ve changed cross country practice to the mornings it’s just been too hard to run and be ready for teaching. I’m still working on my running plan. Once you have a family, they come first. Running comes second or third…. fourth??

11) Do I have a running bucket list? One of my big goals was to qualify for and run the Boston Marathon. I did that in 2007. Check. Another one was to outright win a race longer than a 10k. 3 years ago I won the Mountains to Sea 12 mile trail race. Check. I also wanted to break 18 in the 5k again but I don’t think that one is going to ever happen again. I had a goal of breaking 3 hours in the marathon. I did that 2 years ago at the 3 Bridges Marathon in Virginia running 2:59:53 (just barely made it). I’ve thought about maybe doing an Ironman someday but I’m a terrible swimmer. I’d like to do the Western States 100 Ultra Marathon but that will have to happen once my boys are much older and I can waste TONS of time running without my wife wanting to kill me. 

12) What does my team mean to me? Well, there’s MY team which is the Hello Kitty Athletic Club. I’ve been running with those guys for 15 years and we’ve got a great bunch of great guys to race with but they are mostly based in New England so I don’t get to race with them too often. Then there is DSA Cross Country. This team is my life. I can’t tell you how much the cross country team means to me except to say that I hope to be this team’s coach for many many years to come. Helping to coach such an amazing group of young people has really made my job a wonderful place to be. Every year I look forward to cross country season. It’s a highlight of my whole year. 

13) Who Inspires me? To tell you the truth all my high school runners inspire me. Seeing young people work so hard together as a team and overcome obstacles is the most inspiring thing I can think of. I’m never more excited than I am at an XC race where my runners are working hard and trying their best. 

 Coach Huggins

The best part about running is the bonds you build with your teammates.

Hello Coach McRae – thank you for allowing me to interview you for my first new blog segment – ‘Running Interviews’.

Tell me a little about yourself, not running related? My name is Coach McRae. I was born and raised in Brooklyn NY. I came to NC to go to College and to get a change in environment, something more slow paced and relaxed. I always loved sports growing up but more importantly I always had the drive to want to help people. That’s what brought me to my major in studying Athletic Training and the simple fact that I loved and had a passion for Track and Field. I didn’t want my Senior Year of College to be the last impact it had on my life. So I decided to Coach the year after I graduated which was the start of my Coaching Career.

When did you first start running? I first started running in 3rd grade with my club team the East New York Impalas.

What is your favorite running workout and your least favorite workout and why? My favorite running workout to do was between a ladder and plyometrics. The ladder is great because to me at least I’m not running the same distance over and over again. It gave a little excitement to the workout by the changing distances. Plyometrics is just awesome because I love everything that has to deal with jumping and increasing vertical. I really don’t have a workout I never enjoyed to a certain extent, I just loved fitness.

Do you do any other sports other than running? I’ve played basketball, tennis, and volleyball.

Do you have a favorite race? I used to love doing the 100m Dash in my younger years but as I grew older the one that always stuck was High Jump.

How do you fuel your body the week before a race? The best way to fuel your body the week before a race is to eat plenty of carbs meaning pasta and rice. But you cannot forget to eat some good protein such as your red meats that are high in iron and of course your vegetables. Other than the food aspect it was always important to make sure you are hydrated very well. Water should be your first best friend, juice should be your second best friend and soda you should try to stay far away from. ha-ha.

Do you have a favorite person to run with? Growing up I always enjoyed running with my best friends and or teammates.

What’s your favorite thing about running? The best part about running is the bonds you build with your teammates. When those teammates become family to you there’s no better feeling than that.

What’s your favorite running distance? My favorite distance to run is a total of 3 miles. There is nothing like running at your own pace and still being able to enjoy the outside environment.

Do you have a favorite running outfit? Or a lucky clothing item? I don’t have a favorite running outfit but I do have a thing for socks. How I picked out what socks were going to be lucky to me was which ever pair of socks I would wear the day and or week I had a good practice I would wear it at a meet and if I did good in them I would wear those socks at every meet until they started to develop holes and such in them.

How do you fit running in with your family? The only kid I have is my lovely dog named Luna. Usually when I go on morning or late night runs she comes with me so that’s our bonding time other than the regular goofy play time we have. Other than that every time I’m back in NY visiting my family I typically run as early as 7am so it doesn’t really bother our bonding time because they are usually still sleeping especially if its a weekend.

Do you have a running bucket list of places or trails you would one day like to run? I actually do not have a running bucket list. To me as long as I’m working out I feel good but I do want to run a Marathon one day.

What does your team mean to you? My team/my athletes as far as Coaching go mean the world to me. From the energy they bring to all the laughs and hard work that’s shared. All the teams I was on growing up left everlasting memories of fun in which I’m trying to let my athletes see. If you trust, believe, and fully support your teammates watch great things happen!

Who inspires you? The person that inspires me the most is my mother. She is the most hard working, strong minded role model I know. She always told me to be the best that I can be and that when I ever find something I am truly happy with doing pursue it to its fullest. She is also the woman that introduced me to ketchup and the original pack of skittles which are the two best items ever made.

Thank you Coach McRae for sharing your running insight and being my first interviewee. I also have a lucky pair of socks that I like to run in!