We could say this every week, but we saved it for today: Welcome to Race Week!!!!! We've been talking marathons all month – Disney, Houston, Miami – we've finally arrived at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Marathon Trials in Orlando!
Philadelphia is rich with runners, many of whom we know, with awe–inspiring accomplishments. We recently caught up with Elaine Estes, a member of Philadelphia Runner Track Club, who is competing at Trials this Saturday!
In Elaine’s words, without further ado:
Who are you? My name is Elaine Estes. I am from Oxford, Pennsylvania and have lived in Philadelphia since I moved here to attend Saint Joseph’s University in 2015. I now work as a Spanish teacher at Furness High School in the School District of Philadelphia.
Who do you run and/or train with? I train with Philadelphia Runner Track Club as well as other women in the city who train for elite and sub–elite distance races.
What is something that you feel is unique about your running history or journey? I always say I have a "rags–to–riches" running story. I joined the cross–country team at my high school on a whim after running one 5K with my mom (where I finished in over 30 minutes, and she yelled at me to jog). By the end of my first season, my PR was 21:17. By the end of college, it was 17:03 and now it is dipping even lower. I ran more than three minutes faster than my first–ever PR per mile in my qualifying marathon for the Trials. My 15–year–old self would never have believed that if someone told me that is what I would accomplish.
What was your first run with a group/club like? I joined PRTC right before COVID started. The first workout I did was a 10x1000 workout with my now good friend Pete Celona! That was HUGE for me, but I just wanted to fit in and be flexible… and I survived! Through COVID things kinda shut down for the club, and I took a break from running seriously. I got back into the swing of things by linking up with other athletes through our team Slack.
What can someone expect if they come out to run with your group? We are so big and diverse, there is usually something for everyone! Generally, you can expect to find people who consider running to be a central part of their lives.
What is your favorite race? This is a great question. I think I am still searching for it. Generally, I like running at the Lehigh cross country course and marathons!
What are you currently training for? I am currently training for the US Olympic Marathon trials – I qualified for them at CIM in 2023 (8 weeks ago). Close on the heels of the Trials, I will be running Boston (another 8ish week turnaround)! After that, I’ll take some time off and start building for a fall Marathon.
Photo credit: Gabriella Audi (@gabriellamarieaudi)
What shoe(s) are you currently running in? What is your favorite? I just retired my last pair of ASICS – Gel Nimbuses which I really liked. They were my last free shoes through the PRTC sponsorship deal with ASICS. All throughout college I ran in Brooks Ravennas which are now retired :/ I also love a good, cute pair of Hoka Cliftons ;)
What apparel pieces are you currently running in? What is your favorite? People always give me a hard time for running in cotton, but I am always wearing a cotton T–shirt or sweatshirt!
What accessory items are you currently running in? What is your favorite? These days, I also always have on my Tracksmith gloves and an Under Armour ear warmer. I recently upgraded my old, bright pink Garmin for a Forerunner 55. On easy days and for track intervals, I wear my trusty Shark surfing watch.
What fuel are you currently using for running? What is your favorite? This is another thing people give me a hard time for, but I am pretty loyal to Vanilla Bean Gu! I just don’t like the taste of most other fuel packets. I also like Huma (Lemons and Limes!), but they don’t give me quite as much of a zip as Gu. I love pre–hydrating with Nuun and post–fueling with Tailwind (chocolate).
When did you start running? I started running as a sophomore in high school when I joined my school’s cross–country team.
When did you begin training for this particular event? I started training for the Marathon when my friend Sydney asked me to sign up for Philly with her. She didn’t end up running the race because it coincided with her first pregnancy (yay!), but I am so grateful she got me to take the leap.
When did your club start? PRTC was established in 2000. I think it is one of the oldest clubs around in the city. I found it because it is the first thing that comes up when you Google ‘Philadelphia run club’
When does your club normally meet? Our club meets up for long runs on Sunday mornings at Lloyd Hall and track workouts on Tuesday evenings at Franklin Field. Lots of people meet up all days, times, and places though!
When was your last big event (run, race, event)? California International Marathon – 3 December 2023
When is your next big event (run, race, event)? US Olympic Marathon Trials – 3 February 2024
Where do you normally run? I run most often on the SRT. I also like to head to FDR and the Delaware River trail for easy days.
Where do you normally train (non–running, i.e. swim, bike, weightlift, etcetera)? I don’t have direct access to my own treadmill or a gym, but it is always such a treat when I can run on a Peloton tread!
Why did we ask to feature you? I think you wanted to feature me because of the Olympic Trials coming up. I still can't believe I ran the time I did to qualify. I went for it on the outside chance it would happen; I had my hopes set low, but my expectations set reasonably – that I would do my best and see what happened!
Why do you do what you do? I run to maintain my personal physical and mental health. Running helps me to be healthy and be confident in myself. Physiologically, the benefit of endorphin/dopamine release I get from it cannot be understated. I would go nuts if I stopped running! It definitely also allows me to feel accomplished at the end of every day.
How did you start running? The very first race I ran was a charity 5k in my hometown. I remember my mom yelling at me to jog during the race, haha! I had a lot of friends on the XC team at my school and tried it out on a whim. I never quit anything so that wasn’t an option to begin with, but ended up liking it enough to pursue seriously after high school.
How can we continue to follow your journey? I have posted more about the Trials than I have about anything else, ever I think. I am on Instagram at @lainey.estes
How is your club different from other clubs? It is HUGE! So many people to meet and run with.
How would you describe your biggest success? Making the Trials, for sure. When I consider the life I lead as a teacher, friend, daughter, sister, fiancé etc.––which are all in relation to other people who I LOVE–it means a lot that I could accomplish something so big just for myself.
How would you describe your biggest setback (if applicable)? I have been sooooooo lucky to go injury free for a while now (knock on wood). I think stopping and taking a step back when you feel something coming on allows you to avoid major setbacks.
How can Philadelphia Runner help promote you? I would not be where I am today without the support from Philadelphia Runner in the form of gear, perks, and advice! Declan Walkush and Stephanie Ng are special friends of mine who really make me feel cared for any time I step into PR.
Do you have a story that you would like to share, or a runner that you would like to see featured? Send us an email: email@example.com.