Staying Vertical with Julia Vegas
Staying Vertical interview with Julia Vegas.
Staying Vertical, High Five Events, Austin Marathon presented by NXP, Austin Marathon, Marathon Relay, running, motivation, commitment, Kara Goucher, Des Linden, mother, family
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Staying Vertical with Julia Vegas

Staying Vertical with Julia Vegas

On Wednesday, August 31st, William Dyson, of High Five Events, sat down with Julia Vegas (3rd place in the women’s division, 2016 Austin Marathon® presented by NXP) to talk about her involvement in this Sunday’s Marathon Relay, what her next running goal is, and who inspires her. Julia also dishes out advice for mothers who are runners or want to start running.

Keep up with Julia the only way we can, on Instagram.


Kara Goucher and Vegas.

Kara Goucher and Vegas, Rogue Running (2014).

William Dyson – Who was your inspiration/role model?

Julia Vegas – Kara Goucher has been a huge inspiration to me, especially after she became a mother. I took seven years off from running after school to become a mom. Being a mom is the most important thing to me. Kara showed me that I can still make time for running, that I can still set and achieve goals, all while still being a great mother. Recently, Des Linden has been a great role model because she’s the underdog that nobody really pays attention to. What her and the other American women did (finishing in the top 10) at the 2016 Olympics was amazing!

WD – You went to college in Florida. Are you originally from there? What are your degrees in?

JV – I was born and raised in New York. My family moved to Florida in the 8th grade. I have my bachelor’s degree in psychology from Florida State and my master’s degree in science education from the University of Tampa.

WD – You ran in college. When did you start running and what was the catalyst?

JV – I tried out for cheerleading my junior year of high school and didn’t make it. I was so angry that I ran around the block. I wanted to be in athletics so I tried out for XC the next day. I ran cross country and track in high school and was the slowest on my team (5K PR – 20:08)! Our high school team won state XC four years in a row. My high school’s enthusiasm for running rubbed off on me and I ended up running at Florida State (5K PR – 18:09). I always wanted to play a sport. My five sisters all danced. Sports has always been my outlet. As a child, I would wake up at 4 a.m. and my dad would let me run up and down the street!

WD – What preceded your move to Central Texas?

JV – My husband became General Manager of Trattoria Lisina. We’ve been here since 2009 and have loved it.

WD – You can choose one (race) distance to run the rest of your life. What’s the distance?

JV – Marathon; it’s the only one I’m good at! I truly enjoy running long distance. I can go for a three-mile run and have this urge to keep going.

WD – Do you run with a training group now? If no, how do you find the constant motivation to stick to your plan?

JV – I don’t run with a group now. I live in Buda and the start times in San Marcos or Austin don’t work well with my schedule. I find the motivation because I’ve set a goal: to run the marathon in less than three hours. That won’t happen if I don’t get my shoes on and get out the door. I’m a morning person so once I get out of bed I’m ready to go. My goals are bigger than staying in bed.

Vegas at the 2016 Boston Marathon.

Vegas, 2016 Boston Marathon.

WD – You’ve completed Boston twice. What’s draws you to Boston?

JV – Boston is an amazing event with a phenomenal atmosphere. 2017 will be my third year running Boston. I wanted to qualify for Boston during my first marathon (San Antonio) and I missed the cut off by 35 seconds. 35 seconds! It made me want to qualify even more. I ran Austin (two months after San Antonio) in 3:21 and qualified. After I ran Boston for the first time, my husband and I decided it would become a family trip. After finishing Boston, my husband picks me up at the finish line and we head straight for New York City. I really cherish those trips because of the family time and running such a prestigious race.

Vegas, 2016 Austin Marathon.

Vegas, 2016 Austin Marathon.

WD – Did you expect to place third at the 2016 Austin Marathon (3:06:59)? How’d that feel?

JV – No, not at all. I had just run Houston a few weeks before and decided to take it easy. I was an ambassador for the 25th anniversary of Austin. I was feeling really good running my race when I was told I need to take my headphones out because I was in the top five. That took a minute to sink in. Looking back, that was such an amazing race for me. I love Austin, it’s one of my favorite races. To finish Austin with that time (3:06) so close to having finished Houston shows me that reaching my goal (sub-3 hour marathon) is possible.

WD – You talk about wanting to crack the three hour mark. Is there a goal race associated with that desire?

JV – I will run two marathons only in 2017, Houston and Boston. So I guess those are the two races where I want to achieve my goal. I’m also running the Austin Half Marathon. I really love running Austin. Each year there has been steady improvement: PR in Chicago in 2014, almost PR in 2015, PR in Houston in 2016. In the past, I’ve run several marathons a year. Now my focus is on less racing, but more training. I feel racing takes more out of me than training does and I want to be more fresh and focused for 2017’s races.

WD – How do you balance your family life, work life, and running life?


Vegas being paced by her young son.

JV – It’s really important to not miss out on family time. It’s more important than running. I set my alarm very early to get my run in before anyone wakes up. There are times where I use my treadmill, but I’m mainly running outside. Sleeping in more for me is sleeping until 7 a.m. I’m normally in bed around 9 p.m. I’m a lot happier and nicer when I run. Running early sets my whole day free.

WD – What advice do you have for mothers who want to run or are just starting to run?

JV – You can do it, but you have to take time for yourself. I felt guilty for a while at first, but not so much anymore. My husband and I work together as a team to ensure the everything is taken care of and the kids get to where they need to be. Sometimes you can take your kids with you. Take your kids to the track, let them ride their bikes. Most importantly, just make time for it.

WD – What was your last race and what’s the next race on your schedule?

JV – My last real race was Boston 2016. I hurt my hamstring at mile 11. I was averaging 7:08s and thought about quitting, but crossing the finish line creates this sense of satisfaction. So I smartly completed Boston making sure to not further the injury. Now that I’m healed I’m ready for Marathon Relay!

WD – What’s your team name?

JV – We’re named Harambes Angels and we’re in the mixed division. We look forward to a great event and having  a good time. One of our team members was hit by a car during a training run and can’t compete. So we’re going to help them complete their leg in a wheelchair. It’s an unfortunate situation, but we’re going to make the most of it!

WD – What has running given you?

JV – Running has given me so much, including the belief that I can achieve my goals. My first goal was to break 3:20. Once I achieved that my goal switched to 3:15. I have this sense that I can do anything I can put my mind to. I have the strength to not give up. That’s another thing I’d say to mothers: you can make anything happen you put your mind to and the benefits you receive will be amazing!

WD – We have a time machine. Let’s go back to your high school. What would you tell your younger self?

JV – High school is not as bad as it seems. I know it’s easier to say that now than to realize it during high school. Having been through life and being at the point where I am now, I’d also say things will always get better. Hang in there and keep pushing!

Vegas and her ElliptiGO.

Vegas and her ElliptiGO.

WD – You said in your FIT Spotlight piece that you’ll run until you “go sub-3” in the marathon. Then what?

JV – Well of course I have to reach my goal first. My next focus will be the ElliptiGO Championships. You have to do bike race to qualify. Sara Brown (1:20:28). The course consists of a timed ride up Palomar Mountain (4209 ft.) in 11.69 miles.

WD – Favorite place to run in Austin?

JV – Town Lake, hands down. I also enjoy the Greenbelt. It reminds me of Tallahassee. I  like being outdoors every chance I get.

WD – Favorite non-running activity?

JV – ElliptiGOing. I also love eating and drinking.

WD – Favorite Austin restaurant?

JV – Odd Duck. It’s so good!

WD – Friends or family come to visit. What’s the first Austin thing y’all do?

JV – I don’t take them running that’s for sure! I’d take them on a Hops and Grain brewery tour, dinner at Odd Duck, stroll around anywhere on Congress, and just enjoy the city.

WD – Julia, thank you for taking the time to meet with me today and becoming a part of the Staying Vertical interview series. Your insight into goal-setting and balancing your life will surely benefit other runners, especially mothers. I wish you all the best in your quest for a sub-3 hour marathon. See you this Sunday!

JV – William, thanks for having me. I enjoyed sitting down to talk about where I’ve been and where I’m headed. I enjoyed meeting the folks at High Five and look forward to running the Austin Half Marathon in February. But I’ll see y’all this weekend at the Marathon Relays!

Staying Vertical is an interview session with various individuals within the endurance community hosted by William Dyson, High Five Events Communications Manager. Staying Vertical will showcase the perspective of runners, triathletes, sponsors, partners, event producers, and volunteers to understand what makes them tick. We will highlight their involvement and give the endurance community an inside look into the individuals that are just like you and me.

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