*Required disclosure: this post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of my links I get a small (at no cost to you!) commission. I promise to only link products that I'd recommend and use myself. I strongly encourage you to first consider shopping small and locally, even if it means I don't get the referral commission. Otherwise I really appreciate your support. In addition, I was compensated for my photographic work for this post by Fleet Feet Carrboro/Durham with sweet new running gear. Special thanks to Fleet Feet Carrboro/Durham and Flyleaf Books for hosting the event, to The Root Cellar for the delicious food, to the ArtsCenter for the auditorium space, and to Shalane and Elyse!
When Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky come to Carrboro the crowd comes running.
Four time Olympian and Olympic medalist Shalane Flanagan and chef and nutrition coach Elyse Kopecky were in Carrboro on Wednesday to promote their new cook book Run Fast. Eat Slow*. The book focuses on wholesome nourishment for athletes with hit recipes like Cocoa-Coconut Macaroons, Kale-Radicchio Salad with Farro, and Wild Salmon Sweet Potato Cakes.
The Carrboro event kicked off with a run with Flanagan and Kopecky and drew a crowd of over 300 attendees. Runners congregated at Fleet Feet Carrboro for a 2.5 mile run to UNC's campus - the alma mater of Flanagan and Kopecky - and back down Franklin Street to Carrboro. Kids, competitive runners, and enthusiasts alike took to the streets to run with UNC and USA's greats.
After the run the party moved to the auditorium of the ArtsCenter where Flanagan and Kopecky took the stage. Kopecky shared her experiences with whole foods and better eating in Switzerland and how she came to embrace a new approach to food while Flanagan recounted competitive running events and how important it is to fuel the body.
Throughout the talks I smiled at the frequent and special nods Flanagan and Kopecky gave to Chapel Hill and Carrboro. At one point Flanagan described how on the last leg of a major race she visualized the American Tobacco Trail to help her get through the finish line. I run on the ATT every few days and I love that easy scenic trail and so it was very gratifying to hear her speak fondly of my familiar corner of the world and how she brought a little piece of the Triangle to the world stage of competitive running.
The Q&A from the crowd was lively and entertaining with one person asking how to shave seconds off mile times (Flanagan: "Just put in the miles" - the only way to get better is to run more), while another asked how to incorporate clean food and veggies. "My daughter is going to kill me for asking this," one woman said while in the next seat her daughter hid her face in her hands, "but how do you switch over to a diet high in foods like Brussels sprouts, kale, and asparagus and not get all gassy when you run?" (Answer: transition slowly.)
When one young runner in a "Shalane is my Hero" tshirt asked Flanagan about her 5K time when she was a high school freshman, Flanagan laughed. "I actually didn't run my freshman year, I played soccer." I may have imagined it (being partial to soccer myself) but Flanagan's eyes lit up as she recounted her soccer days, how she transitioned to track, and the first time she tackled the 5K. She explained that in 2004 as she was preparing to enter UNC as a freshman she told her coach she wanted to redshirt because she said she was going to the Olympics in the 5K that year. "But Shalane, you've never run a 5K," the coach told her. But sure enough, at the Athens Olympics in 2004 Flanagan competed in the 5K.
After the Q&A wrapped up the crowd trickled over to Fleet Feet Carrboro again for samples of Flanagan and Kopecky's recipes made by The Root Cellar and for book signings organized by Flyleaf Books. Throughout the entire event - even at 9pm after a long line of eager fans who waited for a signed book - Flanagan and Kopecky were all smiles, and for good reason. Flanagan loves to run: you could tell running is more than just a daily grind of miles (up to 120 miles a week!) when Flanagan answered one audience member's question on how to encourage young girls who want to pursue track: "Make sure they love running. Running should be a treat." She talked about how to incorporate other sports like soccer and to encourage girls to find their passion in running.
It's this same enthusiasm and eagerness to connect with everyone in the running community that is so infectious about these athletes: everyone in line got a wide smile and friendly words during the book signing, especially the young girls who clustered around Flanagan and Kopecky when it was their turn for a signed book and picture. These are the sort of moments that can solidify a young girl's love of sport and that can make a lifetime's difference. (Trust me, I know.)
Flanagan and Kopecky continue their book tour in New York City where Flanagan will be one of the Grand Marshals of the New York City Marathon. More information on their New York Times best-selling cookbook is available on their website: http://www.runfasteatslow.com/