DE LEA KEEPS ON GETTING BETTER
Laura DeLea of Sparta finished the season in second place in the highly competitive W50 division of the New Balance Grand Prix in 2018.
DeLea has quite a range, from the Midland Mile where she finished in 5:59.5, for third masters woman and age graded at 86.34% PLP (performance level percentage) to the other end of the distance spectrum where she finished the Franklin Lakes half marathon in 1:34.26 for a PLP of 81.43%. Somewhere in between DeLea may have had her most rewarding performance when she as the first woman overall in the Devil's Run 6.66 mile race in October
Running has been a life long endeavor for DeLea beginning when she was ten and ran with her parents, who took their youngster with them to do laps at the Sparta High track She said that she instantly fell in love with running and went on to run track, and cross country in high school.
"I wasn't very good at it," said DeLea. "I didn't really understand how to race properly so I didn't enjoy it. After high school I continued to run, but not race."
When DeLea decided to get back into racing, she reached out to Bill Bosmann, then also of Sparta, for advice on how to run a race. His advice must have helped, because DeLea finished as the second woman in her first race.
"Although my race times were competitive," she said. "It honestly was not until the last five years or so that I figured out how to truly enjoy racing."
DeLea keeps her mileage to between 30 to 45 miles per week, running six days a week. She includes one long run, one progression run and one track workout. DeLea's very fit body attests to the workouts in the gym where she lifts weights and does core workouts three to four days a week.
The remaining days are maintenance," said DeLea, "but I live in Sparta where you can't avoid hills. That's where I believe I get a lot of my strength from.
DeLea loves a good half marathon, but switched focus to the mile this past year.
Halfway through last season she asked her friend Mike Mooney to coach her for the mile events she had on her schedule.
"He’s one of the best milers I know so it seemed the obvious choice," she said. "I was able to tie my PR in the mile as well as smash my 5K time by 15 seconds at age 53 by following his workouts."
"As the season progressed my times did too," said DeLea. "I was able to up my game and started to train with people I used to feel were out of my league, and that helped me to push myself and continue to improve".
DeLea place third in her age division at the Masters National’s Road mile in Flint MI this past August in 5:59. She hit 5:54 at the 5th Avenue Mile mile (87%) in September in New York
"It added some fuel in the fire to realizing I have more in me and can to do better in this event," she said.
DeLea is enjoying the winter season. She says she is a cold weather runner and likes nothing better than a run in new fallen snow.
"No cars. It’s quite and peaceful,"she said. "And there’s all sorts of friendly people out shoveling their driveways cheering me on or calling me crazy... it’s just fun."
Her favorite running route is an eight mile loop around Lake Mohawk that she describes as very challenging but beautiful.
DeLea's favorite race is the Horace Ashenfelter 8k in Glen Ridge on Thanksgiving morning.
"It’s the final big championship race of the season, great course and very well organized," she said.
"The best part is that you get to spend Thanksgiving morning with your chosen family and I’d be remise not to mention the delicious donuts. Like many turkey trots there’s just happiness in the air."
DeLea may not have been seeking to run PR's at age 53 but they came to her thanks to cutting back on her mileage and focusing on quality.
This overall strategy and new training regime seems to have worked because she ran her first sub 20 in a 5K, clocking a 19:50. The 5:54 Fifth Avenue Mile tied with her previous mile PR and she finished the USATF national masters championship 8K in Virginia Beach in 33:19 in March for another PR.
DeLea is far from a solo runner. She cherishes the members of her Clifton Road Runners team that dominates in the W50 division of the Garmin Team Grand Prix, where they've finished first for the past three years.
"I have amazing teammates who I call my running sisters," said DeLea. "We go to battle for each other, win or lose, we do it together."
"We ran sick, hurt, in mud, heat and cold but we did it and laughed our way through the season. At the USATF Nationals 8K in March we brought home the Silver Medal for 50’s Women’s team category."