To highlight the personalities of your teammates who come along with Vision 21, we asked Coach Jonny Phillips to highlight one of his long time athletes, Becky Dobbin. Enjoy! (Read more about Vision21, the Heartbreakers ambitious year-long run experience, here.) [Black and white portrait by Daniel Portal]
Jonny: When did you join the Heartbreakers?
Becky: I ran the Boston marathon in 2017 I got to mile 20 and everyone was having such a good time, and I had no idea what was going on. I wanted to be a part of it, so, I went to one of [Heartbreak’s] all-community runs a week or two later, and signed up literally at the end of the session. It must have been spring or summer 2017, and it’s been a blast since.
J: So clearly you’d been running before you joined. What inspired you to start running marathons?
B: When I was in college it was on my bucket list. My junior year of college I didn’t train and just ran one. When I moved to Boston, I loved using it as a way to explore a new place. Honestly I didn’t know what the Boston Marathon was until I moved to Boston and I signed up to be a charity runner -- shoutout to team Brookline -- and I did Boston 2017 when it was unbearably hot. My roommate ran it with me. She actually passed out right by Newton Wellesley Hospital and didn’t finish. She wanted a redemption race, I wanted to do it with her, and it kind of snowballed from there when I joined the Heartbreakers. I haven’t looked back since.
J: What are your marathon goals and what inspired you?
B: Ultimately I would love to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the marathon. This is probably only the third time I’ve said that out loud; it’s a big and scary goal. Part of it was seeing the work a lot of Heartbreakers and a lot of other friends in the running community put in to qualify, and the celebration that was Atlanta. I want to be a part of that and I want to challenge myself to see if this is something I can really accomplish, so I guess it was a little bit extrinsic and intrinsic. I really want to see what I can do for myself, but I also really loved the environment and kind of the energy seeing (admittedly from afar) what was going on in Atlanta.
J: That’s interesting, but not the answer I was expecting. I know before you’ve said you’ve wanted to run a marathon in every state. I guess that’s less of a performance goal.
B: Well that’s another one too. I do want to run a marathon in every state. I’m up to 9 states so far. I’ve been fortunate enough to hit some of the more far-reaching ones, I actually ran one in Hawaii earlier this year. I’ve got my work cut out for me, but I’ve got a lot to look forward to.
J: What is your favorite racing memory?
B: I have two that really stick out. One would be Boston 2018: the insane cluster of crazy weather. You can’t really call it a race, frankly. No one was running out there for time - just being able to say “I did that”. Thankfully I made it to the finish line without succumbing to hypothermia. The other was this past NYC Marathon. The race didn’t necessarily go how I was hoping it would or what i was expecting, but I was in the sub-elite group, and that was really cool, because you basically are treated like one of the elites. You have private busses that take you to an indoor compound while it’s 30 degrees outside, and you’re sitting 10 feet away from Des Linden. Obviously you’re not gonna go up and talk to her because she’s about to run a marathon, but it’s really cool to see what that world is like and how the best in the world prepare for those defining moments in their careers.
J: To shift a bit, tell me about the past few months. You’ve been training, but you also started business school during a pandemic. How’s the move, business school, training with business school?
B: Oh my gosh. It’s a juggling act. In terms of balancing work and time to run and recruiting and all of the networking stuff, it’s been challenging. But with the people I’m around, and honestly being up in Hanover too, it’s a little bit easier. (It’s much hillier than Boston, so if anyone is serious about training for Boston, or if anyone is really into the trail running scene, I recommend coming up this way once the pandemic is over!) Finding time in the morning seems to work best. I never know what’s going to happen later on in the day with homework or group meetings, or scheduling a networking call. That being said, there are definitely some days where I stayed up way too late last night, and I need to sleep. So it really is just finding a balance, but I am slowly getting the hang of it.
J: Couple of quick-fire questions. Any weird racing rituals?
B: I need to eat one of the Gu (sponsor me Gu!) Stroopwaffles with coffee. That’s my go-to pre-workout, pre-race routine. I also need to drink chocolate milk right at the end of a marathon, or I will turn into a monster. There’s a race I did in Dallas where they gave out fritos at the finish, and I was comatose. Tom and my parents now know that a gallon (!) of Fairlife chocolate milk needs to be at the finish line or I won’t be functional.
J: What are your go-to trainers?
B: I wear-test for Nike, so I usually am wearing an undisclosed shoe. But when I’m not wear-testing, I’m using the peg 37s to bop around; they’re great. I usually do my long runs in them, and they work like a charm. (Sponsor me Nike!)
J: What’s your go-to karaoke song?
B: A toss up between come on Eileen and Mr. Brightside. They really get the people going.
J: Would you rather run a marathon (contiguous) every day for a week, or race a mile (all-out) every day for a year?
B: That’s a good one…. oh shoot…. it’d be for a year…. But for a marathon, you’re doing so much damage…. It’d have to be the marathon. It’d suck for a week, but by the end of it you’d be like “I just ran 180 miles this week”. It’s half the distance if you think about it strategically.
J: Anything else you want me to include?
B: Just that I miss the community in Boston! I love being up here, but it’s definitely been hard to not be with the squad. I’m excited every time I come down, and it makes running with people and running with Heartbreak so much more special now that I’m not there.