Running Keeps This Nurse Inspired and Purposeful
September 14, 2017 by Kavita Sherman, writer
Caption: Lauren ran the Bryce Canyon 100-mile race in Utah in June, 2015.
Lauren Pearch is a person who likes to give 100% to everything she does. Whether she’s working as a nurse in Akron Children’s pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) or training for a marathon, she’s fully committed.
That attitude is what motivated her to run in the first place. Lauren lived in Boston while pursuing a doctorate in archeology. However, watching her aunt battle cancer and seeing the difference the nurses made in her care influenced Lauren’s career choice. She decided she wanted to positively impact people’s lives. As she completed her yearlong commitment in Boston, she took up running.
“I didn’t have access to a gym. Instead, I ran along the Charles River,” Lauren said. “I viewed running outside in the world as my gym. I challenged myself by using the bridges as markers to increase my distance. One week, I would run to a certain bridge, before turning back. The next week, I’d run to the next bridge. Pretty soon, I was running 16 miles or so.”
In the spring, after watching amateur and professional runners from all over the world compete in the Boston Marathon, Lauren knew she wanted to give long-distance running a try. She moved back to Akron in July, and despite never running in an organized race, Lauren signed up to run the 2008 Akron Marathon, allowing herself only 8 weeks to train for the 26.2-mile race.
Over the next 2 years, she kept racing in marathons. Although she demanded a lot from her body, Lauren didn’t invest much time into self-care.
“I was running marathons and kept getting injuries,” she said. “As someone who wants to run long distances, I knew I needed to do more to take care of myself to prevent injuries. I started listening to my body more, taking time off from running and having rest days. I also became a vegetarian 5 years ago and began watching what I eat.”
These changes enabled her to achieve another goal: ultramarathon running. An ultramarathon is any distance greater than the traditional 26.2-mile marathon race. Since 2008, she’s participated in 7 100-mile races and 24 ultramarathons with distances of 50K to 100 miles. Some of the races in which Lauren participated were: Bryce Canyon (Utah), Oil Creek (Pennsylvania), Gorge Waterfalls (Oregon) and Vermont 100 (Vermont). Additionally, she’s raced in 11 marathons, including the Akron Marathon 3 times, and will be running it again on Sept. 23.
“In my life, I try to do things that inspire me,” she said. “There’s a lot of positivity in running. For me, the community behind running is absolutely magic. I’ve met some amazing people through running.”
Many of Lauren’s recreational and social activities revolve around running. For instance, one of the road groups Lauren runs with is called Run Wild CLE. Besides being a free group in which to run and meet like-minded people, the only other thing the group asks of participants is that if they do show up, they do one good deed in the 7 days following the run. She also uses Strava, a fitness app that allows other runners to see her stats, to stay connected with friends.
Currently, Lauren struggles to find the time to run. As a PICU nurse, Lauren works night shifts. While she prefers ultramarathons, training for one requires 4- to 6-hour stretches in which to run 20 or 30 miles, respectively. She focuses, instead, on road races and trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
“Right now, the kids (at the hospital) get 100% of me,” Lauren said. “The kids don’t want to be sick. They just know they hurt. Their families are as much my patients as the kids. Another time will come when I can go back to ultramarathons.”
Through the years, Lauren has learned how to be kinder, and less competitive, to herself.
“My biggest advice to any runner is to persevere and be patient with yourself,” Lauren said. “Not every run is going to feel good. Learn to find balance.”