Friday, April 7, 2017

Volte's 2017 Road to Boston: Leanne Rosser

The way Volte founder and head coach Bill Dwyer sees it, he's always believed that Leanne Rosser "had the talent to make the Boston standard."

Her second race in New York state, Rosser living it large at the Wineglass Half Marathon.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
And a little karma - or numerical coincidence, however you see it - doesn't hurt either.

"I met Leanne at the Thoroughbred Half Marathon, April 19, 2009 (almost eight years to the day of the 2017 Boston Marathon)," he said.  "I was there to support Melissa Poole, who was running the half marathon.

"Leanne ran the 5K that day (in 26:46) and she started running with us - prior to Volte even existing - a few weeks after that."

And that was just two months and five days - and five races - after pinning on a bib for the very first time after having been a runner in high school.

"I was very nervous, felt out of place and didn't feel like a real runner," Leanne said of her appearance in the second annual Gimme Some Sugar 5K at Sam Houston Race Park - a forerunner of today's Run Houston Race Series.  "I was wearing cotton and I was way too over dressed.

"I walked for about 30 seconds around two and a half miles, not realizing there was a race photographer taking pictures.  Oops!"

However, that location - the same place where she met Dwyer for the first time - proved to be her first steps on her road to Boston.

Leanne finished in 30:25 that day, sixth in her then 35-39 age group.

Something clicked, though, like it has for most - or many - of us who have run a race of any distance, large or small.

Even though she had given birth to three children since her high school running days, she said that fitness never escaped her.

"I would work out with weights, aerobics and body pump," she said.  "I just never ran more than a mile."

She had caught the bug, though.

Eighteen races in 2009, including her first half (2:11:20 at Rock 'N' Roll San Antonio Half Marathon) and her first trail race (2:06:58 at the Texas Trail 20K in Huntsville State Park).

She knocked on the door of breaking two hours at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon in January 2010 with a 2:01:03 -- all as part of her build up to her debut marathon that April.

The Big-D Texas Marathon was on Sunday, April 11, 2010.

"It went OK.  I was laughing and crying in the last mile," she said of her 4:48:44 finish.  "So many emotions!"

And for nearly five years, Leanne harnessed the positive aspects of that first marathon to use the sport to be able to broaden her horizons and increase her circle of friends.

Rosser can always be seen with a number of running friends as she's pictured here with Carrie Hyde (left) and Tammy Grado (right)
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
Most of which has come, traveling to out-of-town races with her husband, Jim, who's in the aviation business.

"My husband always helps me on out of town race days as he calms my nerves for sure," she said.  "I absolutely love doing out of town destination races with friends.  We all help each other out."

If you're the jealous type, you might want to skip over this next section.

2010 -- Two weeks after the Big-D Dallas Marathon, she ran the More Magazine Women's Half Marathon in Central Park in New York City (2:06:33) and the 28th Athens Classic Marathon.  Not Ohio nor Georgia, but Greece.

2011 -- The Kauai Half Marathon in, yes, you guessed it, Hawaii.  A 2:19:13 half where she meets ultrarunner-and great guy and father Michael Wardian of Washington, D.C; the Gulf Coast Half Marathon in Mandeville, Louisiana running with a best friend from Virginia; the Thunder Road Half Marathon in Charlotte, North Carolina and the Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon.

2012 -- The Prague (Czechoslovakia) Marathon in May, the Broadway Bridge Half Marathon in Kansas City in early September and the Philadelphia Marathon in November - PR'ing by approximately 14 minutes on what she was told was "not a PR course".

2013 - Dipping under two hours in the half at the 3M Half Marathon in January in 1:58:16, two weeks later the Sedona (Arizona) Half Marathon and two months later the Big Sur International Marathon in Carmel, California come calling (where she met one of her current best friends).  Another PR in the half, 1:47:11 at the Big Cottonwood Marathon in Salt Lake City in Septmeber with the Chicago Marathon to follow four weeks later.

2014 - Chicago was a two-minute PR, but it opened the door for a 4:19:29 showing in early January at the Museum of Aviation Foundation in Warner Robins, Georgia.  And then, her third international marathon - the BMW Frankfurt Marathon in late October.  Yeah, bratwurst in Germany!

2015 - And even though the Zooma Texas Half Marathon was a destination race, Leanne put down a 2:00:37 half before dropped her marathon PR by another 14 minutes at the St. George (Utah) Marathon.

And that's when she knew.

"I realized during the St George Marathon that I was going to be able to qualify for Boston," she said.  "I was only 10 minutes away from by BQ and I was injured for most of the training cycle.

"I knew with a great training cycle it would be possible."

While she never lost sight of running with friends, the 3M Half Marathon in Austin the following January a perfect example, it was all about finding the right race.

The times were continuing to come around too.

The Route 66 Half Marathon in November 2015 brought a 1:52:49 on a semi-hilly Tulsa, Oklahoma course followed by a 1:50:07 Phoenix Half Marathon two months later.

But also, the right training partner.

Rocking Mt. Charleston with Jon Braunersreuther. on the road to Boston.
(Photo courtesy of Revel Mt. Charleston)
That was Jon Braunersreuther.

"I was fortunate to have him as a training partner as he held me accountable for all the workouts, including chin-ups and the mile repeats, which hurt," she said.

"And the few who believed that Boston was always possible, namely Bill, Mary Carter and my husband."

May 7, 2016 was the day and it was back to Las Vegas, but none of that Rock 'N' Roll business.

It was something that she thought she could revel in - the Revel Mt. Charleston Marathon.

"It was a magical day," Leanne recalled.  "My secret "A" goal was 3:39, although I didn't tell anyone and would have been a 26-minute PR.

"I believe this would have been possible if not for a potty break and slowing myself down in fear of running out of the gas in the last few miles."

3:42:22 was the time of her lucky 13th marathon.

And Dwyer said that she accomplished that by doing three things that day - and those leading up to it - very well, "Learning to believe that she could do it, having a solid training cycle and managing the race course on event day."

What does Beantown bring to mind for Rosser?

"My goal on race day is to run sub 4, but I am honestly afraid of the Newton Hills and I keep hearing about between miles 16-20," she said.  "It would be nice to BQ (there), although I am not sure I would run Boston again.

"But everyone who has run Boston says, 'I will, for sure, change my mind.' "

However, her athletic future might include having to change the mind of her husband, Jim.

"I would like to try a tri, although my husband is not on board with that," she says.

At least not yet.

"I'm honestly not sure what my plans are after Boston," she added.  "I'm getting older and things are starting to hurt.

"I would like to do an Ironman, if my body is capable."

Fierce and focused Rosser has become in her running, seen here at The Woodlands Marathon.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
One thing is for certain, aside from the running and the traveling, and that's the comaraderie of the sport.

"I love running with others, helping to pace them and achieve their goals."

When she gets back from Boston, she'll go to the workout room at the Rosser Ranch, put another mark on the large United States and world map on the Fenway-like wall and start mapping out her next athletic adventure.

And even the folks at Hobby Lobby will be happy to see her too.

The journey is as important as the adventure as she memorializes each of her marathons - and many of her half marathons - with a frame to go on her wall of her race bib and pictures of friends and family that helped make race day special.

We all can't wait to see how Boston develops for her.

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