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January 30, 2012

Debra Hexsel - February Runner of the Month

Written by Dena Evans
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Debra_H_croppedDebra Hexsel

Runner of the Month – February 2012


Debra works full time at the Weil, Gotschal, and Manges law firm in downtown Houston.  Debra grew up in St. Louis, where, her dad took her to the skating rink at age six.  Before she knew it, she was a competitive youth speed skater.  After a previous relationship originally brought her to Texas, she has stayed in the Houston area.  Several years of cycling with her husband eventually led to trying out running, and on January 15, she completed her first marathon at the Chevron Houston Marathon.

FNF: How did you start running?

DH: I thought that I couldn’t run after I blew out my knee playing soccer with a women’s team.  I became an avid indoor cyclist, then took that to outdoors.  I had the mindset that I could ride a century, and then I thought why couldn’t I make it to the marathon.  I have always been athletic.  Years ago, I decided I wanted to run a marathon in San Diego.  My parents used to be snowbirds out there so I was familiar with the one that used to go over the Coronado Bridge.  I trained too hard, too much, and too fast, got a stress fracture, and never got to run the race.

FNF: Who is your running role model?

DH: I don’t really have one in running, but there is one I can trace back to speed skating, my coach Johnny Werket [Olympic speed skater in the 40s and 50s].  He would always say, “Plan your work and work your plan.”  It was just a motivation thing that got me through.


FNF: What has been your most memorable running / racing experience?

DH:  Probably the most memorable experience was doing the half marathon in St. Louis [first half marathon in September]. I was worried about the hills, and conquering the hills.  It was the first event I had run in since the 70s. The race was about a mile away from my mom’s house.  After I ran, I just went home, but then looked on the computer and saw that I actually won my age group! So, I had to go back up there.  They gave me a plaque, and I got a great picture with Craig Virgin!

FNF: What have you enjoyed about working with Focus-N-Fly?

DH:  First off, I like the support – I can get answers to any questions I have, any fears, any anxieties.  It is a plan that is set up for my abilities, that has allowed me to reach my goal without getting hurt.  I’ve made some friends along the way too.  We haven’t met in person yet, but we‘ve been facebooking and are both planning to run the same half marathon this spring, hoping to meet up there.


FNF: What is one part of your racing routine you can’t do without (sleep, pre race meal, tie shoes certain way, other ritual)?

DH: I have certain things I like to wear.  I’m really into compression clothing and I like all my things to be matching, but that ‘s a girl thing!  As far as a food thing, I was really focusing on what should I eat before this marathon.  I looked back at what I did before the two longest runs, then tried to read as much as I could about what people suggested and tried to combine the two.  I didn’t want to do too much differently than I had done in my other long runs.  I also wear my “never give up” bracelet.

FNF: What is your favorite place to go for a run?

DH:  It is definitely not where I train most of the time!  In a perfect world, it would be anywhere near water.  Honestly, if I am training for something, I can run anywhere, because if it is on my program, I do it.  One day when I was visiting my mom and it was really cold and raining, I did my 19 miles on the treadmill.  Actually, I changed treadmills every 5 miles. I have found that a lot of this is mental, and you need to train your mind as well.


FNF: In the next year, what goals do you hope to accomplish?

DH:  I definitely want to continue with running and to continue enjoying it.  Additional marathons are not out of the question [she does plan on Boston in 2013 based on her age group qualifier of 3:56]… I just want to go as far as I can with it and stay injury free.  I want to follow the guidelines of a good training plan like yours as I know I can be my worst enemy!


Last modified on November 29, 1999
Dena Evans

Dena Evans

Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.

From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.

From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.

Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.

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