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November 02, 2009

Lisbet Sunshine

Written by Dena Evans
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Lisbet Sunshine grew up in New York City, before graduating from Yale University in 1986. Following graduation, she moved out to San Francisco as an alternative to moving back to New York. A friend’s crash pad provided an initial couple months’ security while out on the West Coast, and 23 years later, northern California has become home. Lisbet works as the Director of Government and Community Relations for San Francisco State University, part of a twenty year stretch working in politics and government. She is married with three kids, aged 5,5, and 7.

On October 4th at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, Lisbet qualified for an amazing fifth Olympic Marathon Trials with a 2:45:11 clocking. She took a few moments with Focus-N-Fly after a busy Halloween weekend.


FNF: How did you start running?

LS: I started when I moved to San Francisco, for the same reasons as everyone does, just to get some exercise, lose some weight. That was pretty much it. I remember the first time I ran from the Haight to Ocean Beach. It was like 3 miles, and I was so happy with myself, kind of patting myself on the back. Then I realized I had to run back up! I got into the group (Lisbet has competed for many years for the USATF Club, Impala Racing Team), and discovered the longer I ran the better I ended up doing.

FNF: Who is your running role model?

LS: Joanie Benoit Samuleson, even though I wasn’t running at thoat point (when she won the 1984 Olympic Marathon). Also, Diana Fitzpatrick, on the Impalas. She was just a total role model of modesty and grace. She is now an ultra runner, and basically dominated the Pacific Association in the 90s. I used to think at the beginning of a race, don’t ever be in front of Diana! She was a total metronome of good pacing, which was what I desired to be.

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

LS: I would say it probably was qualifying for the trials in 1991 in Twin Cities. It was really the first time I had done a big time marathon. As a runner up, I would say this year (her performance at Twin Cities), because it was so much harder when you are 45. Back then I trained and I worked, and that was it, and now I think I appreciate it just a bit more.

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

LS: Its has been great. Obviously it was something new that I have done after running fairly successfully for several years. It was good for me to get out of my rut. Having Tom to give advice is great. Last spring I was just slowing down a lot and thought I was just aging. He encouraged me to get a blood test, which was something I hadn’t considered.

On this training cycle, pacing on long runs was faster than I was used to going. I think that probably helped. I think the pacing charts are really helpful to give you some good specifics. There is a really well put together amount of specificity. Every workout counts, even the rest days. I feel like the web based interface was really useful and helpful- I never kept a log before, but this kept me honest and was a bit of inspiration that gave me the ability to see where I’ve been while showed the progression.

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

LS: Here is the thing. I have no ritual! I have basically eliminated anything I need to have before a marathon, so that if I have forgotten it, I won’t freak out. I eat a big dinner, but nothing else interesting. I have to have my shoes, but I have pretty much eliminated a reliance on everything else.

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

LS: Mount Tam (Mount Tamalpais in Marin County), the lakes. That is my Sunday, my go to church time, my hang out with my buds time. It is so wonderful.

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

LS: I have never felt like I have done the race I wanted to do in the 10k, so I am going to try and get my leg speed and fast twitch going and do a PR (her current best is 36:25 from the Paso Robles 10k a few years back) All my PR’s are after age 40. I figure I don’t have that much time to get the times down, but I may have a year or two.
Last modified on October 10, 2010
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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