Let’s Get to Know . . . Mary Flaws

Three-time winner of the Indoor Marathon Gold Medal Challenge, 100 mile weeks, ultra and trail runner – and to think she just started running at age 32! it’s fair to say, Mary Flaws is an inspiration to us all.

Read on to find out how she got started, training tips and a few of her favorite local races!

sm20130727_102242_img_1024With training partner, Dennis Hanna, at the 2013 Heatbreaker

Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

Mary Flaws

Co-Owner of Running in the USA

Age: 46

Years running: 14

Favorite workout: Marathon pace run

Favorite distance to race: Marathon

Significant past wins:

  • Gold Medal Challenge 3 years in a row: 2010, 2011, 2012
  • I’ve won one 50K, 2 trail marathons and 6 road marathons. Bismarck was my first marathon win in 2009.

Favorite song to get pumped up pre-race: Foo Fighters: Overdrive

Favorite post-race treat:  Big ol’ bacon cheeseburger with those deep-fried onion string thingies

sm20130602_101856_img_0697Flaws with Joey Heinrichs at the North Olympic Discovery Marathon, June 2013.

Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

How did you get started with running?

I started running after talking to two different people who were training for the Chicago Marathon. One was a newbie and one a veteran. The newbie explained the 18-week buildup that started from being able to run 3 miles. I asked my husband if he thought I could run a marathon. He gently said no. I asked him if the thought I could run a half marathon. He gently said no. I asked him if he thought I could run a 5K, and he kinda shrugged. So I found the Couch to 5K and ran my first 5K three months later. I ran my first half marathon a year later and my first marathon a year after my first half. My husband jokingly says I was just trying to prove him wrong.

What does a typical training day look like for you?

It could be anything from speedwork, tempo run, short run or long run with training partner, Dennis Hanna. Long runs up to 35 miles.

How has your training and/or racing changed as you’ve aged?

I didn’t start until I was 32 and was a mid-pack runner until about 42.

You’ve been the top female at the Gold Medal Challenge (Icebreaker) and the Inferno Challenge (Heatbreaker) several times. What draws you to these types of events and how do you train for them? 

I love the atmosphere of the Gold Medal Challenge and Heatbreaker. Instead of running only with those running your pace, you get to run with everyone. Also, knowing race director Chris Ponteri, and his staff, and many of the volunteers, spectators and participants, it has a very comfortable relaxing feel to it. It’s like being at an open-house gathering, while running in circles.

Do you have any training tips or tricks that might also benefit other runners?

Don’t be afraid to try something new or untraditional. Don’t be afraid to run so hard you want to throw up. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failures make better stories.

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?

Milwaukee? How about SE Wisconsin? My favorite is probably the trails in the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

What are your favorite Milwaukee races and what do you like about them?

  • Prowl the Peak – Running at night on the ski trails is a blast
  • The Bacon Race – Eating bacon during a race is a unique challenge
  • Indoor Marathon and Heatbreaker – Great atmosphere, friendly feel
  • Lakefront Discovery Run – Running and socializing with friends and a great party after

sm20130801_184010_img_0120Flaws at the 2013 Race for the Bacon, getting bacon at mile 1.5

Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

What are your running goals for the upcoming year?

I am on a quest to run a sub-4 hour marathon in every state. I have 34 done. Joey Heinrichs, son-in-law of training partner Dennis Hanna, told me about this group. He also has 34 states done. We plan to finish in Hawaii in 2015.

In general, what makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?

There are so many runners here and so many great places to run … Oak Leaf Trail, New Berlin Rec Trail, Muskego Rec Trail, Hank Aaron Trail, Fox River Bike Path, Glacial Drumlin Trail. So many races to choose from. And absolutely any weather you can imagine.

Thanks for chatting with us, Mary!

If you’re a runner in MKE, we’d love to speak with you. Send us an email at keeprunningmke@gmail.com if you’d like to be featured or know someone who should be featured in an upcoming Let’s Get to Know . . . post.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

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7 thoughts on “Let’s Get to Know . . . Mary Flaws

  1. so inspiring! i too began running later in my life. i was 39 almost 40 when i started and about a month or two after starting i ran my first 5K. i turned 41 on saturday and next saturday i will run my 3rd 1/2 marathon! it is never too late to begin!

    my favorite part of this is when she says” “the kettle moraine state forest”. trail running has my heart! i just started trail running in spring and i am astounded that i avoided it for so long. it is truly a beautiful thing to be one with nature.

    thank you for posting this! i’m so glad i happened upon this site.

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