Meet Margaret Skillicorn, our DPMR Member Highlight for the month of July. Originally from Marin, you may have met Margaret happily running on the trails around Sawtooth and Martis Valley, at a morning speed workout, or at a local half-marathon trail race. Her story on how she got into running is pretty inspiring, and her positive outlook is contagious.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I grew up in San Rafael, CA, specifically in Marinwood. I live in Truckee now.
When did you begin running and/or long-distance running, if that applies? Why?
I began running the summer before I entered 8th grade, (12 years-old), as I was overweight by close to 30 pounds. I was teased a lot by older kids, and I wanted to make a change in my life.
I remember vividly my first run, as it was with Kees Tuinzing who started the Tamalpa Runners in Marin County. To this day he still plans/runs their workouts! I can’t believe it. I just checked, and the image of him brought back a lot of memories. See http://keestraining.com/about/ . I met Kees at a very small gym located in the office complex where my Mom worked (about 1 or so miles from my childhood house), and he literal “ran” about .25 to a .50 mile with me, and then I would do a simple training workouts in the small gym. I dedicated the summer of 1982 to exercising and not eating chips, candy and/or ice cream. I lost 25 pounds before entering 8th grade. Losing weight and getting fit changed my life.
Do you race? Does racing motivate you? If not racing, what motivates you?
I’m not a big racer, but now that I’m seeing some of my hard work pay off, I’m enjoying it a bit more! Over the years, I’ve come to know myself very well, both mentally and physically, and I sign-up for races to push myself and to be around people with good energy doing the same thing that I love to do…run. I love to cheer others on too, as I believe if you get off the couch, you’re already winning. I’ve run one marathon and several half marathons, and I prefer the half marathon distance.
When I first started running, I was motivated to lose weight; now 36 years later, I know what motivates me to run; it’s the feeling it gives me. (And, I do like that it keeps me in shape!) I love the movement; I love looking at nature all around me and taking it all in; I love the peace and solitude of running trails and watching my dog run, seeing how the sun hits trees, how shadows look, watching the trail…listening to the sound of my breath. (I only listen to music while on a treadmill.) Running is “my church”; I’ve “written” many English papers while running, solved problems, cried over the death of a loved-one. Running is a huge part of who I am.
Although I enjoy running alone, I truly love running with people too. Over the years, I’ve developed some of my closest friendships with people whom I run with, like Carol Lindsay. For many years and to this day, she inspires me. We’ve learned a lot about each other while just running, and I believe we’ve helped each other in many ways. I cherish my relationships with my fellow runners. I’ve had running friends of all ages my entire life. While attending Marin Community College before transferring to UCLA, I ran with a lady named, Nadine. I was 18, and she was about 45. We were friends and talked a great deal. I love younger people too, but most of them are too fast for me to run with!
Do you have any dream races (either hoping to qualify for or get selected for)?
Not really. I have some overall goals, like running a trail half under 2 hours…I just hope that I never see the day when I’m not able to run anymore. And, if I do, I hope to embrace that change. That day will most likely come, and I want to be able to look back positively on all my years on the trails. When you start to see parents and loved ones lose their ability to walk, you realize just how fortunate you are to be healthy and able to run. Cherish every moment. It’s a gift. It’s a luxury to have the time to run and a gift to have a healthy body that can withstand running into your 60s, 70’s, 80s…and beyond. And yes…it’s a lot of dedication to keep your body strong and healthy.
Do you have a favorite on-trail food or nutrition strategy? Favorite post-run meal or beverage?
Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of different ways to fuel. This year, I hired an online nutrition coach through www.StrongerU.com, and he helped me to figure out what works best for me. He helped me a TON. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been and in the best shape of my life. Pre-run – I like coffee! I love coffee. And, I drink lots of water. Oatmeal with a bit of pancake mix in it works for me before a race. During my runs/races. I drink water, and I have one GU since I’m only running 13.1 miles; Some training runs are upwards of 16 miles…not like most DPMRs who are tackling 100 miles! I seem to always crave a turkey sandwich after my races – no mayo, add mustard!
Do you have a favorite recipe to share?
I’m a simple eater. I like salads, steamed vegetables, barbequed/grilled chicken, salmon, steak, ribs…just no lamb! I recently bought an air fryer, and it’s awesome. I never ate a lot of fried foods (at all), but now I love air fried potatoes, almond crusted chicken. Also, Scott Jurek has an awesome hummus recipe with no oil. http://www.leadvilleraceseries.com/2013/06/kalamata-hummus-trail-wrap/
You have to play with the hummus recipe a bit, as I always seem to need to add some water to the Vita Mix to make this work right. Just taste test!
What was your most memorable running experience this past year?
Earlier this year I ran the Escape from Prison Hill race. It was in April. Since February 1 I had been working with my Stronger U Nutrition Coach, and I was the lightest weight that I had been in over 30 years. I was strong because I spent Feb thru mid-April training in the gym, ate well and barely drank any alcohol. Although I had to walk the grueling vertical climbs, it was the first time I ever placed in a race. I also finished and wondered where all the people were, as I’d never come in so soon! I also felt good…not like I wanted to throw up….I’ll always remember that race, and I hope that I can get that good feeling back again. I’m not always consistent.
What was your most challenging/ character-building experience this past year?
Running to the point of discomfort and not feeling like I’d fail. Just putting myself out there. Example: Running the memorial run for Julia. I knew that the 15 miles were going to be grueling for me when I was hiking much more than I was running…over snow, over branches, etc. There was this very nice guy named Nobu who was ahead of me, and at one point, I asked him to help me keep finding the trail markers. I was getting a little worried that I’d get lost, as I don’t have much (really any) experience out in the “wild”, and I was indirectly asking him not to leave me. I thought about turning around, but instead I ran my ass off to keep up with him! He was so nice. I even helped him not get off trail! I was proud of myself for being a bit vulnerable and asking for help, AND for just showing up that day! Maybe that doesn’t make sense for character-building?
What are your upcoming racing/adventure plans?
For years, I’ve run the Stinson Beach Half Marathon the end of October. It starts on the beach, but the entire race is on Mt. Tam. This year I want to go into it as the strongest I’ve ever been as a runner.
What do you do for a living? Is it hard to fit in time for training?
I’m the owner of Paragon PR + Marketing. It’s a boutique Communications Agency that I’ve run out of my home for 13 + years. I’m also a Mom of a 9 year-old daughter named Samantha. Fortunately, I have a fairly flexible schedule and a husband, Dirk, who supports my running and training. I also get up very early (4:30 a.m. or so…) work a bit, then workout (run and/strength train), then back to work.
What led you to join the DPMR?
I’ve known Helen Pelster for a few years, and I was really “stoked” that she was starting a running club. I truly admire her and the organization she started and all the people involved. As I watched it grow, and learned about all the awesome runners, I was intimidated to come to workouts. I had to push myself out of my comfort zone to show up, and I was definitely a bit embarrassed. Everyone was EXTREMELY nice and supportive, and I remember after one of my first runs with the group that I was really on a “high” and felt good.
What has been your favorite DPMR experience so far?
There was a 6 a.m. morning workout with Peter Fain, and we were doing these ridiculously hard hill repeats (well…for me they were ridiculously hard); I met this lady who was in her 70’s, and she kept going although at times walking. I was so inspired by her, and I was so impressed by how everyone supported her. She and I talked about how so many people don’t ever get to the places that we run…way up high with such beautiful vistas. It was an awesome day.
Favorite local trail?
I love running the Sawtooth and two bridges trails, and I can access them in about 2 minutes from my home.
What other outdoor or indoor interests do you have?
I love to read. I’m currently reading “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson. Everyone should read this book. I love being outdoors on our boats (ski boat and pontoon boat). Wakeboarding is super fun for me! I love to watch Samantha waterski and Dirk. It’s a great family activity. I enjoy the work that I do owning Paragon PR + Marketing. But, I truly LOVE to run.
“You can do anything for 1 min; 2 minutes, 1 hour…2 hours!”
“If you’re there, make it count”. (I think about that in the gym)
“Get out of your comfort zone.” My husband talked to me about this in order to improve my running. (I applied it today while running the Burton Creek Half)
Lately I think…”Go kick some ass.”
Any interesting facts about yourself you would like to share?
I’m a deep thinker.
Everything I ever wanted in life, I had to work HARD at, and I believe (hope) it’s built some character in me. I was born in Jamaica! (Jamaica, Long Island New York).