At CARA, it is our members who make our running community truly special. Get to know CARA member Ryan Lederer! Ryan joined CARA to revive his love of running, working his way up from 5ks to running his first ever marathon in 2019! Keep reading below to learn more.
Tell us about your running journey! How did you start running?
I started running freshman year in high school. I played soccer in high school and to stay fit in the spring I decided to join the track team as a sprinter. During a junior varsity race they needed more guys in the open 800m and I decided to give it a go. I ran 2:26 in my first 800m and was hooked! I never looked back and immediately fell in love with the 800m and 1600m distance. I ended up finishing my high school career with a 5:09 PR in the mile and a sub 20 minute 5k PR but lost interest in college.
Fast forward 14 years to the summer of 2018... I showed up to a CARA Six Series event a little unsure of what I was getting myself into. I knew nobody there but plodded along with the group running a slow 5k. It was my first 5K in probably 5 years and it hurt a lot. The post-run beer shared with the maybe 50 members of the CARA community that night inspired me. I kept coming back each Tuesday night and eventually got back that mojo, setting myself the goal of running the 2019 Chicago Marathon!
What is your personal connection to CARA?
CARA helped me find that passion for running again. The first step was the hardest. But I quickly realized what CARA means by "Power of the Group." CARA's members come from all walks of life, with many different goals and aspirations, and with many different reasons why they choose to run. It's these things I find so motivating. I want to get out there and run with my CARA family knowing that I can support them in the pursuit of their goals, all while chasing my own!
What does running mean to you?
Running is freedom. Nothing beats a beautiful day when you lace up your shoes to head out for a run, with no time goals, distance targets, or specific route planned. It's awesome taking whatever the route gives you.
Describe your most memorable running experience
My most memorable running experience was crossing the finish line at the 2019 Chicago Marathon, my first marathon! I ran that day for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. My mom was diagnosed with MS in 2015 and it's my goal to run as much as possible to fight this disease in hopes of a cure that will one day benefit the estimated 1 million Americans living with it.
What is your favorite running book or movie? How has this book/movie inspired, motivated, or educated you as a runner?
I loved Meb Keflezighi's "26 Marathons." It showed me that even world-class athletes battle demons, injuries, unpredictable race day scenarios, etc. It taught me to respect the challenge, stay focused and disciplined in both training and on race day, and most importantly to enjoy the experience. Most of us won't toe the start line at many marathons so make the most of the few opportunities we do get!
Do you have any pre/post-race superstitions or traditions? Where did these come from?
Can overeating after a race be considered a tradition?!? I had a burger, fries, and ice cream the night after the Chicago Marathon, finished off with an Old Fashioned. I might have to make that a tradition...
What advice would you offer to a new runner or someone who wants to start running?
Don't be afraid to show up. It can be daunting trying something new or doing something outside your comfort zone. The running community is one that welcomes anyone and everyone and we'd love to have you. And if you ask any of us we can tell you about that time we showed up for the first time too.
Do you have a running mantra or quote that inspires you?
"Believe and Achieve." These are the words Deena Kastor wrote on my race bib at the Indy Monumental Half Marathon in 2019. We all have our doubts going into a race. But you have to believe in your training, trusting the process, and you'll be astounded with what you can accomplish.
If you could go for a run with a famous runner, who would it be and why?
Matt Russell. Matt is actually a pro-Ironman triathlete who was hit by a vehicle on the bike course in Kona in 2017 suffering massive injuries. He recovered and came back stronger than ever, finishing on 3 podiums in 2018 and winning Ironman Lake Placid in 2019. His fearlessness and determination to be better despite his setbacks is remarkable.