Runner Profile

Jim Westrich

By: Matt Sherman

Name: Jim Westrich

Town: Norwich

Where are you from originally and what brought you to this area?  I am from Algoma, WI (near Green Bay and Door County).   We moved to the area when my wife got a job at Dartmouth College.

What do you do professionally?  I work for Medicaid (DVHA) in the state of Vermont.

How long have you been running? I ran Cross Country 2 years in high school and 3 years in college.  I did not run much after that but started running again 8 years ago (an Upper Valley influence no doubt).

Why do you run? Main reason is health related–probably both physical and mental health.

Best athletic accomplishment and why?  The age-adjusted algorithms would disagree but I think it has to be running 2:45 in the first 25 miles of my first (and was going to be my only) marathon in 1988.  I mention the first 25 miles because I hit the wall (basically no on-course nutrition or even formal water stops available back then) and took 10 more minutes to finish.  The reason it was such an accomplishment was I basically did nearly no marathon training (I ran over 10 miles only twice before the race).  I was in good shape but no real marathon training.  I did it because I was curious.  

If you like to race, favorite race distance? Why?  Half-marathon.  I have run this distance enough it feels like I have the right amount of confidence with the training (still have to do it!) and the pacing to do it.

If you like to race, notable race moment? OR most memorable race?  I ran the Midnight Run in Reykjavik in 2019.  I just did the 10k but it is eerie running after 9pm and it still being light (it is a full light but the light is a bit odd). 

Favorite local running route? I really enjoy running on gravel/dirt roads so I enjoy all of them in northern Norwich and southern Thetford.  My favorite is up Patrell and Kerwin Hill then crossing over to Ladue, Norford Lake, and Stowell.  Lots of shade in the summer, colors in the fall,  and there are some nice hill views at the peak of Patrell.

Any notable streaks or other unusual running events?  I ran over 2 years without any real injury (I defined “no injury” as not taking more than a day off because of injury).  I was counting by miles and it got to 2800 miles.

The only running shoe for me is ______________________.  I have been very flexible with shoes since I got back into running 8 years ago.  I have tried 10 different brands and mostly like buying last year's cheaper shoes.  I am old fashioned in that I still like racing in racing flats (I bought New Balance Hanzos in 2019 which should last me another year of racing).  I highly recommend for in depth reviews of shoes.

What is your motivation? This is largely what changes the most for me.  I got back into running 8 years ago to get a little exercise and was interested in getting faster.  I thought I would do shorter races and did Senior Games track.  It became clear that I was not a speedster so I gradually started training and racing longer distances.  I am motivated by training for marathons and qualifying for bigger races.  In 2020 my commute shortened and I just ran most days for the sake of running.  It really helped deal with staying at home in a public health emergency.  Then late in summer 2020 I had an injury and related (brief) hospitalization.  I basically could not run much for around 3 months.  I very gradually got healthy enough to run normally and I was really grateful just to run in 2021.  I was motivated to train a bit harder in 2021 and create goals that push me a bit because you never know what will happen (and running may not always be an option).  I try to be grateful now that I am running and have (for now!) several marathon goals in 2022. 

What is your favorite race? Covered Bridges Half Marathon

Favorite running book/film?  It may be somewhat dated but “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” (book and movie) confronts a lot of important issues.  It may not be a “running” movie but the climatic and final scene is a cross country race. Unlike nearly every other running movie, losing becomes a deeply symbolic act.  Speaking of losing, “How to Lose a Marathon” is a decent book with a great title.

What does your daily workout consist of?  A good chunk of the year I have weekly mileage goals so I usually run a distance that fits into my schedule and gets me to that weekly goal.  I am lucky that there are so many good roads to run on near my house.

What is your diet like? I am a vegetarian who tries to avoid simple carbs.

What are your priorities in running?  First is to be a runner (this may be the long lost Philosophy major in me coming out).  It certainly feels like you are a runner when you run year round and often with no training goals.  Second is to not to be injured.  I try to vary my workouts and do some strengthening but mostly despite my third priority below I try not to do too many hard workouts.  I always try to gradually increase training levels if I am trying to get faster or stronger.  Finally I want to do something I have not done before each year.  This may mean a faster race distance (got some fastest personal times in 2021) or a new training challenge (tried a 100 mile week in 2020) but while I am trying to do something better the goal is pretty flexible. 

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