New job with Altra excites former RunAbout manager

Julie Wiemerslage on her way to a 4:45:37 finish (second woman and eighth overall) in the 2019 Eastern Divide 50K, her first ultramarathon.

Julie Wiemerslage landed a job with Altra running shoes that has her both “insanely excited” and heartbroken because it means leaving Southwest Virginia.

After nine months as a retail manager and buyer for Runabout Sports, Julie started as a field services representative for Altra last month. She’s working remotely now but plans to relocate to Chicago at the end of June.

“I couldn’t turn down working for my dream company whose product I really believe in,” she said. “I will miss the amazing running community here so much. I plan to either find a running community like this near my new home or help create one if it doesn’t exist.

“Every run, whether on the Huckleberry, on the New River Trail, at Mountain Lake, around Pandapas Pond — or even at the Virginia Tech track — I see someone I know. It makes me so happy and I definitely have RunAbout Sports to thank for that!”

Julie came to Virginia Tech after running cross country and track for Iowa State University. She competed for the Hokies in 2015-2016 as a transfer and ranked in VT’s top-five finishers in every cross country race she ran.

She then worked as a volunteer assistant coach with Virginia Tech prior to becoming a graduate assistant coach at the University of South Carolina. After earning a master’s degree in Sport and Entertainment Management at USC, she returned to Virginia Tech as a volunteer assistant coach and then joined Runabout’s team last summer.

Julie has continued to train at a high level – she is often a familiar sight zipping along the trails on campus, near Hethwood and all around town. She ran the 2019 Chicago Marathon in a personal best 2:49, missing the qualifying standard for the U.S. Olympic Marathon trails by just four minutes, close enough to show her that she can achieve it four years from now.

Her favorite shoes – Altra, of course – the Torin Plush for road training and the Lonepeak for trails.

IMG_9146-2Julie Wiemerslage

 Hometown: Gurnee, Illinois, which is right between Chicago and Milwaukee

What brought you to the NRV? Originally, grad school and to run for Virginia Tech, but then I fell in love and got engaged to a Hokie 🙂

Age: 27

When/why did you start running? I was always a pretty competitive soccer player and at some point, high school soccer was too political. I decided to run track my sophomore year but continue with my club soccer team. Little did I know that I would get sucked into running.

Competitive running background: Ran at Warren Township High School in Gurnee; ran as an undergrad on the Iowa State University cross country team that won five-consecutive Big 12 Championships and finished second at the 2014 NCAA Championships; competed for the Virginia Tech Hokies in 2015-2016 as a fifth-year transfer and ranked in Virginia Tech’s top-five finishers in every cross country race she ran. She also placed in the top 50 at the 2015 ACC Cross Country Championships.

When did you start at RunAbout? I started in July 2019 as the buyer/retail manager.

Best part of managing the store? I have loved getting to know the Blacksburg running community. Like I said earlier, it makes me so happy to be out on a run and see people I know and who know me, by name! Doing the buying was also pretty fun because you get to see all the new awesome shoes and gear and decide what to purchase, but it isn’t for yourself.

How can the community support RunAbout during this COVID-19 pandemic? You can still make purchases via a form on the store’s website and Facebook, and store manager Willy Fink will package them for pickup on weekdays from 11-1 or have it delivered to you! Also, continue to be active and hit the trails and pavement but practice social distancing.

Most satisfying running accomplishment? I would say either the Houston Half Marathon in 2018 – my previous PR was like 1:24 or 25 and I decided I was going to run 1:20. I did all of my track workouts leading up to it paced at what a VO2 Max calculator suggests a person who has run 1:20 should be able to work out at … and I ran exactly 1:20:27! Or, the 2019 Chicago Marathon, which I trained crazy hard for it — sometimes I was working at RunAbout after a 5 a.m. 20-mile workout. I ran 2:49 and it was my second ever marathon!

Favorite race distance? Half or full marathon because that is where my strengths lie.

What’s your proudest race moment? This is kind of funny, but back in college I once outkicked Karissa Schweizer (now a pro runner sponsored by Nike) by 1 second in a 5K. I think she was a freshman and I was a senior, and it was by no means a respectable time … ha ha.

Favorite workout? I think I would have to say a long run progression. I will do about 1-2 easy miles, 3 miles around 6:35-40, 3 miles around 6:25-30, and 3 miles around 6:15-20, then 1-2 easy miles. If you have ever look at my Strava splits, I always cut down significantly even on easy runs. I start super slow and end at a decent clip. My body just likes to ease into it I guess, so this workout is pretty fun for me.

Who inspires and/or motivates you? Honestly, I have always really looked up to my teammates from Iowa State and Virginia Tech. They all do incredible things.

Advice for new runners? I think the faster that you learn to just not think about what you are doing when you run, the more you will like it. Don’t think about the destination, be in the moment. If you can do that, running becomes almost meditative.

Worst injury? I have had at least 10 metatarsal stress fractures and I have a Freiberg infraction. These have been miserable but running at a healthier weight and wearing Altras has helped a lot!

Favorite race? Probably have to say the Chicago Marathon, it’s just so special.

Favorite places to run? I love all of the Pandapas Pond trails for easy runs, and I think New River Trail is a marathoner’s dream come true for workouts. Also, when I was in Spain this fall, we ran at Carretera de les Aigües which overlooks Barcelona and the Mediteranean Sea — 10/10 would run there again.

Roads or Trails? Roads — but I love both.

Suggestion for growing our running community? I think a lot of runners can be a little closed off. The sport sort of attracts introverts, but it sometimes comes off as unwelcoming or intimidating. I personally am actually super-introverted and shy, but I sometimes wonder if that comes off as intimidating or stuck up. I think we can all work a little harder to welcome new people into the sport! For example, run with someone new at the RunAbout Pub Runs.

Favorite pre-run fuel: I eat oatmeal with granola before every single morning run or race. Also Honey Stinger gluten free waffles are my go-to pre-run snack.

Favorite post-run recovery/reward meal? Gillies Smoked Salmon Hash!

Fact many people don’t know about you? I didn’t run cross country until my senior year of high school.

Running goals in the next few years? I want to run between 2:40 and 2:45 in the marathon to put myself in a good position to qualify for the Olympic trials 4 years from now.

Your might also like these stories:

Matt Wisnioski: ‘A born again runner’

Jordan Chang shares his passion for running and community.

Former top marathoner Michelle Lowry still running strong in Blacksburg

A thank you to James Demarco and Runabout Sports

Jenn Fleming’s comeback story continues with win at Holiday Lake 50K


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