Kelley Schranz, Magnificent Matriarch
Most all knowledgable SCV runners know the Schranz family, prominent runners for a score of years, but probably few realize the most outstanding in recent years has been Kelley, age 62. She's the best ever in the 60-64 age group, owning Santa Clarita Runners records from the 5K through the half marathon. In national masters rating, she gets All-American status. At the 2013 Surf City Half Marathon, with 159 ladies in her age group, she beat the 2nd place finisher by almost five minutes. She beat more than 90% of all runners, and was in the top 4.4 per cent of all women.
1. What sports did you play as a child and in school?
NONE! My sister and I took swimming lessons just to be water safe, but absolutely no team sports, no competition Ė NONE!
2. What was your history with Hart Cross Country?
All three of our children, Eric, Kristin, and Zack, were lucky enough to run Hart XC under Gene Blankenship. Those of you who know Gene know that his runners are like one big family. Frank and I were very involved and supportive parents, working finish lines and chaperoning the famous (or infamous) team trips. Some people thought we were crazy to spend our vacation time with Gene and 75 kids on the road, but we had fun and experiences and memories that will be in our hearts forever.
3. What is your best Gene/summer xc trip story, the statute of limitations having long since expired (unless murder happened)?
Oh wow, there are so many, but one really comes to mind right now. We were on a Utah trip, training at elevation, and we all were camping at Rubyís Inn, THE place to stay in Bryce Canyon. Lodge, motel, campground, restaurant Ė really a nice place. There was a big marquee out front, announcing events that were happening at Rubyís. One night the varsity boys got out and re-arranged the letters on the marquee to say ďGIN CONDOM.Ē It was a pretty great stunt, and naturally Gene blew up when he saw it. Funny thing is, we will be returning to the scene of the crime in a couple of months when Eric runs his first 100-miler, the Bryce 100, and weíre all staying at Rubyís again!
4. Did all the Schranz kids run, and how good were they? And now?
Yes, all three ran, and all three were really, really good. Eric and Kristin both were varsity runners for Gene back in the early to mid 1990s, when Hart High was a national and state powerhouse. Their teams dominated every race they entered. Zack ran XC, but his real love was track, especially the 400 and 800. Zack was sub-two minutes in the 800 and Foothill League Champ his senior year.
Eric took a good ten years off running, but when he moved to Sacramento and saw the trails, he jumped right back in. He is now an accomplished ultra-runner, well-known in the Sacramento running community, and out on the trails all the time. Kristin continued to run when she was at Cal Poly SLO and today, as we all know, is one of the best female distance runners in the SCV. As adults, Eric and Kristin have almost identical running styles Ė they are just beautiful to watch. Zack has done a little bit of running, on and off, since graduating high school, and currently is on leave from our sport.
5. How/why/when did you and husband Frank get started in running and racing?
Frank started running at age 40. The reason? To find a common interest with teenage son, Eric. I initially got into the sport in an odd way. I had suffered knee problems (floating kneecaps) for years, and finally in my early 40s, decided to see the doctor. Of course, the doctor suggested surgery. I said No. Then physical therapy, which was getting me nowhere. Frank suggested running (!?!?) to build up my quads and keep my knees strong. I mentioned it to the doctor, who was horrified, so I tried it, and the rest is history. I did not, however, run regularly at all until I was 50, and only in the last few years have really stepped up my training and racing.
6. How did you train in the early years, and to what success?
The only training I really did was for marathons, and I just followed a basic 16-week schedule. I ran all miles at the same pace. My finish times were OK, just barely OK, and I ALWAYS hit the wall and had a very painful finish. I just thought I was supposed to pound out the miles, having no idea how important speed and tempo runs are.
7. At some point, you had some on-the-road conversion?
Iíve said this over and over again Ė the person who really got me interested in racing is Steve Watanabe. We were running the summer XC Series at COC. Steve was injured and was running slowly (for him). He saw me a bit behind him, running with no apparent goal, as usual, and started coaching me along. It was fun at first, but then I got tired and wanted to drop back. He refused to let me. By the time the race was over, I was crying, I was yelling at Steve, I really didnít like Steve at all, but I did what he told me to do, and I crossed the line with a huge PR and the confidence that I could do it again.
Another huge inspiration for me is Lisa Bentley. I met her a couple of years ago when Frank and I were on a Cruise to Run trip. Lisa is an 11-time Ironman champ, a woman in her 40s who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. In a speech one evening she stressed the importance of always using it all in a race because you never know what tomorrow will bring. I remember her words every time I stand at a start line.
8. Was there some revelation re training for masters and seniors? What is a typical week of training?
About 3 or 4 years ago I bought Run Less, Run Faster, a book promoted through an email from Runners World magazine. Frank and I read it and we really liked what we read. Itís really big on muscle recovery, especially as we age, and has very structured workout schedules. I know a lot of the younger people scoff at this, but I only run 3 days per week. Tuesday is speed, Thursday is tempo, and Saturday or Sunday is distance. Two or three times a week I get to the gym to do a bike or rowing workout. For me, speed workouts are vital to good racing performances, and I canít believe that I used to run all of my training runs at the same pace.
9. Today, for sure, you're competitive to beat the band and everyone else. True? And it's OK for kindly, little old folks to run others, young and old, into the track and road?
Yeah, Iím competitive today. If Iím targeting a race Iím extremely disciplined in my training. And when I step up to the start line, I seriously want to do well. If training has been successful and pacing has been right, itís just such an awesome feeling to have enough strength to pass other runners, especially toward the end of the race (I believe this is what Kristin calls ďRoadkillĒ). I have found, though, that I canít always be training. There are too many other things in life that take priority.
10. You just returned from two weeks in Viet Nam? Why did you go (I spent four years in a sailor suit to avoid it) and what did you learn?
Yes, Frank and I just returned from a fantastic trip to Vietnam. We went on the recommendation of friends, and it was strange to vacation in the country where our generationís war had been fought. But we found the people and the places to be just wonderful. I think I learned three main things. First, the farther we travel, the smaller the world becomes. We are all just people, no matter where we live. Second, the more places we travel, the longer our wish-list of future destinations becomes. And last and most importantly, Thank God we live in the U.S.A.
Posted: 2013/3/10 22:40 Updated: 2013/3/10 22:40
Re: Q&A with Kelley Schranz
Kelley and Frank Schranz with a friend in Viet Nam