by: Kevin Brandon
Lucas, welcome. Tell us a little about yourself. How did you end up in Philadelphia and when did you start running? Did a specific event compel you to become a runner?
I’m originally from Minnesota. When I was like 8 or 9 I signed up for a 5k race with my Dad and I beat him :). I was pretty active in many other sports including wrestling, hockey and soccer, but I eventually just gravitated toward running. I was always more of a track person, probably because I was too busy goofing off during the summer to get in shape for XC. Our high school coach (who continues to be one of my life heroes) eventually talked me into really committing to running during junior high.
Despite missing the accent, as you mentioned, you grew up in Minnesota, What was that like? Endless pond hockey and Canadians? How would you rate mid-western living against your current lifestyle here in Philly?
Minnesota is literally the land of lakes. There are beautiful freshwater lakes everywhere. Most of my summers (in a small town of like 8k people) were spent around/in/on the water. There is no better place to be in August than on a lake in MN. On the flip side of that, i do NOT miss the -10 degree pre-season winter runs. I think the coldest I ran in was about -18 degrees or so. Not fun. In college I ran for the U of MN and we spent some winter training running through the snow at the golf courses. Great idea right? Why not do a hill workout, but also run through knee high snow.
You have some fast mid-distance times credited to your name. Can you take us through your running career? What was your progression like from high school through today?
I grew up in a small town and my world was pretty small. Our high school had a record board we would stretch under every day during practice. I remember the 2 mile was 9:28 and the 1600 was 4:21. Not impressive times by today’s super competitive high school standards, but they seemed unfathomable to me as a freshman. I kept working at it and decided I wanted to try and take them down. I managed to break both records at the state meet during my senior year (4:18 and 9:21, I think?) which felt great. After joining the U of MN track and cross team running lost its fun. It felt like a job, I didn’t jive well with some of my teammates and I just realized I needed to hang up the cleats for a while if I wanted to focus on my premed courses. Basically, I didn’t run much for the following 8 years or so. I joined PRTC last July in an effort to pick it back up, find some good fellowship and get some support while training for my first marathon, the Philly marathon last fall.
What motivates you when it comes to running?
I love the feeling I get when I’m at a good fitness level and can really push myself for a solid 10-13 mile effort. Running is really a blend of masochism and meditation for me, but it seems to work. It’s a great way to burn off frustrations, enjoy nice weather and get out of the house. I also really love the simplicity of running. So many other sports and hobbies involve all sorts of gear, traveling to get to a starting point etc. With running I just put on a pair of shoes and head out. The raw simplicity of that is really great.
Regarding your running future, what are you near and long-term goals. Have you enjoyed the long/slow transition to the marathon?
Well, I had planned to run Boston this spring, but I was out of town during registration week. I didn’t realize that it’s a rolling admission, so when I got home on Wednesday it was closed! I’m planning to try and get a spring marathon in this year to re-qualify and then run Boston in 2018. My 2:36 at Philly was really a surprise to me. I was hoping for around 2:50 when I started training for it. Getting under 2:30 at some point would be great.
Short term, this spring is another chance to see if I can continue my Broad Street Run pattern. I’ve run it every year while living in Philly (4) and basically cut a minute of my time off each year. I would like to continue that trend and place in the top 25 this year if my work/personal life allows me to train.
Can you share with us a favorite race memory or general moment of running?
My best running memory is probably the last 5k of the Philly marathon last fall. I love running negative split races and around that three miles to go point I continued speeding up comfortably and realized that all the hard work I had put into training and preparing was maybe going to get me through that race without a hitch! There’s so much time for something to go wrong in a marathon – that was something completely unique for someone used to running 800m and 1600m races.
How about a not-so-great race or running moment?
Definitely the 3200m race at the state meet qualifier when I was in high school. I was a total idiot. The top two advanced to states and then the others advanced based on qualifying time. I had beaten everyone in my conference section all year. The night before the race though, I thought it would be a good idea to sit in a hot tub for like 3 hours. I showed up on race day and had nothing in the tank. I got whomped and took third place. I mean the guys I was used to beating up on every race for all of our high school careers beat me by like 200 meters. Fortunately, I still squeaked by on time qualification and managed third place at state too.
Your currently a 4th/5th(?) year resident at Thomas Jefferson for Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery. What exactly does this entail? Is there such a thing as a normal day in the life of at the hospital? If so, what would you be up to on such a day?
I’m a 5th year (chief) resident right now. The name is confusing, but it’s probably easier to just call me an “ENT” (ear-nose-throat) doctor. Our rotations change every 10 weeks. Some are easy, some suck. I’m on-service right now. For me, I get up around 4-4:30, drink like 3 cappuccinos or lattes from my Nespresso maker and bike into work. Usually I get home between 6-8pm, but our free flap class last Friday took until 11pm. Clinic days are more predictable than operating days. The hours are long, but it’s something I love doing, so it doesn’t feel like an obligation.
Next summer, you’ll be taking a leave of absence from Philly to spend some time on Long Island. What will take you there and how are you feeling about the transition?
I matched to a facial plastic surgery fellowship for a year in Great Neck. It will be fun to be around the big city for a year, but Erica and I are both definitely going to miss all the connections we have here in Philly!
Most of us know you best through running and medicine. Can you tell us about hobbies and interests you have outside of those areas? What do you most like to do for fun?
In addition to running I enjoy music. I’ve been a drummer since I was a tiny kid when I set up all my mom’s pots and pans as a makeshift drum set. I still drum for my church whenever I can. And yes, I played my share of Blink-182 covers when I was in a punk band back in the day. I’ve taken a pretty strong liking to watching hockey since moving to Philly. I augment my running with occasional bike riding. I got into mountain biking this year and took a pretty epic trip to Durango, CO. Mostly though I just love hanging out with my wife and our two Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs. Best South Philly home security system you can get.
Joining up for PRTC group runs really is one of the highlights of my week though!