“You don’t have to compete with your former self. Everything is new and exciting.
Being an older runner makes me more grateful for the gift.”
— Brenda Estlack
Left: Brenda Estlack receives the baton during a team relay at the 2020 Southern Tour Ultra in Pender County. Right: Estlack competes in
the Wilmington Roadrunners Turkey Trot Trail Run at Carolina Beach State Park in 2019.
MMARATHON TRAINING entails very high weekly mileage,
but at paces much more moderate than those required to effectively
train for track distances. The drastic change of focus requires an
extreme level of resilience, uncommon in runners of any age.
Estlack triumphed on the track.
“After breaking state records in both events at the state meet, I had
to go to nationals, especially since the event takes place only every
other year,” she says.
The 2019 national meet took place in Albuquerque over several
days in June.
“There was a record number of competitors, from all 50 states and
Trinidad and Tobago,” she says.
Despite intimidating competition and the effects of Albuquerque’s
higher altitude, Estlack won gold in the 1500, barely missing a top-10
all-time mark for the meet.
“I led the entire race but almost got caught in the last stretch!” she
says. “I didn’t realize she was so close until my good friend, who was
watching, warned me.”
She followed her victory with a silver medal in the 800, with a time
that ranked as the fourth-best in the history of the meet.
Estlack considers herself fortunate to be a late bloomer.
“You don’t have to compete with your former self. Everything is
new and exciting,” she says. “Being an older runner makes me more
grateful for the gift.”
She trains consistently, holding herself accountable to her many
friends in her running club.
“My weekly workouts include long runs, hill workouts, and speed
sessions with the Wilmington Roadrunners Club,” she says.
Regular strength work, cross training and recovery runs, and good
nutrition are also crucial to maintaining conditioning and mini-mizing
injuries. Her disciplined approach to training translates into
consistent, and fast, race results.
While Estlack has not suffered any long-term debilitating injuries,
she is vigilant about staying healthy and listening to her body. She
suffers low-grade Achilles tendonitis, which she manages by knowing
when to stop pushing.
“I could probably heal it if I took several weeks off, but that’s tough,”
Endurance athletes know the serenity and well-being they
experience while engaged in their sport cannot be found elsewhere.
Hard-core competitive endurance athletes typically exhibit Type-A
tendencies that can be tempered with the endorphin-induced high
that accompanies hard exercise.
Why does Estlack push herself so hard?
“I run because I don’t quit; I may want to quit, but somehow I am
able to keep going and that is so satisfying,” she says. “Besides, people
are so nice to me!”
She knows that being able to perform at such incredible levels
at her age inspires others, and she considers it her responsibility to
continue as a role model.
Just having celebrated her 60th birthday, going forward she will
undoubtedly claim more records in her new age group, not only
because she has talent and resilience, but primarily because she has
the attitude of a champion, in sports and in life.
WBM march 2020
PHOTOS BY PIERCE PRODUCTIONS