It’s what Oprah calls multi-taskin’. There I was, in the dentist’s chair, head back, headphones on, resisting the reflex to clamp my jaw down on the hygienist’s fingers. I was listening to a podcast interview on the Science of Running with Danny Mackey, the head coach of the Brooks Beasts, the professional middle-distance running team sponsored by Brooks Running. I was preparing for my interview with the female Beasts that I had scheduled the following day. Let me clarify, ‘preparing’ gives the illusion of calmness and organization. I had more an air of “cramming for finals” vibe going on. A mere 7 days prior, I had been chopping vegetables in my kitchen, when I saw a streak of neon yellow burn past my windows. My kitchen overlooks the Burke Gilman trail, a network of trails for runners and cyclists that snakes through Seattle. Usually it’s your rag-tag collection of commuters in crappy looking bikes that are probably worth more than my car, the odd moms pushing strollers of similar value or runners shuffling past with a pained look on their faces. If I’m lucky, the college freshman run by which may or may not cause me to crane my neck like a Desperate Housewife. However, on this particular morning, this fleet of lithe runners in a loose formation ran past my window like a lightening bolt. I had no idea who they were but their speed and finesse caught me by surprise. A quick Google search of “neon yellow runners fast Seattle” told me that these were more than likely a group of professional runners sponsored by Brooks Running called the Beasts. I was fascinated. A professional running crew, literally, in my own backyard? I wanted to know everything about them. My professional research training kicked into high gear as I scoured every article, video clip and race result I could find. There are a few snippets out there on the team, mainly race times and alma maters for each individual athlete. Articles on the female Beasts were even more rare so of course, I needed to change this. Luckily I have friends in high places so after some quick calls and favors, I had an opportunity to interview the Beasts and add something to the dialogue about the team. Which explains the podcast during teeth cleaning event.

Arriving for my meeting, as prepared as I could be, I stood out on the outdoor patio of the Brooks head office, overlooking the float planes landing on Lake Union, the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat, the Amazon offices and the Space Needle beyond that. Super cheesy but I have to tell you guys, I was having a moment. And IN that moment, I was also absolutely and totally nervous, palms sweating at the thought of interviewing these professional athletes. The closest I had to compare to this moment when I was super star-struck during pre-season testing the Canucks and Grizzles. (FYI, it is not lost on me how ridiculous it is that I get star-struck around professional athletes.) Where were we? Oh right, super cheesy Seattle sports moment! What little was available about the team described them as a tight knit team of athletes, joyful, supportive and by all accounts, happy to be working and running together. Of course I creeped on their Instagram accounts (for research!) which showed pictures of them competing and socializing, most often laughing and happy. I was skeptical. How could such a fiercely competitive group of professional athletes exude such joy? This couldn’t be true and probably was a tightly regulated image from the PR department. I was excited to meet the group, but nervous that I would be met with pre-vetted answers and not allowed freedom to open up dialogue about what made this group really work.

I was wrong. I recognized this immediately as I walked towards the picnic table where they were all finishing lunch* after completing their morning workouts. They were relaxed and laughing like a group of siblings. It took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting them to be so happy! That’s when I knew this team legitimately embodied the joy of running.

*Yes, they were eating salads. They were giant salads the size of a small child mind you, but salads nonetheless. #runhappy

Brooks Beasts train in Albuquerque, N.M. April 2016. Photo by Craig Fritz
Brooks Beasts train in Albuquerque, N.M. April 2016. Photo by Craig Fritz

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