Leslie O’Dell now lives a long way from Georgia but she’s right at home in the mountains and trails of New England. Leslie is a regular presence near the front of the field for many off-road races (trail, mountain and snowshoe) and she’s been racking some road wins this year too. Now Leslie is part of the invited field for this year’s Vermont City Marathon. Here’s a little more on Leslie:
Town: Albany, New Hampshire
Originally from: Athens, Georgia
College & Year: University of Georgia, 1998
Club Affiliation: Central Mass Striders
Recent Race Highlights:
- Granite State Snowshoe Series 2015 Women’s Champion
- 1st overall at the Battle for Black Rock Ultra Race Dec 2014 in Georgia
- 1st woman at White Mountain Milers Half Marathon
- Granite State Trail Series 2014 Women’s Champion
- North American Women’s Fell Racing Champion 2014 (Bretton Woods Fell Race)
- 1st woman at Castle in the Clouds Half Marathon 2014
- USATF-NE Mountain Running Series Women’s Open Winner 2013 (3rd overall woman) and 2014 (2nd overall woman)
Marathon PR: 3:14:45 in 2014 at Boston Marathon
Half Marathon PR: 1:22:36 in 2014 at White Mountain Milers Half Marathon
Leslie has appeared on the Level quite a bit over the last couple of years, but there’s still more to find out. Nicknames, goals and even songs…we leave no stone unturned.
How did you survive the winter?
Winter? What winter? Oh you mean those 4 months where it was below zero and snowed almost every day? Well, I just pretty much ignored it. NOT training wasn’t an option, so if I could get outside, I did, even if it meant smashing my face or running in a snow storm. Otherwise, I was on my basement treadmill getting it done. I’m pretty tough mentally so when I want to do something, I just do it. Plus, when you only have a small window of opportunity to get those runs in every day, it just makes you that more motivated.
Roads or trails, and why?
Ha! I think anyone who knows me knows the answer to this. Both! I was first a road runner starting back in 1984 at my first race. I ran road races for years before taking up the trails. I love the speed of the road. I think it’s what’s gotten me to where I am right now. Trails/mountains are my love, though. I live by a plethora of both so I’m can run different trails every day. I love the solitude and the constant change under foot. Plus, the challenge. The more technical, the better. I’m a really good technical trail runner after all of these years up here in the White Mountains.
Have you ever done VCM before?
What is your favorite race distance?
Haha. I don’t have one. I love it all and do it all and train for it all all at the same time. Four “all’s” in one sentence. How do you like that?
Immensely. What is your fondest running memory?
Running the Grand Canyon. We took a road trip in December 2012 out there, and I ran down the South Kaibab Trail, along the river and then back up the Bright Angel Trail. It was the best 15 miles, I’ve ever done. It was on my bucket list, so when it became a reality, I enjoyed it immensely.
I liked that even more. Sounds like it would make a great story (hint, hint). Do you have a nickname?
I do, but it’s not running related. “Llama” was my trail name on my three thru-hikes. I might have other nicknames, but those are ones being said behind my back.
How do you like your chances against the stacked field of New England marathoners?
I don’t feel like I have much of a chance against most of the elite field, but that really isn’t my goal anyway. I just want to go sub-3. Not that my competitive nature won’t kick in while I’m out there, but I won’t be disappointed in my place, as long as I get that sub-3. If I don’t get that, I’ll be upset, and only a fool will tell me, “Good race,” afterwards. Haha.
What’s your go-to song, the one that really gets you going, when you need it in the middle of a race?
Well, as you know from a previous interview that I have no go-to song. It’s whatever pops into my head, such as that depressing song from Horsehill. (Want me to send you that link again?) Usually, though, it turns out to be a song that’s matching my pace. Or, sometimes it’s not even a song, as was the case at the Merrimack River Trail Race this past weekend. After going off-course (aka pulling an EJN), I had the F-word set on replay from mile 4 to the end.
Funny, we call those O’Dell turns. What was your reaction when you found out you were part of the elite field?
Well, I actually registered for the race early on and put in that I wanted to be part of the preferred start corral. After I submitted my registration, I realized that the race I listed for my faster time had me down as “Beckwith” instead of “O’Dell”, which would make it difficult to find me. So I shot off an email to the race. Joe got back to me fairly quickly and asked if I wanted to be one of the invited runners. I was shocked and thought about it for a few days before accepting it. I’m not sure I belong in this elite group, but I thought it would be a great experience that I couldn’t pass up. It’s definitely given me the motivation to actually do marathon training. I don’t usually train for marathons, but I felt like I had to for this one. My “training” would probably be questionable to some, but I feel like I’m right where I want to be, in hopes of not embarrassing myself on race day.