Shop Online Cart2

FEATURE: Lee Thornquist is Running Around Lake Michigan - That's 1,100 Miles in 36 Days - for the Alzheimer's Association

1,100 miles in 36 days. Why?

Well, a few reasons. I've always been really intrigued by people who have done monster runs with huge back-to-back days, people who've run across the country, or, some crazy challenges like that. I was trying to think of a way I could do something like that in my own life and for whatever reason, Lake Michigan popped into my head and I wondered if anyone's ever run around it. It’s close to home and I know the area a little bit better. Lastly, it was a good way to do some good and raise some money for the Alzheimer's Association with it. It needed to be something a little bit crazy to get people's attention and want to donate, but, also somewhat reasonable that I could actually complete it.

Why did you choose the Alzheimer’s Association to raise money for?

My grandma battled mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer's for 13 years and passed away last September. So, when I was planning and I was thinking of charities that I could raise money for, it just seemed like a no-brainer. Alzheimer's Association is a very well-known foundation and they do a lot of good, have resources, and reach.

What is your weekly schedule like, training-wise?

Every week's a little bit different. In the beginning, I was doing a big bike workout and then a run right after to try to run on tired legs. The past two months I’ve been focusing on more running than biking, which makes sense. A lot of big back-to-back days and time on your feet. With something like this, while it's fun to look at pace as a metric, it’s not the most important thing. I have to learn to be okay with slower paces and spending five to six hours on my legs, day after day.

How do you fit that in between starting a new job?

So that's been very interesting. I'm definitely not a morning person, but this has forced me to have to rearrange my schedule to be a morning person. The last two Fridays I've woken up at 4:00 a.m. to do a marathon before work. Luckily my work is flexible where I can work a little bit later one night and on Friday I started a little bit later. It’s definitely an interesting challenge and I'm glad that I am only having to deal with it for like, six weeks and not this whole time.

I saw you are plant-based. What is your nutrition plan? What is it going to look like for 36 days?

In the morning, I'll have oats and fruit and stuff that is easily digestible but also pack some good nutritional energy. Lots of bananas, oranges, and berries. When I’m actually running, I will use a powder called Tailwind. I'll use some of that each day in my water bottles to also help hydrate. I've got salt tablets if needed. I’m also partnered with the company called Crafted Energy and they've got really good functional energy bars that are designed for specific activities. They have a runner bar, so I’ll eat some of those during the runs. Every morning I make a giant smoothie, which has probably around a thousand calories and a lot of protein. I’ll be making a lot of little burritos and tacos and stuff with good sources of plant protein. Lunches I think will be the biggest challenge, because I need to eat enough, but not enough where I get a bomb or anything. Dinners will just be a free-for-all with good anti-inflammatory type foods and calories and probably some vegan ice creams.

Was planning your route difficult?

That really hasn't been too hard. I've just been using Google Maps. I'm planning on just figuring out where we're going to sleep each night when we get there, the day before. That will be part of the role of the person who's driving, but also, my 9-5 job as a travel planner has made it easy for me.

How can people follow your journey and progress?

There’s a website that's got all the information and that I'll have updates on. If you want more real-time, day-to-day updates, just follow my Instagram.

You mentioned in your blog a nine-to-five never really sat right with you and your lifestyle, so, you decided to travel to 11 countries in nine months after college. What did you learn during your extensive traveling?

I learned a lot about myself, I think as well as about other people. The places were really cool, but what I remember most are the people. Travelling has made me start trusting people really quickly until I have reason to believe otherwise. I believe most people are good. They want to do good. They have something within them where they feel like they can do something great in the world. Follow that and don't be afraid to do something, because, not to sound morbid, but we're all going to die one day and we don't know when that could be. Whether that's tomorrow or 20 years, don't wait around to do something. If you want to do it, just get started with one thing you can do today and see where it will take you.

What do you think about during your long runs?

I actually don't listen to music or podcasts or anything. Sometimes I just think about absolutely nothing, which is kind of fun. Other times. I just think about anything that pops into my head. Sometimes that's a problem or an issue I'm dealing with or trying to solve a challenge with planning this or how to reach out to someone. Sometimes I get a song stuck in my head. I love doing math. I'll do math with my distance and pace. That keeps me busy and it kind of feels like mental training as well because you're tired and you're like “seven plus four, wait, what is that again? When do I need to turn around?" But also, living in Chicago is just beautiful. It’s a reminder to be present and notice where you are and people watch.

Connect With Us

see the latest from Fleet Feet Chicago