Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Catching Up with 5x NCAA Champion Carrie Tollefson

Down the Backstretch
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Carrie Tollefson: "I have a lot on my plate these days"

Down the Backstretch: It’s nice to see somebody actually using their college degree. Seriously, what gave you the incentive to do the website and the various media projects you are doing?

Carrie Tollefson: Thanks. I value my education from Villanova so much, and I have always tried to keep my passions on and off the track alive. I realized early on in my life that being well rounded is crucial for everyone.

I have learned so much from experimenting with different avenues, and I am so thankful my parents encouraged us to try everything. That is how I have lived my life. I love to run, but things happen and really, an injury can end a career fast, so I always wanted to stay in tune with the "real world" as well.

Running will always be a part of my life, and I hope it will stay a part of my career, but there comes a time when a professional runner can't run professionally anymore. Life after athletics can be tough so I am trying to keep both my athletic career and my other passions in check.

I have a lot on my plate these days. First and foremost, I am a Mom!!! I love it so much. Ruby is the best thing Charlie and I have ever done in our lives, and being home with her is the best job in the world. She comes with me to Lifetime Fitness for two hours a day and plays in their day care while I work out; and then another day or two a week I will have her go to a family friend's home so I can work on my camps, CTolleRun, my speaking gigs, my Minnesota Grown commitments, and when I travel for NYRR and the Daily Cool Down.

So to answer your question, I have always worked outside of running. I started doing a little radio during college, and then right after I graduated from Villanova, I started doing TV commentary for Elite Racing. They had me doing color commentary for various marathons and for the NCAA cross country championships.

This has led to many things and CTolleRun just really came about last year. John Magnuson, with Mtec results formally known as ChampionChip Minnesota, approached me about the show and asked if I would be interested. We thought it would be a fun thing, and we are just really learning what people like to see and are really open to anything.

We love endurance sports and what they do for athletes on all levels and think it is neat to just bring out the fun in being physically fit. My director and producer, Julie Magnuson, and my cameraman, Tim Bornholdt, have been great to work with and it has been a joy taking this new journey.

DtB: How did the Daily Cool Down(DCD) program for the NY Road Runners happen? Did they ask you? Did you approach them?

CT: The New York Road Runners approached me to do the Daily Cool Down. Mary Wittenberg has always been such a huge supporter of American Athletes and she always tells me that she thinks I should move to New York so I can be on air there. She wants us all to reach for the stars and her support and encouragement means so much to all of us athletes.

The Daily Cool Down is the "behind the scenes" of our sport, kind of like Entertainment Tonight. Not only do we like to hear about the elite athletes but we want to find out more about everyone else that is running the race or helping our sport. It has been really fun and I hope it continues to grow.

DtB: Is the DCD a collaborative thing where you are part of a team generating the ideas and working out the format and content of the programs?

CT: I have a team that helps me with this. We work together but they build the show before I get there, and then, once I arrive, we talk and let it come together. Zach Starr is the producer and my cameraman, for the DCD and he is so much fun to work with.

He and NYRR work together before to find who and what we are going to cover and then once he and I start working we just go for it. He helps me with my lines but we really just live in the moment and let things happen.

Nothing is memorized and if you have seen any of the shows, you can see I sort of fly by the seat of my pants. We have a lot of fun and they really like me to just be me. A bit crazy, but still a down to earth Minnesota girl, I guess. Sort of like my CTolleRun episodes.

DtB: There seems to be a mix of the serious with the “lighter” stuff on the DCD, such as the interview with the World Trade Center bombing and 9/11’s family and then doing a diaper changing challenge with Adam Goucher. Is there a set mix you’re trying to have for the program or is it more “organic” in picking up things as you go along and pulling them all together for a program?

CT: Exactly, we have a few people that we interview and we know the content and how we are going to build the show but then, with things like the diaper changing challenge, that was an idea I had randomly.

We wanted to show the public that elite athletes are normal runners and people just like everyone else, and we like having fun as well. Sometimes I think people have no idea who we are except when we are running really fast and then they recognize the name.

Adam Goucher is a great athlete, one of the gutsiest runners I have ever met, but he is also a really good guy. Really fun, happy, and is obviously really excited about being a father, so I thought this would be a fun way to remind the world that he does more than just run.

DtB: What was the reason for CTolleRun.com? What are you attempting to do with the site?

CT: Well, with CTolleRun.com, we are trying to create a show that would appeal to runners of all abilities. With my crazy and upbeat personality, we are stepping outside the box by trying to educate, inspire, entertain, and really just have some fun with the running world and those that are interested in living a healthy life.

We have been doing episodes around the country and even internationally featuring different races and events. It has been a great adventure and we hope it continues, so check us out and send your episode ideas to www.CTolleRun.com.

DtB: Watching the programs, one would think that you’ve changed your first name to Olympian, as in Olympian Carrie Tollefson. How are things going in terms of that becoming two-time Olympian…?

CT: Well, as far as saying Olympian Carrie Tollefson, I sometimes wonder the same thing. Not so sure about changing my name but it is one of the titles in my professional career that I am honored to be able to call myself. I think for the rest of my life that will be one of my biggest accomplishments, so I will most likely, always say it. Plus, both producers asked me to say it so I follow what they say. They crack a hard whip!

In terms of trying to make my second Olympic team, I would love to. I have had a little challenge with my plantar ever since January but I am back training again and hope to be racing on the roads in five to six weeks, and maybe even the track later this spring, early summer. There is still a fire in my belly when it comes to running, and until that goes out, I will be trying as hard as I can to get to the finish line first!!!!

DtB: What sort of perspective does being a parent give you in regards to your various endeavors? How has it impacted your life?

CT: I love every minute of it. We can't wait to have more children, but it is hard trying to juggle everything. I would be lying if I said that I am having an easy time figuring it all out. Ideally I would be home full time with Ruby, able to take her on every run, and to every workout, bring her with me to every gig I have, let her be with me at my youth camp or my adult camps, and travel all over the world with her and Charlie, but that doesn't seem to work.

I am very blessed to have my husband, Charlie’s, help. He is a great dad and gets to have Ruby to himself quite a bit. Charlie is an Architect and he loves what he does as well, but I could not do what I do without such a supportive husband. We are celebrating her one year birthday on April first and really, this has been the best year of our lives. She has brought so much joy and love to us.

Running is important, and my career is important, but being a loving mom and wife is by far, the most important and best job I have ever had.

To visit Carrie's "C Tolle Run" webpage and watch her running videos, click the title of this post.

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