Fast #MotherRunners We Love: Magdalena Boulet


Magdelena Boulet
Adventure in 2017: Magdelena Boulet and her climbing partner and coworker, Roxanne Vogel, on top of Ojos del Salado, the world’s highest active volcano.

Note #1: Since February is the month of L❤VE—and the Olympics—we are devoting our Mondays at Another Mother Runner to Fast #Motherrunners we L❤VE. Although their training miles and splits are vastly different than ours, their perspectives—fitting it in, wanting the best from and for themselves—mimic every busy, ambitious female runner out there. 

Note #2: Want to hang with Magda—and Another Mother Runner? Join us at our Live Podcast Recording on Thursday, May 15 at GU HQ in San Francisco, when Magda will be a featured guest. Grab a (free) ticket here!

As a teenager, Magdalena Lewy Boulet, now 44, emigrated to the U.S. with her family from Poland, where she was a swimmer. While at University of California Berkeley, she switched to running and met Richie Boulet, one of the best milers in the country, whom she’d later marry. (In an eerie coincidence, she became a U.S. citizen on September 11, 2001, a ceremony that was cut short because of the day’s events.) She worked her way up from 5000 meters (college) to 10,000 meters (post-grad) to marathon wins in San Francisco and Pittsburgh in 2002, coached by the legendary Jack Daniels.

Magda took a bit of time off to have a son, Owen, in May 2005, before returning to the roads.

Magdelena Boulet
With Owen, now 12, in Zion National Park

She made perhaps her most indelible mark in the 2008 Olympic Marathon trials in Boston, when she led the field from the start, coming in second after Deena Kastor caught her in the last few miles. “It’s an American dream come true,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle. (Both of them suffered in the 2008 Olympics—Kastor broke her foot at mile 3; Boulet had banged up her knee and likewise dropped out.)

Magdelena Boulet
Magdalena waaaay in front of the pack (where are they?) in the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials in Boston.

Then in 2015, Magda shifted into an even higher gear—ratcheting up the distance. She entered the storied Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile race that includes 18,000 feet of ascent and 23,000 feet of descent (ouch). She finished in 19 hours and five minutes. And she won! (She DNF’d the following year and came in second in 2017.)

[Want to hang with Magda—and Another Mother Runner? Join us at our Live Podcast Recording on Thursday, May 15 at GU HQ in San Francisco. Grab a (free) ticket here!]

Last month, the 44-year-old vice president of Innovation, Research and Development at GU Energy Labs summited the world’s highest volcano, on the border of Chile and Argentina, with a GU co-worker. It was both an adventure and a chance to be a lab rat for work, and it was hard. “I was brought down to my knees,” she told Trail Runner. “I didn’t think I’d ever have such a humbling experience in any athletic endeavor.”

Don’t you just love this combination of grit and humility?

Here are some fast facts from this #FastMotherRunner, in her own words:

Favorite non-running workout
When I was training for the Ojos Del Salado Volcano climb, I incorporated step-up workouts. Some of the workouts required me climbing 2,000 steps per workout!

Sponsorship philosophy:
It is very important to me that I align with each sponsor’s mission and vision [ed note: GU, Hoka One One, UltraAspire, and others]. It makes the partnership a lot more meaningful for both the athlete and the company, and at the end it creates better products for all of us and allows an athlete like me to purse my athletic dreams.

Training philosophy:
My training philosophy is to “train for life.” That means avoiding injury, eating real, whole, and nutrient-dense foods in my everyday diet. Beyond that, I love to do runs that make me happy. I tend to seek out beautiful places and sign up for races that challenge me. Being excited about my next goal or challenge is what keeps me going, and has kept me going for this long.

Magdelena Boulet
Pro tip: Train in beautiful environs for maximum mood-boosting benefits.

Funniest thing your kid ever said about your running:
My son Owen has a friend who is a swimmer, and I overheard them talking about his friend’s swim meet. The friend said one of the events he did was the “100 Free” and Owen was like “100 miles?” It was hilarious that when he heard 100 his mind went straight to miles, and not meters, like that was the normal thing to do.

Goals/Races for 2018:
In 2018, the biggest races currently on my calendar are the Marathon des Sables, which is a self supported, 150-mile stage race in the Sahara, and UTMB which is 105 mile race around Mont Blanc. I’m still figuring out all the other races, but I’ll fit everything around those two race.

Hardest part about the mother/runner balance?
The hardest thing is sometimes not seeing Owen very much during the day. Most days, I’m out the door to run or work out before he wakes up, and there are some evenings where he has class or other commitments, and I won’t see him until late.  I struggle with this and often feel guilty for not being at home more.

Advice you’d give to your younger self:
Don’t be afraid to commit fully to your athletic goals, and go straight to the marathon! I spent a lot of time worrying about what would happen if I didn’t succeed, and also trying to be successful on the track running the 5K.  I often wonder what would have happened if I’d started competing in marathons right after college. Failure is a part of leaning and a part of the road to success.  I am tougher and wiser today because I gave myself permission to fail and learn.

Favorite finish line?
Probably Western States in 2015. It was one of the biggest wins of my ultra running career, and I got to hug and kiss my son at the finish right away!

Magdelena Boulet
Big win! Western States 100 AND a hug from her son!

How you motivate when you're not motivated to go: (Are you ever NOT motivated?)
Sure, there are dark mornings where I’m not super motivated to leave the house.  But I remind myself how good I will feel after running.  And I remind myself how angry I feel when I’m not able to run.

Thing you L❤VE most about running:
The places it takes me, the people I meet, and the memories I make. I’m so lucky to have been able to run races all over the world where I discovered beautiful places, discovered new foods or ingredients, met fascinating people and learned new cultures. Running is also a very powerful tool in my life because it makes me happy, keeps me healthy which at the end of the day makes me a better mom, friend, wife and co-worker.

 Want to hang with Magda—and Another Mother Runner? Join us at our Live Podcast Recording on Thursday, May 15 at GU HQ in San Francisco, where Magda will be a featured guest. Grab a (free) ticket here!

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