Nothing like the prospect of entering a new age group to get the old competitive juices flowing.
But to simply credit Christine Lloyd for turning 50 as the prime reason for setting four age-group race records in the Bucks County Roadrunners’ Winter Series would be selling her training ambition way short.
If you want to get at the real cause of her recent improvement, it’s as simple as checking out the association she has with her relatively new coach, Jimmy Balmer.
The two have been working together for about a year and a half, doing all the right things, including the build-up to last December’s Rehoboth Beach Half-Marathon.
And what a build-up it was: On race day, Lloyd clicked off a brilliant time of 1:30.35 to win the women’s Masters title.
That’s a pretty big deal, considering the title is open to anyone over the age of 40.
Here are the other relevant numbers from that performance: 6:54 mile pace, 81.9 age-graded percentage (national class).
That two-minute personal record carried over into the Winter Series and the Newtown resident wasn’t going to let a few hills in Tyler State Park slow her down all that much.
“I was in great running shape coming into the series,’’ she says. “Plus the weather was much better than last year.’’
Balmer, who operates a coaching website called “StraitSpeed.com,’’ had Lloyd do what a lot of good runners don’t – namely, learn what training days to hit the gas pedal and what days to put it on cruise control.
“I have learned a lot working with a coach,’’ she says. “The training schedule/structure is very important. A hard workout would always be followed with an easy recovery run or a rest day. Staying on pace is also important for both workouts and recovery runs.
“If I ran my first set of intervals/repeats just slightly faster than my target, I would find myself really struggling on the second set. If I was not paying attention to my pace during a recovery run and ran faster than I should, I would struggle the next day during a workout.’’
Having someone to confide in is also important, too.
“Jimmy and I would always discuss how I felt after a workout,’’ Lloyd says. “If the workout was too hard, if I was hurt or sick, etc. . .he would adjust the workouts accordingly.’’
A native of Sayreville, N.J., Lloyd was a softball player in high school and didn’t get into running until she attended Widener University in Chester County.
While getting into shape for softball, she would run around campus and was spotted by cross country coach Vince Touey. He asked her to join the team and the rest, as they say, is history.
She majored in electrical engineering at Widener and that led to her career with Verizon (originally Bell Telephone). She also has a master’s degree in computer and software engineering.
While training for races is important, her role as mom to her two children tops the priority list.
Her oldest son, Robby, has taken to cross country and competes for Council Rock North High School. A sophomore, Robby began the season running the 5K distance in the 25-minute range. By the end of October, he had run a sensational 17:46.
“I am proud of him,’’ Christine beams.
Her younger son, Danny, attends Newtown Middle School. The school does not have a cross country team, so he’s playing soccer this year and training with his mom for his freshman year at CRN in the fall.
Christine wants to thank Bucks County legendary runners Sharon and Skip Schanbacker for getting her into serious running. After college, she hadn’t run much until after Danny was born.
Sharon and Skip teach a running class at the Doylestown YMCA and Christine took the class. She soon found herself doing 5Ks. Later she joined the Bucks County Speedsters Club and one of their members, Lisa Weaver, trained with Christine. They ran the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon together.
Christine qualified for the Boston Marathon – later she joined the Bucks County Roadrunners and now she’s a mainstay in the Winter Series.
Currently, Christine is training for another fall marathon and this time looking to run a 3:15. It would be a crowning achievement and likely put her among the fastest times in the United States for 2019.
She has a friendly competition with some of Bucks County’s other fastest 50-plus runners, including Weaver, Maggie Kanak and Gert Frias.
The future looks bright for Lloyd as she sets sail on improving her times in a new age group.