Run Local Spotlight: Lesa DePeal

Hello, Bull City Running readers! Welcome to our first ever Run Local Spotlight! We’re excited to use this platform to connect with you, our local running community! Our goal is to dedicate this space to acknowledging and highlighting the awesome, inspiring people who define our dynamic tribe, and we would like to launch this mission by introducing one of our most fabulous, fashionable, and color coordinated favorites, Lesa DePeal!

Lesa’s Running Origin Story
First and foremost, I was interested to know Lesa’s RUN DRM origin story. I wanted to know how she found Bull City Running Co. or how we found her. She shared with me that she first learned about our store shortly after moving to Durham in 2012 from a group of Galloway runners she encountered on the American Tobacco Trail near her house.

Lesa and her Bull City Training BFF, Kristen, celebrating the completion of a sweaty summer long run in preparation for the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon.

The next thing you know, Lesa was summoning up the courage to embark on a run/walk interval training plan of her own and that’s when she came into Bull City Running to buy her very pair of running shoes!
(Side note from Ellen: I remember this day well! I helped Lesa pick out that first pair of shoes and liked her instantly because she insisted on taking the most technicolor neon pair available. A woman after my own brightly colored heart!

Fast forward to January 2013, Lesa found herself enrolled in our legendary RunBuds women’s beginner running program. She started her RunBuds journey as a Bee Balm, under the mentorship of seasoned leaders Nan Lujan and Jenny Cox. Since that fateful winter of 2013, Lesa has been a RunBuds alumna six times over, five of those times as a leader herself!

RunBuds was just the tip of the running iceberg for Lesa! In addition to establishing herself as a key player in that wonderful, beautiful group of lady runners, she has also participated in our No Bull 8K Training Program multiple times, and run her very first half and full marathons with our training program. She’s a regular Monday/Tuesday evening staple in the store and we always look forward to seeing her smiling face, her positive attitude, and of course, her amazingly fashionable outfits!

Lesa’s Running Resume
Since her emergence on the local running scene, Lesa has racked up an impressive resume of running accomplishments, including the B.A.A. 5K in Boston, half marathons far and wide (the most exotic destination thus far is Iceland!), Richmond and Marine Corps Marathons, and most recently, an EPIC 50K in Pocomoke, Maryland.

Showcasing one of her signature Ink N’ Burn with matching Goodrs ensembles at the Algonquin 50K.

Lesa and her online running friend Tracey ran the Algonquin 50K together in early February. They were drawn to this event by its fun, quirky race director and the event’s engaging, unorthodox internet presence. Sloppy, muddy conditions on race day, plus a course that measured long, and the fact that Lesa and Tracey were having a great time hanging out got them to the finish line with mere seconds to spare before the time cut off.

They hustled across the line just in the nick of time to the cheers of many enthusiastic fans and volunteers. The loudest cheer of all was the 2nd place over all finisher! Tracey was a few seconds ahead of Lesa, which made Lesa the last finisher in before the cut off, and thus the winner of the DFL award. (I’ll let you guess for yourself what DFL stands for.) She was rewarded immediately with a cool handmade trophy, a beer, and lots of royal VIP treatment.

This wonderful little outpouring of love and encouragement from the trail running community is the running experience that she heralds as her most memorable. However, she still claims her very first marathon finish (Richmond 2015, after a grueling sweaty Durham summer of training) as her proudest running accomplishment.

Lesa’s Goals for the Future
So, what’s next for Lesa? She seems to have found her stride in longer distance, endurance focused running, so she is currently training for The Flying Pig 4 Way Challenge, which is a 5K, 10K, and a marathon over the course of 2 days on May 4-5th in Cincinnati, Ohio. She looks forward to tackling this impressive feat of grit and endurance in the company of her husband Tom and their local running BFFs, Kristen and Shaun.

Lesa and her husband Tom in Reykjavík, Iceland in 2016. They traveled there to do the Reykjavík Half Marathon.

Lesa’s main goal for the 4 Way Challenge (and always) is to have fun and enjoy this wild and crazy experience with some of her favorite people. She’s also looking to break the 5-hour barrier in the marathon, which would be a shiny new marathon PR. We know she’s got what it takes to do it!

Lesa’s Running “Why”
It is certainly safe to say that Lesa has caught the running bug and the sport is now a definitive part of her lifestyle, but why running? Who inspires her, and what does it do for her?

For Lesa, the thing that gets her out of bed every morning to do those long, sweaty training runs and keeps her signing up for race after race is the support, accountability, and inspiration of her running community, both locally and online.

In addition to being an active leader in our various training programs and community, Lesa is very involved with Run The Year, a Facebook group committed to fostering a positive, supportive online space for runners of all abilities and fitness levels. Since she joined RTY in 2015, Lesa has connected with friends she has met through the group at pretty much every race she has been to. Her connections through RTY have taken her to geographical destinations and running accomplishments that she never imagined. She is inspired by the way complete strangers share their lives, goals, successes, and failures and lift each other up through the shared connection of running.

Lesa also appreciates the obvious health benefits that come with running, along with the great feelings that comes from working towards and achieving a goal. The satisfaction she finds in accomplishing something difficult makes her feel like an authentic badass, and she is undoubtedly that!

Lesa’s Go-To Gear
One of Lesa definitive characteristics is her colorful and delightful sense of style. She’s a bit of a running fashion icon, and a careful curator of fuel and gear, so we wanted to know what running gear Lesa can absolutely not live without?

A good pair of running shoes was at the top of her list. Her current favorites are the Hoka Bondi and the Brooks Glycerin 17. She looks to the marshmallow-y, cushiony comfort of the Bondi to get her through her ultra-distance long runs, and relies on a spring in her step from the Glycerins for short days, workouts, and races.

When it comes to fueling her training, you’ll find Nuun hydration tablets and Tailwind in her handheld and her hydration pack, but only in berry flavored varieties.

Lesa’s running fashion motto is “Look good, run fast!” She makes a point to always look and feel sassy out on the trail in colorful, wildly printed Ink N’ Burn gear, which she often accessorizes with a sparkle skirt and a coordinating pair of Goodr sunglasses (she own 9 pairs of Goodrs, y’all! NINE!)!

Posing with Run The Year friends and bombing survivor at the 2018 BAA 5K.

Lesa is cheerful and colorful in terms of both dress and disposition in the Durham running community. It has been such a pleasure to watch her grow from brand-new RunBud to globetrotting ultra-marathoner over the course of just a few short years! Cheers to you and all the energy, hard work, and good will you bring to our little running world, Lesa!

Thank you for letting us be a part of your journey!