Dottie: Runner Astronaut

Image by Phoebe Rourke-Ghabriel
via Runner's World
This month's "I'm a Runner" feature in Runner's World magazine features astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger. The interview with Dottie offers an inspiring glimpse into her life as a runner astronaut.  Like me, she began running in the 9th grade and ended up running the mile and two-mile distances in high school track.  She ran on her college track and cross-country teams while also excelling in school.  Later, she became a high school geology and astronomy teacher and cross-country coach before being selected by NASA in 2004.  Dottie will test her space legs next month on the ISS treadmills aboard her first spaceflight on STS-131.

The thing that most impressed me from the article was the fact that not only did Dottie have a baby while she was an ASCAN; she also completed three marathons before her daughter turned one!  I am in complete amazement because since my son was born, I've found it very difficult to train regularly, and the longest race I've run since he's been alive is a half marathon.  Dottie's marathon PR is 3:05, so at least I have her beat in that arena; mine is 3:02.

What's the secret to her success?  The mom/runner/astronaut superwoman offers the following:

Training to be an astronaut is like running a marathon. You need to stick with it, and in time, you'll be successful.

Dottie and I share a common friend, and she was generous enough to speak with me about my astronaut application in early 2008 as I was preparing it.  Her main advice to me was to make myself come across as unique and be specific whenever possible.  For example, she recommended that I shouldn't just say I'm a runner but list which marathons I've run and what times I had.  That's what I did, and I can't complain because I made it pretty far in the selection.

Previous Runner's World articles have featured astronauts Sunita WilliamsLeroy Chiao, and the late Willie McCool.  The article about Williams talks about her running the Boston Marathon in space, while the interview with Chiao focuses more in general on what it is like to run in space.  The McCool article is a lengthy and touching tribute to his life as a runner, astronaut, father and husband.


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