ALUMNI: Dynise Balcavage
Name: Dynise Balcavage
Hometown: Shenandoah, PA
High School: Shenandoah Valley High School
College: Kutztown University, undergrad; Arcadia University; grad school
Occupation: Medical writer, cookbook author, running coach
Favorite Place to Run in Philly: Trails around West Fairmount Park
5K: 21:36 (age 51)
4 mile: 28:32 (age 48)
8K: 34:55 (age 51)
5 mile: 35:50 (age 51)
10K: 40:48 (age 50)
10 mile: 1:12:51 (age 52)
15K: 1:08:10 (age 52)
Half marathon: 1:39:34 (age 51)
Marathon: 3:35:18 (age 52)
4th place in my age group in the Broad Street Run, 2017
By: Aliah Molczan (10/04/16)
This week’s member spotlight highlights Dynise Balcavage: a master’s runner with many talents! Dynise, tell us a little about the inauguration of your running career. When and how did you begin running? What was your, “Hey, I’m pretty good at this” moment?
I was a very late running bloomer. I was a gymnast all the way through high school and ran just one year of middle-distance track (400/800m and 200/400m hurdles). I didn’t run track or XC in college. For the next 30 years (!!!), I ran a few miles a week – jogged, really – just to stay in shape. I didn’t get serious about running until age 45 in 2010. I ran my first Broad Street Run and was instantly hooked, although my initial time was awful. I became intently focused on improving my times.
I realized I was good “for my age” when I got 2nd in my age group in the first 5k I ran at age 45, without trying too hard and also when I qualified for the Boston Marathon by almost 20 minutes in the first marathon I ran, again without going all out. My confidence was truly cemented after I actually won a 5k, passing out younger runners on a super hilly course. (I still can’t believe it.)
That’s when I decided to ditch the “good for my age” goal and just get as fast as I can. Period.
You are killing it at an age where people stereotypically let themselves go. How do you remain focused and disciplined through life’s distractions?
So much of physical fitness literature focuses on the various physical limitations that transpire because of aging – you lose strength, you lose flexibility, yadda yadda yadda. It’s so negative.
I like to flip that around and instead ask, “What is possible as you age?” Newton’s First Law (grossly simplified) states that bodies at rest stay at rest, bodies in motion stay in motion. I know I believe this and have seen it to be true.
I am not myself if I don’t run, it’s that simple. I love to push myself. It’s such a defining aspect of my personality.
Speaking of killing it, tell us about some of your running accomplishments. Which racing moment(s) are most significant to you?
It was cool to win that 5k, but my proudest running accomplishment so far was coming in 5th in my age group in the 2015 Broad Street Run in 1:13:34, because it was such a competitive field
People enjoy competitive running for many reasons. What is it that you love about running?
Running helps keep you healthy, focused and in the present. It’s also a better social lubricant than even alcohol! I’ve met so many dear friends through running.
Do you have any advice on how people can maintain their competitive drive over time?
To remain competitive, you have to remain hungry. But the fact is, we are not hungry all the time. It may sound counter-intuitive, but I think some down time from running is important to help you stay balanced and hungry. I don’t think you can be “on” all the time.
Not only are you an accomplished runner, you’re also accomplished in other areas of your life! Can you tell us about your career… and becoming an author?
Thank you! By day, I work as a self-employed medical writer; I’m basically a science nerd. (I think it’s eerie how many PRTC members are involved in medicine in one form or another.) I’m also the author of 3 plant-based cookbooks, The Urban Vegan, Celebrate Vegan and Pies and Tarts with Heart.
I’m guessing participating on the PRTC board (Communications Director) was an obvious choice for you. Can you reveal any upcoming projects or ideas you’re thinking of?
I am pursuing my USATF Level 1 Track Coach certification because I want to coach adult runners, whether they are total newbies or masters runners looking to get faster. (I put in the classroom hours, now I need to take the exam.) I also run a blog for masters runners: Mastering Running.
When you are not running, participating on the PRTC board or writing books, how do you like to fill your time? Is there anything special you’d like to share with us?
I’m obsessed with plant-based cooking and traveling. I also love animals and volunteer for Green St. Rescue.