Our Whippet of the Week is one of our board of directors: Henrietta Aitken! She has been a Whippet since early 2012. She started running as cross-training for rowing while at Oxford University, where she later dabbled in triathlons. When she moved to New York, she started purely focusing on running and racing. Her favorite distance is the half marathon, and she ran a 1:24 PR at that distance.
I grew up in London but I’ve called NYC home for the last six years. When I’m not (cross) training, strumming on a ukulele or working on some craft project or other, I work in corporate communications, helping business-to-business tech companies tell their story.
Ok let me just say it: I love running. While I only came to the sport a few years ago after previous athletic attempts at rowing, sailing and even a tiny bit of triathlon, I’ve found that running is my meditation.
I love the feeling of working hard to strive for a goal. When I can’t run it’s pretty tough and I definitely miss it—for instance at the moment I’m cross-training like a crazy person! It’s all I can do as I let my foot heal from a stress fracture. I’ve been spending hours in the pool swimming and deep water running (if you’ve never tried it give it a go – it’s awesome!) and I’ve found such an appreciation for it that I’m keen to continue once I get back on the roads and trails. I really believe it’s making me stronger and I’m excited to see how it helps my running.
In terms of goals, in the short term my priority is to get healthy and ease back into running hopefully by early summer. In the longer term I have a score to settle with the marathon distance, although the half marathon is my favorite and something I intend to focus on in the future. I want to see how fast I can go over 13.1 miles and I am so inspired by all the incredible performances this past Sunday at the NYC Half Marathon. Seeing so many people PR or run a strong smart race is one of the wonderful things about this team.
It’s so awesome to see people go out there and crushing it after putting in so much work on those cold, dark mornings and evenings. It’s those unglamorous moments of hard training that add up to a great race, and I think that’s why we all feel so passionate about each others’ successes and disappointments—we understand what went into it behind the scenes. That inspiration will keep me going as I slog away in the pool over the next few months, and for that I can’t thank the Whippets enough!
Another thing that’s so great about running is the community. Not just the community within the club, but also around the city and across the country. It really hit home for me this past weekend when I travelled to Dallas for the Road Runners Club of America annual convention. Meeting running club presidents, board members and race directors from all over the US, it was clear that there is a very passionate running community that believes in the power of running to change lives – whether it’s getting/staying healthy, finding a career, or even escaping genocide. During the conference we heard from guest speakers including Ben Rosario, who heads up the Northern Arizona Elite training group, and Gilbert Tuhabonye, who as a boy ran for his life to escape the Hutu-Tutsi civil war in Burundi and became a successful runner and coach in the US. Truly inspiring stuff.
At the convention I also learned a lot about proper club governance. I can hear you all yawning at the word, but it is important. As a DWRT board member, I’m one of the people responsible for the proper administration of the club, making sure it functions as smoothly as possible and that the club membership benefits fully from the Whippets experience. I’m bringing back a ton of ideas to the board which will hopefully make our club even more awesome!