As I write these words, Lauren Van Sant, and a whole crew of East Nastys are representing us in the NOLA Rock N Roll Mardi Gras Marathon/Half Marathon.
Lauren is one of the few of us that was actually born and raised right here in Nashville. She grew up around the area of Hillsboro Village, and can remember skateboarding on I-440 as it was being constructed and hanging out in Jones Pet Shop (now called Fido’s Coffee Shop) where she and her friends would teach the parrot some choice four-letter words. She went to Hillsboro High School (GO Burros!), where, in her freshmen year, she was encouraged to join the Cross Country team.
Little did Lauren know that she was the only girl interested in joining the team, so for almost 4 years she was the entire HHS woman’s cross country team. Her coach was Mr. Hathcock, a former NFL player for the Green Bay Packers. Throughout her training, Coach Hathcock would follow her in his car, honking and yelling at her to run faster. Motivational for sure! Lauren also ran the 400 and 800 races in track, even winning the 4X800 relay at state in 1998. But overall she prefers long distance running to sprints. From high school Lauren moved out to Knoxville, TN to earn a double major in Sociology and Political Science at UT. While there, she replaced her love and dedication for running into a love and dedication for partying.
A couple of years post college however, she decided to make her triumphant return to running. Unfortunately, she decided to bounce back into it like she had not taken a 7-year break, and in 2008 was required to get surgery. She now has a pin in her left ankle, and after a slow and steady climb back up she can now run without problems in her ankle.
Like so many others, Lauren discovered East Nasty through the google listserv. She was a little apprehensive at first, because she was used to running alone and she was still recovering from her surgery. She emailed Mark Miller, asking him his advice on training for the Country Music Half Marathon after only getting surgery 3 months before. Mark wrote back “YOU’RE CRAZY.” She did not take his advice and trained anyway, which proved to be a mistake because she re-injured herself just weeks before the race. But not even that would stop Lauren, 2 days before the race she got a cortisone shot, and pushed herself through the race anyways!
Since then she has learned her lesson to recover on a slow and steady pace, and she has now run a few other half marathons with much better results. Her favorite race so far to date was this last year’s Tomato Fest 5K, mainly because it was kind of like the East Nasty homecoming meet.
Other interesting facts about Lauren are: 1.) She is hoping to start graduate school this fall, to earn a masters degree in Social Work. 2.) Her all time favorite movie is the Big Lebowski, and has even attended Lebowski Fest in Louisville, Kentucky. And 3.) She believes that Brown’s Diner has the “best cheeseburger” in town, and that Rotier’s can suck it!
Her time in the Mardi Gras Half Marathon…2:14:00. Way to go Lauren!