(Cover photo: April Woo, third from left on bottom, and her Audubon Running Club team after the Bourbon Chase. Photo provided by April Woo)
Every week, the Louisville Women’s Sports Network highlights a local woman by asking her six questions about her health and fitness routine. This week’s guest is April Woo. If there is a woman you’d like us to feature, email suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tell Us a Little About Yourself
I am married to my childhood classmate Daniel Woo and we have four beautiful children: Kaden, 14; Kya, 12; Kamden, 10; and Kira is almost 8. I participated in a multitude of sports and activities growing up. I graduated from Mercy Academy where I played volleyball, soccer, basketball, and softball, and was All-State in softball and soccer. I then went on to graduate from Bellarmine with a degree in business administration and a minor in mathematics (actuarial science). I work full-time as a Sr. Business Analyst at Mercer and have been there for over 16 years.
I have been a member of the Pacers & Racers racing team for six years. Every morning (with a few exceptions) before the sun comes up I am out running and, in the evenings, I am often coaching the kids in a sport or two. I am an avid marathoner who, in a little over five years, completed my 20th marathon (2016 Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon in April, finishing 2nd). I have ran the Boston Marathon the last five years, but am most proud of my 2015 Chicago Marathon where I finally – after much persistence, early morning workouts, pain, heartache, support of family and friends (Audubon Running Club, “ARC”), and dedication – broke the three-hour mark to finish 2:59:26 after missing it by 25 seconds in Boston in 2013.
I organize our ARC morning runs. Some days we have two people and others as many as 15. It’s always a pleasure to get to know runners in the community and see where, why, and how they got started running.
I coach cross country, volleyball, and basketball at St. Stephen Martyr School and also coach t-ball, baseball, and softball at Germantown Baseball, Inc. Coaching provides fulfillment and purpose in life and allows me to teach youth not only the rules of the game and having fun, but hopefully life lessons such as respect, teamwork, and that if you work hard at something in the end it will pay off with patience and persistence.
Six Questions About Your Fitness & Health
1) What is your weekly training/exercise routine?
I typically run at 5 a.m. seven days a week – about 10 miles each weekday and about 30 miles average on the weekends. When training for a marathon, I typically have two days during the week of tempo or interval workouts and then every other Saturday do a long run at marathon pace. I have more recently added in swimming twice a week to my routine with my husband to allow for more cross training and recently finished my first triathlon: IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga. In training for the triathlon, I have been biking 2-3 times a week or when I can squeeze it into the schedule. I haven’t given up any of my running for the triathlons because for those who know me, they know running is my passion!
2) How do you prepare for a workout?
I literally wake up 15 minutes before my 4:45 or 5 a.m. run and I am out the door. I always have my running clothes set out the night before. I do prepare a little more for my runs when I am doing long runs at marathon pace. I will wake up about 45 minutes prior to these and have a fig/toast and jam and coffee or similar foods that I would have prior to my marathon to practice what I will eat and drink on race morning. For a marathon, I will wake up at least 3-4 hours prior to race time and ensure that I get the appropriate amount of carbs.
3) What do you eat, drink or do for quick energy?
For quick energy, I will drink Nuun or B12 energy fizz drinks. I typically try to ensure that I drink something with electrolytes. During a marathon, I will also take Endurolytes and Huma Chia Gu (energy gels).
4) What is your daily nutritional meal plan when training?
I try to ensure after my runs that I have a good balance of protein and carbs. Some things I might typically eat after a run are: plain Greek yogurt with apple slices; a bagel with peanut butter; chocolate milk; quinoa/cinnamon/apples/almonds; protein pancake with berries; egg/Ezekiel bread; or a protein shake (Arbonne vanilla protein/spinach/orange vitamin water with ½ cup frozen strawberries). Lunch and dinner varies depending on the kids’ schedules, but I typically try to have high protein, mix of carbs, and some vegetables throughout my meals. Eggs/omelets are my go-to for dinner when in a hurry because they are quick and easy. I have found the MyFitnessPal app helpful in developing a more well-balanced diet to track food intake. It helps to show what my diet may be lacking or getting too much of, and allows me to see for races/workouts what works well and doesn’t because I can look back at the tracking of foods eaten.
5) What do you snack on between meals when training?
For midday and afternoon snacks, I try to always have apples/fruit, avocado, Greek yogurt, nuts (almonds and cashews), or Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars handy.
6) What are your fitness & health goals?
I want to lead a healthy lifestyle and set an example for our children. I hope to inspire those around me to give them the encouragement and confidence to know that they can achieve whatever their fitness goals may be. I have a personal goal to get to know others and listen to their experiences because, oftentimes, there are lessons to be learned and stories to be heard.
I want to encourage everyone that it all starts with the willingness to get up and move… take baby steps and progress will come. After having our youngest child, I started running with an empowering group of ladies who all ran in college. I did not and had never run faster than an 11-minute mile and was just trying to breathe without dying on morning runs with them. After 5-10 minutes of running with them, I would look at my watch and think, “Are we done yet?” I kept coming back and I truly believe if it is something you want to achieve, go for it and be happy with your best effort. As my mom used to say and I still believe this, “You will never be disappointed if you gave your best.”
I would also encourage others to surround themselves with those that are positive influences and help to make you a better ‘you’! Follow your passion and once you do, in the end, it may not be without some grit and pain, [but] you will get way more out of it than what they put in such as lifelong friendships, lessons learned, new personal best, experiences, and memories that will last a lifetime.
My ultimate running goal was to break three hours. I achieved this last Fall, so I guess it’s time to set a new marathon goal, but I’ve been enjoying my accomplishment in the meantime. I would like to participate in some ultra-running races in the future. I have done a few trail marathons, but nothing beyond that distance. I may someday do a full IRONMAN, but will wait until the kids are grown as I am enjoying the precious time with them being young and trying to maintain work-life balance. I would also say “never say never” as I didn’t really start running consistently until after having our fourth child. I said I would ‘NEVER’ run a marathon when I would see my mom run marathons and see the marathoners split at the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon. Take a chance, try something new, and enjoy the moment!