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Runner Spotlight

By: Preston Johnson

Article originally featured in Run Utah Magazine Summer/Fall Edition 2018.  Click HERE to download Full PDF version of the Magazine.

Name: Michelle Simonaitis

Age: 52

Current Residence: Draper Utah

Occupation: JetBlue Reservations

Hobbies: Watching Jazz, Selling Online Clothing, I love Tennis and Golf ( but don’t get to play as much as I would like.

Running Background: Started Running at age 12 in Roanoke VA. I found the mile and cross-country came easy for me and started winning – so naturally gravitated toward long distance.

Took some time off during college and restarted running around 25 to keep in shape. Moved to Utah from VA and joined Runner’s Corner racing team in Provo. Won the St. George Marathon the first year of living in Utah in 1993. Then ran Twin Cities Marathon in 2:40:50 the next year achieving the ‘A’ standard for the Olympic Marathon Trials. Went on to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials 2 more times. So total of 3 times. Highest finish was 38th in 2000. DNF the 1996 ( IT band ) and DNS 2004. ( ran SLC marathon instead) . Represented USA at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Edmonton, CA in 2001 for the Marathon. Finish 2nd American and 41st OA. My husband is a very good runner having been inducted into the National USATF Hall of Fame for Masters runners. He is a great source of information and inspiration for me.

PRs: Open : 5k 16:09 10k 33:43 1⁄2 Marathon 1:14:02 ( Hobble Creek) 1:17:17 Carlsbad, CA Marathon : 2:40:50 Twin Cities Marathon 2:40:34 Motorola Texas Marathon. As a Master runner PRs: 5k 17:02 Carlasbad, CA 10k 34:54 Peachtree Road Race , Atlanta GA 15k 55:17 Jacksonville, FL Marathon 2:48:14 Twin Cities Marathon

Training regimen/schedule (weekly mileage, types of workouts, when you fit it in):

Typically right now at 52, I run around 55 miles a week . I run with the Utah Running Draper group. Last winter and spring I did a lot of my workouts and longs runs with Lloyd Hansen, a top National Class Master runner in the US. We were preparing for those races and would do 6 x 1 mile and 6 x 800’s. We also did some Long Progression runs picking it up to faster speeds at the end. I would also do some trail running with the group and friends from SLC.

Favorite place to run:

I have a couple places. I love Provo Canyon and Draper Porter Rockwell. As For trails I really like Millcreek Pipeline . I’m not the best trail runner and Pipeline is nice and flat.

Favorite race distance: 10k

Favorite running shoe: I like Hoka Clifton.

Why run (motivation,inspiration): Running just puts me in a great mood . I do get inspired by big races and trying to run as fast as I can.

Favorite quote or best advice you’ve been given as a runner: I like this quote by Joan Benoit Samuelson “ I’d rather be 90% fit than 100% injured.” I’m currently struggling with an injury and should have taken that advice early when it was bothering me. It’s on the mend now, though.

Advice you would give to other aspiring runners: I would say, run the races that bring you great joy. Skip the ones that you’re not that passionate about to avoid burnout/injury. You can only do so many, so pick the ones that are going to give you the most pleasure and pride when you finish.

Goals: I’m currently running the USATF Masters National Circuit and have completed 3 races. I would like to finish the year in the # 1 spot for the 50-54 Women.



Name:  Taylor Monson

Age:  32

Current Residence:  Ogden, UT

Occupation:  Engineer

Hobbies:  Running, Mountain Biking, Backpacking

Running Background:  I started running as a Junior in High School.  I’ve been running since doing my own thing. I’ve done multiple races in all the various distances.

PRs:  Mile 4:31, 5K 15:45, 10K 33:26, Half Marathon 1:12, Marathon 2:39

Training regimen/schedule (weekly mileage, types of workouts, when you fit it in):

I’m averaging 40 miles a week for the year.  I normally get out about 5 days a week. I try to make one of those days a longer run, 10+ miles.  Time of day is all over, but most frequently it’s in the evening.

Favorite place to run:

Trails on Snow Basin

Favorite race distance:

Half Marathon

Favorite running shoe:

I’m running in the Brooks Revel and Saucony Freedom right now. I’m still trying to find that perfect shoe, but I’ve found that I can never go wrong with a Brooks.  This is my first crack at Saucony and I have been impressed.

Why run (motivation,inspiration):

It’s fun discovering your limits and trying to redefine them – I’ve always said it’s a deranged addiction.  You can’t skimp or cheat yourself, and the body keeps you honest. I like the way I feel after a solid run and I like the physical freedoms it provides for day-to-day living.

Favorite quote or best advice you’ve been given as a runner:

“Why do I run?  To stay in shape, to keep my health, to feel better – all partial reasons, I suppose.  The reason is confirmation – confirmation that I am in control. Every day I must make a choice – a choice to experience pain and discomfort in order to achieve a higher goal…”

-Source Unknown

Advice you would give to other aspiring runners:

I’m discovering as I get older I can’t get away with habits I used to have such as not stretching, poor sleep, or eating poorly.  If you’re fighting through lingering pains or can’t seem to reach that next PR, take a close look at your diet habits and cross training exercises.  I’ve seen people make huge turn arounds in 6 months by doing just that. Age is not necessarily a physical restrictor, but more of a mental restrictor.  You’ve got more ability than you know.


The past couple years I haven’t been involved in the racing atmosphere as much as I once was.  I’ve been working through some minor, but lingering, injuries and the goal is to get back into some races in the Fall.  I’ve got my eyes on TOU half marathon, Scottsbluff, Nebraska half marathon, and Ogden Halloween half marathon.


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