August 27, 2013
For immediate release
SRA standout manages Celiac Disease, builds toward 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Natasha LaBeaud’s latest taste of the national stage leaves her wanting more, which means plenty of sushi dinners the night before big races.
The Folsom High School and Georgetown University graduate has emerged as a standout on the Sacramento Running Association’s Elite Team, the latest evidence a 15th place finish in the women’s 10,000 meters at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships three weeks ago in Des Moines.
LaBeaud, 25, sees her 34-minute, 39.65 second effort in hot, humid conditions as another stepping stone in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.
“It was a great chance to race in high pressure,” she said. “I was able to hang for a good chunk of it.
“It’s another building block … Absolutely, 2016 is definitely the goal. I have goal sheets everywhere; 2016 is on all of them.”
LaBeaud has developed into a national-caliber runner despite dealing with Celiac Disease, an autoimmune condition that damages the small intestine and does not allow food to be absorbed when gluten is eaten.
So LaBeaud passes on the pre-race pasta dinners and opts for sushi instead.
“It has rice and protein, which is all you need,” she said.
LaBeaud wasn’t diagnosed until her freshman year at Georgetown.
“I’d come back from runs and want to curl into a ball, my stomach writhing in pain,” she said. “It started becoming a lot of things I couldn’t eat: processed wheat, barley.
“It’s definitely a part of my life every day … what do I have to pack, kind of putting myself in a position to get the right calories … It’s definitely something I’m constantly monitoring.”
LaBeaud started her running career in the 4th grade at Theodore Judah Elementary School in Folsom when she set her sights on the school’s Jog-A-Thon.
“I wanted to be the fastest person, male or female,” she said. “When I accomplished that I thought maybe this is something I could look into more.”
LaBeaud joined the Buffalo Chips before winning five medals at the state meet in high school and finishing 25th in the Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships as a senior.
She won a national junior title in the 5,000 meters in 2006, earning a trip to the World Junior Championships, and qualified for the NCAA Championships twice in the 10,000 meters at Georgetown.
Ask LaBeaud about her college days and she delivers an enthusiastic endorsement.
“It was great,” she said. “I had always wanted to move across the country and experience something new. My time on the team was more of a roller coaster, a lot of solo training.
“The people there, the education I got, I loved Georgetown.”
LaBeaud, who earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Journalism, lives in San Diego and works as a writer for a doctors’ web site. She’s also active in 2nd Recess, a San Diego program helping kids ages 5-15 learn about running and healthy living.
“The kids are great,” she said. “It’s definitely a passion of mine.”
LaBeaud appreciates the financial support she receives from the Sacramento Running Association.
“That’s made a tremendous impact,” she said. “It’s nice to know I can tell them what I need and what it’s for. It’s been overwhelming support.”
Looking ahead, LaBeaud is keeping her options open for 2016. She owns a personal best of 32:51 in the 10k and finished 60th in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston with a 2:42:55 effort, just off her 2:42:53 personal best.
“It was definitely different doing a marathon loop course,” she said. “The whole buildup, I put a lot of pressure on myself … Monitoring food and fluids, coming from the 10k, I never had to worry about that.”
So which distance looks most appealing for 2016?
“I feel pretty open, especially right now,” LaBeaud said. “At my age, it’s good to have options. We’ll see what each one brings.”
The Sacramento Running Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.
SRA events include the recent Gold Rush 100k and Freedom Mile, the Folsom Blues Breakout Half Marathon on Oct. 19, the California International Marathon on Dec. 8, the Super Bowl Sunday 10k Run on Feb. 2 and the Credit Union SACTOWN Ten-Mile Run on April 6.
SRA beneficiaries include the American River Parkway, youth fitness programs, local running venues and aspiring young runners.