5 Things You Should Know About Me: Michelle Frey

March 29, 2012 at 9:30am EST | by Barbara Huebner

Growing up, Michelle (Lilienthal) Frey was a seven-time state champion for Iowa City High School before earning All-Big Ten honors at the University of Wisconsin. Upon graduating in 2005, Frey felt burnt out on competitive running, so when she moved to Philadelphia for graduate school she shifted to running just for fun. Lo and behold, Frey began running better than ever and turned her attention to the Philadelphia Marathon, in which she made her debut at distance in 2005 in 2:49:22. The following spring, she was the 16th woman overall in the Boston Marathon, her 2:40:23 good enough to make her the second American. With her third-place finish in 2:35:51 in the Twin Cities Marathon in the fall of 2006, she had chopped more than 13 minutes off of her personal best in less than a year. The future looked limitless, and Frey was frequently touted as a likely top-10 finisher in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and even a dark horse to make the team. Then, plantar fasciitis grabbed hold and wouldn't let go, followed by hamstring injuries. Frey fought through some tough years while competing for Team USA Minnesota before a "rebirth" last fall, which led to a resurgent 2:37:03 at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in January. Frey, who works 20 hours a week managing a chiropractic clinic in Minneapolis, married Jacob Frey, a former top distance runner. She will turn 30 years old on April 15, the day she plans to compete in the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women's Half-Marathon in New York City's Central Park.

  1. I've always wanted to do this half-marathon but it just never worked out with my schedule. When I was living in Philly I was always tempted to just hop on a train and do it, though. Central Park is one of my favorite all-time places to run and I've never raced there. So I'm really excited to do it.
  2. I got to the starting line of the 2008 Marathon Trials knowing it was going to be a disaster because of my plantar injury. Jacob was great, trying to get me to understand that it's not good to get too high when things are going well or too low when they aren't, that you can't be on an emotional roller coaster all the time. So I convinced myself that I was just happy to be there, but I was determined to finish that race no matter how hard it was because I knew the next time would be better. The hardest thing I ever did was to finish that race, in 2:48:46.
  3. In January of 2011, Chris Lundstrom, who used to be a teammate at Team USA Minnesota, started to coach me. He's a scientist of the sport, and is in school to get his Ph.D. in kinesiology. He really gets the marathon, and he was right in line with what I had been doing when I was running my best. He's so laid back as a person that when you first meet him you're like, is this guy awake? But he's so passionate about running.
  4. Jacob, who's an attorney now, ran for the Minnesota State Senate last year in a special election where we had to cram into six weeks of campaigning what usually takes two years. It was a full-out sprint. It was disappointing that he lost, but he'll definitely do it again. I couldn't do it myself, but I'm happy to help him do it.
  5. The 2012 Trials were such a thrill. Just to get within reach of my personal best was motivating and exciting. I went out pretty reserved and the last 10 miles really started to pick people off. I felt like I could run through a brick wall those last few miles.