Trek Women

Laura MacLean

Name:Laura MacLean
Hometown:Washington D.C.
Occupation:Communications expert specializing in social issues for a public health consulting firm
Age:38
Pastime:Traveling abroad; spends every New Year’s Eve in a different European city; and training for her next challenge (triathlons, bike centuries, 10ks and more)

“…It was like losing an extra person”

Laura shares the trials and tribulations of her journey to lose the “extra person” she carried with her until March 13, 2007. Losing those extra 130 lbs was both the easiest and the hardest thing he has ever done, but the journey is far from over. Her new Trek WSD will certainly come in handy for the rest of the journey as she completes her first Triathlon, plans several trips around the world with her bike and puts herself out there.

Nick Name (and how you got it!):

Lola – Dubbed by my best friend, Russ, who was my boss many years ago. I guess I’m a showgirl at heart.

Favorite place to ride:

Mount Vernon Trail with my best friends and riding buddies, Russ and Wayne.

It’s about a 40-mile ride from where I live on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC to George Washington’s estate, Mount Vernon, in Alexandria, Virginia. The route takes us through the city; around the Jefferson Memorial, past National Airport; along the Potomac River through Old Town Alexandria; and then the best part, rolling hills through woodlands and a marsh to climb a steep hill right before Mount Vernon. On the way home, we pass the Washington Memorial and Smithsonian museums with the final push, a climb up Capitol Hill.

The first time I did this ride, I didn’t make it up the Mount Vernon hill or Capitol Hill. I had to walk my bike. Now, I attack them both and try to be the first one up. Wayne and I are usually neck and neck to the peak. Every time I climb the Hill, it reminds me of how far I’ve come in changing my life to become a healthy, strong, and fit woman.

Describe the day you learned to ride:

I don’t remember learning to ride my first bike, I’m sure wobbly training wheels and plenty of crashes were involved. However, I do remember my first ride in April 2006 while I was losing weight and getting in shape. I hadn’t ridden my bike (a Trek mountain bike that I purchased during grad school in 1994) in nearly 10 years. At this point, I had lost about 60-65 pounds and still had another 65’ish to go to hit my weight-loss goal.

For my birthday, friends overhauled my old Trek. I was ready to take on a new fitness challenge even though I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to keep up or go very far. I didn’t want to hold them back.

The day arrived for my first time back in the saddle, a Sunday. I dug out my 10-year-old bike shorts and helmet that I still had tucked away in the hopes that one day I would wear them again. It was a short ride, about 15 miles round trip. My legs felt shaky. I was steering all over the place and sure I was going to take a header into traffic. Despite the nerves, the ride was exhilarating. I was hooked! I’ve been riding most weekends, when the weather’s not terrible, ever since.

What is the most interesting thing you have seen while on your bike?

I think the most interesting thing about riding my bike is that it lets me be a tourist in my own city. It’s so easy to get caught up in the crazy commute and daily to-do lists that you forget to take the time to enjoy the spaces and places that make Washington, DC our nation’s capital.

Where you grew up:

Darien, Illinois

What is the best part about living in DC?

I can’t imagine living anywhere else in DC but Capitol Hill. I love the stately rowhouses, tree-lined streets, and the neighborhood cafés and shops. Two blocks from my house is a year-round outdoor farmer’s market called “Eastern Market” where you can buy regionally grown produce; find treasures, antiques, and furniture; and discover the work of local artists and craftspeople. My friends live on the Hill too and we all meet for coffee every Sunday morning.

Favorite Meal:

These are my favorite splurge meals (I can’t pick just one)…

Italian: tomato, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil with balsamic vinaigrette followed by gnocchi in a gorgonzola sauce with a side of asparagus and a glass of red wine.

German: Jägerschnitzel with spätzle and red cabbage and a pint of hefeweizen beer.

And though it is neither Italian nor German, I would top off my splurge dinner with a slice of carrot cake. My favorite is from the Magnolia Bakery in NYC.

When you are not on your bike, what are you doing?

One of two things usually...

1) Training for the Chicago Triathlon on August 26th! I’m in the pool swimming laps or out running. I also fit in kickboxing and step aerobics classes at the gym – my instructors and the class regulars have been incredibly supportive throughout my weight loss. As I got closer and closer to reaching my goal they would ask, “Did you hit it? Did you hit it?”

2) Planning my next trip abroad! I LOVE to travel. I was an exchange student in Iceland in high school and for a year in college, and I did the whole backpacking, Euro-rail thing. As an adult traveler my accommodations are a little nicer and I have a little more spending money (for shoes), but I still love the adventure of exploring new places.

Who or what motivates you:

My mantra is: “do one more…better.” It could be one more push-up than the last time I did push-ups, one meter farther or one second faster on a ride, etc. I stay motivated by constantly challenging myself to improve. Two years ago, I had no clue that I was going to lose nearly 130 pounds. I took it one day and one pound at a time. You never know what you will accomplish, until you try.

Most admirable women: famous or not

I admire my mother, Dr. Susan Laura MacLean, the most. She raised three daughters on her own, worked full time, and pursued her education. My mother was a registered nurse and worked in a nearby hospital’s emergency room when she and my father divorced. For years, she had wanted to go back to school to finish her college degree. She fulfilled that dream by attaining her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and receiving her doctorate in nursing research days after I graduated high school.

Through it all, she worked more than full time teaching at several different nursing schools in Chicago and picking up ER shifts, while also being the #1 cheerleader for her girls at swim meets, choir and band concerts, plays, and all those moments and milestones that built our childhoods. I don’t how she did it, but I’m truly thankful. She is the very definition of the word “determination.”