This is just part of our coverage of this year's Philadelphia Marathon. You can read all of the articles at www.philly.com/marathon2012. And don't forget to join us there on race day to follow the action.
By Rob Senior
In 2007, after a career of competitive running at the Tatnall School in Wilmington, De. and later at Princeton University, Meredith Lambert decided to try a new challenge by entering her first marathon in Eugene, Ore. Two hours, 44 minutes and 39 seconds later, she completed the race.
Almost a full minute later, the second female competitor finished.
“Winning my first marathon was a huge surprise,” said Lambert, who was born and raised in Chester County. “It was something I won’t forget.”
This Sunday, Lambert will look to add another memory as she goes for victory in the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon—the second time she’s run the race and her fifth lifetime marathon.
“The first time I ran Philadelphia, my training wasn’t where it could be,” she admitted. “Hopefully I’ll be better prepared this time.”
In 2010, an ‘unprepared’ Lambert ran the course in two hours, 53 minutes—good for an 11th place overall finish in the women’s division. The time and finish would be impressive to most runners, but Lambert isn’t like most runners.
Growing up in Chester County, Lambert always enjoyed running and carried that passion onto the cross-country and indoor/outdoor track teams at The Tatnall School. Her performance caught the eye of recruiters from several top colleges. Lambert eventually decided on attending Princeton University.
“Throughout school, I always tended to run the longer events—on the track I did the 5K and the 10K,” she said. “I just made a natural progression through longer distances.”
She came back to the Philadelphia area after graduation and took up half-marathons and began preparing for what would become her inaugural marathon—and victory—in Eugene. The win qualified Lambert to run in the United States Women’s Olympic Trials in Boston.
While she was building her list of accomplishments in running, Lambert was in hot pursuit of another goal—a law degree from Temple University.
Work and Play
“It can be a difficult balance, training for competitive racing with my work schedule,” said Lambert, who earned her law degree from Temple in 2008—the same year she eventually ran in the Olympic trials.
“Being able to run at a high level is very important to me,” she added. “I love running, so it’s easy to make training a steady habit. It’s the timing that can be difficult.”
Lambert is a securities litigation specialist at Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check in Radnor, working on class action cases for different shareholders. Many cases require travel, which leads to Lambert doing a good deal of training on her own. The juggling act can be a challenge, but Lambert says her two passions—career and hobby, the law and running, go hand-in-hand.
“It’s cutting edge work, and just like running it’s very exciting,” she said. “I love the challenge, and I love being busy. It keeps me on my toes.”
Lambert says the Philadelphia area is a friend to runners with challenging schedules. “There are so many great places to run in this area,” she said. “For me, the weather is pretty much ideal, and when it’s not I don’t really mind. I’ll run in rain, snow—I’ll brave the elements.”
By virtue of winning the Eugene Marathon in 2007, Lambert qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials in the event for 2008. Ultimately, she didn’t qualify for the Games in Beijing—only the top three finishers go to the Olympics—but Lambert still counts the experience as a highlight of her running career.
“Just to be a part of such a high-level competition is an honor,” she said. “The crowds were amazingly supportive.”
Lambert planned to return to the trials this past year for the Summer Olympics in London, but an injury derailed those plans. She did, however, take home a top-20 finish this past April at the Boston Marathon
“My goal is to get back to the Olympic trials in 2016,” said Lambert. “I’d like to experience that event again.”
A victory on Sunday would be a huge step in that direction.
Five Questions with Meredith Lambert
What’s your goal for this year’s Marathon? “I want to win the Marathon, but there are a lot of factors that go into winning. It all depends on who shows up at the start line. Ultimately, I want to finish in the top-5, with a time under two hours, 50 minutes. The key to that is running a smooth, easy race—you want to be comfortable up until those last few miles.
What’s your favorite thing about the Philadelphia Marathon? “I remember in 2010, they had a beer stop in Manayunk! I was trying to compete, I didn’t grab a beer—but I found it really amusing.”
If you brought a friend from out-of-town to go running in Philadelphia, where would you take him or her? “The Wissahickon Trail. It’s very scenic, with all the creeks and trees, and especially this time of year with all the fall colors. One of my favorite spots is right by an old Native American statue. What a great view.”
If you were to run the race with a Philadelphia celebrity: “Tina Fey. I’m pretty sure I’d be entertained the entire time.”
If you could change one thing about the Marathon: “I think it’d be fun if we could finish by running up the steps of the Art Museum, the Rocky steps.”