The Amanda Burrill Interview

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Bit of business: earlier this week I wrote a piece for Fast Company on the best practices for "pestering" people professionally. And I did have to pester people to get them to talk to me.

After a long baby-induced hiatus interviews are back. To make up for lost time I decided to interview someone who has had about eight careers so far in one life. I read about her in my latest issue of Runner's World and was like, "I have so many questions for this lady." She is a veteran who was deployed to Iraq while serving as an officer in the Navy. After that phase of her life she went to cooking school, wine school and journalism school (she got a master's at Columbia University). Now she's a food blogger over at Aprons and Sneakers, an editor at Iron Man magazine, a fitness model, and hosts the Travel Channel show "Tales From the Hair of the Dog." On October 11 she'll be running her 18th marathon here in Chicago as she raises money for the Endure to Cure Pediatric Cancer Foundation (feel free to donate to her fundraising efforts!) Here's her Instagram, too.

I read in Runner's World that you got your start by running every day with your dad. Were you always enthusiastic about this ritual? What happened if and when you didn't want to go with him?
My dad's name is Steve and I've been called "Little Stevie" most of my life. I was always enthusiastic about doing anything with my dad, especially athletic activities. When I was young and he was still shipping out as a merchant marine he'd be gone for three months and then back for one. I can't recall a time I didn't want to go. If I said I didn't want to go I imagine he'd look at me and say, "You can 'not want' in one hand and shit in the other. Guess which one will fill up first?" That's how I was raised, and that is why I'm a hardass.

What's so special about the Chicago Marathon to you?
A bunch of things! First, I have never run the Chicago marathon before. In all my travels it's sad that I've only been to Chicago twice in my life, and one of the times was to shoot that Runner's World cover in July, so I had no time to go do anything "Chicago-ish"! So I am coming early and staying around a few extra days to EAT ALL THE THINGS and work on some freelance articles. This is the first time that I will run with my bro Jason, the founder and CEO of the charity I'm on the board of and fundraise for, Endure to Cure.

What do you think you'll eat after the race?
I imagine that I will get down on a banana and water immediately following the race. Then I'll go to the beer area and imbibe. I like to have a margarita and a steak on days that I run marathons. That makes it sound like I run them all the time! This will be my 18th marathon.

What's your secret for avoiding underboob chafing?
Underboob chafing is the WORST! I have an ample set of twins too, so I have this down to a science. Step one is find the right sports bra. I'm a Moving Comfort "Fiona" gal myself. It has to be nice and snug under the ladies so there's no shifting to cause friction. Last step is Body Glide! I cover myself in it on race day. If despite my best efforts I'm chafing during the run I will grab some of the vaseline the volunteers offer on the popsicle stick and slick it on thick.

What have been your favorite songs or things to listen to while you run lately?
I'm 50/50 with audiobooks and music. When I moved back from Europe this past winter I purchased "Unbroken", the book about Louis Zamperini, and listened to it for my 30 minute intense runs. As a veteran myself, I am patriotic as hell and listening to that book in 30 minute increments brought my runs to the next level. Tears were literally streaming down my face. Everyone in the neighborhood probably thought I was a whack-job. I'll listen to Gary Vaynerchuk, Malcolm Gladwell or Eddie Murphy "Raw". My running music is either 80's awesomeness (read: Skid Row) or teeny bopper Top 40 stuff. I'll admit, I love me some Britney Spears and the Jonas who has gone solo. The one with the rockin' body. I am so embarrassed that I love his album. Oh, and Sia. I like Sia.

What seems to work for you when it comes to preventing injury when you're hardcore training?
I used to be injury prone, but after foot and hip surgery and working with some awesome physical therapists to adjust my stride and anterior rotation, I have been good to go as long as I don't overtrain. That is a matter of listening to my body, which wasn't always easy for me to do! I use Trigger Point products to attack my knots and the Marc Pro has been a godsend. I always joke that "Marc and I are getting married." I hydrate like crazy, take trace minerals and try to get seven hours of sleep.

What's the last thing you cooked for the first time? What's the last thing you made that's an old favorite?
I wasn't feeling well about a month ago and made a killer 72 hour bone broth. Having been to culinary school I've made broth and stock and consomme a bajillion times, but I made this huge batch with so many bones from all sorts of animals and connective tissue and threw in star anise so it was a little reminiscent of Pho. I'm half Vietnamese; Pho is my jam. That same day I started the broth I found a lamb heart and cooked that too. Also, just three weeks ago we filmed season two of Tales from the Hair of the Dog and I made TWO kinds of soup with bull penis; one Sicilian and one Filipino. The last thing I made that's an old favorite it Sunday Funday chili! I am a chili rockstar. I get it going in the morning and then there's usually some sort of football gathering and I don't have to be in the kitchen working while those flavors meld. GO PATS! [Ed: no.]

Of everything you've done, which was the most physically difficult? Psychologically?
Physically difficult is a tie between Ironman Arizona in 2008 and certain aspects of rescue swimmer school. During the race I kept throwing up on the run, so I had to stop to vomit and when your body is at that point, stopping is the worst thing you can do because you just freeze up. It was just tough, and like a fool I'd ridden the 112 miles on a total piece of crap bike. Ironically, the next day I was doing cartwheels and had no pain aside from the awful sunburn. I have a very low body temperature, so at rescue swimmer school, which is already pretty darn hard, being waterlogged all day lowered my body temperature to the point where I could hardly function. I would pee in my 3mm wetsuit to try and warm myself up. I lost all my body hair during that school, but I passed and have always been proud of that.

Psychologically difficult is losing the greatest dog to ever grace this earth. His name was Maximus Nugget and every time I think of him I cry. From the point he started acting strange to when he passed was only two (very expensive) weeks, and it wasn't until after an autopsy that they finally figured out what was wrong; myeloid leukemia. Being in the military from 2002-2010 means I know a lot of dead people. This was 100x the psychological challenge. I have Nugs's ashes and I am going to have them compressed into a diamond and wear him forever. Crazy? Maybe. I care not.
What's something you're not good at, or are mad that you were never able to master?
I'm bad at brevity. Very bad at waiting in line. I'm also not very good at snowboarding. I grew up in Maine and started with skiing and I have a borderline OCD issue with symmetry, so although I tried to be "a snowboarder" it never stuck and I have just accepted the fact that I am not very good at it and the "unevenness" of the posture is unsettling.

Your life seems to involve a lot of discipline: what do you do when you want to indulge yourself in one way or another?
Wine, wine, wine, gummy candy, travel and the spa. You're right, I am pretty militant with discipline and my schedule and that involves scheduling in some chaos too! I went on a trip to Hong Kong for the Rugby Sevens in March, which was shortly after a trip to Bonaire to SCUBA dive. Those were indulgences. I like to get facials and massages and sleep in big comfy beds and sip coffee in big fluffy robes. Did I mention that I like to indulge in wine? To the point that I went to wine school when I lived in Paris... wine.  

Is there anything you miss about being in the Navy?
I miss bridge watch and watching the sunrise every morning with my bridge team with the smell of cinnamon rolls wafting up from the bake shop. I miss looking down the "sun line" into infinity close to sunset. I miss high seas, because I am a total thrill seeker. Folks would start puking and I would just laugh and laugh. When I worked at Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One, I would go down to one of our subordinate units to see my friend Paul and his squad of bomb technicians. I made them a wreath for the holidays. In the same building I would visit my friend and doctor, Rich. I miss running around Coronado's perimeter and cycling the strand.

How does it feel to be the 410th person interviewed for
Feels good that someone thinks I'm interesting enough to ask me questions about my crazy life. Feels good to not care about AP Style and just spit it out. I like even numbers, so that's a win. I hope you're not angry that I'm so long-winded. Want to hang out when I'm in Chicago? I like to hold babies and you make me laugh.