I've known Lauren since 1981! Yes, that's what happens when you're sisters! There's so much to share about her which made this interview somewhat of a challenge.
Lauren has always be an outstanding student and athlete! Our parents decided it was time to put her in gymnastics at a young age when she started doing back-tucks (somersaults in the air backwards) on her bed so she could learn how to do the tucks properly and avoid injury. Only a few short years after that she become THE gymnastics champion for her age group in Belgium! Yes, Belgium! Believe it or not, by the age of 6 she was throwing back-tucks on the balance beam!
Yes, Lauren is pretty amazing and I know you're going to enjoy learning more about this Military Police Officer turned Exxon Mobil Engineer who will surprise you with her many dimensions! Including those she has yet to experience, but has on her list of goals!
Okay, you’re my sister, so clearly, I know quite a bit about you! But most of our readers don’t, so can you tell them about how you got started in the Army?
I attended the United States Military Academy at West Point for my undergraduate education. I decided to go to West Point because it was a huge challenge physically, mentally and academically and I’m not one to pass up a challenge! When I graduated in 2003, I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army as a Military Police Officer.
You were a 2-sport varsity athlete back at The Academy and performed in both Track and Soccer extremely well! In fact, you were inducted into the United States Military Academy Hall of Fame in 2011!! How did you manage two sports at the same time?
It was a lot of work juggling a full course load as well as competing on the women’s soccer and track and field teams. As a result, I didn’t have a lot of spare time, but I love competing and I love playing sports, so I didn’t see the lack of free time as a negative. Also, I have always been the type of person who doesn’t procrastinate, mainly because I don’t like to have deadlines hanging over my head—they make me anxious! I think my proactive approach to getting course work done ahead of time allowed me to manage classes and sports.
Sometimes we all have setbacks in life. What sorts of injuries did you sustain as a result of being a hard chargin’ athlete and Cadet?
I had a stress fracture in my shin my freshman year that kept me out of several games that season. I also had to get stitches next to my right eye because I went up for a header and collided with another player. I think I ended up coming back into the game and I scored the game-winning goal! Other than that, I had a few sprained ankles and the regular bumps and bruises that come along with being a Cadet and playing sports.
Being a Cadet at West Point isn’t just about sports. From personal experience, I know academics take up a ton of time, yet you excelled academically as well. What advice would you give a young person who is considering attending The Academy and is a bit uncertain about being able to handle the academic course load?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help often and early! All of the instructors are there to see you succeed so don’t be afraid to reach out to them, and other students, and ask for help. It shows that you are proactive and you care about your success. It’s also important to seek assistance early. Sometimes all we need is a little boost to get us back on track. Waiting too long might mean getting up to speed will take a lot more effort and time…or it may even be too late at turn things around.
What’s the fondest memory you have of your Hall of Fame Induction weekend?
I was inducted in the Hall of Fame in the Fall of 2011 when I was about 8 months pregnant with my second child. Needless to say, I didn’t look much like a top scholar-athlete at that point in time! It was a really fun weekend and perhaps the most memorable part was talking with other inductees and realizing that, while many of us graduated decades apart from one another, we shared a common bond—we all knew what it meant to put on the West Point jersey and compete for our school, our teammates and the Long Grey Line.
Before we go on, I have to share that you were an Honor Graduate in your 2003 class at The United States Military Academy!
You had three deployments in a very short amount of time (in just over 5.5 years) to some hot spots in Iraq. Tell us about those.
Yes, I did a total of three deployments to Iraq, which added up to a total of two and a half years! As a Military Police Officer, one of my primary missions was to teach, coach and mentor the Iraq Police in Baghdad. It was tough to be away from home for 12-15 months at a time; however, the opportunity to lead Soldiers in real-life, combat operations was an experience that has shaped my life going forward. In Iraq, I lost and I gained. I witnessed the spectrum of the human condition as life, death, hope and despair unfolding around me in a way that impacts my worldview to this day. Would I go back? No way. Would I trade that experience for anything? Never.
I absolutely love this! What an answer! At some point you transitioned out of the Army and into Corporate America. What can you tell our readers about that transition?
I left the Army and I joined ExxonMobil (EM). As my husband, James, puts it, EM was the closets thing we could get to being in the Army without actually being in Army! EM is very structured, hierarchical and there is a process for everything, just like in the military. So the transition went pretty smoothly for me.
What are you up to these days? Work? Family? Sports?
I’m currently living in Houston, Texas. James and I still work for ExxonMobil, going on 11 years now. Our four kids, Colin (10), Owen (8), Neva (5) and Evan (3) are doing well in school and are involved in a lot of sports. Most of our weekends are spent cheering them on at soccer games and gymnastics meets. I still play soccer and I’m on an over-30 co-ed soccer team. It’s fun to get out there on the field every week and kick the ball around. I think I’m actually a better player now, than I was in college. I relied a lot on my speed in college, but now that I’m older (and slower), I have to rely more on strategy and tactics.
Oh, I almost forgot! You’ve got to share how you met your husband, if you’re okay with that! I think it’s a pretty good story!
The first semester of my freshman year I had to take swimming and Chemistry. In swimming we all got paired up and similarly, we had partners in Chemistry. Since I had to take my contacts out for swimming and was virtually blind, it took me a good few weeks to realize the guy I was paired up with in swimming was the same “Cadet Glaze” I was paired up with in Chemistry! The rest is history…
You recently ran half marathon in California Wine Country! What (or who) was your inspiration to train and run?
A group of friends wanted to run it and make it a “girls weekend” so before I could talk myself out of doing it, I signed up.
Is this a dimension of yourself you’ve exercised in the past or was this the first time?
I have run two marathons and one half-marathon prior to this one, so it this wasn’t the first time. However, this was the first one I had run in awhile.
How long had it been since your previous running event?
The last race I ran was a 10k in 2015.
When did you make up your mind to go for this most recent one and make it happen?
I signed up for the race about 10 months before. When I signed up, I wasn’t in half-marathon shape and I knew I would have to do some serious training. So, I went to the website, entered my information and hit ‘submit’ before I could talk myself out of it.
What did you do to get ready for your half?
I loosely followed a half-marathon training plan and I finally “broke down” and got an apple watch so I could track my distances. The watch also allowed me to see how my times and endurance improved over the months. During the week I would run in the evenings—after leaving the Army I have hard a hard time sticking to early morning workout routines! Since I spend a lot of time at the kid’s practices, I made it a point to wear workout clothes and bring my running shoes so I could get a few miles in when and where I could. I forgave myself for missing a run when other priorities came up and I celebrated any distance/time I was able to run. But the one thing I always stuck with was making sure I woke up early on Saturday mornings to get the long runs in. They were slow and they were exhausting, but I felt so much accomplishment after each one.
Did you have a time you wanted to complete the course in?
I wanted to finish by 2:30 and I actually finished in 2:17 so I was really happy and proud of myself!
What was the most challenging part of this experience?
The most challenging part of the experience was not the race at all, it was actually training up for the race over the summer in Houston. Talk about hot and humid! Finding the right time and the motivation to get out there and run on some of those hot days was challenging, but I knew every mile I ran in training would give me the strength and endurance I would need to complete each mile in the race.
It’s pretty neat that even with all you have going on you made time to train for your run! That’s motivation for me! What advice would you give someone who may be hesitant to live outside the box and try something new or get back into something they haven’t done in a long while.
Just do it! Don’t wait for the right time, the right weather, or the right fitness level. Achieving your goal is only half of the fun, the other half is the twisting and turning road you’ll take to get there.
What’s something you’d love to do/try for the first time, but just haven’t gotten to it for one reason or another?
Hmm…good question. This is so random and not at all related to the sports/running theme in the earlier answers, but I think I would like to give a motivational speech to an audience. Kind of like a TedTalk. I don’t know the topic and I don’t know where I would do it, but it’s something I think I would like to do some day.
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