Friday, October 02, 2015

Shannon Bergstedt: From Minnesota to Menlo Park

This is the third of several short stories about Minnesota high school stars who have chosen to run their first 26.2 miler in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

About five days a week, Shannon Bergstedt gets dressed in her running closes and heads out through San Francisco's Presidio. The Hopkins High School stand out takes different routes, one has her going over and back on the Golden Gate Bridge with it's breathtaking view of the bay.
Bergstedt(192) climbing a hill at the front of the pack in high school.

A quick shower and breakfast, then it's into the car for the hour commute to Menlo Park in Silicon Valley, to the offices of Evidation Health, a health tech start up. Bergstedt was the second employee hired by the company that is backed by GE Ventures and Stanford Health Care.  In the past year as the company was getting ready to launch, she has worked in operations, payroll, marketing, and sales, to name a few "real world" tasks necessary for transforming a dream into a "living, breathing" enterprise.

Though it's demanding, it's also a welcome shift from mostly academic pursuits.  The road she took to get to Evidation.  Five years of under grad and grad school at Stanford, plus another two years getting her MBA at Harvard.  Mixed in with that was a stint at Cardio DX, a cardiovascular genomic diagnostics company where Bergstedt was an associate product manager.

 Just as in elite level track and cross country, the life of an entrepreneur can be all consuming.  Bergstedt feels she's at a time in her life when she could absorb those demands.  "No family to support.  Not tied to one place. Able to take the risks of embarking on a new venture in that part of the US that is the incubator for those willing to take that journey,

She brought her road bike to California, as well as a wet suit in case she wanted to take a dip in the Bay.  Sports/exercise have always been her release.  Running is easy, you just step out the door and there is a world to explore.  And she likes to compete.  "I started racing in 7th grade," Bergstedt said.

Running has taken on a new role now. It isn't a competitive outlet now, it's for fun.  A series of stress fractures quashed any thoughts of staying with high level competition.  Former Stanford coach Dena Evans had coached a Team USA type group that Bergstedt was a part of for awhile, but her body couldn't handle it.  Serious racing was not an option.
Running with the Stanford pack.

Doing a marathon some day remained a goal, however.  The stress fractures  left a fear that she couldn't do the training, the long runs necessary to make that 26.2 mile journey a comfortable challenge, rather than an exercise in pain management.  During the two years in Boston at Harvard, Bergstedt was able to watch the Boston Marathon.  She had been in the finish line area on the day of the bombing.

Bergstedt left that area about 15 minutes prior to when the bombs went off.  She became aware of what had happened when she started getting messages from friends asking where she was and was she OK as she rode in a cab back to the Harvard campus.  Some day, she does want to run Boston.

Her choice for attempting a first marathon though was Twin Cities.  Her parents and grandparents are in the area and will be out on the course to cheer her on.  "The goal is to finish," Bergstedt says.  "Finish and feel good and want to run another one when I can train a little more seriously.  Maybe run Grandma's or Chicago(flatter courses where getting a qualifying time for Boston is more likely)."

Bergstedt in corporate mode
Despite the workload of building a start up, Bergstedt felt that this yea the time was right to give the marathon a try.  She was back living in San Francisco.  Good weather for training.  She has been "healthy for some time," no major injuries. The weather on race day appears that it will be favorable. If all goes well chances are that Bergstedt will be smiling at the finish and already thinking about  the next one.

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