Every day we like to shine a spotlight on people doing amazing work — both with Charity Miles and without. Today we’re featuring Lauren Gaecke, a newbie runner who got engaged at the end of her first half marathon!

Here’s what she had to say:

What is your greatest accomplishment as of late?
My greatest running accomplishment to date was completing a 3.4 mile race in 27 minutes (approximate distance/time). It was slightly over a 5K, and I ran a sub-8 minute pace through to the end, reaching the finish with an average pace of 7:59. That’s a full minute per mile faster than I was running 5K races last year at this time!

How did you achieve it?
Train train train! Albeit safely with ice afterward and lots of stretching. I was coming off of a pulled hip muscle that made my running very difficult for about six weeks. I kept running slow short runs through the injury to maintain some form and ability, and luckily it paid off. I was pain free about a week before the race, allowing me to really dig in on race day.

What motivates you to make the world a better place?
I’ve done a lot of charity work in my time. I’ve put on a Dance Marathon, dedicated endless hours to play groups at a domestic violence shelter, volunteered as a candy striper, and coordinated a large scale Easter Egg Hunt for my community. Through these activities, I’ve seen endless smiles and enjoyment from those around me. It’s seeing community service in action that really makes me keep giving. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing my own impact on the world in a positive way.

What do you do to stay healthy and fit?
Run run run! I run four times a week, never less than four miles. Hopefully this summer I can make a 6K my standard distance until the snow rolls back around. I’m also a vegetarian.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t run through shin splints. Anything else is OK to work through. I’m so glad people told me to stop when I got shin splints during my first few months of running, though.

What’s your favorite aspect of using Charity Miles?
I love giving to a variety of charities. I rotate my donations through some of my favorites like Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, She’s the First, Stand Up 2 Cancer, and ASPCA. It’s an easy way for anyone and everyone to give, even when there’s not enough time or money at home to make personal donations. I’ve never been involved in an easier way to make a difference!

Who do you exercise for, and why?
I exercise for me. I feel better, I’ve lost a little weight, and it gets me outside multiple times a week. 

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