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Business Observer Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 4 years ago

Fairy Tale Run

Lauren Davenport has mostly run to get perspective on life and work. Now she's running for a new cause.
by: Traci McMillan Correspondent

EXECUTIVE: Lauren Davenport, 29, is founder and CEO of the Symphony Agency in St. Petersburg, one of the largest digital marketing firms and ad agencies in the Tampa area. Davenport is also the president of Creative Pinellas, an organization funded by Pinellas County that supports local artistry.

Running. Latest goal: the Disney Princess Half Marathon. Davenport and her husband, Daniel Fernandez, decided in 2017 they would run at least one 5K each quarter. “I love the energy and excitement of everybody and the camaraderie,” she says. The couple will wake up on Saturdays and sign up for whatever 5K is scheduled that weekend.

Davenport never considered a half marathon — 13.1 miles. But that changed when Fernandez contacted Disney to request a spot for her in the Princess Half Marathon scheduled for Feb. 28 — after the event had closed to entrants. “When Disney opens a special spot for you,” says Davenport, “even if you never thought you'd run a half marathon, you get signed up.”

The Disney Princess Half Marathon allows participants to get up close to Cinderella's castle. Instead of paying the $150-$200 entry fee, Davenport elected to raise money for the event's charity, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Her goal is to raise $5,000 for the organization, and Symphony will match dollar for dollar up to $2,500. Davenport is using her social media skills to put together an email and online campaign to raise money.

Davenport runs four days a week. Her runs vary from a 5K, which takes around 30-35 minutes, to a 4.5- or 6-mile run, which takes about an hour. The key to fitting it in her busy schedule with work is blocking off one to two hours, she says. She also gets up early. “I like to get up at the crack of dawn,” Davenport says. “The sun rises at 7:05 and I hit the track at 6:30.”

As an executive, Davenport says, “There are some days where you just feel like, 'Holy crap, what have I got myself into?' When I run, there's a freedom there.” She typically runs the trails around the lake at Carillon Park. She likes seeing the ducks, birds and alligators, and realizing, “they're still going to be there when I'm stuck in the office ... The world is so much bigger than my regular day-to-day.”

In addition to providing an endorphin release, running gives Davenport time to think. She often finds herself thinking about business strategy, such as, “what we could tweak or change to increase efficiency or profitability.” If she thinks of a really good idea mid-run, she'll use the voice recorder on her phone and document it. She listens to music on shorter runs, and catches up on books through Audible on longer runs. She's currently listening to “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” by Patrick Lencioni, her third time listening to it.

“Body Glide is the world's greatest thing ever,” Davenport says. The deodorant stick-shaped product can be rubbed on skin to prevent chafing. Her second must-use product is a pair of orthotics for her shoes. Davenport did a running test at Fit2Run and bought a $60 pair of orthotics. It “made a huge difference on how tired my feet feel at the end of a long run,” she says. On Davenport's must-have gear wish list: Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% shoes, which claim to trim 4% off your running time. (She's on a waiting list to buy the shoes.) “It's all about efficiency — whether business or running,” Davenport says.

Davenport admits she likes to take things over the top. “There's no way I'm going to sit in a room of executives and say, 'I ran a half marathon,'” she says. “That sounds pretty wimpy.” That's why she's planning on a bigger bang later this year to kick off her 30th birthday — running a marathon in Iceland that Davenport has been told is supposed to be one of the most beautiful places to race in the world. Says Davenport: “I am over the moon excited.”

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