You May Know (Issue #4): Andrea Barber

Wow, a lot has been going on with little blog over the past couple of weeks. Your feedback from my open letter to the running community was received well beyond what I thought it would. So much so, I'm adding a second post with some of the feedback I've heard since the first post. Thank you to all who shared your support. Thank you!

But, today's post continues on with my popular "You May Know" series focusing on another awesome and inspirational runner. If you haven't read the previous folks, click on their names: Mark Remy, Sally Bergesen, Bart Yasso and check them out.

Today's subject is someone I first met probably the same way most of you met her. Taking it back to 1987, I was in sixth grade and like many of us at the time, addicted to sitcoms. No doubt, ABC's TGIF was a staple of your Friday night as it was mine. Who didn't love safe, family-based comedy that even when the chips were stacked everything still wrapped up nicely in 30 minutes (you knew all was going to be okay when that "we're all about to learn a lesson" music kicked in)?

At the cornerstone of TGIF was Full House, a story about a widowed husband trying to raise three girls with the help of his goofball lifetime best buddy and super cool uncle (who had an even cooler mullet). Sure, there were laughs based on oddball situations the family would get into ("There's a car in the kitchen!"), but at the end of it all, the family came together to make it all better. No doubt many of us at the time had wished our family was a little more Tanner and less real life.  

At that age, I am little embarrassed to admit I had a bit of a crush on Candice Cameron. I mean, c'mon, hormones to a sixth grader is to the jet fuel used in the early stages of the space program. A little out of control, but hyper-focused. With that, this kid never missed an episode. Plus, I was about three years into drumming and liked to check out the black Pearl Export drumkit in Uncle Jessie's room and listen to those simple, yet satisfying drum solos. 

Along the with the Tanner Family nucleus came a bevy of supporting roles. Stephanie had Harry, Michelle had Teddy, Uncle Jessie had Becky (who always was a major crush of mine, thanks to the movie Rad). But, no other character was more visible (and relatable) than Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), the Tanner's next door neighbor and faithful confidant to DJ.

While not realizing it at the time, Kimmy's role was more pivotal than one might think. Not only did she play the id to DJ's righteous and somewhat square ego, she also played antagonist to younger sibling Stephanie, which played out as Stephanie's jealousy of Kimmy's closeness to her sister. 

Kimmy's role added comedic relief when things got a little too serious, with a Lucille Ball-esque approach, where if a foot was needed to be put in a mouth, rest assured Kimmy was there to make it happen. At face value, it seemed DJ was the only Tanner that wanted Kimmy around, but as the series progressed, each character came around when Kimmy confided in them.

I met Andrea, who is also a very accomplished runner, for the first time last year, during the Disneyland Half Marathon. She and I had some running friends in the same circle and we both ended up meeting over the weekend. When we met, she was like, "Oh, you're the 'Lemonade' guy." I was little humbled my sad little medal had gone all Hollywood on me (just waiting on a movie deal now), and thanked her for her appreciation. Over the past year, we've stayed in touch and you can't imagine how my humbleness was doubled when she agreed to be a subject in the "You May Know" series.

"Everywhere you look...."

As I started with most of my subjects, I wanted to know why running and what was so personally important about it. Andrea's answer was tremendously personal, yet one I think we all can associate ourselves with about the spot of running.

AB: My relationship with running is one of the closest things to my heart. It's the single best thing I've ever done for my physical and mental health.  I started running as a "fun run" (see below), but it quickly became much more meaningful and personal. Coincidentally, I started running right around the time my marriage was falling apart, and eventually through my divorce. Running became a literal metaphor for my life: keep moving forward, no matter how much it hurts. It gave me strength, endurance, clarity, therapy, inner peace. The lessons I've learned from running I carry forward with me into my everyday "non-running" life, every single day. 

When asking about her entry to the sport and motivation to stay moving, her answer resonated with me quickly. As someone who never really had the bug until seeing others participate, I could relate with the confidence running brings. 

AB: My motivation to start running was purely peer pressure. My friends were running the inaugural Tinkerbell in tutus as a "fun run" and I had serious FOMO, so I signed up. Somewhere in the middle of that race - around mile 10 - something inside of me changed. I felt an inner confidence and drive I'd never felt before. I crossed that finish line with pure joy, pride, and tears. I was changed forever. That runner's high has lasted over 4 years. ; ) 

Pixie Duuuuuuuuust (Photo: Andrea Barber)

Of course, being in the hectic world of TV family and real family, Andrea's schedule  probably looks significantly different than most of our schedules. But, running stays top of mind, even if she can't go as much as she'd like.  

AB: I admit it's been tough and my running really took a hit last season. I work long hours, with a long commute to Warner Bros Studios in Burbank, and I'm still a mom to my two kids at home, so running became less of a priority last year, unfortunately. 

This season I'm determined to make it work. I've started leaving my house at 5am to beat the rush hour traffic - then I'll run for an hour either around Burbank or on a treadmill at the WB gym. Then I still have time to shower and eat breakfast before I have to be on set! 

The onscreen chemistry of her costars led me to believe there had to be some group running on the lot. While not an everyday occurrence Andrea's certainly trying to make that happen.

AB: Ha ha! My co-stars fall into one of two camps: Either A.) Hell no! or B.) Very curious but unsure of their ability to run long(er) distances. They do a lot of strength training at the gym, but for some reason, running long is a mental block. I'm trying to "unblock" that. 

I'm working with one co-star who asked me to help him get ready for a 10k - I promised him I wouldn't say who (in case he has to back out - see, mental block! That's all it is!).  And Candace Cameron Bure has been very open about her desire to run a half marathon with me! It will happen someday. She is just super busy right now working on both coasts ("The View" in NYC and "Fuller House" in SoCal). Stay tuned...

As with every subject in the series, I just had to hear Andrea's take on running vs. jogging. In short, she nailed it. 

AB: There is absolutely a difference between running and jogging, and it has nothing to do with speed or distance. I know a lot of runners get offended when they are called joggers because they think they are being referred to as slow. But I don't think that's it. To me, a jogger is someone who runs occasionally when they feel like it, when the weather is nice outside and they want to enjoy some fresh air. 

A runner is someone who NEEDS to run. They feel incomplete without it. It's a physiological need to run, to improve, to push their bodies, and to get back up and do it all over again when they've been knocked down. Running is a lifestyle, not just a hobby. 

Rockin' the Xmas look (Photo: Andrea Barber)

And how about that favorite distance? I'm sure many of you can relate. 

AB: Ooh that's tough. Tinkerbell and Nike Women's San Francisco will always be special to me because they were my first half and full, respectively. Rock-n-Roll Las Vegas is a very close second! 

My favorite distance is 13.1, hands down. It's relatively easy and motivating to stay in decent half shape year-round. And a half is a great way to start your morning and not feel completely wrecked afterward. 26.2 is a whole different beast that you need to respect and take seriously. 

When inquiring about future running/race goals, Andrea is applying a pragmatic approach, setting realistic goals amidst the hectic life on and off set.  

AB: With season two of Fuller House just starting again, I want to keep my goals realistic and simple. So my goals for the next few months are to stay in decent running shape and simply Run Happy.  I still have the long-term goal of breaking two hours in the half. And eventually breaking 4 hours in the full. But I need to find the time to really focus on speed work, so that will wait for now! 

Excuse me for taking a look into my past and playing fanboy for a second. If you haven't checked out Fuller House on Netflix yet, Kimmy's bedroom is adorned with a giant wall sticker of her face. Why? Because, she's a damn Gibbler! That's how they do it. Telling Andrea a lot of us are inquiring; a giant Kimmy Gibbler wall sticker (like on the show) for sale. Is it happening? 

AB: Ha ha! That fathead is still up in Kimmy's room! And the logo is branded on Kimmy's phone case, credit card, coffee mug, etc. It's really funny what our props department have done with it. But no, it's not for sale to the general public. Sorry my friend! ; ) 

As you can see, Andrea's positive attitude and inspirational view on running is truly infectious. I hope you enjoyed her story and learned a little more about an awesome person. 

I'd like to thank Andrea for taking time out of her busy schedule (Netflix's "Fuller House" is currently filming Season Two) to participate in this series. Subsequently, she and her family have also served as tremendously valuable consultants in some of my other blog material, and I'd would like to personally thank them for their feedback. 

I hope you are enjoying the "You May Know" series and if there is someone you'd like to see featured here, just let me know!

Until next time,

 Run fast. Run smart.