Anabelle is an American long distance runner born in Puerto Rico who has competed at all levels in Masters running over a range of distances.
Since 2000 Anabelle has taken wins and set course records at local racing. She is a member of Philadelphia Masters Track & Field, and races for the Mid Atlantic Association. She also serves in the Long Distance Running Committee of USA Track & Field and the Puerto Rico Masters Association.
Anabelle has raced in the USATF National Masters 5K Championships and USATF National Masters 8K Championships. Showing impressive levels of versatility, she’s taken medals in 4 x 400 teams at prestigious meeting Penn Relays (three times) and Milrose Games (twice). These are the oldest outdoor and indoor track and field competitions in the USA.
“The Penn Relays and Milrose Games accomplishments are special to me” Anabelle told Great Vegan Athletes. “It’s because I am a long-distance runner! A half marathon specialist competing in short 400 meters is way out of my comfort zone. But this is the stuff of life. This is how we grow!”
Never one to avoid a challenge, Anabelle was given the opportunity to compete at the USATF Masters Indoor Nationals in 2018. That morning she competed in the USATF Mid-Atlantic Region 5K Championship. She won her age group F 50-54 and drove three hours to the Nationals.
Racing in the 4×200, 4×400, and 4x 800 at the Nationals, she took a medal in each one of these events.
Anabelle has run a 3:13:36 marathon, qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon. Despite it not being a favoured sport she’s also run the USATF Cross Country National Masters Championships twice.
In 2016, Anabelle represented the USA at the international 40th Annual Modesto Carrion 10K which was a fantastic experience. She’s also represented Puerto Rico at the 2019 North Central American and Caribbean World Masters Athletics Championships. Despite short notice she finished third and took bronze in the Cross Country 8k event.
Under COVID restrictions she won her age category over half marathon in the Worldwide Virtual Masters Challenge, Hemispheres II. She competed in ten events and took eight podium finishes. Anabelle continues to consistently register national age graded performances.
Anabelle was born and raised in Puerto Rico, eating meat, then gradually moving away from all animal products. By 2010 she had moved to a completely vegan diet.
She had three main motivations to do so, one of which was overall health. Anabelle also has a strong belief in the rights of animals and our need to eliminate the cruelty endemic in animal farming.
Thirdly, she has professional experience of the environmental damage of food, and appreciates the need for society to change.
“I am a Food Scientist, I have seen behind that veil, I know where food comes from” she explains. “I have been in the places where animals are raised and slaughtered, I have seen the highly processed food production, I have walked hundreds of food manufacturing plants I have also walked many acres of fields where actual food is grown, and have seen the negative environmental impacts of animal agriculture.
“My food and lifestyle choices are based on science, but even as a little a girl on a tropical island I innately knew that we were not meant to eat animals. As soon as I was old enough to make my own food choices once I left the island, I started my transition to a whole-foods-plant-based diet.“
This led Anabelle to a fully vegan lifestyle that extends to clothing and other products. She fuels herself with varieties of vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts. She says she’s “always trying to add as many different types of plants!”
Training is based on long distance running and includes tempo runs, speed intervals and a longer run each week, with some easier runs and hill repeats.
“My training cycle typically includes three weeks hard and one week easy (less mileage, less intensity).” Anabelle also plans her races into her training schedule, and last year (2020) this included three real life events and 54 virtual events.
Anabelle’s veganism seems to be accepted, and has stimulated interest from other runners.
“For the most part, others around me express curiosity, ask questions, seek guidance, and are a bit shocked that I am able to have a level of fitness that allows me to train and race injury-free at a pretty high level.”
It seems that this performance is likely to continue, and we asked Anabelle what her plans for the future are.
“Stay healthy, this is always #1. I want to run forever! I want to be competitive in my 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and beyond! I want to continue to train and compete at local, regional, national, and international levels. My intent is to maintain a high-level of fitness and be able to turn-it up a notch when ‘In-Real-Life’ races are open again.”
Anabelle is also vocal about a need to “challenge the negative notions around women growing old. A whole-foods-plant-based diet is the key to a high quality of life in later years. Providing vibrancy and energy required to stay active, strong and healthy!”
In 2021 she was already looking forward to the Summer 2022 World Masters Championships and was looking at several Masters records. Anabelle was also committed to representing her birth country of Puerto Rico and do her best she for the island nation and world-level competitions.
Outside sport, Anabelle is also supporting the next revolution in agriculture through her business in food science, and is now working exclusively with vegan companies or those working towards vegan food production.
As a Pathogenic Microbiologist, Food Scientist, Nutrition Scientist, and Biochemist she has worked with NASA, academia and private industry. As CEO and founder of Verde Ops, she provides “food science operational knowledge, execution and support to plant based food and beverage companies”. ‘Verde’ is Spanish for the colour green and emphasizes her principles.
We’ll be watching Anabelle’s progress with interest and look forward to hearing more about her determined and enthusiastic training and racing!