Lori Mann, the former Santa Margarita High School distance runner still regularly laces up her running shoes 16 years after she set the still-standing school record in the girls’ 3,200 meters.
She just has a lot more on her plate these days.
The 34-year-old completed her doctorate in Marriage & Family Therapy from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2016, and now runs a private practice located in Irvine and Long Beach.
She’s worked as a media consultant, a radio host and owned her own public-relations firm, which she started while still running competitively for UCLA.
Mann is the ultimate goal setter, classic hard worker and remarkable high-achiever. She said owes much of it to her running career that began with “just for fun” 5K races on the weekends when she was still in elementary school.
“Running has undoubtedly shaped my life in many ways,” she said. “From career, personal life, every part of who I am is a result of running. I would definitely have a different life without it.”
Mann discovered a part of her she never knew existed when she began running competitively. Her mind could outlast her body, even when she had no energy left.
“There was something magical that happened in high school because I remember pushing past my physical limit so much so that I would purposely vomit after every race,” she said. “My body would literally start shutting down during those races. … I’ve never experienced pain like I’d get in high school. I ran for UCLA, I ran in semi-pro races after that, but I was never able to experience that sort of pain and I think it was a dose of naivete.”
Even as Mann felt her body shutting down, she refused to give in.
“I tapped into this inner-emotional resolve to get to the finish line, even though my body was breaking down,” she said. “I would be in serious oxygen debt, lips are purple, face was white, tried to hide in the bushes so my parents wouldn’t know (I was vomiting), but by tapping into the inner-emotional resolve and this grit, you learn about yourself.”
Mann established her school record at the CIF-Southern Section Division II track and field preliminaries her senior year in 2001, running the eight-lap race 10 minutes 45.10 seconds. Because the best runners were separated into heats, Mann didn’t have anybody to push her during her record run.
“I got into this mental zone during prelims and ran the entire thing by myself when I was ahead of the field,” she said. “It’s kind of funny how, sometimes, you’ll PR during these inconspicuous times.”
Mann has noticed many of her teammates at Santa Margarita have gone on to start successful careers as well.
Amanda Shanklin, who still holds the school record in the 300 hurdles set in 1999, is a Harvard graduate with a Master degree who currently works as a physician’s assistant for a south Orange County orthopedic group.
“I think sports push you to a place where you go beyond your physical limitations and to this mental state where you know you can do anything,” Mann said. “You’re ready to tackle the world.”
Nobody can attest to that better than Mann.