Neighborhood resident and dentist Melisa Christian started running to stay in shape while attending dental school, but it turned out she was pretty darn good, so she kicked it up a notch. She ran her first marathon, White Rock 2001, in three hours 30 minutes, and then just kept getting better — she has won the annual YMCA Turkey Trot the past three years; the 2007 Race for the Cure; came in 9th female overall in the 2007 ING New York City Marathon, and she ran the Olympic Trials Women’s Marathon last spring in Boston in two hours 41 minutes, which placed her 27th overall and top Texan female. Here, the local athlete and dentist dishes about her current ambitions, grueling schedule and what keeps her ticking.
What is your current area of focus? 
I am training for the 5k and 10k distances. I hope that the increased emphasis on speed work will translate into faster marathon times this fall. The variety in training has helped me take a mental and physical break from the year around marathon training. Focusing on the shorter distances with more intense workouts has ignited the passion for running again. 
How much time do you spend  training per week, and how do you manage to work it all into your schedule?
I typically train 20-25 hours per week. I begin every morning with a run starting approximately 5:30, work all day, then train again on the way home from work. The second training session will consist of one of the following: a second run, weight training, swimming, or Bikram yoga. I also volunteer coach for the Luke’s Locker Quick Beat 5k Program on Saturdays, and the Dallas Aquatic Masters Dryland Training on Wednesday nights. I really enjoy trying to make the most of each and every day.  
Might we see you running around our neighborhood?
Almost all of my outdoor training is around White Rock Lake since it is so peaceful. I also enjoy other beautiful parts of the city such as Park Cities, Katy Trail, White Rock Trail.
How do you stay motivated to keep pushing and doing so much? 
I always try to set new and different goals for myself in order to keep things fun and challenging. I just really enjoy staying active in any sport.
What’s your proudest moment?  
Graduating from dental school was my proudest moment in life thus far. Many years of hard work, determination, perseverance, and wholehearted commitment went into this academic goal. To finally cross the stage and receive my diploma in the presence of my family, mentors and peers was the most amazing experience imaginable.
We have a lot of runners in this area — the Dallas Running Club alone has some 3,000 members — what sort of advice would you give to an amateur athlete that has a specific and relatively tough goal in mind?
No matter what goal you may have, surround yourself with positive, supportive, family, friends and training partners, and you will succeed. I have realized that the journey is much more fun and fulfilling than achieving the goal itself. —CHRISTINA HUGHES BABB

Find Christian at Dallas Laser Dentistry,, or for information on training programs, visit Luke’s Locker,