Karen

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I am 36, married to my wonderful husband for eleven years, with two kids ages 8 and 5. My background is in School Psychology, but I have turned my hobby of photography into a career. When I was thirthythree I started to run.

Why did you take up running?

I took up running so I could run a 5k with my dad. I started seriously exercising when I saw my sister really get herself into shape, and decided that maybe, just maybe, I could train myself to run 6 miles so I could participate in the relay of the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon.

How many hours do you spend on running during the week?

It depends on the training schedule. At peek marathon training it's about 6 or 7 hours and in the off season it's about 2 hours.

Do you walk alone or in a group?

I run by myself, with my husband, and in a group. I trained for my first marathon by myself and felt very much alone on the long runs. At times it is nice to run alone and have your thoughts to yourself. The long runs are just too long to do by yourself. I thoroughly enjoy running with a group - it is a very social event.

What motivates you to go for a run?

Knowing how much better I will feel after the run.

Do you find there's a difference between physical en psychological reasons to go running?

Running makes me feel better both physically and psychologically. The psychological hurdle to get yourself out the door can be a problem. Then, the sometimes physical hurdle while running can be a problem. In the end it is all good.

What does running mean to you?

It has come to mean a great deal to me. It means that I am in shape, and that I have a wonderful network of friends and family to support me in everything I do. I run with many family members, including my father (something I never imagined being able to do). The conversations had during running are like therapy - I don't take that lightly. The close bond we all have developed is something I did not anticipate, but is something I cherish.

Do you see parallels between running and motherhood?

I have a post on my blog about how training for a marathon is like being pregnant and running a marathon is like giving birth. Overall there are many parallels. You have good days and bad days, things that make you smile and warm your heart, and things that frustrate you and make you curse.

Would you recommend running to your child?

Absolutely! My kids love to take my GPS watch and see how fast they can run to the end of the street. While it takes good genes to become a world class runner, anyone can run for fun. There is no real talent involved.

I read you run with your husband. Could you tell us something about that?

I started running before my husband, and it has become something that we enjoy doing together. When I ran my first marathon, he ran half of it with me (the first quarter and the last quarter). I think that gave him the bug to not be outdone by me and he trained for, and ran, the next marathon with me.

When we train, we run together. When we race short distances (10k or less) there is a bit of competitiveness. He can now beat me at those distances, but I still have him in the marathon. I have been nice though, and finished the last two marathons hand-in-hand with him.

What makes you participate in a marathon? What motivates you?

I joined a running group at my gym and the organizer of the group convinced me that I could run a marathon. I thought he was crazy at first. Then, he showed me the training schedule and that I had already done half of the training. Since he was a personal trainer, I figured he knew what he was talking about and decided to give it a try. The motivation I had to run each of my three marathons is difficult to explain. I think it was part the social group runs, the feeling of accomplishment, the work towards a goal, and the way I feel being able to say, "I ran 26.2 miles today".

What does racing mean to you in general?

To me, racing is a giant group run. I'm typically racing against my own time, and I try to not take it too seriously. I like seeing all the different people who come out for a race. It makes me smile knowing that there are other people out there who are in shape (or trying to get there) and enjoy this crazy sport of running.

Are you running for an official prize?

I'm not fast enough to run for any official prize. The prize is in beating my last time, or doing well in my age group.

How do you view your future as a runner?

I just hope that I can continue to run for many years to come. In the near future, I may add speed-work to my training in hopes of some year qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Really, I would just like to continue to improve.

Do you run with music?

When I run alone I run with music. It is amazing what a good song can do for your pace. When I run with a group I never have music - we talk too much, and listening to music seems rude.

What do you think about Paula Radcliffe?

I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I had to look up her name to make sure I was remembering the right person. I think she has been a great motivator for many women and the sport of running. I know there was some controversy about her not finishing a few races, but I am not a world class athlete, and I won't pretend to understand her actions. This is where running is different than many sports. I will never throw a football with an NFL team, I will never bat in a major league baseball game, I will never kick a soccer ball in the world cup. But, I can line up on the same starting line as the elite runners, run the same 26.2 miles, drink the same water, and cross the same finish line. 

Do you have a favourite book about running?

Marathon The Ultimate Training Guide by Hal Higdon. It prepared me for and got me through my first two marathons.

Do you have a favourite brand of running shoes?

Pearl Izumi's Synchro Guide. I had problems with blisters until I found these shoes.

Do you have a message for al the moms out there who are thinking about taking up running?

Do it! Find a group, make it a social event. It is much better for you than sitting at the coffee shop and gives you the same psychological and social benefits.

Want to read more about Karen?

Visit her website and blog

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