I recently had the opportunity to chat with Matt Johnson of Runner Academy, home of the #1 running podcast. It was great to talk with him about my post-collegiate career, what running joyfully means to me, and what's on the horizon with my running.
I've long been told that my future is in the marathon. Longer races have always suited me better - in high school I ran the 2-mile and in college they quickly pegged me as a 10k runner. Post-college, the marathon was a logical next step...
But I wasn't quite ready. I had (and still have) unfinished business in the 10k. For years I'd nourished the dream of running the Track Trials, so although many people encouraged me to give the 2012 Marathon Trials a shot, I deferred. While I surely would have had a better chance of competing at the Trials if I'd run the marathon (over 200 women qualified and got to compete at the marathon trials vs. the 24 women accepted to race at the 10k trials), the 10k still holds my heart. And so I look ahead to the 2016 Trials aiming to be on the starting line in the 10k, but I'm also taking people's advice... and, get ready for it... I'm giving the marathon a shot!
Yup, this 10k gal is moving on up! You'll still see me on the track in the spring, but watch for me racing 13.1 and 26.2 in the summer and fall and chasing a qualifying standard! With this decision to transition the half and the full, it was also time for me to make some other changes in my running. After successfully (and joyfully!) collaborating with my dad on training for the past 3 years, I felt that the time was right to officially bring another person on to the "Kaitlin Running Support Team." This means having someone else write the workouts and hold me accountable for doing them. As amazing a coach as he is, at this point in my career, I needed someone other than my father to be the one pushing me.
Dad and I have had a special relationship that not many fathers and daughters get to experience - that of coach and athlete. For 4 years in high school and 3 years after college, Dad has been the man writing the workouts, holding the stopwatch, and rooting me on with love and support. It was exactly what I needed after college and it worked fantastically well - I PRed at every distance and dropped a minute in the 10k! And most importantly, I loved what I was doing. What an incredible journey the past 3 years together have been!
Dad challenged me in workouts, but he also challenged me to take a moment during each run to pause and say to myself, “I’m the luckiest kid alive!,” no matter how crummy the run or the day might be. He challenged me to find the joy in running and find gratitude. Dad's given me one of the greatest gifts a coach can give an athlete -- a lifelong love of running. Back home in Davis, he is passing on the gift of running joyfully to the next generation of speedsters as he continues to inspire hundreds of high schoolers every day. He will always remain a part of my Running Support Team and running will be a special bond we'll always share. And when I debut at 26.2 next year, I know he'll be on his bike racing from mile marker to mile marker to cheer me on, a proud smile on his face as I cross the finish line with an equally joyful grin. Going forward, I'll be working with my friend Dena Evans, former Stanford coach and current coach of New Balance Silicon Valley. Dena has been by my side throughout my post-collegiate running career, taking me under her wing with NBSV in 2010. She's been an integral part of my running career for the past 3 years, so when I decided I was ready to give the longer distances a shot, Dena was the logical go-to. Dena has my back 100% but she also tells it like it is - she's not sugar coating anything and she's holding me accountable, which is exactly what I need right now. And perhaps most importantly, Dena understands my Running Joyfully mantra. I'm confident this relationship will work out well! Next up for me is a Turkey Trot here in Cleveland on Thanksgiving while I build up mileage and get accustomed to the higher volume workouts that come with half marathon training. Exciting things on the horizon!
Last week I raced in Boston at the 37th Annual Tufts 10k for Women. It was my first time in the city since the Boston Marathon bombings rocked the worlds of so many runners, and running a race through the streets where some lost their lives was sobering. On the starting line we had a moment of silence for those affected during last April's attacks and my breath caught a little as I recalled that horrific day. But the sadness that surrounds April 15, 2013 is small compared to the strength with which the city and the running community emerged. Boston Strong was evident last week - in the 6,000+ women who competed and in the friends and family who lined the streets and cheered in support. The city is resilient, the running community is strong, and the 2014 Boston Marathon will be triumphant.
The race offered other displays of strength, too. I draw strength from 2 of my inspiring teammates, Kris Paaso and Steph Dinius.
Kris became a long-distance runner a bit later than most, diving into the sport in her 30s after a successful collegiate volleyball career at Stanford. At the age of 42, Kris continues to not only set PRs across all distances, but set masters records! (all while working full time as a Senior Investment Manager at Wells Fargo!) Kris specializes in the 1500 but moved up to the 10k last week to help out our team and came away with a new PR of 35:05. Not only is Kris a strong, inspiring woman who I look up to (and hope to be as fast as when I'm her age!), but she's a generous, kind friend and mentor.
I also draw inspiration from the fortitude of Steph (Marcy) Dinius. Following a decorated running and academic career at Stanford, Steph joined New Balance Silicon Valley with high hopes of qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Trials in the 10k. However, a hip labral tear dashed those dreams and Steph was instead faced with surgery and a LONG road to recovery. Where most others would hang up their spikes and move on, Steph spent weeks and months rehabbing from surgery, rebuilding strength, and learning how to run again. A year and a half later, she ran her debut half marathon in a flying 1:15.47 and there's only more to come for her!
Coming full circle on the strength theme, "Start strong, finish stronger" was my mantra for last week's race and I tried to apply that over the 6.2 miles. I started out a bit too strong (hello, 5:20 first mile!) and paid for that in the middle miles, but I ran a solid last 2 miles and a last 200 meters that I can be proud of. While my time of 35:13 is far from my PR, it serves as an opportunity to improve! I look forward to the day when I split that en route to a half marathon PR! (And this distance may or may not be in my near future... stay tuned!) :-)
Good times, good teammates, good things ahead with NBSV!