Interview: Up and Running

Back in October of last year, Shauna of Dietgirl and What’s New Pussycat fame interviewed me as part of her Up & Running online 10k training program. The Up & Running blog is part of the program, so the content is not open for public viewing, but Shauna gave me permission to repost it here.

1. Your name
Kristen

2. Age (if you don’t mind sharing!)
36

3. Location
Austin, Texas

4. Occupation
I work in Sales for an Asia-based manufacturing company.

5. How did you “discover” running?
I ‘discovered’ running of my own accord sometime in 2002, which was the year before my wedding. I was looking for a way to shed a few pounds and perhaps some inches by squeezing in some exercise that didn’t require a gym and wouldn’t take up too much time. Running seemed to fit the bill. I would come home from work, pull on my running year and trudge round the block. Then my friend Andrea quit smoking and we decided to sign up for a race to celebrate. I think it was a 4k event. Then we signed up for another. And another.

6. How many days a week/kilometres do you train per week?
4-5 days per week, usually somewhere around 15-20 miles a week at the moment.

7. Can you describe your running history, particularly how/when you started increasing your distances. Did you have specific goals or just gradually started running further?
When I first moved to Austin in 2004, I didn’t know anyone outside my immediate family, and my job involved working from home. In an attempt to get out of the house, I joined a triathlon training group with the goal of doing the Danskin sprint triathlon. I met some really great people through that group, and we kept on hanging out long after the training group was over, egging each other on to undertake bigger and bigger challenges. First it was just Sprint triathlons, then someone upped the ante and we did an Olympic tri. At this stage, I was really only running because that was the part of the triathlon I had to suffer through to reach the finish line. We did a series of increasingly long bike rides, culminating in a 2-day 180mile ride (MS150) from Houston to Austin. And then came the Half Marathon challenge. But by then my attitude about running longer distances had shifted. I figured if I trained for it, I could probably do it. Inevitably, once I had a couple of Half Marathons under my belt, I decided to take a swing at the almighty Marathon. The progression from ‘OMG! I can’t run 10k!’ to “OMG! I’m going to try to run a Marathon!’ took around 6 years from start to finish.

8. How do you make time for running?
I get up early in the morning and creep out the house while the kids and my husband are still sleeping. It’s hard to wrestle myself out of bed, but I also know that if I don’t get my run in then, it’s probably not going to happen.

9. How do you feel during a run? What do you think about? How do you feel afterwards?
The hardest part for me is getting myself out the house. Once I start running, I usually perk up. I think about all sorts of things while I run – everything from my to do list, to where I’d like to go on some future dream holiday, to what I wish I had said to that rude old man in my neighbourhood who was horrible to my dog. Sometimes I just zone out and listen to my iPod. My favourite runs are the ones where I have company and someone to chatter endlessly with. After I finish my run, I feel accomplished. It’s a great feeling. I think that’s another reason I drag myself out of bed early in the morning to go for a run – because I know that once that run is done, I will have Achieved Something that day.

10. Do you do any cross-training? Does this help your running?
I swim a couple of times a week and sometimes I ride my bike at the weekend too. I don’t really think of those activities as cross-training though (although, I guess they are!). The swimming is just an enjoyable way to cool off after a run, and the bike ride is typically an excuse to get together with friends and combine exercise with some sort of social life. I do think the swimming helps prevent/minimize post-long-run aches and pains.

11. What does running mean to you? Has it changed your life and/or the way you feel about yourself? Were these changes surprising?
Running makes me feel strong and capable. Nowadays, I regularly run with a group of women, many of whom are in their late 50s and several in their early 60s. They are all strong, fit and they all look far younger than their years. I want that.

12. What’s your favourite fuel for running? Post-run fuel?
For longer distances, I like Gu (preferably the vanilla bean flavour). After a long run, I typically crave eggs. Eggs and pancakes. And a cup of tea. And a whole bunch of water.

13. What has been your most memorable running moment(s) thus far?
Crossing the finish line of the Austin Marathon in 2009 was pretty epic. I got all emotional about a mile from the end when I realised I was actually going to make it. Bizarre, no? I’d done all this training and made it all the way to mile 25 before I let myself believe I was really going to finish. My time was 5hrs7min, which was slower than I wanted it to be (I wanted to finish in under 5 hours), but I was so proud of myself!

14. Since your answers are going to be devoured by our 10K Course participants, we have to ask… what is your strategy for a 10K race?
I try to go out slow, try to pick it up at around the 5k mark, then bring it on home with all I’ve got left.

15. What’s next on your running agenda?
I’m signed up to run the Austin Marathon on February 19.

16. Do you have any running heroes that inspire you? (eg famous athletes, bloggers, authors, etc)
My family are constant source of inspiration to me. All three of my sisters are runners, and my youngest sister Lennie in particular is a truly gifted athlete. She also works harder than anyone else I know. She’s currently trying for a spot on the British Athletics team for the London 2012 Olympics. She’s a 3000m steeplechaser and the current UK National champion in that event. Did I mention she’s also in the middle of her PhD? Her work ethic is incredibly strong, and I really admire that.

Kris Howard (web-goddess.org, geekgirlrunner.com) has been a huge source of inspiration to me over the past couple of years. Kris has set some big goals for herself and then worked solidly towards achieving them. She completed Macleary River Marathon essentially alone and in the pouring rain. Hardcore! Kris set herself a goal of running 1100km in 2011 and invited others to join her. I put my name down and am currently working towards my 1100km for the year. (Update! I made it!) On days when I really don’t feel like going for a run, Kris’s challenge helps nudge me out the door for “just a short one”.

17. If we had a magic wand that would give you free entry into any race anywhere in the world right now, which one would you choose?
The London Marathon in 2012. Make it so!

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