A big part of why I love running is because of the other amazing runners out there! So I have decided to start interviewing some of my favorite runners and hear what running means to them, what inspired them to start running, and what are their favorite things about running.
First up: one of my best friends, Kristi!
I have known Kristi since high school so… 15 years now. Wow! We also went to college (IU) together, lived together for 2 years during college, ran races together, and have had lots of good times together. She is also the roommate I referred to when I said in college I didn’t understand why she paid to run races. She is definitely a running inspiration for me!
Tell me a little about yourself
I’m 30 years old (next week – Happy Early Birthday!), school psychologist by day, cat mom by night. I live in Evansville, IN with my husband. I enjoy crafts, yoga, spending time with friends and family, and drinking wine 🙂 Oh, and running!
What made you decide to start running?
My first ‘real’ experience with running was when I took a class my freshman year in college. The professor required us to do either a bike race or a 5K. I have no coordination on a bike so I chose the 5K. I remember that it rained the entire race, but it was down in Nashville around Centennial Park. The shirt made it all worth it (it was a mental health awareness race and it had a duck with a bandaid on its head – ADORABLE, and it’s still my favorite race shirt).
Throughout college I ran races, but then real life happened and I had to get a big girl job and exercise was not a priority. However, once I went to grad school (and a very sad breakup) I became motivated and wanted to find something that would make me happy. Therefore, as any depressed single girl would do, I signed up for a marathon! My love of running quickly came back and I have been consistently running ever since!
What is your favorite thing about running?
Being finished with the run 🙂 JK – I like losing myself in a run. I generally don’t like running with other people. My runs are to decompress everything that has happened and to calm down. There have been plenty of times that I was stressed and the only thing I wanted to do was go for a run. It’s what makes me happy and literally “slows me down”. When I run, I can’t email, Facebook, clean, make dinner, run errands, etc. I make myself present in the moment and just run.
How many races have you done?
25 half marathons
1 ¾ marathons
Lots of 5-10Ks (lost count!)
Two half marathon relays
What was your favorite race? Why?
Nashville is by far my favorite half marathon (that is where I did my full marathon as well). The atmosphere is amazing. I always tell people who are interested in doing a race to do Nashville. Yes it may be hilly, but SO worth it.
The most scenic race I’ve done is the Hatfield McCoy race in West Virginia. I literally had to climb a mountain, but it’s so beautiful in West Virginia.
My favorite 5K is the Thanksgiving race in Evansville. It’s nothing too special, but it’s something I do with my mom every year and then I get to eat with less guilt.
What is your most memorable race/running experience?
Too many to count! Most emotional was finishing my first marathon. I thought my foot was going to detach around mile 19 (literally detach, it hurt so bad). Finishing was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.
Probably my most memorable was the Flying Pig marathon in Cincinnati. That course is super hilly and I had to climb these huge hills. At one point in the race, I got to the top of a hill and ran through a tiny park that overlooked the Ohio River. At that point, the sun was coming up and the sunrise was amazing. I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I thought “I get to experience this because I’m running a half marathon.” It was breathtaking.
THEN, at the Dallas Rock n’ Roll half marathon, Deena Kastor (a bad ass marathoner – watch Spirit of the Marathon, it will change your life) was participating. At the beginning of the race I heard them say her name and of course she was all the way at the front. I thought, “how cool would it be to meet her?” There were thousands of people there so the odds were slim. After I had finished the race, I was hobbling around looking for my husband. I was looking around and right in front of me was Deena. I almost peed my pants. I’m an overthinker so I kept thinking “Should I say something to her? I don’t want to bother her, she just raced and is probably tired.” I told myself to put on my big girl panties and I just said “Deena!” She turned around and smiled. Again, I wanted to pee my pants. I went up to her and gushed about how much I admired her and asked if I could take a picture with her. She said yes and THEN – she touched my medal and held it up for the picture. She congratulated me and made it a point to say how great I was for finishing. This is an Olympian marathoner and she took the time to give me words of encouragement. Long story I know, but wow. And all because I choose to run!
Do you have any running goals?
I would love to run the Boston Marathon. My guess is I would have to be a charity runner to do it in the next 20 years, but I just want the jacket!!
My other goals is to run a half marathon in every state. I am currently at 13 and the Yosemite half marathon in California (this month) will be 14.
How has running made an impact on your life?
I’m going to try and keep this short because I could go on forever 🙂 Mentally, it helps me stay sane and focused. I’m much nicer after I’ve run – it’s like a mood stabilizer for me. About two years ago, when I had IT band issues, I couldn’t run more than 5 minutes. After finally fixing that issue, I ran more than two miles for the first time in two months. I cried on the treadmill because I was so happy to be running again. That’s how much I need running. Emotionally, running has definitely helped my confidence. I was always self-conscious as a kid and teenager and very insecure about the way I looked. Once I got into running, my body changed and I started aiming for certain weight goals. Now, as I’ve gotten older and MUCH wiser, I don’t focus so much on the outside. I’m just a much happier person when I’m training and running. Yes, there are a lot skinnier or more toned women out there than me, but they don’t run like I do. They can’t run 10 miles and then keep going about their day. I’m not trying to sound cocky, but I think, ‘I’m pretty damn awesome for what I just ran.’ Running makes me feel strong and confident.
What do you want other people to know about you/your running/running in general?
I never want running to feel like something I HAVE to do. I always want it to be my reason to escape or relax. I do feel like I get bored at times with a running routine and need extra incentives to keep going. For instance, I joined the Hogwarts Running Club (yes, a Harry Potter themed running club). If you like Harry Potter and running, this is the most fun and supportive club EVER. I’m competitive by nature, so being in this club gives me that extra boost to keep running/walking, but a good forum to communicate with other runners as well.
I always tell people that running can take you so many places. Since my goal is run in every state, I have an excellent excuse to travel. Every time I go somewhere on vacation (not just running vacations), I make it a point to run in that city. I ran on a Sunday morning while in London while all the tourists were still asleep. No one was standing outside Buckingham Palace, I got to watch the guards change, run down the River Thames, stand outside and listen to the bells of Westminster Abbey – again, I was beyond belief that I was in that moment. Running doesn’t have to be something you do just for health reasons. It’s emotional, spiritual, and everything wrapped up together. Running makes you break down your comfort zone and try things you never thought you could do. I love when people say, “Oh I could never run more than a mile.” Yes you can, you just haven’t tried.
What is your favorite race medal/memorabilia?
I got a commemorative mason jar from the Hatfield McCoy half marathon. Before signing up for that, I saw on the race website that every participant got one. I was so unbelievably excited about this. It takes very little for me to get excited.
My favorite race medal is probably my New Orleans Rock n’ Roll – it’s just so festive 🙂
Anything else you want to add?
I swear by hot yoga – it completely changed the way I run and how I stay injury free. I used to have to wear knee braces and ice all the time. I practice yoga 2 times a week and do poses at home. Do it, it works!
Who is your running inspiration?