Find Your Strong Project: Week 9 Spotlight

Week 9 of the Find Your Strong Project asked the community to share a personal best. Kate R. shared her 5k PR and landed a spot in the winner’s list. She joins us for a Q&A below:

’22:58 in a 5K – It was the first time I’ve gone under 23 minutes since high school! #FindYourStrong’

That’s pretty fast! Do you remember what your 5K PR was in high school?
Yes, it was my 17th birthday and the first time I was getting to run in my high school’s cross-country sectionals.  So it was a pretty big day for me.  I really wanted to finish under 22 minutes, and I managed to scrape by in 21:52.  I don’t remember all of my high school PR’s, but I do remember that one.

Kate at the Down's Park 5 Miler in Pasadena, MD last November

Wait a minute… your blog is entitled “Run Far, Not Fast”. What gives?
Ha! I know, it makes no sense.  It’s derived from an expression that floats around in the running world, “Those who can’t run fast, run far.”  At the time I started the blog I was coming off of a long break in my running, so I wasn’t particularly fast.  I decided my focus would be on getting my mileage up to compete in more marathons and half marathons.  That was four years ago though, so my goals have changed, and I do focus on speed quite a bit.

Do you always track your pace while training?
I do.  I have an unhealthy obsession with my Garmin Forerunner.  I actually used to skip running if I forgot to put my Garmin in my gym bag.  I forgot it for a race once and had a major panic attack.  Luckily, I had a friend coming out to spectate, so he lent me his.  Since then, I’ve gotten better about being able to run with a regular old Timex, but I haven’t been able to run without any watch at all.  Baby steps…

According to your blog you’ve run 7 races in 2012 so far. Was there a favorite?
I ran the North Face Endurance Challenge Half Marathon in June.  I was really nervous because I had a bunch of friends running the ultra distances on Saturday, and they had a rough time with the mud.  There was a torrential downpour Friday night so the trails were one big mudslide.  My race was Sunday.  It turned out to be the most fun I’ve had running a race in years.  How often do you get to just tromp through the mud and not care how filthy you get or how fast you’re going?  I felt like a kid again.  It was great.

What’s the farthest you’ve traveled to participate in a race?
I drove from State College, PA to Chicago, IL for the Chicago Marathon in 2006.  It was about a 10-hour drive.  Getting there wasn’t so bad, but driving back the next day was painful.  The best way to recover from a marathon is to get moving as soon as possible, not by sitting in a cramped car for 10 hours.

Do you mix up your training with activities other than running?
Yes, I try to do something active if I’m not running.  I recently started road cycling.  It’s been weird for me to be out of my comfort zone since I’m still working on feeling comfortable riding with traffic.  I also just switched to clipless pedals, which scared me so much I actually didn’t ride my bike for nearly a month after I got them.  I’m gradually getting more comfortable on the roads, and it’s been a lot of fun.  I think it’s a great complementary exercise to running.

What’s the longest period of time you’ve gone without running?
After I ran the Chicago Marathon, I didn’t run for nearly a year and a half.  It was for no particular reason. I just fell into a slump and never got the gumption to get myself out of it.  The longer you stop running, the harder it is to start again.  Finally, when I was nearing the end of grad school, I needed something to blow off steam, so I joined a beginner’s running group to motivate me to start running again.  I just feel so much more aligned when I’m running.  It helped me deal with all of the stress involved with defending my thesis, moving, and starting a new job.  I’ll never voluntarily take such a long hiatus again.

What running-related accomplishment are you most proud of?
Hmm…this is a hard one.  I guess the thing I’m most proud of is how I’ve grown as a runner.  When I was younger, I used to put so much pressure on my performance.  If I didn’t PR or run the time I’d want, I would be so upset for the rest of the day or longer.  I’m much better at re-evaluating my goals now.  Anything can shake up a race, whether it’s really hot or hilly or I’m just having a bad day.  I don’t let a bad race affect me the way it used to.  I’m still out there to do my best, but mostly to have fun.

What do your friends think about your love affair with running?
Most of my friends are also runners, so they all share the same love.  I’m pretty sure my non-runner friends think I’m crazy.  Sometimes I have friends who are just starting to run shoot me an email asking for advice about getting started, and I think that’s really cool.  I try to tell them if they just stick with it, they’ll be in the cult soon enough.

The new Ride 5′s come in a few different colors. Which do you think you’ll go for?
I’d love to get the ViZiPRO Pink/Blue/Yellow style.  I love how bright they are.

Thanks again to Kate for her time, and congratulations to all of the other week 9 winners! You can find all other submissions at

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