Open Mic Friday is intended to introduce runners to us so we get to know them better. Amy is already a friend to so many of us. And while we know and admire Amy for her insights, humor, and warmth, it's about time that we threw her some questions to learn a little more about her.
Editorial comment from the interviewer: to know Amy PLUS to work, run, and generally be around her is a pleasure. We're all better off knowing her in any way we can.
By the way, be sure to wish Amy the best in her race tomorrow--one of her favorites: the Dam to Dam 20k.
Readers, you're in for a treat with today's interview.
We all know you as a runner today. So how did you get started running?
Which time? :} I tried to start running at least 10 times in my life. When I was a young teenager, I knew I wanted to be a runner. So many times as a kid, I would try to go for a run and then remember it felt awful and give up again. Through college, I tried a few more times and then resorted to walking for many years. Finally, when I was 25, after being frustrated with 15 pound weight gain as I settled into my career, I decided that I was just going to do it. I started out trying to run to the next telephone pole with each run. It took me 2 weeks to successfully run my first mile. My goal was to run 4 miles without stopping - and when I finally reached it a few months later I was hooked for life!
Tell us about your most challenging moment in running?
Running is always challenging for me. I am a not a natural born athlete or runner so it takes work for me to keep running. It is challenging to sign up for a race and know I may be last. It is challenging to fit my training into the rest of my schedule. Balance is my everyday most challenging part of running.
Do you have a favorite distance?
My favorite general run distance is still four miles. I think most of it is mental because it was my original goal when I started running. But there is also something that "hits the mark" physically for me. It is just long enough for me to feel any stress or tightness work itself out of my upper back and shoulders but not so long that I can't fit it in.
For a racing distance, the half marathon is my favorite. As you know, I think everyone should do a half marathon at least once. It gives me a good sense of accomplishment and I can (more) easily fit the training into my schedule.
What's your greatest running accomplishment?
I have so many that I am really proud! From early in my running life, I am proud to say I finished a marathon—but would still like to do it again and more comfortably. As I progressed through my running career, the distances weren't great, but the challenges became larger due to family and career. I am proud that I ran through the majority of time during both pregnancies. And a key highlight was pushing myself to run and finish my favorite race, Dam to Dam a 20K, just 7 weeks after having my first child. And then, even further into my career, it was bravely choosing to wear a swimsuit in public and do triathlons.
What are your current running goals?
This year my main goal is to stay healthy. No injuries! I want to end the year as a stronger runner. I am still holding out for the ability to do just one pull up! I hope to try a few races I haven't had a chance to do as well as continue to meet more and more new runners. And if my family schedule can juggle it, I am sneaking in my favorite races again this year.
Any quirky running traits?
Oh yes! I always have a phone with me while running. About half the time I also have a camera or stop and take pictures. Last year alone I took about 100 pictures of sunsets while running.
For races, I always paint my nails bright red (diverts eyes from big hips and tummy), and wear a necklace that has a charm of my little boy and girl. I have worn it since my first race after my first child. I really believe it gives me a small portion of their never ending energy. It also reminds me that I run to be a stronger mom and set a good example.
You must have some non-running interests?
There is life outside of running? Really? In those rare moments, I enjoy spending time with my kids, my husband and family. My kids keep me busy - we love to go on short "field trips" around the town. Both have wonderful imaginations and they talk me into all kinds of games, crafts and adventures. I also love to read (although it is too addictive for me to do too often), work in the garden, and bake.
Do you have a running hero?
Every runner I meet becomes my running hero. So at this point, I have thousands. Every runner has a story, every runner has a challenge they are trying to overcome. I have yet to walk away uninspired after meeting a runner, reading a blog, or exchanging a note with another runner. I feel fortunate to have the chance to connect with heros everyday.
How about your most embarrassing running moment?
Again, so many. On a regular basis, it is when I get race photos back and think to myself , "Goodness, eeck!, what a train wreck of a runner." I always feel like someone off the cover of Runner's World, but usually look like something the cat dragged in.
Specifically, one of the most embarrassing moments was in my second race. Many years ago, I was running in the Toledo marathon and had decided to run half the course to try out the half marathon distance. There were only a few hundred runners and when the gun went off, within 2 minutes, I was running by myself. Everyone else was blocks and blocks ahead of me. Not only was I last, I couldn't even see the field. It was a nightmare come true.
A few years later, I had a similar experience at the Drake Relays half marathon. At mile 5, feeling crappy and disgusted at being dead last, I stopped and sat down on the curb, and had a little pity party for myself. I am in full blown discussion (out loud with hand gestures) with myself when the homeowner comes out to find out what is wrong. Yeah - I looked like a complete crazy person. I found a little shred of pride and got up and walked away.
What going on in your life outside of running?
Tucker's (my son) foot has healed and he is back in shoes, so we are making plans to run a 5K together this summer. He has wanted to try one for over a year, but his foot problems have made it difficult. We are going to start training and see how he does - my fingers are crossed. At a minimum, I am looking forward to our walks at night again now that he is off crutches and the boot.
I am up to my elbows in garden dirt trying to finish all my "to-do's" of Year 3 of my 10 Year landscaping plan.
After 5 years of restoration and renovation in our house, I am also starting to decorate. We live in a log home and I haven't figured out all the tricks to decorate something so brown. Really brown. Lots and lots of wood to work around.
And it's summer! We are spending more time outside having picnics, campfires, and running around doing silly summer stuff. We can't wait for it to be warm enough to hit the pool. And, we just added a 200 foot zipline at our house so we are having a blast zipping through the woods. (Yes, I have an amazing husband who accomodates all my crazy ideas!)
If money could buy you a running dream, what would it be?
I would coach kids, young boys and girls, to run 5K, 10K and 1/2 and full marathons. Knowing my challenges of trying to learn to run as a child, I can now see that if someone had been available to give me a few tips or push in in the right direction, I may have found the joy of running much sooner in my life. School and community sports teach many great sports and activities, but there are none in our area that teach the lessons of running. There are so many good life lessons kids can learn from setting and achieving running goals.
And a second dream is to have the chance to grant the wishes and dreams of other runners. Can you imagine how much fun that would be?!?!
"The first mile sucks. Just keep going - it gets better." Seriously, this was a turning point in my running. If someone had shared this nugget with me years before, I would have seen the value of continuing to run and build up past the first mile.
"It takes about three weeks before it really gets easier." Everytime I need to "restart" my running I keep this rule in mind to remind me that consistency is key to finding my groove.
Best running advice you'd like to share?
Run your own run. Run your own race.
It took me many years to be comfortable with my running. For the first few years, I used the phrase in my training and racing of, "I should be..." and fill in the blank with "faster", "running more", "running more races", "thinner". I really believed that I wasn't a real runner because of my slow pace and non-athletic form. As much as I enjoyed running, there was always some tension and stress I felt because of the pressure I put on myself.
In the end, the only running that matters is the running that makes you feel good. It really doesn't matter how fast or slow you run or if you run certain distances or races. What matters is that you run like you want to. Set goals that make sense for you. Set goals that get you excited.
And, one last piece of advice. Don't stop. And if you do—start again and remember it takes a few good runs to remind you why you liked it so much before.