We're pleased to introduce Christy Whiteman, winner of the Extraordinary Runner Award for February for her story My Joints Are in Motion. A runner who is devoted merely to about 47 other roles and interests, she spreads her enthusiasm in her blog Run Like a Girl. You won't find many pics of her, but lots of her kids and the next best thing--some of the food she prepares.
She's an example of the everyday greatness we admire in ordinary runners.
Meet Christy Whiteman!
After our daughter was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 2, we learned of the Arthritis Society and discovered they had a great group called Joints in Motion Training Team. Since I had been a runner before my children, I decided it was as good a reason as any to give it another try! We picked the Walt Disney World Marathon event because what better place to do my first marathon with my whole family in attendance than the happiest place on earth! I am embarking on my second event with Joints in Motion in December of this year – in Barbados!
Your blog focuses on your many roles—wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend. How do you find the time for all this?
I try very hard not to put too much focus on things other than running in the blog because I am sure it can be boring to read for those without kids or those who are in a different place in life. However, sometimes things slip in there! I try to run in the morning before the day is underway because otherwise, everything else just takes over. Often I have to run during my lunch because we have something in the evening or just because the snow and darkness takes over. Running can occasionally take over all my time at the expense of other things so that’s why I decided to focus on the ½ marathon which fits better with my life.
You recently wrote about your excitement for your training plan. What’s exciting about it for you?
I am excited because now I am focused on a time goal for the ½ marathon. While the full marathon was extremely exciting and fulfilling, it consumed a lot of my time and didn’t allow me to finish exactly how I would want to. I like doing the speed work and building my thresholds rather than just running for the distance which was all that was possible with the mileage required for marathon training.
You’re shifting plans from running a marathon to a half marathon this spring and maybe in the fall. Tell us more about your thoughts on this.
I had a significant amount of debate with myself on this because I thought you were never a “true runner” unless you had done the marathon. Once I accomplished that, I had a feeling like I had “graduated” which is of course ridiculous. I know it is a silly concept because a runner is a runner but it was one objective that hung around in my head until it was checked off the list. I accept that the ½ marathon distance fits more reasonably into my crazy schedule and I am excited to make it my regular race.
Many of my friends are working moms who were at one time involved in athletics (and some that were not). They saw that I managed to train and fundraise even with a busy household so now they want to try too. I had one friend tell me they were very impressed because she thought all marathoners had to have spry, leggy bodies but I don’t fit that mold so it must be possible! I take that as a great compliment!
Best race experience?
During the Disney race I saw a sign that read on the back of a woman about my age that read, “This is my first marathon. If you can read this, you aren’t going to finish either.”. I thought this shirt was fun but I saw this woman in the final miles when we were both really hurting and we had a quick chat. We shared a moment where we both knew it was going to happen. I don’t even know her name but it was a great experience.
I can’t run without a hat. It might be indoors, outdoors on a treadmill..it might be dark outside or raining or whatever. I always have to have some kind of hat.
What have you not done with your running that you’re still looking forward to?
My goal for the ½ marathon in the spring is is a faster pace than I usually do but I am really putting a lot of effort into it. I am also doing my first trail run this June which is really exciting and I would love to more of the adventure type races. I am more likely to try more of these races than a triathlon because nothing will get me into a giant body of water with a million legs and arms thrashing about.
What gets you excited about running?
Participating with Joints in Motion gives my running purpose and every time I feel a bit discouraged or like I am losing my “mojo” I will remind myself of the reason I returned to running. I commented on my blog once that everyone should have something that makes you feel extraordinary and that’s what running does for me. Plus it is cheap therapy.
Non- running and non-blogging interests?
I love playing soccer and tennis and we spend a lot of time in the community doing things with our children. Thankfully we live in a city with a lot of great activities available so we take advantage of most of them!
I suppose the logical answer is the finish line at Walt Disney World marathon. Actually, I was on a training run about seven weeks before the marathon and it was just me and a friend. I ran 35k that day which was the furthest distance I had ever run and the first time I went over 30k. I was completely overwhelmed with excitement. It was the first time I felt confident that I was going to finish. I think I had runners high all day even though I could barely move my legs for nearly two days!
How does your running affect your family?
Sometimes my kids are upset if I am heading out for a run because they don’t want me to go. My husband is very supportive and they often drive past me or call me on the cell to cheer me on but I often feel conflicted. I have to remind myself that it makes me a better mom and wife. Other times they are really proud. I was so completely overwhelmed when I saw them at the marathon finish that I think I scared them a little! They cheer just as loud at a 5k as they do 42k because they really don’t know the difference anyway. Mostly I am very happy when I hear them talk to their friends or others about how Mommy runs races or how they are going to run too. My son once drew a picture of our family and in the picture I was running so I know they get how important it is. I hope they take that on themselves – especially our daughter because it is so important for her to have an active and healthy lifestyle to keep the arthritis under control.
I have had so many great comments from people and excellent advice along the way. Of course I relate to the Mom’s the most but I am regularly amazed and how committed all runners are. I am not sure you see that in many recreational level sports and it is very impressive. I bow down to those, especially the women, with killer PB’s and the amazing stamina required for the mileage that so many put in with glee. It is very humbling to be part of the running community but I am extremely glad to be there.
If money could buy you a running dream, what would it be?
In 20 years, when they are old enough, I want to participate in a marathon in France with my children. Considering I will be in my late 50’s by then will it still be possible? Getting my husband to participate too, now that would be a dream that no money could buy. He is an excellent spectator though!
Every minute on your feet is a good run. I have to remind myself of this often but I love this idea.
Best running advice you’d like to share?
Don’t get caught up in strict definitions of what it is to be a successful runner. What makes you successful? Most do not try to be Olympic athletes so be proud of what you are doing no matter the distance, pace or location. Let running make you feel extraordinary.
So if you were going to devise a first-ever running event, what would it be? What would you call it?
It would be a women’s race (either a 10k or ½ marathon) and course it would be called The Run Like a Girl ½ Marathon. Could it be anything else?? It would allow strollers and have lots of opportunities for spectators to see them. There would be plenty of chocolate and t-shirts cut for a women’s body. It would be fantastically fun!