Friday Fartlek: Kara Graci

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Name: Kara Graci

Age: 29 – yikes!

Web/blog address:

Twitter: @runfromperfect

1. What was your running “light bulb” moment? How did you get started and when?

I have been running since I can remember, but I think my first 5K was at the age of 9 in 1992. It was what was then known as the Old Kent River Bank Run and I ran it with my dad. I cramped up, and continued to do so during 5Ks probably for a year or two due to an inability to pace myself.  Even though it was probably an awful experience, I loved every second of it because I was running races, “just like my dad.” I ran middle school cross country and track and continued on until I graduated from college.

2. What distance are you looking to tackle or have tackled recently?

I tried a triathlon this past summer and I was hooked! It was a sprint tri and as soon as I got back into town, I signed up for a half-iron distance.  I’ll be taking on the Superiorman triathlon (half-iron distance) in August 2013.  Since I started the planning for that, I also decided to tackle training for a marathon.  I have run several marathons, but haven’t actually trained for one since I ran Chicago back in 2005.

3. What has been your biggest challenge in your journey? 

I ran in high school and college. I wasn’t a superstar, but I set 2 school records at Northern Michigan University (my outdoor 10K record is still standing!) and could hammer out a 5k on the road in 18:20-19:00. After graduating from college, however, I really struggled with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. I wanted to train like I used to and feel good about my accomplishments, but something got in the way of that.  On January 17, 2011, my uncle, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty, throwing me into an even darker place.  My mother and the memory of my uncle have been huge motivators for me. My mom, because she started running in 2009 and completed her first marathon in 2010 at the age of 54.  I seek to honor her devotion to the sport during recent dark times in her life and honor my uncle and his commitment to excellence and physical fitness.

A more minor challenge is planning my summer of racing.  My husband and I own a race timing company (Superior Timing) and time multiple races on the weekends.  It is hard to anticipate whether or not I will be needed at a race or as a lead timer when quotes from new races are rolling in until June. I chose the Superiorman because I knew that we only had one major race that weekend and we could always turn down a smaller race if need be.

4. What do you seek to accomplish through running?

For me, it used to be about winning- either against competitors or the clock, but now, I hope to prove to myself that I can finish what I started, find joy in the simple aspects of running, like meeting deer on the trails or enjoying a view. My dad runs marathons with initials on his shoes as reminders of who he is running in honor of, and I need to continue this tradition in order to remind myself that life is so much bigger than me.

5. Time to motivate! What’s your advice to fellow beginning runners?

If it works, use it as motivation.  A while back, my husband asked if I wanted to go for a cross country ski.  I hadn’t exercised or run yet, and the couch was so warm and cozy. I was cranky, but reluctantly agreed to go.  As we skiied, my mood slowly began to turn and when we finished, I said, “I’m going to write a note to myself about how this turned out and put it out the fridge to remind myself how great it was!”…and I did! Not only that, but remembering that day works to get me out the door every time!

6. What’s your advice for seasoned runners? (just because you may be new to the sport doesn’t meant you don’t have anything to offer!)

Don’t be afraid to admit failure out loud, but use your failure to improve your plans for next time.  Instead of owning my failure, so often, I just silently slunk away with my tail between my legs.  Take a step back and say, “What can I do better next time?” Set your intentions, declare them publicly and then remind yourself that failure is not an option.  Not meeting your goals will happen, but don’t let it happen because you weren’t giving it your all.

7. Tell readers one thing about you that we don’t already know (doesn’t have to be running related):

I have a love affair with chips. I love heading to the food co-op and scoping out the snack aisle for new kinds of chips.  I only like the super crunch, kettle style.  I limit myself to a small handful now after a long run, and not regularly, because then it becomes a problem. I would love to hear kale chip and other satisfying snack recipes to help curb that craving and satisfy my urge to munch. 🙂

8. Time for the spotlight! Let’s hear about your proudest running (or exercise related) moment.

Running the Chicago Marathon with my dad in 2005 in 3:36:34 and qualifying for Boston.  My dad was my original running hero.  I wouldn’t have finished the race if it wasn’t for him and being able to share that moment with him was something I had always dreamed of.

9. Extra Credit (optional): What running related topic do you wish you knew more about?

I recently moved to a rural area and there aren’t any training groups around, really.  I’d love to hear about how people start training groups without the support of a gym, running store etc.  I know people run here, but I’ve tried joining a gym, going to classes, etc. and haven’t been able to make any hard and fast connections.

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