My local running store, Running For Kicks, does a regular “Spotlight Runner” series to highlight local runners. I was honored to be featured recently! (I also meant to post this last week, but got busy.)

spotlight runner at running for kicks

If you don’t have amazing vision, here is what I wrote:

What made you decide to take up running?
My best friend Vera encouraged me to take it up. She started running and doing marathons right after college. One year around New Years, she convinced me to sign up for the Palos Half. I had been going out for “jogs” here and there, so signing up for a half seemed like a good New Years resolution. That was 2010. It took me until 2011 to finally “enjoy” running, and then it became my reward, not my chore. Since 2010, I’ve completed 36 races.

What are some of your goals for races for 2013 and 2014?
I’m doing my first Ragnar on June 7-8, and my first trail race (North Country Trail Half Marathon in Manistee, MI) in August. My goal is to finish both in one piece. Hopefully smiling.

What is your favorite distance to run in a race and why?
I love them all. I love going fast at the shorter distances. Running a half is an accomplishment, but the training doesn’t take over your life. Doing a marathon takes a lot of time and dedication but is a great reward.

Do you have a favorite race?
I love that the Palos half is a local race, so it’s always fun to see familiar faces, and it’s a well done race. I like the Park Forest Midwinter Cruise (2013 and 2012) because it’s the only race left in my hometown, it starts and ends at my old junior high, and the PFRPC puts on a great, quirky race! And all-you-can-eat pancakes! Can’t beat that.

What was the first race you have ever ran?
The 5K at the Park Forest Scenic 10 in 2005. It was just something to do. My parents would walk it every year, and I thought, if they’re going to walk it, I should run it. I think my time was just over 30 minutes, but I placed in my age group (20-24). I didn’t realize at the time how much I would cherish that in the future! The next time I ran was probably the following August, to train for the 5K again in 2006. Then I didn’t do another race until the Palos Half in 2010.

What is the name of your Running shoe?
I run in Brooks Adrenalines and Mizuno Wave Nirvanas.

Do you have a favorite trail or route to run?
[Leaving this part out for safety purposes.]

Any advice to give to someone that would like to start running?
Find a running club, or join a group run at a store. I was too chicken to do this for about the first year of running, but now that I’ve joined a club, I wish I would have done it sooner. You’ll be more consistent, you’ll have more experienced runners to turn to for advice, you’ll have people to go to races with and to cheer you on or pace you, and you’ll have someone to grab a beer with post-run. Don’t worry about being the slowest. You probably won’t be, and they will welcome you even if you are, and help you improve. [Edited to add: Vera gave me this advice when I started running, but it took me awhile to actually follow through. Wish I had listened to her sooner!]

Do you have a athlete that inspires you?
Other runners like me who face more challenges but keep going. My best friend Vera – the one who encouraged me to start running in the first place – has been battling a chronic injury and hasn’t run a step in 17 months. It’s incredibly hard for her, but reminding myself that she can’t run at all gets my butt out the door when I don’t want to run – I try to appreciate that I can. Also, Amanda – Too Tall Fritz. She works full-time, commutes downtown, is married, has two children, dogs, a house to take care of, and still manages to run marathons. I hear she never sleeps though.

Cubs & Sox, who do you side with?
My mother raised me to be a die-hard Cubs fan. She grew up near 95th & Cottage Grove and loves the Cubs; figure that one out. Because I still haven’t!

You just won a million dollars in the lottery, what would you like to do?
Other than the expected – pay off student loans, buy a house of our own – I would do something nice for my parents – they’ve been travelling more now that my brothers and I are grown, so maybe taken them on an overseas trip. Or buy them a condo downtown with all the amenities so they can enjoy their retirement.

Your three pet peeves, what are they?
People who don’t respect the Quiet Car on the Metra, the phrase “Happy Monday” (that phrase is only true during Monday night runs at RFK, it is NOT true at the office!), people who are rude to wait staff at restaurants.

Favorite TV show?
Mad Men

Name a location that is on your travel bucket list and why?
The Mediterranean Coast. (Just realized I forgot to include the why … because it looks beautiful.)

Why do you run?
I run because I can. I have two healthy legs, two healthy lungs and a healthy heart. I never want to take that for granted. I also run because I want to see what I’m capable of – how fast and/or how far I can go.