How did you transition from completing a 5K to completing ultra marathons and triathlons?
Carol: I signed up to do these with friends and did it for the social aspect. I did two marathons, in Huntsville and Nashville. I did six or eight 50K races. Two of them were the Mountain Mist 50K. That’s my biggest accomplishment. I did two 50-milers, in Key West and Kansas. Those are mind over matter. You have to decide that you want to do it and set your mind on it. You have to decide, “OK, I've trained for this.” When I did Mountain Mist the first time I thought I missed the final cut off. My friend was waiting for me. I started walking because I thought I missed it. He came down and started yelling at me that I had five minutes to get to the aid station. I thought, “Holy crap I can still do it!” You have to decide you've trained for this. This is what I've been working for. Don’t give up.
You mentioned that you have taken a step back from the ultra marathons but that you want to stay fit and stay involved. Why is it important for you to stay connected to the running and racing community?
Carol: In the past few years, we had grandchildren, Marty had his hip replacement. It’s been more challenging. I like half marathons. As long as you keep your fitness you can go out and finish one. Marty and I transitioned to triathlons, and that took away from doing the long ultras. With the three sports, it takes up more time. We’ve done three of the 70.3 Ironmans and the half Ironmans.
I just retired in January, and retirement will get me back out there. My goal is to get back out to running half marathons. I do run-walk intervals. Go out just to keep the fitness level going.
I like being either out there with my own goal, or finding satisfaction in seeing someone achieve their goal if I may have impacted them. I watch people on Facebook who I've mentored. We stay in touch years after the actual program. One program I attended was the half marathon program from back in 2011. We still stay connected. We go out periodically and get together for a beer. But we remain connected years later because of that program.
What would you say to someone who wants to start getting in shape but doesn’t know how?
Carol: I would say to set realistic goals that you will stick with. When you really want to lose weight or achieve something, you go out so open throttle that you can't keep up with the goal, or you get injured, or something happens along the way. I go back to when I decided to ride the bicycle three times a week: I couldn’t justify not doing it. But if I had decided on seven days, I would have found an out.
Also, reach out and tap into resources available in your region. Find some people who have similar goals. They’re out there. You can find them. Whether it be a training program through Fleet Feet—there are different groups, different paces, speeds, ages—find that group with goals that are similar. If you can find the group, you’ve got that bit of a cheering squad that backs you up, keeps you going, keeps you accountable.
By Kate Schwartz. Schwartz has been running competitively for 20 years, and she currently runs with the Asheville Running Collective. She lives in Asheville, NC, with her husband, Alex, and their cat, Clementine.