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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Profiles of Inspirational Women: Kate Elliott

Great ideas usually come to me at the strangest times. For instance, the other day while I was taking my post long run shower, I randomly thought to myself, "I know some amazing, inspirational women." That thought was followed by, "I wish everyone had a chance to hear their stories." Light bulb goes off. "I should do a series of blog posts about inspirational women. Women who have changed their lives through running and healthy eating. And I know EXACTLY who I'm going to ask."

Thankfully, all three were enthusiastic about my idea and excited about participating. They are three different women, in different points of their lives but they have one thing in common: they all woke up one morning and said enough is enough.  

My hope is that you will take something away from their honest answers to my simple questions. That you will see something of yourself in them, and like them, feel compelled to make a change. 
Our first Inspirational Woman is Kate Elliot.
I went to college with Kate, or Katie as she was known then, and was always impressed by her intelligence and quick wit. Since she has started running, she has been an endless source of encouragement and support. Her kind words got me to the starting line of my fourth marathon and gave me the courage to believe I could reach my goal.  
Without further ado....
Question 1: What is your story and what got you started running?
  • Growing up, I was the kid who always had her nose in a book. I liked being outside but I started putting on weight after my parents split up and became less and less comfortable being active. I tried running once or twice over the years but it always led to excruciating pain because I tried to do too much too quickly. 
  • In April 2012, I hit my highest weight ever. My clothes (even XXL men's t-shirts) were all tight. I went to Old Navy to buy some new ones and, after I stripped in the dressing room, I really saw myself in the mirror and I was astonished. It was at that point that I realized how horribly I felt - tired all the time, ashamed of my body, experiencing various health problems.
  • Within a few days, I'd completely overhauled my refrigerator, filling it with veggies and lean meats, and I stopped eating fast food, which had become my main diet. For several months, I focused on diet and lost 20-30 pounds. (I don't weight myself, so I'm not sure how much it was exactly.) Then, I decided it was time to start exercising. For most of July, I worked out to DVDs. But one day I decided to take the Couch to 5K app I'd had on my iPod out for a spin by doing laps around my block.
  • I hated it! After completing less than 15 minutes (barely a mile/two laps), I went back into my house and took a shower. After about two weeks, I decided to try it again. This time, I forced myself to go away from my house for the first half so that, even if I decided not to run back, I'd still have to cover the distance to get home. I also kept walking for 20-30 minutes at the end of each C25K workout.
  • I was as surprised as anyone when, one day, in the middle of a run, I thought, "I really like this. I think I'm a runner now."
Question 2: How has running changed your life?
  • I have done the expected things: lost weight, built muscle, increased my strength and endurance.
  • Even better, I've reconnected with old friends or connected with them in new ways and made a bunch of new friends, too.
  • I have a level of confidence that I've rarely experienced before and never in relation to my body. I used to obsess over every lump and jiggle but now, even when I notice those things, they are almost always overridden by proud thoughts of things I've done with this jiggly body.
  • Less than a year ago, I would have laughed in someone's face if they had suggested I'd ever run a half marathon. So far, I've run two... on consecutive weekends. Thinking about things like that, it's hard to take the word "can't" seriously anymore.
  • Also, I'm almost always hungry.
Question 3: What obstacles have you faced?
  • So far, the only real obstacles I've faced were an injury about 6 weeks after I started and some hip pain before my first half marathon.
  • A seven-mile walk in flip-flops left me with an irritating case of tendinitis in September 2012. Strangely enough, it was this injury that helped me realize that I was a runner because I actually missed doing it.
  • The hip pain taught me some humility because it came at a time when I was seeing real gains in my speed, so I was forced to slow down and even take a week off.
Question 4: What advice would you give someone who is where you were?
Since I was at almost ground zero, this advice is mostly for non-runners: 
  • Give it a shot.
  • Ease into it - there are about a million couch to 5K apps and training plans out there that will help you. If running even 30 seconds at a time is too much, just walk briskly for a few weeks and do a little test jog once in a while to see if your body is adjusting.
  • Go slower than you think you can and you'll go further than you ever imagined.
  • Find friends who love running (you have more than you think), aren't obnoxious about it, and don't take themselves too seriously and talk to them/hang out with them frequently.
  • Pick a race, register for it, and do it even if you have to walk some or most of it.
  • Get fitted for shoes at a real running store. Investing in gear can make running more comfortable and enjoyable and can also be a motivation to keep going.
  • If you find that running isn't for you, don't just give up, try something else.
Question 5: What are some of your goals?
  1. I want to run the marathon at Run Wild Missoula, MT, in July 2014. At that point, I will have been running for just shy of two years. 
  2. Running a sub-30 minute 5k. (32:18 is my current PR.)
  3. I'd like to reach a healthy weight by next January. 
  4. Maintaining a 10 minute/mile pace is sort of a dream goal that I think will be helped along immensely by reaching goals 1-3 above.
Extra Kate advice: 
  • Weight loss is not guaranteed. My weight loss (approximately 70 pounds so far) has slowed significantly, particularly since I started training for longer distances. Running is difficult and it burns a lot of calories but it's really easy to replace them. Diet is still a key component to weight loss.
  • The running community is possibly the most welcoming group of people I've ever met. Just like every other segment of the population, there are some loud-mouthed jerks but, for the most part, I've received nothing but love, acceptance, encouragement, and kindness from my running family. Seek out runners. They will amaze you.
photo courtesy of Kate Elliott

Kate & Bart Yasso! photo courtesy of Kate Elliott

Read more about Kate's journey on her blog: http://avoicecrying.blogspot.com/

Stay tuned for the next installment of Inspirational Women featuring Chanice Jones, founder of Crown Chasers. 

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