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First Time Marathoner: Kate Washburn

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Kate Washburn is a very unassuming runner. She laughs a lot when she talks about running and gives the impression that she even wonders how she ended up training for a marathon.

Kate began running five years ago and never had it in her head to run a marathon. In the spring of 2009 she was training for the 5/3 Riverbank Run 25k with  friends who were also training for the Bayshore Marathon. "I was running their miles with them and when I went over the 15.5 mile point I knew a marathon was something I probably could do," Kate said. "And then I set a goal to run the Grand Rapids Marathon."

After the Riverbank Run though, her mileage dropped off. "I really didn't want to spend Saturdays all summer long running distances. I did some, but not a lot," she said. Marathon training for Kate began later than for most runners-in August-a short 10 weeks before the October 18 event. She had a good base of regular 5 and 6 mile runs during the week and finally one Saturday in August she did a 10 miler. From there she added two miles each week, building to a 20+ mile run at the end of September. "I talked to a lot of people about this, I knew I was coming in late and I wanted to make sure I was doing it safely. I didn't want to injure myself," she said. She found a mix of information from Hal Higdon's novice marathon training and the Rungazelle training program worked well for her. "I needed something that fit into my schedule so I adopted some of both." Kate is director of media services for Wondergem Consulting, a public relations firm.

For Kate, it isn't the physical aspect of the 26.2 miles that concerns her as she considers the upcoming race. It is mental. "I'm really concerned about those last six miles. I've heard horror stories and I know it going to be a challenge. I've have a few friends who have promised to help me through the last few miles. I think that will help," she said. She's also looking at those last miles as simply two-5k races. Runners who can visualize a short and familiar run can often help get themselves over the daunting last miles of a marathon.

Kate, who is 37, says she's never been athletic, so finishing is more important to her than a specific time. "I'm really pretty shocked that I'm doing this at all. I was a cheerleader in high school. That was it, until four or five years ago when I just decided to start working out. I surprised myself when I ran my first 5k. I had barely run two miles before that race. Building on that and doing these other races, I'm pretty proud that I can do it," she said.

She's not a very frequent road racer - the 5/3 Riverbank Run, the 2008 Bridge Run, the Irish Jig and last year's half marathon for the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon are among her most recent and favorite races. "I decided to do the marathon, in part, because my dad, who lives in North Carolina usually comes to cheer me on for the Riverbank Run. He's so loud! This year he told me he wanted to come to Grand Rapids in October. So I'm running it for myself and for him too," said Kate.  If this marathon goes well for Kate, she says she might consider either the Chicago or Detroit marathons. "It was important for me to run my first marathon in my hometown."

"I want to be able to say I've run a marathon. I want the sticker, the one that says 26.2 I want to put that somewhere!"



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