I remember meeting Carrie for the first time when I joined the Charm City Run marathon training group. It was at a water stop during a training run, it was hot, and I was tired. Her first words to me were words of encouragement, “you got this.” Her beautiful friendly smile and the intensity in her eyes convinced me, yeah, I got this. I’ve always seen Carrie as the cheerleader of the group. She’ll ask us how we’re feeling at water stops, shout out words of encouragement as she passes us along the route, or give us a quick thumbs up. She has inspired so many runners and she didn’t even know it. We talk about how amazing she is and how she’s progressed with each training session…yeah Carrie, we talk about you 🙂 Below is our interview.
SWIR: When did you decide to make healthy changes in your lifestyle?
Carrie: While I was an undergrad I was a smoker. I had decided that I would quit smoking before I graduated. After New Years of my senior year I finished my last pack of cigarettes, but I knew I would need something to fill in that smoking time. So, I started working out at the gym as much as I could. Between the desires to quit, to be healthier, to actually breathe clearly through a workout, and to smell good after a workout (i.e. no BO or Ashtray smells) I managed to quit.
SWIR: When did you start running and why? Did someone or something inspire you, if so what or who?
Carrie: I started running after I graduated undergrad and no longer had access to a free gym. I had a friend who would go for a two-mile run every other day. I asked her how long it would take her and she said “less than 20 minutes.” I foolishly said I could easily do a 20 minute workout, not realizing she was a speed demon. After she left me in the dust in the first half mile, I was pissed – not at her but at myself. And that was when I determined that there was no way I was going to let 2 miles beat me. I used that summer to improve my distance and my speed. However, I only ran occasionally after that summer. It was after my mother was diagnosed with Stage III Breast Cancer when the real drive to run blossomed.
SWIR: Tell me about your first race. How did you feel after you crossed the finish line?
Carrie: My first race was the Komen 5K in Hunt Valley. It was a year and some change after my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She had made it through all the surgeries, chemo, and radiation and she was back on track with her life, which made me so grateful. I had spent that year running around between my last year of grad school, working full time as a high school teacher, and any spare moment I got I flying up to western New York to visit my mother and help with her treatments. So, when things finally settled down, I felt as though I could finally start giving back to all those who had helped my mother. The Komen 5k was my first opportunity. I believe I raised over $500 from family and friends that year and when I crossed the finish line I cried. A week later I was wondering how I could do something like that again.
SWIR: Is there a particular distance that you are aiming for or have you found your favorite distance and are sticking do it?
Carrie: Honestly, although I prefer the longer distances of half and full marathons, but I love the atmosphere of racing in general. So, in the end I aim for all distances. There is always a challenge to be met at each distance. I am planning on racing at least once a month this year starting with a 5k and I am excited about that as much as I am excited about running my favorite half marathon or finding a new marathon to run.
SWIR: Do you cross train? If so, what else do you do and how often? Do you switch it up if you’re training for a specific race?
Carrie: YES! I LOVE to cross train! I try to get in at least two spin classes and two weights classes a week. I always say I am a group exercise junkie. I also love Yoga and Pilates, but I find it hard to find good classes sometimes. I change up my cross training depending on how my training is going more so than for the races themselves.
SWIR: What about nutrition? Did that change when you started running?
Carrie: I am a huge fan of keeping a food diary/calorie counting in order to keep myself on track on most days. However, I found that when I started running the longer distances for a marathon my body would tell me what I needed to eat. After a long run many of my non-running friends would tell me to have the fried appetizer and the huge dessert because I have earned it, but my body would tell me that I craved the greens and protein. On the days I listened to my body, I recovered much better.
SWIR: What’s the most challenging part of running?
Carrie: Starting. Period.
SWIR: How do you get through the really tough runs when you can’t find your motivation or your body just isn’t cooperating?
Carrie: If I am running with a friend or group I draw strength from them. If I am solo, I remind myself that I started running for people like my mother and how many people would love to still have the ability to do what I am doing. It helps keep my gift in perspective.
SWIR: Do you train with groups or by yourself?
Carrie: I prefer to train with others. I am a group exercise junkie.
SWIR: Have you ever bonked during a race or a training run? If so, how did you get through it?
Carrie: YES. I have a few mantras I repeat to myself throughout different runs. In the case of bonking I repeat: One breath, one step, one mile at a time. OR Run the mile you are in.
SWIR: What nutrition do you use during your runs?
Carrie: I love my Gel Blasts from Power Bar. I have tried so many different types of nutrition but they all seem to upset my stomach except the Gel Blasts.
SWIR: What’s your typical pre-race meal?
Carrie: I love a simple protein, greens, and carbs meal. It’s usually a chicken/seafood and pasta dish with a nice salad on the side.
SWIR: What’s your favorite post-race meal?
Carrie: It varies depending on my cravings at the time. If I am craving a simple meal I will get pizza or chipotle, but if I want a bit more I love Indian or Italian food.
SWIR: Do you listen to music when you run? If so, what’s your go to song or songs?
Carrie: I will listen to music during trainings run; however, I usually don’t listen to music during races. I have everything on my iPod from metal, to rap, to pop, to oldies, to country. I love music, so it is all there
SWIR: What is your most favorite piece of running gear?
Carrie: I love my handheld water bottle. It keeps me hydrated and carries my necessities on a run.
SWIR: How has running changed your life?
Carrie: Oh wow! That is a hard question. I guess the simplest thing to say is that it has changed EVERYTHING in my life. My attitude, my friends, my motivation, my belief in people, my belief in myself, my health, my determination… (That list can keep going on and on.)
SWIR: What advice would you give to a first time runner?
Carrie: I would tell them to start small (small distance or time of running) and put one foot in front of the other. The rest will come with time.
SWIR: What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened to you during a run?
Carrie: Although it was one of the most painful moments as well as funny, I would have to say the day I stepped on a huge acorn during a run. I twisted my ankle mid-stride then did a full on superman fly as I fell to the ground. I ripped my pants, broke the strap to my Garmin 610, scrapped up my knee, elbow, and hand. After the pain subsided and the swelling went down and I managed to limp back to my car with the help of some great friends all I could do was laugh. Only me!
SWIR: What has been the most memorable moment to date in terms of running?
Carrie: Crossing the finish line to this year’s Richmond Marathon has been the most memorable moment. It has been beyond a tough year with many new accomplishments accompanied by many new trials. But, with the support of some amazing friends I made it across that finish line.
SWIR: What did you accomplish that you thought was never possible?
Carrie: Running a marathon in the first place.
I remember the night my mother first told me she was diagnosed with cancer. I remember desperately looking online to find something, anything, I could do to support the cause. I clicked on a link for the Komen website and was taken to the Komen Marathon page. I thought to myself “No way in hell I could ever complete a marathon.” Then I clicked off the page. I year later I was running a marathon for the American Cancer Society. I always knew that having another person tell me that I couldn’t do something would drive me to prove them wrong. Who knew ME telling myself that I couldn’t do something would be just as powerful.
SWIR: If there came a day when you couldn’t run anymore, what would you do?
Carrie: Cross train like a beast! Cheer people on at races! Hopefully, coach a group too.
SWIR: What drives you to do what you do?
Carrie: I run for my health, for the challenge, for the direction it adds to my life, for the chance to meet new and amazing people that end up being a part of my family, but I love running because it gives me a chance to payback the kindness, and support my mother received during her treatment by allowing me to raise money each year for local Cancer Support and Research Groups.
SWIR: If there was one thing that you would want the world to know about you what would that be?
Carrie: I love to watch people realize what they can do when they put their minds to it. I am a teacher to the core and whether it’s one of my students or a friend running along side of me, it is that “Ah Ha” moment that makes all the work worth it. What are we if we don’t keep learning and growing in everything we do?
I’d like to thank Carrie for taking the time for this interview and wish her continued success with running and living a healthy lifestyle.
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