This runner is particularly special to me. She is the one that got me hooked on running, she is my running mama. I’ve known Bern for several years before we started running together. I remember when she started on her road to healthy living. I kid you not when I say, she now looks 20 years younger than she did just 10 years ago. I watch her transform herself into an entirely new person with new found confidence and beauty. I remember the time when she told me that she just finished a 14 mile run in the rain. I have to admit it, I didn’t believe it. How can this person run 14 miles and why the hell would she do it in the rain? When it came to a point when I could no longer practice Krav Maga because of shoulder impingement, she suggested that we go out on a run together. Now, I’ve ran on the treadmill before, but never on the road. I almost puked at mile one during our first run. I wasn’t immediately hooked, but she kept encouraging me until the running bug bit me. From there, I was in Forest Gump mode. She believed in me and because she did, she showed me a new passion and changed my life. She inspired me then and continues to inspire me now. I adore her. Below is our interview.
SWIR: When did you decide to make healthy changes in your lifestyle?
Bernadette: In late 2006, when I realized I was fast approaching a milestone age. I wanted to be 40 and fit, not 40 and fat!
SWIR: When did you start running and why? Did someone or something inspire you, if so what or who?
Bernadette: I started walking for exercise in early 2007. One day I felt like my pace was too slow, and decided to run to the corner. I was winded by that very short distance, but it was enough to get me hooked.
SWIR: Tell me about your first race. How did you feel after you crossed the finish line?
Bernadette: A coworker challenged me to run a 5k with her in August 2007. It was a late afternoon race at a local vineyard. I was so nervous! I almost backed out, but my husband convinced me to give it a go. It was such a rush to approach the finish line with family and friends cheering me on. The wine and picnic dinner afterward was nice, too.
SWIR: Is there a particular distance that you are aiming for or have you found your favorite distance and are sticking do it?
Bernadette: Half marathons are my longest distance, and I’m happy with that. I think 10k and 5-mile races are my favorites, though, because they’re long enough that I get warmed up but short enough that I can go fast.
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?
Bernadette: Yes, I definitely cross-train. I find my body is not as efficient if I run too many days a week, so I mix it up to keep things fresh. I’ve also been told that cross-training reduces the risk of injury and hey, I can use all the help I can get there! I have a stationary bike that I use on bad-weather days, and I also try to do weight training twice a week.
SWIR: What about nutrition? Did that change when you started running?
Bernadette: Yes, it definitely did. I have a good friend who had been helping me overhaul my diet before I started running. When I started training for my first half-marathon, we reworked my nutrition plan to make sure I was getting enough protein.
SWIR: What’s the most challenging part of running?
Bernadette: Getting started! I run in the early morning, and there are some days when it’s really difficult to get myself out the door.
SWIR: How do you get through the really tough runs when you can’t find your motivation or your body just isn’t cooperating?
Bernadette: Running with a friend helps a lot. If I’m having a tough run, she pushes me to finish. I listen to music when I run alone, so I’ll change the playlist to something really upbeat if I need some motivation.
SWIR: Do you train with groups or by yourself?
Bernadette: Both. I love the social aspects of training with a group, but I value my alone time, too.
SWIR: Have you ever hot the wall during a race or a training run? If so, how did you get through it?
Bernadette: Definitely! I’ve learned to recognize the signs that I need to refuel, but occasionally I’ll have a run where there’s no warning. Distraction is key – talking to a friend (or listening to one), changing up my music playlist, setting short goals along my route (run to a certain landmark, look for 10 red cars along the route, etc.) are ways I keep myself moving.
SWIR: What nutrition do you use during your runs?
Bernadette: I usually don’t pack any fuel during short runs (less than 5 miles) unless I’m planning to do specific training exercises such as speed drills or hill repeats. My stomach doesn’t tolerate gels very well, so I use gummy chews (I like Cytomax energy drops. I also make my own high-protein snack for long training runs – it’s a magical mixture of peanut butter, dried fruit, honey, and protein powder that tastes great and doesn’t upset my belly.
SWIR: What’s your typical pre-race meal?
Bernadette: I usually go for half a protein bar, or a small bowl of plain oatmeal with some chopped nuts and dried fruit.
SWIR: What’s your favorite post-race meal?
Bernadette: A protein smoothie – fruit, protein powder, almond milk, and ice cubes. Perfect refreshment.
SWIR: Do you listen to music when you run? If so, what’s your go to song or songs?
Bernadette: YES! I change up my playlist regularly, but core artists include Rihanna, Pink, Evanescence, and Halestorm. I love the high energy in their music!
SWIR: What is your most favorite piece of running gear?
Bernadette: My Garmin. I admit, I’m hooked on statistics and am constantly competing against myself.
SWIR: How has running changed your life?
Bernadette: So many ways – I’ve found a stress outlet, developed new friendships, discovered I’m not athletically challenged after all, and become more comfortable in my own skin.
SWIR: What advice would you give to a first time runner?
Bernadette: Don’t give up. You don’t have to run fast or run the entire route… just finish.
SWIR: What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened to you during a run?
Bernadette: Gosh, that’s a tough question. I honestly can’t think of any laugh-out-loud funny moments that happened while I was running.
SWIR: What did you accomplish that you thought was never possible?
Bernadette: I ran a half-marathon! Actually, I’ve run quite a few of them, but that first one was a MAJOR accomplishment, and something that up to that point I never thought I’d be able to do.
SWIR: If there came a day when you couldn’t run anymore, what would you do?
Bernadette: Cry. And probably throw a major tantrum. Running isn’t my entire life, but it’s certainly an important element in my life! I’m sure I’d find a way to stay in the mix. Maybe I’d volunteer at local races so I could cheer on my running buddies, or I’d be one of those spectators along the race route who holds up a goofy sign like “This is the worst parade I’ve ever seen!” or “Don’t pants your poop!”
I wouldn’t be here writing this blog if it weren’t for this lady. I’m so grateful for all she has done.
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