Meet Kristine Nader

Kristine Nader started running at the age of 42, setting an example for her five children. She is more than a mentor to her kids alone, Kristine is also a teacher of science and religion at an elementary school and a coach at the non-profit, Girls on the Run. Now at the age of 50, Kristine continues running, as well as knitting, cooking, reading, and continuing her love of learning.

1) What first inspired you to want to run a marathon? How capable did you feel you were of running a marathon?

I started running on a dare. Someone dared be to train and run a 5K. That lead to a challenge to train and run a Half Marathon as a destination run. I figured if I could run 13.1 I could try a marathon, so I bought a book and found a training program by the same I used for the Half Marathon, Hal Higdon. I ran every training run on my own and googled every question I had. I had no clue as to pace or anything like that. I did not know I was capable but I thought I would try.

2) How did marathon training change your outlook on life?

I did not realize at the time how important the training was for me. I was focused on the end game, the finish line. It was the training; the good, the bad, the effortless, the craptastic runs that prepared me to run each mile towards the finish line. I also realize now how much more important training with a group is to me. I trained alone for my first marathon and would NEVER do that again. I love the support and accountability I get from my CARA family.

3) Sometimes training through the summer is hard due to vacation(s). How did you keep up with your training? What would you tell a runner that is considering training but hasn’t because they know they will miss some of it?

It is all about being flexible. I train all summer with vacations and trips and activities with my kids. My kids are older now but when they were younger, I ran while they slept. As they got older, they would ‘sherpa’ my water and gu for me as they rode bikes beside me for runs. There is a training schedule, but it is not written in stone, you can move runs around. I would move runs, doing long runs during the week and short runs on the weekend based on travel and weather. This is a liberating experience. It allows you to listen to your body and plan ahead. Also, missing one or two weekday runs will not make or break you, it is not the ideal but sometimes it happens and we need to move forward. You may not hit your time goal and you may be a little more sore but you can finish 26.2. You need to listen to your body and life gets in the way sometimes during training.

4) Why did you choose to participate in the program again and what are you most looking forward to?

I choose to train with CARA for the accountability and structure, but more importantly the support. My CARA group is like family. We motivate and take care of each other. Days I don’t want to run they are there for me. I learn something new each time I run with them. I look forward to training season to get back to the trail with my family and helping new runners reach goals they never thought possible, as well as see those seasoned runners reach new goals as well.

5) What marathon are you running in the fall? What are your expectations for it, and how will training with CARA help you meet those expectations?

I am running Chicago again this year. My goal is to finish in a respectable time in a brand new age group, having fun and inspiring others along the way!

6) What most surprised you during this marathon journey?

What surprises me is that each marathon, each run, is different. I learn something new about others, my surroundings, my body, or me each time I lace up and head out the door. You have to take what the day gives you. You can train and plan and have a vision but you have to learn to take what you are given as far as the weather and your body are concerned, you can not control everything. It is all about the journey, the finish line is just the beginning.

7) During the training process there comes a point where every runner hits a wall. How did you keep yourself going? What did you tell yourself?

Wall?! Seriously? More like the impenetrable force field! Some days it feels like there is no breaking through. That is where the group helps. Telling people, running sucks today and I don’t want to do it, but your group can help motivate you (or kick you in the butt!) and get you through. Some days it is all about just putting one foot in front of the other and soon it is a mile or 5. For me my motto in running and life is "forward is a pace." It keeps me going every day.

8) How did marathon training enhance the already amazing Chicago summer experience?

Training for a marathon in Chicago is great because you spend time outdoors in the amazing and always changing Chicago weather. Chicago also has magnificent scenic places to run all those training miles so you can change it up for each run!

9) What was the hardest thing for you to overcome during training or running the marathon? Time commitment? Doubt?

The hardest thing for me to overcome during training was the rigors of the schedule/commitment and the aches/pains of certain runs. The hardest part to overcome in the marathon was the mental “negative Nellies.” They happen with each and every marathon. Those voices in my head that get in the way of my confidence. This is where my group helps. They help me remember how far I have come and restore my confidence.

10) If there was someone sitting on the couch right now, thinking about doing what you did, what advice would you give them?

If I can get up off the couch and put one foot in front of the other so can you. I do not have a “runner’s body” and it took me lots of putting one foot in front of the other to find my “runner’s heart.” Time is just numbers on a clock and doesn’t always matter. Just get up and put one foot in front of the other and soon you are moving forward. Move forward for any distance at your own pace and you are a runner. If I can do it anyone can. I am not fast. I am not a “pretty” runner. I move forward. I am a runner.

11) How has training and running a marathon changed your relationship with your kids? Do you do more sports related activities with them now?

WOW, this is such an important question. I will speak to the topic of my own children first. My own children have been my cheerleaders since I began running. They don’t really like running like I do but they play other sports and brag to friends that mom is a “marathoner.” They understand the rigors of training and know the sacrifices I make to run. They know the menu changes for the family during training season! They understand how happy running makes me and how much better I feel after a good run. They also help me shift focus when I complain about a bad run (“at least you ran/were out there.”). They will often hand me my shoes and say. "You need a run, mom!” They see commitment and goal setting and the feeling of accomplishment when I finish. They are as proud of me as I am proud of them. My training/running allows them to support me as I support them in all of their extracurricular activities. Not all my children are athletes, but the lessons they learn transcend running. They learn to set goals and create a plan to reach those goals. They see commitment as well as sacrifice. They also see that mom takes time to care for herself and others making her a more balanced adult and allowing them some additional independence. My students see some of the same things as a teacher, someone they admire, shares her struggles and successes with them as she trains. We discuss the human body and nutrition and proper rest. It makes learning real. The students love to watch the marathon on tv and try to find me. I use the training/commitment/goal setting of the marathon as an analogy in many ways in the classroom. As a coach for Girls on the Run, the training experience reminds me how hard training for any distance is for first time runners. It also reminds me of the true joy of running. For the girls that I coach and their families, the 5K will be the longest distance they have ever run. Each training run leads to a new accomplishment for the girls. The lessons we learn together are a constant reminder of why I love running so much. When girls and families cross the finish line it is lifechanging for all of us. They know they can accomplish anything and I am reminded that I can too!


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