For the next runner profile, I'm so pleased to introduce you to Kristi Raz! This Ottawa-based runner blogs and has completed a wide range of races (including the Prague Half Marathon!). On May 29th, you can find her wearing bunny ears pacing the Ottawa Marathon! Connect with Kristi on Twitter!
Name: Kristi Raz
Years Running: I have been running almost 5 years. I was definitely a late starter to the sport, trying my first 5k race at the age of 42. The advantage of starting late is you still get lots of PB’s in your 40’s!
Why you run: I am going to answer this one (in a rather lengthy way) by quoting a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago:
The obvious answer, to keep fit. I am in better shape now than when I was in my thirties.
For "mental fitness". When else do you get time to think uninterrupted, or for that matter have time to think about absolutely nothing uninterrupted? I work with kids and I have kids, I can't even count the number of times I am interrupted in a day. But not when I run. Running is the ultimate "me time" while still accomplishing something.
To listen to music uninterrupted. Once upon a time I spent a significant amount of time listening to music. I even have vague memories of going to concerts on a regular basis. Then we had kids. It is now pretty much impossible to listen to a favourite song all the way through without being asked a question or having to calmly and wisely solve a sibling conflict. OK, the reality is I can't hear the song over my yelling at the kids to solve the problem quickly or they will be in trouble. But when I run I stick in my ear buds and enjoy my music. Sometimes you will even catch me running and singing out loud. Not such a bad thing when I am running in my rural area. The cows and wild turkeys seem willing to tolerate my singing. I have, however, caught myself running and singing out loud in suburbia. It was the time that I was singing Ed Sheeran's "I'll Be Drunk Again" out loud that I realized I should be a little more careful!
To set an example for my kids. Right now they think it is normal for mummy to go out for a run. If it is normal for mummy, maybe running - or another physical activity - will become normal for them. Both my boys now run in races. They have both already experienced the feeling of doing their personal best and the fun atmosphere of races. I hope these memories will stick with them.
To get away from my kids. Sorry but somebody has to say it. If you look at any races, there are a large number of women participating, in fact the women often out-number the men. I have no scientific proof, but it seems to me that once women have done the pregnancy thing, the nursing thing, the diapers and sleepless nights, the toddler music and gymnastic classes (need I go on?), they are ready for something that does not involve their children. Something that can be done quickly and without a huge investment. Of course nobody warns them (or nobody warned me anyways) that once you reach one goal, say a 5k race, you will be addicted and the only thing to do is to keep readjusting your goals. Suddenly your long runs require more than 30 minutes. You find yourself saying crazy things like, "I won't be long, should be back in about 2 hours." You will go shopping for clothes for work and instead come home with piles of black spandex pants and neon shirts with reflective stripes. You will know you have really gone over the edge when you want to start wearing these clothes at work. But I digress...
To prove I can do something I thought I couldn't. I am not a natural athlete. Running requires work on my part, and regular work at that. But I have proven to myself over the past years that I can set goals and reach them if I am willing to make the effort.
Finally, I love the simplicity of running. Really, it all comes down to walking out the door and putting one foot in front of the other. I know, there is more to it...the hills, the speed intervals, the long slow runs, the short tempo runs. But ultimately, you put one foot in front of the other, week after week, and you end up accomplishing amazing things!
Race distance of choice: I have done all the standard race distances from the 5k to the marathon, but the half marathon remains my favourite race. The distance is challenging but “doable” as I can fit the training in fairly easily. It is also the perfect distance for a race vacation. I have traveled to New York, Vancouver and Prague to complete half marathon races. You can run a good race but still get to be a tourist in the days leading up to and after race day.
- 5k – 25:19
- 10k – 53:05
- 10 miler - 1:29:29
- 1/2 marathon - 1:56:15
- 30k – 3:00:56
- Marathon – 4:34:28
Favourite Race: This is probably an impossible one for me to answer. The races I have traveled to have given me wonderful memories. I had never been to NYC or Vancouver so each was a hugely exciting city for me to run a race and both courses were fantastic. Running the Prague Half Marathon (pictured below) allowed me to return to the Czech Republic and the city in which I spent time teaching more than 20 years ago. Racing on cobblestones was also a fun (?) experience. Running a midnight race in Philadelphia along the Schuylkill River was truly a one of a kind experience.
Closer to home I love the energy of Ottawa Race Weekend. Another favourite is Somersault’s Fall Colour Race, which has been a family Thanksgiving tradition for years now.
And finally, as a family we all love taking part in The Mad Trapper Trail Races and Snowshoe Races, held near Wakefield, Quebec. These races provide hilly and challenging courses and a relaxed atmosphere – not to mention the best post-race food of any race. Lasagne and brownies after a race, yes please!
Favourite piece of running gear: I am on my third pair of Saucony Zealots and can’t express how much I love these shoes!
Favourite running memory: So many to choose from but I do remember well the feeling at about 18k of the Vancouver Half when I realized that short of a having heart attack I was going to significantly beat my best time. I ended up with a PB of almost 6 minutes.
Best running advice you’ve picked up along the way: Rest is just as important as the workouts.
Favourite quote or mantra: The day will come when I can’t run. Today is not that day.
Goals: Right now I spend all my time thinking about the 50k race I have registered for. It is a trail race called Run for the Toad and it takes place in the fall. I have looked at previous times and know I will be at the very back but my goal is to finish and be able to say I can run 50k.
Next race: May is an interesting and somewhat unusual race month for me. I am going to do the Diefenbooker 5k for fun, then the following weekend pace my 10 year old for his first 10k race. And finally, at the end of the month, I will be the 5hr 30 minute pace bunny at the Ottawa Marathon.
Favourite songs to run to: I have an eclectic mix on my running list. Here are a few of my favourites:
Favourite podcasts and/or books: My favourite running related book is Girl Runner by Canadian author Carrie Snyder. It is a wonderful mix of page turning fiction and running history.