In 2009 Nan Kennard burst on to the Colorado racing scene, winning every race in town, including races such as the Park to Park 10 Miler, SkirtChaser 5k, Georgetown Half Marathon, Longmont Turkey Trot and taking fourth in the highly competitive Thanksgiving Day race in Ft. Collins. She was kind enough to participate in an interview with RunColo. Can you tell us about your running career, starting off in high school and your time at BYU?
After getting cut from the basketball team for two years in a row in high school I decided to join a team I wouldnít be cut from or benched: Cross Country. My Junior and Senior Years I was top five at the Utah High School Cross Country Championships and in the Spring Track season I set the State Record in the girls 800M (which has been broken many times since then). I got a scholarship to run for BYU and became a two-time All-American under Coach Patrick Shane, once in Cross Country and once in Track with my best performance being a 9:59 in the 3,000 M Steeplechase. After college, my husband and I wanted to start a family so I took some time off and had three kids. Once my baby turned one, I decided it was time to get my competitive edge back and Iíve really been enjoying running fast again. You were supposed to race the Houston Half Marathon but pulled out, can you tell us why?
I pulled out of the Houston Half because of an injury in my hamstring. I didnít want to injure myself worse and sabotage my training for Boston. As soon as I can recover from this small setback, Iím excited to get my training underway for Boston. Iím definitely excited to take on the national class field there. I raced on a national level in high school and college so Iím very comfortable doing it and excited to be pushed to faster times. Itís fun to win local races but even more exhilarating to run PRs and see how fast I can go against elite runners. Did you have a time goal at Houston? I know you ran an Olympic trials qualifying time at the Top of Utah Marathon this fall, but believe the race occurred before the qualifying windowed opened.
I think Iím capable of 1:15 in a half-marathon, and I may find another fast half to race before Boston. With my current Half-Marathon PR
at 1:19 Iíd really like to bring my PR
down and get some more experience racing the elites. My 2:44 marathon time at Top of Utah did not qualify me for the Trials but Iím registered for the Elite Womenís Start at Boston and Iíll be shooting for a Trials qualifying time there. Probably the only recent race in Colorado that you didn't win was the highly competitive Thanksgiving Day race in Fort Collins. Could you describe that race, particularly the moves and thoughts going into the final sprint finish with several of the state's best?
That race was super fun and competitive. Looking around at the starting line I knew there were some elite women. Sara Slattery led the women as the race went out. It made my body feel a little sick to go out at the pace the lead ladies were blazing at but I just held on to the top 5 other women as we came through the first mile in 5:24. The 2nd mile felt a lot more comfortable at 5:40. The 3rd mile picked up again to 5:30 and Sara slipped back from us. I was still trying as hard as I could to hang on to the other 4 women and I stayed in 5th place (the final spot to get prize money) all the way through 5k. During the 4th mile the front group pushed the pace down to 5:15 and gained a little on me. I kept at it as best I could and sprinted to the finish in 22:11 with a 5:28 final split. I watched as the top 4 women battled for 1st place (with only 2 seconds between the 4 of them. I finished 13 seconds behind the leader and was very pleased with my performance as it was my PR
for that distance. My 5k split was 17:11, which is also a post-babies PR
ADRIANA NELSON 00:21:58 ($800)
NUTA OLARU 00:21:59 ($500)
ALISHA WILLIAMS 00:21:59 ($300)
NICOLE FEEST 00:22:00 ($150)
NAN KENNARD 00:22:11 ($50) You have three kids. Your success has to be inspiring to other mothers out there. How do you balance your training and family life (and work?)? Do you frequently run with a stroller?
I really love running and staying fit so it's second nature for me to make running a part of my day. My kids are used to it and expect it. I am lucky to have a husband who is 110% supportive of my running and enables me to train. He watches the kids while I run in the morning before he starts work and then he often goes for a run himself too. He is a real-estate investor and works from home so his schedule is flexible enough to make it work. He is also the sole provider for our family and I am able to stay home with the kids all day. I almost always get all my daily mileage into one run since it's difficult to make time for two runs in a day. I donít run with a baby jogger as all three of my kids wouldnít fit anyway but in the summer sometimes Iíll pull them to the park in my bike trailer, plus the toddler seat and it is a lot of work pulling them up hills! Do you have any training partners in the area?
Unfortunately, no. I would love to find someone to run with who lives nearby but I have only lived in Westminster for six months and havenít found anyone yet. I do blog about my running at www.nankennard.com
and enjoy following other running blogs while giving and receiving support from others. Could you describe your training? Mileage levels, key workouts? Do you train solo or with others in the area? Are you self-coached? Sponsorships?
I run anywhere from 40-65 miles a week depending on the week and how Iím feeling. I havenít been running marathons for long enough to know what my key workouts are, but I do enjoy racing in local races to see where my fitness is. Up until a few months ago I was self-coached and trained completely alone but in October after I had recovered from the Top of Utah Marathon, I joined the Running Republic of Boulder
group Coached by Darren De Reuck with the goal of pushing my running to the next level. The group is great and there are plenty of guys who push me in workouts. We do interval workouts on Tuesdays and Saturdays. All my other running is solo except for the very occasional run with my husband when we have someone to watch our kids. I am not sponsored. On your blog you mentioned that your husband (Aaron) is on a barefoot regime and there is great picture posted of him wearing his Vibram Five Fingers in the snow? Wondering what are your thoughts on minimalism and the Vibram Five Fingers?
A couple of months ago Aaron
and I listened to Christopher McDougalís Born to Run
while driving to Utah and back. The theories in that book really struck a chord with Aaron and he immediately started running exclusively barefoot or in Vibram Five Fingers. He has recovered from a 7 year IT band injury and is able to run long distances again. It has been fun to see him renew his love for long distance running and run injury free. I think his enlightenment on proper running form has assisted in his injury healing more than his choice of footwear (or lack of). When I was first starting to become a competitive runner in high school, I was coached on my running form and taught many of the things that Aaron has just recently learned. So I do focus on having good form, which Iím sure has contributed to my low-injury rate throughout the years. I do agree that minimal shoes are better than heavy, ďmotion controlĒ shoes though. Iíve always preferred lightweight neutral shoes to motion control shoes. I wish the shoe companies would provide more neutral shoe options. You won the SkirtChaser 5k with a winning time of 17:27, winning the race by 35 seconds over Kennett Kiptoo (second place BolderBoulder Citizenís Race). Did you think there was any chances that a guy would be able to beat you in the race, or did you think the odds were higher that another woman might win?
I think there is only about a minute and a half difference between the womenís and menís American record in the road 5k, so with the women getting a 3 minute advantage in the Skirt Chaser, it is definitely favored towards a woman winning. Going in, I didnít really see the men as a threat. I was just racing the women until I hit about the mile 2 mark and I realized that the guys were probably catching us very quickly and I knew if a guy crept up on me in the final stretch there would be no way I could beat him, so I made sure to keep a strong pace and keep the guys back there. There is always a chance that a guy could win it, but it would take a very elite guy to beat any ďpretty fastĒ girl. The Skirt Chaser is directed by a woman, Nicole DeBoom and itís all about empowering and beautifying fit women, so of course she wants to see the ďSkirtsĒ win. Finally, what races do you have on the calendar for 2010?
Boston on April 19th is all Iím certain about right now. Possibly another Fall Marathon and certainly some summer races. I would love to do the Park to Park 10-miler
again in September; that is such a well-organized event.