Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Interview Tuesday: Meet Kentucky and Masters Runner, and Rider, Kiersta Tucker

2018 Backyard Classic - 3rd OA Female (Kiersta is on the far right)
This week I talk to Kiersta Tucker of Elizabethtown Kentucky.  Kiersta shares here running journey and how  she has started running Ultra's - Enjoy

Tell us a little about yourself not necessarily related to running: age, where born, education, area you live in, etc…..
I am 44. I live in Elizabethtown, KY and I have a Bachelors from WKU in Agriculture/Animal Science.

What is your profession?
I do entry level bookkeeping for a small, local CPA office.

How did you start running and what prompted you to do so?
I FIRST started running as a high school sophomore when I joined the cross country team. My motivation was typical of a teenage girl – I wanted to be thin. However, my motivation quickly changed when I realized how difficult running at a competitive level was going to be. I was slow and couldn’t keep up with anybody. My first meet I was dead last. I admired the fast girls and hung onto the fact they were string beans, thinking that was why they were fast. My thinking changed after one of our away meets where I saw a girl on the other team run a very solid race passing several of our thin girls and she was, yes, a ‘bigger’ girl. I remember her name to this day as she was the sole reason of mind-changing ideas in my teenage head.   So my motivation switched to wanting to be a better runner. I listened to Coach Burns and did what he instructed and didn’t cut corners like some of the others did. As I improved and worked my way up to the faster the runners, they no longer cut corners - they felt the need to work harder at not letting me catch them. Coach LOVED THAT! (Because all of us girls were in full blown competitive mode and he liked seeing all of us get faster as a result).   Also, I knew after that one away meet, that I didn’t have to be a string bean to be a good runner. Sure, being lighter helps, but being your own healthy weight I discovered is more important.

How long have you been running?
After high school, I didn’t run in a race until 12 years & two kids later. It was June 26th 2004 and was called the Celebrating Women 5K (in Louisville). I trained by pushing the kiddos in a double stroller type cart – in fact, race day was the first time I ran without the cart! After that particular race I ran a 5K here and there just for fun. Maybe 4 a year until 2009 when I just began to concentrate on cycling more and more. Only recently (last year and a half) have I started running again with a competitive frame of mind.

If I remember correctly you ride as well – how does that all fit in with your training?
With my recent goals, I wish I could ride my bike more! But, if I want the grade, I have to do the homework, so I am running a little more than I am cycling right now, and will soon have to be running even more miles.

Did you participate in any other sports over the years?
I played fast pitch softball for 13 years of my childhood and two years in a competitive slow pitch league as an adult.

Did you run in grade school, High School or College? 
I ran hurdles and the 400 in junior high track, and I ran the 800, 2-mile relay, and the 2 mile in high school track.

So we get an idea of where you have been with running can you share your PR’s for: 5K, 10K marathon and any other distance you may have run in the past.
I haven’t run very many events since recently getting back into running, so I don’t really have many times to share.
  • My best 5K as an adult was in (2008) 23:48 
  • I’ve only run three 10K events - my best was (2005) 50:13

At the Locomotion 12
You just ran the Locomotion 12  in Hixson, TN -which is a 12 hour run on a 2 mile course – can you tell us about the run?
It was a great venue and opportunity for me to do a long training run as I would not have been able to replicate the circumstances on a random training day at home. I didn’t go into the event as a competitive entrant, but just wanted to see how far I could go so I could have a benchmark to start from as I train for a race I am hoping to do in December.  The Locomotion 12 was a very small race and was very well organized. I would definitely recommend it as a stepping stone in beginning to run ultras because the laps are short and you can access your pit/tent/crew more frequently. Being a beginner at this, I was developing a sense of what I needed with me, how my needs changed as I gathered mileage, and having my resources close I could accommodate and also learn what I will need to keep with me in the timed events that have rather long loops.

What is your most memorable race or races and share a little about at least one of them? 
The Backyard Classic (BYC) in Elizabethtown is my most recent memorable race. It was first time I had ever run more than 15 miles. (and I ended up running 36!) My months of training prior was mostly dedicated to a gravel cycling race I did about a month before BYC, so I didn’t have much time to recover and then switch gears to running. Mid-race my legs hurt so bad I sat in the creek to let the cold water trickle over my burning muscles as the racers continued behind me. I had no idea that moment was caught on camera and when I saw the photo I was immediately choked by tears and emotion. (Below is the picture and the caption I wrote after seeing it.)

I can’t believe someone captured this in a photo, but I am grateful. This is real. There was a refreshing creek crossing every lap but on one particular lap the suffering was getting to me - I couldn’t resist. I sat down in the water. My quads burned so badly, I knew the cold creek water would feel so good on my legs. But my accountability/training partner came running through, looked at me with incredible disbelief & with utmost sincerity demanded I get up and told me, "Don’t you dare cry." (Because I started to). That was a moment I will remember forever. It's a good feeling to have someone believe in you. This is what community and camaraderie and friendship is all about, no matter what the sport.

What is your favorite distance to run and race?
I think I am liking the 50K distance. I’d like to go get these bucket list items checked off and then come back and purposefully race a designated distance of 50K.

Do you have any long-range plans?
I am training for a 100 mile race (Falls 100) that takes place in December.  I cannot run even half that distance right now, so I have my homework cut out for me.

What do you like best about living and running in KY?
I love the trails that Kentucky has to offer. I run mostly trails as I personally don’t have as much inflammation running trails as I would if running pavement or concrete sidewalks.

What do you struggle with most with regards to running?
The hardest struggle for me is fitting in enough miles with work and the demands of life. All of us could be better at our sports if we didn’t have to go to work and had more time to train, so it is tricky getting that balance necessary to continue to progress, yet not run ourselves down nor neglect other important aspects of our lives.

What do you see as a trend in running?
I see new body types in realms you didn’t see in the past. I believe athleticism is in the mind, in your blood, and in your nutrition. No matter what your size, if you have proper mental and physical health to draw from, then you can achieve limits you never thought you could.

If you had one, well maybe two or three, things to say those that are running to encourage them what would it be?
I firmly believe you should train on the ground your race will be on. If it’s a trail race, train on trails. If it’s a hilly race, train on hills, if it’s a road race, then train on pavement. And speed work (intervals) will blow your mind at much they help an athlete improve.

Let me add here that since I did this interview Kiersta's son, who is 19 and in basic training, broke his femur so you can keep him in your prayers as well as Kiersta - since like any mother she will be worrying about him.