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Kim Jones — June, 2019
Kim Jones is one of the top all-time American female marathoners, having raced 17 sub-2:33 marathons, the most of any U.S. woman. She was Silver Medalist at six Marathon Majors, twice each at Boston (PR of 2:26:40 in 1991) and New York, and once each at Chicago and Berlin. Kim won the Twin Cities Marathon in 1986 and 1989. She finished in fifth place at the 1988 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Kim represented the U.S. at the 1993 and 1995 World Championships Marathon, finishing eighth and 16th, respectively. At the half marathon distance, she won Citrus Bowl in 1994 and was second in 1988 at Philadelphia with her 1:11:34 personal best. Kim won her hometown race, the Bloomsday 12k, in 1997 and had many podium finishes and top ten placings at races including the Cherry Blossom 10-mile, Peachtree 10k, Jacksonville River Run 15k, Azalea Trail 10k, Gasparilla 15k, Falmouth Road Race, Red Lobster 10k, Bolder Boulder 10k and Cascade 15k. She finished in seventh place in the 5,000 meters at the 1996 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in 15:53.58. At Port Townsend (WA) High School, Kim was State Champion in 1974 in the mile and half mile. In 1976 she won State titles at 880 and 440 yards, was a member of two State Championship relay squads and led Port Townsend to the team State Championship. Her personal best times are: 5k – 15:43; 10k – 32:23; 15k – 50:09; Half Marathon - 1:11:34; 25k – 1:26:54; 30k – 1:47:41; 20 miles – 1:55:29 and Marathon – 2:26:40. Kim’s autobiography, ‘Dandelion Growing Wild,’ is a story of overcoming tragedy and adversity to succeed in life, and was the Track and Field Writers of America 2012 Book of the Year. She was inducted into the Road Runners Clubs of America Hall of Fame in 1997 and Colorado Running HOF in 2009. Kim currently offers personalized online coaching through Anaerobic Management with her husband, Jon Sinclair, and Kent Oglesby. Kim and Jon reside in Lafayette, Colorado.
GCR: Kim, when you started running back in the 1970s, and then with stops and starts for various personnel reasons, could you have imagined being a part of the running community for over four decades as student-athlete, professional runner, coach, author and wife of a top professional athlete for all these years? When you look back, how amazing is this and how rewarding has it been to have running as such a big part of your life?
KJ I’m truly grateful for where I’ve landed. It’s been a great life and a challenging life. I never would have dreamed that I would have ended up where I am now, which is happy, enjoying life and a grandmother. I enjoy being home and baking and cooking and doing all the things I wanted to do more of when I was an elite runner. I couldn’t bake as much or be at home as much because I was out running and racing.
GCR: Some athletes are remembered for a specific victory or medal performance while others come to mind for consistency and sustained excellence. What are the main reasons behind your ability to be in that latter group for around fifteen years and to have 17 sub-2:33s marathons, the most of any U.S. woman while most other top runners had a shorter life span at or near the top?
KJ I think part of it is because I didn’t start road racing and running longer distances until I was in my mid-twenties. Also, I found a great coach right away – Benji Durden. It just all kind of fell into place as I was moving along in my running career. I had good people around me who gave me great advice. I just followed it instead of trying to do my own thing, disagreeing and having my own opinion. I thought that since I didn’t know that much about running that I was going to trust these people after I got to know them. Benji and Don Kardong and a few other key characters in my career all gave me great advice and I followed it. I didn’t have an issue with attitude or thinking maybe I had a better way. I followed instructions and did very well because of that.
GCR: We will discuss your coaches a bit more, but continuing with the consistency thread, you finished in the top five of each of your first sixteen marathons, which included eight of the present marathon majors. Did your competitors know that when you were on the starting line, they were in for a race?
KJ They did. They knew that they had better be more cautious about the tail end of the race. I never went out crazy like most runners do. They may try to get a cushion in the early part of a marathon. I always struggled with asthma. It was more stress-related because of my upbringing and the stressful things I had gone through in life. Along with that, there were some allergy issues from smoke or dust or pollen in the air that would trigger the asthma. When you put that all together with being anxious for a race, maybe some pollution in the air or fires burning in the area, I would struggle. So, I always had to be more cautious in the beginning portions of my marathons. I would start at a pace that I could run for the whole marathon. I never went out slow and then picked it up. I started out at the pace I knew I could maintain and was able to run the entire marathon at that pace. Some runners went out too hard or they went out with the pack. I would pick up the pieces during the race. They knew that and were more wary of me at the tail end of the marathon.
GCR: In many sports, people tend to focus on who was the winner. It’s so tough to win a Marathon Major and you came close with six second place finishes. But I look at someone in another sport like Jack Nicklaus who won 18 major golf tournaments, though he also came in second place 19 times in golf majors, which few people know. How much personal pride do you have for those six second places - including twice each at Boston and New York and once at both Chicago and Berlin where you were right there and on the podium?
KJ I was proud because I gave it my all. Lots of people will say after a race, ‘I could have run faster.’ But, in the race and in the moment, I ran as hard as I possibly could, performed as well as I conceivably could and made all the decisions that I felt were right. The result each time was I was second and I was proud of that. Of course, I wanted to win, but that always gave me a desire to win. It kept me going by having that desire and not being satisfied. I was always out there working hard and never giving in to maybe taking a day off or relaxing or skipping my second run of the day because I was tired. I would think of those second places and that would get me out the door and get me out running.
GCR: It’s interesting that you make that point because sometimes when a person gets to the top rung of the ladder it is more difficult to stay motivated. Even though you said you did everything you could to win each race, is there anything you could have done differently that may have put you on the top step of the podium at any of these races, especially the 1990 New York City Marathon and 1991 Berlin Marathon where you were five seconds and 14 seconds behind the winner, respectively? Or did you do everything you could when you were in the moment?
KJ There were a couple of things that occurred in those races that were beyond my control. I felt I would have won if those issues didn’t occur. I was impeded by the female champions’ entourages, their pace setters. It interfered with my races. It gave them more of an advantage. They were close races and I knew if those situations and those incidents didn’t happen, I probably would have won. I didn’t and that’s water under the bridge. Those around me and those who watched the race and those who knew the other competitors all knew that. But that’s what it is and how it happened. I made some complaints and some people did on my behalf, but that’s just racing. I can’t dwell on the negative. I just move forward.
GCR: Let’s take a step back to your early days racing marathons and your progress from your first marathon to second place at Twin Cities and then winning the Twin Cities Marathon.
KJ When I ran Twin Cities the first time, Benji Durden had just started coaching me and I was only running thirty-five to forty miles a week. He started coaching me after I ran my first marathon which was the Honolulu Marathon in 1984.
GCR: You were quite a novice runner, but you earned a trip to Honolulu for the 1984 Honolulu Marathon. What are your thoughts of your ability to run even splits though you were only running 30-35 miles per week and didn’t have a long run over 10 miles?
KJ I won a race in my hometown and that won a trip to the Honolulu Marathon. They brought me over and paid for the trip. I ran that marathon in 2:48:48. The first half was 1:24:24 and the second half was 1:24:24. I had no idea how to pace myself because I had never run over ten miles. It was just magic. Everything felt great and it went well. I was working at Don Kardong’s running store at the time and he was my advisor. After the race, he told me that I could maybe be a great marathon runner because I had this knack for pacing myself and hadn’t done much training. Don felt that with a great coach and more practice and training that I could possibly become one of the best. He suggested Benji Durden, but I hadn’t met Benji. I knew of him because I watched some of the marathons on television and heard his name and watched him perform. Ironically, a couple months later when I was on a trip with my mom in Florida, we ran the Orange Bowl 10k and I met Benji. I talked to him about coaching me because Don had suggested it and he said, ‘Sure.’ He was winding down his elite running career and kind of heading into the master’s division.
GCR: Could you describe the impact Benji Durden had on your running career when he started coaching you in 1985 and some of the major tenets of his training program that led to your tremendous improvement to a second-place finish in 2:35:59 at the 1985 Twin Cities Marathon?
KJ He started coaching me and he told me we would not be taking any shortcuts. He wanted to get me running a little more mileage up to fifty miles a week and get me more consistent. He also added a few tempo runs and that’s basically all we did. With a year under Benji’s guidance I went to the Twin Cities Marathon without any expectations and I ran a 2:35. People were shocked I finished second. I was only twelve seconds from winning. It was a great race and I was so pleased.
GCR: After that thirteen-minute lowering of your marathon personal best time, what did you do to continue building that led to your win at the 1986 Twin Cities Marathon the next fall?
KJ Benji told me that now we were going to increase the mileage and become more serious in training. I listened to him because he was the great Benji Durden who had raced these amazing performances and had some eccentric ways in training. I followed his plan. I went into the 1986 Twin Cities Marathon with confidence because I had placed second there the year before.
GCR: What was your feeling at the start of the race and your race strategy and how were your emotions at the end as you approached the finish line and crossed it first?
KJ There were many more elite American runners in 1986, but I was calm and relaxed and just trusted the plan. I ran alone for the last twenty miles. I had no idea that I could lead a race and take control of a race. I went out and ran 2:32 and won the race. I was ecstatic. I was thrilled and that is one of my great memories.
GCR: I ran Twin Cities in 2003 and remember that long uphill stretch after twenty miles and then a short downhill finish. What do you recall of that last 10k of the race and the cold weather that year?
KJ I remember the climbing and the climbing and the climbing, and I was just grinding it out until I got up to the top. I had no idea if there were any women close behind me, so I couldn’t let up and relax down that hill. I kept running. I was flowing throughout that race and it was one of those magical moments where I didn’t hit a bad spot, I wasn’t overexerting, I was enjoying the water stops and having refreshment. It was just kind of my day. The only thing that bothered me was when I took off my gloves and my arm warmers and everything just froze up because it was thirty-something degrees and windy. It was snowing in the beginning and turned to sleet and rain, so it was a miserable weather day. That was the only thing that made me feel uncomfortable. Other than that, it was a great day. There is always that dream of having a magical moment and I had it at the 1986 Twin Cities Marathon.
GCR: We’ll focus some more on your marathon racing in a bit, but I’d like to chat about your book, coaching and early running first. I read your autobiography, ‘Dandelion Growing Wild,’ and am amazed by your ability to turn so much tragedy in your life into triumph. What are the main character traits you developed early in life that helped you to overcome so many challenges of family deaths, religious ups and downs and a predilection for addiction in your family that somehow led to you being able to strive toward your human potential?
KJ I always go back to a time that I do talk about early in my book. I still have this memory embedded in me that has had a huge impact on my life. That was when my father, who was suffering from addiction, was having his issues and was always in and out of the house. We never knew where he was going to be, but he was a loving, caring father. I remember one day when my sister and I, who were very close, had had a fight and we would always make each other feel miserable after our fights. I went and snuggled up next to my dad who was reading the Bible on the steps of our old house. I said, ‘what are you reading, dad?’ And he told me that he was reading the Bible. I said, ‘what is it saying?’ He started reading me the scripture and I didn’t understand it. Then he explained, ‘I’m reading that we rejoice in our suffering because suffering brings perseverance, perseverance brings character, and then character brings hope.’ Then he started tickling me and said, ‘and you’re my tough little Swede.’ He tickled me more and I squealed out, ‘with hope.’ He said, ‘with hope’ and he started chuckling too. So, that’s how I approached this dysfunctional family life. I basically followed that scripture. I always had that hope and that is what brought me out of so many obstacles and so many situations where I could have fallen into that dysfunction. I didn’t. I kept hoping there was something better. Whenever I was given a helping hand, I would take that hand and go with it rather than stay in the dysfunctional cycle. Everybody who has experienced dysfunction knows that it is harder to pull yourself out of that dysfunction than it is to stay in it. I worked all the time to stay out of that and found ways of coping with my hope. Running gave me the tool to do that.
GCR: There were times after you became a runner when you didn’t run due to a pregnancy, family tragedy or other circumstances. When you returned to running several times after it was absent in your life, how much joy did you find that running gave to you?
KJ It truly was a relief. It gave me the feeling that I feel everyone deserves in life. I broke through those barriers when I was out running. I think that most people who run for its enjoyment get out there and all their problems are set aside for a while. You can run and think through things and figure out what you want to do. You get that enjoyment, come back and then reassess a situation. I was able to do that, and it really helped me through so many difficult times.
GCR: If we flash forward to now and the latter third of your life so far, your husband, Jon Sinclair, was a top distance runner with over twenty victories in major road races and numerous podium finishes. Can you explain what Jon has added to your life as the two of you became husband and wife after your elite running careers were over and then the positive impact that sharing running and coaching has had on your many years of marriage?
KJ I didn’t know Jon too well when we were elite runners. He was one of the runners who inspired me to start running. I had watched him run the Bloomsday race, which was my hometown race in Spokane, Washington. I was sitting in my pajamas drinking a cup of coffee and they were interviewing the winners of the race. Jon was on television and was saying that everyone should be out running this road race. He encouraged people of all abilities to be a part of it and run together and compete together. It made me feel so guilty sitting there in my pajamas that I thought, He’s right.’ And that’s what encouraged me to run that Bloomsday race the very next year. I did run the race and I did okay. My goal was just to finish the race. Over time, I met Jon during my elite career. We would have dinner with groups of running friends. I wouldn’t say that we were good friends, but we were friends. We were both married to other people, so that was pretty much it. But later in life when we were both retired from running, we were still a part of the sport. Jon was doing announcing and I was giving talks while still racing a bit as a Master runner. We went on a date and the rest is history. We’ve been together since the year 2000. Our relationship has grown, and we have come to care for each other very much. We also have respect for each other’s past. We know that each other has worked hard and accomplished goals and we have a great understanding of each other.
GCR: Kent Oglesby and Jon founded Anaerobic Management, an online coaching company and have been coaching since the early 1990s and you joined the coaching team several years later. What is the challenge of coaching and helping others of various talent levels set and achieve goals versus doing it for yourself with your own talent and dedication, which was at a higher level than most athletes you coached?
KJ I came from a time when I was just running with friends and didn’t have a coach. I wasn’t an elite runner, so I started out towards the back of the pack. My goal, as I mentioned earlier, was just to finish the race. I wanted to get stronger and then I had a coach and after a few years I became an elite runner. I understand what it’s like to start from the beginning to run a few blocks and walk and run a few more blocks and walk and run up a hill and rest. I also understand women who want to run after having a baby which is what I did. So, I had all these experiences in beginning running. I think every runner understands the basics of running and that we must build a base, no matter what level we are running, and get in some miles. Most understand or realize that it makes sense to then add tempo runs and work on stamina and do hill repeats. I work to guide people along at their own pace and I think that’s the key to having a coach and having someone to be accountable to. I help to explain why a certain workout didn’t go as planned perhaps because the athlete went out too fast. I give advice, work one on one and give feedback. That’s what we do.
GCR: If people are interested in Anaerobic Management and possibly in being coached by your team, what should they do?
KJ They should go onto the website,, and look at our profiles to see what suits them. There are a lot of coaching companies out there, but we coach one on one. We don’t give a workout that is generic for everyone or just type in a plan. We will have the athlete fill out a questionnaire with certain personal information so we can understand where they’re coming form and their goals and their restrictions. We read through the questionnaire and talk on the phone and get a good idea of what they want out of their running, their goals and how to approach them both short-term and long-term. We work with them daily, weekly, every two weeks or whatever they prefer. We do like to check in and talk at least once a week.
GCR: Speaking of coaching, a runner usually needs positive influences from their first coaches, or a potential running career can stop dead in its tracks. How did you start running during your sophomore year in high school and what did Lorraine Kuehl do to positively impact your running when you were a young girl only about fifteen years old?
KJ What started me out when I was a young girl about fifteen years old is, I was running and chasing my dog, Kayla, who escaped from our house. She was a hound, blond-haired like me with hair that flowed when she ran. She would always escape, and my dad would say, ‘Kimmie, Kayla has escaped so go get her.’ I would chase her around town, so I was always running around chasing my dog. We would go for fifteen or twenty minutes until she was tired. I would chase her up and down the hills through the neighborhood and neighbors would yell something like, ‘Hey Kimmie! It looks like Kayla got out again. Go catch her!’ I would catch her and sometimes she would let me catch her, depending on her mood. This would occur two or three time as week. Mrs. Kuehl, who was the girls track coach, saw me out there running. She was also the P.E. teacher. She asked me if I wanted to be on the track team. I told her that I would love to, but my mom was very religious and wouldn’t allow it. She didn’t want me to participate in any activity with worldly people, who were anybody outside the Jehovah’s Witness congregation. Mrs. Kuehl asked if she could talk to my parents. That was very brave of her because my dad was very strict, and my mom was very religious. She went and talked to my mom and convinced my mom she would keep an eye on us. But my mom told her the only way I could associate with these girls on the track team was if they came down for a bible study at our house every week. Mrs. Kuehl said she would see what she could do. The girls liked me and wanted me on the team, so we jogged down from the track and had the bible study every Wednesday after track practice. Mrs. Kuehl put a lot of effort into getting me on the team and having me be a part of the team. That was huge. I could tell she was nervous and kind of stuttering when she was with my parents and trying to not make eye contact. But eventually everybody warmed to each other and she did it. I could be on the track team and take part in the practices and go to the track meets, which I thought would be a problem.
GCR: What were some of the main points you learned that year in high school from Larry Royce that positively impacted your running?
KJ Mrs. Kuehl wasn’t a knowledgeable coach, but her assistant coach, Mr. Royce, introduced me to speed workouts. He didn’t overwhelm me with speed. He didn’t overwhelm me with mileage. He even rewarded me for running a two-mile run. He took me under his wing. He bought my first pair of track spikes because my family couldn’t afford them. I always ran barefoot, but I wasn’t allowed to run barefoot in the District, Regional and State track meets. I remember these wonderful red velvet racing spikes. I was so proud of them that I carried them over my shoulder all the time walking around the track. He gave me good advice. He didn’t say specifically to do this or do that. He would just look at me and say, ‘Kimmie, you can do this. You know what to do. Get out there.’ Nobody taught me about pacing because I knew how to pace myself. They would give me the workouts, teach me how to use the starting blocks, get me to the starting line and I was a 54-second 400-meter runner by my senior year. I also got down to a 2:15 in the half mile.
GCR: How amazing was in that sophomore year when you went from not even on the team, to having bible studies at your home to be on the team and then a few months later you win the mile and 880 at the State Meet? Was it almost surreal?
KJ It was and it truly changed me into a different person. I was this kid, a middle child, with older siblings and younger siblings, who had a problem with stuttering and trying to speak too quickly. When I wanted to say something or get a word in, I had to say it very fast or talk very loud or not say anything at all. I was not noticed. It was a shame, but it is true of middle children. I was really stuck in the middle and didn’t have a voice. And when I started running, that was my voice. People started paying attention to me. I could run through the golf course and the golfers would smile and wave rather than shake their fists. It was very nice to have that recognition and respect. I never had had that respect before then. It was a big life-changer for me.
GCR: After missing your junior year due to becoming pregnant and having a child, how great did it feel to be back running your senior year and then to step on the track in your first meet without being sure what was going to happen and to win both the 880 and 440?
KJ It was incredible. That is probably the most nervous I have ever been leading up to any race and that’s counting the World Championships. The first race coming back from my pregnancy was a learning experience for me. Everything I did in childbirth was getting me ready to be an elite marathoner. Everybody was telling me to do this or that, but my coach gave me a wink and the boy’s coach gave me a pat on the back and said, ‘just do it.’ Everything went away. Whenever I ran everything went away. I could just do it. Almost everything separated – the wind, the clouds, the rain – whatever was happening, and it was like a bright, beautiful, sunny day and off I go. That’s how those races felt. I was just flowing along. If my competitors were far in front, I would think that it was my day, I would see what I could do, and eventually I would pass them on the home stretch. It just happened. It was magic
GCR: A few months later you were back at the State Meet. How exciting was the State meet as you won the 880 and 440 while both the girls and boys teams won team titles? Was that as good a result as it could have been?
KJ It was even better because I was on both relay teams. It was great to win individual titles but being on the relay teams and working with my teammates to win those two titles in the 440-yard relay and the mile relay was incredible too. It was icing on the cake of high school. That was my day and it felt great for everyone. When I see my high school friends, we talk about that and still reminisce about what a magical moment that was.
GCR: How did the next few years of you slipping away from running, going through college, getting dismissed from your college team, facing family deaths, getting pregnant again and married and then hearing about the upcoming Bloomsday Run possibly provide what you needed to remind you how you missed running and then rekindle your joy for running?
KJ I mentioned earlier how I turned on the television for the Bloomsday Road Race. Some of my friends were running in the race which was a big event in our hometown. Depending on the year, there were twenty to forty thousand participants. Everybody in town ran that race. It was just the event. I had a baby and didn’t have much time or the desire to race. I watched it on television with my cup of coffee in my pajamas. I was watching the commentators interview people who were participants getting ready for the race. Some were dressed up in clown costumes or carrying balloons. They were happy and laughing and very joyful. People were so excited, and the enthusiasm was amazing. When the race took off, I watched the elite runners and it took me into a different world. They were running so smoothly and effortlessly. It was incredible. The men were first. Then they showed Anne Audain running and a few women behind her. Everybody seemed to be enjoying pushing hard and working hard, but they ran so effortlessly. I remembered that feeling when I was in high school running my track meets and it gave me energy and a spark and desire to start running again. As I mentioned, after the race Jon Sinclair mentioned how everybody should be running in this road race and that inspired me to start running.
GCR: How surprising was it after another year of training when you improved from just finishing the race to being in the top twenty women while averaging under seven minutes per mile and then with some great training to drop to under six minute mile pace the next year while finishing in eighth place? Was this startling or did you just feel that you were getting in the training and it was a natural progression?
KJ The first year when I finished the race, I was really pleased that I had run up the hill and ran without stopping. I wasn’t fast and don’t even remember my time. I didn’t train a step and just went out and ran. There was no preparation and I deserved to hurt because I didn’t do any running beforehand. But I didn’t have to walk and that was my goal. I was pleased with my performance and sitting down on the curb when this woman came up. She asked how I ran in this wonderful accent. I said, ‘I ran the entire distance without having to stop. I didn’t even have to walk up Doomsday Hill.’ She said, ‘That’s fantastic. Have you done any running before?’ She was interested in me and I didn’t know why. I told her that I ran in high school, my times and that I won the State meet in the mile and 880 and the other distances. She said, ‘that’s great.’ Then I looked at her and said, ‘how did you do?’ She said, ‘I’m Anne Audain. I just won the race.’ I was so embarrassed, and I apologized. She was such a wonderful and charming person. She said, ‘I was really interested in your story. You know that if you were to train for next year’s Bloomsday you will run a lot faster and feel a lot better than you do right now sitting down here on this curb.’ I took her advice and started running. I didn’t dive into it but ran three or four days a week. That was good enough to run a solid Bloomsday race the next year. I saw Anne Audain again and she encouraged me a little more and was proud of me. The year after that I came back and became an elite runner that day because I won prize money and stood on the stage with Anne Audain. She put her arm around me and told everybody on the stage that she was responsible for my running career because she found me sitting on the curb. She was my inspiration those years and the inspiration to so many women. I’m so glad that she came into my life.
GCR: How exciting was it to win your hometown race the Rhody Run 12k in Port Townsend, for the first time in front of your family, friends and hometown fans?
KJ I had never run the Rhody Run, but I had been running the Bloomsday Race very well. I came over and was very nervous and didn’t know what to expect. Everybody was there – my grandparents, my siblings, my aunts and uncles and cousins. Everybody had their own street block watching me at the start, 200 meters after the start and 200 meters before the finish. I knew they were there. The gun went off and Regina Joyce took off and ran well ahead with Nancy Pinari and a few others. The runners out front were far away, but I just flowed along and ran them down and passed them in the end and glided into the finish past my family and made them so happy. There was such joy in me to make them so happy and proud of me. It was a wonderful celebration. Then every year that I ran that race, everyone expected me to win, so I put a lot of pressure on myself over the years.
GCR: Let’s chat some more about your marathon efforts. I’ve raced fifty marathons and am very aware that there can be some great efforts and some at the other end of the spectrum. How disappointing was it at the 1987 World Championships Marathon when you had a strong chance to medal but twisted your foot between two cobblestones, spraining your ankle, and had to drop out early in the race?
KJ That was very disappointing. That was probably my first big disappointment in road racing and marathoning in my career. It was unexpected and took me out of the moment. I had to learn how to deal with it right on the spot. The only thing I could do was to sit down and think about what I could do. I couldn’t go anywhere and do anything because my ankle was severely sprained. I just sat down by my shoe that was still stuck in the cobblestones and I had to figure out a way to get my leg through it. So, I just sat there quietly and watched the scenery and the cathedral and all the cobblestones and the history of the place. I thought, ‘this is a beautiful place to sprain my ankle.’ I put everything into perspective. It was a bad thing, but I could recover, and I could get over this. So, I stood up. I left my shoe there because I couldn’t pull it out of the cobblestones. I walked over to the 5k mark – limped over to the 5k mark and got into the shuttle van back to the finish.
GCR: It seems like you were somehow getting jinxed in the big races as you had asthma problems at the 1988 Olympic Trials Marathon right at the beginning before running heroically to pass most of the field and finish fifth. When you look back, is that maybe the one day in your running career you wish you weren’t stymied by a health issue as it was your best chance to make an Olympic team?
KJ That was my fault. That was on me because I knew there were some faster runners who had qualified by running a half marathon and who hadn’t ever run a marathon. I knew they were going to go out fast. There were 10k runners and half marathon runners who were just going to fly. I knew that but I also knew from my experience in winning the Twin Cities Marathon in 1986 that I could let them go and catch up to them and be the leader or run a great race. But I had to keep third place in sight because you must place in the top three to make the Olympic team. I was running along and about twenty people just took off. I felt that I needed to go. I had to keep them in sight. I had to work through people, but it was a downhill start the first five miles in Pittsburgh. I went with them and it was a mistake even though it was downhill. I caught the asthma in time where I wasn’t in deep distress. I used my inhaler and took a drink of water. Through life’s challenges when I was younger, I knew that I had to lay on my stomach and have somebody release my diaphragm. It wasn’t about getting air in. It was about releasing the air so that I could bring air in. If I could get someone who didn’t even know what they were doing to give me a push where the diaphragm attaches to the back, then I could push the stale air out. I did that and I was fine. I got back to what I should have been running in the first place. I was catching people and passing people all the way through the marathon and I ended up fifth about two minutes away from making the team.
GCR: Over the next five years, you finished in second place in Major Marathons five times out of your seven marathons and won Twin Cities again. How neat was this groove and was this just the culmination of your training and racing under Coach Durden?
KJ I had just divorced after my Twin Cities win in 1986 and moved out to live alone with my daughter. Then I was able to get my older daughter that I had given up when I was sixteen years old back, so I had this new family. And I remarried. All these changes disrupted, and I couldn’t focus. But that was okay. It was a time where everything came together for me in a good way. It didn’t affect my training or my racing because everything that happened to me in those races was where I didn’t do well was either my doing something stupid or there was an action, I had no control over. The disappointments weren’t that important because I was trying to get my family together, I remarried, I moved into a new house and I started a new life. During that time when all these crazy things were happening, I became solid, stable and established a good life. When I started running well it was because my life was very calm, everything was in place and was good. I wasn’t making any new decisions in my life and I was able to focus more on my running. That was a big benefit to my running performance.
GCR: You finished second again behind Wanda Panfil, this time by over two minutes when you ran your PR of 2:26:40 at the 1991 Boston Marathon. How cool was it to compete with and beat Joan Samuelson and Uta Pippig for second place over the last few miles? And did this feel like a super effort or was it like other marathon race efforts?
KJ It was very much like my Twin Cities Marathon effort in 1986 where I won. The conditions were great. There was no pollen in the air. There was a slight amount of wind, unlike the Twin Cities Marathon. I felt great. I was cruising along and catching people on Heartbreak Hill. I was moving without too much effort and knew I couldn’t run any harder. I just felt so good and so smooth and so constant. Passing by Uta, I didn’t push by her, but just passed by. At the 25-mile mark, passing by Joanie heading into the Boston Marathon finish was just wonderful. I was running as hard as I could, and I didn’t feel my feet hitting the ground. I was flowing along, and it was a wonderful experience.
GCR: The ‘hand of misfortune’ that we mentioned earlier hit you several more times with an injury before the 1992 Olympic Trials Marathon leading to a DNF, your shoe being stepped on and coming off during the 1993 World Championships Marathon, food poisoning before the 1995 World Championships Marathon and a bad virus leading to another DNF at the 1996 Olympic Trials Marathon. Can you describe the emotional roller coaster you were on when you prepared so strongly for these big marathons and then you had these downturns in between other great finishes?
KJ The great finishes propelled me, and the disappointments kept me motivated. That combination just kept me going.
GCR: We focused primarily on your marathon racing, but let’s switch gears to some shorter races. While you were racing consistently at the marathon distance, from 1988 to 1991 when your life was on a smooth course you had many podium finishes and top tens at races like the Cherry Blossom 10-mile, Peachtree, Jacksonville River Run 15k, Azalea Trail 10k, Gasparilla 15k, Falmouth, Red Lobster 10k, Bolder Boulder, Cascade 15k and more. What was it like during that four or five years in terms of the joy of racing and the camaraderie with your competitors?
KJ It was wonderful. It was probably the best time of my life because we were competing against each other and it was like a running circuit. I wasn’t on the circuit, but I would pop in occasionally. I would see all my friends and we would have dinners together and go for runs together and party together - sometimes too much and we’d go out the next day not feeling too great. We had so much fun. We were fierce competitors, but we were good friends at the same time. It was so much fun and that was a great moment in that time for road racing. It was a perfect time. I believe I fell into road racing at the right time when prize money was accepted openly, and I fell into it well. The core group of runners including Anne Audain, Jon Sinclair, Benji Durden, Billy Rodgers and all of these great people put themselves in a place where they planned to make this happen with open prize money and athletes being able to accept it without being penalized and at risk for their amateur status. They put themselves on the line and sacrificed for people like me and those who came along later. Runners who participate in the sport now have no idea what these people did for them.
GCR: I hear the joy in your voice when you speak about this period of racing. Are there any races that stand out for outkicking someone you normally didn’t beat in that 10k to 10-mile range of distance races?
KJ Yes, and unfortunately, I suffered the consequences. It was when I was running the 10-miler in Grand Rapids – the Crim 10-miler. I was running along with Lisa Weidenbach and Annie Audain and a couple other runners. We were kind of in a group and one woman, Leslie Mahnes, was way out in front and we were chasing her down. We got to the homestretch and Annie and I got away from Lisa Weidenbach. Annie was in front of me and I thought, ‘I’m going to beat Anne Audain for the first time.’ It was so exciting. It wasn’t like I wanted to beat her, but now I was equal to her. I passed her and beat her but, right when I crossed the finish line, I pulled my hamstring. So, I suffered the consequences. That was a great moment because I felt I was equal to Anne by running and racing with her. I was able to give her a race and that was cool.
GCR: You set your half marathon personal best at the 1988 Philadelphia Half marathon with a 1:11:34 for second place. Did you like the half marathon distance because you didn’t have to think about marathon fatigue, and you could just race the whole way?
KJ Yes, but, unfortunately, I didn’t run many half marathons. That 1:11 was the only time I was able to run the half marathon fresh and ready to give it my all. That was toward the beginning of my career. Later I was using half marathons to get ready for marathons. I would run tired and I never got the best out of myself running the half marathon. That was the only distance where I didn’t get to push myself as hard as I could.
GCR: Since I live in the Orlando area, I must ask you if you have any fond memories from your 1994 Citrus Bowl Half Marathon win in 1:14:38 when you were most likely training through the race?
KJ It was so hot and humid. That’s what I remember. I remember it well. When I got through the halfway point, I knew I could win despite the conditions because I was leading the race. It was a decent time and I wasn’t having any asthma issues. I pushed hard and was running with some men. The men were nice and encouraging. I ran with them and had a nice time. It was very cool. I finished the race and was exhausted more from the heat than the effort of running. It was nice during the race to have that camaraderie with the men. I took my mind off the women and enjoyed running with the men. It was like being at home with my training group in Spokane and pushing with the guys.
GCR: I’ll have to go back and check the results because I did run some faster 1:08s and 1:09s, but was 37 years old that year and may have been one of the 1:13 or 1:14 guys running with you. Speaking of Orlando, on a much cooler and rainy day at the 1988 Red Lobster 10k you came in fifth place on the day that Liz Lynch McColgan ran 30:59 to become the first woman to break thirty minutes. What do you recall of that day and the excitement of Liz breaking this barrier?
KJ It was incredible and brought women’s running up a notch for Liz to make that great effort. That was the time when women were pioneers and bringing the sport to a higher level. It was very, very special even though I was fifth and not close to her. It was a very big moment for all of us.
GCR: When compared to all these big races, is there almost more joy in winning your hometown race, the Rhody Run in Port Townsend that we touched on briefly, which you won 13 of the 14 times you raced it?
KJ That is as it’s one of those moments where so many are there for me. My track coach was the finish line judge. The other track coach was a course marshal. All the men golfers who encouraged me when I ran on the golf course were part of the race. All my friends and family and teachers and everybody I socialized with were all part of the Rhody Run. That race was huge for me, kind of like Boston is for Joanie Samuelson in a way, a small way. It was so incredible how well I was able to perform on that course and it was amazing how many good runners showed up – Nancy Pinari, Regina Joyce, Russians, Kenyans and people who are legitimately faster than me in the shorter races. I was always capable of kicking past them in the end.
GCR: It's very interesting that after you had that virus in 1996 and couldn’t finish the Olympic Trials Marathon that you dropped down to the 5,000-meter distance and gave it a go at the Olympic Trials to finish in a very respectable 15:53.58 for 7th place. Did you enjoy racing on the track, and do you think you would have enjoyed having a ‘track season’ when you were in your prime racing years?
KJ Yes, I was 37 years od and what was amazing was that I trained for the marathon until February, had that virus and took a little time off and only had two track meets before the Trials. I qualified in a 5k, ran the Prefontaine Classic 3,000 meters and then raced the Trials. So, that was my only track experience since my high school days. It was incredible. My biggest and greatest and most beneficial experience was qualifying in the first round at the Trials because I learned how to race against the big girls. It was a fun experience and I wish I had been able to focus maybe on training a full year for that distance. I am fast and even Lynn Jennings had said, ‘if anyone is with Kim with 400 meters to go, watch out.’ They respected me, but I couldn’t put that extended training and focus in place.
GCR: It seems like you faced so much tragedy and adversity. How crazy and sad was it toward the end of your running career when a wind gust blew over a sign at a Seattle race, landing on your foot, smashing it, and ending your ability to race at your normal level?
KJ The other times I did some silly things or stupid things in races and I take responsibility for those that I had done over the years. But this was totally out of my control. I was on top of the world. I had just won the U.S. 10k championships and the U.S. 25k championships and the U.S. 12k championships plus a couple of other races. I was the U.S. champion at almost every road distance. Then I go to this race and – boom – this billboard from the press truck falls on my foot. It just destroyed my foot. The physicians and the specialists said I would have been better off breaking my foot because the soft tissue was destroyed. I still can’t get up on my toes and run like I used to. The injury ruined my elite career. It was over at that very moment. There was nothing I could do. I ran as a master’s runner, but just for fun and to run with friends. It was never anything serious because I couldn’t get up on my toes and run hard.
GCR: After that accident, was it special in 1998 to execute your farewell from competitive running by winning Bloomsday Masters division in a U.S. Masters record and running a respectable 2:43 at Chicago before retiring?
KJ The Bloomsday race was good, but for the Chicago Marathon I still had a contract and had to come through with my contract. In that marathon it hurt. I was miserable. To finish and run a marathon as a master runner was fine, but my foot hurt and was in pain the entire way. I ran through pain, but I had done that many times and got through it. So, Bloomsday was great, but Chicago was quite painful.
GCR: We both have two daughters, and our own accomplishments are great, but it is often more exciting when our children succeed. How much pride and joy did you have when your daughter, Jamie, had a disappointing second in the State half mile when she eased before the finish and then rebounded from a fall during the race to sprint and win the mile?
KJ It was one of my most exciting days. I ran great races and great marathons over the years, but I was so proud of her. She made a mistake in the 800 meters. She was well ahead and running into the finish when she eased up like she won. The girl behind her bulldozed through and the race wasn’t over until it was over. The other girl leaned in for the win. Jamie was so upset about it and was crying a little bit. I gave her a pep talk and reminded her that she still had another race to go. I told her that here were people who were congratulating her that she walked away from and who were going to remember her for her second place 800 meters in the State meet or for being a good sport and congratulating the winner. She looked at me and smiled and said, ‘You’re right mom.’ ‘Plus, you have the mile to gear up and get ready for,’ I reminded her. ‘Show them what you can do.’ So, she went back and accepted the congratulations from everybody and congratulated her competitor who won. She got into the mile and off she went. When she fell down my heart sank. But she got up, got back into the race and won. I was so proud of her for that and hoped that I was a good example for her.
GCR: We haven’t discussed your training too much and people are always interested in the training regimen of elite runners. What was your typical mileage when you trained for the marathon under Benji Durden who was a proponent of very long days and very easy days and how did he help you to balance your family life and running?
KJ I was very fortunate to have Benji as a coach. He was always amusing. He always made me smile, and in eccentric ways at times. He was a wonderful guy who is brutally honest. That’s what was very helpful for me. He would tell me what it is. He didn’t tiptoe around me and let me get away with things. He would tell me what I did wrong and what to do. I may have run too far or not far enough or skipped a workout. He was good, but he wasn’t cruel. He was also very kind. He would listen to me and if I was tired or something was going on in my life he would talk with me, take me aside and suggest that maybe I should take a few days off or a few days of easy running to get through it and then get back to the training. He was good about listening to me and taking care of my emotional issues as well as my training. When he began coaching me, I was going through a divorce and he gave me optional harder runs if I was feeling good or something to cut back to if I wasn’t. He worked with me and I got through the difficult times. When everything was on, I was feeling well, not stressed and life was good, we built my mileage from thirty or thirty-five miles a week up to fifty and then seventy and eighty. By the time I hit eighty miles a week, I was running consistently in the 2:32s every marathon. I would get just a bit faster. Together we decided that I needed to increase my mileage. But I was busy being a mother. I was taking care of my kids and the house. We had to figure out how we were going to put that mileage into my weekly program. My easy days were when I took the girls to soccer practice or track practice or other activities. Those days were with my girls and I couldn’t do double runs and I needed to recover from my hard workouts. I suggested doing longer second runs because he couldn’t figure out what we were going to do. We thought about it and we decided we were going to make three days each week hard core that were focused on me. I made sure that I had everything done that the girls needed, and my husband would take care of them those three days.
GCR: What were some of your key tempo workout and speed sessions that had you ready to race?
KJ What we did was on Tuesday was a speed day and I would do 1,000-meter or mile or 800-meter repeats. They were my intervals to get ready for the shorter races in my racing season. The track workout with the warmup and cool down run was about twelve miles. A few hours later before the girls came home from school I would eat, take a quick nap and run eight miles. So, I had a twenty-mile day.
GCR: What is an example of the remainder of your training week?
KJ My long workout day was on Thursday when the girls were in school. I’d get them out the door and go out for twenty to twenty-seven miles, depending on where I was in training. It was usually more like twenty-two or twenty-three miles. Then I would do another eight-mile run making that a thirty to thirty-five-mile day. On Sundays it was my short long run day with the guys like Don Kardong and Mike Brady – some good runners in town. I’d run with the boys and they’d pull me along. It was a harder pace that was a moderate to tempo pace. I would do thirteen to seventeen miles with them. Then I’d come back with another eight miles that night for up to twenty-five miles that day, if not more. The other days were just four miles and there was one day off so I could take care of my family. My life was going on around my running and it worked. I was getting in seventy-five to eighty miles in three days and the other days I filled them in with these short easy jogs. It worked for me and my family. I wasn’t emotionally distraught that I was taking time away from my family or my running. I was very well balanced and Benji helped me through that.
GCR: With the luxury of hindsight, is there anything you could have done differently in training and racing focus that may have resulted in better performances or do you think you pretty much nailed your potential?
KJ I think that I was naturally a 5k runner but that was very iffy with my asthma. If the weather was bad, I was stressed a little or both, that was a combination that locked up my lungs. If I was emotionally stressed, my air passages just locked up and I couldn’t do anything unless I rested for awhile and had some treatments. Marathoning was my event because I could relax through it. If something was bothering me, there was pollution or I was uptight or upset or emotionally distraught, I could run along, and everything would open and be good if I wasn’t pushing too hard. I just kept going and flowed along.
GCR: Who were some of your favorite competitors and adversaries from your professional career and going back to high school competition for the spirited races and maybe because they helped bring out your best?
KJ In high school it was the girl that I was jealous of because my ex-boyfriend was treating me like dirt at the State meet. He told the girl I was competing against, ‘Good luck. I hope you beat her.’ He was talking about me. That really fired me up. ‘How dare he!’ I took off and followed her for the first lap of the half mile and turned it on in the last two hundred meters. She was racing 200 and 400 meters throughout the year while I was racing 800 and 400 meters. We were close, and I had the faster time, but she was very close. With 200 meters to go I was so energized from that emotion that I was able to drive by her like she was standing still, and I won the race. That wouldn’t work well in a longer race, but for 800 meters it worked great. At longer distances, Lisa Weidenbach and I were good friends, but put us in a race together and we would do whatever it took to win the race. We didn’t elbow or anything, but we would push each other and run as hard as we could. Joanie Samuelson was like that as well. Joanie was my inspiration and my role model before I started running. To be in a race with her and beside her was an honor. Then I realized that maybe I could squeak by her and give her a race, which I found out later that she loved. We would bash it out and run as hard as we could. I would beat her sometimes and she would beat me. We brought the best out in each other. It was great. We would laugh and go to the parties afterward and talk about it. We would talk about it all night because it was such fun and we pushed each other so hard. Our adrenaline was going, and endorphins were going, and we brought out the best in ourselves.
GCR: Switching gears to coaching, how did your running, combined with Benji Durden’s influence, along with that of Jon and Kent, form your coaching style and are there subtle differences in your approach compared to that of Jon and Kent?
KJ Benji told me when he was coaching me, ‘I’m your teacher. I’m going to teach you how to coach yourself. That’s my goal.’ I told him I didn’t want to coach myself and wanted him as my coach. He told me, ‘I want you to know the purpose of your workouts, why you’re doing them, why they are beneficial and why you’re doing them at certain times.’ He explained things to me, I learned from him and he was my teacher. He taught me how to train and how to coach. He was right and I coached myself for a little while towards the end of my running career because I was running more for fun after I was injured and had problems. With Jon I learned how he coached and the use of the Questionnaire. Jon, Kent and I all have similar plans and an overall view when we are coaching. We all believe in starting with building a base of miles so we can build upon that. Then we add tempo running and speed and certain ingredients. That is self-explanatory for those of us who have run for many years. But doing it at the right time for each person individually is more challenging. We must listen to the athlete and work around their lives. These aren’t people who have all day to train. They have families and jobs and physical issues. We work with their strengths and their weaknesses. I knew all of this but listening to Kent and Jon coach their athletes helped, and I dove right into the niche.
GCR: When a runner is interested in being coached through Anaerobic Management, how do you decide which coach will work with them?
KJ We get Questionnaires and Jon will look them over. There may be an athlete he thinks fits me because they are focusing on marathons or have an asthma issue, have female problems or want a female coach. If someone wants more nutritional advice, they may fit well with me because I studied nutrition. Local people in Fort Collins who may want an in-person presence on the track would be for Ken because he has a track group that meets every Tuesday for different workouts together. Jon is the ultramarathon coach, the track coach, the middle-distance coach. We all fall into that, but it depends on what the athlete wants in their Questionnaire. The difference between Jon and me is that he is very strong and very enthusiastic and wants the athlete to follow the plan and to get the workout right. Athletes need that and Jon is very good with sticking with their schedule and being consistent and following the plan. I am like that when working with females, but I know their restrictions with their families and help them to work around things a little more. I guess I’m a little kinder. If someone misses their workout, I tell them it is okay and look for a way for us to make it up. It depends upon the message we interpret from their Questionnaire and the message we get when we talk to them on the phone. We tweak it but seem to be right on with which coach we place each athlete.
GCR: Earlier we talked a bit about your autobiography, ‘Dandelion Growing Wild.’ What has the experience been like to bare your soul for all to read about it, and how rewarding is it when you speak to people who have read it and also that your book was recognized by the Track and Field Writers of America with the 2012 Book of the Year Award?
KJ It was tough to write and sometimes in places it was very difficult. It seems like I dug down deep, but there is a lot more that was going on that I didn’t mention just because what I wrote was what brought me forward and the incidents that happened in my life that created me and the person I became. The story moved me forward rather than the sidetracks. It could have been a one-thousand-page book if I took all the sidetracks with all the craziness that had been going on. I didn’t have to dig down too deeply because it was a lot worse, if that makes sense. The reason I wanted to bring my family into the book is because they were a part of who I became. Things that happened affected all of us – not just me. I was just going to write my autobiography and my sister Debbie, who was almost a year older than me, sent me a letter and said, ‘Please mention our family tragedies and our addictions.’ Opioid addiction in a huge problem now and my family was dealing with it back in the 1960s along with alcoholism and mental illness. It is huge now and society is trying to figure out ways to help these people. My father and many family members suffered for so long. It’s good to let other people know that everybody suffers – maybe not each family, but there are many in the world who do. My sister wanted me to tell our story about how it destroyed her life at times and our brothers’ lives. There were some deaths caused by these issues. All of this played out in making me a strong, stubborn distance runner. So, I wrote about it. The book isn’t as harsh as it really was. It is one of Billy Rodgers and Joanie Samuelson’s favorite books, which surprised me. Joanie says we have a lot in common - not the dysfunctional family part, but lots of other things that resonated with her.
GCR: We’ve hit primarily on your running career, but if people are interested in your in-depth life story with its ups and down personally and athletically, along with how you faced and triumphed over adversity, what should they do to order ‘Dandelion Growing Wild?’
KJ I don’t sell it on my own. It is available on Amazon’s website. People can also find the Kindle book. If they want something autographed, then they can contact me at our coaching website.
GCR: What is your current health and fitness regimen, do you run regularly, and do you have any inclination to compete again as a runner or in any of these crazy endurance sports like your husband Jon does?
KJ I run every day very comfortably. I’ll do tempo runs and often run harder with my daughter. We live only a mile from my daughter and my two granddaughters. It’s a great training regimen. I do my running and tempo runs but I don’t have the desire to dig down and race anymore. I’ve done that and I can’t get up on the balls of my feet to push off and run as hard as I know I can. So, I’d rather enjoy what I can do without trying to push it any further.
GCR: After your consistent and great running career, among your many honors, you were inducted into the Road Runners Clubs of America HOF in 1997 and Colorado Running HOF in 2009. How neat was it that your husband, Jon, and you were inducted together into the RRCA HOF and you and Benji Durden were inducted together into the Colorado Running HOF? Did that make both of those inductions extra special?
KJ Absolutely. They were fantastic and very rewarding. It was nice that I was able to be inducted in the same year as Jon and the same year as Benji. Those are moments that I will never forget.
GCR: When you speak to a group of young people, those you coach or a running club or at a race or a school, when you sum up in a minute or two the major lessons you have learned during your life that are in your 450 page book from the discipline of running, overcoming adversity, coaching, and helping others, what you would like to share with my readers that would be the ‘Kim Jones Philosophy’ That you would like people to take away?
KJ It is very important to not let things bring you down and to have more desire and determination to work hard. It’s good to sacrifice in order to become the best, but use hard work and determination. Most importantly, learn from your mistakes or tragedies you’ve experienced and go forward to have that hope to do better and be better.
  Inside Stuff
Hobbies/Interests I do enjoy cooking, believe it or not. I love being at home, but I do run. I’ve been trying to learn how to play golf better because we live on a golf course. I’m trying some new and different things. I take care of my two granddaughters and like to spend a lot of time with them. I love to travel and enjoy traveling with friends and doing fun things. I’m just enjoying life
Nicknames Jon calls me ‘Kimmie.’ My family called me ‘Swede.’ They called me the ‘Throwback Swede’ because I was the first one that and blond hair and blue eyes. Everyone else was more Native American or redheads. That was my nickname when I was growing up. Nancy Louversmith and a few of my competitors called me ‘The little freight train that goes by in the end’
Favorite movies I enjoy movies like ‘Star Wars’ and other Sci-Fi movies. My favorite movie of all time is ‘Shutter Island.’ It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and is a psychological thriller. He is investigating a psychiatric facility on Shutter Island and it has a surprising ending. I love to be surprised at the end of a movie and be blown away and that was one of those that sticks out in my mind
Favorite TV shows When I was younger, I always escaped from my family dysfunction by watching ‘Bonanza.’ The reruns are still on every day. When I take a nap or just chill, that’s where I go – to ‘Bonanza’ or ‘Gunsmoke’ or one of those westerns that brought me out of stress and into a nice place. At a race when I’m at a hotel, I’ll relax by watching my western shows. I don’t watch much current television now, so I don’t have a favorite new show
Favorite music I enjoy all types of music. The 1970s and 1980s music and the Beach Boys and The Beatles. When I’m running, I like to listen to 1970s and 1980s music. When I’m lifting weights It’s 1960s and 1970s music. I don’t know why, but it’s the mood I’m in. The Beatles are my favorite
Favorite books One that stuck with me is ‘Winter’s Tale’ by Mark Helpin. It’s a fantasy novel and is an amazing book. It’s about a mythic New York City and a white horse who becomes the guardian of the main character. It is an amazing story and an amazing read – one of the best books I’ve ever read
First car A 1966 cherry red Mustang. I wish I had it now. I learned to drive with a three-speed. My friends and I would go hopping through town. We’d stop at one stop sign and I couldn’t work the clutch very well so we would hop to the next stop sign. The clutch was on the floor. We had such a great time with that car. I wouldn’t mind having that car now
Current car I drive a BMW 300 series. Mine is a smoother ride than Jon’s car, but I do have two baby car seats in the back
First Jobs I babysat a lot – about five days a week during the summer – and made a lot of money doing that. My first job before I went to college was at the Crown Zellerbach which was the main place of employment back in the day. I worked in the Engineering Department and would do what ever they wanted me to do as far as inventory or helping them with blueprints
Family We spend a lot of time with Jamie. I run with her at times. We are very close. We have dinner often. We are a very close-knit family. The girls are over with Jon and me three days a week. There are several sleepovers each week. It’s so much fun. I enjoy being a grandmother and spending more time with Jamie than I ever have since her college days. It’s been wonderful
Pets Blondie, our cow, was a very important pet. Punky, my cat, was the single most source of strength and resilience in my book. My dog ‘Tippy’ was cute and special to me. She was with us when we moved from the horrible life we lived in Enumclaw, Washington to Port Townsend. She was with us all the time when times were bad, and she would sit there and let us pet her. She was our therapy dog, in a way and special. John had his dog, ‘Wiley,’ that was the sweetest dog in the world. She was on the cover of Runners’ World with Jon and was a great running dog. When I married Jon, Wiley was probably seven years old. He was declining a little bit, but I could still run with him. At the end of his days, I would take him for a walk for a few blocks. He got tired and would lay down and not move so I had to carry him home. He weighed about fifty pounds. He was such a special dog and he and Jon were very close
Favorite breakfast I love the basic breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast
Favorite meal I’m more of a comfort person. I enjoy steak or other meat, potatoes, peas and a salad. Also, I enjoy fresh seafood. I’ve been so spoiled growing up in Port Townsend, Washington with my dad catching salmon and an hour later it was on the grill. So, I truly enjoy fresh salmon and seafood. I do like buffalo burgers and we eat a lot of bison here in Colorado
Favorite beverages I enjoy red wine in the winter and white wine in the summer – just a glass or two. I don’t drink soda. I drink a lot of milk. Also, coffee with cream and maple syrup
First running memory Chasing my dog, Kayla, around town when she escaped from the house. That was so much fun
Running heroes Joanie Samuelson and Annie Audain are on the top of the list. Annie is an amazing person and so inspiring. We get together sometimes and have taken vacations together. She is truly the kindest, most wonderful, genuine person I know. I’m so honored to call her a friend and I enjoy her company. Two that I didn’t get to know very well are Grete Waitz and Ingrid Kristiansen. They were pioneers in our sport and I admire them. I’ve talked with them and got to know them, but not in a way like my good friends Annie and Joanie
Greatest running moment Winning the Bloomsday Road Race in Spokane, Washington where I lived. It was the start of my career and basically one of the last races of my career. I won the race thirteen days after running the Boston Marathon. I had to dig down hard, probably harder than I ever had to dig, in a race to win. I just visited Spokane for the Bloomsday race in May, when you spoke with Jon on the phone, and we were looking at the statistics from that race. Right when I had to start digging was between the third and the fourth mile. Again, this was thirteen days after running in Boston, it was a very hilly course with more hills than not. During the race I started thinking, I’m thirty-nine years old and may never have a chance to win the race again.’ It was in that third mile I thought, ‘I have to do it now.’ There were statistics we were looking at and I have the fastest fourth mile by a woman of all time in the race. It was a 4:58 mile and it was uphill. When I saw that, then it proved to me it wasn’t my imagination. I was really pushing it and gunning for that win. I had to push from that moment on to the end up Doomsday Hill to the finish. The second-place woman stayed eight seconds behind me the whole way. I think that was the greatest moment because I ran a great race, I ran a strong race, I ran the best race I could run, and I got the best out of myself
Greatest coaching moment I coached a woman who was trying very hard to break three hours in the marathon. She was a great runner. She had a family and a job and was stressed over the things that women get stressed over more than men. She had a very hectic life. I had her take a step back, take a two-week vacation and come stay with me. We talked and I coached. I made nice meals and she didn’t have to do anything except run with me and relax for two weeks. This started three weeks before her marathon. Then I had her go home and have her husband help her out and get her ready for the race. Just taking that time out for herself got her to Boston and she ran a sub-three-hour marathon. It was incredible. She was so happy, and her joy was amazing. Her husband was happy for her and so were her kids and it was a lovely moment
Childhood dreams I wanted to be a good mother and housewife and cook meat and potatoes and live a relaxing life. I am living my dream now and it’s great
Embarrassing moment One that stands out in my mind is when I ran the Jacksonville 15k and was in a hurry packing for the race. My daughter, Jamie, and I wore the same racing shoe, but different sizes. I’m size eight and she is size eleven and a half. Our shoes were on the same shoe rack and, when I left for the race, I just grabbed racing shoes, assuming they were mine. When I got to the race in Jacksonville, I pulled them out of my bag after warming up in my trainers about five minutes before the race. I slipped on the shoes and they were Jamie’s size eleven and a half. I thought, ‘I have to wear them.’ I didn’t want to wear my trainers because they were very heavy. When I stitched up the laces, the toes curled up like little elf shoes. I went to the starting line and, as usual, my goal in running was never to stress out about something I couldn’t control. I was on the line and all serious and after a couple of stride outs my shoes just slapped the street with every step. We all lined up on the starting line and everyone was all serious. I put my toe out with everybody and Keith Brantly says, ‘What are you wearing? Elf shoes? All the runners on the starting line were laughing at my shoes. And then the gun went off. I ran the race just fine and had a chance to win. I was gaining on Lynn Jennings and another runner and was getting closer and closer as we were coming down the hill and into the straightaway. I started slapping towards them. Lynn looked back at me and took off to win the race. So, that was my most embarrassing moment
Favorite places to travel In the U.S. it’s easy as I love going to Port Townsend. It’s my paradise and nice to see friends and family. I love the beaches and trails. It brings me back to the 1960s and 1970s and is a wonderful place for me. My favorite place out of the country and where we just travelled is to Ireland. It is incredible. There is so much history. There is lots of rain sometimes, but I love rain and cloudy days as that’s my kind of weather. So far that is my favorite place. We are going to New Zealand, I hope, on our next overseas trip