Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Still living in the fast lane at 63

This is the sixth in an ongoing series of short profiles highlighting an ardent local running enthusiast. Up today: 63-year-old KATHY SEAVERS, an oncology nurse who has posted age-group wins at several recent local races, including the Firecracker 5K (24:25), the King Tiger 5K (24:32), and the Great Harvest Bread Co. 5K (24:25).

I met Kathy at the Great Harvest Bread race on May 2, when she finished 92nd overall out of 413 total runners. Only one other woman over the age of 60 completed the 3.1-mile race that day -- and Kathy beat her by more than 18 minutes.

When and why did you start running: I quit smoking in the early '80s, and running helped me get through it.

How long had you been a smoker? I started smoking in nursing school at about 18 years old, and I quit after about 17 years in 1980. I started running soon after and became hooked on running. It helped me avoid the pitfall of weight gain after smoking. Running gave me the willpower to stay away from tobacco.

What makes you a good runner? I have fun with it, and I am competitive and determined.

What would make you a better runner? Move me back 10 years.

Favorite annual N.C. race: Turkey Trot 8K [annual Thanksgiving race in SouthPark].

Favorite distance: Half-marathon.

PR for that distance: About 1:44.

Running moment you'll never forget: My best Boston Marathon: April 15, 2002 in 3:59:03 [chip time]. This was my first Boston Marathon [not her first marathon, though]. I just wanted to finish. ... I felt really good at mile 10; I was wearing down at 20, and the last six were a struggle. By the way, after the race, I was told that Charlotte runners would meet at the Rattlesnake Bar [on Boylston Street]. When I walked in, still in running clothes, and with my medal around my neck, I saw that I was the only runner in the bar -- others probably came earlier. I got a standing ovation and several drinks.

Running moment you'd like to forget: In 2006, when I tripped at McAlpine Creek Park and broke my right shoulder and left elbow.

Are you disappointed/surprised that there's not more competition in your age group? I just try to compete as best I can with younger runners.

Any interesting reactions from younger runners when they find out that you're faster than them? I was first overall female in a race in Cherryville a few years ago. (My husband) Larry and I walked by a group of young girls and women, and we overheard one ask the others if they saw the age of the female winner.

What advice would you give to other runners your age who are struggling with, well, their age? Ignore the age. Never give up.

Do you ever see yourself "retiring" from running? No way, Jose!

What's next on your race calendar? The Bele Chere 5K Run in Asheville on Saturday.

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Know of another running fool? Tell me about him or her in an e-mail to tjanes@charlotteobserver.com.


Anonymous said...

Kathy and her husband are both excellent runners! The fact that they are a bit seasoned has nothing to do with the story. There are quite a few over 70 and over 80 year old runners who regularly run races in the Charlotte area. They are also running the longer distances such as half and full marathons. These folks may not be as fast as they once were, but they bring a lot of wisdom and encouragement to races.

Richard Hefner said...

Yay Kathy! When I started running last year you and Larry were two of the first people I noticed, partly because of how fast both of you are and partly because of what a great inspiration you are to young whippersnappers like me!

Anonymous said...

You go girl! Definitely an inspiration. Just started running, and ran a 5k in 31 minutes... Now I am motivated to work on that to try and keep up! Age doesn't matter when you have fun and are determined...