Discussion
  • Katha,
    You are an inspiration and a positive influence in my life. Thanks so much for sharing this amazing adventure with me. It would not have been nearly as much fun without you (I’m not even sure I would have done it). Thanks also to all the team at H3I for proving the opportunity to believe in myself and push beyond what I thought I could do.
    Keep running Katha and I will see you on our next adventure.

    From Michelle Barker
    January 22, 2010

INTERVIEW – Katha Kissman, H3 guest and Half-Marathon Runner

I had the pleasure to interview Katha Kissman, a recent Hilton Head Health guest, about completing her first Half-Marathon.  She even gave me access to her digital racer chip during the race which sent updates via text message to my cell phone at critical points.  You’re an inspiration Katha, keep it up!

 

1.     Could you tell everyone a little about yourself and your most recent stay at Hilton Head Health?

December 20 through January 3 was my fourth stay at Hilton Head Health.   The holidays have always been a time of struggle for me food-wise.  The family gathering always meant lots of love, laughter and not so healthy food (well, to be honest, not so healthy food choices or control on my part.)  This year, because I had worked so hard to get where I am, I decided, with my family’s blessing, to spend my holiday at H3 – both to stay on track AND to train for my first half-marathon!

 

2.     What made you want to sign-up for a half-marathon?  Why the Rock-N-Roll Half in Phoenix?

On my third stay at H3 in June of 2009, five other guests and I decided that we needed a goal to help keep us on track.  One of the women (and wonderful new friend courtesy of H3), Michelle Barker, mentioned that the P.F. Chang Rock n Roll Half Marathon would take place in her hometown of Phoenix in January.  I thought, “Hmmm.  Phoenix in January.  A goal to help me be healthy.  Why not?!”   We decided to sign up for that event. 

 

3.     How long did you take to train and what was the biggest obstacle?

I am a fairly recent runner.  I had never before run in my life.  During my first visit to H3 in June of 2008, I could not even finish the Treading Class.  I never did the speed intervals and I never inclined past 6.  I got better during my second time at H3 six months later – I could do all the inclines, but still just walked fast rather than ran during the speed intervals.  But then, a funny thing happened.  In between my times at H3, I worked hard at my fitness.  I was pretty consistent about working out in some way at least 4-6 times a week – walking, treadmill, elliptical.  I caught the “exercise habit.”  Adam, you always said something like each day you just have to talk yourself into exercising and then one day you realize that you are just automatically making plans for WHEN  — not if — you will exercise each day.  Gosh, you were right!.  All of a sudden, I just found that this had become a habit, like brushing my teeth.  That I needed to fit in some kind of exercise at some point during almost every day.

 

Well, in May of 2009, one of my clients, Hope For The Warriors, asked me to come down to Camp Lejeune to work with their Board of Directors.  That meeting was the day before their annual 10K.  Hope For The Warrior raises money to assist returning disabled veterans by hosting races.  Its President, my friend, Robin Kelleher, suggested that I stick around the next day to see how they do their thing.  Well, I asked her if I could actually do the 10K – but could I walk it?– “I don’t run” I said.  At that point, I absolutely knew I could walk 6 miles.  She said, “Of course!”  The day of the race, just as I was about to start, Robin whispered in my ear.   “Katha, why don’t you try walking a bit, then running a bit, over and over. That’s how I did my first marathon”  I remember thinking, “Yeah, right!?!”  At that point, I HATED the thought of running.  But, as the starter gun went off, and I was the absolutely LAST person out of almost 3,000 runner/walkers, I quickly realized that there were lots of people who had started running, but who ended up walking.  So, after the first 30 minutes or so, I saw someone ahead of me walking.  And I thought, maybe if I run a little, I could catch up to that person.  So I did.  And I did!  Well, after that, it became a bit of a game.  So I kept trying to catch up to a new person — running, walking, running, walking.  Well, long story short, I ended up passing at least 15 people!  So I didn’t finish last AND my time was about a 15 minute mile!  From that point on, I gained confidence in running, slowly increasing my time, and then, a month later at H3, when Michelle and I talked about doing a ½ marathon, I just knew I could do it!

 

4.     Can you divulge your training secret or plan?  Pretty please…

When I mentioned on Facebook that I was going to do the Phoenix Rock n Roll Marathon (and, by the way, publicly proclaiming that I was going to do it really held me accountable in a good way), a friend who had already run a marathon suggested that I look at Hal Higdon’s Training Guide (http://www.halhigdon.com/halfmarathon/novice.htm).  While I didn’t follow it religiously, it did give me a good roadmap.  I actually think the key for me was to just practice running, slowly increasing my time and distance each week, listening to my body and pushing myself when I felt good, and laying back a little when it didn’t feel like it was there.  But my most recent time at H3 just three weeks before the race was the best.  And I really think cross-training is vitally important.  I ran, walked, weight lifted, did swimming classes, yoga, Pilates and core strength classes.  That training and a really, really good sports bra did the trick! (I realized that one of the reasons that I had hating running all of my life because my breasts weren’t supported!)

 

5.     What was the psychological key to your success in achieving your goal?

Since my friend, Michelle, and I decided to do it together, I didn’t want to let her down.  So having a partner is a good strategy.  I also wanted to push myself.  I had lost 40 lbs over the past year and a half and setting this as a goal was an important key to maintaining all the good progress I had made.  All of the lectures at H3, which I would go to each time I was there even though I had heard all the messages before, really helped (I am a Clinical Hypnotherapist, so I know the absolute value of creative visualization and repetitive programming the subconscious mind!)  And listening to music while exercising  – I can’t stress that enough.

 

6.     How would you describe the atmosphere on race day?

I had no idea what it would be like – OMG!  It’s like a grand festival or carnival or parade all combined!  Michelle and I were so very excited!  Senator John McCain cheered all 36,000+ registrants on at the starting line; there were live rock and roll bands at every other mile; tons of volunteers were giving out water and sports drinks and protein blasts along the way; there were cheerleaders from the area high schools cheering everyone on all along the route; regular residents were in chairs along the road just watching us go and yelling out supportive shouts; little kids were there to give us high fives along the way.  It was really wonderful.  And at the finish line, we ended up at ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium where not only all the runner/walkers were, but friends and family – it was fantastic!  Here are the race stats:

 

2010 Race Stats:

Combined Registrants: 36,196
Marathon Registrants: 7,372
Marathon Finishers: 5,703
1/2 Marathon Registrants: 24,521
1/2 Marathon Finishers: 21,458
Dean Karnazes Ultra 50K
Finishers: 148
Phoenix Children’s Hospital Kids Rock Participants: 4,155

 

My personal stats:  I ran the race in about 3 hours 30 minutes for a 15.27 mile.  I’ll take it!!

 

7.     What were you thinking around mile 10-12 of the race?

I ran all the way to Mile 9.  At that point, while I started walking/running, I just knew that I would finish.  Michelle and I had driven the route the day before, so knowing the landmarks along the way, especially “The Castle” helped me to know that the end was in site.  My legs were really fatigued, but my mind was very engaged.  It helped enormously that my friend, Mike, who had run a marathon before, was texting me during the entire race, giving me encouragement.  Before the race when I was yadayadayading at one point he just texted me and said, “Suck it up – you’re an athlete!” and I thought, “Yes, I am!  I can do this!”   During the race, at different points he texted “Pick up the pace” “Almost ½ way – way to go, Katha” “I have great news!  There is no ‘wall’!  Press on!” “Enjoy each moment.”  “Start planning the victory party!: “Stay strong.  Keep breathing.”  “You are almost done!” “You can almost taste the finish line.  And I don’t mean the asphalt!  Start passing people now!”  “It’s almost over!  Enjoy the home stretch!”  And then he called just as I was about to get to the finish line.  Technology is something!!  It was really motivating to have that kind of support during the race and it really made me smile the whole way!  (Thanks again, Mikey!)

 

8.     Did you prepare a special soundtrack for the race?  What did it include and do you remember the song that was playing when you finished?

Yes!  I’m not a fast runner.  I do best when I have a somewhat slow, steady pace.  In my early running days, I found that Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” was just the right beat for my pace.  I researched it and found that it was 143 beats per minute.  So I tried to find other songs that also had 143 beats per minute and put together a playlist of those songs on my iPhone that I called “Running.”  I just programmed my playlist to play for four hours, repeating my running songs.  So for me, those songs were:  “We Didn’t Start the Fire” “Lido Shuffle” “My Sharona” “Born to Run” “China Grove” “Rock N Roll All Night” “Carry On My Wayward Son” “The Heat is On” “Brown Eyed Girl” and my new, all time FAVORITE song to run to, Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs.”  Love that Latin beat!!  That was the song playing when I finished!

 

9.     What would you tell someone that’s thinking about signing up for a race?

It is a tremendous opportunity to set a goal and work toward it.  I find that running (jogging, really — honestly, I just don’t feel the need to run fast!) makes me feel so fabulous.  I am not sure I will do another half-marathon, but I definitely know I will do 5 and 10Ks in the future (and there actually is a 10 miler in Chicago in early April that I am strongly considering).  Running a race with the energy of a crowd gives one so much inspiration.  I highly recommend it!

 

All smiles at the end of the race!
Post race

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