Follow This Mother!

Karen, running her first marathon at 5 months pregnant. "Gracie came out a healthy 7lb 15oz and loves to hear the story of being in Mommy’s belly when I ran a marathon."
Karen, running her first marathon at 5 months pregnant. "Gracie came out a healthy 7lb 15oz and loves to hear the story of being in Mommy’s belly when I ran a marathon."

Karen Iddings, 44, ran her first marathon when she was five months pregnant with her now 2 ½ year old daughter, Gracie Marie. “I had already signed up to run Utah Valley Marathon in 2011 when I found out I was pregnant -- there were over 20 of us from the Havasu Hustlers run club participating and I didn’t want to miss out.” Iddings, a coach and triathlete BAMR living in Lake Havasu City, AZ, did make sure to get OK from her doctor first. “I just had to slow down a bit and be sure to stay well hydrated during our long runs. I completed the marathon in 4:34:26.”

Best recent run: Surprisingly, my best recent run was a 15-miler in 87 degrees, for two reasons: 1.) I was able to complete that distance in that heat and 2.) I averaged a pretty decent pace overall considering it was so warm: 9:02. Unfortunately it was at the end of an intense running week after taking time off from my last marathon and I injured my knee. I’ve been doing a TON of swimming (over 10,000 meters last week!) and cycling.

The bike portion of the HITS Half Distance Triathlon 70.3 earlier this year.
The bike portion of the HITS Half Distance Triathlon 70.3 earlier this year.

My Running Journey: I’ve been running as long as I can remember. Although I did not run track in junior or senior high school, my sixth grade teacher noticed how fast I was during a sixth grade track meet and encouraged me to continue running. My first road race was the Sound to Narrows 12K in Tacoma, WA when I was 13. My goal was to beat my big sister (which I did) and I continued to run that race ever year until I moved to Arizona in 2003.

Best part about coaching/helping other athletes: Seeing them change their lives -- become healthier, more active and witnessing the sense of accomplishment they feel when they’ve completed their goal. It’s an amazing feeling to be part of their journey and knowing you helped contribute in some way.

How I fuel for a long run: I drink a lot of water anyway, but a couple days before a long run I’ll drink extra water and a couple glasses of Gatorade each day. I also drink an 8-ounce glass of Gatorade an hour before I head out in the morning. I always carry a fuel belt with me and depending on the distance I’ll carry two or four bottles and take a sip every mile. On long runs over 10 miles I have a Camelbak I wear that is great. It’s already 85° here before the sun comes up so staying hydrated is more important than ever!

The final miles of the Mountains to Beach Marathon earlier this year.
The final miles of the Mountains to Beach Marathon earlier this year.

Morning, noon or night for a run: Definitely mornings in Arizona. It’s going to be a high of 113° today and not a good idea to run once the sun is up. We have to get out as early as possible. Even starting at 4 a.m. for a long run is tough because the sun comes out just after 6, making it feel that much warmer at the end of your run!

My preferred cross-training: I am swimming a lot right now but my preferred cross training is cycling. I love the bike; I just have to take it easy right now because of my knee.

My perfect running temperature/weather conditions: They say 55° is the perfect running temps, but for me I love closer to 65 degrees, probably because I’m used to running in warmer temps. It’s hard for a lot of us to get out and run when it’s cold – we’re spoiled in that regard!

Chocolate bar or pint of ice cream: I don’t see beer as on option so I’ll go with pint of ice cream!

Run with friends or run solo: Definitely friends! I am very much a social runner, at least for the beginning of, or meeting for, a run. We don’t necessarily have to run together the entire time. Having friends to meet with helps motivate each other, push each other to go a little farther or faster than maybe you would have on your own. I’m such an advocate for group runs that I started the Havasu Hustlers Run Club in 2007.

Almost to the Finish!
Almost to the Finish!

How I handle hitting the wall or rough patch during a race: I totally just talk myself through it. If my body has completely given out and I can’t go any faster and know I’m not going to make my goal time, I tell myself to just keep moving forward and to at least finish. If I’m starting to crash but know I still have a chance at my goal (usually near the end of the race) I tell myself to turn my legs over just a little faster, that I can do anything for X amount of minutes and keep pushing through. Breaking it down per mile or minutes has helped get me through some tough times.

Best part of calling myself a triathlete: The feeling of accomplishment. Most people, whether an athlete or not, understand the dedication and commitment it takes to complete a triathlon. I love the look of admiration I get when I tell people I’m a triathlete and marathoner.

With husband Richard and daughter Gracie.
With husband Richard and daughter Gracie.

Eyes on Bend, Oregon: My husband and I want a more diverse, active environment to raise Gracie in, and our goal was to always move to Bend by the time she was three. We have recently launched our new business and timing works out well to be in Bend about this time next year. If the opportunity arises that we can move there sooner we will.

What I thought about during my last run: I was on a running high because my knee was feeling great after 10 days off. I was thinking about my upcoming marathon at the end of July and how I may just be able to pull it off after all.  Unfortunately that was a week ago and my knee has been acting up since.

My running, in three words: Friends, focused, fitness.

Follow This Mother on Twitter, Instagram, and her blog Karen Loving Life.

5 responses to “Follow This Mother!

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  2. I have been enjoying following Karen via Twitter so this was extra special to read an article written about her. Thank you for sharing her story with your readers! She is quite amazing!

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