Congrats to our second Mother Runner of the Month: Julia Miller of Madison, Wisconson. Julia, an (almost) 43-year-old mother of three has run 21 half-marathons and six marathons and is also an AMR BAMRbassador.
But that's not why her running + karate friend, Danielle, nominated her: "Why I feel she is truly deserving and such a rare breed is her vulnerability. She talks about her sucky choices and acknowledges her impressive milestones and wins. When I hear or read about her rough weeks, it normalizes my tough weeks and encourages me to accept my past and move forward. It happens to all of us, but she is real about it. She is a badass, and a mother, and a runner, and a martial artist, and a role model of mine."
We couldn't agree more. Check her out:
I started running: Almost a decade ago, when my youngest was not quite one year. We also had a three- and a two-year-old, and we knew we were done having kids. I wanted to do something to get my body back. I signed up for the Madison Mini-Marathon (a half-marathon) and trained for that. Yes, a half-marathon for my first race.
I went to the end of my street and back, and added a little bit on each outing. I found a basic training plan online, and followed that. I loved that race, and I’ve run the Madison Mini-Marathon every summer since. I also figured out I loved distance running.
The Year of PRs: I found Another Mother Runner in 2012, when the book Train Like a Mother came out. I followed the Own It Plan, and ran a 2:04 in the Madison Mini-Marathon, an improvement over my previous 2:27 PR. I literally flipped the pages of the book and continued training for an October marathon, which I ran in 4:37, a 90-minute improvement over the 2011 Chicago Marathon, which was crazy hot and took me over six hours to finish.
Make my belt black please: All my kids were taking karate, and I saw an adult class going on; it looked like a good compliment to my running so I tried it. Four years later, I got my black belt.
With push-ups, punches and kicking, karate is a lot of strength work; my hips, legs and core feel strong. I also love the extra confidence it’s given me. I feel good about being aware of my surroundings, knowing that I will hopefully be able to defend myself on the run, should that situation ever arise.
Where Karate + running intersect, Part I: Like running, karate is very inclusive, opening and welcoming to all ages, abilities and sizes. It’s not just Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee—or what you see on TV.
Where Karate + running intersect, Part II: The test to get your black belt can be 5-6 hours long. having run a marathon, I thought, I can do this.
Passion for pacing: I started running with a training group with Fleet Feet last spring, and it’s just the best. I just love helping other people meet their running goals. I’ll be pacing the 2:30 or 2:45 Madison Half-Marathon on Memorial Day weekend, and I can’t wait.
Keeping it real: I always let my runners know I have struggles. I’m human. I’ll have a really great training cycle with my nutrition and sleep on point, but is it always like that? No. Sometimes I feel blah, sometimes I might not be a good place with running, and I’ll take a week or two off. The more I share, the more they can relate—and realize they don’t have to be perfect.
Advice for wannabe training group leaders: Use your own stories to share the good and bad parts of running, but keep the focus is on them: whatever they need, whatever their goals are. That’s why you’re there.
An unexpected anniversary: Last March, my kids and I came home from karate to our house on fire. It was caused by an electrical fixture, and because of smoke damage, everything in the house was ruined. It had to be gutted to the studs. You don’t realize how much stuff you take for granted—contact lens gear, for instance—until you don’t have it.
We only had our karate uniforms, but our neighbors quickly rallied and gathered clothes for my kids to wear to school. For about two weeks, I focused totally on the kids: making sure they got to school and had their normal routine. I didn’t want them to worry about the stuff we adults had to worry about.
Runners to the rescue: My local chapter of She Runs This Town reached out to local running stores, and they were so generous! Fleet Feet gave me a pair of the exact shoes I wear. Skirt Sports sent me a box of clothes, and another running store gave me a gift card so I could get socks, gloves and other smaller items.
My first post-fire run: Was two-and-a-half weeks after the fire. My husband and I had spent the morning—like we spent most mornings—in our burnt-out, smoky, ash-filled house taking inventory of our belongings and talking to restoration companies. It was always hard to breathe in there and we had to wear gloves and face masks—and spent the rest of the day smelling like smoke. I was always so down and upset after being in the house.
I met a couple of friends at noon that late March day, the start of spring. I remember fresh air, warming up after a long Wisconsin winter, back on my feet running again, hitting the pavement, dressed head to toe in all donated and gifted running gear...I truly felt hopeful about recovering from the fire.