Friday Featured Runner (series 20)

Today’s Friday Featured Runner is Cassandra over at Powered By BLING.
Cassandra’s Running Journey

SITS-Cassandra-Burke

My running journey started as an aside to my triathlon journey. On October 7, 2010 at 8:34am, three months after my 39th birthday and one month before my daughter’s 5th birthday, I heard the three words no one ever wants to hear You Have Cancer.
That November, I had intended to register for my first IronGirl Columbia race.  Instead, I was registering in the Operating Room for surgery.  Over the next two years, I underwent three surgeries, eighteen chemo treatments and thirty straight days of radiation.   In 2013, I completed the Ulman Cancer Fund’s Cancer To 5K program, the 2013 IronGirl Syracuse, the 2013 IronGirl Columbia and a relay in the 2013 Ulman Cancer Fund’s Half Full Triathlon – Olympic Distance.  That’s when I became addicted to BLING (race medals).
I can honestly say that at that time, running was the hardest for me.  I am an Athena triathlete with a good amount of excess weight.  Running is not easy when you have to carry excess weight up the hills.  But, one step in front of the other, I continue to push myself.  When I started running, I ran 18 minute miles.  A couple months ago I was running 15 minute miles.  Last week, I ran my first 13:39 minute average on a 3.2 mile run.   My husband is a runner and has been his whole life.  Our 8 year old is an amazing athlete already competing in swimming, travel soccer, track and triathlon.  Since I have never been one to let something defeat me, I decided that I was a runner.  I began running more, registering our family for 5K’s on our spare weekends and focusing on Galloway Method as my means to becoming a better runner.
Along with my husband, I now belong to two running clubs – Flying Feet Running Program and the Westminster Road Runners.  Our family continues to run races together.   On July 15, my husband and I signed up for the Disney Princess Half Marathon!  This will be my first half marathon.   We also signed the 3 of us up for the 5K (shhhhh!  It’s a surprise for my daughter).  I have never run 13.1 miles in a row in my life, but next February I will.  Inspired by getting one of the coveted spots, I PR’d my 5K time that evening at 42:43. I am finally enjoying running and loving it more with each training session.
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Q&A
 
-What made you decide to be a runner?  I wanted to lead by example for my 8 year old daughter.  I want her to grow up in a household that puts health and fitness as priorities, so that for her lifetime she will look at fitness as a fun, every day part of her life.
-What is the longest distance you’ve ran? 5 miles
-What is your favorite post run fuel?  Super Smoothie – kale, spinach, cuke, celery, beets, blueberries, strawberries (our family has gone vegetarian)
-What song is currently being played on your playlist when you run? I try to split my run time between some days with no music and some with music.  While I enjoy music, I don’t update my music often as I find beats that I like and stick with them.  My current playlist includes songs such as My Life Would Suck Without You, Raise Your Glass, Stronger, and Part of Me.
-What would you tell an individual who has just started their journey into running? Challenge Yourself to Cross Your Own Personal Finish Lines (Powered By BLING Trademark Philosophy).  Don’t worry about whether you run 1 mile or 5 miles.  Don’t worry about whether you can run the whole time or have to walk some.  Start out without worrying about the miles.  Run for 10 minutes (5 minutes out and 5 minutes back), and then increase that to 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes, etc.  If you can’t run for that long, use the Galloway Method.  Choose an interval like 1 minute run, 1 minute walk (1:1) or 2:1 or 5:1, whatever works for you.  As you build your endurance and your muscle memory, you will get stronger.  Before you know it, the 1 mile that took you 18 minutes will take you 13.  The mile you couldn’t run today will become your warm-up and you’ll finish your run at 5 miles.
Places to follow Cassandra:
This is my last round of Friday Featured Runner. I had such a fun time getting to know other runners of all types. This feature meant a lot to me and I hope you enjoyed this series as much as I did.