ALL ABOUT KARI ALBRECHT EARLL
RUNNING WITH MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
LOVES TO RUN: HALF MARATHONS AND MARATHONS
What is your inspiration, and motivation to be a runner?
I started running as a way, to be active. I had no idea at the time, that I had MS, until about a year after I had started running. Since my diagnosis, I am motivated to keep going to show that we are capable of so much more than we can ever imagine. I want to make sure that my daughters take notice of my tenacity and drive to continue.
How did this goal come to you?
My first neurologist discussed with me how important it is to stay active. He used to tell me that I ran more than he drove his car, and I laughed at him. I really did not run that many miles.
What marathons are you running?!
I have completed two full marathons, trained for four, but had issues surrounding two of them that prevented me from finishing. I am currently on a path to finish a half-marathon in every state with my husband. I do not think I will be attempting a full again for some time.
Which marathon, are you most excited to run?
I was super excited to run the Joplin Memorial Run the 1st year they had it. It was a great year for me regarding my running and I think I hit a peak with my performance that year. I am currently working to get back to that performance level for a half.
How were you diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis?
I had been experiencing headaches for some time with blurry vision. After a year on medication to stop the headaches I was still having vision issues. I had complained of fatigue for years but was just told it was probably related to a busy life of a working mom. When the blurry vision wasn't going away and I started telling my Dr about my confusion and inability to focus on multiple tasks he sent me for an MRI, and here we are. Diagnosis date 5/24/2013.
How can you manage your symptoms?
My symptoms are mostly fatigue, and then some cognitive issues when I am exhausted. So, I must remind myself that I need to get some rest when I am overworking. I realize that I need more rest than others, and I have found massage therapy helps with muscle spasms.
How did you start running?
I started running on a treadmill by walking/running. I would time it, walk for so many minutes then run, gradually increase my run time and decrease the walk time. I progressed pretty quickly. I started the end of March 2012, and by May I ran my first 5k and in October 2012 my first half-marathon.
Do you have a running buddy?
I have several, but the most important one is my husband! He is my biggest supporter. He does not even like to run, it is what he will tell you, but he does it with me and we are enjoying the travel.
How many marathons and half-marathons have you ran?
Honestly, I can only tell you that I have completed two full marathons, because I would have to literally count the medals from all my half-marathons to know. I have lost count of them. I have completed eight states, since we started our state journey last year.
Where do you keep all your medals?
I have a medal hanger now for the states we have completed, but I also have just a wooden dowel rod hanging in a room in our basement that has most of them on it.
The only other ones not on those two are, the ones I have earned from the Joplin Memorial Runs I have done. That race is in my hometown and benefits the tornado victims. So, I have a special hanger for those. Since it is full, I guess I will have to figure out what to do this year when I get another one this year.
How do you balance work and running?
I used to run in the morning before work, but at some point. I fell off that wagon and started running after work. Since I do not run every day it is manageable to run either before or after work. When I had time, I have run during a lunch break as well.
How do you marathon train?
Marathon training is such a different beast than half-training. So, I usually try to find a plan that works with my schedule. One that will allow me to be able to fit the weekday runs in either before or after work.
How many miles do you run weekly?
That depends if I am training or not. My average yearly mileage is around 800 miles a year. So, it just depends. Some months may be 100 miles, and then I may have a month with 40.
How does running make you feel?
Running is certainly a stress relief. Sometimes, I get started and I think I am so tired, but after I get going, I remember the phrase, ‘the first mile is always a liar,’ and then I keep going. Running makes me feel strong and powerful, but not in a way that a bodybuilder is strong. The body is capable of what the mind believes, and that is the strength I feel.
How do you fuel on the run?
I use stinger chews, or Swedish Fish. I suppose I could use my fruit snacks as well. I do not like the gels anymore, they started to bother my stomach.
What is your typical diet?
This is a funny question! Ask my friend and she will tell you I am powered by donuts, but I think it is pizza and Taco Bell. I do not eat healthy by any means. I tell everyone I run, so I can eat what I want. I mean, why else would you want to keep running?
How do you style your hair, on the run?
Ha, in a ponytail of course. I always wear a headband to keep the strays away from my face and help with the sweat. I love Bondi Bands headbands and the great phrases on them.
What is your favorite running apparel?
Oh boy, my sparkle skirts for sure. I love running in them. I have gone to even having custom ones made, which is expensive, but my husband does not seem to mind. I have had some custom shorts made for him so that we can match, and he loves the kilts they make for men. They have amazing pockets on both legs of the compression shorts underneath the skirt, and then there is the zipper pocket in the waistband. I can carry water, my phone, my fuel, keys and so much.
Do you have a funny race memory?
Oh yeah, when I finished my one and only sub-two-hour half-marathon the official race photographer caught me crossing the finish line at just the right moment, and it has become an infamous picture in a running group of mine. I get made fun of so much for it, but then again, I made fun of myself for it. It is absolutely horrible, but I felt fine after five more seconds, just terrible timing.
Do you have advice for other runners?
My best advice is to just run your own pace and enjoy the runs. Take time to look at what is around you, see the beauty in the world on your feet. Do not listen to music when you are running, mostly because using headphones is a safety concern, but you cannot appreciate the surroundings with headphones in. Sometimes it is the sounds of nature in the early morning that you just do not want to miss.
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THAT PRETTY RUNNER