"Meet Our Members" is where we get to know a little more about our fellow Striders -- who they are, why they run, and why they're part of the Central Maine Striders.
In this edition of "Meet Our Members", Kelley Carter agreed to answer our questions over email. Kelley lives in Pittsfield and is one of the newer Central Maine Striders members.
One of the things that helped trigger my return to running was the fact that I turned 50 in 2019. Having the desire to do a marathon, I figured if I didn't do it now, I might not ever do it. Leading up to Sugarloaf, I was pretty certain that I'd be a "one-n-done" type of marathoner. Not fifteen minutes after completing that event, when I could barely walk from unspeakable pain I'd never felt before, my wife asked me if I'd ever do it again. Without hesitation, I responded with a firm "hell yeah!" I seem to have a mild obsession with it now, that I should probably seek counseling for! I'll never be a competitive runner, but for what it does for my mental state, I hope I never have to stop.
Did you manage to reach that Boston qualifying goal?
I have not been able to hit that BQ objective - YET! Although my PB at the half is pretty decent for my age at 1 hr 41 min, I've had a hard time translating that to the marathon distance. I've always seemed to show up at the starting line completely ready to go. However, I struggle to hold back on first half of the distance. As a consequence, I tend to hit that wall pretty hard. During the Maine Marathon in October, my mile splits were all sub-9 minutes, and even a couple of sub-8, through mile 20. The last 6 were barely sub-12!! Clearly, I need to find more patience for the first half!
Was there anyone who inspired you to start running (a friend, a family members, or a professional athlete)? I've never really thought about that, but I guess my favorite uncle first piqued my interest in running, when I saw him compete in a marathon in Austin, TX, way back in the late 70's. But that was just one of many crazy and adventurous things he's done in his life. I suppose I kinda follow in that same frame of mind. There are definitely a ton of other people that have inspired me along the way. Stories of real people doing really incredible stuff... running-related or not, surviving against insurmountable odds, or overcoming an impossible obstacle... give me strength and determination to push forward, even when I don't want to. I also try remember to be grateful for everything I have - that there are countless humans who suffer, but are still genuinely thankful for the very little blessings they do have - those people inspire me more than any.
Of the three marathons you ran in 2019, which was your favorite and why?
Of the three marathons I ran in 2019, each offered something very special for me, and all were definite favorites for very different reasons. Sugarloaf was special because it was my first and it was an absolute blast. The support from the organizers, to the participants, to the wacky crowds was super cool, and made the event a ton of fun. What wasn't fun was the cold, rainy weather! The Maine Marathon was epic for the dedicated supporters on the sidelines - the live bands, the hilarious signs, folks cheering you on by name - awesome. Pretty nice scenery too. Millinocket....what can I say about Millinocket? It is beyond words really. In my mind, that event is all about giving back and helping that little town come alive. It's less about running. However! The run is definitely part of the incredible experience, from Fireball shot stations, delicious soup, hot Gatorade, and so much more makes for a memorable experience with a huge desire to do it again. I should mention I learned that the speedy shoes can be left at home. This event is more like a slow, long run than a PR opportunity. Of the three marathons, if I could only choose one to run again, for now it would have to be Sugarloaf - just to prove to myself that I can beat the 4-hour mark!!! With assistance from gravity of course!
How did you find out about the Central Maine Striders and why did you join us? I first stumbled across Central Maine Striders on Facebook I think, and then again on Strava. Years ago, in Providence RI, I belonged to a corporate running group, as well as a local running club. I remember the camaraderie, support and energy that we all benefited from, just by training and participating in events. It was a big sense of community, and actually pushed me to train harder and more consistently that I probably would've otherwise done on my own. I decided to join Central Maine Striders one, because the group is relatively close to where I live, and two, because I want to be more active in the running community in general. I find running can be a pretty lonely endeavor - which isn't always bad and often times the one place where I can find peace in an otherwise chaotic world - but I miss sharing the joy of running with others. Non-runners just don't get it, do they? Lol.
What do you do when you're not running?
When I'm not running, I keep myself occupied with work and outdoor stuff. Backpacking in the back-country with my family is my all-time favorite recreational activity. Life is meant to be lived to the fullest with as many rich experiences as possible, in my opinion. Work is just a means to an end. Thankfully, my employer, Sebasticook Valley Federal Credit Union, gives me plenty of opportunity to do the things I enjoy the most.
Thanks for joining the Striders and for letting us get to know you better, Kelley. We're looking forward to see you at some of our events in the future (whenever that's allowed again).