A new feature I am excited to start for Run Richmond is People Profiles. I will do interviews from time to time with either local runners that should inspire us or actual Run Richmond members that already inspire me. If the goal of this group is to build community what better way to do that than to help people get to know each other.
Our first profile is Kat Pagano. I got to know Kat via the Madison Central Cross Country team. My daughter is a team member and Kat is one of the coaches. I can tell you that the guys and girls on the team are amazed by Kat’s dedication to running. She is an amazing athlete that these kids are lucky to have the opportunity to be exposed to.
I want to say thank you to Kat for taking the time to do this and I hope you all read closely her answer about why she continues to run. I agree 100% with what she says and I think we can all probably stand to learn that lesson to some degree.
Most of our readers don’t know you so can you tell us a little bit about where you are from, how you became a runner and then how your career has progressed until now?
Originally I’m from southern Maine. I grew up in a small town, Hollis. Maine is absolutely beautiful. You can ski, hike, and surf. People in Maine are kind of hipsters. The harsh climate doesn’t stop a Maniac from getting out, although they do tend to get pretty grumpy when it’s -5 below in the winter.
I ran 8th grade outdoor track at Bonny Eagle Middle school in Buxton Maine. I threw the discus, javelin, and ran the 300m hurdles/400m/800m/mile when I had to. I caught whooping cough half way through the season and quit the team. I ran my first 5k race during the Christmas of my freshmen year and ran 19:40 something. The cross country coach saw results, and CC was my new fall 2005 sport. My running career started to pick up when I met Christine Snow-Reaser, who was a former runner for EKU. The first time I ran with Chris, it felt like we covered half the state of Maine, 15 miles! I went home and had to recover for 2 days. I had never run over 7 miles before.
After every run with Chris, recovery time was significant. 15, 17, 18 mile runs were NO cake walk. Her mentality was that you never cut the distance/running time…that meant if we were doing 4 x mile repeat, we warmed up for 5 miles, did the repeats, and then cooled-down for 5 miles. Her husband Rick was also a former runner for EKU, and they would sandwich me on workout days. Chris would set the pace, I was in the middle, and Rick would be behind me firing off words of encouragement
My career as a runner has been a long and winding road. It comes down to self-motivation, and influential people. The most memorable people that I’ve had the privilege to meet and be coached by, haven’t been my best friends. That’s because notable people need to be marinated in your memory…they are such profound individuals, typically outliers. The great coaches in my life have always been the connecting factor between being good, and becoming great. They push even when you’re at a breaking point, because they know that dealing with adversity is what forces us to truly identify with ourselves. This might sound convoluted, but running isn’t about luck, talent or times. It hinges on heart, resiliency, and an unwillingness to concede failure. I wouldn’t say running defines you, as much as it reflects on what you’re capable of. Most of us will never explore the limits that exist within us physically; running is one of the only true sports that is capable of testing that.
Are you currently training for a race or just running to maintain?
I’m gearing my training towards a half. I’ve been fortunate to have a good friend/colleague (Dr. Rob Lyon), help coach me.
What is your favorite race distance?
I like the 5k/10k. The distance that likes me the most is probably anything longer than 10k. In all honesty though, it completely depends on training. If I had 6hrs to chop down a tree, I would spend 5hrs sharpening my ax, and if I didn’t have 5hrs to sharpen my ax, I wouldn’t be chopping down any trees. Prep is everything. If I haven’t prepared myself races turn into death marches.
What race PR are you most proud of and what is the PR?
Currently, 35:24/10k at the Penn Relays in 2010. I broke my own school record a 2nd time. I’d like to think the best is yet to come though.
Most of us don’t race to win so your perspective is a little different, but outside of the possibility of a cash prize what makes you want to keep running and racing.
Something I’ve come to find is that the continuation of distance running doesn’t have as much to do with running itself, as it does principals that can be applied to your life.
Distance running is like a reflection of life; it doesn’t take breaks, it doesn’t always take you on smooth seas, and it can be relentless, and at times, what feels like downright unforgiving…that’s reality though. Smooth seas don’t make skillful sailors. When hard times arise, you’re faced with two options; stop, or keep going. Once you give up on something, it makes it a whole lot easier to give up on something else. Let’s be real, running is hard, and it’s taught me that you have to embrace adverse times because adversity introduces you to yourself. It’s really helped give my life balance and perspective.
Do you currently have a running or health goal for yourself?
I have very poor upper body strength. I’ve been trying to lift weights on a more regular basis.
What would you consider must have running gear?
A GPS watch is great, you can really track and see your progress. Good quality socks are a must as well.
If you are running alone do you listen to music?
I do. Sum 41, The Offspring, Bush, The Black Keys are some of my favorite.
How many days per week do you train?
Between 6-10x per week. That’s mixed with x-training and weight lifting. I’m ADHD so sometimes I might run a little more then I should. It keeps me focused for other work I need to get done though.
You are clearly an exceptional athlete and all of us normal humans admire your abilities. What advice would you give to somebody that wants to get healthier or reach a new level with their running?
Perseverance & consistency is the key. You don’t become the runner that you want to be by backing down every time the training gets physically painful. You have to become extremely self-aware of when the training gets hard, and at that point, you have to push, even if you don’t feel like it. The hardest thing about running both physically and mentally is connecting the two. The closer you can come to connecting both your mental strength to your physical abilities, hands down, the better of a runner you will become.
Have confidence in yourself. Even if you don’t know why you run, use running as a reason to find the answers!