Bonnie Sons, 42 of Shorewood, is arguably one of the most consistent runners around. As the weather cools (hopefully) and fall approaches, Bonnie finds herself in the thick of the Runner of the Year rankings for 40-44 year olds. Although she hasn’t been thrilled with her racing in 2007, she seems to be coming around at the right time, having run 37:23 at the Victory 10K on Labor Day. In addition to being honest about her racing, she’s honest about her weaknesses. Read on to find out what they are. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Kryduba.)
When and how did you get involved with running?
I started running track in 7th grade. My cousin who lived a half mile down the road was joining the middle school track team and wanted me to join so we could carpool…so I did. I primarily ran the 400 until my junior year when my coach convinced me to try cross country. It turned out I loved cross country. From that point on I’ve been running the longer distances.
Can you briefly recap some of your accolades while at Iowa State and since?
Highlights from college include Big 8 10K champion, current ISU record holder for the 10K, 3-time NCAA Div. I All-American, 2nd place team finish at NCAA Div. I Cross Country Nationals, participant in the exhibition 10K at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, TAC 10K champion, 2-time participant in the Olympic Festival Games. After college, I qualified for and ran the 2000 Olympic marathon trials. Currently, I try to remain competitive as a local master’s runner. I have been running for the Run ‘N Fun race team since the store opened 15+ years ago.
What are your PRs?
Mile - 4:55 (road)
3,000 - 9:35 (track)
5,000 - 16:21 (track)
10,000 – 32:50.79 (track)
Marathon – 2:46:52
You’ve been praised for maintaining your consistency year after year. What do you attribute that to?
I believe my racing consistency is partly due to my training consistency. I (knock on wood) have been fairly injury-free which has allowed me to train year after year. I try to be very aware of the little aches and pains and address them before they turn into something major. Probably the biggest reason for my consistency is having a husband and family that are extremely supportive of my running and racing. My husband Chris [Celichowski] writes my workouts and tries to make sure we juggle our schedules so I have time to get out the door and train. The kids are my cheerleaders.
What is your training philosophy?
My training philosophy is simple. Focus on getting in those couple key workouts each week and everything else is frosting on the cake. I don’t have set days when I do workouts, I just squeeze them in around my work schedule and the kids’ activities. I strive to make sure each run has a purpose.
Always near the top of the Runner of the Year standings, how do you feel about your racing so far this year?
My racing this year has been mediocre. Recently, I have been more encouraged about my training and race performances. Hopefully I can finish out the year strong.
What goals do you have for the rest of the year?
I am planning to run Twin Cities Marathon and maybe a few cross country races. Even though I am a masters runner I still really enjoy cross country…guess it makes me think I’m back in college.
What do you consider your strengths? Weaknesses?
Durability is probably my greatest strength. I am grateful I have not experienced an injury that has sidelined me for an extended period of time. Another strength is probably mental toughness and the ability to focus. When the gun goes off, the “mom” hat is replaced with the “runner” hat. I don’t hear or see much when I race.
Weaknesses include dark chocolate and Salted Nut Rolls. Oh...you mean running weaknesses. Well, those would include speed workouts and stretching. I know they are both things I need to work on but somehow I just don’t spend the time I should on either of them. That can be my New Year’s resolution for 2008.
In addition to your own running, you have 2 children that are actively involved in running. What advice do you have for other parents whose kids are interested in running?
If your child expresses an interest in running, take them to a road race and have them watch. There is so much excitement and energy at races to inspire people of all ages to try running. Have them try a very short distance kid’s race, something that will give them the confidence and desire to run another one. Run with them if they would like. Most kids love the experience and will be eager to try another. Be an example for your child. Start running. Take them on a very short run with you. Young children do not need to run long distances. As they get older, encourage them to try cross country and/or track regardless if their goal is to be a recreational runner or world class athlete.
You and your husband started a track club in Minnetonka. How long has the club been around and who else is involved?
Chris and I started the Minnetonka Running Club for kids 7 years ago. For the first few years, it was just the two of us leading the club, but as our numbers grew we recruited the help of Jeff Renlund, the Minnetonka High School boy’s cross country coach. We have approximately 100 children that participate each year now.
What is the goal of the club?
Our goal is to encourage kids to be active and introduce them to the sport of running/track and field while having fun at the same time. We run relays on the track, do the high jump, long jump, obstacle courses, running games, short trail runs, etc. We also invite the parents to join along with the activities. It’s a great way for families to exercise together. We keep the atmosphere very light-hearted. Many high school sports have ‘feeder’ programs that start when children are very young. Cross country and track and field don’t typically have programs for grade school age children. This is our way of exposing children to these sports.
Have you guys been happy with your efforts?
We have been extremely happy with the club. Volunteering to do something you are passionate about is very rewarding. The smiles and laughs from the children really warm your heart and make every moment enjoyable. We also receive very positive feedback from the parents and the community. Now we are starting to see some of the kids who were in running club when they were younger competing in high school, which is exciting, too.
What is your fondest running memory?
I have so many. Unfortunately, my fondest memory is also my saddest. Our ISU cross country team came out of nowhere to finish second in the 1985 NCAA Div. I cross country meet in Milwaukee. Each individual on our team ran a great race – a true team effort. The second place finish exceeded our highest expectations. The entire team was in disbelief and overwhelmed with joy. Hours later the plane carrying my head coach (Ron Renko), assistant coach (Pat Moynihan), student trainer (Stephanie Streit), and three teammates (Julie Rose, Sheryl Maahs and Sue Baxter) crashed on approach just short of the DesMoines airport and everyone on board died. It went from a day of total triumph to utter tragedy. I have tears of joy and sadness every time I remember the day.
Do you have a favorite local and/or national race?
Some of my favorite local races include Human Race, Get in Gear, Victory 10K, Twin Cities Marathon or 10 mile. Outside Minnesota, I really like Dam to Dam 20k (Des Moines), Fifth Season 8K(Cedar Rapids) and Midnight Madness 10K(Ames).
If you could run with any Minnesotan, past or present, who would it be?
When I was younger, I admired and looked up to Janis Klecker. What an honor it would be to run with an Olympian. It is ironic that now I run with her weekly. She accomplished so much as a runner and is content now to focus on her family and career. We use our runs to share the joys and challenges of parenting.
Finally, what do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started running?
Days off are a wonderful thing.