Monday, December 17, 2012


If you think about it, the top runners in the area are usually the same, year after year.  Typically, we don't see people come out of "no where" and win Minnesota's Runner of the Year award for their age-group. However, Kathi Madden did just that this year in the 55-59 age group.  Not only did the 55 year old Duluth resident win her first title, she took down perennial champ, Janet Rosen, in the process.  In this interview, Madden explains what some motivation and an actual training program can do for your running.  Of course, a little extra free time doesn't hurt either. 

How and at what age did you get involved with running?
I started running in the 10th grade at Duluth Central. To be honest, I had not given much thought to running until I saw this handsome boy in my homeroom that ran on the track team. I decided the best way to meet him would be to try out for track. Little did I know that it would become a lifelong passion.

Did success come quickly for you?
I have always been an ok runner…not great. During all those years running I never really pushed myself. I ran for my enjoyment.

You mentioned that a few years ago you decided to try and qualify for Boston. What was your best marathon before trying to qualify? Was there any particular reason you decided to try to qualify for Boston?
My favorite distances up until around 2008 were the half marathon or less. Around that time I decided to try a marathon. Initially I hated the long runs but they soon became a new challenge and I began to appreciate them for what they are, which is a test of mind and body endurance. I decided to try to qualify for Boston, using it solely as motivation. Surprisingly, I was successful the first time I tried at Grandma’s 2010. I then qualified again at the TC marathon, 2010. My best marathon was 3:47 Grandma’s 2011.

What changes did you make to your training and how did your performances perform?
Even though I have been running since high school, there certainly have been some periods of my life that left little time for running. But I never gave it up completely. I finished my Doctorate degree in 2009 and since then I have had much more time for training and I started to become more serious about improving my running times. The last two years I added speed work to my training and started following training programs to prepare for races, especially marathons. Those two additions have done a lot to improve my times. I also have a friend that loves to mathematically predict what times I could run. These predictions give me times to shoot for.

Not only did you win the Runner of the Year award for 55-59 year olds this year, but in the process you defeated Janet Rosen who has won 8 of the last 9 years. Were you even aware of the Runner of the Year rankings and the elite company you were competing against?
Early in the year a couple teammates told me about the Runner of the Year. I did not know anything like that existed. I have always tried to improve my running times, but not against anybody else. My birthday is July 31, and I turned 55 this summer so the running season was broken in half by my birthday. Some suggested I try to win both 50-54 and 55-59, but I moved in July and missed a few critical races before my birthday.

I met Janet Rosen in the spring of 2012. I had no idea how good she was or what her past records were. Once I saw I was running close to her times I was shocked. The first time I passed her I was stunned. We finished very close in many races this year. I know the competition between us will continue to push us even more.

You compete with the Northwoods team, what has that done for your running?
In the spring of this year, a friend hooked me up with Austin Jarrow’s Northwoods race team out of Duluth. Not only did the team events force me to run distances I never would have, I found people on the team were paying attention to my times. This instantly motivated me. Once I found I could improve my times and be competitive with others my age, I trained harder and pushed myself more.

What are your PRs from this year?

1M - 6:06 (55-59)
8K - 37:09 (50-54)
10K - 45:06 (55-59)
10M - 1:13:38 (55-59)
Half - 1:37:08 (55-59)
Marathon - 3:47:11 (50-54)

Given that PR’d at nearly every race this year, how do you improve upon that in 2013? What are your goals for next year?
I will train harder and focus on improving my weakness, which is SPEED TRAINING!  My main running goal in 2013 is to run sub-3:30 at Boston.

What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
My strengths are my love of running and my stubbornness. My weakness is my dislike of speed training.

What is your fondest running memory?
My fondest memories of running are the days when I feel good…really good. Some runs are great because of the location or weather, but the best days are when I am physically and mentally connected to the run. There is a great joy that comes with running those days.

Do you have a favorite local race?
My favorite local races are Grandma’s Marathon and TC-10 mile.

If you could run with any Minnesotan, past or present, who would it be?
I also have fond memories of running with the guys and girls in high school. They are the people that introduced me to the competition and fun of running. These are the same people I would choose to run with now if I could.

Finally, what do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started running?
I wish I had known earlier in life to surround myself and run with people that have similar goals. Up to last spring I have always run alone. Hooking up with other runners has been so much fun. They motivate and push me.

1 comment:

Jess said...

Kathi is great new energy on our Northwoods team. We're lucky to have her!
But, I'm bothered by one detail. I was dating Kathi in HS and she never mentioned no "handsome boy" on the track team to me!