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04.24 2015

#thankyoupaula

Racing Paula at the Great North Run.

Racing Paula at the Great North Run.

People often ask me what my greatest race has been in my career, and the answer is easy.  The best race of my career was when I ran 66:57 for the half-marathon at the 2007 Great North Run.  Not only did I run under the American Record, but I beat the one and only Paula Radcliffe.  This race of mine, of which I have never really lived up to, served two important purposes in my life.  It got me interested in running the marathon, and it lead to a friendship with Paula.

Posing with Paula before the 2008 NYC Marathon.

Posing with Paula before the 2008 NYC Marathon.

5 weeks after the Great North Run I sat on the media truck in NYC and watched the most impressive female athletic achievement I ever witnessed.  Into the wind Paula ran from the front pushing the pace and fighting her way to victory.  She was relentless and and I was in awe of this woman who was nearly sprinting through the streets of NYC for  26.2 miles.  After the race I sent her an email, telling her that watching her had changed my life.  I wanted to be as tough as her, I wanted to see if I could handle such an incredible athletic feat.  She was kind enough to write back immediately, and a friendship was born.

Of course I already knew a lot about Paula Radcliffe.  Multiple Olympic Teams, 2 World Senior Cross Country titles, a World Championship title in the marathon, and that jaw dropping 2:15:25 marathon world record.  I was already a huge fan and maybe a tad bit obsessed.  When she and her husband sat with Adam and I to have dinner the night before the Great North run, I could hardly speak.  I couldn’t believe that Paula Radcliffe was talking to me and I had a hard time getting words out.  Paula had given me hope and inspiration for years and to get to know her personally left me completely starstruck. 

Our sons had he same due date.

Our sons had he same due date.

Running together before the 2012 Olympic Games.

Running together before the 2012 Olympic Games.

Over time our relationship grew and in 2010, both in our first trimesters of our pregnancy, we trained together for months.  It was at this time that we became close.  I was stuck by how open and honest Paula was.  She encouraged me to chase my dreams and also allowed me to ask her about anything.  I asked her about the Athens Olympics and she painfully remembered it for me.  She told me all about her epic 2:15 marathon.  She told me about the good times and the bad.   She was an open book and I looked forward to our runs together.  They were a chance to gain more knowledge and to share experiences with a friend.  She became a mentor and trusted confidant.  I told her about my dreams, as silly as they might seem, and she listened and supported them.  The day after I found out my son might have Downs Syndrome, she cried tears of frustration with me.  She was a friend through and through, and I was terribly sad when she left to return to Europe.  This past November I ran the most difficult marathon of my life, and there was Paula again, comforting me, telling me the things I needed to hear.

Tomorrow Paula will run her last London Marathon.  I sincerely hope that she has the experience of a lifetime.  I hope that the fans lining the course know that they are witnessing the greatest of all time and that they appreciate her as she runs by.  I wish for my inspiration, mentor, and friend to have a run for the ages.  I hope she feels the love and admiration that we all feel for her.  Paula taught me that there are no limits in running or life, that if you dare to dream there is no end to what is possible.  She has changed my life in so many ways and I just want her to know how much I cherish who and what she is.  Paula, may you enjoy every last moment of this final marathon.

  

At the NYC Marathon 2014.

At the NYC Marathon 2014.

Much love and gratitude,

Kara

Comments

  1. Cate on April 25, 2015 6:27 am said:

    What a beautiful and loving tribute this is.
    I’m a few years senior to both you and Paula. I have admired and followed both of you in your running careers. I, too love running and what it has given me and continues to give me. Watching both of you have inspired me. I have a lot of grit if I do say so myself and I hope that never goes away. Thanks to both of you.

  2. Jacki Amato on April 25, 2015 7:13 am said:

    What a lovely tribute to Paula. I also am a big follower of both you and Paula over the years, and both of you have inspired me in my running dreams. My dreams of running races outside of Canada have come true as I see no limits where running can take me. Women of all ages are very lucky to have such amazing role models from you and Paula plus the other very strong and powerful women of the elite field in running. Thank you for making many dreams of the young and older come true. All the best tomorrow Paula as you run your last marathon in London, I will be cheering very loud from Canada!!

  3. Joanna D on April 25, 2015 7:50 am said:

    Right on Kara! Beautiful tribute to an amazing runner!

  4. Julie Bridges on April 25, 2015 7:54 am said:

    What a fantastic tribute, Paula is one of our much loved sporting legends. One thing I can assure is that every fan lining the 26.2 miles tomorrow or those sat in their living rooms watching on tv will be cheering Paula on every step of the way. She’s an inspiration and a role model to all women.

    I’ll never forget watching her run to victory in the Manchester Commonwealth Games, roared on by her adoring fans or the stunning WR all in London, her stand against drugs in sport and the heartbreak in Athens. You are an inspiration, we love you Paula and I wish you all the best for tomorrow in your last marathon x

  5. Siobhan Taylor on April 25, 2015 8:31 am said:

    I have Paula’s book and keep going back to it to keep my motivation up you are both very inspiring ladies. I will be watching Paula tomorrow hope she gets the run she deserves and the support from London which I know she will

  6. Sarah Lutz on April 25, 2015 12:21 pm said:

    this story sounds so familiar and brought tears to my eyes as so many of my most trusting relationships have grown through pounding the pavement. It is so comforting to hear not only is it like that for me but for you and Paula as elite, Olympic athletes. These friendships push us to be our best and pull us out when we feel the worst. I will be thinking and cheering for Paula as she closes a chapter but many more will open in the future for her. Thank you for such an insightful tribute Kara!

  7. @TwinsRun on April 26, 2015 2:34 am said:

    Paula continues to inspire!

  8. Kev Annan on April 26, 2015 4:59 am said:

    Such a sweet kind natured woman as well as a fantastic champion 🙂

  9. Shawanna White on April 28, 2015 9:04 am said:

    Awesome…I thought your win at Grandma’s was your greatest race of your career…

    • Grandma’s was the most memorable. But running 66:57 is my best athletic achievement.

  10. Brooks Alldredge on April 30, 2015 6:39 pm said:

    Paula lived in my neighborhood in Albuquerque and ran by my place every afternoon on her “slow” second run of the day. Watching her rip the trails in training at the Academy in 2004 and 2005 – the best distance runner, man or woman, of my lifetime in her prime – simply left us all in awe. And Kara, I was picking up my bib at the expo at the St. George Marathon in 2007 and was talking to one of your old college rivals who was there told me you beat Paula earlier that day at Great North. I was a doctor at Wardenburg at CU when you and Adam were running there and followed you for years afterwards and I told your “rival” that watching you race during the 2000 XC season was one of the most dominating I have ever seen. Still true today.

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