Friday 22 November 2013

Inspirational Women Who Run... Introducing Kathryn Thornton.

Readers, today I'd like to introduce you to Kathryn. Her story is a little bit different because she is a lawyer who lives in Yangon. She's a marathoner and an amazingly accomplished woman. I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did! 

Please meet Kathryn!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I am a 31-year old Aussie lawyer living the expat dream in Yangon, Myanmar (or Burma, depending on your political persuasion).  I work for a large international law firm.

I love to travel, to laugh, to spend quality time with my loved ones, and to run.

How did you get into running?
My dad first recognised that I was a bit of a runner when I competed in my first school cross country race at 7 years of age.  It was perhaps more the promise of a Walkman than any real talent that got me onto the podium.  As a child, winter afternoons were spent cross country training with dad and my siblings in the paddocks on our farm, and summers were spent at Little Athletics carnivals.  I really only had an aptitude for long distance.  The sight of a discus, a shot put, a set of hurdles or a high jump bar still makes me queasy.  

Although I didn't run seriously throughout most of my high school and university years, I was encouraged to pick it back up in 2011 after joining a new gym with an active running club.  I improved relatively quickly, grew in confidence and rediscovered my love for the sport.  I entered several races, set myself certain goals and the rest is history!

What do you love about running?
For me, running is sheer freedom.  Running is “me-time”, it is my escape.  There are no phone calls, emails or other disturbances.  It is just me and the music! 

You live in Yangon and travel frequently to Bangkok for work. Does that make to run. How do you manage that?
Travelling frequently for work to hot and humid destinations makes it quite difficult to run outdoors.  I am unable to run at the moment due to a knee injury, but when I am injury-free, my ideal week would be two 10kms runs (either outdoors or on a treadmill) and one longer Sunday morning run.

So what is the running scene like in Yangon? Is there a running scene?
There is a weekly Hash House Harrier run which I have done on several occasions. I am not a regular Hash Runner, however, as I am not a fan of running in the 30+ temp of a Saturday afternoon!  A complete control freak, I prefer the solace of an early morning (albeit not always cooler) run.

When was your first marathon? How was that?
My first and only marathon to date was the Gold Coast Marathon in 2012.  Finishing the marathon was truly a pivotal event for me at pivotal point in my life – the run fell a week before my 30th birthday and my departure date for Yangon (the latter being on a short 2 weeks’ notice).

Having been through a rough couple of years that knocked my self-confidence, I desperately wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of achieving anything I set my mind to.  Crossing that finish line (in 40 minutes under my goal time) was highly emotional – I was capable, I was worthy, I was a marathoner!

What kind of training did you do to get to the start line?
I followed the Pat Carroll training diary issued by the Gold Coast Marathon, which I supplemented with a number of marathon books.  Whilst I didn't have a running coach, I was mentored by my personal trainer at the time (from Vision Personal Training, Drummoyne) who has since gone on to run a marathon himself.

So do you think you will do another marathon anytime soon?
Yes, most definitely!  I am out with a knee injury at present, but Singapore 2014 could well be on the cards.

Do you think you will keep running, or now you’ve ticked “marathon” off your bucket list, are you looking for a new challenge? (Or is being in Yangon enough of a challenge?)
Living and working in Yangon is definitely a challenge, albeit a very rewarding one.  I do not particularly enjoy running in tropical climates and my body still hasn’t adapted to running more than 17km since moving to Yangon – it still feels as though the breaks are well and truly “on”.  I am hoping that this will pass!

What motivates you to keep running?
Knowing that a good run will clear my head and set me up for a productive day.  Running around Yangon’s Shwe Dagon Pagoda pre-dawn as the novice monks file past collecting their morning alms is the highlight of my day.

Is there anything that you hate about running?
Yes!  The early mornings, the aches and pains, the chafing (!), the discomfort of my body shutting down when I’ve timed my gels incorrectly.  What I hate even more, however, is not being able to run.  Having been unable to run for 4 months now, I am eagerly awaiting my first post-injury run!

What have you learnt from being a runner?
Running has taught me a few lessons: (a) Like days generally, there are good runs and bad runs.  Not every run will be a good run, and that is ok! (b)  That being able to run is a real blessing.  A marathon coach who posted motivational videos online before the 2012 Gold Coast Marathon suggested that when it gets the point on a run when you feel like giving up, look straight ahead and be thankful that you can run.  Such valuable advice!  (c)  That I am capable of anything I set my mind to, and that I am so much stronger and more determined than I had previously given myself credit for.  

What advice would you give someone who was thinking of doing their first marathon?
Plan well, train well, nourish your body properly and go for it.  You’ll never look back! 
Kathryn is on the left - at Port Macquarie 1/2 marathon 2012. I've never seen anyone so happy who is just about to start a race!

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