Katie Stefaniak, Michigan, 33, Custodian

What inspired you to start doing races?

katie1My husband and I were told several years ago that if we didn’t loose weight, we may never have kids. After being told that we started working out and thought that races were a good way for us to keep ourselves motivated to continue. We did our first 5k and became addicted to them. We are still working on losing enough weight to have the family we have always wanted and running is a big part of our lives.

Do you walk, run or run/walk, swim, cycle, do obstacles?

I started out walking and then I decided one day that I was tired of being the last person to finish races. The next day in the newspaper, I saw an article from the local running club that would train you to run the St. Patrick’s Day 5k in four weeks.  I decided to try it and loved it and have run ever since. I also like to swim, cycle, and do obstacles.

What distances do you do?

I have done many 5k’s, 8k’s, 10k’s, one full marathon and I am training for my third half marathon.

How many have you done?

I have done so many over the last nine years, I have lost track. I normally do around 20 races of all dkatieandhusband1ifferent distances a year.

What do you feel is your greatest race accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishment was crossing the finish line at my first marathon last year at Disney World. A lot of people, while supportive, thought this would be impossible to achieve. With a lot of hard work, I was able to prove them wrong, but also prove to myself that with a little hard work … I could do anything.

Favorite race and why?

It is hard to pick just one. I loved the Disney World Marathon because all of the characters and people on the course made you forget about the fatigue and pain and made the race memorable. The other race that I look forward to every year is the Mackinac Island Lilac 10k! It is a beautiful island and running along the shore line makes for a beautiful view. The island doesn’t allow cars, so the only things to look out for are people on bikes and horse drawn carriages. It has a challenging hill at the beginning, then you run through the center of the island getting to see all of the historic places on the island, and the race finishes along the lake shore line with views of the Mackinaw Bridge.

Do you travel for races?

Yes, mostly in the state of Michigan, but we are always looking for destination races for a “runcation”.

Does your race schedule become expensive? How do you afford to make it happen?

Yes, it does get pricey, but we have so much fun that I don’t mind the cost. My husband and I pay for most of our races with our tax returns and the rest we save a little out of our paychecks and register early to get the best deals.

Must-have gear on race day:

The gear that is a must-have is a comfortable pair of shoes and my iPod.

Weirdest place you’ve ever chafed:

I don’t know about weirdest place, but I have chafed it seems, everywhere it is possible.

Do you prefer to run in warm weather or cold weather?

I love to run in all kinds of weather. Being from Michigan, I have learned to adapt to running in very cold weather and very hot weather and everything in between. The coldest run I have done was -10 and the hottest run was 102.

Favorite pre-race meal/snack:

My favorite pre-race snack is a banana, Gatorade and shot blocks.

Weirdest/funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a race:

I would say the funniest thing I have experienced at a race are the costume ideas people come up with.

Worst experience during a race:

The worst experience I have had during a race was last year after coming home from the marathon. The first race I did, I had to run/walk because I was still sore and a guy came up and stopped me and accused me of cheating because I would run when I could and then walk when I had to.  He insisted that walkers were not allowed to run. I explained that I signed up as a runner, but was sore so I was taking a walk break and he said I was a liar and cheater cause real runners don’t take walk breaks. I was so mad that I had been accused of cheating and he slowed me down to bring this to my attention.

Most awesome moment you’ve ever had at a race:

The most awesome moment at a race was crossing the finish line at my first 5k. I never saw myself as a runner and to do something I didn’t think was possible was so amazing!

Your favorite part of participating in races:

My favorite part of participating in races is when total strangers cheer you on and congratulate you on finishing. Runners are so supportive of each other!

Do you wear costumes? If so, what’s been your favorite? katieandhusbanddressedup1

Yes, I love to dress up for themed races! My favorite was when we were made up to look like zombies for a Running Dead race.

How important are awesome medals to you?

I love to get finisher medals. I hang them up and they remind me of all I have accomplished.

Best medal you’ve earned so far:

The best medal I have earned so far was my Mickey Marathon medal because it symbolizes a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and hard work.

Do you prefer to run alone or with a buddy?

I love to run with my husband! He is my biggest support and anything we can do together that we both enjoy only brings us closer together!

Favorite song on your playlist:

My favorite song on my playlist is “How Bad Do You Want It” by Tim McGraw.

Who is your race hero and why?

I don’t really have one specific race hero.  I would say the people I admire the most are the people that are out there that maybe overweight and you wouldn’t consider them a runner, but are out there giving it their all to get exercise and improve their health.

What is the top race on your bucket list?

The top race on my bucket list is the Maui Half Marathon.katieandmedal1

What has been the best physical side effect of your participation in races?

The best physical side effect of racing is the runners high I get and how happy I feel about the progress I have made in improving my health.

Your advice for others who might be intimidated by signing up for a race:

Sign up for a race, train for it, then show up and give it your all! There is no better feeling than crossing the finish line of a race. Runners are all supportive of each other and no one is made to feel bad about their time or pace. Races are a fun way of getting in your exercise for the day and making new friends that share your passion for health.

Anything else you’d like to add?

The Hottie Body Fitzness Challenge group and Fitz are awesome! Having all of this support makes every day so much better! Having the workouts given to me on Facebook takes out the guess of what to do and of how much at the gym has kept me going. Before, I would have given up, but now I have something to look forward to every day.