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March 2018-Chris Kaitfors & Hillary Hill

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself. (Where you’re from, what you’re doing now…etc)

Chris: I grew up in the Black Hills, have lived in Whitewood most of my life, graduated from BHSU in 1978 with a teaching degree in English and math, but ended up with a career in radio.  I am currently the senior account exec at KBHB Radio in Sturgis.  I have been married for almost 40 years to my husband Ray, and have three children, Hillary, Tyler and Kelsey.

Hillary: I grew up in Whitewood, and have also lived in Whitewood most of my life.  I graduated from Chadron State College in 2003 with a teaching degree in Music Ed and Elementary Ed.  I have been married to my husband Bob for 15 years, and we have two daughters, Grace (10) and Addison (8).  I am currently the music teacher at Sturgis Elementary School, and I have been there for 11 years (of my 15- year teaching career.)

Q: How long have you been running and how did you get started?

Chris:  I have been running for about 11 years.  I started in 2007 as a way to lose weight and keep it off.  I initially lost about 50 pounds, and running has been my salvation in keeping it off.   Initially, I didn’t think I could even run half a mile, and was thrilled when I reached the 3-mile mark.  I just kept building from there.

Hillary: I started running the summer of 2012, so about 5 ½ years ago.  My mom had been trying to convince me for a few years that I should get into running.  My daughter Grace was also interested in starting to run (she was 5 at the time), so the two of us started a couch to 5K training.  I ran my first 5K (the Turkey Trot) in November of 2012, and since then have enjoyed running lots of races with friends and family.

Q: Would you rather run with a group or alone?

Chris:  Group runs are fun, but because I live in Whitewood, I generally run with Hillary, or by myself a lot.  I don’t mind running alone.  It often gives me time to think.

Hillary: I like running with my mom, and/or my daughters, but when our schedules don’t match up, I don’t mind running alone.  Sometimes I come up with great lesson plan ideas for school while running alone. I do all of my training runs with my dog, Wrigley.  She has boundless energy!

Q: Do you prefer roads or trails?  

Chris:  I like all runs, but especially like the diversity of the trail runs, the technical aspect of it, and also getting to enjoy the beauty of the hills.  I feel like trail runs are a great way to stay mentally sharp, because you really have to pay attention a lot more than you do on flat surfaces.

Hillary: There are definitely road races that I enjoy a lot, as well as trail runs, but I also really enjoy the beauty and challenge of trail runs.

Q: What is your favorite distance or race?

Chris: I like half marathons because they are long enough to be a challenge of endurance, but I love some of the trail runs, especially Mystic, because it’s a challenge of sheer stamina, especially when it’s 90+ degrees!  I also love running the Bolder Boulder because the whole event is such a circus!  It’s just so much fun to be part of it.  The best runs are the ones I get to run with friends and family!

Hillary: My favorite distance is probably the half marathon.  It’s a challenge for me to work up to, and keeps me motivated in my training.  I really like the Mickelson Half and the Leading Ladies Half.  I also enjoy running the Bolder Boulder.  Another race I really enjoy is the final 5K at the end of our Girls on the Run season.  I am a coach (along with my mom, and soon-to-be-sister-in-law Maggie) of this wonderful organization, and it is so rewarding to see the girls (grades 3-5) complete a 5K (for many of them, their first ever) after working hard to train for 10 weeks.

Q: How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?

Chris:  When I started this journey in the fall of 2006, I told myself that my mantra was “No Excuses,” and I still try to live by that.  There are always times to back off, when you’re injured or exhausted.  You have to listen to your body.  But I usually remind myself that I’m going to feel great after I run.

Hillary: I just go register for a half marathon!  Haha!  In all seriousness, if I feel like my training has been lacking, signing up for a big race forces me to make my training a priority in my busy schedule. I don’t want to struggle through the race, so I know by registering,  I will have to get more training time in. Once I pay my registration and make that commitment, it renews my “running brain,” and kicks me into gear.

Q: If I didn’t run I’d ………..

Chris: Just keep moving….walk, hike, bike.  I just know that as I age, staying fit and healthy will make my “Golden Years” a lot more golden!

Hillary: Go hiking…or work on my figure skating (another sport I coach).  Certainly no activities that involve throwing or catching…I have no coordination for that!

Q: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?

Chris: The fact that I feel much younger!  It’s not easy getting out there on days that you’re tired or in a bad mood, but it’s the best way to turn a bad day around.  I feel like it is my secret weapon for keeping me mentally and physically fit for years to come.

Hillary:  The knowledge of how far I have come in 5 ½ years!  I always used to hate running, as a kid, teenager, and young adult.  I never, ever ran for any reason, except when I had to for PE class.  When I started at age 31, every day I completed my couch to 5K app I was really amazed that I could even do that.  I was really excited and surprised when I was able to complete my first 5K, then later my first 10K, and first half marathon.  I always viewed myself as “just not athletic at all,” and running has shown me that even if I’m not very fast at all (which I’m not!  My goal is always to not be last crossing the finish line!), I can feel proud of my progress as a runner.  My motto is always, “Well, I beat everyone who is at home sitting on their couch!”

Q: What is your favorite running memory?

Chris:  It’s hard to pick just one!  Running my first 5K ever with my son Tyler in May 2008, (I was really nervous), and I won my age group!  Finishing my first half marathon when I had never run farther than 8 miles in my life!  Running Mystic on my 60th Birthday with Hillary, my sister Patrice, and my son Tyler (who would point out that he started running races with me before Hillary did!)

Hillary: I have a lot, but one that sticks out is running the Mickelson Relay Race last summer with our four generation team:  my grandma, my mom, my aunt Patrice, myself, and my daughter Grace.  My 84-year-old grandma wasn’t too sure about it, but we talked her into participating (my sister Kelsey went with her), and my brother Tyler ran Grace’s leg with her, since she was only 10 and we didn’t want her getting lost in the woods.  It was an amazing experience, and we were all so excited to cross the finish line together at the end of my Grandma’s leg of the race.  I was so happy and proud of my team that day!

Q: Do you have a pre-race ritual?

Chris:  Getting up early enough to not feel rushed.  Eating a banana and Belvita or Peanut Butter Clif Bar.

Hillary: Getting up just early enough to not stress out my mom when she’s on her way to pick me up for the race 😉  She likes to be early, and I am not very good at mornings!  If it’s really early in the morning that we have to leave Whitewood for a race, I sometimes shower the night before and sleep in my running clothes to save time the next morning. (My mom thinks that’s really weird!) I usually call my mom the night before and ask her what kind of running clothing she is wearing, based on the weather, so I can figure out what I need to wear.  I eat a clif bar, and figure out if I need to bring gels, water bottles, etc.

Q: What are your running goals for the future?

Chris:  I am contemplating running another marathon.  I have only run one full marathon at age 59 four years ago, and would like to do one more before I hang up my running shoes.  Other than that, I try to get in 20 to 25 road and trail races throughout the year.

Hillary:  Well, I would like to complete the triple dog dare this summer, but I am kind of leary about the 18K for the Lean Horse.  I typically run Crazy Horse and Mickelson half marathons anyway, so it’s just one more race.  I’m just worried because I’ve never run more than 13 miles.  Someday I’d like to run a full marathon.

Q: Who inspires you most?

Chris:  I am inspired by all of my family members who now run.  12 years ago, none of us were running, and now it has become a new family pastime. My husband is my biggest supporter, driver, and race photographer.  I am also inspired by incredibly talented, fast runners who set the bar high.

Hillary: I am very inspired by my mom.  She’s the one who got me started and is constantly motivating me to sign up for races and get out and train. When we’re running, she motivates me to go faster, push my limits, improve my pace.  I’m always chasing her down the road, just trying to keep up! My brother Tyler helped inspire me to start running, and improve my running, through his example and his pep talks.   I am also inspired by my husband Bob, who is extremely supportive of my running and my running goals.  He sometimes surprises me with new running gear or boxes of clif bars.  He tells me that he is so proud of me for setting a good example of health for our daughters.  I am also inspired by my daughters, Grace and Addison.  They are always working on their running goals also, and wanting to grow as runners.

Q: What advice do you have for new runners?

Chris:  Take it slow, and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Celebrate every new accomplishment, and build on your previous successes.  Also, you are never too old to start running!

Hillary: Set goals, sign up for races, make a training plan.  If you can dream it, you can do it!  Believe in yourself!