Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Strong Running Mama: Darlene Cardillo

This week, I bring you a totally inspirational Strong Running Mama: Darlene Cardillo!

Darlene is 60 years young and has two grown stepsons. She taught French for a number of years and is now an Instructional Technologist at a law school.

Running the Naples (FL) Half Marathon.

She is also very -- very -- active. In addition to her running, Darlene plays tennis once or twice a week, knits, quilts, reads, plays mah jongg, and fits in yoga when she can. But she makes a real effort to prioritize running:
"My running is very important to me and I am a type-A person.  So I plan all my runs each week.  I put them on my calendar(s) and post about them on my blog. I often re-arrange social activities to fit them into my running schedule and even plan vacations around races.  I am lucky to have a pretty understanding husband and friends.

I don’t own a treadmill but there is one where I work.  I hate running on it but sometimes in bad weather, it is the only way that I can squeeze my running (and if it’s on my calendar, I do it!). Watching a TV show on my iPad during the run makes it bearable (barely.)
I am currently paired (through IRUN4- www.whoirun4.com) with John Anthony, a special needs 9 year old.  This program has given my running new meaning. If ever I don’t feel like running, I think about him and out the door I go."
And this winter, for sure, has been rough so I'm sure that treadmill has come in handy -- especially because Darlene has a big race coming up soon:

"I am currently training for the LoveRun half marathon (Philadelphia) on March 30.  My hope is that I stay healthy and maybe regain some speed for shorter races this summer."
Speaking of races, Darlene runs tons of them. (I'm always amazed when I see that she has run yet another race -- I wish I could run as many as she does!) But she has good reasons to:
"Due to time restraints, pace and distance requirements, I find it easier to run alone.  Every now and then I do run with others and I enjoy it.

Running a lot of races helps to keep me connected to other runners."
Connecting at the Adirondack Half Marathon -- Darlene, me, Elisa, Amanda, Janis and Bridget

Some of Darlene's favorites:

Gear: "I prefer to run in running skirts.  I find them much more comfortable than shorts or capris.  Compression socks are essential for me. I wear them for long runs and races."

Place to run:  "During the week, I enjoy running around Washington Park (in Albany) since I work nearby.  On the weekend, my favorite places to run are the local bike paths – Corning, Niskayuna, and Colonie Town Park."


Race: "I enjoy both 5Ks and half marathons but for different reasons.  I love the feeling of accomplishment when I cross the finish line after completing 13.1 miles. I enjoy 5Ks because there are so many different ones to choose from so there are many opportunities to work on speed and maybe even win an AG award.

My favorite race is the Freihofer’s Run for Women.  First of all, it is ALL women – all ages, all sizes, veterans, newbies, elites, walkers.  When I ran it the first year that I started running (2008), it made feel like a “real” runner. Being part of the SRM’s first 5k (2010) made me so proud. Finishing it after suffering a serious injury (2012) helped me believe that I could be a runner again. And finally last year, completing it with a broken foot showed me how strong (or maybe stubborn) I was."

Yep, you read that right: Darlene ran the Freihofer's Run for Women on a broken foot. She's one tough mama!!

At the Mother's Day 5K.

Which brings me to injuries. We've all had them and Darlene is no exception. She's strained her Achilles tendon, and dealt with both a stress fracture and a broken bone in her foot. For each injury, she had to take 6-8 weeks off from running. Eventually, though, she was able to come back. When she was dealing with her worst injury, though, Darlene wasn't so sure she'd ever run again:
"My most serious injury was slipping on the ice during a long solo run and breaking several bones in my ankle, which then required surgery. Besides being painful, there was a lot of doubt about whether or not I would be able to run again.  I am not sure that I dealt with it well but I tried to remain positive and patient. I now realize that if you are a runner, injuries will happen. You don’t give up, you heal and then you return to running. Each injury makes you a stronger runner and person."
So, so true. I remember when Darlene suffered that injury and, man, it was horrible. Everyone in our running group felt awful for her -- but we also knew that if anyone was going to be able to overcome a terrible injury, it was Darlene. And, she proved us right!

I asked Darlene to talk about her most memorable running achievement.  Here's what she said:
"That would definitely be my first half marathon.  I didn’t tell my friends that I was doing it.  I had only raced 5Ks up to that point and they wouldn’t have understood.

The race also took place in Naples, Fla, my favorite vacation spot (where I go annually with my tennis friends.) It took place on my wedding anniversary and my hubby was there waiting for me at the finish line.

When I finished, I couldn’t believe that I had run 13.1 miles and I couldn’t wait to sign up for another.

I have to thank the Strong Running Mamas (SRMs) for their inspiration.  In their first year of running, they had run 5Ks, then a 10K and were training for a half marathon. I was supposedly the veteran runner and I was only training for 5Ks. I thought to myself “If they can do it, so can I!!”  So, thanks SRMs!!"
Darlene is right -- that group that started running in 2010 was -- and is -- inspirational. But, here's the thing: So is Darlene. She was a big help getting that group going, showing up for group runs and generally being supportive and encouraging! So, thank you, Darlene!

After the 2013 Mohawk-Hudson Half Marathon with Jen, Darlene, me, Karyn and Eileen.

Darlene's PRs:

5K: 27:30
15K: 1:36:08
half-marathon: 2:22:39

What Strong Running Mama means to Darlene:

“Strong Running Mama means being the best runner I can be.  That means setting my own goals.  I am older so my goals may be different than other runners’.  It means recovering from bad runs and injuries with a positive attitude.

The more I run, the younger I feel.  It’s my own personal time machine.

Strong Running Mama also means being part of an incredible supportive group of women of all ages and running abilities."

I love this: "The more I run, the younger I feel. It's my own personal time machine." It is the truth! So, keep running, Darlene. I know you will!!


You can follow Darlene's running adventures here:

Blog – myfirst5k.wordpress.com
Twitter - @dcardillo
Facebook – www.facebook.com/pages/My-First-5K-and-More
Instagram - @dsc59

Thanks for sharing a little of your running story, Darlene. And thanks, everyone, for reading!


3 comments:

GoddessLibrarian said...

Go Darlene! Your blog often makes me tired with all the stuff you do! :-)

Darlene said...

Thanks Felice for posting this.

ajh said...

Go Darlene! I find her very inspiring!

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