2020 in the Eyes of Kara Schlueter

What words come to mind when you think of the year 2020?

Exciting, challenging, adventurous

What have been your greatest successes this year?

I ran my first marathon this year. I ran the Monument Marathon out in Scottsbluff in September. I signed up for two different marathons before this one but the other two ended up going virtual. I really wanted to run my first marathon this year because it was one of my training goals for 2020. This one out in Scottsbluff was going to be in-person so I signed up and continued to train, hoping it would not go virtual. The race happened in-person but it was a brutal race. I did not run anywhere near what I wanted but the conditions were terrible, so it was a success just to cross the finish line. I was running in 80-degree temperatures (it was supposed to be in the low 50s at the start of the race). By the time I ended the race it was in the upper 80s along with 30 mph straight winds with gusts over 40 mph, and to top it off, massive hills throughout the course.  About 10 miles into the race I started having terrible pain on the top of my foot. I thought about pulling out at the halfway mark but decided to push on since I drove all that way to run a marathon. I cannot describe how happy I was to cross the finish line. All I wanted to do was down a few bottles of water and take off my shoe.  

What have been your biggest challenges this year?

My biggest challenge this year is coming back from the foot injury I developed from the marathon. It has taken almost three months to come back from. I developed very bad tendonitis on the top of my foot. I had about three weeks with no running and I could barely walk. I thought I may have a stress fracture in my foot but luckily that was not the case. I started adding running in very slowly (a quarter-mile at a time) just to see how it would feel. It caused some pain and discomfort while running but nothing compared to what I experienced during the marathon. It has been a challenge because I find it very difficult to deal with an injury and this particular one has made me regret pushing to run a marathon this year. However, I have thought a lot about this the past three months and the marathon was my greatest success and with not much racing, it is a good time to just enjoy running and not worry about doing workouts.

During a year where racing has taken a back seat, talk about what running has looked like for you over the last several months.

I had many races planned for the spring and for 2020 overall but once all of that got canceled, my coach decided we should do more base training. It turned out to be a good thing because I did not get to do much base training in the wintertime due to me spending my runs fixing my stride. I decided to do this because I wanted to go through a marathon build-up and remain pretty much injury-free. I have a reoccurring ankle injury that pops up when I increase mileage so fixing my stride was one way to help with this. After a couple of months of base training, my body told me it had enough, and I took a week off to let it recover and then started my normal summer race training routine except I included longer weekend runs to help get me in shape for the marathon I planned on running. I did get to do some races this year, a 5k in July, the Lincoln Mile, the marathon in September, and a Turkey Trot. Right now I am just doing easy runs to allow my foot to completely heal. I hope to be back to workouts at the end of this month. 

Have you been doing primarily solo running, or have you been able to meet up with people?

Solo. I usually run by myself all the time because it gives me a chance to think, but I don’t mind having company on long runs.

What are some things about running that 2020 has made you appreciate more?

2020 has made me enjoy the process of training. I enjoyed getting out there every day and doing my run or workout even if there wasn’t a race on the calendar. I appreciate my body more and what it does for me. I realized with not having many races that I need to listen to it more closely and give it a lighter training week if it’s telling me to.  

This year has required many of us to be home, instead of out and about doing normal things.  How have you spent some of that extra time?

I have spent more time riding my horse and going on trail rides in different places in Nebraska. My mom and I like to ride horses together and we went riding almost every day we could since March. We even adventured to different places in Nebraska to go trail riding. I also spend more time with my dogs. We got a new puppy in August, so I have been enjoying more time with him.

In an era where there is a lot of information moving quickly at all times, how do you stay grounded in your beliefs?

The people I surround myself with help me stay grounded. I have found a great group of friends who share the same faith and values as me which has been a great part of 2020. Also, taking a break from social media has really helped me cope with all of the challenges this year.

Who have you relied on the most this year for inspiration?

My mom has been a great source of inspiration for me. She has been with me to every race I have run and was there during my marathon cheering me on. Seeing her during that race helped me push through the pain I was feeling to finish. My coach has also given me inspiration. He has helped me through the setbacks in training and the injuries I have encountered. He helps me work through the challenge of injuries and pushes me to better myself.

What is your biggest hope for 2021?

I am hoping for normalcy if that is even a thing anymore. I am also hoping to run another marathon or two.

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