Four years ago, Karin Munksgaard, a member of Apple Valley (MN) Moms on the Run, chose to challenge herself with running — something she thought she could never do. Not only is it something she learned how to do, but it's helped her thrive with new friendships, confidence, motivation and, despite a pandemic, her first half marathon.
Read our conversation with Karin and learn why she's an inspiring member.
Q: When did you join MOTR? Were you always a runner or was this a step outside your comfort zone?
A: I joined MOTR's Apple Valley chapter in 2017. I joined because I was in a place in my life where my friendships were changing and because of that, I was starting to feel lonely and sorry for myself. So I promised myself that instead of giving into that feeling, I was going to do something I never thought I could do. Becoming a runner was the thing I chose. It was the craziest, most challenging idea I could imagine at the time because I generally avoided running at all costs. Even a mile at that time seemed daunting.
Q: Tell us a little about your journey. We heard you ran your first half marathon on Halloween. Congrats! (I heard you were supposed to run this at Disney?)
A: I immediately took to MOTR because there were people of all abilities and levels. My fellow runners were encouraging and supportive no matter how short or long, fast or slow you could run. My first and longest-standing coach, Margarita Shmakova-Nadeau, always made it a positive experience for me and always reminded me "if you are here, you are a runner." I started to develop new friendships through MOTR and I learned to even enjoy running in the winter! (Being outside in the winter had previously ranked just above running on my list of least favorite activities.)
Pretty soon I was increasing my distances from 5Ks to 10Ks to a 10-mile run. I thought that was the longest I could ever possibly go, but then my husband (who unlike me, had always been a runner) talked me into a half marathon with the incentive that we could do it at Disney World. It became our New Year's Resolution for 2020.
Three days after registration for the half marathon, COVID lockdowns started and one by one, all of our training races were cancelled. But MOTR kept me running — even when we were only gathering virtually. In October, my husband and I decided to move forward with our race even though Disney had cancelled their in-person event. I mentioned our plans to Margarita and before I knew it, she had recruited my other coaches and a number of the MOTR runners to join us along our route for support and encouragement. We did it on Halloween, dressed up in costumes and ran around the chain of lakes in Minneapolis. My coach Brandy Watkinson and her husband stuck it out with us for the full 13.1, helping me stay positive, keeping me supplied with energy (snacks!), playing and supporting me as I pushed to cross the finish line.
MOTR has been a key to not only helping me discover something in myself I didn't know I had, but also introducing me to some amazing people whom I now call friends.
Q: Any surprises along the way regarding your training, etc?
A: Just COVID : -)
Q: Tell us a little about yourself. (Family, job, hobbies).
A: I'm a VP of Human Resources for a global information and software business. My husband and I have a blended family with four kids (16, 15, 14 and 5 -- she's the one pictured with me.) For hobbies, I'm proud to say running now.