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Going the Extra Mile(s)

Published in Inside CentraCare Author: Sarah J. Kemp, APRN, CNP

Editor’s Note: Sarah Kemp, APRN, CNP, is a nurse practitioner at CentraCare Health Paynesville’s clinic in Cold Spring. But when she is not seeing and treating patients there, she’s probably running somewhere. Sarah is a member of the St. Cloud River Runners, runs about 50 miles a week and just recently participated in the Earth Day Half Marathon.

But that’s just a warm-up for her. Sarah has completed 30 races that are marathon distance (26.2 miles) or more. Last year, she completed two 50 mile races and she finished two marathons in one week week... on opposite sides of the country. She’s currently training for a 100 mile race this fall.

We recently talked with Sarah about her experiences with running, how she uses them when working with patients and what she enjoys about long-distance running.

Q: How did you first get into running and what made it a passion of yours?

Sarah: I started running in 2007 when I was living in Austin, Texas. A friend and I decided to train for a first 5K. We would work the night shift, get off and hit the trail running. The next thing I knew we were signing up for a 10K. When I moved back to Central Minnesota in 2010, I decided to climb the ladder to the next distance and compete in the Earth Day Half Marathon. Then the following year I ran my first marathon.

Q: What do you enjoy about the activity?

Sarah: Running has become a way of life for me. Running has introduced me to so many amazing people and brought me to so many beautiful places. When running on trails you are forced to live in the moment. If you are distracted by a thought, you might trip on a tree root!

Q: Do you train throughout the year? And, if so, what’s your secret to getting in your running during Minnesota’s extreme winters?

Sarah: Training is an all-year adventure for me. Establishing a layering system that works for you is key to cold weather running. I have been out in 40 below weather with a ski mask and goggles. People look at you funny, but I’m warm!

It also helps to be part of a like-minded group such as the St. Cloud River Runners. There aren’t many people who would venture out in those extreme temps, but you always can count on a few people showing up for the weekend run!

Q: During your races, what things do you think about to motivate yourself?

Sarah: When I am running, I use my surroundings to distract me. You meet so many interesting people. The scenery is usually amazing. When that wears off I start thinking about the finish and all the people I have in my life that help support me to get there! To me, there is no better feeling than crossing a finish line.

Q: When working at the clinic, are you able to use your experiences with your patients? If so, how?

Sarah: I am able to share my experiences. Running takes motivation and I am able to offer insight to my patients when they are struggling to make lifestyle changes that would improve their wellness. Change takes self-discipline and motivation, and I hope to inspire my patients to make those positive changes. I'm also able to connect with patients who are also runners or athletes. 

Q: Be honest. With as many miles as you run, do you get frustrated when you get stuck with a far-away parking spot?

Sarah: It depends on how cold it is.