Posted tagged ‘Goals’

Author, Runner: Kim Chaffee’s Story

May 16, 2019

Kim Chaffee headshotToday I’m interviewing my friend, critique partner, and author extraordinaire, Kim Chaffee. She is the author of Her Fearless Run:  Kathrine Switzer’s Historic Boston Marathon – a book that received two starred reviews. Ellen Rooney is the talented illustrator whose colorful illustrations and attention to detail are done in a combination of digital media and mixed media collage using paint, paper, and pencil. The book is a perfect collaboration between author and illustrator.

Kim Chaffee’s biography of Kathrine Switzer tells of switserKathrine’s love of running from an early age. Back in the late 1950’s girls weren’t supposed to run. They were “too weak, too fragile, for sports.” That’s not what Kathrine thought. She kept on running. While in college, the men’s coach at Syracuse University saw Kathrine run. He invited her to practice with the team. That’s where she met the volunteer team manager, Arnie Briggs. When he mentioned to Kathrine that women weren’t up to running the distance of the Boston Marathon, she disagreed with him and took his challenge. She applied for her official number by registering as K. V. Switzer. No one knew K. V. Switzer was a woman—not a man. On April 19, 1967, Kathrine Switzer made history by running the entire Boston Marathon with an official number. Her feat opened doors for women to compete in future marathons.

Welcome, Kim. I’m so excited to have you here today.

Why did you decide to write about Kathrine Switzer? And did you have any reservations about writing a biography of a well-known living person?

Thanks so much for having me on the blog today, Cathy! When I started writing, I wasn’t really thinking of ever tackling a biography. I mostly write fiction. But I was home writing one Monday in April 2016 with the Boston Marathon on TV and within view. Kathrine was on, talking about her Boston run in 1967. I was completely pulled into her story and was shocked that as a runner, I had never heard it before. I immediately felt compelled to share her story. In hindsight, I probably should have had some reservations about writing a biography of a well-known living person, but I didn’t while I was writing it. I just kept thinking that I had to do her story justice.

Kim, you’re a Wonder Woman. You’ve run in many races before, but this year you ran the most famous of all marathons – The Boston Marathon. Did writing about Kathrine Switzer have anything to do with your decision to run?  

My goodness! I don’t know about Wonder Woman! But I do love to run and have the best running friends that keep me motivated and push me to challenge myself. Writing about Kathrine had everything to do with my decision to run Boston. I was thinking about it a lot while I was researching and writing the book but that tiny voice of doubt and fear kept creeping in telling me I was crazy. After finishing and selling the book, I just couldn’t shake the thought of needing to run Boston- needing to silence that tiny voice in my head. Kathrine helped me find my fearless and believe in myself.

Can you tell us a bit about how you trained for this long and difficult run?

There are a lot of different marathon training plans out there and I had trouble choosing one so I meshed two together, typed up monthly calendars with motivational quotes, and put one foot in front of the other. My training started in December with three runs/week and two cross-training days. Long runs were done on the weekends and by mid-March, I was feeling a little physically and emotionally drained. Marathon training is no joke. Some runs felt great, others worried me that I had gotten myself into something I wasn’t going to be able to complete. But when I ran my 20-mile long run, a race from Maine, through the Seacoast of NH, and into Massachusetts, I felt ready.

I watched the interview with Kathrine Switzer that took place during the running of the Boston Marathon. She spoke very highly of you and your book. What was it like to meet Kathrine?

I was so surprised when I found out she was talking about the book while I was running! Talk about motivation to keep going! Meeting Kathrine was surreal. We had talked several times and emailed even more before we actually met to do an event together on the Friday before the Marathon so I kind of felt like we were old friends already. She is just as amazing as you would imagine…so genuine and inspiring!

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Lisa Hughes, WBZ-TV News Anchor, Boston

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Lisa Hughes, Shalane Flanagan, Olympian and Boston Marathon Runner, Kathrine Switzer

You also ran with the global nonprofit 261 Fearless, Inc. Can you tell us more about that and what 261 stands for?

Yes! I was honored to run for 261 Fearless, Inc. which is the nonprofit organization founded by Kathrine in 2015. It’s a women’s social running network that aims to support and empower women all around the globe. Amazing things are happening in these clubs! Women in Mumbai, Goma, all over the United States and Europe are finding their strength and self-esteem through running, and we are all united under Kathrine’s iconic bib number from her 1967 run, 261.

Do you and Kathrine have any plans to see each other again?

Yes! We are currently scheduled to do a book event together at a bookstore called Rough Draft in Kingston, New York on July 1!

How was your run on the day of the marathon? Feelings? Emotions?

How much time do we have here? Haha! It was quite a day and I feel like I could go on and on about it. I’ll start by saying it was hard. Not a shocker, I know. But it was harder than I had expected and I think that’s because the day didn’t go as planned. As a runner, you do your best to adapt and overcome obstacles that pop up at any point in a race, be it the night before when your daughter gets sick in your bed, or at mile 17 when your stomach feels queasy (both of these things happened). My goal was simple: cross the finish line. And I got to do that with my son which still brings me to tears when I think about it.

Kim and Colin

Kim and her son, Colin

KIm with medal

Kim and her medal

Would you run the marathon again?

 I won’t say no but I don’t have plans to any time soon.

You sponsor an annual 5K Run. Tell us more.

When my brother-in-law was diagnosed with thyroid cancer several years ago, I felt so helpless. I wanted to do something to make a difference but wasn’t sure what. One of my best friends suggested we start a team for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. The 5K race started as one of our team fundraisers and then shifted into a stand-alone event that now raises money to support local families afflicted by cancer. This will be our 8th year hosting the Fight 2 Finish Cancer Family Fun Run/Walk 5K in Windham, NH! This year’s event will be on Sunday, June 2nd and we are hoping it will be our biggest year yet. If you are local and would like to join us you can register at www.lightboxreg.com

Now that your training isn’t taking up so much time in your life, what’s next for you with your writing career?

I’ve been doing a bunch of school visits, which as a former second-grade teacher, makes my heart so happy! I definitely have more time to write! Hooray! And I’m still running but not nearly as much. Also, my second book, Nothing Wee About Me, a fiction story about a little girl who uses her grandmother’s magical ladle to go on an adventure and save the day, will be hitting shelves on November 12, so I’m starting to prep for that.

What is some advice you can give to writers about achieving their goals?

Don’t give up. Ever. Even when it gets really hard, just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll make it to the finish line.

As always, it’s fabulous being with you, Kim! Thank you so much for doing this interview.

Don’t forget to check out Kim’s forthcoming book.

nothing wee

Learn more about Kim Chaffee here.

Website:  www.kimchaffee.com

Follow on Twitter:  @Kim_Chaffee

Follow on FB: Kim Chaffee, Children’s Author

Follow on Instagram:  kchaffeebooks

 

 

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