Our positive running story this time is on Denver based runner Cindy Potter. Cindy recently attended our final co-ed trail running camp of 2017, (Cindy is second from the left in the picture above), jumping in the deep end wanting to learn about trail running, while also oozing enthusiasm and energy for all things outdoors. Cindy recently retired from the Navy after 25 years of service, and has run many road races in her running career. We caught up with Cindy after she returned home from camp, and this interview is the result.
Can you share a brief running history?
I started running in May 1998 at 43 yrs old after quitting a 26 year smoking habit as a means to avoid gaining weight. I was in the Navy which has weight standards and uniform regulations. It was a painful slow start. Once I got up to running 2 miles, I had friends who talked me into signing up for the Marine Corps Marathon in Oct that year. And a runner was born!
What is it you enjoy most about running, and how do you keep this spark alive?
I love that it’s me against me. I can go longer, higher, faster, and proof of my hard work or persistence is quantifiable. And any measure of progress propels me to keep going forward. I love the escape, the time to tune out the world and tune into myself. I love that I can just walk out my front door and go. To keep the spark alive, I set goals for distance or time; the sense of accomplishment is divine! Sign up for races. Have a plan!
You have completed many road races. Which is your favorite, and why?
That’s easy. The Marine Corps Marathon. I’ve run it 5 times. It’s hugely supported and attended. It’s like running in a parade. Loads of positive energy from the crowds. And the Marines at every water station, giving out the finisher medals at the end. So cool. As a Naval officer for 25 years who was stationed at 3 Marine bases, I am connected to their ethos and what they stand for. Semper Fidelis.
You had a major car accident in 1999. What happened, and do you think that your fitness level as a runner contributed to your recovery?
My near head-on car crash occurred May 1, 1999. As stated above, I smoked a ppd X 26 years and my quit date was May 5th, 1998. My accident happened almost exactly one year to the date of when I quit smoking. I completed my first marathon in Oct 1998 and so fell in love with the marathon, was ready to do MCM in Oct 1999. I had run 8 miles the day before the accident. The car accident fractured my liver, crushed my right lung, fractured my sternum, and shattered my left knee. I had massive bleeding from the liver fracture and had 3 surgeries and received 20 units of blood (the human body’s total blood volume is approx. 10 units). I coded once, received CPR, and was on a ventilator. According to the surgeons when they first called my military command, my injuries were “not survivable” and relayed my death was imminent. But my cardiovascular system was in the best shape it had ever been in. My resting HR was 46, blood pressure 92/50, respiratory rate/min of 8. My fitness level was the ONLY THING that saved my life, that allowed me to survive. The surgeons told my parents that if I’d still been a smoker, I would have died for sure and the fact that I was a runner was the only thing that pulled the lever in my favor.
You recently attended one of our trail running camps. What was the biggest take away for you, and what do you look forward to about running on trails?
When running trails, don’t look down, look out; go for the most center line of the path you possibly can; and take short enough strides so that your center of gravity is in line with and directly over the forward planting foot; and land on the mid to forward or ball of the foot for better forward momentum. And by all means, lean forward! What do I look forward to: the scenery! Plus, I think that by using so many more muscle groups on trails will prevent overuse injury of those few muscle groups used in road running.
Can you share one thing that is uniquely Cindy that no-one would know by looking at you?
My life’s philosophy is every day on the planet is a good one. If they’re not throwing dirt in your face, it’s a good day. Every breath is a second chance.
What are your running goals for the rest of 2017, and beyond?
I’m signed up for the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon which is October 15th. I don’t have any other races for 2017. For the rest of 2017 and beyond, I do want to apply Lydiard’s principles of training, following the lecture notes I took during the running camp. I really like the idea of taking at least 6 months to prepare for my next marathon. Getting that 2.5 hour aerobic base sounds so wise! I also want to pursue some trail races and see how that goes. Adding trail running to road running seems a wise investment in improving strength and fitness. I want to be running into my 80’s and 90’s. At one MCM event, I came across a guy on the course…. Very tall, white hair, nice steady pace. On his t-shirt it said, “I’m Mel, I’m 80 years old, I’m a Marine.” I want to be Mel.
We wish Cindy every success with her life and running, and very happy to know that the trails will be blessed with her presence!
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