Located in Davenport, Iowa, and known for its hilly course, Bix 7 is a world class race that draws elites from around the globe. And this year, one of the age group winners was an MKE runner!
A top local runner, Christina Grimord manages to balance family, a full-time job and running. Below, she shares her story, including a typical training week, why she’s kept running and how she manages to fit everything in!
Years running: 21
Favorite workout: 400 meter repeats
Favorite distance to race: 10K
Favorite post-race treat: Smoothie and a few sweets
Shoes of choice: Adidas Boost
If you could run with anyone, who would you run with: Kara Goucher
2013 Lake Country Half 1st Female
2014 Brewers Mini Marathon 2nd Female
2014 & 2015 Adrenaline ¼ Marathon 1st Female
2014 Firecracker Four 2nd Female
1998 NCAA Division 3 All-American Cross-Country
1998 & 1997 WIAA Division 1 All-State Track & Field
Why did you start running and what’s kept you running over the years?
Running to the softball bases, down the soccer field, across the court was always my favorite part of junior high gym class. So when our high school’s head cross- country & track coach encouraged me to join cross- country to strengthen my 400m race for spring track, it only made sense. It was a rough couple weeks starting the sport since I did not do any summer training. But by the end of that freshman season, I was having fun and finding success in this team sport.
I have kept running all these years, because I have basically realized that it is part of who I am. Initially, it was high school & college races. Then I had some breaks in consistent running. Yet, it always finds its way back to me. Including when it was figuring out what my pregnancy or post-partum body tolerated safely. I never imagined myself to be running PR’s in my mid-30’s for distance races. Life with two small children and their activities, along with my husband & myself amidst our careers, brings its own challenges to train. Additionally, I feel that my running models to my children good health & fitness, regardless of whether I have PR’s or Age Group wins.
What does a typical training week look like for you?
I am currently a “low mileage” runner. I run three days a week: a longer run (8-12 miles), an interval workout and either an easy run or tempo. I also try to swim 20-30 minutes once or twice a week.
Congrats on your age group win at Bix 7! Can you tell us about your race experience?
Hot & humid, up hills, down hills. The start of the race is amazing. There is so much enthusiasm and excitement in the 15 minutes before the race. Looking up at the flyover at the end of the national anthem is breathtaking. The first couple miles were fun as I ran with a couple of my friends who are former college teammates. The next couple miles were plain grueling, but as I neared the last mile I heard cheers for Joan Benoit Samuelson (meaning she was running close by). Her presence snapped me out of my running slug and the last mile was great fun again (so cool to run next to her). This race always leaves me feeling inspired.
During tough races like Bix 7 you’re bound to hit a few rough patches. How do you fight through these moments?
I hit a rough patch around mile 3 going uphill. Seeing the professional runners on their way back from the turnaround spurred me on. Then, it was breaking the hills down mentally and looking ahead to some of the runners that were a smidge ahead, but essentially running the same pace, so I could “stay in the game”.
What advice would you give to runners interested in racing Bix 7?
Be prepared for the weather, but remember we are all running in the same temperature. Do hill training ahead of time (up and down; I slacked on that this year and felt it noticeably). There are a lot of people so come ready to enjoy the post-race food and music! And keep your eyes open for Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Meb Keflezighi; they are regulars.
In addition to running races, you’ve also tackled an Ironman – can you tell us a bit about why you decided to do an Ironman race and what the training was like? How did your running background help prepare you for this type of training and racing?
My husband completed Ironman WI shortly after we started dating. He strongly encouraged me participate in triathlons even though I did not have a bike, nor did I know how to swim. It has always been inspiring, but never realized I would sign up for one. That next spring I did the Racine ½ Ironman. And another year later, it was my turn at Ironman WI. I remember feeling fatigue with the training. I used heart rate training, and with this I really didn’t have injuries or setbacks. Honestly, it was refreshing to mix up the running with two other activities.
My running background aided me in the Ironman because I didn’t have to “learn” how to run. I had to understand some technicalities of swimming and biking. With running being the final portion, but my strongest, I also wasn’t worried about finishing once I reached that point. I knew that even if I had to walk the whole marathon (6 miles into the marathon I realized walking through every water stop and up the hills was my only way to finish it), I could be an Ironman. Just like preparing for a running race, I took Ironman training one week at a time.
What running goals are you looking to tackle next?
My children’s activities are ever increasing, my husband’s commitments remain full and I work full time outside of the home, so it would be easy to “skip” what little running I do. I think many people can relate to this. My goal is to stay as fit as I can through the remainder of my 30’s (I will focus on the next decade when I get there) that still allows me to have a well-balanced life. Hopefully, that includes a few half marathons, 5K’s & 10K’s. I have had to reset some running goals I made 6 months ago for this year, so being forgiving and realistic to myself is another goal.
How do you balance family, working full time and running?
My family is my top priority. To balance as best as I can, I try not to overbook their activities or our social outings. It definitely happens, though. I look every week at what we have going on and juggle my workouts into the empty gaps. Often, I have to move my running early before work while everyone is still asleep. Sometimes, I am just too tired as the day approaches, so I do a compressed workout (quality over quantity) after work. While we have a fairly organized household, my workouts are an area that I have to be flexible. I am not getting the 50-75 mile+ weeks that a lot of distance running programs present. My mileage is lower at approximately 25 road miles per week, but I also have little psychological burnout from this training. Personally, I am able to run on a low mileage program and still maintain a fairly high fitness level. I do need to improve on my strength training regimen, so that is one area I am trying to add, yet not overwhelm my daily schedule.
What are your favorite Milwaukee races?
Firecracker Four in Hales Corners, Lakefront Discovery Run, Eisenbahn Race (1/4 marathon distance) in West Bend, The Wisco Mile.
Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?
Milwaukee’s lakefront and the “Bugline” in Lake Country. Usually, I trot down on the WE Energies Trail in Muskego. I like to venture off to Sunnyslope Road or College Avenue in New Berlin for some hills to mix things up.
In general, what makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?
Despite our temperature changes, it really is a four season sport if your glass is half full. There are a variety of groups to connect with (I find great support from Performance Running Outfitters) if you want to run with people. There are many trails. The lakefront is gorgeous. Whether you desire the indoor or outdoor environment, there are races year round. Many of these are often near a fun festival to celebrate life. If running in the cold is not for you, we have the Petit Center. This past winter, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with friends every couple weeks to churn out miles. I’ve never enjoyed getting up at 5AM so much, nor have that many laps passed so fast.
Any other comments?
One thing I am constantly reminding myself is to stay true to myself as a runner. Whether you are a novice runner or experienced one, minimize your comparisons to others. It’s okay to compare a little bit- that’s normal. Focus more on what your goals are and what you are able to give to running at any given point. In the end, you may have better success than comparing yourself to someone running five marathons a year or running 5K’s in sub-whatever. We all can give forward to this sport of running when we focus on our best gifts we bring. And that’s part of the beauty of “us runners”.
Secondly, I have been truly blessed to have a great support system in running along my life. My high school and collegiate coaches taught me so much about the sport, training and its genuine purpose in our life. Without their guidance, I don’t know if I would still be running today, nor would I have such great memories with my teammates. I am in regular contact with my coaches and several of my teammates. One of my best friendships came from this sport. I even met my husband through running.
Thanks for chatting with us, Christina!
If you’re a runner in MKE, we’d love to chat with you. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be featured or know someone who should be featured in an upcoming Let’s Get to Know . . . post.
Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!