Happy Monday, BWRC! This week’s Member Spotlight Monday is Judi Miko. Get to know Judi and her journey as a runner by reading her answers to our questions below!

Q: How long have you been a runner?

Judi: I started running in 1999 so I have been running for almost 20 years. I have to admit that the first year or so of “running”  was more walk run and learning how to run. Back then most people still called it jogging.

Q: Why did you start running?

Judi: I have always been fairly active and enjoyed swimming, bike riding. I rode my bike, cross country skied, down hill ski, roller blading. Shortly after moving to the Chicago area I saw an ad for a triathlon. I swam, I biked so how hard is it really to run a 10k?  Well I found out the hard way – I don’t know how but I managed to somehow push my way through all six miles and I wasn’t dead last ( close though). After that experience I was challenged and I really liked the swimming and biking portions so I figured I needed to learn how to run. It took a really long time to get to being able to for 40 minutes without stopping and I was not liking it much at all. A friend had started running and told me to come run with her and this group of runners. But they ran on Saturdays at 7 AM! What crazy person gets up that early? I did the same triathlon the 2nd time and while my run was not stellar I did fairly well. So well that my husband and my friend convinced me that I should do a half marathon 8 weeks later! I enjoyed that first half marathon and that fall I started joining my friend and her running group. They were all talking about running marathons, the Chicago Marathon and some of them were even running 50K and 50 mile races. I thought they were all a bit crazy. If you spend enough time around these crazy people you get crazy too. I was running to keep my friend company as she trained for the Chicago Marathon. I thought that was a pretty incredible goal to train to run that far. By August, she decided I was ready and signed me up to run my first marathon in 2000, now I was committed; back then you could wait until August to sign up! I was now officially a runner and hooked on running. I contemplated trying to run a marathon in every state. I knew of some people that were starting to do that. I even quit smoking sometime after my 3rd or 4th marathon. I made it to 6 states and 16 or so marathons before injuries, age and work obligations made me step back and stick to the shorter distances.

Q: How did you find BWRC and why did you join?

Judi: After starting to run, I joined a local running club and through the years have belonged to several and was quite active in two  of the clubs. Times change and people grow older, even runners, and I found myself shopping around for new groups to run with. I enjoy short solo runs but I was missing the company of running buddies on the longer runs. Many of the runners I used to run with  have either moved away or could no longer run anymore. With the onset of modern high tech devices new running groups were popping up everywhere. I checked a few of them out. Many of them were really fast and I found I was running by myself, or there were people who ran my pace but were only going to run 3 miles. During this journey, I had met Mary Radloff Klabacha, Christine Moss, Tina Riess – we heard about this new group that was running in Busse Woods. Hey! I was running in Busse Woods. We decided we would check them out! I was hooked! I found a home. I found a great group of people who were just as crazy as I was about running. There was always someone to run with during rain, snow and below zero wind chills.

Q: Why do you run?

Judi: I run mostly to keep in shape for triathloning – well, mostly. I run because it makes me feel good and I can justify that brownie or extra beer or two or three.

Q: Do you have any upcoming races or goals we should know about?

Judi: I always say that I do not “race” but somehow I seem to have a lot of events through the summer. I tried to back off on the number of events but somehow the calendar seems to have filled up again. I will be doing the Frontier Days Stampede 10K and in August I will doing the Great River Ragnar as part of a 6 person Ultra team, and I will be doing the day of the Dead Elimination run in October, 17 mi . I also am signed up for 2 5K swims, 2 triathlons, and, oh I have a 2-day MS bike ride of 175 miles.

Q: What does BWRC mean to you?

Judi: I am so happy to have found BWRC! It means that I will always have someone to run with. This is a great group. Everyone is so supportive of each other. It does not matter if you are a speed demon, or a back of the pack runner, everyone is there to support you and help you to celebrate your personal achievements. I feel like I have a large family. It is nice to have runners of all skill levels gathering together. I like that the club is striving to help people get started in running and to keep them running. It is awesome being part of group that has so many experienced runners that are willing to take their time to help less experienced runners grow and improve their running skills. Thanks to this group I am running more again. I look forward to all of activities planned for this summer. I look forward  to hearing about the journey some will make towards their first marathon. I look forward to being challenged and encouraged to improve myself as well.