POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – Cathrine Wolden chases marathons and she has come to love every mile of the pursuit so much that she plans them months and sometimes years in advance.
Fresh off the Boston Marathon earlier this month, where she ran a heat-depressed but respectable 3:02.29 and placed 37th overall in the women’s division, the Pound Ridge runner is pointing toward a September run at the BMW Marathon in Berlin, Germany.
“I always liked running just to get exercise, and when I found I could run long distances in pretty good times, I wanted to try to do a marathon,” she said. “I’m a little unusual in that I often run the second half of the 26 miles faster than the first. I don’t know why, but the distance is perfect for me. My coach [Alicia Shay] is helping me work on all aspects of my training.”
Wolden’s love of the sport knows few bounds.
In early 2008, while she was carrying twins and anticipating her new career as a mother, she was making plans to be in shape for the New York City Marathon that November, a feat most long-distance runners might find imposing.
Wolden, also known by her married name of Wolden-Levine, gave birth on May 15, 2008, and ran that post-partum NYC marathon in an amazing 3 hours and 16 minutes six months later. The Pound Ridge mom, who has run a personal best marathon time of 2:51, completed the Boston Marathon earlier this month in 3:02.29 (37th woman overall) and is training for the another 26.2-mile challenge in Berlin in October.
"It was a little difficult getting back in marathon form after having the twins," Wolden recalled. "I had to deal with some pain in places where I hadn't experienced pain before. It was tough to get those [abdominal] muscles into shape, and the doctor said to take at least four weeks off before training again. But I was determined to do it."
Wolden, who admits to being a “late bloomer,” said she was not involved in running as a youngster, but did run to stay in shape. She ran her first marathon in Chicago in 2004 in a surprising 3:34 and fell in love with the challenge. She is a member of Urban Athletics and trains with Alicia Shay of the “Run Smart Project."
It's not just about running the big-name races for Wolden, who “just turned 40” and is now a Masters runner. She is a familiar sight in her community, running trails, roads and anywhere "interesting and safe" with her pigtails bouncing as she moves easily over 10- and 15-mile jaunts that she says she misses when she takes even a day or two off.
"One of the children's teachers was reading the story about the Gingerbread Man running, and my kids said, 'My mother can catch him because she runs fast,' " Wolden said. "I'm pretty much a familiar sight around the area. I just love to run, looking at the surroundings and spending time thinking. I would say I’m addicted to running. And marathons seem to be my favorite distance."
Wolden, who has set 2:50 and 2:45 as her next marathon goal times, said she has had to adjust her training schedule over the last few years while she cares for her young family.
“When the twins were born, I got back to training for the New York Marathon,” she said. “I had to wake up at 4:30 a.m., run and get back to bed before starting the day. Now, with the children on a half-day [pre-school] schedule, I can run later in the morning.”
The full-time mom stays busy while she’s not logging mileage and prepping for marathons, the next of which is the BMW Marathon in Berlin in September. She is on the Planning Committee for John Jay Homestead’s upcoming Carriage Ball (which is raising money to convert the old carriage house into a Visitor and Education Center) and sits on the board of Parent Child Group of Northern Westchester as well as the fundraiser committee for her children's pre-school.
And when the children are in school full-time next year, Wolden, who had a career in sales and marketing before the twins arrived, plans to return to work.
“I plan to go back to work when the kids are in kindergarten,” Wolden said. “I’m not sure what I will do though.”
Whatever career Wolden chooses to pursue, she is sure to look for spaces in her busy schedule to continue her relationship with what she calls “her running identity,” a persona that keeps her mind, body and soul moving forward with each passing mile and marathon challenge.