This awesome lady is Moca in 2009. I'm working on getting photos from a recent super-marathon (8 HOURS of running, folks!) to put in with this two-post blog post, but I am so excited to introduce her that I'm putting it up here now and worrying over pictures later! She is one great lady who is truly inspiring. Read further to get tips on how to get into - and stick with - running, no matter what your level. Part 2 will post on Friday!
Okay, I have to update this for a correction - it turns out that she is NOT a "Super" marathoner, but an "ULTRA-"marathoner. Either way, I'm inspired and plan to keep the interview handy to refer back to later on!
TFF: In what general "age range" are you?
Moca: I have no problems telling you that I am 41. I am usually in the 40-49 age category in races. I didn't start running distance until I was 37. Age only matters in that I'm proof that age should not be used as a reason for why we aren't in shape or can't even start to work towards it. I am in better shape now than I was in my 20's. Youth only plays a small part in fitness; a 20-year-old isn't automatically healthy just as a 60-year-old isn't automatically arthritic. It's what you do with your body and life that matters. Get out and run.
TFF: What is your primary occupation?
Moca: My primary occupation is as an Air Force MSgt, taking care of airmen first and foremost. Right now, I am learning to be a language instructor and curriculum liaison (assisting to get courses specifically for military members).
TFF: What is your family structure like?
Moca: My daughter, Anikka; 3 dogs, 3 rats, 1 hedgehog, 1 snake, 2 ferrets. I am friends with my ex. Anikka's father died in 2010.
TFF: You have one daughter. How old is she?
Moca: She is a gorgeous 19-year-old artistic, brilliant goofball.
TFF: At what age in her life did you start running, or have you always run during her lifetime?
Moca: Anikka was 14 when I began in 2007. Ha, you might be surprised to know that I really wasn't into running. At all. I didn't hate it, but I didn't enjoy it, either.
I was never into sports when I was a kid, was never competitive. I liked to sprint around a lot, walked for miles to save money to get 1 slice of cheese pizza downtown. I was always active, loved being outside playing.
After I enlisted in the Air Force, I dreaded- DREADED- the PT test's 1.5 mile run. I didn't have the hang of proper breathing and tried to run too hard too fast and wound up tired and sore. I only got into running when a particular MSgt (Editor's note - we removed his name for privacy), who makes me look almost normal when it comes to running, thought that it would be cool to get a group of airmen together to run a half marathon- the Air Force half.
I thought, well, my knees hurt, but doctors never found anything wrong; if I try this and get hurt, they'll find it. I learned later that I just had a weak quad muscle and needed to work out. I remember when I realized I was a runner during half-marathon conditioning and for the first time thought of a 5-mile run as 'short'. Even so, if you'd asked me if I would ever run more than 13.1, I would have laughed at you.
TFF: How did having a young child around change your running routine?
Moca: Well, at 14, she was pretty self-sufficient, and I don't have to tell you that 14-year-olds can sleep a LOT! Besides, I would start my long runs at 0630 on the weekends, when she wasn't even dreaming of being awake.
TFF: How has that routine changed as she has gotten older?
Moca: I could get up later for my runs as she matured and could handle more things on her own. However, I would like to start back at 0630 again. As my distance increases, I want to start early enough so that I still have some non-running time!
TFF: Were you pretty physically active as a child and in your early adult years?
Moca: I was very physically active, but not in a sports-related way, ever. I just wasn't interested. I liked playing by my own rules, being creative. As a young adult, I wasn't quite as active, but continued to learn how to eat right and what worked best for me in regards to exercise.
TFF: Has running always been part of your physical fitness routine or did you come into it later in life?
Moca: I was 37 when I really got into distance running. I ran my first half marathon in 2007; going to Iraq for a year disrupted my running, though. I didn't return to running until 2010. I ran 4 races that year. In 2011, I came upon the idea that I would run at least a half-marathon-length or longer race every month for the entire year; it was a way for me to force myself to be more consistent in my conditioning. It worked! I succeeded in my goal: 3 5Ks, 1 10-miler, 4 half marathons, 2 25Ks, 4 full marathons, 2 50Ks, and 1 50-miler!
TFF: What is the longest continual run you've made so far? and how long did it take you?
Moca: I ran the Stone Mill 50-Mile Trail Race in November 2011. It took me 13 hours, 36 minutes and 53 seconds. We started and ended that race in the dark, and the high temperature that day was 27 degrees.