I was never a runner as a teen or young adult. I preferred the gym and aerobics classes. When my two daughters were young, I took them along and they played well in the gym daycare.

Then, by time my daughters were in school, I had two sons. As babies, quite the opposite of their sisters, my sons did not cooperate in the gym daycare. One or both of them would cry uncontrollably. The daycare attendants would interrupt my workout or get me out of a class. It took up my entire morning and I came home completely stressed and exhausted.

I had to find another way to fit a workout into my day. I began getting up at zero-dark-thirty to run before my kids got up and my husband left for work. For years I was a solo runner and never got much past five or six miles.

When our family moved to Vermont, we had a neighbor who introduced me to a casual group of local runners. It was not an organized club but it was a committed group.

We ran early in the morning and in the most extreme winter conditions. The next thing I knew, I was training for half marathons, then full marathons.

In 2016, my husband was transferred to Maryland, and we chose to move to Frederick County. I was sad to leave Montpelier, VT, but mostly I was sad to leave my running friends.

I found the Steeplechasers and was a member before we even completed the move.

Kim Whalen

My first group run was the 2016 Lewis Run, which was delayed due to the January’16 blizzard. By a total fluke, I came in as the second-place woman (not by speed!!) but by guessing my time within 20 seconds.

For years I had been running in mountainous Vermont but was completely shocked that Maryland was NOT flat!

The last two and half years have been the most challenging of my life and it has had nothing to do with the pandemic, though that hasn’t helped. In November 2019, I was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Only a year after completing my last marathon, I could barely climb the stairs in my house.

Between December 2019 and May 2020, I completed chemo and was in remission. I began to run again, getting up to 8 or 10 miles. But by November 2020, the cancer had returned as Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I spent the early part of last year receiving chemo again.

In September 2021, I had a bone marrow transplant, with my daughter as my donor. It was a very grueling process but, by all accounts, I faired very well. By December 2021, I was able to run again.

Frederick Half Marathon on May 1 is the next race I am training for. Marathons are probably not in my future any longer, and I’ll never be as fast as I used to be, but I’m thrilled to be back out there.

Running about five days a week seems to work for me right now. In addition to running, I enjoy taking several yoga classes per week.

I have never been more thankful for the ability to be physically active and am a firm believer that it is imperative to maintaining my mental health.

Kim Whalen

Through it all, the friends I have made in the Steeplechasers could not have been more supportive: checking in regularly, including me in everything they could, walking with me when I was able. They were there for me every step of the way and I will be eternally grateful.

Kim, far right, with friends.

Have an idea or a person to highlight in our Member Spotlight series? Contact Barb at barb.meely@steeplechasers.org!