151 Marathon Mom, Cathi Gridley Interview

As part of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month we here at Zim’s thought it might be fun to tell you about a friend of ours, Cathi Gridley, who is not only a mother of 7 but has finished over 150 marathons in many different states. We all need encouragement from time to time so hopefully her story will help motivate you to get out and run!

What do you like about running?

I am a very simple, frugal person. Running is simple. It doesn’t require a great deal of coordination or skill. I once was a substitute teacher in a dance class and I was way out of my league. For running, you just put one foot in front of the other over and over again. It is also a cheap sport. If you have a good pair of shoes, you are set. You don’t need a gym membership or fancy equipment. It is the perfect sport for me.

How did you get started running marathons?

I started running 23 years ago after my first child was born. I am an eater so I gained a large amount of weight with each pregnancy. I took the phrase “eating for two” very seriously. Haha! And to be honest, I’ve never looked like a barbie doll. I’ve always struggled to keep my weight in check. So my first motivation was getting my baby weight off. I had a running stroller so my baby and I would go run. My husband was gone all the time with school and work so the stroller made it easy.

I have been running marathons for almost 17 years.

When you are running what do you use to motivate you to finish?

Running can be a metaphor for life. Running can be hard just like any other of life’s challenges. You aren’t feeling amazing but you just have to keep going.  Running is a mental thing. You know you’ve run a mile before so you know you can do it today. You know you’ve run up a big hill before so you can do it today.

The 2018 Boston Marathon female winner was Des Linden. She said,

“Some days it just flows and I feel like I’m born to do this, other days it feels like I’m trudging through hell.  Everyday I make the choice to show up and see what I’ve got and to try to be better. My advice: keep showing up!”

That’s like in life, we have to keep showing up even when we aren’t feeling it or it isn’t fun. Pushing through the hard times requires discipline and is what makes us tough. It it what makes you feel amazing at the end of a run or a race. In a marathon, you push through so many times when you wanted to quit. That’s why the finish feels amazing.

How do you balance out training with your other responsibilities?

When I trained for my first marathon, I didn’t have any running friends most of the time. I trained in the evenings after my husband got home and could watch the kids. As my kids have gotten older and have their own activities in the evenings, I have moved running to early mornings. For the last 20 years or so I have run at 5:00 or 5:30 in the morning. With high school kids I would need to be back pretty early to help get them off to school. Early mornings are my jam now. I love the feeling of getting home from a run and having the whole day ahead of me. I am a much less grumpy mom after an hour away, visiting with good friends. If I didn’t have good friends that were counting on me to meet them, I wouldn’t be near as successful. I don’t want to let my running BFF’s down and I know that the running is good for me. Once I’m out the door I am ALWAYS grateful I got up!

With running so early, no one else at my house is awake so my training doesn’t interfere with the rest of the family. On Saturdays we usually run at 7:00 for 10 miles so I am back by 9:00.

If you wait until evenings to run, sometimes things will come up and you won’t be able to go. Or sometimes you will lack the motivation/pep. Getting it done in the morning really works for me.

What would you recommend to new runners who want to complete their first marathon?

I say you can do it! If you want to run a marathon, go for it! I am not a super driven or motivated person so if I can do it, anyone can. My husband has said to me before, “for being a marathon runner, you’re the biggest quitter I know”. Haha!

Start out by running for a minute and walking for a minute. Or start out by running to that tree or that pole and walking some. Start with a total of 20 or 30 minutes. You could train at a track to start with but that gets boring fast. When I’m just starting my training (like after I have a baby) I am looking at my watch about every minute. I am DY-ING! You won’t be setting any speed records at first and that is OK! After a few weeks, you’ll be ready to run for two minutes and walk for 30 seconds or so. You will just keep improving. You will be so proud of yourself. You will want to tell someone how amazing you are but you will wonder who would understand.

If you can find some friends to train with it makes it a lot more fun. I’ve trained with and without a friend. With a friend is much more enjoyable. My running friends are some of the best friends I’ve had in my life. Sharing those tough miles makes lifelong bonds.

My goal at first was to run a 5K one summer, a 10K the next, a half marathon the following summer, and a full marathon last.  I got to where 3 miles was my usual routine and then one day I would think, “Hey, I’m not that tired. I could keep going.” The next thing I know I was up to 5 or 6 miles for my normal routine. Then it would happen again. I would think, “I’ve still got some gas left in the tank. I’m going to run another mile.” There are marathon training programs online that a lot of people follow but I have never used one.

Out of 151 marathons, which are some of your favorites?

Ogden Marathon in May is one of my favorite races of the year. It is beautiful. St George is in October and is another favorite. I have the local races I do every year. I’ve run in 18 different states. Running a new race is always an adventure. We took a road trip to Amarillo TX a week ago. I loved the green flat open spaces. It is always fun to try a new race. I love meeting new people and seeing new places. I’ve run Boston twice; in 2009 and 2016. I don’t qualify for Boston unless all the stars align. I have to have the perfect race. The Boston Marathon was a treat.

My husband is a big part of my success. He supports me signing up for races and getting my training in. He knows I’m a better person with a little running in my life.

My pace is slowing down but I’m still enjoying the journey. Slow and steady wins the race. Running has opened doors and brought joy in my life. I hope I’ve got a lot of miles left in me!

Click here to see my marathon page.

My name is Cathi Gridley. I grew up in Maryland until I was 12 and then moved to Bountiful UT where I graduated from high school. I am 45 years old. I live in Syracuse UT. I have a degree from the University of Utah in Sociology. I have been married for 24 years to Gordon. We have 7 children ranging in age from 23 to 12. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I started running at age 22. I began running marathons at 29.  I am an ordinary gal who is hooked on running 🙂

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