Like any good teammates, Ryan and Kara Foster support each other, but also give each other a little friendly competition.
“We’re competitive people,” Ryan explained over a serving of pre-run pasta at the couple’s Boalsburg home. The two former Penn State standouts are running partners — but when it comes time for a speed workout, husband and wife run their own paces.
“Lately, I’ve been doing some workouts with Ryan, but not as fast,” said Kara. “I get a little jealous that boys can run faster than girls.”
Overall, though, the two newlyweds find being married to another competitive runner gives them a built-in support system. “It’s good to have someone who understands what it’s like on race day,” said Kara, who recently joined the Oiselle Elite Team. The Fosters had their first win together on July 4 at the Central Pennsylvania 4th Fest Firecracker 4K, where Ryan finished in 12 minutes, 22 seconds and Kara in 13:33.
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A three-time All-American and four-time Big Ten champion who holds records for 800 meters and 1,000 meters in his native Australia, Ryan graduated from Penn State a year ahead of Kara and immediately committed himself to being a professional runner. After a while, though, he found his motivation to run while holding down a full time job at a local finance firm lacking, and stopped running completely for several months. Then, he said, “I woke up one morning and wanted to go for a run. Now work is work and running is fun again.”
To keep his motivation up, Ryan puts on running shoes right after coming home from work. “The trick is not to sit on the couch,” he said. Though he consults with several advisors, Ryan is officially self coached and hopes to apply the lessons he’s learned in coaching others some day.
Kara has had a smoother transition to post-collegiate running. After graduating in December 2012 with a degree in kinesiology, she devoted herself to running full time. This summer, she took a job as a nanny, but has found running after work easy with long daylight hours. As she looks forward to pursuing a full time job in the fall and fewer hours of sunlight, she knows it will be more difficult to fit her training in. “I think it’s awesome for people who work full time and can train seriously,” she said.
A three-time Big Ten champion who holds the Penn State 10K record, Kara (maiden name Millhouse, from Boiling Springs) is a volunteer assistant coach for Penn State and has continued to train under Penn State head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan, giving her a sense of continuity as well as a local support network.
Ryan admits that balancing competitive running and work is difficult. “We’re resigned to being poor for the next year or two,” he said. But he is also grateful. “It’s nice that we’ve made the opportunity for ourselves” to pursue running, he said.
“I’m lucky. A lot of people don’t have what I have,” Kara added.
Kara’s next race is the the Falmouth Road Race in Massachusetts on Aug. 11. Ryan plans to build fitness and return to racing next year.
Nittany Track and Field
The Nittany Track and Field club’s fall cross country program offers kids from age 8 up to high school an opportunity to learn the basics of distance running through a variety of activities and the opportunity to participate in local and regional races.
No running experience is required. “I am often approached by parents who are wondering if cross country is something too hard for young kids to try,” said organizer Mark Fedkin. “From the start, we let everyone adjust and try things out. It is a very kids-friendly program.”
The club holds practices five days a week, but doesn’t require daily attendance. “We do understand that besides running kids have school work and other activities, so we keep the doors open and allow them to pick their days when to come to practice,” said Fedkin.
NTF will hold an informational meeting Aug. 23 at 6 p.m. at the State College Area High School track, and information about registration and other details can be found on the club website at www.ntfxc.com or by contacting Fedkin at 814-876-0461. The season’s first practice will be Aug. 25 at 4 p.m. at the State College High School. Regular practices are scheduled Monday through Thursday from 5:45 to 7:15 p.m. on the grass fields behind the high school’s South Building and Sundays from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at various locations around State College.
Mt. Nittany Marathon
Race director John Hook reports that plans for the inaugural Mt. Nittany Marathon on Sept. 1 are moving forward with just over 100 runners registered so far. Registration is open through Aug. 16 and online and printable forms are available from the Mount Nittany Conservancy at mtnittany.org/marathon/.
The evening before the race, the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau will host America’s Longest Pasta Table from 5 to 7 p.m. at Calder Way and Pugh St. in downtown State College. Tickets cost $10 ($5 for registered runners) and can be purchased on the Mount Nittany Conservancy website or at the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Local race results
Josh Cone won the Happy Valley Sprint Triathlon on July 7 with a time of 1 hour, 2 minutes, 29 seconds for the 750-meter pool swim, 20-kilometer bike, and 5-kilometer run. Jessica Koltz was the first woman in 1:05:17.
Kevin Lingle of Clearfield won the Alley Popper Houtzdale Days 5K on July 26 in 19:19. Morgan Rosselli of Rockton was the first woman in 23:36.
At the Allegheny Front Trail Run on July 27, Constantin Schreiber of Bellefonte won the 30-miler in 1 4:09:11. Kathy Simin of State College won the women’s race in 5:30:07. In the 12-miler, Matt Lipsey of Kersey was the first male in 1:23:57 and Allie Martin of Philadelphia was the first female in 1:47:34.
FarmFest 5K, Aug. 3, Grange Fairgrounds, Centre Hall. Race day registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and race begins at 9 a.m. Entry fee: $20. Website: farmfest.paorganic.org/5k/. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-422-0251.
Flutopia 5K, Aug. 3, Tudek Park, State College. Registration and packet pick-up Aug. 2, 6:30-8 p.m., Tudek Park, and race day 7:30-8 a.m. Website: facebook.com/TheFlutopiaInitiative.
Herbie’s Home “Town Loop,” Aug. 17, 8:30 a.m. intersection of High St. and Spring St., Bellefonte. New this year, the event will offer runners a choice between a 4-mile and 10-mile course. The event also includes a 14-mile non-competitive bike ride starting at 10 a.m. Entry fee: $25 per individual event or $35 for both the run and the bike ride. Pre-registration and packet pick-up available Aug. 16, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and race day starting at 7 a.m. in Talleyrand Park. Website: herbieshometownloop.com/.
Mountainback Discovery Series Leg 1, Aug. 22, 6 p.m., Tussey Mountain Ski Lodge, Boalsburg. The Discovery Series introduces runners to the course for the Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile Relay and Ultramarathon through a series of evening training runs. The series continues on Thursday evenings through Oct. 10. For details and starting locations, see tusseymountainback.com/events/mountainback-discovery-series