Countless medals adorn the wall next to the treadmill inside the home of professor Kim Van Es. After midterm break, yet another medal will join the collection.
These medals are from Van Es’s passion for running distance. She will run her 20th marathon, the PNC Bank Peoria Marathon on October 18 in Illinois.
The seed of her love for running was first planted in college as a way to keep in shape. After having her two children, she was encouraged by her friends to begin running road races.
What started as a 5k grew into a 10k, and eventually, she finished her first full marathon in 2001. Her fastest time is four hours and 17 minutes, but she claims she is still slow compared to some of her friends. During a marathon, she averages between 10-11 minutes per mile.
To train for a marathon, Van Es runs four days a week and exercises daily with her husband. Her typical day begins at 5:30 a.m. with a workout from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. Every other Saturday consists of a long run that ranges from 11-14 miles.
Since Van Es runs so many miles, shoes have become an essential part of her training regime. Her husband keeps track of the miles on each pair of shoes using a website called RunningAHEAD. After running 500 miles in a pair of shoes, the shoes are retired. In order to efficiently log the miles of each pair without confusion, she names her running shoes. Her shoe of preference for the past ten years has been the Asics Gel Kayano. Currently she is using two pairs of these named Citrus and Dutch.
All of her hard work pays off in the end.
“Crossing the finish line is my favorite part because it is a deep feeling of satisfaction when you have worked gradually over time towards a goal,” Van Es said.
Through her passion, Van Es has developed many lifelong relationships. She met her husband of 13 years at the Turkey Trot marathon in Worthington, Minn. The couple’s shared hobby led to spending lots of time together from daily exercise routines to taking vacation time to race.
Van Es feels that she can relate better with student athletes because of her training lifestyle.
“I teach Freshmen Writing, so I interact a lot with student athletes,” Van Es said, “I am able to understand what they do to reach their physical goals.”
Many students have noticed her passion for running and have been inspired. Her teacher’s assistant of two years, Erin (Brasser) Vande Vegte, ran her first marathon this past summer in Duluth, Minn. Katlyn Loeschen, Van Es’s speech fellow, finished her first half marathon, 13.1 miles, this past summer as well.
“[Kim Van Es] is truly an inspiration,” Loeschen said, “She’s run 19 marathons. It’s amazing to see her accomplishments and it made me want to do it too.”
To this, Van Es said, “I’m happy that I’ve inspired others to go after goals. They probably look at an old lady like me and say ‘Gall, if she can do it, I can do it.’”