One of my absolute favorite parts of the weekend at Minnesuing Acres Women’s Running Retreat was getting to know Janis Klecker. Going into the retreat, I didn’t know much about her. I knew her name, that she was a running legend and that she had really fast kids who went to Hopkins (near where I live).
At the retreat she gave an amazing presentation with a power point that wove together her running life story with the life story of her relationship with her husband (running legend/olympian Barney Klecker), her children (all amazing runners and athletes) and her amazing running mom, Mae Horns. She has won a bunch of marathons (Twin Cities, CIM, San Francisco – all multiple times), competed in the 1992 Olympic marathon and just run an incredible number of races for a long time. All while putting herself through dental school, being a dentist and then having 6 kids in like 7 years. There was not a dry eye in the room when she spoke of her mom – who was her training partner and best friend and biggest fan – developing ALS and eventually dying from it. I have such a special place in my heart – because of my work as a guardianship attorney for elderly and mentally ill – for people who suffer from devastaing and cruel diseases like ALS and Alzheimer’s (and an even more special place in my heart for their families, who suffer right along side their loved one). It moved me so much to hear her speak with love about the special memories she and her mom created together through running.
Janis talked frequently of her bible studies, and quoted bible passages that meant a lot to her in life and running. They were inspirational passages, that you can clearly see relate to running and the relationships formed from running. I love them!
Other bits of wisdom that I learned from Janis:
- You can’t plan for the race of your life.
- Every one of us have a weak link. We all train until we find it.
- When we stumble, we get back up.
- We encourage each other.
- Find your greatness.
- You have to get more creative in how you get fit as you get older. As an aging runner you HAVE to find another type of fitness that you can tolerate.
My favorite part about Janis was running with her. On Saturday morning we ran 6 miles together, with just the two of us chatting for a good 3 miles. We talked about our kids running cross country (they are both running for local high schools now; her daughter just ran at Gale Woods, about 2 miles from where I live). We talked about how kids choose the college they go to (and how parents/kids pay for it!), because my daughter is just applying to colleges now. We talked about our kids nordic skiing. It was just a real and a casual conversation.
Janis and her love for her God, her husband, her children, her mother, her running and her health were SO inspirational. This weekend Janis taught me not just about running, but about the type of human being that I want to be.