National Masters News article April 2013

I was contacted by Cathy Utzscheider from National Masters News regarding her desire to write an article about me for the magazine. I happily answered all her questions, that day I was talking and hanging pictures in my husbands office. Here is  the article. You can order National Masters News at


Focus and Believe: 2:43


By Dr. Cathy Utzschneider


Focus. Focus more. And focus still more.


Essentially, that concept forms the basis of 43-year-old Kerry Camberg’s success as a marathoner  — one who discovered her strength at the 26.2 mile distance only in the last five years. She’s at the top of her game now, hoping to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials. That’s no small challenge for Kerry, not just because she is 43 but because the “B” qualifying standard is now 3 minutes faster. It’s now 2:43, down from 2:46 in 2012.


“My training has gotten sharper and sharper with time,” she said. “Focusing on the marathon is a fairly new process, though.”


One might say that for Kerry the road to marathoning has been, to quote the Beatles, a “long and winding” one. Though she ran on her high school track team for a few years, Kerry was mainly a competitive gymnast, hoping she might even become a professional gymnast. Breaking her arm in the sport, however, ultimately ended her hopes for continued competition.


After graduating from “Arizona State University, she worked at Wells Fargo Bank in project management, enjoying yoga, hiking, and other recreational sports but not participating in any specific training. Married in her twenties (?), she had two children (Catherine, 12, and Joshua, 10), in her early to mid-thirties.


She began running again when she decided to start training for triathlons. “A week before my 35th birthday I started doing triathlons,” she said. Between 35 and 40, she participated in distances from the sprint triathlon to yes, the Ironman. “Just” one?” I asked her. “One and done!” she answered.


“I always liked running the most. I was always a terrible swimmer. On the biking I could catch up to all people. Then I would pass them in the running. My friends said if I learned how to swim better I would end up on the podium all the time because my running times were so fast.”


The triathlon led to the duathlon. (Why swim when you can be still more competitive just by running and biking?) “In 2009 I decided to do a duathlon. It was in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was very fun!” She was also very good. In this – her first – duathlon, she finished third, qualifying for a spot as a member of the 40 to 44 Team USA at the World Championship Duathlon.


Got talent? Yes. As a result of her first duathlon, then, she competed in the 2009 World Duathlon Championships – a 5K run, 40K bike, and a 10K run – in North Carolina, six months later. And how did she do there? “I was finished 11th or 12th out of 60 in our age

group,” she said. “We had horribly rainy weather and I had never ridden a bike in the rain before. My only goal was to stay upright.” It was at that point, she said, that she decided to “hang up the bike and concentrate on marathon training.


In 2010, she hired a new coach, John Reich, and training with a group of fast runners, the Bandidos. One of them is Susan Loken, three-time Olympic Trials marathoner.


The following year, 2011, was another tipping point in her marathon career. In February of 2011 she ran the Livestrong Austin Marathon. She ran it in 3:08 under hot, humid, and windy conditions. Just five months later, in June of 2011 she ran Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota in 2:47 — a 21-minute improvement in time and a personal best. “That was another sign that I should hang up the bike and focus on qualifying the Trials,” she said.


She increased her weekly mileage from about 35 to 75 miles a week. “We also did a lot of longer/faster workouts,” she said. “For example, we did a 20 mile time trial with 16 miles at marathon pace. We ran hills at South Mountain about three times a month.” The volume of weekly speed work increased from about two to 10 miles.


A sample weekly workout before her 2:47 marathon follows:


1 week training log May 2011 about 1 month before Grandma’s Marathon where I ran 2:47:57

Sunday 22 miles at South Mountain (lots of hill work) average pace per mile 6:59

Monday yoga and strength training no running today

Tuesday track workout 4×1200 in 4:45 w/1:00 min rest total mileage today 10 miles

Wednesday 6 miles easy pace about 7:15 avg. strength training

Thursday 12 miles at South Mountain last three faster pace

Friday 8 miles easy pace

Saturday 8 miles easy pace

total weekly mileage 66


In addition to increasing her weekly mileage and speed work, she increased her strength training. On average weeks leading up to the marathon she lifted weights for about an hour twice a week, focusing more on repetitions than heavy weights. “The heaviest weights were about 20 pounds,” she said. “I incorporated plyometrics – split jumps, squat jumps, and tuck jumps – and practiced to Bikram yoga at least once a week.”


Another running career highlight was that in 2012 she enrolled in exercise science and sports nutrition courses at Mesa Community College which had invited her to study on scholarship if she also competed on its cross country team. With Kerry at the lead, the team placed first at the regional cross country championships. (Kerry, more than twice the age of many of her competitors, won the race.) Her team qualified for nationals.


The support of her husband and children has been critical to her success, Kerry said. “My

husband supports me financially so I don’t have to work,” said Kerry. “He also helps with the kids a lot – driving them to their athletic events if I need to train.” Her husband attended all five races she ran in 2012, and her children came to four of them. “When they’re at the races it makes you a little faster,” she said.


Her advice to others?


* “Set your goals very high. You don’t know what you can achieve. If I hadn’t set a goal of qualifying for the Olympic Trials I would have said that breaking 3 hours was a plenty high goal.” (Kerry’s goal this year, on the way to running a sub 2:43 in the California International Marathon on December 8th, is to run 12 races, one a month, of distances from the 5K on up.)


*  Have fun. If you’re not having fun, I don’t know why people are doing it.


* Believe in yourself and your possibilities. So much is mental. If you don’t believe in yourself you can’t do it. I believe that the edge of my possibility is a 2:42,” she said.


Cathy Utzschneider, Ed.D. (human movement), M.B.A., professor of goal setting and competitive performance, Boston College; coach, Liberty Athletic Club, MOVE; number 5 world ranking, mile, 45-49; silver medal, Nike World Masters Games; 7 time national masters champion, track/cross country; American indoor record, 4 X 1600 relay, 50 – 59. Her first book, MOVE! How Women Can Achieve Athletic Goals At Any Age, can be found on Amazon and at


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Zucchini Runner
    May 06, 2013 @ 23:46:15

    Very inspirational; thank you for sharing. 🙂


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