Our female Runner of the Month has been running with NRC since 2014 and in those two years has consistently crushed every goal she has set for herself. From running short distances on and off as a teenager to recently winning top female in her first ever 50 miler, Kara Molitor has perfected her formula for success and even faced with a sidelining injury, shows she has the true grit to move on.
Originally from Rockford, IL, Kara and her family moved to Nashville in 2010. A week after they moved with boxes still all over her house she accepted her sister’s invitation to run a local 5K on a whim. She placed 3rd in her age group and decided, “I might actually be good at this!” She tried another 5K, actually training this time, and placed 1st in her age group! Six months later she ran her first half marathon.
I had the chance to run early miles with Kara on some of her first runs with NRC, along with Shyla Moss, Jennifer Chaffin and a few others. She was so friendly and her hot pink streaked hair showed she was adventurous too, but when she would talk about running, I could tell she was serious about her training.
She was coming back from a major ankle injury and training for her first full. In fact, she learned she was accepted in the lottery for the Chicago Marathon the day she got her boot off.
“I knew it was going to take motivation and support of others to get me through it,” said Kara. “That is exactly what I found at NRC!”
One of her favorite memories with NRC was participating in the Franklin Classic 5K/10K. Seeing all the members staying after they had finished their race just to cheer other members to the finish line; seeing people smiling, supporting each other and high fiving; it was amazing to see how a sport can bring everyone together. Then, there was the huge group picture!”
A few first races hold a special place in her heart including the 2011 Nashville Half Marathon, the 2014 Chicago Marathon and the 2013 Stump Jump 50K which she ran with her best friend and always brings back good memories because of how hard she had to fight to finish.
2015 was a huge year for Kara, earning her many trips to the NRC PR gong. Possibly delirious from non-stop training and maybe a bit oblivious to how badass she had become, she won first female at the Stanky Creek 50K and didn’t even know until the day after! She also placed first in her age group in her first 3-day stage race. That same year she PRed at the Stump Jump 50K on a harder course and tough weather conditions and crushed her first 50 mile race in November, taking the first female trophy.
If you weren’t already reading this in a fetal position, that isn’t all. Her longest run on the road so far is the Strolling Jim at 41.2 miles and her road marathon PR is 3:59:14 at the 2016 Nashville Marathon. But her strongest race to date was the Music City Trail Ultra 50k, where she placed first female. “I have never felt so proud of myself,” she said.
Kara has definitely had her fair share of injuries. Overcoming a major ankle tendon tear, torn hamstring, and tendonitis in her knee and ankle, she’s learned how vital strength training is to prevent injuries, especially because of the way her body structure is naturally. She also learned her body takes better to the trails for running long distances.
Kara admits her husband, Russ, understands how much she loves running even though he thinks she’s a little crazy to pay to run and put herself through so much. Her son Jayson (10) and daughter Ella (8) don’t always love Mom being gone to train and race, but they are her biggest cheerleaders. Part of NRC’s NexGen, they have even run a few races of their own. “I think running has rubbed off on them,” she smiles, “and I hope to be a good example for them to never give up.”
Having just learned she has a stress fracture and will need to take a break from running for 3-5 months, her plans to take on the Barkley Fall Classic 50K at Frozen Head State Park in September, Stump Jump 50K in October, Dizzy 50 Miler in November, and possibly a 100K in December will be replaced by lots of bike riding and swimming. Still, she knows she will be back strong and one day she hopes to race the Western States 100.
Kara is a fierce competitor and not intimidated by mileage, terrain, elevation or injury. From road to trail and triathlon to cross-training, she boldly takes on every challenge and we’re proud to have her as a member of the NRC!
ROTM Speed Round
Fav Grillin’ Food: Burgers
Tunes or no tunes: If by myself, yes; current go to is “Wonderland” by the Ginger Runner.
We’d never guess… I have 9 siblings.
Hobbies outside of running: Baking, biking, shopping, anything fitness related or outdoors.
If you know our NRC male Runner of the Month, you know running is in his blood. In fact, if he didn’t have red hair, you might think he was Kenyan. Inspired by his marathon-running Mom, Robert Petree has a natural running ability and competitive instinct that has helped him conquer some incredible achievements.
An Air Force brat, Robert was born in Hampton, VA and after several moves settled in Clemson, SC when he was 9 years old. One look at his Facebook page and you can tell he has kept his Clemson spirit even now!
Robert has always been a runner, but he distinctly remembers getting the competitive bug in 7th grade. Peer pressure drove him to his very first run of 4 miles, which took him what seemed like forever. He says he didn’t become “fast” until his junior year of High School when his work paid off.
He earned a spot as one of the top runners in the state of South Carolina, and then the college recruiters came running. His freshman year of college was beyond memorable! As the fastest kid on their team, Robert helped them qualify for NCAA DII Nationals for the first time in the school’s history.
The day that Robert’s wife, Erin, decided to start running was also the day the two officially started dating (coincidence?). After cheering Robert across the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K finish in Charleston, SC (the 8th largest 10k in the world), Erin said she wanted to try a 5K. Since then, it’s proven clear that both her running and their love are here to stay.
“It’s amazing to see how far she has come in the past 5 years and how fast she has gotten,” said Robert. “She’s run more half marathons than I have and will be running her first marathon in October at the Chicago Marathon!”
Life was good in Charleston, SC, but when it came to finding a bigger city near family for settling down, Nashville was an easy decision. Robert can’t pin point exactly how he heard about NRC, but knows Scott Alexander greeted him that first Wednesday. The camaraderie and atmosphere left him and Erin intrigued, and they have been regulars ever since.
There are many reasons why he keeps coming back to NRC, but Robert admits, “Most importantly is being surrounded by people from all walks of life, fitness levels, and experiences that share the same passion you do. We have made great memories and friends through NRC and are very grateful for the experiences we have had so far.”
Just for fun, I asked him to list a few of his running accomplishments and was amazed to learn his 1-mile PR is 4:20, his 5K PR is 15:55 and his 10K PR is 34:20! Equally cool, his first marathon was in Dublin, Ireland in 2011. It is not uncommon for him to place at races and the handy man he is, he even built a trophy case to keep his collection of trophies.
Running the Carmel Marathon in 2015 with NRC is one of his favorite memories with the club. The numbers that traveled for that race and the support we brought for our crew astonished him. “I knew NRC was a special club,” said Robert, “but it wasn’t until that weekend that I knew we were a part of group of amazing people!”
This past year he’s had to overcome his biggest and only serious running injury, tearing his hip labrum. What’s his biggest training tip? If something is hurting, lay off. If it keeps hurting, go see a specialist about it. He learned first-hand ignoring it doesn’t do any good and results in hurting yourself even worse.
His current training goal is to be healthy, fully recovered and pain free. He has received doctor’s clearance to run the Rocket City Marathon in December where he hopes to BQ. Aside for the obvious reasons, this is a big goal because his Mom ran the 100th Anniversary of the Boston Marathon along with many others. The ultimate race on his bucket list is the Hood to Coast Relay Race.
So, if you’re out running with NRC and an anvil falls out of the sky attempting to squash a fellow runner, it is likely Wiley Coyote trying to catch Robert Petree. Seriously though, Robert brings so much to NRC through his friendship and support. We’re glad to recognize him for all he does for NRC and look forward to cheering him on in December!
ROTM Speed Round
Fav Grillin’ Food: Grilled corn
Tunes or no tunes: I have never run with music. At the gym working out a song that gets me going is “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore.
We’d never guess…In high school, I hated the fact that I had red hair so I dyed my hair every color from black, brown, blonde and even dabbled into the frosted tips!
Hobbies outside of running: There’s hobbies outside of running?! Anything Clemson oriented, traveling, and hanging out with our lab/retriever, Sophie.