Keeping the Pace

A Naperville resident has laced up her sneakers to join 45,000 runners for this year’s 35th-annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon. During the popular race, Caroline Yasuda will hit the pavement has a pacer.

Naperville Running Company partners with Nike each year to recruit suburban residents to help keep the pace in the marathon. Yasuda will be running the 26.2-mile race at a 10 ½ minutes per mile while holding a sign to help others participants keep their pace.

“You’re going to have seasoned athletes and you’re going to have newbies and the thing about the pacer is they marriage them all together,” said Yasuda. “The other thing is that after you’ve done all this training together, you’ve got people you know and people you can start off running with.”

Yasuda also leads two running groups, one through Naperville Running Company and the other with the Fry Family YMCA, helping others achieve their own personal goals.

“She’ll be our pacer but I think more importantly, she’s just encouraging us to keep going, when we hit a wall,” said Tammy Schultz, also a local resident and runner in this year’s Chicago Marathon. “That’s more important than the time I feel like.”

Yasuda has been in more than 30 marathons and half-marathons 15 ultra marathons, including a recent three-day, 100-mile event to benefit pediatric cancer research, and five half iron mans. She says the secret to a great race is to have a healthy diet and on the day of, relax and don’t be so concerned about mileage or time.

“Just enjoy the journey cause it’s a lot like life. There’s going to be ups and going to be downs but it’s all apart of the journey,” said Yasuda.

Yasuda’s YMCA running group is not just for marathoners. Novice runners enjoy the exercise and camaraderie just as much as the veteran athletes. And participants say their leader has them leaving every run feeling inspired.

“She is just as kind and loving,” said Diana Kincaid. “She sees potential in every person and she’s taken people who couldn’t they could run at all or started at walking and taking them all the way through marathon training.”

“So many people helped me to be a stronger running so I think it’s about giving back and paying it forward,” said Yasuda. “I have found so much joy in running and some of the best friendships and some of the best life lessons that I would just like to share that with everyone else.”

Yasuda averages about 45 miles of running a week, more sometimes when preparing for longer races and she doesn’t plan on hitting the brakes any time soon. Yasuda welcomes everyone – men and women – to join her running group at 9am on Tuesdays and 8:15am on Thursdays at the Fry Family YMCA on 95th street.


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