Kristen Klein, Program Coordinator For LEAD Brevard, Selected Top Area Female Runner
By Steve Wilson // June 28, 2016
loves include running, people and community
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA —Each year, Space Coast Runners selects a male and female Runner of the Year that are determined by using a point system.
It’s really very simple – the formula, not the running!
In order to be eligible for consideration, men and women must compete in at least eight of ten designated races throughout the course of the year. The person with the most points wins.
This year, Kristen Klein, program coordinator for LEAD Brevard, was selected as the top female runner. Born in Portland, Ore., and raised in Battle Ground, Wash., Klein’s backyard view was actually of Mount St. Helens.
Active as a youngster, Klein knew at a very early age that she wanted to be a runner. She was so focused, in fact, that she created an Olympic routine on her trampoline that she memorized and says she could still perform to this day.
Klein’s involvement with team sports began in middle school as a member of the volleyball team. She participated in summer track meets, enjoyed it, and thought initially that she was a sprinter but soon came to realize that long-distance running was her strong suit.
Klein continued her “short-lived” volleyball career into high school, playing throughout her freshman and sophomore years.
But, because track and volleyball were both fall sports, Klein realized she had to come to terms with which one to pursue. She chose her first love – running. Klein enjoyed everything about running, especially cross-country. To be able to run through the hills and ruggedness of Lewisville Park was very special.
After high school, Klein attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash.
Although she decided to focus more on academics, Klein kept running, but mostly on a recreational level. After transferring to Florida State University to pursue a degree in Underwater Archeology, running continued to be a part of her life.
After college, Klein knew that she wanted to keep running because for Klein, running had become a lifestyle.
“Instead of making an excuse not to run, I would make an excuse to run,” Klein said.
Currently, Klein runs two to three days per week, unless she is in “real training mode,” when she runs four to five times per week.
In a sport where camaraderie is strong, Klein prefers to train alone and run alone because it sharpens her focus. However, she also enjoys running with groups, which she does at least once a week with the Cocoa Beach Fun Runners & Walkers.
Klein says that her favorite distance to run is between an 8K and a 10K. At that distance, Klein says she feels as if her body is warming up, and then she puts it on cruise control and just goes. She also enjoys bare-foot beach running at that distance. Klein’s least favorite run is the 5K because to her, it feels more like a 3.1-mile sprint, which is hard on her body.
Prior to a race, Klein said she is very aware of her competitors, and respects them. However, when the horn goes off and the race starts, she zones out, seeing only what is directly in front of her.
As a member of the Space Coast Runners, she likes having a teammate next to her during a race.
As Klein puts it, “To be able to charge together as a group, is a powerful thing. It feels like a team sport and we are working together. We also push each other. And that’s what I like during a race.”
Klein’s favorite part of a race is the half-way point. She says this because “it takes a lot to get to that point, a lot of buildup, it’s not over yet, it hurts, but there is a finish in sight.”
During the race itself, Klein doesn’t think about anything in particular.
Klein says she is “living in the moment.” For the most part, she knows where she stands during a race. And, when she crosses the finish line first, which for Klein happens fairly often, it is, as she says, “an amazing feeling.”
She will immediately look back to see who she can congratulate, because it is such an accomplishment just to get through the race.
To show the type of person Klein is, she said that one of her favorite moments from the past season was one in which she did not run but participated as a volunteer. She was the “genie mile marker” at mile marker 13 of the Cocoa Beach Half Marathon.
According to Klein, there were so many happy people to reach that point. It seemed to her that every one of them had a story as to why they wanted to run the race.
“That brought the whole running culture full circle. To volunteer, and cheer, and not even run was very special and meaningful,” said Klein.
Without a doubt, Klein is a goal-oriented person. And, Space Coast Runners is much more than a running club. It is a non-profit organization, whose purpose is to promote fitness, through running and walking at the community level in Brevard County.
Klein will join the SCR Board of Directors this year. Her goal these days is not so much on setting a personal record every time she runs, but focusing more on the community, asking herself, what can I do to better the community? She is hoping she can pass on the knowledge and excitement of running to someone that might find it of interest.
When asked about being selected as female runner of the year, she said, “It’s a huge honor because there are amazing competitors in the club that are outstanding. People are watching the stats, and are watching to see where they are placing in their age groups. It’s very competitive, but it’s fun. It’s a friendly competition.”
Klein said when giving advice to a new runner, to “keep it fun, listen to your body, set realistic goals, and it’s good to push yourself. Also, run with a group. It is powerful motivation, and you will make friends that you will have for the rest of your life.”
Kristen Klein is the definition of a runner. But, she is much more than that. She is a special young lady that loves running, loves people and loves her community. We need more Kristen Klein’s in this world.
That being said, we are fortunate to have this Kristen Klein in our community.
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