How One Gritty Ultra Runner Gives Back thru Girls on the Run

I’m super excited and inspired by today’s Motivational Monday’s highlight runner! This amazing ultra runner and inspirational woman happened to be representing the Girls on the Run program, at the Iowa Running Company’s Ladies Night, which I guest spoke at almost two weeks ago now. Her name is Kelly Teeselink and man oh man, is she the real deal! I was personally so inspired by her that I asked her if she’d be open to sharing her story and allowing me to interview her for my RMC Podcast. It didn’t take much coercing and since she was so pleasantly wiling, today I give you “How One Gritty Ultra Runner Gives Back thru Girls on the Run”, a two part podcast and GRIT campaign highlight.

Part 1 – Spreading Girls On the Run Education

I was so grateful to be part of an evening (the Iowa Running Co. Ladies Night) and event, where 100% of the proceeds got paid forward to the Girls on the Run Program. Even better yet, Kelly and I made a fun running connection and as always I went home that evening inspired by another runner’s story.

Kelly’s story is unique and dynamically rounded with her leadership and involvement with Girls on the Run (GOTR) but, also because she has progressed now to the 100 mile ultra distance. She attributes part of her ultra running success to the confidence she gained thru learning that body image has no relevance to the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment gained from running. This is part of what stoked her initial passion to become a GOTR coach and to try to positively influence girls at a much younger age with the same realization.

On a side note, some of you that have been my blessed loyal followers, already know that last fall I ran the Chicago Marathon for the Girls on the Run Charity. Here are a few of those blog posts, leading up to the marathon.

Thru out the process last fall, I discovered that not enough people knew about the Girls on the Run program. So I was very happy to interview Kelly and help her not only share her story, but also use my platform to help educate others about the Girls on the Run Program.

Girls On the Run Is Much More Than Just Running

Kelly elaborates on the other character building aspects of the GOTR program. In fact, she states, “It is NOT to develop competitive runners!” The program is more so to help build confidence in young girls, teach mechanisms for blocking out negative self talk, and how to not only accept yourself but how to accept the best in others.

We both agreed, that we wished there were some equivalent program around for us as young girls.

Part 2 – GRIT Talk with Kelly Teeselink

Hopefully by now, you have discovered the RMC Podcast and subscribed to it, so that you don’t miss out on any upcoming episodes. I decided to split my interview with Kelly into two parts. Part 1 – Episode 13, being dedicated to Girls on the Run. And Part 2 – Episode 14, being dedicated to asking Kelly some of her thoughts and personal experiences with GRIT.

I’m very fascinated with the sport psychology and principles behind the GRIT mentality for runners. I truly believe that if we can get more runner’s to adopt this mindset, they may be able to strive for new, harder, or more challenging goals. A few general questions that I posed to Kelly were;

  • What is your definition of GRIT?
  • Do you have specific people, athletes, or runners, that you think of as gritty?
  • Does you think that runner’s GRIT is innate and instinctive or can it be learned and developed as a culture or lifestyle?
  • Would you consider someone with GRIT, or even yourself, as being an obsessive person? (I’m eager to debunk the association general society carries with the extreme distance)
  • When and how did you gain or grow your grit?
  • What is it internally that makes you continue to pursue your passion or interest in running? Thru out training or during an 100 mile race?
  • If GRIT and self control are related, how have you been tested to prove this? (the ability to resist temptation)
  • What do you think you possesses that allows you to have the ability to sustain hard efforts for a long duration of time?
  • How would you advise others on how to become GRITTY or grow their own grit?

Kelly will be the first of many I hope to interview this year for my podcast and GRIT campaign. You can find links for listening or subscribing, to several podcast hosting platforms via the RMC Podcast tab at the top of this page. Stay tuned and enjoy!!!

Inspiration In A Small World – Meeting Oddbjorn Homstvedt

A few weeks back I shared how I had randomly met a seemingly handicapped man from Norway, while running on the trail.  That’s Norway the country by the way, NOT Norway, Iowa.  We ran together for three or four miles and tried to conversate thru a little bit of a language barrier.  I discovered that not only did he easily maintain my progressive pace, which had us logging the last mile around 7:20-7:35, but that meeting Oddbjorn Homstvedt made me feel like our “running world” seemed surprisingly small.

Always Amazed…

I’ve sat huddled shoulder to shoulder, wrapped in a garbage bag in pouring rain with other runners while waiting for my wave to start at the Boston Marathon.  In oddly intimate moments like that, you almost feel obligated to alleviate the awkwardness of it by striking conversations with those around you.    When I began to really listen to other’s stories, it was very inspiring to me that we were all there huddled together on that morning in Boston because we shared similar passions and the interest of running.

Of course, the nature and draw of that morning united a pre-destined group of people together.  However, the morning that I was running solo on the trail when I met the Norwegian runner was much more random.  And yet, I went home afterward feeling the same inspiration and worldly camaraderie.

 Meeting Oddbjorn Homstvedt

From what I could gather by my quick visual observations, Oddbjorn was a handicapped runner.  But his handicap, I discovered may also be a defining strength of his.  He quickly approached me running up from behind with two canes attached to his wrists.  I wasn’t necessarily startled or threatened, which one can never be too cautious these days.  His off-set gait created a shuffling of his feet thru the leaves on the trail.

Once he was beside me as he easily could’ve passed me at that point, I cordially just said ‘Good Morning’.  He replied something with a foreign accent.  I wasn’t sure I had heard him correctly.  For the sake of pleasantries, I replied back “What a beautiful Iowa sunrise!” and did quick nod in the direction of the sun rising over the cornfield next to us.

He asked if it was ok to run with me and as we ran next to each other over the next mile or so, he told me that he was from Norway.  He asked me the usual questions one runner might ask another.  And when I reciprocated the same getting to know you questions, I was able to make out that he holds the Guinness Book of World Records for most races in one year.

Like I mentioned before, I ran a progressive pace that day which started with Oddbjorn around 8:00 minutes per mile average and completing the last of about 6 miles (he started running with me at about mile 1.5) at around 7:20 average mile.  I wouldn’t consider myself fast by any means, but conversating the entire time got me thinking that he must not be kidding around about his world record stuff.

About Oddbjorn Homtvedt

At the end of the run we exchanged e-mails and I had him write his name down.  I wasn’t exactly sure how he was saying it.  I couldn’t help after I returned home, typing his name into a Google search and sure enough these are a couple of articles (translated with Google translate) that popped up.

Great success in Årefjorden around

Great success in Årefjorden around


Running with crutches – knocks the competitors


Since that day and my original blog post mentioning him, his fiance and a close friend have reached out to me thru Facebook.  They shared with me that during his visit in Iowa, he ran the Mercy 5 mile Loop in Des Moines.  There he came in fifth with a time of 33:43 (6:45/avg. mile).  He also ran the 5k Des Moines Marathon and came in 9th with a finishing time of 20:20 (6:33/avg. mile).  His friend’s proudly noted that if you put both of those races together he came in first out of 40,000 people. And had apparently received a letter from the Des Moines Marathon chairman.


Who would’ve thought that you could just set out to get a few miles in on a weekday morning in piddly little Shueyville, Iowa and end up meeting an unpredictably speedy man from Norway who holds the Guinness Book of World Records?

Perhaps, I’ll someday travel to Norway and be able to run in the Norwegian mountains and fjords.  I’ve already typed in another Google Search!

*Places I Want to Run Bucketlist
The 14 Best Hikes In Norway You Have To Experience

*added to Places I Want to Run Bucketlist

Coaches Corner Friday – Taking Your Grit out into the Big Wide World!

Taking Your Grit out into the Big Wide World!

Welcome to the tail end of winter running everyone!!  If you’ve already tuned into this week’s blog posts you’ve already observed that the theme for the week was “Grit”.  I shared some personal inspiration that came from a great book written by Angela Duckworth, literally called GRIT.

And now that we’re at the end of the week and we’ve identified from Mom Blog Monday’s post; “GRIT” – What is it and do YOU have it? and a few grit growing resources on Wednesday’s Happy Running Hump Days post; “GRIT” – Motivation and Inspiration on ways to be Gritty.  It’s time for you start or continue “Taking Your Grit out into the Big Wide World!”

“Grit” is a Lifestyle

I mentioned in my posts earlier this week, that teaching grit is something that is always a priority for endurance athletes and specifically something I strive to do with my cross country team.

Helping runner’s develop grit isn’t something that happens overnight or in one day during one run.  Isn’t having grit in itself, kind of embody a mindset and lifestyle of perseverance, tenacity, and willingness to dismiss discomfort for a purpose or goal?  As a coach, one of the first steps in teaching towards longterm success and grit as a runner is to first help the kids identify their passion for running and to help nurture that passion. Basically, they have to learn to love it before they’re going to want to stick with it for any duration of time.

After the first season or two of creating a love for running or igniting the passion for running, then we start to get hungry for the possibilities of what each runner can be or become.  Thus, the goal setting stages.  Dream big, dream far, dream for what they can become.  Setting the goals and mapping out how to get there seems easy.  Haven’t we all been guilty at some point in our lives of setting a goal and becoming excited about it and then abandoning it or getting lazy somewhere in the process.  This is the ‘grit’ growing stage.

Broken down even further within the process, we take every opportunity to drive grit characteristics into the runners.  Fortunately, the State of Iowa and athletic union allows direct hands-on coaching during the summer with athletes.  For a fall XC season, this is a win-win situation because we use it as a sort of bricklaying base pre-season.  It’s during these hot summer months of running and building mileage progressions with long runs that we remind the kids how tough they are and need to be to grind thru some of the workouts.  And then from day to day, week to week, month by month they see that it all becomes relative.  They can get thru hard things and it almost de-sensitizes their fragility to what can be considered tough.  They ‘callous’ themselves so to speak and the byproduct is “grit”.

Tom Bilyeu and his YouTube channel and website Impact Theory  – shared on Wednesday’s post – offers an incredible FREE little poster and print off that really encapsulates some of the basic GRIT character necessities and fundamentals.  I’ve attached a link directly on the poster image below to go to Impact Theory website to paruse the information yourself.

The 25 Steps to Living a Life of Impact – Impact Theory

Do you have a “GRIT” mantra?

Additionally, one of the other ways we coach our XC runners to specifically have and train for having “grit” is to teach them how to adopt a mantra.  Runners World magazine had a great article in their March 2018 magazine that spoke towards how to develop a mantra with a great accompanying visual cartoon.  It reminded me of a Mad Libs game from when I was a kid.  You know the little books that had sheets inside with stories where you had to fill in the blanks with an adjective, or verb or noun.

If you don’t’ subscribe to Runner’s World you can read more on the specific article from this website.

Have you ever used a mantra for yourself?  What has been one of your favorites to use?  My personal favorites are one I stole from Shalane Flanagan – “Cold Execution”.  And the other was something I read somewhere and it is, “I do hard things”.  Both of these are what I remind myself of when I start feeling sorry for myself during a run, or tough workout.

“Cold Execution” to me means, to remove any emotional response to what’s going on and just try to ACT LIKE A MACHINE and EXECUTE!  And at other times I like to remind myself that yeah, what I’m going thru seems hard but not to shy away from it.  “I do hard things!”.

I would love to hear your personal mantras and if you think it’s an especially a good one and are ok with sharing, let’s put them out there for others.  Own your mantra!!  Happy Fri-Yay!!!

P.S. To submit your mantra, click on the Like button below and enter it into the comments box once it pops up.  Or click on the Contact Corrie tab on the right side of the screen.