Alumni: Bethany Clark
Name: Bethany Clark
College: Penn State University
By: Kevin Brandon
Hi Bethany! Thanks for taking time for a member spotlight interview. Could you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you end up in Philadelphia and when did you start running? Did a specific event compel you to become a runner?
Hi Kevin, thanks for reaching out! I am a native of the Philly suburbs but have been in this lovely city for the past six years since graduating from Penn State. I started running when I realized how terrible I was at any sport with a ball, which happened to be in eighth grade. I swore I would never run cross country, but then started receiving recruitment phone calls from the high school coach and eventually gave in. I’d like to say I was getting those calls because I was a 13 yr old phenom, but it was actually just because XC wasn’t cool then and my coach was desperate to have enough girls to score in a meet.
Once you began running, how did your career develop? Can you take us through day one to today?
Once I started running in high school, I realized my strengths laid mostly in the distance events- my favorites being the 800m and mile. I guess my biggest claim to fame in those days was our 2nd place state finish in the 4×800 and an 8th place state finish in the mile, both in 2006. The best part is my high school (St Pius X) closed a few years after I graduated, so the records we held will stand indefinitely! Maybe my best and worst decision was deciding not to run in college- best because I met my husband running for the club, worst because I will always wonder the trajectory my running path could have taken.
Since my time at Penn State, it seems I’ve gotten more serious about running with each year that passes. I hate to admit it, but it all started with a goal in 2012 to beat Cecily Tynan at the BSR. I have no idea what sparked this, but I finally did it in 2014 and then realized I should probably start caring more about competition in my own age group. Since then, I’ve just really enjoyed trying different races and seeing what my body can do.
Thanks to an earlier interview with your husband, Sean, we know that you ran club cross country at Penn State. What was that experience like? Were you among those taking tequila shots pre-race or did you take it more seriously?
The Penn State Club XC team was such a great experience. I loved that you could take it however seriously (or not) you wanted. I will admit that I did not imbibe in tequila before a race, probably because I didn’t want to throw up on the course while trying to impress my new boyfriend, but I still had a ton of fun! With the way that the Penn State Nursing program works, I had to live in Hershey, PA for a year to complete my clinical rotations, which meant missing out on the club my Junior year. While I had great hope in taking my Senior year seriously with the club, I, unfortunately, got into a brawl with a car while running up at PSU. Let’s just say the car won.
You recently had a great marathon in Chicago. Can you tell us about your race day experience? What sort of training did you do to have such a successful result? Did your race unfold as desired?
Thank you! It was such an awesome race experience, from the weather to the great spectators to having my best friend running next to me. When training for my first marathon last year, I realized how much-increased mileage was helping me PR in races of all lengths. Since then, I’ve just tried to stay consistent with my mileage. For Chicago, I peaked around 75-80 (which is probably chump change for most of the runners on this club) and tried to concentrate on marathon specific workouts.
What drives you to continue embracing running competitively?
I’d have to say it has a lot to do with my run-in with that car in 2009. It could have been a great deal worse, but I was a bit banged up for a while. It sidelined my running and my life for longer than I wanted it to, but I am so lucky to have recovered as well as I did. I try to remain grateful that I have the ability to run every day and race competitively. In my opinion, there isn’t a better feeling in the world than finishing a great race.
Can you share with us a not-so-great running experience?
Any half marathon ever. They have not been good to me.
Regarding your running future, what are your near and long-term goals?
I sure would love to break 3 hours in the marathon! Maybe 2017 will be the year. After that, I’d love to concentrate on breaking 18 minutes in the 5k. Lots of work to do, though!
None of us in PRTC are full-time runners. What sort of work do you do for a living? Do you find work ever compliments or takes away from your running goals?
I am a Registered Nurse in the NICU at CHOP, which means I get to care for the sweetest little babes and their parents. I love it and wouldn’t change a thing… except maybe my schedule because it makes me miss almost every PRTC workout! It sometimes means running at odd hours after being on my feet for 14 hours, but it also means I have weekdays off to run whenever I want. I can’t complain!
Any non-running related hobbies, hidden skills or talents we may enjoy hearing about?
Cooking, baking, and flowers. You need anything with food or bouquets, I’m your girl.