Runner Profile – Joan Tapken

Joan and I took a laid-back run on a blustery morning, and she talked about how running got her through difficult times in her life and changed her perception of herself.

Joan started running in the summer of 2014. She recalls being out on the beach with her good friend Tiffany and they were talking, and she told Tiffany that she “wanted to do a triathlon.” Joan hadn’t been particularly athletic before, but she was in the middle of a marriage breakup and felt she needed to change things up and try to live a more healthy lifestyle.  Joan says, “I never really took time for myself….It became my time, like therapy almost for me.”

Joan has done several triathlons, as well as running longer distances, including the Philadelphia marathon in November of 2015. She ran her first half marathon in May 2015, and says she ended up feeling kind of sick afterwards, probably because she says, “I didn’t take in any nutrition. I just didn’t know.” She says she later learned how to taken in some nutrition on longer runs and has used Sport Beans as well as Advocare products. She used Advocare’s lemon gel about every five miles, and would sometimes use their product Spark as a preworkout. She also likes Advocare’s Rehydrate drink. Of her first marathon, Joan says, “That was tough, but I finished it.”

She followed Hal Higdon’s beginner marathon plan to train. Joan works three 12-hour shifts, so sometimes, working training runs around the long shifts was difficult. She would usually find a way to shuffle the shorter runs so that the shortest ones fell on her work days and the longer runs were her off days. She kept her long runs to Sundays and ran early then went to church. Joan keeps a calendar where she pencils in her training schedule, and then after she completes a run, she erases the pencil and writes it in pen. She laughed about the quirkiness of it, but says it gives her a satisfaction to complete the run and mark it as completed.

Joan has been involved with the Mullica Hill Women’s Tri Club, as well as the Run856 group. She also goes to some of the Road Runners Club of Woodbury’s fun runs. Joan says, “I have a lot of support and encouragement.” She does almost all of her races with her friend Tiffany. Out of all of her supporters, she says her two sons “are my biggest cheerleaders.”

“I love medals,” Joan says, laughing. “I love the bling.” Given that, I was surprised to hear she doesn’t have a display for her medals. She keeps them all in a shoebox. She says she spread them all out on the table recently and was amazed at how many there were.

In 2017, Joan is looking to “try different runs.” She is planning to try a 10k trail run, which will be different for her since she has done mainly road running. She is running the Love Run as part of a relay team. (There is still time for you to sign up for the Love Run and you can find a discount code in my interview with Jen Nichols.) Joan is also working on logging 1000 miles in 2017. She is doing Tri AC, the Williamstown Badgers Triathlon, and Escape the Cape sprint tri. She is a little nervous about Escape the Cape, because you jump off of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry into the Delaware Bay, and it looks pretty daunting to take that jump into the water. For Joan, she thinks Escape the Cape is a “bucket list” kind of a race. Joan also wants to work on getting her 5k time down under 30 minutes.

Joan shared a great story about going on a trail run at Ceres Park. She was with a group, and everyone got a try at a rope swing that is back near the trail. She was afraid and didn’t do it. Kym Stone, from the Mullica Hill Women’s Tri Club, noticed, and took her back to the rope after people had moved on a little bit and encouraged Joan to just put her weight on it a bit, just to feel it out. She told Kym, “I’m hesitant just because I don’t know if I’m strong enough to hold myself.” She was surprised at her own strength, and was amazed to see how she was stronger than she thought she was.

I asked Joan if she had advice for new runners, and she says, “If it’s something you want to do, just do it. Just get out there and do your best.” Joan has lost over 40 pounds through triathlon and running. She says, “I never would have thought I’d be doing what I’m doing now.” “Now I can’t imagine not doing this stuff.”

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Don’t let the sunshine fool you — the wind was WHIPPING today!

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