The Usual Prospects: Karen Ziga

Karen near the finish of her sub-3:00 marathon (Philadelphia, 2012). Editor's Note: this is the first installment of a new series called "The Usual Prospects" - a revival of Paul Soskind's "Meet the Members" feature. Thanks to Matt Strawn for the catchy name.

A serious commitment to running wasn’t something new for Karen Ziga when she joined the PPTC in 2012. Karen had already run both track and cross-country at Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, earning a gold medal in the 10K and a bronze in the 5K at the final Centennial Conference track meet in May 2007. Her family includes runners as well; both her father and brother have run in cross-country events.

Karen, whose five years as a New York City resident have included three years in Brooklyn, finds Brooklyn a great place to train, whether alone or with a group. In fact, her first encounters with PPTC members occurred in 2010 when she heard about group runs meeting at Grand Army Plaza. The PPTC members she met there opened up the opportunity to join with a local track club. She actually qualified for Boston that year, and ran it in 2012 and again this year, coming in with a time of 3:01:35, well before the bombing that marred the 2013 event.

Karen’s training schedule reflects the priority she gives to running at this time. Normally, her training runs vary between eight and twelve miles, with a run of eight to nine being most typical. That is the kind of mileage and pace-training that Karen feels is aided by being part of a team. Indeed, she credits Lynda Mules’ encouragement to take part in team races as a very positive influence. “Miles don’t change,” she notes, and “team competition” can play a strong role in furthering one’s running goals. That certainly seems to be working for Karen, who has broken three hours in the Philadelphia Marathon, and who has placed in the top ten women in her age group (Karen is 28) in several recent NYRR races (including a fourth place in this year’s Manhattan Half). She is actually prouder of her finishing 16th in her age group at this year’s NYC Half Marathon where she achieved a 1:23:40 PR.

Not surprisingly, Karen’s favorite distance is the marathon. She is aware that there can be many demands on one’s time that make it difficult to train for that distance (Karen is an assistant on-line editor for the widely respected magazine This Old House), but her running goals are important priorities to her. In Karen’s view, running has given her so much—“a sense of confidence, fulfillment, health, friends”—that she hopes to give it her “best” as long as she can. It is encouraging to her that there are PPTC members in all age groups, and that running can actually become a “lifelong activity.”

Karen offers some interesting advice for the new runner. “Don’t be scared of distance goals, or time goals,” she advises, “even if it seems to hurt a little.” A good many Club members might consider those goals, actually, and it is certain that if they want to follow up on them, then Karen can point them to PPTC’s group runs schedule.

Michael Rieman