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Published May 12, 2013, 11:40 PM

Local working moms say with right mindset, anyone can run a half-marathon

WEST FARGO – Michelle Donarski runs for the mochas. Every Saturday morning, the 45-year-old West Fargo woman runs with a group of friends who call themselves the WHORS – Women High on Running. Afterward, they go out for coffee.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

WEST FARGO – Michelle Donarski runs for the mochas.

Every Saturday morning, the 45-year-old West Fargo woman runs with a group of friends who call themselves the WHORS – Women High on Running.

Afterward, they go out for coffee.

“When we hit mile seven, I’ll say, ‘We’re so close, I can taste it,’ ” she says.

The WHORS, often wearing hats, colorful wigs and feather boas, run for charity. Donarski has joined them for two long-distance relay races.

“We come in last, but we still do it,” she says.

Michelle Keil’s first experience with long-distance running was as a water station volunteer at the Fargo Marathon with her employer.

“I remember seeing everybody running – young, old, everybody shape – and thinking, ‘Man, if they can do this, why am I not doing this?’ ” the 39-year-old Fargo woman says.

Though they started for different reasons, Donarski and Keil met in December through Fargo Marathon director Mark Knutson, and they’ll both be running in this weekend’s half-marathon, Donarski with her WHOR friends, Keil with her 60-year-old dad and sister.

This’ll be dad Terry’s first year in the race, and Keil’s fourth.

Neither Donarski nor Keil was athletic growing up, nor do they consider themselves athletes now.

But, Keil says, “Anyone can do it if you put your mind to it.”

Despite a knee injury, Keil’s participated in three half-marathons.

“Last year, I didn’t stop during the half because I knew if I stopped, I wasn’t going to be able to start again,” she says. “So when I got to the finish line, I went straight to the medical station and got ice.”

For Donarski, a rambunctious black Lab puppy named Molly first got her running five years ago.

“Somebody needed to take her for a run, and my husband wasn’t doing it, so I had to step up to the plate,” she says.

Aside from a couple years off because of a pinched sciatic nerve, she’s been running ever since.

Both women are married with children and work full time.

“Even though you’re busy and you have kids, you can still run the race,” Donarski says.

The Fargo-based attorney runs early in the morning while her 15- and 12-year-old daughters are still asleep.

It’s gotten easier to fit into her schedule now that they’re older and can be left alone.

Getting up at 5:30 a.m. isn’t easy, but it has its benefits.

“It doesn’t matter how busy you are for the rest of the day because you’ve already gotten your run out of the way,” she says.

Donarski wasn’t always a morning person. She had to force it.

“It’s been brutal. It probably took like two years to become a morning person. Now I am,” she says.

Though she doesn’t get up as early as Donarski, Keil runs in the morning, too.

The marketing communications manager and her husband take turns watching their 5-year-old daughter while the other goes for a run.

Sometimes they run together while pushing Kori in a stroller, but Keil prefers to run alone.

“That’s my time to forget everything,” she says. “Pulling weeds and running are the only times I shut my brain off.”

Last year, all three participated in Fargo Marathon events. Dad Bryon ran the full, mom Michelle the half and daughter Kori the kids’ run.

“This’ll be my fourth year, and she’s only 5. She wants to run now. She wants running clothes. It’s kind of fun because I hope I’m instilling that in her so that she wants to exercise,” Keil says.

Training began in January for both women.

Donarski has done most of hers outdoors, except for one day when freezing rain was in the forecast.

“It’s been tough. It’s been ice. It’s been snow. We’ve jumped over snow hills,” she says. “You just go slow. Slow and steady.”

Keil has stayed indoors, running mostly on a treadmill.

“It’s a mental game. I cover the treadmill so I can’t see how far I’ve gone. I use songs instead. I put it on random and I can only look after 12 songs,” she says.

She listens to Britney Spears, Eminem, Motley Crue – anything with a faster beat.

Donarski likes Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter.”

“I need something to get me fighting,” she says.

Some of Donarski’s friends (“You have your running friends, and you have your non-workout friends that you drink beer with”) tease her for her early morning long-distance runs.

Her response? “Try it! Don’t knock it till you try it.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590

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