by Garrett Powell & Lisa Maguire, originally published in September 2016
Kelly Horowitz is an incredible athlete, but you’d never know it because she’s also incredibly humble. Kelly is a competitive marathon runner who has collected numerous accomplishments across her running career. Though she has her good days and bad days with running, she always finds the motivation to push herself and get out there to be the best person she can be.
When asked why she runs, Kelly says she does it simply for herself and her health, both physically and mentally. Running is a key element in her life to keeping a healthy lifestyle. She says it’s also used as a sort of therapy tool. It provides her with the opportunity to get outside and just have some “me time” and enjoy the activity she loves.
Kelly hasn’t always been a runner – she started a little later on, after high school and college. It began as just a hobby when she was a teacher – a way to get outside and stay in shape. This is where her love of running grew into what it is today.
She started out with 5ks and quickly progressed to marathons. That’s when she met her coach and longtime advocate and supporter, Jim Fischer, a former track and field coach at the University of Delaware. As Kelly puts it, “he finds pure joy in helping people realize their potential and giving you the tools to get there. Jim would ride his bike next to me on my lonely 20-mile runs. He also would ride with me on my hilly 7 mile runs through Pike Creek…even getting caught in a lightning storm at 5:00 in the morning. Now, that’s dedication and a true friend.”
When the two first met, Jim was impressed with this seemingly “average” female who was running 70 miles a week without getting injured, despite not having formal training in running. He saw tremendous potential in Kelly and gave her not only direction but the confidence to push herself. “After our initial meeting, I started to go to the track and do speed work,” Kelly said. “We focused on keeping a 5k pace for 1,000 meters with a quarter mile jog between. He felt my strength as a runner was mileage and hills. Due to this new component of training, my times started to drop.” Running not only led Kelly to a lifelong friend in Jim, but this hobby-turned-passion is also how she met her husband. Running marathons allowed Kelly and her husband to travel the world, competing in London, Scotland, South Dakota, and Arizona.
Fast forward in her life to now, she has children and a host of new responsibilities that easily could have knocked her off course, but rather they changed her motivations. Instead of it only being a way to “stay fit,” it’s now important to Kelly to provide a positive example for her children – “I want to show them that I’m a strong and independent mom that can conquer anything I set my mind on.” Even being so powerfully motivated, having a strong support network is crucial. Though rare, Kelly does sometimes find herself lacking a little in motivation. When she does, she merely adjusts her way of thinking. She tells herself to “put on my shoes and run a mile and see how it goes.” She then repeats this process for each additional mile.
Instead of feeling like she’s spending time away from her family to train, she has found a way to balance spending time with them and doing what she loves. After a good run or workout at HAC, Kelly can often be found sharing a meal with her children or watching them play in the maze. She has also gotten her nieces and nephews to start training – some even participated in the Delaware Relay Race alongside her!
Kelly has participated in numerous races and won numerous awards – she’s even sponsored by New Balance! Some of Kelly’s most notable accomplishments include beating the Delaware State Record for the marathon in her age group in 2006, competing and winning the Vermont Marathon in 2010, and winning the Rehoboth Marathon in 2009! The big one though was Kelly’s participation in the Boston Marathon (a goal for many runners) in April 2016. Although it was difficult, she qualified by a landslide! When asked if she ever “hit the wall,” (what runners often refer to as the moment during a long distance run where you suddenly feel like you cannot physically continue), during the Boston, she said she never did – she reported feeling well prepared both mentally and physically, and attributes that to HAC Master Personal Trainer, Dina Saitis, whose classes Kelly takes on a regular basis.
“One of Dina’s classes is harder than a marathon!” she said in jest. Kelly says that a major component in the way Dina teaches is that she leads by example. She keeps a very upbeat, fun and positive vibe when training her clients, and Kelly said that she aspires to be like her. Dina was able to change the way Kelly looks at working out and was able to change her outlook on running.
“Training with Dina has become not only a physical component to my weekly workouts but an emotional one as well. She truly cares about not only my running goals but my entire well-being. Before any weight is even lifted, Dina asks, “How are YOU?” Her ability to assess exactly where I am at that moment is extremely important to me.
“Dina’s small group classes and training in general have blended strength-training, flexibility work, and plyometric moves. Incorporating these types of exercises has kept me injury free and stronger than ever. As a trainer, Dina asks me to leave my comfort zone on a daily basis. Her intense and creative workouts push me in a way that I never thought possible. Her ever-changing plans keep me on my toes and ultimately make me a stronger runner.
“Dina leads by example. Due to her commitment to her clients, I am becoming the best version of myself. I’m a stronger runner, teacher, wife, and mother. Finally, training with Dina has helped me find a balance in my life, and I consider myself extremely lucky to have achieved that goal.”