Runner Spotlight: Delna Clark

When did you begin running and why?
When I moved to Virginia in 2005 I came across a group called Sarge Boot Camp. I had a gym membership, but wasn’t going consistently and I wanted something like a personal trainer to help me work out. Every Wednesday of this program we ran about 2-3 miles. I hated running the first year and would sometimes skip the Wednesday workout. The coach noticed this and asked why I hated running. I just hated being out of breath and the pain of it. He took the time to teach me some running techniques like breathing and foot strike. I started to love running and began signing up for 5K races in the area with another woman from the boot camp. My first big race was Rock N Roll Virginia Beach Half. I knew nothing about training for a race. I was just out there winging it. I was sore for a week after the race. My 2nd big race was the Army Ten Miler. I joined my Army Reserve Unit’s Team. I again ran this race without any training. I wasn’t as sore as the half after this race. After the Ten miler I began searching for a run group to help me train and improve my running.

How did you find out about DCRRC and when did you join?
I joined DCRRC in 2010 after I ran my first Half and then the Army 10 miler in 2009 without training. I was looking for someone or a group to run with. I fell into running and I wanted to improve my pace and have someone to run with on those long run days.

What are you training for right now?
2018 has been a slow running season for me. I injured my foot around September 2017 and took the winter off to recover. Its been a slow start getting back to running. My first run of the year was the inaugural National Women’s Half Marathon. In the coming weeks I plan to train for the Army 10 miler, the Marine Corps 10K and the Richmond Half. I’m sure I will run in a bunch of smaller races throughout the summer too.

What is the toughest run or race you’ve ever participated in?
The toughest race for me was the Bar Harbor Bank and Trust Half Marathon. This is a beautiful, but very hilly course through Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor Maine. About a mile into the race you head up a steep hill into the the park and the hills never stop until about mile 10. Miles 6 and 7 were the worst of all. When this race was over I felt like I had scaled a mountain. This was one of the most beautiful courses I have ever run, but the hills were brutal. I thought I would be OK running the hills because this race was at the end of my Army Ten Miler training with DCRR where I was adding miles to my long runs to prepare for the half and we had been running all over DC and some of our runs were on rolling hills. I was so happy to see the finish in this race, but this was still the best way to see Maine for the first time.

What’s your favorite part about being a DCRRC member?
The part to me is that you always have a run buddy. Everyone in DCRR is so friendly you can always find an old friend or new running buddy no matter what training program or Saturday long run you participate in. Knowing that someone is expecting me to show up to run with them and vice versa has motivated me to keep running over the years. Especially on those rainy, hot and steamy or frigid days here in DC.

What’s the most important lesson running has taught you?
One of my 10 miler coaches would say to us “you can and you will”. Running has taught me that “I can and I will” accomplish just about anything. There have been races I didn’t train for or days I wasn’t feeling my best and didn’t want to run, but I showed up anyway and I always finished, ran farther or did better than I thought I would. I have learned that I can push through and endure because of running. I gained a sense of accomplishment that I don’t think I would have had had it not been for running and DCRR.

What is your favorite route in the area?
I love running on the Capital Crescent Trail. I always see interesting wildlife and many cheerful runners, walkers and bikers. Plus there is a bathroom at Fletchers boat house (i think that’s what its called) if you need a mid run break or turn around point.

What race day traditions do you have?
This is going to seem weird, but I have to make sure I use the bathroom 2x before I leave the house for a race. I get race jitters no matter the distance or how well I’ve trained. I also must have smart water in my water belt if I carry it or after a race to aid in recovery. A few years back I just found that smart water is much more refreshing after a hot run. My morning breakfast before a run is always brown sugar cinnamon oatmeal and sometimes a piece of fruit, but always the oatmeal.

What’s your life like outside of running?
Outside of running I’m like most people in the DC area. I’m a 13 year federal employee at the Department of Defense. I am a special assistant to the Director of Washington Headquarters Services. My boss is the mayor of the Pentagon. I’m also an Army reservist of 23 years. I provide operational support to US Embassies in sub-Sahara Africa. I have 3 fur babies: a doxie named P-Nut, a Boston Terrier named Maddox, and Lab mix named Zeta.

What is one thing you wouldn’t run without?
I love running in the Lululemon/Athletica leggings that have the side leg pockets for your Gu or phone. I can’t live without these pants. They are so convenient when you need to store all your run essentials and not be bulked down with a belt or running pack.