Did we mention 2013 was her first year trail and ultra running?
Just as admirable is her humility, sense of community, and the positive role model she is to the Omaha running community. It’s hard to ignore her dedication and hard work, running over 100 miles a week while maintaining a job as a full time physical therapist. Kaci is the person who smiles and says hello during a race she’s about to win then sticks around to see her friends and back of the packers finish. The Greater Omaha Area Trail-Runners (G.O.A.T.z) are proud of Kaci and fortunate to have her as a part of this group and the local running community.
How did you first discover running?
I first discovered running when I was a junior in high-school. My mom had quit smoking and started jogging to keep weight off and maintain health. She invited me to come join her at the gym. I would go with her and she would hop on the treadmill, so I got on to one beside her. It killed me to run 5 minutes. I thought I was going to die! She would keep going and I wanted to be able to keep up with her, so I kept increasing my time minute by minute until finally it was 10 minutes and so on. I had always been an active kid, playing outdoors, but never anything structured. I soon began to like running and the sense of accomplishment I felt after doing it. Soon thereafter, I was talked into running cross country with my best friend. I have continued to run ever since.
What interests you about trail and ultra running?
I find trail and ultra running so fresh and rewarding. The friendliness and helpfulness of the people who run trails/ultras really draw me close to this sport. I love the fact that so many people of different abilities run these events and inspire others along the way. For me being out in nature for long periods of time is spiritual to me. I love the feeling of going beyond what your mind believes you can do. I love physical challenges so trail/ultra running fits my personality perfectly.
What advice would you share with someone new to trail running?
I would advise you to forget the watch and run on effort and enjoy the new scenery. I had a hard time at first going from being a road runner to a trail runner. I would run and look down at my mile split and see it was 60-90 seconds slower and working harder than I should feel for the pace. I soon learned to let go and work at going by effort. Once I did that I felt free and loved the trails. And don’t be surprised if you feel more soreness at first. Trail running really works all your muscles, whereas roads are working the larger muscle groups. Your body will get stronger and adapt, just be patient and give yourself time to adjust.
How do you find time to juggle training and working full-time?
How I juggle work and running is that I utilize all my time and keep in a routine. I plan to get off of work and get running as soon as I get home. I am a person who loves routine, so by keeping this as just part of my day makes it easy for me. I also have Miguel (Ordorica), my training partner, to hold me accountable. We enjoy our ‘social hour(s)’ after work. It is great therapy!
“For me being out in nature for long periods of time is spiritual to me. I love the feeling of going beyond what your mind believes you can do.”
Wow, that is a loaded question! There are so many that are memorable. I guess I would have to say the Black Hills 100. It was my first 100 mile race. I think about how much I learned about myself during that run. It was just one of those amazing experiences that I will never forget.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
One thing that people might be surprised to know about me is that I grew up having a pet goat! She was a British Alpine named Oreo. We got her from one of our friends to “goat-sit”. Well, we ended up falling in love with her and the lady we were watching her for decided to give her to me as a present.
Oreo was more like a dog than a goat. She owned the farm and let everyone know it. She had an attitude and knew how to use it well. When something made her mad she would let you know by bunting you in the butt and knocking you over. She was a goofy and had a sweet-tooth. She liked to eat ginger-snap cookies from your mouth, tootsie rolls, and popcorn. We’d often find her sitting on top of my mom’s Ford pickup eating the antenna and whatever else she could find. She ended up living a full life and passed away on the farm. She really had it good! And maybe that is why I love Oreo cookies so much now! J
We’ve seen references to the Pixie Ninja. What is this all about?
Haha! Yes, Pixie Ninja. I was first nicknamed Ninja by Peg (Pearson) and Jayci (Zakaras), as they said I looked stealth-like running when I had my compression gear on. Then later Miguel and others started saying because of my size I looked like a little Pixie, especially out in the trails. So, soon my nickname became “Pixie Ninja”! J
What’s left on your running bucket list?
Oh, there are so many races left on my bucket list. A few that I really would like to run are Hardrock 100M, Lake Tahoe 100M, American River 50M, and JFK 50M. Those are just the big ones…I have many others too.
What are your must have items on a run?
I am pretty simple when it comes to running. As long as I have my Garmin, enough clothing layers, and Pearl Izumi shoes I am set! I typically don’t take water/nutrition with me unless it is a very long run 3+ hours.
Describe your perfect run.
A perfect run would be going out on a single-track trail for hours in sunshine, 60-70 degrees, with my pups and training partner Miguel. Not having a care in the world.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not running?
I love spending time with my 3 dogs – Jaida, Mia, and Molly. I also, enjoy going out and hanging with family and friends. I love watching my favorite TV shows including Seinfeld, Amazing Race, and Modern Family.
Tell us what your experience has being a part of the Greater Omaha Area Trail Runners (G.O.A.T.z).
The G.O.A.T.z have been a wonderful group to be a part of. It is such a diverse group of runners and everyone is so passionate about trail running. I remember when Scott and Tim had the initial idea of creating G.O.A.T.z, and now it has grown into a huge group connecting runners locally and afar. It really has brought the trail runners of Omaha closer, and even introduced many non-trail runners to something new. Omaha is very lucky to have this awesome group!
We’ve been lucky to have you run the G.O.A.T.z 50K. How would you describe this race to others?
The G.O.A.T.z 50K is one of my favorite races, and the fact that it is local is even better! I cannot tell you how well organized and detail oriented this event is, and for being so new (2014 will mark the 3rd year). It has such a welcoming and fun-filled atmosphere. You can just feel the passion and enthusiasm the race directors have for this race. It has something for everyone…from 5 miles to 31 miles. It is definitely the epitome of trail running. I highly recommend it for any skill level. I can guarantee you will have the time of your life!
What is your favorite trail in the Greater Omaha Area?
My favorite trail is definitely Lake Cunningham! I love being on the single-track trails. They are very runnable and offer just the perfect amount of elevation change. The beautiful trees, lake, and quietness are what I love. And the best thing is that I can take my pups there and let them run too. It is definitely a gem of Omaha.
What are your thoughts on training partners?
Training partners are wonderful to have. They help you stay accountable, they keep you motivated, and it is always fun to have someone to run with. You definitely have to make sure you find the right person for you. Not everyone can spend so much time together, and train at the same paces. So, often you may have several training partners depending on the type of training you are doing for that particular day.
I am blessed to have Miguel as my training partner. We have been running together for a little over a year now. It has definitely improved my performance and enjoyment from running. We’ve become so in tune with each other, which has been great for when we need to scale back or pick it up. And since we are so good at knowing each other, it has been great because he knew exactly what I needed when he paced me for the last 40 miles of Rocky Raccoon. So, I highly recommend finding a training partner or partners.