Kathryn Vanderminden | Reader Athlete

Age: 33
Residence: Pawlet
Family: Husband, Adam; sons, Finley, 5, and Orynn, 3
Occupation: Owner of Village Roots
Primary sport: Running

Kate Vanderminden was 100 pounds over her preferred weight when she decided to do something about it. After starting her training regimen in a gym, the Rutland County caterer began running outdoors and training for a half-marathon. With two half-marathons under her belt, she is now seriously thinking about a full marathon.

VS: I understand you lost 100 pounds. Can you tell us about that?
KV: I’m not quite at 100. I lost 80, but the last 20 are hard. I’ll lose 10 and gain seven, lose five and then gain 11, so I’m not there yet. I did it for a number of reasons. I wanted to teach my son how to swim, but I didn’t want to go to the beach or put on a bathing suit. I just didn’t feel good, and I didn’t have a lot of clothes that fit. What really did it was the day I was doing laundry with Finley who was just a toddler at the time. We’d take out a piece of clothing and say “Finley’s shirt” or “Daddy’s sock,” and when he pulled out my underpants, he said “Daddy’s shirt,” and that was the turning point. I started going to the gym and working out on the elliptical and the treadmill. We got a tax refund, and I had a choice between getting a gym membership or my own elliptical, and I opted for the latter. That was the winter with all the snow so it took awhile before I could head out, but in the spring of 2011, I started running outside. At first I couldn’t go very far—only half a mile before I got tired—but I kept trying to go farther. Every day I made myself go just a little farther, even if it was just one telephone pole more.

VS: When did you start running races?
KV: I realized some of the teachers at my son’s school were running and training for different races. One of them invited me to go for a run with her. I had been running five miles and that was the distance she wanted to do. She started telling me about a women’s running group that trained all winter with women of all ages. Some were in a half-marathon training group and others were training for a marathon. She told me I could run a marathon, and initially I said sure, because I honestly had no idea how long a marathon was. When she told me, even a half-marathon sounded crazy, but it seemed like something I could potentially do, so I signed up in January 2012.

VS: How did the training go?
KV: I get teary just thinking about it. It was just an amazing thing. It really changed my idea of sports. I used to be a snowboarder, but I can’t afford it now, so winters were long and tedious. Now I love winter again because it’s running season. It just turned the season around for me. I’ve made some great friends too. We have a 60-year age span in the club so I run with girls half my age and women twice my age, which is pretty cool. It’s a class as well as a training group so we learn about nutrition and hydration. The people I’ve met and the things I’ve learned have been great.

VS: So now are you thinking about a marathon?
KV: I’ve done two half-marathons and a marathon is on my bucket list. One of the women in our group ran one in Paris, and it might be fun to do one in New York. I’m still at the point where a half-marathon is hard for me. I can’t imagine finishing one and thinking I’m halfway there. I need to do a few more and do more than one a year. I’ll do that when my kids get bigger.

VS: As a chef, is it hard to keep in shape?
KV: It’s very difficult and something I struggle with every day. I’m a binge eater; I have no cut-off point. I feel like I’m never full. On the days that I’m cooking, I taste the food so much that for my meals I try to have just fruit or a salad. I also try to stay away from buffet parties or potlucks. I do try to eat very healthy when we are at home, but we also eat out a lot.

VS: Do you do other sports?
KV: I swim for fitness. We have a motorboat so I’ll swim laps in the lake while my husband fishes.

VS: Do you have a favorite training run?
kt_vandermindenKV: Once you become a runner you have a runner’s mind so you have all these courses that are fun. I have an out-and-back that’s an even five miles and very hilly and another four-and-one-half-mile loop from the house. From my house to my cousin’s camp on Lake St. Catherine is exactly six miles, so I run to the lake and sometimes right off the end of the dock into the water. If I feel like I have a lot of energy, I’ll go out and text my husband that I’ll want him to come and get me. When I’m ready, I’ll send another text, and he’ll take the kids for ice cream and then pick me up.

VS: Tell us about your business?
KV: I’m going into my fourth summer on my own. I’ve worked many places before, but I started the business because I had no other options. I couldn’t find a job, and I had a 2-year-old and a baby. I was catering out of a local store, but the owner believed in me and pushed me to do my own thing. I started strictly as a catering business. It was very busy the first summer, and it died off in the winter. Then one day I was making a pot of soup at home and someone came by to ask if he could buy some of it. I sold a quart for $10, and then I started posting what I was making on Facebook and people started placing orders. I got on a regular schedule where I tell people what I’ll be cooking on Sunday or Monday, and they come and pick up their orders on Thursdays. Generally I also have something extra in the freezer that they can add to their orders. I’ve also been blogging, and I started writing for food magazines and hope to do more of that. Catering is physically demanding so I’m trying to set myself up for when I can no longer do it. I’m also working on a book about cooking and my struggles with food.

Phyl Newbeck

Phyl Newbeck lives in Jericho with her partner Bryan and two cats. She is a skier, skater, cyclist, kayaker, and lover of virtually any sport which does not involve motors. She is the author of “Virginia Hasn’t Always Been for Lovers: Interracial Marriage Bans and the Case of Richard and Mildred Loving.”