December 22, 2008

Helen Kao

Written by Dena Evans
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Helen Kao is Assistant Professor of Medicine in Geriatrics at UC San Francisco Medical
School.  She has been a regular member of the Palo Alto Focus-N-Fly group for over two years.  Helen is coming off of a very successful fall, including a personal best of 3:15:26 at the Twin Cities
Marathon in October.  She also likes to do hand stands.

1. How did you start running?
I started jogging in college (Harvard). Before then, I did gymnastics, but there was no gymnastics team in college, so I took up running. I had a friend who had run Boston 5 or 6 years straight, who convinced me to run the New Bedford Half Marathon on three weeks training (my longest run had been 8 miles). She then convinced me to run Boston, which I banditted (and did again the next year, don’t tell anyone). In med school (UCSF), I was doing triathlons, but met a classmate who was running for the Excelsior team and was convinced to run with a group. I ran the Zippy 5k, and was hooked on group training.

2. Who are your running role models?
Maureen Hogan. She agreed to do America’s Finest (August Half Marathon in San Diego) and Twin Cities (Marathon) with me, kind of on a lark, but she was really supportive and I really appreciated how she put herself out there for someone else. There is also a local woman who is in one of the veteran age divisions, but is always consistently doing her best each week on the PA circuit. I hope to still be out there like her when I am that age.

3. What has been your most memorable running / racing experience?
Twin Cities in 2008, despite how awful I felt (Helen ran a PR of 3:15). I really thought the training I did with Tom prepared me and I was healthy, which is a big thing for me. I had a hard time with fueling, so I kind of bonked at the end, but I would go back – its an amazing course and really well supported. Doing 2006 Big Sur with my brother was the most fun – getting to see it from his perspective was great.

4. What have you enjoyed about working with Focus-N-Fly?
Tom and the banter of the collective group. Also, the great training. The reason why I stick with it though, are the people, especially after I had switched training groups. It is a nice mix of people at different levels with different goals.

5. What is one part of your racing routine you can’t do without (sleep, pre race meal, tie shoes certain way, other ritual)?
Bagel, peanut butter, and banana before a long race

6. What is your favorite place to go for a run?
Mt. Tam. I’d like to learn more of the trails on the peninsula and in the south bay, but Mt. Tam is my default.

7. In the next year, what goals do you hope to accomplish?
I’d like to break 3:10 in the marathon and get my 5k down under 19 minutes.

Last modified on October 10, 2010
Dena Evans

Dena Evans

Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.

From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.

From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.

Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.

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