Written by JORDAN CRAVENS Sentinel Staff Writer
Saturday, 30 March 2013 06:49
It's 5 a.m. and Amy Craft Ahrens is running down a country road. There's little sound and not a car in sight. It's just her and the pavement.
|Amy Craft Ahrens competes in marathons as well as ultra marathons. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
"I am the only one out here seeing this sunrise," she says to herself.
Craft Ahrens is marathoner. She will run her fourth Boston Marathon in April.
Running is part of her happiness.
"Some people call it an obsession, which I can see that. But I do it because it makes me happy. It's almost spiritual," she said.
"Running is my stress relief. Some of my best thoughts have come while I am running. But sometimes, I don't even think when I am running."
The BGHS and BGSU graduate, and owner of For Keeps in downtown Bowling Green, was first turned on to running in the mid-1990s when Oprah Winfrey completed a marathon.
"I thought to myself, 'If Oprah can run a marathon, then I can run one,'" she said.
Craft Ahrens ran in the 1997 Chicago Marathon.
"I just wanted to see if I could run one," she said.
But it wasn't just one. She was hooked.
She now runs, on average, four marathons a year.
In 2002, she hit a major benchmark for runners - she qualified for her first Boston Marathon.
"At that point, I wondered what more I was capable of. How much faster can I get," she challenged herself.
To kick it up a notch, she started running ultra marathons. An ultra marathon is any run longer than the normal 26.2 mile marathon.
She once ran an eight-hour race and logged 45.27 miles.
Craft Ahrens also has endured a 200-mile relay race with 12 runners.
And if that wasn't challenging enough, she followed it up the next year by completing the race with six runners. She accounted for 45 of those miles.
The 45-year-old said she isn't capping her career at 45 miles.
"I want to do a 100-miler. And that is kind of in my mind for 2014."
While she considered herself to be a mediocre cross county and track athlete in high school, she was always drawn to the team aspect.
"Other runners get it. You are not competing against these people. You go to a race and there are all these people around, but you aren't competing against them. You are competing against yourself."
The veteran runner said there are a lot of myths about running.
"Marathons are definitely within anyone's sights. It's just a matter of running a little bit farther each week, having a good training plan, eating well and getting sleep," she said.
"After my first marathon, I couldn't even step off a curb," she said.
But now, after tens of marathons under her belt, "I am usually stiff the next day, but not anything like those first couple of years."
It also helps, she said, to have a support/training group of runners. Her husband, Todd, of 18 years, has also gotten into running.
"You have to have someone who understands what it means to you," she said.
Outside of running, Craft Ahrens is an entrepreneur. She grew up in retail as her parents, Floyd and Charlotte Craft, own Ben Franklin and Ace Hardware, right next door to For Keeps in downtown. She furthered her interest in retail while working in a nature and science store in Chicago. Chicago is where she settled after she studied at the University of Salzburg for a couple years and then lived in Japan for a year following her college graduation.
Talk of returning to BG emerged after her parents bought the building now occupied by For Keeps.
"The idea of moving back to BG is not something I had considered," she said.
"But this idea of working for myself and being my own boss was appealing to me," she said.
For Keeps opened under joint ownership by Craft Ahrens and her father in 1997. She took over ownership in 2008.