Boston BoundApril 12, 2019
Story by Hendrix Magley
Photos by Brittney Lohmiller and Traci Westcott
Everyone has different hobbies they enjoy in their spare time. For some, it may mean curling up with a favorite book. For others, it could be catching up with their favorite TV show or Netflix series.
For Kyle and Audrey Brames, it means running 26.2 miles. Whether it’s hot or cold, rainy or sunny. For fun.
“It’s just our hobby, and we’re lucky that we both happen to have the same one,” Kyle says. “For me, crossing the finish line is a similar feeling to what a hunter feels when he has a big trophy buck in his sights. It’s just what we enjoy.”
The Brameses are avid marathon runners who have raced in competitive events close to home — such as Chicago and Indianapolis — and places farther away — such as Jacksonville, Florida, and New Orleans.
Now, the Jasper couple will compete on Monday in what Kyle refers to as “the Super Bowl of running” — the 2019 Boston Marathon. It’s a goal both have had for a long time, and after almost 10 years of attempting to qualify, their persistence and determination has paid off.
“For both of us, I don’t necessarily think we consider ourselves great runners, but we’re just so humbled to be going,” Kyle says. “It’s going to be a fun and great experience. It’s a hobby, we enjoy it, and Boston was just one of those things we thought would be great to try and do someday.”
Kyle, 38, and Audrey, 36, both graduated from Jasper High School a year apart — Kyle in 2000 and Audrey in 2001. Kyle ran cross country for the Wildcats, but admits he wasn’t necessarily great. In fact, he says he was “mediocre at best.” The couple began dating during Kyle’s senior year in 1999, and both went to college at Indiana University.
During his time in college at IU, Kyle ran his first mini-marathon in Indianapolis in May 2002 with his uncle Artie. He ran half-marathons for awhile after that, with his first full marathon coming in 2007 in Columbus, Ohio.
Audrey also played sports in high school, but didn’t do a lot of running (except some short two- to three-mile runs with friends on occasion). Her first half-marathon came in 2007 in Columbus (the same time as Kyle’s first full), with her first full coming in 2011 in Jacksonville.
“Running was not my thing at first, but Kyle started to talk me into it,” Audrey says. “I was never really a fast runner, I wasn’t that dedicated and I mostly just wanted to finish. Boston was never really a goal for me at first. But after I had my last baby, I was like ‘Okay, maybe I can try a little harder and push it a little bit.’”
Along with running, the Brameses have to balance a busy work and family schedule. They have three kids — Kip, 7, Kate, 5, and Kellen, 3 — and they also are both busy with their jobs. Kyle works at NECS Solutions in Jasper, and Audrey works in French Lick three to four days a week at Big Splash Adventure and Wilstem Ranch.
During the week, Audrey often runs three to four days, and Kyle takes one day off from running. To make it work, Audrey runs before work, and Kyle often does his 30-minute runs during his lunch breaks.
“As a mom of three, I work part time and I stay at home part time, so I kind of think of running as almost time to myself,” Audrey says. “I think to our kids, our running schedule is completely normal. The first thing they always ask me in the morning when I wake them up for school is, ‘Are you sweaty?’ They just always assume we’ve been running.”
Both Kyle and Audrey qualified for the Boston Marathon together at the same race in 2017 at the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis. Kyle beat his qualifying time by 5 minutes and 33 seconds, while Audrey beat her time by nearly 6 minutes.
While you know what time you have to get in order to qualify for the race, there’s still a chance that even if you beat your qualifying time you still may not make the big race due to the fact that they cut the entrants off at a certain number.
“I knew I had gotten it when I crossed the finish line, but I didn’t know if [Kyle] had gotten it yet,” Audrey says. “I was going to feel horrible if I got it and he didn’t — the odds of both of us getting it that day were kind of crazy.”
Kyle adds, “It had always been the elusive qualification for me, right? It only took me 18 years, but now I got it.”
The Brameses will be joined in Boston by several other local runners — Adam Gilbert of Celestine, Kade Vogler of Jasper, Erika Buse of Santa Claus, Kathy Flannagan of Santa Claus, Tara Eckman of Jasper, Robert Stratton of Jasper and Dave Fuhs of Jasper. Tara is Kyle’s sister, and Dave is Audrey’s uncle.
“Running is almost kind of like our social network,” Kyle says. “That’s kind of why we love it.”
In preparation for Boston, the Brameses did a lot of their longer runs on the weekends. While they ran at places like the Jasper Riverwalk and the Parklands, the most common route they followed took them by Jasper High School, into the countryside with beautiful views in the morning and then through Ireland on their way back home.
While they’ve been running since they qualified, their training really ramped up during the past 18 weeks beginning shortly before Christmas. On March 23, Kyle ran a 20-mile run while Audrey ran for 10 miles, and then the couple switched roles the next day — this was a pattern they often followed. It’s safe to say that after runs, whether it be competitive or just in training sessions, the pair often feels pretty good.
“It’s a good feeling — some people talk about the runner’s high, but I’m not sure I really get that,” Audrey says. “I definitely do get a feeling of accomplishment, though.”
Kyle adds: “I don’t necessarily have a runner’s high, so to speak, but on race day, I do. On race day, you feel pretty good about yourself.”
In terms of nutrition, both Kyle and Audrey have always tried to eat healthy whether they’re running or not. Mostly, they’ve tried cutting out as much sugar as they can. While Audrey does weight-training and yoga whenever she can, Kyle primarily sticks to running.
The Brameses flew to Boston this morning, and will spend the weekend in Massachusetts with plans to do some adventuring and maybe even catch a Boston Red Sox baseball game before the race begins at 10 a.m. Monday.
They plan on having some fun today, relaxing for the majority of Sunday and then waking up early for the race on Monday morning. While most everything will be routine, the only change is that the couple will load up on carbs on Saturday rather than the evening before the race.
No matter what final time they end up clocking, the couple is ecstatic to have achieved a goal that has eluded them for quite some time. Now, as Kyle says, it’s time to have some fun.
“I always say, any day that you can run 26 miles is a good day,” he says.
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