Kate DeProsperis’ victory lap as a competitive runner lasted a well-earned 26.2 miles.
The Western Springs resident and 1997 Lyons Township graduate competed in her second and final U.S. Olympic women’s marathon trials in Atlanta on Feb. 29, just shy of her 41st birthday.
“I don’t have huge goals. Now that I’m a master’s runner [40 and over] and being a mom, there’s not that many athletes out there [like that], so I’m just happy to represent the old folk,” DeProsperis said laughing.
“I’m not going to run a personal best,’’ she said before the trials. “I know that, but the goal is to be out there representing myself, my family, [training] team and just doing the best I can. It’s just an honor to be there.”
The former Kate Reicher finally returned to running Dec. 14 – using anti-gravity treadmills to reduce impact – after tearing her calf Sept. 5. DeProsperis finished 340th out of 390 runners at the trials with a time of 2:58.04.
“I’m very grateful to say I’m healthy with an asterisk,” DeProsperis said.
“Just the passion of running over the years has left me chasing goals and chasing the dream. Finding the right people inspired me to do things beyond what I believed my ability was at a younger age.”
Fortunately for DeProsperis, she qualified for the 2020 Olympic trials in her first chance Dec. 3, 2017, at the California International Marathon (2:43.11), beating the 2:45 standard from starting gun time.
At the 2012 Olympic trials in Houston, DeProsperis ran 2:53.29 after qualifying in her final chance at the 2011 CIM (2:48.27).
In between, DeProsperis continued working full time as an investment banker and began raising two sons with her husband, Ryan.
Ben, 6, and Josh, 4, watched their mother compete for the first time in Atlanta. After completing the marathon, DeProsperis has one medal for each son.
“I want them there to see it. When they’re older, I want them to understand what I went through,” DeProsperis said before the trials. “It always was important for me to not give up on goals just because I’m a mother. [But]my body’s breaking down. It’s time to step back.”
DeProsperis still considers reaching the 2012 trials the “most unbelievable experience” in her life.
As she watched the 2016 trials, an outpouring of emotions confirmed her competitive fire. At the 2016 CIM, she achieved a lifetime-best 2:42.49.
In the final 50 yards of the 2017 CIM, DeProsperis saw Ryan; her twin sister, Carrie; and her mother, Denise, as she qualified despite a whirlwind of adversity. Three weeks earlier, the DeProsperis family moved to Western Springs around the block from her brother. DeProsperis was battling insomnia and her children being sick.
“I remember falling to my knees and just crying and being overwhelmed,” DeProsperis said. “You prepare all year and hope on that day it’ll work out.”
For 12 years, DeProsperis has trained for the women’s marathon with Jenny Spangler Racing, operated by the 1996 U.S. Olympian. That means traveling to Lake Forest once or twice weekly.
Add to that a chiropractor, two masseurs and physical therapy three times weekly for her calf.
“It takes a whole village,” DeProsperis said. “It’s always nice to go back and remind them that they’re a huge part of your success.”
Now a personal marathon coach, DeProsperis tells newcomers that her first marathon in 1999 was 3:48. At Lyons Township, she was all-state once in track, running with Carrie in the 3,200-meter relay. DeProsperis also competed for Notre Dame as a walk-on.
“I don’t have that much natural talent. I work hard,” DeProsperis said. “I try to stress that with the people I work with. Try your best and give it your all. That’s all I’m going to ask for this race.”