How One Mother Managed a Kidney Disease Diagnosis and Turned it into a Reason to Run

Interview with Boston Marathon Qualifier Cara Johnson

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Today’s guest started running in college after being diagnosed with kidney disease. She ran her first half marathon in 2001 and her first full marathon in 2003. In the past 17 years of marathon training, Cara Johnson has run 1-2 marathons every year! During that time, she also got married to her high school sweetheart and had two wonderful children. 

After the birth of her daughter in 2010, Cara Johnson focused her attention on qualifying for Boston and dabbling in triathlons. She attempted to qualify for Boston for many years but failed many times. In 2018, Cara joined a TNT-Multisport, and it was a game-changer! Collectively, TNT supported Cara to ramp up training and help her qualify at the 2018 Dallas Marathon with a time of 3:27 minutes. 

Cara Johnson

With a BQ under her belt, Cara is shifting her focus toward becoming an Ironman in Cozumel (November 2020) and Cambridge Maryland (September 2021). Running provides Cara the opportunity to think, relax, visit with her friends and become energized for the rest of the day. It truly is the best therapy! She is a wife, mom of two kids, Registered Dietitian and Instructional Technology Coach. 

Within the episode, I’m going to play a short clip from her sharing her experience of the Cozumel Ironman. I thought it would be fun to incorporate it, as it happened between my interview with her and when this podcast episode aired live. 

This episode is sure to inspire! Let’s dive in!

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How she managed a kidney disease diagnosis and turned it into a reason to run.
  • What the key ingredient was for Cara to qualify for the Boston Marathon — hint, it wasn’t adding extra miles to her training!
  • Why community matters when training for a goal.
  • She shares her adventure at the Cozumel Ironman, her first!
  • Why becoming a pacer for races is a worthwhile challenge.


Cara proves that you can find time as a mom to train for an Ironman if you want to! It’s all about taking the small chunks of time we can find and doing something with them. Whatever stirring you feel like God is giving you, choose to do something with it in the small chunks of time that you can find.


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Transcript (lightly edited)

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