Drinking the Kool-Aid: Blaine women get addicted to running


By Steve Guntli

A year ago, April Eaton couldn’t run very far without stopping to catch her breath. Karen Kean avoided jogging like an unpleasant chore. Now, the two Blaine women are completely addicted to running, and they credit it all to one woman.

Carol Frazey, a physical trainer and author, runs the Fit School walking and running program in Bellingham twice a week. The course focuses on positive thinking and encouragement to help people adopt healthier lifestyles.

“We drank Carol’s Kool-Aid,” Kean said. “Once you drink it, that’s it. You’re a runner.”

The two women met at a Fit School class and discovered that they lived 2 miles apart in Blaine; they have been running together ever since. Since joining the program, the two run at every opportunity. Between them they have run 5ks and a few half-marathons; Kean even participated in the grueling Northwest Passage Ragnar Relay in 2014. Their running adventures have taken them all over the country and into Canada. Eaton has lost more than 30 pounds since she started running, and both women have shaved more than two minutes off their mile time.

While Kean and Eaton are hooked now, they were indifferent to running when they first started.

“I ran a little bit in high school, but I really wasn’t into it,” Kean said. “I would run a mile and then I was done. Now I run half-marathons, and I never in my life thought I would do that.”

Kean runs with her teenage children to help them train for races and events.

Eaton ran for the first time 10 years ago, when she was 42. A long-time smoker who has had multiple surgeries on her ankles, she didn’t think she was physically capable of running more than a mile at a time.

“I found a flyer at Fairhaven Runners, and the women on there looked like me – they weren’t these 20-year-old gym rats,” she said. “So I pulled the trigger, took one class and it has just worked for me.”

Frazey has three simple rules that everyone in her class must obey. First, for every negative thing a runner says about herself, she must say three positive things out loud. This is intended to keep people from discouraging themselves. Second, runners can never compare themselves to anybody else.

“That was huge for me because I would get frustrated if I was constantly trying to keep up with Karen or trying to beat her time,” Eaton said. “It’s about working at my own pace.”

Frazey’s third rule: it’s your time. If a participant wants to walk the course to chat with friends, he or she can do so.

“The Fit School isn’t like working with a personal trainer or keeping to a rigorous schedule,” Kean said. “The important thing is to be out and moving.”

Kean and Eaton plan on running as often as possible. Kean is working on convincing Eaton, along with several other women they’ve met in their Fit School classes, to join in this year’s Ragnar Relay.

“I don’t know how she does it,” Eaton said of Frazey. “She caters to people of all ages, all socioeconomic backgrounds, race, religion, and she makes sure everyone gets what they need. Maybe she’s a witch.”

For more information, visit thefitschool.com.

  1. “Drinking the Kool-aid”? Are you serious? How horribly insensitive! Perhaps you people need to read a book. This seems like some common and harmless cultural adage, but it’s not. It’s a tongue and cheek reference to the Guyana Tragedy and the madman Jim Jones who ordered the suicide of hundreds of his deceived followers and the murders US government officials. Do some home work- perhaps while you’re at it look up the etymology of “rule of thumb” too. Ignorance is NO excuse.

    • We read plenty of books – do you have a particular title in mind? The saying “Drinking the Kool-aid” has entered the vernacular and is hardly considered ‘horribly insensitive!’ And while you’re at it, why don’t you look up the etymology of rule of thumb? You’ll find there is no common law regarding beating one’s wife with a switch smaller than a beater’s thumb. Even if there was, what does that have to do with an article about two terrific women who are doing something terrific with their lives/
      See Wikipedia – “Drinking the Kool-Aid” is a figure of speech commonly used in the United States that refers to a person or group holding an unquestioned belief, argument, or philosophy without critical examination. It could also refer to knowingly going along with a doomed or dangerous idea because of peer pressure. The phrase oftentimes carries a negative connotation when applied to an individual or group. It can also be used ironically or humorously to refer to accepting an idea or changing a preference due to popularity, peer pressure, or persuasion. The phrase derives from the November 1978 Jonestown deaths,[1][2][3] where members of the Peoples Temple, who were followers of the Reverend Jim Jones committed suicide by drinking a mixture of a powdered soft drink flavoring agent laced with cyanide.[4][5]

      • Oh Pat… My opinion is mine. I think those ladies kick A– frankly. I’m a runner too. I was commenting on YOUR editing. That “drinking Kool-Aid” phrase is negative and it would have been nothing to leave it out of the reporting- not to mention the tag. Your sarcasm-ladened reply to me is unprofessional. You’re the editor and publisher aren’t you? Have some pride as a journalist (if you are one… I really don’t know) But geez, you even cite a reference (which you don’t note) that supports my point. I’m not a PC defender by any means, but there are (to this day) people who take issue with that phrase because of some pretty horrible events. I’ve known people with families who were involved in that madness- it’s very real. You blowing me off and making light of it in no way justifies a thing. You don’t get to publish anything you like without some expectation of hearing a difference of opinion or an issue being taken.

  2. Elizabeth Rhodes January 15, 2015, 8:05 pm

    For goodness sakes Garth Baldwin. Get over yourself.

    • Well thanks Liz, it’s great that you commented in an attempt to shame me, but frankly you have no power to do so. I’m not sure what, “get over yourself” means but since you’re the resident expert on pop-culture euphemisms perhaps you would be so kind as to educate me. Your comment was superfluous and self-absorbed (frankly). Do you find your self-worth in your assumption of superiority?.

  3. You go girls! Honored to be your friend, so proud of your accomplishment. Thanks, Carol!

  4. Seriously, dude…THAT’s your take away from this article about these women trying to better their lives through fitness. Talk about insensitive!

    • Hey slick- no disrespect to those ladies. It was a comment to the editor. It’s nice that you took the time to comment. I hope you learned something along the way.

  5. I agree with Garth… to an extent. When I read the headline, my first thought was, “You’ve got to be kidding!” I have never seen or heard, “Drinking the Kool-Aid” as a good thing. It’s normally used to describe people who blindly follow some doctrine or charismatic leader down the path to destruction. Clearly, that is not what the reporter intended.

  6. Hey April and Karen,
    I read the Northern Light article when it came out and it inspired me to take Carol’s class. I’m in the current class now and hope some day to meet you at a running event.


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