MEMBER PROFILE: Karen Frindell Teuscher

I notice on your staff page on the Santa Rosa Junior College website it says your position is Chemistry Instructor & Department Chair, but your description is “Runner, singer and banjo player for The Orchid Killers.” Based on your statement it seems that your balancing your life. How does running contribute to this balance?

Running keeps me sane.   It gets me outside and allows me to clear my head.  When I am running a lot, it makes me feel more like myself, so I can get through all of the other things I want to do.

Does running free your mind, or do you end up thinking about your classes and chemistry problems during your runs? 

I would say first, running allows me to zone out. Eventually I do come around to problem solving, but only after I’ve been out for a while.  Every once in a while, I write a song while running.


What are your other reflections on running and work?

In teaching chemistry, running makes for some good analogies and examples.  I teach a little bit of biochemistry, and I can offer first hand examples of glycogen depletion and hydrolysis of ATP. Running also helps teach the metric system.  I would say runners (and swimmers) have an easier time converting between yards and meters.

Is the concentration required to solve chemistry problems similar to the concentration to playing the banjo? Similar or different?

At first I wanted to say it’s different, but then I realized the two have something in common.  Chemistry is all about patterns.  The better someone is at pattern recognition, the better they are at solving chemistry problems.  Music is full of patterns, and playing the banjo (or any instrument really)  is all about combining different figures together to make a pattern.  Just like combining chemical substances to make something new.


You’re also a swimmer for the Santa Rosa Masters – how do you manage your time between school, the band, running, and swimming? And also being the Assistant XC coach at Montgomery High? 

Work-life balance is very important to me, and I do enjoy a lot of extra-curricular activities. To answer your question – I just fit things in where I can. Running, swimming, and playing the banjo are my favorite things to do (in addition to teaching), and so I just fill up the spaces in my days with those activities.  Coaching is a great way to run and teach at the same time, and there’s nothing like getting outside on a crisp afternoon in Fall, even if I have to go back to work afterwards.

The majority of Empire Runners do not swim competitively. Do you get the same sense of accomplishment from swimming as you do from running in races? 

I love swimming and being in water. Truthfully, though, I am better at running, so I tend to gravitate toward running a little more.  But I have been swimming with the Santa Rosa Masters and Coach Hermine Terhorst for 12 years, and I wouldn’t want to give it up.  It’s great cross training, and Hermine’s philosophy involves a lot of core strength and alignment, which both make a huge difference in swimming and running.

What is your running philosophy?

I’m not sure if I have ever written down or explicitly thought about my running philosophy.  I would say it’s something like “run with a smile on your face;” although, after looking at pictures of myself running, I realize that smile might sometimes be in my mind. Also, for me, running is a great way to see the world.  Compared to walking and hiking you can see more in a shorter amount of time, and feel like you’re flying while you do it.

Backyard chickens – really?

I love having chickens!  They make great pets, they eat all of your weeds and garden pests, and they turn them into delicious eggs.  Chickens are also very entertaining.  Sometimes we just go outside in the late afternoon and watch them scratch around.

What’s your favorite Bikram Yoga pose?

Triangle, I think.  It’s one of the hard ones, but it is great for stretching out tight hips.


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