Katherine is my 9th Going the Distance interview. When I started the blog series last January, my goal was to profile runners of all backgrounds and abilities. In almost a year of doing these interviews, I’ve learned that every runner has insight to offer and can provide motivation to help you lace up your running shoes.
I had the honor of sitting down with Katherine to learn more about her and her journey to becoming a phenomenal runner. As I reflect on my time with her, it’s clear that she has much wisdom to share. Katherine reminded me that every day we can head out for a run is a gift—a gift not to be taken for granted.
I always share how I know my runner and Katherine and I go back over thirty years. I went to school with her and her sister, and even back then in our 80’s big hair, poor clothing choices (think leg warmers and paisley), and probably too much make-up days, I was impressed with Katherine’s powerful running legs—and continue to be in awe of her talent today.
It seemed fitting that during our time together UPS dropped off a package —”new running shoes,” she said as we heard a clunk at the doorstep. I smiled when she commented that “UPS knows me well.”
Where do you live and train?
Damascus, Oregon (about 20 miles east of Portland). The area is a little rural, so I have miles of beautiful green space surrounding me. When I head out for a run, I have views of Mt. Hood, and run past several nurseries, and often seeing deer, coyotes, quail—and I’ve heard that we have a neighborhood cougar that hangs around, too.
How did you get interested in running?
I’ve been running for as long as my legs would let me. I grew up with a father who loved the outdoors; he ran everyday and I’d either bike or run behind him. In 2nd grade, I ran my first race, the Starlight run, which became a tradition for us (we also did the Crawfish Crawl 5K together when I was in 6th grade). I have great memories of running cross-country in high school; to this day, Fall has a certain smell that creates an instant excitement for me.
What about running do you love?
I love running because it’s the time when I feel most alive and it has created memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. One of the best parts of running are the friendships I’ve made—runners have a certain quality that sparks connections.
Favorite distance to race?
I’ve always been a sprinter and in junior high and high school I mostly ran the 100 and 200 meters and 4 x 100 relay. I ran a little while at the University of Oregon before transferring to the University of Portland and joining the cross-county team. Since joining the Portland Running Company Race Team in September 2014, my favorite distance has been the 10K—it’s just the right length to keep my speed consistent and go at a faster pace. Last May, I ran the Volcano Half Marathon and was surprised how quickly the miles went by, and although challenging, I enjoyed the distance.
What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to running?
My biggest challenge is listening to my body and not my heart. I want to run, even if my body is telling me to rest and heal. When I’m injured, I try to overcome the urge to run by giving back—so far this year, I’ve volunteered at three races. This experience has taught me the value of volunteers and that I couldn’t easily do a race without them. It’s because of volunteers and their hard work that I can perform at a level I do.
Another challenge is something that happened to me about two years ago. In December 2013 I was diagnosed with autoimmune disorder and was nearly bedridden with tremendous pain. I quickly learned that doctors weren’t my answer and that it was up to me to do something different, try new approaches to healing my body. So, I set a goal of running one race a month. Being active, having a goal, and just getting out the door to run has helped me more than visits to the doctor, and has saved my life. Running has been a true blessing for me—more than any medicine. [Continue Reading]