I am a Runner: Katie W.

One of the best things about working with customers at Big River Running, is getting to hear the stories they tell. What made them decide to become runners, what keeps them engaged in running even when it is difficult, and their biggest achievements and even sometimes their struggles and hardships.

The “I am a Runner” blog series is designed to bring us closer to those runners with whom we share the sidewalks, roads and trails. This month we are going to meet one of Big River Training Team’s walk/run coaches, Katie W.

1. My running journey began…

Katie W MO CowbellMy running journey began in August 2011. I was one month away from turning 30 years old, and was the heaviest I had ever been. I made a goal for myself to start my 30’s healthier than I was ending my 20’s. I asked a co-worker, who was an avid runner, how she started out running. She suggested I download the Couch-to-5k app and use that to train for a 5k. I completed my first 5k (Santa’s North Pole Dash in Historic St. Charles) in December of that year and was immediately addicted! Since then, I’ve run in dozens and dozens of 5k’s and 10k’s and have also completed four Half Marathons.

2. What I tell myself when things get difficult… 

When I am struggling during a run, I often have to remind myself why I am out there and why I should push myself to keep going. For example, when I’m doing one of my long runs on a Sunday morning, I may start to feel exhausted and worn out and want to quit. Then I tell myself to slow it down, take it easy, and keep pushing. I also remind myself how good it feels to finish a run (regardless of distance) and how I’ve never regretted a single run I’ve done. I do this a lot during the winter/spring session of Training Team, when it’s cold outside and I’d rather stay home snuggled up in my warm bed! I can’t explain how good I feel when I am driving home after running in unpleasant conditions, knowing that I finished it and can enjoy the rest of my day (before most of my friends are even out of bed!).

3. What has changed in me since running became part of my life…

Before I started running, I was pretty lazy and was considered a “homebody.” It wouldn’t be uncommon for me to go straight home after working all day and eat dinner and plop myself on the couch for the evening. On the weekends, I’d be very unproductive. Once I “became a runner,” I found myself having much more energy. Oftentimes, friends will tell me to “slow down” and “take it easy” because I always seem to be on the go. I enjoy getting out as much as possible (including running with friends!) and am rarely ever home now.

Katie and Amanda4. What I am most proud of… 

My proudest moment as a runner would have to be when I paced my first Half Marathon in 2015 (the MO Cowbell Half Marathon in St. Charles). I had signed up to be be a pacer for this race to challenge myself and attain a goal I had never achieved before. I signed up to be the 2:50 pacer, but had never finished a Half Marathon in less than 2:56. What was I think, right? Long story short, I ended up finishing in 2:49:51…I finished with 9 seconds to spare! All the hard work, determination, sweat and stress paid off! 

5. Any advice you have? Or advice given to you?

Three words…Trust Your Training. One of my first Pace Coaches for Big River told me that near the end of a Training Team session. I was nervous about running my second Half Marathon (‘MO Cowbell 2014), but he assured me that I was ready, and that I had trained hard for the race. To my surprise, my coach ended up showing up for that particular run and ran the entire race with me – even crossed the finish line with me! He was right – I had trained hard and I was ready, I just needed to be reminded of that.

6. Favorite route to run in St. Louis? 

My two favorite parks to run in are Forest Park and Creve Coeur Park. My favorite route would have to be the “Arch Run” during Training Team. I had never had the chance to do the Arch Run with TT before the 2016 Winter session. I’ll never forget the day we did that run, either! It was cold and wet that day. Huge snowflakes were hitting our faces as we ran down Market Street. It was so picturesque!

katie jump7. What was the best race sign you have seen? 

During a Half Marathon, at mile 7: A sign with Steve Harvey saying “1 more mile.” A little further down the road, another sign with Steve Harvey saying “I’m sorry, I misread the card.”

8. What is your go-to gear? 

I’m a running gear junkie! I have a very large walk-in closet at home. No joke, the entire left side of my closet is filled with my running clothes (and now that I’ve run out of hanging space, I’ve taken over 2 drawers in my dresser for gear/accessories like gloves, Gu, water bottles, etc.). When it comes to brands I prefer, hands down I’m a Brooks girl! I own close to 10 pairs of Brooks shoes (the old Trance as well as the Adrenaline). I also keep ALL of my race shirts! I may not wear them, but I like keeping them as reminders of the race I ran. I am a Garmin girl through and through. I even get a great discount on Fitbit devices through work, but I choose to stick with Garmin!

9. When I am not running, you can find me…

In my free time, when I’m not running, you can find me hanging out with friends (even non-runner friends!) and/or watching St. Louis Cardinals or St. Louis Blues games.