Between now and race day, we will be featuring past Hogeye runners to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Hogeye Marathon! This week our featured #HogeyeHopeful is Katie! Katie was kind enough to answer a few questions that would help us get to know her better as a runner and as a #HogeyeHopeful! We hope you enjoy her story as much as we did! Way to go, Katie!!
Hometown: I don’t really have a hometown, ha! Born in Little Rock, moved to Springdale in my teens, got married while I was at U of A in Fayetteville, and have lived in Van Buren since then.
Profession: I have taught fourth grade for 14 years at Rena Elementary in Van Buren.
When and WHY did you start running?
I dabbled in running during jr. high, running the 2-mile relay, but pursuedother activities. I do remember beating the guys in my PE for Ed majors on the John McDonald track during college and got an 8 minute mile! That was hilarious. But the moment I realized I wanted to be a runner, was in March of 2008 at the Little Rock Marathon. My twin brother, Matt, had trained for the full that year, which surprised us all. He hadn’t run in school either, but he got interested and was good. The whole family came to support him and watch him finish. My sister and I were sitting in the stands at the finish, waiting for him, all the while, watching the emotional runners of ALL ages and sizes. It was so moving and inspirational. We looked at each other and were like, “If they can do it, we can do it.” That was it. I was hooked. I found that one of our elementary schools in town was having their annual 5K run the next month. I began running at our high school track to prepare for it. I ran it and won first place in my age division. I was really hooked then. Then it just took off. I found a 10K up in Joplin, then in the fall, a 15K, and then on to a half.
Where do you prefer to run? Do you have a favorite route?
There are actually a couple places I enjoy running. Living in the River Valley, we have the opportunity to run out at Fort Chaffee, which is away from all the craziness of the city. It’s so peaceful and quiet. You feel like you’re miles away from everything. I also enjoy running the streets of Fort Smith, onto the trail system we have.
What was your “I’M A RUNNER!” moment?
I’m not really sure when I considered myself a runner. It’s been a part of who I am for awhile now. When people who say, “Oh that’s Katie. She’s a runner,” or ask me for advice, I realize that I really am a runner. I think after getting a couple of races under my belt, and making it a part of my life, I realized that I was arunner, and not someone who just dabbled into a hobby for kicks.
If you could go back and give yourself a piece of advice as a beginner, what would it be?
If I could go back and give myself advice, it would be to slow down!! I was a little overzealous with wanting to get my mileage up, that I’m surprised I didn’t hurt myself. I have never really had the problem of building endurance, but at the beginning, I’m sure I didn’t even realize what pain I was in. It takes time for a novice to build up their mileage and I sure didn’t!!
What motivates you in running? Medals? PRs? Fitness?
My motivations have changed throughout the phases of my running years. At first, it was to get going. Those people I watched cross the line motivated me. Then, as I began to win awards, I chased after placing in the race. PRs also motivated me a little later, because I didn’t really care about placing, but racing against myself pushed me. In the middle of it all, I had another child. After she was born, I was motivated to get back running and racing…and getting the baby weight off! I also had two major foot surgeries during 2012, one in spring and then in fall. I could not bear weight for 6 weeks, then boot for 4, then rehab. This was after my first full marathon. It was very difficult to watch my body get weak after I had worked so hard. But coming back after both has made me even more grateful for two able legs and feet that can get me where I want to go. When that is taken away, you see things from a new perspective. These days, I am older, working, a soccer mom, driving kids everywhere. What motivates me is to get out there to take care of me, to take time out and feed my soul. I don’t put a lot of stock into my times these days. I like to be able to walk the next day!! I want to be an example for my friends, to give them encouragement. I want to be an example for my children, to show them that it is important to be active and healthy, and also to my students, so they can see that you can set, work hard, and achieve goals at any age.
Do you have any racing superstitions or traditions?
I don’t really have any superstitions, but I pray. I ask for protection and thank God for the blessing of a healthy, able body to run for Him. My two favorite Bible verses are:
Do you run solo or with a group?
I run with a group from WAR (Western Arkansas Runners), down here in Fort Smith. I was here when our group first started. I have made so many friends. If I’m at home in Van Buren, I usually run solo.
Why do you run the Hogeye? What makes it special? Are you running the Hogeye this year?
The Hogeye was also one of those races my brother ran at first. The very next day after my first 5K, he was running it. I drove up to watch him again. I believe he was running as a guide for a visually impaired friend of his. Very inspirational that day. I loved being back up in NWA and didn’t realize that this even happened each year! And I lived here for a long time!! So, the next year, I wanted to run of course, but was about three months pregnant. So that year, I ran the 5K with my sister. We had a blast. I ran the half a year or so later, this time with my husband. I will never forget that race. That was when the course stayed on Porter Road and out into the neighborhoods for the turn around. Along that road, I met my friend Jack. He was an older fellow, who loved to talk and liven things up. We also joked and talked during the race. I would run along with him, leaving my husband for a bit, to visit. We got to know each other. At the end of the race, we thanked each other for having a great time and getting to know one another. That year, I was running several Grand Prix races, and we would bump into each other at them all over the state. It was such a sweet friendship. He even visited me after one of my surgeries. I would have never met Mr. Jack, had it not been for the Hogeye. My husband has run it as well, the kids and I cheering him on when I couldn’t run yet. I also ran the marathon relay, which was so much fun. That’s a big responsibility! Last year, I ran the half again on the newer course. I’m not going to lie that I’m sad the huge hill up to the square is gone for the finish.
One thing about the Hogeye, is that the crowd support is so wonderful. My parents are good friends with Gary Piker, who was in charge of the road intersection blocks, and volunteered to help. They were able to see me on the course last year. They were so excited to be a part of it all. I love running around the Dickson St. area, and of course, through my college campus. The trails are so nice and people are cheering you all along the way.
I am training for the full this year. I am very eager to run the entire course, of a race with which I have so many fond memories. I am so excited to have all of my family to be there to support me.
How can folks connect with you?