We are pleased to present our second Orca Ambassador Q&A. Each month, we will chat with one of the inspiring women on our panel. This week, we are sharing Katie’s story. Katie, 28, started her lifestyle transformation in 2011 with water and walking. Now, she’s taking on ultra distances!
Q: When did you start running? And why?
I started my whole lifestyle change in the fall of 2011. A friend of mine from high school invited me to go to Hawaii for Christmas, and I was bound and determined to not regret my trip, and wanted to be able to happily show off my beach photos.
I had recently lost about 20 pounds simply by adding a lot of water into my diet, so I decided it was time for me to start working out for the first time in my life, and to get me to the goal that I wanted to be at for my trip. (My goal) was to be at my high school weight, and I was able to do it!
I lost another 20 pounds, but it wasn’t easy. I started out by walking, then power walking, (and) then I started slowly adding small sections of jogging into my walks. In November 2011, I ran my first turkey trot with my mom. I pushed myself so hard I about passed out! But I made my goal of completing it in 36 minutes.
I was hooked after that 5k. That was the first event I had ever done and there were almost 10,000 people running it that day! I had no idea there were event races that big. The energy and thrill (of it) was so addictive that I knew I had to do another one before I had even finished.
Q: How has running helped you in your life?
Running has completely changed my life! I used to be a glorified couch potato. I wasn’t happy with my life and I was a bitter person hating the world. Once I started working out, I had goals for the first time ever. I started signing up for a lot of local races after my (Hawaii) vacation, and I made a lot of friends along the way. We’d dress up and make costumes for the races and had a blast. Running didn’t just bring in a healthy lifestyle; it brought me friends, as well.
Q: What’s your favorite distance? Why?
I love any distance beyond 26.2 miles. The whole atmosphere of running changes once you branch out into ultras. It isn’t about pace, or what race this, or what race that. It’s about being in a community that supports one another regardless of one’s pace or situation. During my first official ultra, a friend whom I had only met online through the ultra-running Facebook group, waited for four hours just to see me finish, even though he had run the same 50-miler. You don’t get that sense of community in road races.
Q: What is the most challenging thing about running/fitness for you?
The most challenging thing I face is finding the time and energy to go out and get my workouts in. I have been working 60-70 hour weeks for a while now, and by the time I get home all I want to do is sleep! But I try my best to still get out there and at least get a small workout in.
Q: When friends come to you asking how to get started running, what do you say?
I always share how I started, with the run-walk combo. I point them in the direction of Couch to 5K, and also show them that there are many different phone applications out there now for it. I encourage them to sign up for a local 5K to help keep them motivated and also to join one of the local running groups.
Q: What are your running and fitness goals for 2017?
My running goals for 2017 are pretty huge in my book. I am going to be running my first 100K in May. Then in September, I will be running my first 100-miler.
Q: I saw on your blog (Sun-Kissed Redhead with Sole) that you’ve been injured. Did you exercise when you weren’t able to run? How did you keep your sanity/stay fit? Any tips for other injured runners out there?
I was injured a couple of times in 2016. I had a bad ankle sprain in August, which I am still working through, and then in November, I was in a car accident that injured my lower back. So I was completely out of running for about 6 months. I was completely devastated.
My advice for anyone that has an injury is to go to the doctor right away, I went a few times for my ankle because it wasn’t getting better. Then do all of the PT (physical therapy) that they prescribe! Don’t slack off, they can only help you if you help yourself.
I started doing a lot of PiYo (Pilates/Yoga) to help get me through. I wasn’t even allowed to do strength training for several months.
If you have a serious injury that will take more than a couple of months to heal, I would also suggest looking into finding someone to talk to help you get through those hard times. Friends are great resources for a lending ear, but you may need more than that at times and that’s okay, just don’t go through it alone.
Q: What Orca races will you be running this year?
I will for sure be doing Iron Horse Half Marathon this year, along with Captain Jack’s Treasure Run. I may pop into a couple more races along the way.
Good luck with your goals in 2017, Katie! Follow Katie’s journey on her blog, Sun-Kissed Redhead with Sole, and join her this week as she takes over Orca Running’s Instagram feed @orcarunning.
Kerrie Turcic is a runner from Maple Valley, Wash. Kerrie is currently a copywriter by day, and also a