Category Archives: Running

Sunday Morning Confessions # 10-12 (Alaska Version)

In an effort to force myself to blog regularly, I’ll be making 3 confessions on Sundays.  Seems like the right day for it.  Please don’t judge me, but do share your own confessions in the comments.  I need to know that I’m not alone on some of these.

10. I peed on my shoes.

Somehow when I go to Alaska, I always end up with excrement on my shoes.  This time it wasn’t from the RV sewage so it was thankfully just my own pee that was splattered all over my shoes.

I am a city girl, so there aren’t many occasions that call for me to do my business in the woods.  But since we camped for two nights in areas only inhabited by animals, we did quite a lot of squatting.  I prefer this 10 thousand times more than using porta-potties.  Hovering over piles of poo belonging to strangers is one of my least favorite things in life.

And I can’t imagine a much more scenic place to do our business than here:IMG_2355

I mean sure, there was a strong fear that a bear would appear at the exact moment I dropped my pants, but I strongly prefer the fear of mauling to the stench found in porta-potties.

However, since I lack experience, I have not quite perfected the pop-a-squat technique.  This is why my shoes always ended up sprinkled with urine.  And why I left my shoes in Alaska.

11. I am not quite as strong as I’d like to think I am.

When I felt a tug on the fishing line and proceeded to reel that sucker in, I thought the fish was going to be huge.  Like big as a human huge.  My face will show you just how hard I was working:IMG_2661

I required Paul’s help to pull the pole up while I reeled like mad and was a little shocked when I pulled up this guy:IMG_2285Not exactly the 5 foot beast I had been envisioning, but he was still delicious.

12. I looked HORRIBLE when I finished the marathon.

Like REALLY horrible.

Like, “should we call a doctor for her?” horrible.

You’re probably thinking, “Oh I’m sure everybody looks bad when they finish a marathon.”  But it’s not true.  Most people look perfectly normal.  But me?  Well I’ve been in races where people point and laugh at me as I finish.  No joke.

I’ll show you the picture from this years race in a moment, but first let me explain myself.  At mile 24 I was hurting.  I had a cramp in my quad and was on the verge of tears.  But then Paul called and told me I wasn’t too far behind the next girl in my age category and if I passed her, I would be in 5th place for my range.  That was all competitive Katie needed to hear.

My cramp went away as I hunted down my opponent.  I still hadn’t caught her when we reached the final stretch of the race.  A giant uphill.

I figured nobody would ever witness what came next.

I gritted my teeth and went into what kids these days call “beast mode.”  I grunted.  Loudly.  And I pumped my arms violently.  I knew I looked insane, but I didn’t care.  I was going to catch that girl.

I paid no attention to the people looking at me like I had rabies, and I caught her in the end, beating her by 3 seconds.  I assumed a handful of Alaskans would know I was nuts, but I’d never see them again so what did it matter.  However, then I got home and was telling this story to my parents and my dad started cracking up.

Apparently his coworker ran the half-marathon and showed my dad the website where you can look up pictures.  He and my dad had a good laugh at my face as I finished.  I figure if they enjoyed laughing at my look of distress, you will too.  So here is my gift to you this Sunday morning: my photo-finish.IMG_2662

You’re welcome.

Now it’s your turn.  Have you ever peed on your shoes?  Have you ever realized you’re not quite as strong as you thought you were? Do you look like you’re going to die when you exercise? I’d love to hear any of your “me too” confessions.

Skinny Weirdos and Surprise Grief

When I was in high school I used to mock the cross country team.

Not to their faces and usually not even out loud, but in my head, I would always laugh when I saw those skinny weirdos jog by.

With their itty bitty shorts and their itty bitty thighs, cross country runners were pretty easy targets.  Plus, all the quirky kids who sucked at “real” sports were usually on the cross country team.  It was fairly easy to feel superior to these “joggers” because though I was admittedly quite weird myself, at least I played an actual sport.

I come from a long line of basketball players, (you know, “real” athletes who play a real sport with a ball) and many people who know me in real life know me as a basketball player or as a basketball coach.  This is why it was surprising to many, including myself, that after “retiring” from coaching basketball last year, I became an assistant for Valley’s cross country team.

Oh how the tables have turned.

And those skinny weirdos I used to laugh at in high school?  Yeah, they’re the same type of kids who run cross country today.  Still skinny.  Still weird.  And oh how I love them.

Seriously.  I wish someone would have told me how wonderful the weirdos are.  I mean, look at some of these kids:

They. Are. Awesome.

They embrace their quirkiness and have long since given up trying to “be cool.”  I mean when you wear shorts that are this short:

all attempts at coolness are pretty much out the window.

When I hung up my coaching hat in order to go to seminary at night, I thought I was done coaching for at least a few years.  I never would have guessed that I would be coaching the distance runners for track and the cross country team.  Really.  NEVER did that cross my mind.  You guys, I was always a “real” athlete, remember?  I never ran competitively and didn’t even view this as a real sport.

But God knew all along how coaching cross country would bring me crazy amounts of laughter and joy.  He knew that running with the team after school every day would be a remarkable gift to me- a gift I had no idea was on its way.

This is no ordinary team.  When you think of a team of “joggers” you probably don’t picture this:

Yes, our team is as big as the football team (in numbers not in girth).  And yes, we do make up 12 % of the entire school.  Truth be told, half of these kids don’t even like running.  Some even hate it.  I know- I was surprised too.

But this team is like a family.  A 78-person family of weirdos where everyone is accepted in all their weirdness.  It is truly wonderful.  Plus, if I had known about all the post-meet snacks, I would have considered joining in high school too.

Last year I had no idea the blessing that was in store for me this season.  No idea how much fun I would have with these kids and no idea that I would make 3 new friends on the coaching staff.  I was so bummed when several of my good friends left Valley last year, and though they can’t be replaced, Christina became the running partner and dear friend I never saw coming:

The crazy part is I never even knew Christina before we started coaching together but her office is literally connected to my classroom.  I have a hidden door in the back that I tell kids leads to Narnia, but it actually leads to Christina.  For five years I had no idea that my future friend was sitting behind those doors- literally five feet away from me.

One of the things I love about God is that He’s always doing things like that- always  blessing us in unexpected ways with gifts that are five feet away from us though we never realize it.  I love how God is so full of surprises.  My pastor recently said, “Always be prepared to be surprised by our wild, untamed God.” I love that.  I love that God has endless curve balls up His sleeve and boatloads of blessings waiting to be revealed.

In my case it was a team of skinny weirdos and a new friend from Narnia.

However, I’ve been continually reminded this week that these curveballs are not always so wonderful.

Being a God of surprises sometimes means He is waiting to shower us with crazy amounts of unexpected joy.  But it also means that sometimes He allows for tragedy to strike, bringing crazy amounts of unexpected sorrow.

I think of the multitudes in the Philippines who are dealing with surprise loss and grief today.

I think of one of my best friends who is now recovering from a rare infection in her spine that sent her rushing to the hospital.  That kind of surprise is terrifying and sent us rushing to the throne room, BEGGING God to heal her.  He did.  But He doesn’t always.

I think of how yesterday my sister and her husband Dan attended the unexpected funeral of Dan’s good friend’s wife.  Darcie battled breast cancer and won and then quickly spiraled and suddenly died last week, leaving behind a shocked husband, community and 2 year old daughter.  While Darcie is in the actual throne room with God, those she loved are left behind to deal with sudden and catastrophic waves of grief.

So when I say “God is a God of surprises,” this has a double meaning.  Sometimes He surprises us with joy, but other times He surprises us with grief.

My pastor also recently talked about how God is reliable but not predictable.  We can never guess what lies around the bend, blessing or tragedy.  But we can know WHO lies around the bend.  And we can trust that while He may allow for unthinkable grief, He won’t leave us alone in our grief and will supply us with unimaginable strength.  We need not fear the unknown, the bends in the road and the surprise curveballs, because we trust in a good God who will walk with us through whatever surprise comes our way.

Plus, as a God of surprises and a God who knows the unknown, we can trust that He always has more up His sleeve.  Though today He may allow for surprise grief, we can know that soon He will send showers of surprise joy.

I never knew Jason and Darcie and I don’t know anyone suffering in the Philippines today.  I don’t know what it feels like to lose the person closest to you or lose everything you own.  But I know what it feels like to be surprised by our wild, unpredictable God.  And I am confident that though there is intense grief today, God will one day surprise Jason and the Filipino people again- this time with waves of unimaginable joy.

When I began writing this post, I thought it would be a light-hearted laugh about cross country and the pleasant ways God surprises us with joy.  I didn’t plan on writing about sorrow and grief.  But somewhere along the way, this post took a turn as I realized not everyone will be feeling surprised by joy today.  In fact, it may be quite the opposite.

And I’m not so naive as to think that I will always be in a joyful season, free from sorrow.  So I think it’s important to remember to soak up the joy we’re feeling today- to revel and rejoice in it.  And if in a season of sorrow tonight, cling to His promise that His joy, His often surprising and overwhelming joy, will come in the morning.


Running in a Pack

In March I ran the LA marathon.  I’ve hesitated to write about it because A) life has been busy and B) I don’t want to be one of those people who talk about their work-outs all the time.  I’m writing now because my Talbot classes are done and I just finished grading my last English essay EVER (Hallelujah for World History!), so I have some free time.  Plus, I learned some truly valuable lessons I want to pass along.

These are the lessons you won’t typically read about in a Runner’s magazine.

Lesson # 1- If you don’t prevent chafing, life will be miserable. Continue reading

Friday Favorites- Zuni Runs

It’s been a few weeks since the last Friday Favorites, so a bunch of these are old.   So in the same way it sounds better to start a story with “the other day” rather than “5 weeks ago”, I’ll just let you assume all these moments happened this past week.  But just so you know, they didn’t.

Favorite “looky-loo” moment

During one of my runs through Little India, a bunch of police cars whizzed past me.  Naturally, I followed them.

I joined a cluster of Indian business owners standing out on the street, and we all tried to solve the mystery of what had happened.  We concluded that someone had tried to rob “Raj Jewels.”  Despite my best attempts to eavesdrop on the cops, I could only conclude that they were pissed at someone, but I could not determine if the suspect had gotten away.

Speaking of attempted robberies, I should also mention that a family friend owns a jewelry store and he was robbed a few weeks ago.  This story made the NEWS because our friend stopped the robbery by shooting the guy in the shoulder and face.  The guy fled with the 4 other robbers, but they all were caught when they crashed into a parked car- probably because the guy driving was the one who had just been SHOT IN THE FACE.  Eeee-diots!

Least favorite “looky- loo” moment

Note: I’ve waited to tell this story because it was too painful to recall when it first happened.  At first, I only told only my friend Susan and that was only because she had told me about her own experience that was WAY worse than mine.  I love you, Susan! Continue reading

Friday Favorites- Puppies n Prayers

Favorite way to warm my cold hands

I stick them under my shirt and in my armpits like Mary Catherine Gallagher.  I typically do this in my classroom during my prep period and hope no one walks in.  This is me living life on the edge.

Favorite received text this week

Favorite e-mail received this week

Please note that this was an e-mail RECEIVED by me and not SENT by me.

My students were trying to convince me that we needed to evacuate since my class reeked of burnt toast.  When I read this e-mail, I was reminded why I love teaching at this school.  My colleagues are pretty incredible:) Continue reading

Friday Favorites- Redwood Running

Favorite moment of ignorance

I’m pretty sure that just about every non-Catholic in America has experienced this awkward conversation:

“Ummm….you’ve got a weird smudge on your forehead.”

“I know.”

“You do?”

“Yeah.  It’s Ash Wednesday.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot,” you say as you really think, “Ash what???”

I had this conversation in high school, and I’m pretty sure I even tried to wipe off the ash for my classmate.  And yet somehow, I made it to age 29 having never heard of “Fat Tuesday.”  For those of you still in the dark about this day, apparently the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is the day in which one pigs out on all the crap they’re giving up for the next 40 days for Lent. Continue reading

Friday Favorites- VDay Chocolates

Favorite moment involving my nephew and a ball

We were playing kickball in the front yard, and as 3-year old Hudson sprinted to first base, my mom pegged him in the gut with the ball.  Instant tears from Hudson.  Instant laughter from me.  My mom looked at me accusingly and said, “No one told me we weren’t getting him out!”  Tough love from Grandma.  Gotta love it.

For the record, Heidi and Dan don’t always let the boys win.  In fact, while Huddy was still bawling, Dan and Vander started singing some song from Yo-Gabba-Gabba about how “sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”  Hudson was not amused. Continue reading

Angry Running

Have you ever punched a guy in the nose, kneed him in the groin, and then run away?  I did.  Last week.  In my mind.  Let me explain.  Last week I had one of those cruddy days where lots of little things go wrong.  Nothing major, nothing tragic, just life.

Life with her normal let downs and frustrations.  Life with her traffic detours and tough conversations, with her unexpected bills and long to-do lists.  Life with her bad drivers and angry parent e-mails and jawline acne.  By themselves, these stressors are minor annoyances, first world problems that are certainly nothing to get worked up about.  But piled on top of each other, they begin to take a toll.  Piled on top of several other frustrations and worries, a little traffic on the freeway suddenly feels like the universe is conspiring to make my life miserable.

My breaking point on this particular day was reached while I was awkwardly lying in the orthodontist chair with my mouth propped open and my gums bleeding.  I balled my fist and really wanted to punch the girl who had nicked my gums and made me bleed.  Don’t worry, I didn’t.  But I definitely thought about it. Continue reading

Wow Wednesday 7- Crap, Katie! Pick it up!

“Wow Wednesdays” is a discipline for me.  Not like a “soap in the mouth” kind of discipline, but like a “read the Bible each day” kind of discipline.  It forces me to write and it forces me to acknowledge the times my jaw has dropped during the week.  I say “wow” for lots of reasons.  Often it’s because humans are so stinkin weird or my nephews are so stinkin cute, but the greatest instigator of “wows” has always been our great God.  Wednesdays are when I chronicle some of the odd crap I’ve witnessed but mainly the cool crap God has taught me.  


Running a marathon in a foreign country is basically  running 26.2 miles of wow moments.  Let me back up.  So on Sunday I ran a marathon on the island of Guernsey.  Yes, the island from the book “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.”  And yes, the book was why I chose this particular marathon when I googled “marathons in Europe.”   I’m sure there are stranger reasons to run a marathon, but I got quite a few looks when people heard that A) I came from America to run the race on their tiny island and B) I chose this spot because it sounded so neat in a fictional book.  One local replied, “Oh blimey!” when I said I was from California.  And I believe “oh blimey” roughly translates to “wow”, so that was my first wow moment involving the race. Continue reading

Why I Run- Part One

I think I might be addicted to running.  I think about it all the time, feel unsatisfied on my “rest days” and schedule my days around when I can run.  Last week I put on all my running gear, laced up my shoes, and then realized I was supposed to be getting ready for church.  I realized then that I might have a problem.

I first started running as an act of rebellion.  Other college kids were cuttin loose and gettin wild with typical drunken debauchery but me? I was going for secret runs.  I wasn’t supposed to be jogging.  Both my dad and my coach told me not to because it would slow down my “fast twitch” muscles which I needed as fast as possible for basketball (especially since my freshman 15 turned into a freshman 20).  So when I was feeling rebellious and needed to work off steam, I would go for jogs after my basketball games.  Screw those fast twitch muscles.  I wanted to run gosh darn it, so run I did.

I do realize that many of you must think I’m quite odd right about now.  I mean, you knew I was odd but now you’re realizing my oddities stretch further than merely discussing boogers and bathrooms.  So allow me to defend myself and my strange love for running.  This is the first of a two-part series explaining why I love to run.  Today I’ll defend my first reason.

Reason # 1- All other options are lame. Continue reading