We got a treat for you. We have our good friend in the house, Katie Shepherd. Better know as “Sole Sister Katie“. I always look forward to her encouraging post. Had the opportunity to meet her back in July in Hattiesburg. Hope you’ll be bless by her story. Enjoy! — Rod
“It took her awhile to figure out she could run, but when she did… It changed her life.”
I started my running journey on February 7, 2013 using the Couch to 5k program. I had been a member of our local wellness center for a little over a year and saw fliers on the counter for the Hippity Hop for your Heart 5k benefiting the American Heart Association. George Regional Hospital would be having it on March 30, 2013 and I simply said to myself “I think I want to run that.” I had a lot of trouble losing my baby weight after my third child was born on March 4, 2011. I joined the gym when he turned a year old in 2012 and took classes which helped me get back in shape. The next year I saw a couple of people post about the Couch to 5k program and I decided I would give it a try to prepare for my first 5k race. I remember Day One of the program like it was yesterday. I took my daughter to dance and tried to run and walk at the park in Hurley, Mississippi. My chest started hurting and I had palpitations. It was like my body went into shock, like “what are you doing to me??” Needless to say, I only made it through 15 minutes of Day One. Even though I had been taking classes for a year, I had not been doing enough cardio. I had never been a runner even though I played soccer in high school. I couldn’t even run the whole two miles required for tryouts back then. I was diagnosed with a heart valve problem called Mitral Valve Prolapse in 2004 that kept me from exercising for many years because I had so many issues with palpitations. Any time my heart rate would go up, my heart would jump out of rhythm. I didn’t want to give up, so I tried Day One of the C25k program the next day and was able to finish! I have such humble beginnings because I would run up and down my driveway which is .2 miles to the mailbox and back. I remember the moment in week 5 of the program when I ran 20 minutes straight. I will never forget that feeling. It felt amazing! I ran my first 5k with my family waiting for me at the finish line with a time of 34:36. I was so happy! After that race, I was hooked!
In 2013, I ran several 5k’s and won many age group awards, one 10k, and I ran my very first half marathon. It was the Kaiser Realty Half Marathon in Orange Beach, Alabama November 30, 2013. I had a running coach and training partner for that half and finished with a time of 2:18:56.
My family and I had the best time in Orange Beach that weekend. Not only did I finish my first half marathon, Auburn beat Alabama that very same day!! It was the most perfect day.
Shortly after my first half marathon, I injured my right knee. It was an IT Band injury because it hurt on the outside of my right knee. I had planned to run the Rock and Roll New Orleans Half Marathon in 2014 and could not due to injury. I ran on a hurt knee for over a month before heading to an Orthopedic doctor. He told me no running for 3 weeks and after that time was up, I could start walking, then walking and running. Then while I was injured and not able to run, I was diagnosed with Melanoma skin cancer February 19, 2014.
I will never forget that phone call. I was so devastated and felt like I had been given a death sentence. My sweet husband had bought me a treadmill that month and I remember walking and running on it after my 3 weeks were up. I am so thankful for praying family and friends during that time. I received good news on March 11, 2014 that the melanoma had not spread! Praise the Lord! I am still so thankful for God’s healing power. I celebrated by running a 5k the next weekend and I had lost a lot of my speed. I had built up to running 3 miles in a little over 26 minutes and I dropped back to about 30-31 minutes.
I would go on to run 4 more half marathons in 2014 and even attempted a running streak. Wouldn’t you know I got injured again! This time it was the back of my left knee which started in September and eventually turned into runner’s knee. The pain shifted to hurting all over my knee cap and it was very painful to run by mid March. My most memorable 2014 race was running the St. Jude Half Marathon December 4, 2014 in honor of Jaxon Schoenberger, a 6 year old boy who passed away on October 31, 2014 from D.I.P.G. Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas are brain tumors that are highly aggressive and difficult to treat. Our team had several fundraisers for him and raised over $11,000 for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
I met Jaxon’s parents at a wedding several years ago and did get to meet Jaxon in person at our Newk’s fundraiser before his health started to deteriorate. My two daughters and I put on a fundraiser at our family owned restaurant, Rocky Creek Catfish Cottage, for him also after he passed. I will never forget that time in my life. It was the first time I felt like I was making a difference by raising awareness for childhood cancer and teaching my kids the importance of raising money and running for a cause.
I ran two half marathons to start off the year 2015! My knee had slightly improved, but I ran the Mississippi Blues Half with a knee brace, then the Sea Turtle Half in Gulf Shores, Alabama. One of my favorite moments of this year happened at the Gulf Coast Half Marathon in Gulf Shores, Alabama March 1, 2015. I PR’d the Sea Turtle Half by a few seconds finally beating my time from my very first half marathon. However, I had a HUGE PR at Gulf Coast merely a week after Sea Turtle of 2:14:50! Nearly a FOUR minute personal record. That meant the world to me! I had worked so hard and overcome two knee injuries and melanoma skin cancer! Of course, my sweet family was waiting for me at mile 11 holding signs and then raced to the finish line to wait for me there. I can’t say enough about my husband and three beautiful children. They are my number one fans and support me in everything I do.
Next up was to train for my very first marathon which was the St. Jude Country Music Marathon in Nashville, April 25, 2015. I ran so many half marathons from November to March, I had a great 13 mile base and built my mileage from there. I ran my first 16 mile training run way too fast and my slightly injured left knee turned into a full blown runner’s knee injury. I ran another half marathon as a training run at the end of March and made it 17 miles total. I crossed that finish line in a whole lot of pain and I was limping.
I tried to run my 20 mile training run two weeks later and only made it 3 miles. I threw in the towel that day, but I’m so thankful for the support of my Facebook friends, Joanna from Races For Awareness text me a lot that sad day. I also got some great advice from Gelcys from Runner Unleashed on how to tape my knee with KT Tape. I used it on a couple of short runs and didn’t have any pain. I rested until it was time for the BIG SHOW. I also ran my first marathon as a St. Jude Hero and raised another $1000 for the hospital. My husband and two daughters made the long trip to Nashville the Friday before the race.
I can’t say enough about Nashville and running my first marathon there. The crowd was amazing!
I assigned one person to pray for each mile for 26 miles and the last .2 was for me. Praying for a certain person during each mile helped take my mind off what I was actually doing and focus on that person. I got sick after running 8 miles and felt nauseated. I’m thankful that feeling eventually went away, but after finishing half of the race, I was tired. My husband and girls met me with cold Gatorade and water and a mini Snickers bar. It was wonderful. My taped up knee barely hurt me the entire race. I believe it was not only the tape that helped, but a true miracle from God. My knee hurt so badly during training in March and April, there is no other way to explain how I didn’t have much pain at all during the marathon. I could tell my training was lacking because of how tired I felt from miles 14-26. I ran and walked most of the second half. A blister popped at mile 20 and I had to stop and take off my shoe to see what was going on!
That had never happened before, ever. By the grace of God I made it close to the finish line when I saw my precious husband and my two daughters crawled under the fence to run and cross the finish line with me.
This went down as one of the best moments of my life aside from my wedding day and the day that each of my children were born. My girls will always remember crossing that finish line with me and it’s a special moment that no one can ever take away. I’m so thankful I got to share that with them. It makes me wonder how many more finish lines we will cross together.
I am now training for half marathons number 9 and 10. I plan on running the St. Jude Half again in December. I originally planned to run the full, but I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma and had to have two more surgeries, one on my forehead and unfortunately one on my leg.
My surgery forced me to sit out from running a week and slow down training. I didn’t train for three weeks so I had to drop to the half. After all of my knee injuries, I believe it was the smart thing to do.
So we are a Jesus loving family of runners! All five of us took part in our local 5k, the Dancing Martin 5k in Leakesville, MS recently on October 3, 2015. My husband and I ran the 5k and all three kids ran the fun run! I gave my son my bib and he was so proud.
Oh, my heart just completely spilled over watching him! I managed to finally get a 5k PR after TWO years of trying to beat my long standing time of 27:26. I finished this 5k with a time of 26:51! I was so excited! It felt like I had made a major comeback after being diagnosed with skin cancer again! My husband finished with a time of 35:02 and he doesn’t run very much at all. I thought that was amazing. I was so proud of him. We both won first place in our age groups and all five of us brought home medals that day.
It truly was a perfect day! We’ve done a lot of color runs and local races together but this was the first race all 5 of us participated in. Sweet sweet memories.
I am so thankful to God and my family and this gift of running. All of this would have never happened if it hadn’t been for that day at the Wellness Center when I saw those fliers on the counter for the Hippity Hop 5k two and a half years ago. My husband probably will never be a distance runner, but I think I have three little running partners who may want to run half marathons or even marathons with me one day. I wonder which one it will be? I can’t wait for them to ask one day in the future, “Momma will you train me to run a half marathon with you?” and my answer will be “Yes baby, I sure will. Now which one would you like to run?”
- My Jesus, Family & Running Journey – Katie Shepherd – Lucedale, Mississippi
- Why I Run – Mandy Shows – Laurel, Mississippi
- Give It All You Got – Lezlie McCoy – Brandon, Mississippi
- Running My Way To Recovery – Christina Crum – Corinth, Mississippi
- Beating The Odds – Jaci Mize – Gulfport, Mississippi.
- Running My Life – Tracy Holland – Fulton, Mississippi
- My Transformation Story – Noah Bourdeu – Carriere, Mississippi
- Staying The Course – Mark Keller – Carriere, Mississippi
- Fit Mom In Training – Michelle Lawrence – Oxford, Mississippi.
- Experiencing God’s Gifts, One Mile at a Time – Allison Nooe – Brandon, Mississippi
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