Running with My Family, Part 1 (Kathy)

12947_1249215424197_2911010_n[2]One unexpected benefit of having in-laws is that adding family members adds to the family fun – now that we’re all adults, our get-togethers are more like parties.

My brother Doug’s wife, Kathy, has added a lot to our family fun. If you’ve met her or just seen pictures of her, you know that Kathy’s beautiful. If not, I’ve attached a picture of her so you’ll know what I’m talking about. Richard describes Kathy as a tall blonde Shania Twain. She’s originally from Canada and sometimes even talks like Shania, which we enjoy teasing her about. But the best thing about Kathy is that she is even more beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. She’s completely devoted to Doug, her children Matt and Brooke, her father Dirk, her siblings and even puts up with our side of the family, too. She is also a kind, spiritual person and I’ve turned to her on occasion for guidance on religious matters – her knowledge of the Bible is impressive.

Kathy began her career as a fitness instructor after my niece Brooke was born when she started working in the nursery at the local YMCA. After working there for a little while, she thought she might want to teach water aerobics classes. She found out she would need to be certified to do that, so she became a certified aquatics fitness instructor and started teaching. I went to a couple of Kathy’s water aerobic classes and discovered that Kathy was a rock star to her students. After class was over, they all lined up to talk to her – whether thanking her for a wonderful class or filling her in on a health issue they were experiencing. She had something kind and encouraging to say to each of them.

Since getting that first certification, she earned her life-saving certification and is also now an AAFA-certified cycling instructor, an AAFA personal and group fitness instructor, a Les Mills Body Pump instructor, and a Live Strong personal trainer. Very impressive for someone who started in the nursery.

When Doug and Kathy relocated to North Carolina a few years ago, Kathy transferred to the Y there. The folks in North Carolina have come to love her as much as they did in Kentucky. My brother tells me Kathy’s body pump classes are so popular that some students arrive 45 minutes before class to make sure they get a good spot and that the Y added security to manage all the cars flowing into the Y parking lot for Kathy’s class.

In her work as a personal trainer, Kathy also works with older clients or clients who are dealing with medical challenges. They love working with her, not only because of her sweet nature but because she inspires them to achieve their fitness goals.

I’m sharing Kathy’s story first, because she was the first family member to run with me. When I started running, she’d already been at it for several years and had finished several half marathons. After my first 5K, she talked me into running a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot 10K with her. I was more than a little nervous at the idea of running a 10K – it had taken most of the spring and summer just to run a 5K. And I’d be running a 10K with a certified fitness instructor – talk about pressure! But I told her I’d be up for it and started increasing my mileage, hoping to be able to run a 10K without embarrassing myself by Thanksgiving.

The traffic was horrible getting out of Nashville the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving and after getting into Louisville late, my pre-10K dinner consisted of a banana and two containers of yogurt (not exactly a nutritionally sound dinner). I was so worried about the next day’s 10K that I didn’t get much sleep that night. By Thanksgiving morning, I was so stressed out about my lack of nutrition, lack of sleep, and lack of training that I was trying to figure out a graceful way to drop down to the one mile Fun Run.

But once the race started and we were running, I calmed down. Kathy and I ran along at a easy pace, chatting along the way, and were at the 3 mile mark before I knew it. As the rest of the miles ticked by, I couldn’t believe how good I felt. I was actually passing people who looked like “real” runners. Maybe that meant that I looked like a real runner, too? Kathy and I crossed the finish line, celebrated our accomplishment, and headed back to get ready for Thanksgiving dinner.

We’ve run several other races together since then, including some here in Nashville. In fact, we typically fit in a run whenever we get together. It’s given me a whole new way to get to know Kathy as not just a sister-in-law, but also as a friend. From my runs with Kathy, I know she is not only patient, kind and supportive, but also a competitor who can outkick me in the final stretch of a race if I don’t run my best.

Which definitely inspires me to run my best.

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