Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dirty Girl Profile: Meet Marcy Moran Crebs

I wish I could tell you I remember meeting Marcy for the first time. I don't. She's such an integral member of Dirty Girls that it just seems like she's always been there, as much a part of who we are as the woods we run through. Truth be told, Marcy is a lot like a tree: solid, sheltering, beautiful, and a little bit twisted in parts (this last bit said with much love!) Though she mostly runs with the kind-pace group, she's got a competitive gleam in her eye and a mean sprinter's kick! Dare we say... dark horse? Her "do or die" attitude sometimes gets her into trouble but she is learning how to "train smart!" In addition to being a Dirty Girl, she's a nurse, a mother to two young runners, a volunteer for Dock Street Running & Walking, a skilled outdoors-woman, and a savvy shopper who prides herself on striking gold at Good Will. I suspect there are many people out there who will tell you that Marcy helped them get through the most difficult time of their life. She is the embodiment of a good friend. She has a great laugh. 

Tell us five things we don't know about you:
1) I swam synchronized swimming throughout grade school. It might look kind of funny, but it was tough! 
2) I initially went to Virginia Tech majoring in Music Ed/Vocal Performance. I LOVED being in the Marching Band!
3) I received my nursing education in the Army. One of my books had instructions on how to do an emergency tracheotomy with a ballpoint pen! 
4) I was recruited to run for the Army, but I didn't know if I would like running as my job, and if I got hurt I could be medically discharged and wouldn't be able to finish nursing school. So I ran for Ft. Lewis instead while in school. 
5) My hubby and I eloped. We were engaged, and planning the big shindig, but we just weren't enjoying it. We’re still happy with our decision 12 years later.

Tell us about your running evolution:
I started as a sprinter in middle school and also in high school. 100 and 300 meter hurdles were my main events, and I remember our weekly 3 mile long run was a big downer. The only thing I liked about it was running past my house, and having my puppy greet us. When I was in the Army I decided that I liked some of the longer stuff. I really enjoyed the camaraderie of running with others, and showing the boys that I could hang or show them up instead. l LOVED being the company flag bearer (aka a guidon) during big group runs. You run in formation with guidons in the front, and to get folks pumped up you take speedy laps around the formation, while everyone's yelling and hollering. It feels like you're flying when heading against traffic, but it’s a bit slower getting back to the front! Occasionally I ran trails, but it didn't become my preference until 5 or 6 years ago. My motivation now really waxes and wanes, seemingly related to injuries. Dirty Girls and planned group runs really help me with this. My training has taken a big downturn in intensity since having kiddos. I've also had to really work on dialing back my competitiveness - I haven't put in the training in recent years to try to run at the levels I did previously. I've had it with being injured!

What do you remember about running with Dirty Girls for the first time? 
My first Dirty Girls run ended up being Dec 24th, 2010. I loved the trails and the group of gals, and it was my first run back since my auto accident. The only other groups I'd been in were running teams – which have a different purpose altogether. My teammates were nice, we got along, but they were also my competition. Dirty Girls brings women together to support each other with running/walking, but also to support each other with all of life's journeys. There's just something a little extra in conversations on the trails. 

Both your children, ages 8 & 10 are runners. How do you balance keeping running fun for them while at the same time helping them to achieve their goals?
It's tough, and I try to be aware of this balance. Caitlin seems to be more competitive in training and racing, and Cammie just enjoys the run, whatever the pace. I hope running brings to them what it does to me - stress relief, fun with friends, and a sense of accomplishment. I love the "talk time" on the trails with my kids. Both of them, especially Cameron, will talk about things on a run that I would never get him to open up about anywhere else. Like we all do, they love the acceptance and nurturing of this running community. Thanks to Jorge and Skippy, many times now I’ve heard Cammie say, "Real men wear Pink!

Real Men Wear Pink!
What life experiences have most shaped your values, your mindset, and how you live your life now?
Probably the single largest decision I made was choosing to move cross-country by myself. I had been stationed at Fort Lewis previously, but moved back to Ohio where I grew up. I missed the Pacific Northwest. The experiences I've had here, the people I’ve met, and the many lifestyles I've been exposed to have given me an opportunity for a life that probably would not have been a possibility in a smaller Midwestern town.

You're a hospice nurse, a job that can no doubt be emotionally draining. Does being around death so regularly give you a different perspective on life? 
I have realized that it is an amazing gift to be with patients and families during the end of life. The dying folks around me have taught me to make life worthwhile and enjoy as much of it as possible. Some folks live fully, some don't. I'd rather be in the first category. I've found that I need to have a really good cry every month or so, or it builds up. I do cry with families, but at the same time I can't be a sobbing wreck. Scott, my husband is really good about listening to me when I get home, even if it's the middle of the night. Running helps!
Tell us the cougar den story:
My friend Val and I were on a trail that followed a creek, and we saw tracks. We stopped to look, and took note to look them up later. The trail started to get a bit dicey, and then we stepped up onto a log that was impeding the trail. When we glanced down we saw a big critter den in the hollow of a fallen tree, complete with a fresh, bloody treat. Long story short--a cougar was trapped near this den, and then was transported and released in the Olympics. 

Do you have a personal code that you live by?
"Your life is an occasion. Rise to it." - Mr. Magorium

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dirty Girl Profile: Lucy Arnold, Aged 14

When I first met Lucy at Route 16 this past March, I didn't know what to think. Here was this beautiful young person who looked like a teenager, but whom sounded like a very educated and wise adult, far more wise than myself, truth be told! Though she spoke quietly and in measured tones, her passion for running was beyond evident. I knew in my soul that she was meant to be a part of Dirty Girls. She'd been running less than six months when she first came out for our Sound To Narrows training group. She placed first in her age division at this race, and then went on to place first in her age division at the Rock N' Roll Half Marathon and at the Tacoma Narrows Half Marathon. She impressed me very much as a runner, but she impressed me even more as a person in the way she encouraged other runners, educated herself about the sport, and the way she tried to really listen to her body, even if that meant not running as hard or as far as she wanted to go. Later, as her younger sisters Isabel and Olivia began to run for the first time (inspired by the transformation of their big sister) she was their most ardent cheerleader and fan. Though Lucy is young, she struggled in her earlier years with trying to fit in at school, a struggle that no doubt fuels her running now. While I admire Lucy so much as a runner, I would admire her just as much if she finished dead last in a race. She is a living embodiment of courage and strength. Read on as she discusses her running, her early struggles, mean girls, bullying, how to reach teenagers, and so much more! Oh, and please know that Lucy wrote this WITHOUT any help or editing. Because you will find yourself wondering how it's possible that a person her age can sound this way. That, I tell you, is the Lucy Affect!
1) You make running look so easy and effortless. Does running ever feel hard to you? If so, when? What goes through your mind when you're having a tough run or tough moment? What keeps you going? What do you say to yourself?

Running continues to get easier and easier for me, but there are still times that are harder than others. This is often when I am running in harsh conditions (namely heat, snow, wind storms, and heavy rain) or when I reflect too much on   how much farther or longer I have to go to complete a run. When these things happen, I concentrate on how great I will fell when I finish and how much stronger it will make me. I always think that the pain or difficulty is only temporary, and that the accomplishment and glory will last forever. Another thing that helps me through is thinking about the athletes and people that I admire, and some of the things that they had to overcome to get where they did.
2) You just took up running this past year, correct? What inspired you to begin? Do you have a history with other sports? How did the effort of running feel in the beginning versus how it feels now? 

When I began running in the fall, I was doing it for several reasons. I have neighbors who are avid marathon runners, and I was always in awe of their fitness and the love they had for their sport. Also, I wanted to run because I knew that it was an excellent way to increase fitness, and this had become very important to me. I was desperate for an activity that would strengthen my whole body, for I was trying to recover form a bad spiral of unhealthy weight loss. Aside from not always eating enough, I had developed a bad habit of obsessing over certain exercises. There was even a point where I would do sit-ups for sessions of over an hour, at least several times a week. People were starting to worry about me, and I knew that I had to act fast if I was going to get healthier. After reading that weight-bearing exercises like running could help to rebuild muscle and maintain bone mass, I decided that it would be a good replacement for my previous exercise routines. I had hardly any experience with sports before this point and had never enjoyed running very much, so it was definitely hard at first, but as I worked up my endurance it got easier. It all began with running one mile every day for a week, and then the next week it was two miles a day. Very gradually, I worked up to higher mileage, but becoming passionate about my new activity happened very quickly.

3) What advice would you give to a person looking to take up running for the first time? 

I would tell a person who was taking up running for the first time to start at their own level and to ignore any fears or insecurities. I have yet to meet anyone who was an Olympic caliber runner the first time they went for a run, and I know that I never will. Just getting up off of the couch to run is a victory, and the pride that you will feel once you've finished will be worth the difficulty. Begin slowly and at your own pace, and notice how it gets easier as you stick with it. Soon you'll be making friends with other runners, and it is likely that you will receive admiration for taking control of your own fitness.
4) What do you like best about running with the Dirty Girls?        

I love running with the Dirty Girls because of all of the support and encouragement that is given to all of the runners. It is such a friendly and wonderful group of people, and I have found that I have much in common with many of them. The trails are also one of my favorite places to run, because I enjoy the diversity of each run and feeling so connected to nature.

5) Tell us five things we don't know about you:

 1) I follow a whole foods-plant based (vegan) diet and love cooking healthful meals.
2) I live right by the water and my family sometimes paddles our canoe to Blake Island from our home.
3) I'd love to travel the world, but also dream of attending a top-tier college when the time comes.
4) I am passionate about health, proper nutrition, and fitness.
5) The friends that I have made through Route 16 and the rest of the running community are some of my dearest.
6) What do you like to do for fun when you're not running? And what makes you laugh?

When not running, I love to read, cook, or do other exercises for my core and strength. Writing is another thing that I enjoy. I usually laugh when people around me say or do funny things or something random or unexpected. My two cats and my dog make me smile everyday.

7) Lucy, you inspire us so very much! Who are your heroes and why? 

First of all, my parents are heroes. They both work hard each and every day to sustain our family. Likewise, the many runners and coaches that I have met through Route 16 and Dirty Girls are my heroes because they give so much to their communities and all overcome odds to take part in the sport that they love. Some of my more personal heroes include Scott Jurek (ultra runner) and J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter series, whose refusal to give up and whose groundbreaking success has opened doors for many other female writers). But in the big picture, I think that anyone who works hard and overcomes difficulty to accomplish something or meet a goal is a hero, as is anyone who makes sacrifices to help others.
8) What have been some key breakthroughs for you in your running training?

The biggest breakthrough was when I actually began to ENJOY running. When I began my training, I ran one mile everyday for a week, and then spent the next month or so doing two miles a day. These runs often felt like a chore, but I kept doing them because I was determined. In January, however, when we were snowed into our house and our street was coated with ice and snow, I realized that I NEEDED to run because staying inside was driving me crazy. So, despite the conditions, I ran three miles for the first time, and was thrilled with every minute of it. It was that day that I learned that running was to be a lifelong passion. During the following weeks, I worked up to four and five mile distances and became even more in love with the sport. Finding Route 16 and the Gig Harbor running community made things even better, for I learned about technique, pacing, proper shoes, and the importance of a diverse training routine. Now that I was able to run trails, hills, and different routes all over Gig Harbor with other runners, my speed and strength improved dramatically.
9) What advice would you give to us adults to that might help us to help the teens and young girls in our life feel more self-confident and more comfortable with taking on new challenges or trying something new? 

I think that the best way to encourage teens and young girls is to inspire them, but also to support them. At my age, it is very easy to feel insecure and to feel like you have to be "normal" in order to have a chance of being accepted. Now that I have learned that it doesn't have to be that way, I'd suggest that adults help the teens in their life by letting them know that they are loved the way they are and by encouraging them to be themselves. Once teens (or any young people) are more confident, odds are that they will be more open to trying new things (like running) or taking on a challenge. Also, it helps if a teen has someone to do the new activity with them, because then they won't feel so alone and might be more driven to do their best.

10) The first time I met you I remember thinking to myself, "Wow, she looks like a teenager, but she sounds wiser and more mature than me!" Everyone I know has this reaction to you. When you look back over your life, what are some key things (events, people, books) that have influenced your goals, interests, or values. 

Before first grade, I lived much closer to Seattle and my life was, on the whole, very sheltered. I didn't take much notice of the fact that my parents were working very hard to move our family into our current Port Orchard home. I also didn't work very hard to prepare myself for the new school experience that I was going to have, so our move seemed very sudden. We literally packed the family car with the few necessities that would fit and left our old house. The next morning, I went to public school for the first time as I began first grade. As we had moved over only the day before, I knew no one and felt out of place in such a loud, busy, new environment and was scared. Looking back on that year and all years of that school that followed, I'm aware that I never truly lost that sense that I didn't fit in or belong with the other kids, but I did come to value the ability to be myself. Luckily, I did have some wonderful teachers who did much to nurture and encourage me. Because of them, I developed a love of learning and working hard, along with an urge to always do my best. I especially credit my love of writing to the two teachers I had for fourth through sixth grade, who provided me with all of the support and lessons about technique that I needed to become a better writer.  My life at home was mostly peaceful, until I was ten, which was when my Grandma Teddo came to live with us. Though I loved having her around, it was hard for me to cope with her problems with my dad (and his with her) and how worn out my mom was from taking care of her nonstop. Our relationships became tense, and because I was dealing with mean girls at school, I became more insecure, but I was comforted by books that took me to faraway places and got me to use my imagination (like the Harry Potter series). When both my grandma and my grandpa died that summer and terrible drama over grandma's affairs arose in mom's family, I withdrew further into myself and was extremely hurt by how my own relatives could turn on my family in such a horrible way. My moment of glory finally came at the end of sixth grade, when I was chosen to be a speaker at the graduation ceremony. After that, I felt refreshed and believed that I was ready to take on the next chapter of my life. Instead of going to the local junior high, I had chosen a school that was a combination of home-schooling and public school. I relished the freedom that this gave me, but it wasn't long before I was battling disordered eating and obsession over my body image. My progress was like a roller coaster, but I was finally saved when I started running and when my aunt gave me a copy of the book Forks Over Knives, which converted me to a whole foods vegan diet and made me even more passionate about nutrition and fitness. Route 16 came into my life several months later and the people there have taught me so much and given me such courage and confidence that I now know that I never have to compete with anyone but myself and that it's ok to be different.

11) You are at an age where girls can be mean to each other in so many different ways. Why do you think this happens? What advice would you give to a girl who's a target of mean girls? What advice would you give the mean girls? And what advice would you give to the adults in your life? We want to help, but recognize that our "helping" can sometimes make things worst. What can we do to make things better? 

Girls are mean to each other when they are insecure about themselves, jealous, or intimidated. Any girl who is the target of a mean girl should know that the mean girl's behavior is a reflection of her own problems. In other words, if you are bullied, you are not the one who is the problem: it is actually the bully who has problems. Mean girls should be aware of the damage that they can do, and rather than lashing out at others because they know that they have something wrong inside, they should seek help or find an activity that helps them to relieve their frustrations. Adults who are trying to help need to do so in a way where the person who tipped them off about the situation isn't known by the bully. If the bully knows who told about their behavior, he or she could try to victimize that person. Also adults need to make sure that the conflict is really resolved before they stop paying close attention, since mean kids often go right back to being mean when they think that they are no longer being watched. Most of all, it is important to look at the perspectives on both sides of the fight and be fair in judging both. Bullies and mean girls often have rough situations outside of school and might need help.

12) You have spoking before about being a vegan, and I know you are incredibly well-versed in nutrition. I asked Lori Meisburger this question recently, and we heard things from the adult perspective. But I'd like to hear from a teenage perspective: how do we talk to teens and young girls about nutrition and exercise and without making them feel self-conscious? 

I've found that it definitely doesn't work to force anyone into trying something, be it healthy food or exercise, so it's always best to lead by example instead. Then, the teens and young girls can try it on their own terms and see how much better they feel for themselves. Also, when trying to get young people to eat healthier, it helps to educate them about the benefits for their health, but in a gentle way. As for exercising, talk with them about ways to make it more fun and tell them about any of your sport heroes. Chances are, the athlete that you most admire was not born with his or her ability, and this can help girls and teens to feel less self-conscious in the beginning.

13) What do you want to be when you grow up?

When I grow up, I will probably try to be many different things. What's most important to me is that I'm happy. I'd love to pursue running further, but I also dream of being a writer. With my newfound love of nutrition and fitness, I may also want a job  where I can help people to become healthier in the long term.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dirty Girl Profile: Lori Meisburger

Meet Lori Meisburger, our fabulous long-time Dirty Girl who killed the horrible McCormick hill for the very first time a couple of weeks ago. If only she could have flattened it for the rest of us! Lori is one of those women who exudes balance and good humor and quiet confidence. You don't have to know her for more than a couple of seconds before you're wanting to be her new BFF. She also happens to be beautiful, though she'd laugh at you if you told her so. Lori was a little reluctant about hard-core running at first, although from the beginning she always seemed to show up for the nastiest, wettest, and muddiest days. But that was then. Now Lori's taking a speed-work class and doing hill repeats, tempo, and interval running for FUN! In addition to being a teacher, she's also the mom of three amazing girls who are active, healthy, and confident. We couldn't love you more Lori!

Tell us five things we don't know about you:

I     1) I love to travel and am always looking for my next destination. 
I     2) I’ve never actually been proposed to; my ring showed up on my front porch and he thought      
           no words were necessary.  
      3) I was in a roll over accident on my honeymoon. 
      4) I am the only girl out of 4 siblings.
      5) 8 chickens live in my garage.
Lori and The Man Who Didn't Propose
  When you're not running, how do you enjoy spending your free time?
  I love to play tennis, whether it's with my friends or my family. I enjoy taking time to read novels on my kindle. During the school year I am a substitute teacher for elementary schools.
  What is your favorite food? 
  Homemade spaghetti and meatballs.

  Name three things that have most influenced how you live your life: 
   Living on my own for the first time, I learned how to be independent and make my own decisions. My husband John pushed me to think about my future and to go to school to become a teacher. He told me not to settle for less because he told me I had the capacity to do more with my life. When I joined MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) I learned how to be a good mother and how to handle tough situations. 

    What drew you to Dirty Girls?
      My friend Tracy Coons encouraged me to join the group, and I keep coming back because I love the support of all the women. Dirty Girls pushes me to do my best and keep achieving when surrounded by other people who are passionate about running. Also if you don’t show up to run everyone wants to hear your excuse, so it had better be a good one!
    What's something you haven't yet done in your life that you'd like to do someday?
      I'd like to spend 6 months to a year in a foreign country teaching while my husband works at the local hospital.

    What's something you have done or accomplished that once seemed like an impossibility?      
     I've raised 3 beautiful, smart girls who are also good people. They are not followers; they are leaders with goals for their futures and the confidence to achieve all of them.
   The teenage years, especially for females, set the stage for how we view ourselves. How do we teach girls to feel self-confident? How do we teach them about nutrition and exercise without making them feel self-conscious?
      I lead by example; I exercise and eat healthy, and my girls see that. I also make homemade dinners that are well balanced  and healthy with lots of fruits and vegetables. I packed my kid's lunches everyday of every school year and I always made sure they had healthy foods to eat. The incorporation of sports is also important; by introducing my kids to many different sports early on it allowed them to have fun, exercise, and make friends all at the same time. It also built a foundation of being active that my girls have built on all through middle and high school. Finally, my girls have a good dad. He is a great role model for them as well, and he gives them so much love and encouragement that they cannot help but feel confident in themselves.
     What would you say to yourself if you could have a heart to heart with your teenage self?
      If I had a talk with my teenage self I would tell her to not worry about what other people thought. I would tell her to do what she wanted and what would make her happy.

   What do you do that makes you feel proud? 
     I’m proud of all the exercise I do. I go to classes, and I run almost every day of the week.There was a time when I didn’t think I could ever work out this much, but I've pushed myself and now I exercise more than I ever have and I feel great!
    Do you have a personal code that you live by?
    I live by the idea of karma. What goes around comes around. Be nice to people because you never know if you are going to meet them later on. The person you’re mean to at the grocery store could turn out to be your new boss!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dirty Girl Profile: Wenche Wahl (aka "the Viking")

To know Dirty Girl Wenche Wahl (pronounced Vane-ka) is to know a lionhearted viking goddess. No one who has ever tried to keep up with this 54-year old force of nature from Norway would ever doubt her strength and fierceness. Even when she's leaving you in the dust, she does it in such a good-natured way that you can't help but feel inspired. Plus, she's got the most wonderful, lyrical, adorable, beautiful Norwegian accent ever. Personality wise she is equal parts fierce, loving, and playful. Always, she has a twinkle in her eye, and you get the sense she's seen some VERY interesting things in her life, "because I am European, you know!" There is no one else like her, and we love her so much. A little over a year ago she formed Dock Street Running & Walking, a non-profit group for homeless runners and walkers that is making an enormous difference to the homeless and the world's perception of the homeless. Yes, it's true that in the olden days Vikings took lives. This modern-day Dirty Girl Viking is changing lives; step, by step, by step! Go Wenche! We caught up with Wenche for a brief moment--no easy feat since she's such a speedster! Read below to find out what makes her tick (and kick butt).

Name 5 things we don't know about you:
1) I'm an avid knitter. I've made 18 sweaters by hand.
2) I have an addiction for handbags.
3) I worked and lived inside the Royal Castle in Oslo, Norway.
4) Southern France is my dream heaven.
5) I would like to spend more time on action photography.

What makes you laugh and what do you enjoy doing when not running or changing lives?
The things that make me laugh are friends and family members doing hilarious things like telling jokes or acting silly. The best comedy film I have ever seen is "Cool Running." It's based on the true story of the first Jamaican bobsled team trying to make it to the Winter Olympics. I also love the British film "Death at a Funeral."I like cross-country skiing, mountaineering, yoga, cooking, baking, hanging out with friends and family, reading, listening to music, going to concerts, and relaxing completely. I am also a Seattle Sounders fan. 

What is something you dream of doing?
When I have more time I plan to climb Aconcagua (22,841 feet), one of the famed Seven Summits located in the Andes Mountain Range in Argentina. It's the highest mountain in both the western and southern hemispheres.

Norway vs. America:
Five words that describe Norway in a nutshell: 
Strong culture, vacation, independent, close-minded, homogenous
Five words that describe America in a nutshell:
Freedom, convenient, big, open-minded, friendliness

What are 3 things that have most influenced how you live your life?
1) My father passed away at age 34 of heart disease. I was only 2 1/2 years old. When I was older and understood that heart disease had indeed affected several of my family members, my priority was to live & eat as healthy as possible. I still follow this important lifestyle.

2) Mother Teresa is my icon. She was an incredible, unique, and strong woman who believed in her own vision to help other people in need. She was living and breathing every moment. She never gave up. Mother Teresa's words Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person made a huge impression on me a long time ago. That's exactly what I did. I followed my passions: running and helping other people in need. From the beginning I believed in my own dream and I was never afraid to fail.

3) Oprah Winfrey is a true powerhouse! Her voice and inspiration guides you through the impossible. To witness her in Atlanta still gives me goosebumps. Every day brings a chance to start over.
In what ways is your nonprofit organization Dock Street Running & Walking changing lives?
11 Dock Street Runners are now back working. 5 of them now have housing. 3 are back at college. 6 are not suicidal anymore. They have completed 10 races and volunteered at 10 races. 8 have new running PR's. 13 have medals. We have 118 members, and 10 to 25 runners weekly. They are happy, and more eager to do something positive with their lives. They are caring for each other, helping each other, not afraid of each other, they are now friends and not enemies, and they protect each other.
What makes Dock Street Running & Walking so successful?
Dock Street is successful because of our simple, non-threatening concept: Everybody is welcome. It doesn't matter if you are homeless or not, poor or wealthy, young or old, walker or runner. We are a friendly, nonjudgemental club that embraces everybody. I give every Dock Street member big hugs, individual talks, and motivate them to think positive and not give up. I tell them to live now, to do the best they can, let go of the past, and that nobody is perfect. I talk about wellness, diet, and training. We give them lightly used or new running shoes, athletic clothes, and water and snacks. Weekly yoga is also important to them. They are loosing weight, feeling good about themselves, and building self-esteem. They all love to race, to get new PR's, and volunteering. They feel they are worth something, and runners and race directors are thanking them for their excellent work! We build bonds between the community and the homeless, and because of our efforts mainstream people are getting more comfortable with the homeless. We call each other Dock Street Family!

How can individuals get involved with Dock Street?
1) Volunteer time on Monday at 8:30 am at Wright Park with walking, running, and/or coaching
2)Volunteer time on Wednesday at 10 am at Dock Street with walking, running, and/or coaching
3) Donate money, running shoes, athletic clothes, running books.
4) Volunteer as a podiatrist.
5) Volunteer your printing business.
6) Help us meet our goal to have our own drop in center and Dock Street minivan.
Please note: we have been a nonprofit since December, 2011 under section 501 (c) (3)
When are you happiest when running?
Trail running in the mountains is insane! I fill up my hydration pack with water, vegan sports bars, solids from hammer, French Onion Chips, and a flask of Aquavit for a summit celebration with my running friends. Life is good! I just love running. It's part of who I am. Breathing in and out I feel free and completely relaxed. It clears my mind, gets rid of any negative thoughts, gives me more energy, and gets me motivated for a long time. I'm ready to conquer the world after a good run. A great running companion helps to motivate you and is happy for you when you do well. Laughing together is a must!

Do you have a personal code you live by?
1) Do not be afraid to try something new.
2) Find your passion and follow it.
3) Don't compare yourself to others--you are unique!
4) If you are having a bad day go for a run. It's the best medicine!
5) If possible, do volunteer work at least once a month. It fuels you.
6) Remember--Nobody is perfect!
"May you follow your dreams and always believe in yourself. Keep your eyes on the stars and hope in your heart." Unknown
For even more information on Wenche and Dock Street Running & Walking check out her website at or contact Wenche at

Friday, June 29, 2012

Dirty Girl Profile: Meet Kathy Ruland

Hey Dirty Ladies! We're beginning a new series with the blog, and since we're a pretty darn cool group of ladies every few weeks we'll be profiling a different Dirty Girl. First up is Kathy Ruland, our visiting Dirty Girl from the East Coast. She is one tough mama and a grandmama too!

A Tough Mama!
A Beautiful Grandmama!
Last week, our visiting Dirty Girl Kathy Ruland took a bad spill on our trails into some downed barbed wire. As she was falling, she grabbed on to our Bonnie and in a heroic moment pushed her out of harms way. Erika Lowery patched Kathy's cheek with chapstick to stop the bleeding (go Erika), and back at the cars Julia Horner doctored her wounds with a first aid kit. Bloodied and battered, Kathy opted to keep on running, in true Dirty Girl form! Kathy hails from Williamsport, MD. She is here for a year to help her daughter and grand kids during her son-in-law's deployment to Afghanistan.  She arrived here at the beginning of April and began searching for running spots and resources in the Gig Harbor area.  She read about the Dirty Girls on the Route 16 running store website.  She admits, it took her a couple of weeks to work up the nerve to show up, but she's glad she finally did.  Her first run with the group was on June 8th, and while she has never run with a group or a partner before, she found the companionship and love of trail running very inviting. If you haven't met Kathy yet, you are missing out. Read on to find out why!

How would your closest friends and family describe you?
A little bit crazy, or maybe a lot crazy.  It depends on who you ask.  My oldest daughter, who is an avid backpacker and alpinist, would just say I'm normal for us.  We do crazy backpacking trips that look more like climbs than a relaxing vacation.  I think friends and family would call me tough but soft.  Tough on myself but soft with people.  My middle daughter once told me that my biggest flaw raising them was that I was too nice...oh well, too late to change now.  

Name five things we don't know about you.
1) I feel better now than I did in my 20's.
2) I love white cake with white icing.
3) It is difficult for me to sit still for very long.
4) My favorite dog is a pug.
5) I Am thankful everyday for my family and my health.
Name three things that have most influenced your life and how you live?
My daughter, Mary, and I contracted Lyme disease on a camping trip to Maine and went undiagnosed for months.  By the time doctors identified the illness she was confined to a wheel chair, unable to walk and in chronic pain.  The next four years were a blur of doctors and hospitals. The experience of getting up every day for years and overcoming my own illness as well as helping my daughter made me stronger emotionally.  There were times during the four years when I wanted to just give up, run away, you name it I thought it. In the end I'm a different person today because of that experience. I am more compassionate toward people who are in the midst of their own battle...whatever that may be and certainly more aware of what true happiness feels like. My second influence, and this is a big one, is the example my parents have been for me and their 58 years of commitment to one another.  I can't say their marriage was perfect, because my dad was an active alcoholic during my growing up, (like I said peaks and valleys!)   The fact that they worked through that, stuck it out and adore each other is the kind of work most couples aren't willing to do today.  The last influence comes from a woman I began visiting a year and a half ago when she was diagnosed with terminal stomach and uterus cancer.  She not only survived the surgeries, chemo and radiation,  but joined weight watchers and has lost 235 pounds.  She works out at a gym everyday, and I recently got her hiking poles (she ambulates with a walker) and she has begun walking on the C & O Canal a couple of times a week.  Her spirit and love of life kept her strong, even when the doctors gave her little hope.  She has taught me so much about attitude and how important it is to the healing process.

What makes you laugh?
I laugh when my girls and I get together and re-hash old crazy stuff I did with them.  Somehow I was under the impression, as a mom, that I was responsible for providing adventures for my children. I came up with some capers that are funny now, but at the time were definitely out there.  Like the time I put six kids in a blow up dingy (dressed like Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and friends) and launched them into the French Creek near Valley Forge, PA and lost them.  Funny now.  Not so funny at the time.  We also spent six weeks living in a tent and hiking trails in 8 national parks throughout the west.  The stories about that trip still make me laugh.  My grand kids also make me laugh.  Their innocence is both touching and funny.

Kathy With Kiddo!
What is your history with running and why do you run?
In Jr. high and high school I ran competitively and in college I ran for physical fitness.(I grew up in a home where Jack LaLane was my mom's hero.) Once I was married, and began to have children, it was much more challenging to fit a run into my day. Typically, if I wanted to run, it would occur between 4:30am and 5:30am.  At that time of the morning I'm not sure I'd say I "loved" running. Believe it or not, I did this early morning workout for 14 years!   It has only been the last 8 years that I have gotten in touch with my love of running and in particular, running trails. It may sound like an exaggeration to say that running saved my life, but it did.  After being diagnosed with Lyme disease and a form of Rheumatoid arthritis 15 years ago, and caring for a chronically ill child, I spent years watching my health slowly deteriorate. I decided I needed to fight back and I turned to running in desperation.  Lucky for me it worked.  Running not only helped me to regain my health, but also provided me with a daily sense of connection both mentally and physically to the natural world.  That connection had always been important in my life and I had somehow let it slip away.Running trails was a natural off shoot of my love of hiking.  I raised my girls to love the outdoors and our family vacations revolved around hiking trails and camping all over the U.S.   When I began to seriously run again I took advantage of my proximity to the C & O Canal National Park.  My home in MD is less than a mile from the park which is a  trail along the Potomac River that is approximately 187 miles in length.  I also do a lot of hiking and trail running on the Appalachian Trail.  There is a trail head to access the AT 10 minutes from my home.  Four years ago I came to WA and worked two seasons in Olympic NP.  It was there I fell in love with running trails in a temperate rain forest, in particular, trails in and around the Hoh Rainforest were some of my favorite.

What's the scariest thing that has ever happened to you while on a run?
I was doing about an 8 mile run on some logging roads near Lake Ozette in Olympic NP at about 5:45am.  It was a beautiful clear morning and the view of Mt. Olympus, from the highest point of the run, was spectacular.  I was on my way back into the park, and perhaps a little distracted by the view, when I came around a corner and standing in the middle of the road, up on his two back legs, was a very large black bear.  It was obvious by his stance and the fact that his nose was up in the air sniffing, that he had come down to check out whoever had been running on his road.  I did keep my wits about me because we were actually standing pretty close.  I came to a dead stop, uttered something profound, "uh oh," and began walking slowly backwards.  As soon as we no longer were making eye contact and I was out of sight, he charged up into the forest.  All I saw was a very big bear ass!  While my heart rate was certainly elevated from my instinctual fear reaction, I also found the encounter quite a thrill to have gotten so close to such a wild animal. 

Just Another Day in the Life Of Kathy
What qualities do you think make for a good running companions?
Someone who is punctual AND shows up when they say they will.   A person who makes you feel comfortable about your own goals for running and that enjoys trails as much as you do.  It wouldn't be too bad if your partner pushed you in some ways and also let you push them...but never jealous or judgmental.  A companion who wants to have a terrific run and is excited about a run, rain or shine!

What's it like running trails in Williamsport, MD?The biggest difference is that the trail I run most frequently has no elevation or roots to deal with so it is much easier for me to do an 11-12 mi run in a reasonable amount of time.  At least once a year I might have some flooding to contend with or in the winter some substantial snow accumulation and very cold temperatures.   I wear Yak Traks or micro spikes if snow turns to ice and I layer up if the temps drop into the single digits.  The biggest contrast of trail running between the east and west is the issue of dogs. So far my dog bite tally is Pacific NW-4, East Coast-0. Dogs are definitely more entitled here.

 What do you enjoy doing when you're not running?
Ilove to hike and backpack whenever I get the chance.  In the past several years I have driven across country alone four times.  I love exploring towns, finding new places to run and getting a feel for different communities all across America.  I also enjoy doing flower design and have worked on and off for florists for many years.

What something you've accomplished in life that once seemed impossible?

This goes back to my diagnosis with Lyme disease. There were years when I would have never imagined being in decent health again, let alone being able to run for several hours or hike for days and feel terrific.  Last year I succeeded in climbing my first mountain. With the help of my oldest daughter, Stacy, we summitted Mt. Hinman in the Cascades.  That was a huge accomplishment for me, one that I never thought I would accomplish.

What was the toughest time in your life and what got you through it?

There have been a number of difficult periods in my life, my daughter's Lyme disease, a four year separation from my husband,  and my own battle with health.  I would have to say that attitude and perseverance got me through them all.  If you allow the bad day or bad year define you then that will be your story.  I was and am determined for my story to be a good one. With only one shot at this life it is up to me to make that happen today.

What is something you haven't done that you dream of doing someday? What will it take to make this happen?

I'm hoping to hike the John Muir Trail in CA before I turn 60!  Although, If I don't make it by that birthday I'm certainly willing to extend my deadline.  The plan is to hike the entire length with my daughter, Stacy.  To accomplish this I need to continue to make  fitness a priority and read and learn as much as possible about logistics of hiking this trail.

Do you have a personal code that you live by? 
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”

Thank you Kathy for a beautiful interview, and for sharing of yourself, your life, and all of your amazing insight and wisdom! We look forward to many more runs with you, great conversations, and hopefully no more barbed wire or bear encounters!