Saturday Spotlight- Katy Clark-Pettit

Name: Katy Clark-Pettit
Occupation: Second Grade Teacher by day, Adjunct Professor by night
Age: 48
Spouse: Glenn-UPS Driver, will be married 25 years next month
Children: Kyle (24), Michaela (21 next month)
Two fur-pups, Molly & Bentley Hometown: Rocky Point

When Lou asked me to be the Warrior of the Week I was surprised and then fear ensued b/c whatever would I talk about??

So here it goes- I have lived my whole life in Rocky Point, daughter of the local Fire Chief and Kindergarten teacher in our home town and the oldest of 4 kids. There was NO getting away with anything since everyone knew who we were. My sister and I are 11 months apart, yup Irish Twins. I have two brothers who were adopted from Korea when I was in Second Grade. To this day I consider them one of the greatest gifts my parents ever gave me. The addition of these two adorable scared little boys changed the trajectory of our lives, for the better. After all, who doesn’t go to the airport to get their baby brothers? Growing up I was always involved in sports, played soccer when I was younger and by the time I was in Middle School I started playing Field Hockey and I ran track, but sadly, I ran track to stay in shape for my first love, Field Hockey. By the time I hit High School I was in involved with three sports, well, now it is considered a sport, I cheered. In my Junior year of HS I hurt my knee(s) and had my first knee surgery, then a second Knee surgery and by Senior year, I was only throwing the Shot put for the Track team b/c my knees were taking forever to heal. I didn’t play Field Hockey that year nor did I cheer. I graduated in 1985 and headed off to college. During college I cheered and was finally able to get back to running. Now here is my disclaimer: as I mentioned, running to me back then was strictly for keeping me in shape and I really did not enjoy it. I drove my HS track coach nuts b/c he was always trying to get me to run distance and I refused. I cheated every SINGLE time we were sent to the woods to run the trails behind my HS. I never ran the 5-mile trail in all the years I ran track. I was a sprinter and relay team member and that was it. Funny how the universe works b/c I am far from a sprinter now, or even fast. I am a slow as molasses turtle runner now who loves distance. GO FIGURE! My apologies to my coach! During my Senior year of college I got engaged, married the following year and my first child was born by our one year Anniversary. Jobs, and of course kids change how you get to exercise and for a few years there was no running and very little exercising. After my son was born I returned to Jazzercise, which I had attended a few times when in college. I was hooked and loved it and faithfully attended Jazzercise for over 20 years. I have Disney and Team in Training to thank for bringing me back to running. While waiting at the airport on our way to Disney there was a group of people waiting there with their bike parts. My kids and I were fascinated by whatever it was they were doing. I finally walked over and asked and it turns out they were from Team in Training and were on there way to an event in Florida. They asked if I biked or ran, I laughed and said I hadn’t run in years. They immediately gave me a brochure about them and off they went. But, they had my attention and after my trip I kept thinking about them and what they stood for. A person very special in my life was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma the year before and so the seed was planted, time to get back to running and then maybe, just maybe I could run for TNT. I began a slow return back to running. It was slow and painful and thankfully I have a best friend who is always willing to do whatever hair brained ideas I may have. Every person should have a friend like I do and Karen Shaughnessy Audia and I began at the gym and eventually took it outside. We signed up for a few 5ks’s and then we decided what the heck, let’s do a ½ Marathon. Our first ½ was for March and it was the race on Nichols Road. By now we had enlisted another friend Ann Marie Morgan Salica in our crazy! Sadly, that first race I was unable to do the ½ due to having heart ablation surgery and I was not able to train enough for the half but ran the 5k which I thought was PURE torture and yet my friends were out there doing the ½. Watching them cross that finish line had me convinced that I needed to do this and well, the rest is history. My first ½ was the DIVA and now I was truly bit by the running bug. We began running races, but only 1-2 a year and stupidly we would run a race and then stop running till it was time to run our next race. Talk about torturing ourselves. Thankfully now, running is completely a fabric of my life and I no longer “stop” training for anything…Running has gotten me through many, many hard days and I can’t fathom not running. While attending races we noticed the “red” shirts. Yes, finally at the hills portion of this story. We heard about this place called the hills. When we finally asked, we realized that we had run them, not the route that is the “hills” but a 3-mile version that began at the end of Adirondack near the elementary school. We had run this course b/c we were signed up for a race that would involve those hills. We ran that route quite a few times and then the race got canceled. We kept seeing the red shirts and a friend from HS Kathy Katherine Kalin Sklarek and bridesmaid from my wedding had run the “hills”. I asked her if she would run them with me. She and her friend Linda Santulli Parsons were gracious enough to run them with me. We headed out on those hills one day at 5:30 on a chilly April night. It took forever and I will be forever grateful to Kathy and Linda for their patience in sticking with this turtle. We took so long that John Greene saw the car in the parking lot and circled back to check on us. I was just amazed that this man who didn’t know us would run the hills AGAIN to check on total strangers. I was hooked. The hills were hard and tortuous and I couldn’t wait to bring my friends back there with me. I guess the rest is history. I got my sticker from KC Brett a few weeks later and I have been running the hills since, sometimes every week and sometimes not every week, actually with lots of weeks in-between. One day I will run those hills without a lot of expletives and without walking my nemesis Berkshire. Five and half years ago 4 weeks before his HS graduation my oldest child, my son was in an accident that forever changed him, and our family. He was in a coma for 9 agonizing days and he suffered a traumatic brain injury. While the last 5 + years have been difficult I truly don’t think that I would have gotten through his agonizing crawl back to life, learning to do everything all over again if I didn’t have running. Running has been my salvation through all his hospitalizations and long, hard path to our new normal. I am forever grateful that I have the ability to throw on my sneakers, add music and just “go”. On one of my son’s hospitalizations when he had decided that trying to rebuild his life was just too hard I made him a promise, that if he didn’t give up I would do something that was truly hard for me. I made good on that promise two weeks ago when I completed the NYC Marathon sobbing hand in hand with my BFF who took a chance on going on this crazy journey with me. I am FOREVER grateful for this thing called running and this wonderful community of runners…Thanks for sticking with my long story and me!

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