We met Katie during our ULA Bootcamp and Goal Setting event at U Village’s Athleta store earlier this year. After a 30 minute sweat session, we encouraged individuals to reflect on a goal they have by applying our SUMMIT acronym. In September, it was so exciting to see Katie back at our Stronger Together Bootcamp and learn that she had CONQUERED HER SUMMIT and that our workshop had helped. We asked if she would be willing to share her story.
Hello, I'm Katie and this is how I have conquered my summit.
For a long time, I was plateauing with my workouts. My sister's wedding was coming up and I was not getting an effective workout at the gym, I just felt like I was doing the same thing over and over. I wasn't giving myself a proper workout.
One random weekend in late February, my friend dragged me to Athleta to buy new workout clothes. As someone who was only exposed to limited workout clothes, I immediately wanted all the pants, tops, sports bras, etc. I noticed a sign that displayed workout events for March taught by various instructors in the Seattle area. I thought “sure, why not? I’ll sign up because I need to mix up my workout routine anyway.”
My first class was bright and early in March at 8am on a Saturday for the “Sweat & Goal Set with Ula. Oh boy, that class was challenging. I was super sweaty, but I felt like I actually got a good workout. After the workout was done and we were cooling down, Ives and Christy started talking about goal setting. Christy told her story on training for a half marathon. She was very inspiring, how she couldn't just start running 13.1 miles. She needed to slowly progress to her goal (it's a summit after all, you need to train for it). When the class was over, I started thinking of what my own summit could be as running is not my jam. I knew I wanted a proper challenge, not just the "I want to get in shape for a wedding". Recently at the gym, I started swimming. I was inspired to swim because my mom swam 3 times a week after she had my sister and wanted to get in shape for her own sister’s wedding. Plus I love the water. I learned to swim before I could walk (per my mom). However, I would only do about 15 or 18 laps. Before I left the class, I decided my summit challenge would be to swim a mile.
A bit of background, 1 lap is going back and forth across the pool (25 yards each way). I was told I had to do 36 laps to get to that mile. Currently, I was already swimming half a mile so I had a good start. My typical routine is 1 lap of freestyle, 1 lap back stroke and 1 lap breast stroke. Once I completed those 3 moves, I was finished with 1 round. Each new month, I would add an extra round. Thus, my goal to reach that mile would be August with an aim to swim 2-3 times a week (or really whenever I needed to wash my hair. If you’re going to take the time to shampoo and condition your hair, might as well get a good workout in).
I never did swim in high school (I did dance team instead) so I was really challenging myself in completing this goal. Oh boy, was it a real challenge. There were times, I was mentally telling myself, “nah, just stop at 21 laps, you can make it up on the next swim.” Thank goodness for my accountability partner and I had to text her whenever I finished. I mentally overcame the block and continued to push myself. But remember, it’s ok to stop if you’re pushing yourself physically too hard. Over the next few months, I felt myself getting stronger and plus my breathing improved (bonus!). It got to the point where I started to adding in extra rounds before the following month hit. Before June, I was at 10 rounds (30 laps). One swim session, I decided to go for that 11th round. Once I completed it, I realized I had the energy to do 1 more. I successfully completed my mile goal a month and a half early and before my sister's wedding. It felt amazing to complete my goal, both physically and mentally. I knew at this point, anything was possible.
Just because I conquered my summit, doesn't mean the journey is over. Some of the new summits I plan on conquering is to swim a mile in under an hour (currently at an hour and 5 min!), participate in the Park to park swim next August (swimming across Lake Washington) and perhaps do a triathlon (except I hate running so we'll see about that one).
I would like to thank Ula and Us for inspiring me to push myself. I would also like to thank Athleta for holding these amazing workout events. This community is strong and amazing and I'm glad to be apart of it. Finally, I want to thank my friends and family for being supportive and holding me accountable. I could not have done this without their encouragement.
Adventures can be found in any city. I have shared bits and pieces of my heritage on the blog and social interwebs. If you follow along on Instagram, I am sure you saw that my recent two-week vacation included some sweats with a view. I owe my favorite one to my husband. He wanted to find a unique activity for us during our time in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unlike the PNW, there is not a huge trails association in Bosnia. You can imagine my surprise when he suggested we change our plans for a ride on the new cable car in Sarajevo to a hike to the top of Trebević Mountain.
He found a few blogs through a quick google search that supplied limited information on hikes, including this one. The blog posts were fairly new and did not give the clearest directions on how to find the trail, but we took some screenshots before departing the safety of wifi! We drove to the Pino Nature Hotel, which is where the cable car ends its journey from Stari Grad (Old Town) Sarajevo, and spent a couple of hours exploring the old bobsled track that remains from the 1984 Winter Olympics. If you are in Sarajevo on Holiday, I would highly recommend walking through the track. It has deteriorated and is riddled with graffiti, but there is something stunning about the way it is shaped by the mountainous landscape.
After exploring the bobsled track remains, we decided to continue on with our planned hike. I will admit that we were a little confused by the prior blog directions and drove up to a second lodge that sits above the new Pino Hotel. We parked our car and argued about where the trail markers could be. We knew from a video that the trail should be marked by paint on the trees—a white circle with a red outline. Andy found a trail, but it was for one of the smaller, side hiking trails leading to the “Planinarski Dom.” We saw the appropriate markings and a screenshot of the trail map that I took by the Hotel confirmed that the side hiking trail would link up with the main trail. We were warmly greeted by a stray dog, who was unexpectedly friendly and decided to join us for the adventure. Meet “Smoki”, who I named after a nostalgic Bosnian snack of peanut flavored puffs that kids enjoy.
Andy, Smoki, and I set out on our adventure expecting the hike to take about 3 hours round trip based on previous reports. We had water, pretzels, dried apricots, and cashews in our pack and turned on Map My Run to log the hike. It had been raining in Sarajevo for the past few days, but our Seattle souls weren’t going to a let a little sprinkle stop us. UNTIL WE GOT LOST. Or disoriented might be a better description? The side hiking trail linked us up to a gravel road, but without wifi or google maps, it was difficult to discern which way to go. We looked at our screen shots and the satellite signal we were getting on our phones, and tried to sort out which way to go. Unfortunately, due to the recent rain the trail was muddy and turned into a slip and slide for Andy and I in our Nikes. Smoki did just fine. We eventually stumbled across the real, main route after a minor panic attack by me. For those of you that aren’t aware, the mountains surrounding Sarajevo is where numerous snipers and ammunition resided during the war. There were also mines planted throughout the mountains and for years I was warned about this. It was a little paralyzing, but my husband calmed me down with some logic and promised me we would stick to the trail and not off road it anymore. Continuing on despite this mental obstacle and our limited knowledge was the first summit of the day.
Once you are on the main trail, it is clearly marked and a steady climb with a 1079 meter elevation gain including some switchbacks to the top of Trebević Peak (sits at 1629 meters). The three of us did not encounter any other hikers and only crossed paths with a lone mountain biker. There was something therapeutic about hiking in my hometown, on an unknown trail, with no other souls. We entertained ourselves by teaching Andy more Bosnian (he can now proudly count to 10). When we got to the top we found a bulletin that shared details of the trail, including that the beginning of the work and end occurred in October and November of 2017, respectively. It was new! No wonder my family wasn’t aware of the trail and it was impossible to find blog posts or much info out there. The bulletin shared additional information, including the total length of the trail which is listed as 10 km roundtrip (6.2 miles). The total hike distance we tracked ended up being just about 7 miles and took under 3 hours round trip!
Andy and I enjoyed the views of stunning Sarajevo and Bosnia at the summit and shared our hiking snacks with Smoki, who was loyal to us throughout the whole adventure. We saw other towns in the distance, mountain peaks for kilmeters on end, and below us a sheep herder with his flock. I felt a different type of pride in accomplishing this peak with Andy. It was not the most challenging hike we have done together nor was it the most breathtaking view (Mount Rainier and Vesper still take the cake), but it was the most meaningful. In a way my two worlds collided –the little girl who was born in Sarajevo and returned to see her country and family and the younger woman I am today who loves chasing summits.
I wanted to make this hike simpler for anyone who chooses to visit Sarajevo and take a chance on adventure. Drive up to the Pino Nature Hotel and park in their lot. To the right of the café/restaurant you will see a children’s playground. Walk past that and you will see the trail markers for Vrh Trebevića (Trebević Peak). Follow the marked, painted trees that will take you to your destination. If it’s been raining, I would recommend hiking shoes in place of tennies, although it is doable albeit dirty. This trail is year-round and can be used for mountaineering in the winter. After you accomplish your summit, enjoy a treat at the Hotel. Word to the wise, it is a “dry” hotel so no alcohol on site. Hoping for more trails to conquer on future travels back to Bosnia.
In order to see big improvements, you have to put in big effort.
I am a firm believer that you cannot just want or wish for something and expect it to be handed to you. Making goals reality, no matter how big or small, takes effort. Now, I also believe there are different types of effort. So let me share a little bit about my marathon running history with you. I am by no means an expert on the topic, but I have 3 years and 4 marathons of real life experience.
I was never a “runner” or an “athlete,” but I have ALWAYS been stubborn and driven. Running intimidated me, but one year into my running affair, I signed up and completed my first marathon –Rock n Roll Seattle in 2015. It was more to prove to myself that I could train for and succeed at a race. I will be honest, I had wanted to time qualify for the Boston Marathon (BQ) on my first race. Probably not the most realistic goal for a first marathon, but that should give a lil insight into my personality. I trained by running 2 days per week and cross-training with spin classes and HIIT classes. I had fractured my ankle in 2012 and didn’t want to run “too much”. One of my running days was my long run, which increased each week by about 10-20% of the previous week’s mileage. The other run day was usually anywhere between 3 and 8 miles. I didn’t do a run taper and I didn’t really have anyone to train with so I had a lot of solo time. I didn’t realize they had updated the Boston Marathon qualifying times and I thought I had for sure made the cut off based on my pace (3 hours 37 minutes 22 seconds). I ended up missing the BQ by a little over 2 minutes! I was devastated, sore, and hungry. Literally, hungry from running 26.2 miles, but also hungry to sign up for another marathon and make my BQ dream a reality.
I took some time off running and signed up for the Wenatchee Marathon in 2016, which was a fairly flat and fast course. Only downside is that this race is in April, which means the bulk of training is during cold, rainy Seattle winter (not V FUN). I did not really learn my lesson and trained in a similar way, but with the encouragement of my husband and pup on the course I PR’d and made the Boston qualifying time by just under 3 minutes (3 hours 31 minutes 53 seconds)! I don’t know if I was more excited when I BQ’d or when I actually found out that I was accepted to run the Boston Marathon in 2017. BUCKET LIST! Boston would be marathon number 3 and about 6 weeks before the race, I joined Club Seattle Runners Division (CSRD).
So logically, I signed up for marathon number 4 –California International Marathon (CIM) 2017 with her and I slowly integrated a bit more hill and sprint training, running 2-3 days a week instead of just 2. My two goals for this marathon: don’t get injured and help my friend BQ. I even told Christy the weeks leading up to the race to not let me hold her back. If I felt the old injury bothering me, she should keep reaching for her goals. You can read more about our race in her blog post, but spoiler alert: WE DID IT. Both of us ran our fastest marathons on this notoriously quick course (3 hours 27 minutes 57 seconds). After running Boston and racing with no pain at CIM, I decided that I wanted to run all 7 Major World Marathons by the time I turn 35. This led to signing up for Chicago Marathon 2018.
I have decided to try something different for marathon number 5. I could be wrong, but I know that I am ready to commit to a more runtensive (mileage intensive) training program. Limting my running to twice weekly and augmenting my training with cycling classes works, but I also truly believe that I can race smarter and faster. The train smarter part: I decided to focus on strength training more intensively the past 2 months to build more core and glute stability before logging extra miles. I also started going to Tangelo Health 1-2 days per week a few months before training to prepare my body for the mileage it would be taking on. I cannot say enough POSITIVE things about the team at Tangelo! The train faster part: I reached out to Ashley, former collegiate track star and badass group fitness instructor for help. I wanted to ramp up the mileage gradually, integrate tempo runs/sprints/hills, and still be able to cross-train with weight lifting. She created an amazing training guide for us. She also shared some wisdom: not to become obsessed with following the guide to a T. LIFE HAPPENS. If you can’t get the miles in on a particular day, adapt and add some more on another day. I hope to keep you all updated on how this training cycle goes with blog posts along the way. In the mean time, I encourage you to take a step closer to your next big goal. TO THINK YES, NOT NO.