Kate Patrick doesn’t really have a plan.
She’s OK with that, and it’s likely that the members of the Sioux Falls Women Run Facebook page will be, too, once they get to know her.
She’s warm and friendly, and her smile is open and genuine. We met for coffee one evening downtown to talk about her new role with group, serving on the board and overseeing social media when founder Sara Lefebvre moves to the Twin Cities next month.
They’re big shoes to fill, and Kate knows it.
But Sara isn’t worried.
“I felt like Kate Patrick was auditioning for this since the day she came into the group,” Sara said. “To me, she was a no-brainer.”
“We needed someone who was a very active Facebook user, who was also super encouraging” Sara said. And because she was on the training team, she was able to connect the two groups. Jacqui Meadors will take over as director of the nonprofit group and the training team.
“I don’t want to let Sara down,” Kate says. “But I think with this group and what she’s created, everyone wants it to continue.”
Kate’s right about that – the Sioux Falls Women Run Facebook page has a life of it’s own, with more than a thousand women as members and posts about runners who go at a “sexy pace” – code for a no-drop run – garnering more than 200 replies from women looking for someone to connect with.
The group won’t let her fail – they’re loyal to the cause, which is bringing women together and giving them a safe place to talk about their passion for running, or their newness to it, their goals and dreams and embarrassing questions about every bodily function that can interfere with the miles.
But once you meet Kate, you realize she could lead just about any group – she’s that disarming.
“I have such a love for this group and what it means,” Kate says.
Kate’s story of how she became a runner has become a common one in Sioux Falls. The 30-year-old mom of two ran a few miles here and there in high school and college. She’s from Brookings and went to South Dakota State, where she would hop on a treadmill at the gym to get some exercise.
That kind of casual and sporadic running carried her through the next several years. But once her son Nolan, 1, began sleeping through the night, she began thinking about the Sioux Falls Marathon. She signed up and shared it on her Facebook page – which was enough to cause her friend Kim Fromm to add her to the SFWR page.
Kate immediately connected with the group of west side women who regularly meet to run. She was afraid to join a group run, but she made herself go anyway. “There are all those factors you create in you rhead about why you shouldn’t do that,” Kate says. “I showed up and had headphones and nobody had them, and I was like, OK, put those away.”
She laughs about it, then immediately talks about how quickly friendships formed. She joined other group runs in other parts of town, and slowly watched as her circle of friends grew – many of them these women she met while running.
It’s that kind of community she hopes to continue to inspire with the group.
“You find those people you started running with who have become friends, and you know you will have their support,” Kate says. Because of that, she signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon this year, knowing she would be supported by and accountable to these women. “If I had to do a long run by myself, I would quit.”
Thankfully, she won’t have to.
Weekends starting in about March are full of posts of women completing their long runs, sweaty selfies and comments. Women searching for others to train with, tips on where to run, what to wear and when the water fountains will be open.
“It’s a life-changing experience for me,” Kate says about the running group. “The friends I have gained in the past year, you can’t put a word or a price on that. It’s truly amazing.”
Jacqueline Palfy is a longtime runner, reader and writer, marathoner, mom and board member of the nonprofit Sioux Falls Area Running Club. Her contributions to the 605 Running Co. blog will appear each Tuesday. You can follow her on Twitter @runnerJPK or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Story ideas are encouraged.