NRC Runners of the Month – Katherine Cain and Jimmy Stitt

Katherine Cain 11150997_10153273252089066_5759150716224817361_n     

Whenever our female runner of the month is out with NRC, the streets of Nolensville get a little lighter under our feet and the hills seem less daunting.  Known to get a little bit rowdy, Katherine Cain’s unending store of energy and boisterous sense of humor have not only taken her far towards her running goals, but have lifted those around her to do more.

Born and raised in Philly, home to Rocky Balboa’s first famous run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Katherine traded cheesesteak for chocolate, attending college in Hershey, PA and obtained her teaching degree before moving to Nashville.

She met her future husband, Jeff, in the college worship band (he was a drummer and she was a singer).  It took 2 years of friendship before they went out, but man, when Jeff did plan a date it was epic.  Case in point, one night he picked her up, took her to the chapel on campus and had set up a mini concert just for her consisting of songs he’d written all about their relationship.  Talk about romantic!

Her love connection (fiancé at that point) was making lots of industry connections in Music City and so she made her way south and started looking for a job.  After a month of home décor overload at Bed, Bath and Beyond, she found a posting at Ravenwood High School and within 24 hours she had an interview lined up and was offered a job that same afternoon!

Katherine was a volleyball, basketball, and track athlete in high school and played volleyball in college, so she was excited to coach at Ravenwood and took the chance to run with the girls a lot.  When she had her first daughter she couldn’t coach anymore, but says she “needed something to put [her] competitive edge at ease”.

So, she took up running and challenged herself to run her first Half Marathon (Country Music Half in 2012).  Unfortunately, her training partner ended up getting hurt and Katherine had to run the whole thing by herself.   It was such a “fun” experience that she vowed she would never run that race again.

Well, a lot has happened since then.  Check out the finisher photos from the Country Music Half 2015 and 11164681_10153289735249066_8789847302583371757_nyou’ll catch her crossing the line, smiling and LOVING it!

Why the transformation?  Could it have something to do with NRC?  Maybe!  Her introduction to the crew came in June of 2013.  Looking to get back in shape after having her second daughter, she reached out to a student’s mom who she knew was a runner, the ever-encouraging Wendy Mucci.

She took a leap and posted on Facebook that she wanted to run.  Within minutes, Wendy posted back that her and Kelly Rasbury were running in a half an hour and she should come.  Katherine wasn’t expecting such a quick response, but thought “what better time than now.”  During the run, she mentioned she was a morning person and learned of a fellow early riser, NRCer Julie Sparrow.  They connected and started running together three mornings a week throughout the summer.

While “chasing” Julie one morning, Katherine learned about the Saturday group runs with NRC.  Her first Saturday run was with Julie, Angela Compton, Amy Lynch and others.  After the run, they chatted over breakfast at Mama’s Java and she was hooked with NRC.

After that, she started coming out on Wednesday nights and running with the 11 minute pace group and now has an early morning crew that speeds things up a bit.

Favorite memories with NRC?  She has a TON!  There’s Ragnar 2013 (Couples Therapy) & 2014 (NRC Sole Crushers) and finally getting a sub-2 at Carmel in 2015, but her FAVORITE OF ALL so far is training with Vicki Victory for the 2014 Rocket City Marathon.

If you’re one of those people who told yourself you’d NEVER do a full marathon, harken your ear.  Katherine was just like you, but someone must have spiked the water with Kool-Aid one Wednesday night because she and Vicki somehow agreed to stick together for 26.2!

For race day, NRCers David Victory and JoAnne King split the marathon in half and paced them, which made it an awesome experience that she will always remember.

Katherine and Vicki raced in the last 0.2 miles and crossed the finish line with a 10868298_10152937890744066_4215233332761801745_ntime of 4:26, overwhelmed, with no words to describe her feelings.  The months of hard work, hours of memories, challenges of training, and bonds she had solidified were now at an end.  She didn’t cry until about 30 minutes later when Scott Alexander, NRC President came up and hugged her and said how proud he was of her (there may have been a tear or two in his eyes, too).

Many of these NRC friendships have been forged in the wee hours of the morning due to Katherine’s demanding schedule, which is also a testament to her incredible self-motivation and early AM intestinal fortitude.

What gets her out of bed in the morning at o’dark thirty?  Accountability of friends!! She works long hours and she knows if she waits to run at night, it won’t get done.  However, having a pack of “AMAZING” people waiting for her makes it a whole lot easier to get up.  That and the occasional wildlife sightings which usually result in somebody jumping into another person screaming!

“They are my accountability, my confidants, my “sole” sisters, and forever friends,” Katherine admits.  “I don’t take any morning for granted with them and they know that I love each of them dearly.”11205487_10153315650219066_3823711597412923995_n

She’s currently training for the Savannah Marathon on November 7th with Vicki Victory, Sareya Kidd (who is running Chicago), Adam Malone (who she hopes will run the full), and others who tack on miles when they can (they LOVE to have newcomers)!

When she’s not running, she’s being supermom to her equally beaming beauties, Lydia (her 5 yr old 1K runner) and Audrey (her 2 yr old 1K runner in training).  Plus, she gets to live out her passion for making a difference and share her love for fun in her new role as Assistant Principal at Christ Presbyterian Academy which keeps her plenty busy.

If you haven’t had the chance to share steps with Katherine Cain, take my word for it:  she brings the fun to the run no matter the mileage, the temp or the time of day!  We’re proud to have her as part of NRC!


Favorite mid-race fuel:  Gatorade fruit punch chews (under 15 miles)/Orange AccuGel & pretzel crisps (over 15 miles)

iTunes or NoTunes:  I don’t run with music – I LOVE to chat when running.  As a matter of fact, if we are going too fast, you will often hear people saying, “Shut up Katherine, we need to slow down.”

Hidden talent: I can do 3 sound effects with my mouth simultaneously.

Scenic miles:  This past summer I had the honor to take students abroad and I made a point to run in EVERY city we visited.  My favorite was a 4 mile morning run in France followed by a bus trip and 4 mile night run in Italy!

Jimmy StittBio Pic

One of the first times I had the pleasure of running with our male Runner of the Month was at Carmel 2015.  I hadn’t really met him before and it was only for a mile or so, but in that short amount of time I pretty much laughed non-stop and felt an instant like for the guy.

Jimmy Stitt, also lovingly known as the Human Highlighter, is not afraid of neon yellow technical clothing, cracking a few jokes on a run, or taking on new challenges.  Add to that, the fact that he is a fun loving, family man who gives back to his community and you can see why NRC feels blessed to have him in our crew.

Jimmy was born in Danville, IL but moved to Tennessee at age 11, so if you hear a tinge of a southern accent that’s why.  He met his wife, Jamie, in graduate school at Illinois State University when they both worked for the Recreation Department.  They started hanging out together at graduate assistant gatherings, hit it off and the whirlwind romance began.

wedding picMore like “two peas in a pod” than opposites attract, Jimmy and Jamie both love sports and come from very similar family and faith backgrounds.  The two went to church together their first week dating and it must have been a blessed union, because he stills says he loves her more everyday.  Aww!  They married in 2004 and have two beautiful children Jayden (8) and Jaycie (6).

Jamie was a big motivator when it came to Jimmy lacing up his running shoes.  A runner herself, she talked him into the Illinois Half Marathon in May 2010.  This being pre-NRC and him just starting out, Jimmy trained by himself all but a few runs.  Not knowing what to do, he downloaded a Hal Higdon plan and just tried to be consistent three days a week.  His race goal was not to walk, which he accomplished while running a 2:05:56!

Still, in that experience he learned a big lesson on the importance of the 12-mile training run.  His longest run had only been 10 miles and the last 3.1 miles were awful!  His legs felt like concrete bricks.  Now, you’re probably expecting me to say but he “got the bug” and signed up for another, but you’d be wrong.  He quit running because it was golf season!

A few years later, Jamie coerced him to do the 2013 Scenic City Chattanooga race.  At the time, she ran an 11:30 pace and he was a 9:00.  The deal was he’d run at her pace and hang with her.  Slowing down was easy and he really enjoyed the sights at the race.  “But now,” he laughs,  “I can’t speed back up!  She’s faster than me!”

He’s been running ever since.  In April 2013, they moved their family to Nolensville to save Jamie time in her downtown commute.  They heard about NRC while attending Nolensville First United Methodist Church with the Mucci, Alexander, Eller, and Pryor families.  First, Jamie started running on Wednesday nights and Jimmy would run mornings with an NRC crew.  Then, somewhere along the way, she took mornings and he got Wednesday nights, but they’re regulars just the same.

HumanHiliterNow, the male to female ratio in NRC means that often he runs with mostly females.  I asked him what he’s learned from his conversations over the miles with the women of NRC and he had this to say:

“Wow!  I owe a lot to Julie Sparrow, Katherine Cain, Gina Loyd, and the “Carmel on Tour Group” (Queen Kelli Alexander, Wendy Mucci, Rachel Eller, Tara Underwood, and Elizabeth Jones Pfeiffer).  Julie can run from now to eternity and make it look effortless.  She pushed me many mornings and taught me to run for the friendships.  Katherine says one pace and runs 30 seconds faster, so I always know I will be challenged, and entertained, when running with her.  Gina is very philosophical and methodical about running and I have learned so much about life in general while running with her.  Then there is the “Carmel on Tour” group – marathon training at its best!  Though they barely get a chance to talk when Kenneth Moore is around, I could lose track of the miles listening to their world travels.  I loved every minute… well, maybe a few minutes sucked at the Carmel Marathon, but all in all, I truly love my time with them!”

As a result of his dedicated training, Jimmy has clocked some impressive PRs including a 26:17 5K at Tom King 2015, a 2:04:53 at Illinois Half 2015, and a 4:52:34 at Rocket City Marathon 2014.  Still, his favorite race is the Scenic City Half he ran with Jamie.  The hilly Chattanooga course was such a bonding experience as a couple and showed him how precious, time spent doing things you love, can be.

He’s currently training for the Middle Half in October and will then train for his “LAST” full marathon, the Little Rock 2016; then he will focus Fall 2016 on going sub 2:00 for a half.  (Help wanted!)

IMG_3230In his spare time, Jimmy is big into youth sports and assistant coaches for the Nolensville “C” Panthers.  He also paints the field on Friday nights for home games, something he did back in college and enjoys now, as a fun way to give back to the league.

“It’s a blast,” he says.  “It is amazing to see a light bulb go off and the totally different understanding of the game these 7 and 8 year olds have when they get their role and how they can contribute.”

For all these reasons and more, we’re glad that Jimmy found his way to Nolensville and NRC!  Make sure you tell him congrats!


Favorite mid-race fuel:  Gu, Advocare Rehydrate Gel

iTunes or NoTunes:  Only when I run alone which is hardly ever.

Hidden talent:  I was a scratch golfer before moving to Nolensville.

Scenic miles:  Ragnar Tennessee 2014.  I ran at sunset on Friday night and also had the privilege to run at sunrise on Saturday morning; two beautiful runs for me.  It was quiet, peaceful, and I was in total awe of God’s creation and glory.