This week’s East Nasty of the Week is an avid triathlete (including an Ironman), a long-time member of East Nasty, really, really, really ridiculously good looking, and just celebrated a birthday! I’m so excited to announce your ENOW – Katherine Knight.
Katherine (or Kat) was born in Birmingham, AL (see, told you she was awesome). Her family moved to Nashville when she was 3 so she considers herself legitimately “from here originally”. Up until high school, Katherine says she was the quintessential “book nerd” and was incredibly shy. She only played junior varsity sports because she was absolutely required to do so. P.E., and everything associated with P.E. (including running), was excruciating torture for her. In high school, once she was no longer required to play any sports, she absolutely did not -- unless mock trial is a sport (sorry, Kat, it’s not). In fact, she can hardly recall voluntarily exercising until at least her mid-20s. Even without the sports, she came out of her shell very quickly in high school (USN) and was, you know, kind of a big deal in statewide Model United Nations/Youth In Government activities. She also started getting really, really into music (not a musician, just a fan) and more or less looked and dressed like it. So, to sum it up, Kat’s high school experience was basically a 90s romantic comedy – a hot nerd who didn’t play sports.
After high school, Kat went to the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA and then headed directly to law school at Vanderbilt. Although her college degree is a dual major of Russian Studies and Government, her true double major was probably “independent record store employee” and “campus coffee shop manager.” She really did work at a record store, and it was very similar to “High Fidelity.” Law school was more or less what you would expect, and she was ALL ABOUT IT (girl, at least somebody was). Currently, she’s an in-house senior attorney at Dollar General Corporation; more specifically, she manages labor and employment litigation and compliance for the Company nationwide.
Kat attempted that whole running/voluntary exercising thing a couple of times a few years ago, but she had middle school flashbacks and still completely hated it. Her “official” running start, i.e. the day she decided to take it outside and hasn’t really stopped since, was just after her 35th birthday 3 years ago - July of 2012. All of a sudden, the awesomeness of running clicked. She says she’s not fast so she pushes her limits by signing up for more and more ridiculous adventures. Since July 2012, she’s run three half marathons, two full (Flying Monkey) marathons, three half ironman distance triathlons, one Ironman, and she’s training for a second Ironman in November. I mean, seriously?! Go big or go home, Kat!
From a pure racing standpoint, her biggest accomplishment in running would have to be crossing the finish line at Ironman Maryland last September! Beyond that, and a lot more importantly, running has just completely changed her life. She really started running at the encouragement of a friend to help herself overcome some very difficult personal experiences. At that time, she also would have told you that she was not, and would never be, anything resembling an athlete. According to her, the true greatest accomplishment in running lies somewhere between finding a path of immediate mental survival and, simultaneously, breaking down long held ideas about herself that she was terrible at sports, terrible at running, not athletic, etc. That saying “running is cheaper than therapy” is not just a bumper sticker; if anybody out there wants to talk about better living through running, come find Kat! Sometimes the nature of what she’s doing still strikes her as COMPLETELY surreal. With a resume like yours, you are officially an athlete for life, Kat!
Kat found East Nasty through some fellow legal beagles. She knew Jennifer Eberle and Steve Lund from the Nashville legal community and saw them posting about the group on Facebook. Her first run with East Nasty was in September 2012 shortly after her running “career” began, and it just so happened to be The Nasty, thus beginning the trend of doing ridiculous running activities much earlier than she probably had any business doing them. Only Fitting!!
It will likely come as no surprise that the best thing about East Nasty is the very close friendships that she’s developed with some of the most incredible people she’s ever met. A non-exhaustive list would, of course, include Jennifer Eberle, Rebekah Shulman, Duane Stephenson, Becky Alley Pendleton, Michelle Allen-Parker, Kristin Matthews, Lenny Bertoldo, (her now triathlon coach) Daniel Hudgins, and the guy who got her into this triathlon business, Jim Schwan (yeah, I’ve heard Schwanny is good at talking people into making bad decisions. Of course, there’s a difference between fire ball shots and triathlons . . . ).
As for her most memorable East Nasty experience, Kat says there are so, so many, but the most memorable would have to be celebrating her birthday last year in a vacation house in Sonoma with a bunch of East Nasty friends, running the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon, followed by some good “wine tourism.” East Nasty is really a place where you can find “your people.” Speaking of “her people," Jennifer Eberle had this to say about Ms. Kat:
“Kat is the most determined person I know. We started swim lessons together in anticipation of dipping our toes in the triathlon world. Instead of starting with a sprint tri, as I did, Kat set her eyes on a full Ironman, which she completed successfully in the Summer of 2014 at IM Maryland, despite a pretty wicked crash resulting in a concussion. She has her sights on IM Florida this year, and I’m certain she will crush it! She’s also a super awesome employment law attorney at Dollar General and a fellow OR Pinot lover. Some of my best memories with Kat are our 2013 half marathon wine race in OR and our 2014 half marathon wine race in Napa (and we PR’d at both races).”
Besides signing up for every crazy endurance event under the sun, Kat is still fairly music obsessed. In addition, she’s on the board of the Nashville Adult Literacy Council, mentors law students through the Belmont Inn of Court, travels through National Parks, collect wine, and reads historical non-fiction.
Having gotten to know Kat better over the past couple of months, I can tell you she is an independent, tough as nails, and overall cool chick but is still so kind and welcoming – and is the perfect embodiment of the East Nasty spirit! Congrats, Kat!