Fast Times at Patrick Henry High

Though it’s been at least 30 years since I’ve seen Kim Stempien, it seems like yesterday that we were running together on the track and cross country teams at Patrick Henry High School in San Diego, California.

A few weeks ago, Kim became an OESHer and since then, we’ve been writing back and forth, filling in as many details about our lives as can be covered in emails. Kim and her husband, Dan, are living on a homestead in Northern California with their two children. Kim, an elite runner in high school and college (UC San Diego) just started a cross-country team for her children’s school. She’s been a lifelong runner, but had been sidelined for the past year because of injuries. Kim was searching for good shoes, found OESH, and here’s the story (with a few of my explanations in parentheses)…

“Well, I honestly think about you guys EVERY day because I LIVE in my OESHes. And then with Earl Scrugg dying… made me think of you guys more. I imagined Jayme (our oldest daughter, age 15, has been playing the banjo since she was 7) playing one of his tunes to you guys after dinner some night last week and my good ol’ hubby has an Earl Scruggs vinyl on display in his honor.

So in my first short run with the OESHes, I was a little concerned how they would do on rocky or uneven terrain, Casey. But I’m glad you said you run in yours in the woods by you guys. (Our girls and I run on trails that go out from our backyard into the woods… when it’s not deer hunting season). I’ve since baptized mine in rain, mud, creeks and … milk. I’m sometimes too hard on the things I own. If they work, I use them whenever/wherever. I’m not one for preserving my stuff, but it seriously bummed me out when a gallon jar of raw milk broke when I was doing the dairy run last week. The bar popped out when I opened the farmer’s door and dang if one of those jars didn’t bust open near my new shoes. I don’t know if he understood why I ran off from the mess to find a hose. I am pleased to say they don’t have sour milk smell!

So the OESHes rock on dirt trails, too. Dan gave me crap for walking through Salt Creek with them on our family hike last weekend. I hated to do it but there was no turning back on this loop that traverses an old mining area. The creeks are all running full force after the rain blitzing we’ve gotten the last couple of weeks! I figured the shoes were good for it and they are fine. Nothing a little woodstove heat can’t solve, eh?

You guys will have to fill me in on some of the stories you told the girls, Casey. I have such a bad memory, that it’s all a blur. I can’t remember hardly anything from our high school days. I just remember the good emotions from being & running with you, Casey, and the team!”

Thankfully, I don’t remember a whole lot from high school either but I do remember running through the hilly neighborhoods around Patrick Henry and occasionally getting a ride out to the beach when once we ran all the way up to Black’s Beach (the nude beach), which turned out to be a bit of a disappointment and made us run even faster the way back. I also remember the 24-hour track relay when our entire team of girls rallied through the night setting a national record, even beating out our awesome boys’ team.

And I clearly remember how talented of a runner Kim was. I like to tell the girls how fun it was to watch Kim run the 800 meters. Kim would be in the back of the pack, clearly looking like she was giving it her all. But, in the final turn of the last lap, out of nowhere, would come this amazing kick. Even though Kim looked to have absolutely nothing left, she would manage to pass every, single, person…to win. To our girls, Kim is a legend.

Kim is still a winner…and I am so honored that she is now an OESHer…slopping through raw milk, mud and whooshing creeks. Jayme is hoping that this summer when she goes to her banjo camp in Northern California, she can meet and go for a run with Kim.

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