PA School, Running, and Teamwork


When I started PA school, I expected to bond with my classmates over our mutual love for healthcare (and some late-night study sessions).  Never did I think we would be bonding over a 26.2-mile run. Yet, that’s exactly what happened at the Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon on November 5, 2016.

On Global Running Day, or June 1 of this year, a few of my classmates signed up for the race on a whim. It was half off for the holiday, and everyone knows grad students love a good deal! The buzz grew, and, before any of us could rationalize our decisions, 13 of us signed up for a mix of the full and half marathon distances.

Marathon 1

We each had our individual reasons for signing up.  I have always enjoyed running, but this would be my first full marathon.  In fact, all four of us who signed up for the marathon would be calling this a first, and several of the half marathoners likewise. The race even attracted those who did not have prior experience with running, but who now proudly call themselves runners.

And we all should call ourselves runners.  Looking back, signing up for such a long run was a crazy idea.  We were going to be training during Florida’s sweltering summer heat!  I never thought I would be setting an alarm for 3:30 am on a Sunday morning, but waking up early was key to avoiding the skyrocketing temperatures that accompanied sunrise.

We also began training during the transition into our rotation year.  Perhaps more time and reflection before signing up would have convinced us to hold off; however, for many of us, running was exactly what we needed to help stay focused.  Training for the marathon was also the perfect metaphor for our journey through PA school: both require early morning preparation, determination, stamina, practice, and a good dose of camaraderie.  When one of us didn’t feel like lacing up for a jog, our running club was there for encouragement.  When that didn’t work, guilt usually did the trick.

On race day, many of us found each other at the starting line and were able to begin the race together.  But once we found our stride, the groups thinned out.  Some of us finished our first-ever races; others set new personal bests.  One member of the running club even qualified for the Boston Marathon!

I spent most of my time running with my sisters, brother-in-law, and my now-fiancé, Kyle.  Kyle trained for most of the marathon with me, injuring his IT band in the process.  Nevertheless, he still set out with me, determined to get to the finish line.  As the race progressed, I realized the seriousness of his injury. As a future healthcare provider (and as someone who cares about him!) I strongly encouraged him to bow out of the race. He insisted that he wanted to continue, even if he had to walk. After training so well for the race, this was not how I expected it to go, walking and running the last 9 miles. While I was disappointed that we finished later than expected, I’m glad we stuck together.  As we crossed the finish line, he ushered me over to the side, painstakingly got down on one knee, and asked me to marry him! I said yes – of course!

Marathon 2

As you can probably tell, I am incredibly proud of our running club’s accomplishments, and am grateful to attend school with such a dedicated group of people.  To learn more about our running club, check out a blog post I wrote earlier in the year here:


Kate GerstenbergerKate Gerstenberger, PA-S

Nova Southeastern University- Jacksonville

Class of 2017