With her bladder problems taken care of, and after receiving a nudging from her friend, Jen, Hammett started training for her first race — the 2009 Cherry Blossom 10 mile in Washington. But she didn't stop there. Just a week later, Hammett finished second out of 120 women in a local 5K.
In just three years, she has completed one 50K (31.1 trail miles), two marathons, one half marathon (in 10 inches of snow and ice), one 10-mile race, one 10K race and five 5K races.
"After what I went through," Hammett said, "it still blows my mind."
Her story still stands as a testament for others facing the same hardships. Iglesia often gives Hammett's contact information out to patients seeking comfort. And she hasn't given up her love for teaching aerobics and spinning.
"Her friendliness, her optimism, her joy in life and with life is so contagious," said Molly Schmeiser, who takes Hammett's spinning class at World Gym in southern Maryland. "When I found out what she had been through and what she was still going through, I was stunned. She encourages me, inspires me. She's a true hero among us."
Kathleen Hammett looks at her life now as a blessing. Grace, her oldest daughter, overcame her ocular motor apraxia and could see for the first time at 8 years old. They call her 'Amazing Grace." It could also be a saying for the family — Kathleen and Mike, Grace (9), Ella (7) and Clara (4) — that is still together through it all.
It's Hammett's perseverance through those hardships, and her excitement for the future, that sticks out to so many of her friends. Everyday, Hammett pictures herself shaking up a soda bottle and popping the top off in celebration. She will join 24 others who have faced similar adversity for this weekend's event.
She's just happy she can run.
"After everything's that happened, I wake up every morning truly lucky to be alive on so many levels," Hammett said. "It's showing that I'm still willing to take advantage of that life and that breath, that heart-pumping and that blood-pumping. I want to feel it, I want to use it and I want to squeeze out every last bit of energy that I can."