SIOUX CITY | Katlynn Schreiner laces up her aqua blue and fuchsia Asics on a Thursday evening, pops in her earbuds and heads out of the door of the light gray raised ranch-style home she shares with her roommate.
Her dark blond ponytail swishes behind her as she runs north along Lakeport Street past Graceland Park Cemetery. Her arms are relaxed as the setting sun casts a shadow over her maroon Morningside College singlet. Her stride is steady as the balls of her feet hit the sidewalk.
When she was a child growing up in Sioux Center, Iowa, Schreiner avoided playing soccer because it involved too much running, which she hated. At age 22, she finds pounding the pavement while listening to country and 80's rock peaceful and relaxing.
Before or after her shift at Drilling Pharmacy, where she works as a pharmacy technician, Schreiner logs anywhere from four to eight miles. She has her sights set on racing a half marathon and then maybe even a full marathon -- big feats for a woman doctors said a few years ago would never run again after undergoing three hip surgeries.
Schreiner was born with shallow hip sockets, an abnormality that didn't start causing her problems until her sophomore year of high school.
"The bones would kind of wear and tear wrong," Schreiner explains while sitting at a pub table off her kitchen. A light-colored Chihuahua yips in the background. "It tore the cartilage in my hip socket, which was causing a lot of pain. The bones in my hip joint itself would pinch since my hip sockets were so shallow."
Schreiner started running back in the sixth grade, encouraged by her father, Ron, who had taken up the activity to lower his blood pressure and cholesterol.
"I just really enjoyed it. I was able to run in my own world. It just relieved a lot of my stress," says Schreiner, who began competing in 800- and 1,500-meter track races a year later in seventh grade.
As a freshman at Sioux Center High School, Schreiner ran cross country in the fall, played basketball in the winter and then ran track in the spring, qualifying for both the state cross country and track meets. Everything was going great until she began experiencing pain in the middle of her second cross country season.
"I felt a super sharp pain. That's when I knew something was wrong," says Schreiner, who tried physical therapy to relieve the pain in her right hip before going to see an orthopedic physician in Sioux Falls, who eventually suggested surgery. Schreiner was devastated.
"Running was a huge part of my life," she says. "I knew that I wouldn't be able to compete in track, which was actually my favorite sport."
During the first operation, a surgeon shaved off a portion of the head of Schreiner's right femur, the longest and the strongest bone in the human body that extends from the hip to the knee, and repaired a tear in her hip socket's cartilage.
"I was on crutches for six weeks and then physical therapy for six months," says Schreiner, who surprisingly has never had any problems with her left hip.
Schreiner thought she had put injuries behind her, until her shin began acting up the summer of her junior year after track season. Initially doctors thought she had a stress fracture. After taking some time off from running, the pain still lingered.
"Finally, they decided to test the pressure levels in my shin and realized I had compartment syndrome," she says.
Compartment syndrome is a condition that occurs when the pressure within the muscles builds to excessive levels, causing blood flow to decrease, which deprives the muscles and nerves of nourishment.
Schreiner had to go under the knife again to relive the pressure, which set her back two more months.
"At that point I was stressed out and just frustrated about why I kept having injuries all the time," she says. "My doctor and my coach were like, 'Maybe you should try something else.'"
Schreiner swam and biked recreationally for a while, but she was determined to run again. Her senior year brought more pain and the need for exploratory surgery on her right hip, which revealed another cartilage tear. Still, Schreiner said her doctor wasn't exactly sure what was causing her pain or what more could be done to relieve it. She was sidelined from the track for five more months.
"When I couldn't compete, I would help time at practices," she says.
After graduation, Schreiner entered Morningside College, majoring in biology and chemistry. While she always wanted to compete at the collegiate level, Schreiner was resigned to the fact that her nagging injury and her times on the track would likely prevent her from realizing her dream and her potential.
Schreiner's older cousin, who also ran track for the Mustangs, encouraged her to join the team anyway. She didn't compete at all her freshman year and continued to be plagued by pain in her right hip, even when she walked. Schreiner's doctor suggested she see another specialist in Minneapolis, so she made the trip with her dad.
"That was when they actually determined that I had shallow hip sockets. They didn't know that going into the first two surgeries," says Schreiner, who opted to undergo a third surgery between her freshman and sophomore years of college in hopes that it could finally cure her pain. The outlook for her ever running again, however, wasn't good.
"They didn't think I would ever be able to run, let alone compete," says Schreiner, who in the back of her mind thought maybe she could. "I just wanted to prove everyone wrong who told me to give up."
The specialist reshaped Schreiner's entire hip socket and shaved off bone that was catching and grinding. Schreiner was back on crutches again. This time, she took the recovery process, which lasted six months, more slowly and cautiously.
"I didn't really rush into running or anything, just because I knew I had my future and just wanted to be able to walk normal without pain," says Schreiner, who didn't start competing again until the outdoor track season of her sophomore year.
Schreiner was thrilled to be back on the track with her teammates. During her senior year, she recorded some of her best times at the Sioux City Relays, running 5:22 for 1,500 meters -- one of her fastest times since undergoing three hips surgeries and a shin surgery.
With bachelor's degree in hand, Schreiner heads to pharmacy school at the University of Iowa this month. While she doesn't log quite as many miles as she did as a Mustang, she managed to race a 5K during the Orange City Tulip Festival in May and a 10K at the Iowa Lakes in July.
"Never give up on your dreams," she says. "Even though running may not be as fun as it used to be, or you may not enjoy it as much, it is very nice for relieving stress and just enjoyment."