It's not surprising to see street athletes in all manner of pants, shorts, tops and tights in every color, fit and form. What is unexpected, however, is seeing someone in a habit.

"It is a bit unusual to see someone running down the street dressed like that," said Hayley Tapp, nodding at Sister Mary Kelli Ann Lopez, who was running down a residential street in Seattle wearing a white veil, a gray three-quarter length habit and multicolored running shoes.

Lopez, a 32-year-old novice with the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, has drawn more than her share of stares since she began running a year and a half ago.

Although Lopez has occasionally succeeded in getting some of the four sisters she lives with in a convent to join her in a short walk or run, she's generally solo on the 6- to 9-mile runs she takes five days a week.

Her religious society, which was founded nearly 60 years ago, is among those that have chosen to retain wearing habits in public even after the ecumenical council known as Vatican II allowed some sisters to shed the distinctive and modest attire.

"It's very humbling and lets people know who we belong to," Lopez said. "We see it as an outward sign of our inner commitment to our vows of poverty, chastity and obedience."

That doesn't mean, of course, there aren't moments when she doesn't wish she could wear shorts.

"We are fully human, and we do sweat," she said.

After she graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder, with a degree in biochemistry, Lopez found work in Denver as a climate scientist. When she lost her job to an economic downturn, she found she had both the time and the desire to contemplate God.

"I had deep in my heart a call to serve God's people," she said.

She's found, too, that while she started running for the physical benefits, she's reaped devotional benefits as well.

"I use it as a time to meditate on the way God is working in my life that day," she said, "and I pray that the Lord will put his blessing upon the people I encounter; you never know what difficulties they may be having. Being outside, surrounded by God's goodness, is a perfect time to pray."