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Run It Fast – The Club Profile Mark Watson #173

RIF #173 Mark Watson

This week’s Run It Fast – The Club profile is Mark Watson #173. Mark has been running only a year and has already completed 4 marathons and 4 ultras and has one heck of a February planned! Check it out!

Meet Mark:


Name: Mark Watson
RIF #: 173
Twitter: @counselor_89    
Facebook: www.facebook.com/counselor.mark


Years Running: 1 year  (this time).  I have run in past but have a passion long distance running this time. I have always been active whether it be biking and/or gym.  
Favorite Race Distance: marathon/ 50k
Favorite PR: Trail of Fears 43 miles (10 loops)
Favorite Race: Chattanooga 7 Bridges marathon (grew up there so it was great to run in my hometown with old friends)
Favorite Bling: Mtn Mist 50k, hand painted stone plaque
Next Race:  Jackass 50k, Mercedes Marathon, New Orleans Marathon (3 weekends back to back to back).  Going to be a true test of my endurance but looking forward to it !


Why did you start running?
I joined a gym in Jackson TN in May of 2011.  In Feb 2012 some guys at the gym invited me to run in a 5k (Shamrock Shuffle at JCS).  I did it in 28:40.  A few weeks later I was asked if I wanted to run a half marathon (AJM) and ran it in 2:12.  Been hooked on distance running ever since! And I haven’t ran a ½ marathon since either.  My first marathon was 8/5/12 (Blister in the Sun in Cookeville TN). That is when I first met Josh (RIF #1) and some other RIF members. I really didn’t “plan” on getting into running like I did.  But I am definitely “all in” now.

Who inspires your running and why?
Arthur Priddy (RIF #179) and Billy Cannon (RIF #169) are who I typically run with and the camaraderie is inspiring.  Also my daughters inspire me.  They are 16 and 17 years old.  I have had them since their mother and I split up in 2001 and for the most part been a single father the whole time.  They are my biggest fans.

What is the strangest/funniest thing you’ve ever seen while running? 
I was running at night and the only light was my head lamp.  I heard hoof sounds and then suddenly saw about 8 deer right in front of me !  I scared them and they ran in all different directions (at least it sounded like they ran in all different directions). Then one brushed against me as it ran by and scared me to death !  It is funny now but at the time it was scary. Hence, the nickname “Hirsch” (German for deer).

What’s the most beautiful place that you’ve run?
Trails near Seattle, WA. Also Colorado National Monument Park (near Grand Junction).  The trails in WA were beautiful!  Ferns everywhere, huge trees all around, beautiful greenery.  Colorado was simply majestic.  The high desert mountains (although very cold) were an awesome site.

Which of your running routes makes you the happiest and why?
My favorite route in Jackson, TN are the trails at Union University.  I enjoy trail running much more than road running.  I love being out in nature away from the traffic and loudness.  I wish we had more options in this area as far as trails to run on. It definitely would have helped  get in better shape for Mtn Mist 50k !  It is pretty flat here and the long hill climbs at Mtn Mist were something I was not prepared for ! I grew up in Chattanooga, TN and was very active in the outdoors and athletically growing up.  Wish we had trails like that in West TN (of course that is impossible).

Why do you race?
I race to push myself and get faster/ stronger.  I race because there is no better feeling than knowing you left it all out there on the course.  I race for the rush it gives me and the exhilaration is like a drug to me.

Big races or small races? And why?
Large races are my least favorite because of all the people at the starting line and it is hard to get in position and get on pace initially. But I like larger races because there are so many people hanging around afterwards.  Small races are awesome especially if in my local area because I typically know so many of the entrants and the social aspect is fun.

What was your biggest “don’t” of a race?
Don’t start out too fast ! I have been guilty of this on numerous occasions.  St Jude marathon was where this cost me the most.  I went out thinking I could improve my PR by 25 min. Instead I was over my PR by 25 min by the time I finished.

What running moment are you most proud of? 
Finishing Mtn Mist 50k on 1/26/13  (by far the hardest course I have ever ran!).  There were miles of uphill climbs, even a cliff climb.  There were big rock, little rocks, lots of mud and the trail was pretty treacherous most of the way. As much as I was cussing the course, I WILL do it again next year !

Finally, Mark had this to share:
Finding this group has been inspiring to me and it has definitely helped me push myself further than I imagined I could.  Reading posts on Facebook and on twitter from RIF members is beneficial.  Also the support I receive on my posts on Facebook and twitter are awesome! There are RIF members that I have actually never met in person that offer support as if we were face to face.  No better feeling than knowing your efforts are being cheered on by others.

I went from running a 5k to a marathon in 5 months.  I have done 4 marathons, 4 ultras, and numerous 5k and 10k’s. I am registered for 2 marathons and 1 ultra in February.  I plan on doing Savage Gulf trail marathon in March.  I would do at least 2 marathons or ultras a month if I had the money! One of my goals this year is to finish a 50 mile race. I simply love running and can’t wait to see what the rest of this year holds. Yes, I am hooked and I am loving every minute of it !


Congrats to Mark for coming such a long way in such a short time! For sure what he said about having a group of supportive runners around helps make it easier to go farther and faster. Finding a group to encourage you and push you can make all the difference, not to mention it’s fun hanging out with other runners who speak your language. 🙂 Not everyone needs to have a group to push themselves but running can be such a solitary sport that it’s sometimes nice to share a run or two with other people. For those of us who can’t make group runs because of time/scheduling conflicts, the great news is that you can get that same kind of support from on-line running friends thru Twitter, Facebook and clubs like Run It Fast. Like Mark said, you may not have met in person…yet…but the support and cheers are awesome!

Thank you for sharing Mark! Good luck with the Jackson Jackass 50K this weekend and your marathons too!

If you’d like to join Run It Fast – The Club or would like more information about it, please click this link:

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[All photos submitted by Mark Watson and Joshua Holmes]

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SC Houston Half

Run It Fast – The Club Profile Stewart Crouch #89

RIF #89 Stewart with his wife Robin RIF #208

This week’s Run It Fast – The Club Profile is #89 Stewart Crouch. Stewart is not only speedy but he has a LOT of self control. You’ll have to check out Stewart’s profile to see what I mean. Ha! 🙂

Meet Stewart


Name: Stewart Crouch
RIF #: 89
Twitter: @swcrunner
Facebook: http://facebook.com/ANGrunner


Years Running:    35
Favorite Race Distance:  Half Marathon
Favorite PR: 5K 
Favorite Race:    Houston Marathon / Half Marathon
Favorite Bling:    Boston Marathon
Next Race: Boston Marathon
What Makes You FEEL Fast?:   When I can hang with the young pups! : )


Why did you start running? 
Because I wasn’t growing fast enough to play football.

Who inspires your running and why?
Everyone,  People that I know set goals for themselves and I see them go through the ups and downs of training.   Seeing them accomplish their goals makes me want to push myself even harder and set new goals for myself.

If you could go for a run with any famous person (living or dead), who would it be and why?
Sebastian Coe – He was my high school inspiration.

What is your favorite go-to pre-race meal?
Night before I eat Spaghetti and in the morning before a race a banana and oatmeal.

What is the thing you splurge on after a race?
Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream – From the little creamery in Brenham, Texas.

How many pairs of running shoes do you have and which pair are your favorites? 
10 pairs of shoes, 4 still in the box.  My favorite shoe is Saucony Fastwitch 4.

Why do you race?
I like to race to see where I stack up with other runners and I love to compete.

Big races or small races? And why?
Both – I like to do big 5K/10K races because there is more competition  and makes you push yourself harder.

With his kids and Robin (on his right) at a 5K

What was your biggest “don’t” of a race?
Don’t go out too fast.

What running moment are you most proud of? 
The first moment was in high school when  I broke the mile record that had been standing for over 10 years.  Recently, it was being able to run 51 miles in the Trail of Fears which is my longest run to date.

At the Houston Half Marathon


I cannot believe he has four brand new pairs of shoes and they are still in the box! No way could I do that. I don’t have the self control for that! 😉 Seriously though…I think it was interesting that Stewart started running because he couldn’t play football yet he’s been running for 35 years. He obviously found out he was good at it and he must enjoy it, right? It’s kind of funny how things work out that way. You can apply that to running itself. Maybe you are good at sprinting because you are Bolt fast (I wish!). Or maybe you excel at long distances because you have great endurance. Or maybe your running “thing” is trails or cross country because you’re fearless. There are so many options we have with running that we can continue to grow and not be bored for decades. If you aren’t having fun or you’re in a rut with your running, try something else. You never know what hidden talents you might have. I’m glad Stewart found out running was one of his talents!

Thank you for sharing Stewart! Good luck at Boston! Run It Fast!

If you’d like to join Run It Fast – The Club or would like more information about it, please click this link:

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[All photos submitted by Stewart Crouch]

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Run It Fast – The Club Profile Dianna Seda #10

RIF #10 Dianna Seda

This week’s Run It Fast – The Club profile is #10 Dianna Seda. The picture above is Dianna with one of her coaches. You’ll have to read her profile to see the reason for that. So check it out!

Meet Dianna:

Name:  Dianna Seda
RIF #:  10
Blog:  http://diannaseda.wordpress.com/  (Goal for 2013 is to post more!)
Twitter:  @DiannaSeda
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/dianna.seda
LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/diannaseda

Years Running: Been long distance running for the last 3 ½ years. However, have run consistently since I was 14!  <–Gasp! Let’s not do any math here!
Favorite Race Distance: Half Marathon
Favorite PR: 2:12:30 at Chicago Half Marathon 2012
Favorite Race: Hot Chocolate 15K in 2011
Favorite Bling: Love them all! Especially proud of Chicago Half Marathon 2012 which was my 1st 13.1!

Next Races: So far…Shamrock Shuffle 8K, Soldier Field 10, Rock-n-Roll Chicago Half Marathon & Fort 2 Base (10 Nautical Miles) Year is still young, more to sign up for!
What Makes You FEEL Fast?:  When running the same race, when I realize  that my time has gotten better from one year to the next makes me feel GREAT!!!


Why did you start running?
When I was 14, my dad had asked my brother to go on a run with him. My brother said no and I remember very vividly how disappointed my dad looked so I spoke up and said I’d go. I lasted a whole quarter of a mile! I thought I was gonna just die! It hurt to breathe, I had a cramp in my side and I remember thinking “people really do this for fun?!” But, I stuck with it. I got stronger. I had some really good conversations with my dad. Over time, I found that I just enjoyed how a good run made me feel.

Who inspires your running and why?
My family inspires me to run.  They have all grown up knowing that I run. My girls find races for me to do. Last fall, they realized that a local zoo was having a fun run.  I had no idea until they pulled up the website and said, Go for it, Mommy!  It was certainly one of my more interesting runs, check out this crazy course that was mapped out on an app while I ran!

If you could go for a run with any famous person (living or dead), who would it be and why?
This is really going to sound goofy but quite honestly, I would just love to run with Forrest Gump! To have the ability and the time to just run and run sounds pretty great to me. No limitations on time, just free to go.

What’s the most beautiful place that you’ve run?
There are actually 2 places that I have found absolutely beautiful when running and those are San Diego and Sunset Beach, FL. In both places, I found myself running for miles along the water with no destination in mind just the peacefulness a runner gets when your mind and body are in tune with your surroundings.  There is just something magical about running in a warmer climate by the water. So far, nothing quite compares to it.

Have you ever worn a costume during a race? What was it and for what race? If not, would you?
Yes! I just dressed up in a Santa costume for the Santa Hustle 5K in Chicago. It was certainly one of the funnier races that I have run. It was a little chaotic and rather hard to find friends amongst 8000 Santas! I would certainly wear a costume again for a race but note to self, leave the beard at home!  Hot, hot, hot!

How many pairs of running shoes do you have and which pair are your favorites?
Currently, I have 6 pairs of running shoes.  I’m a girl, I love shoes and I don’t care if I don’t need them, I must have them! However, my current favorite is my Brooks. The 1st time I put them on, they just felt right. I was able to get a 10 mile run in and my feet felt great!

Why do you race?
I race to feel stronger and to challenge myself to do better.  Even with all of the races that I have done over the years, I still get those pre-race jitters. Lots and lots of adrenaline pumping…but, crossing that finish line is the best feeling.

What running moment are you most proud of?
I have to say that I am the most proud of the fact that I didn’t let myself get intimidated by attempting to run my 1st half marathon. While a lot of folks here are ultra marathoners, I firmly believe you are a runner no matter what the distance as long as you do it.  To think that only a little more than 3 ½ years ago, the farthest I had run was 4 miles. When I crossed the finish line knowing that I just completed 13.1 miles, I cannot even describe the elation and pride I felt in myself. On top of this, the race had provided a service where you could be tracked in real time. My 5 year old daughter sat and watched the computer screen for 2 hours while mommy’s little dot ran. When I realized how important it was to her that her mommy could do that, it made all the training worth it.

Finally, let me know if there’s anything else you would like the rest of the club to know that we didn’t cover in the questions.
Since joining the RIF community, I have met so many wonderful runners across the world. To be a part of a group that is so encouraging and welcoming is wonderful.  In the past, I would generally sign up for a race last minute, but it has inspired me to look ahead at what I might accomplish.. I have even started investigating races around the country. Would love to run a race in another city!  Hoping to meet some of my fellow RIF’rs in the near future!


Love the reason Dianna had to start running and the reasons she has to keep running. Just like the example her father set for her, she is setting a great example for her daughters. What’s even better is that they have become a part of her running, whether it’s by helping her find fun races or by cheering her on. She’s also right about one very important thing. It doesn’t matter if you run marathons or ultras. In fact, you don’t have to race at all…@bayou might get me for this but yeah, I said it! 😉 Do whatever makes you happy and whatever keeps you running. If that means 3 miles or 100, it’s up to you. Just run! 🙂

Thanks for sharing Diana! Good luck at the Shamrock Shuffle and Run It Fast!

If you’d like to join Run It Fast – The Club or would like more information about it, please click this link:

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[All photos submitted by Dianna Seda]

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Run It Fast – The Club Profile Christy Bowers #60

Christy Bowers RIF #60

This week’s Run It Fast – The Club profile is Christy Bowers #60. Christy and I share the same addiction. Okay, we share an addiction besides running. 😉 What is it? Check out Christy’s profile to see:

Name: Christy Bowers
RIF #: 60
Twitter: @Run2Bake
Facebook: facebook.com/christy.bowers

Years Running: 4, on and off. Was forced to take a break after a major car accident.
Favorite Race Distance: Half
Favorite PR: Tyler Rose Half Marathon. How my knee survived that hilly course, I’ll never know!
Favorite Race: That’s a tough one! Any race in NOLA; fun atmosphere and I get to visit my sis.
Favorite Bling: Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon

Next Race: Two on the same day; Hypnotic Donut Dash (a fun little 5k) and the Big D Climb (52 flights of stairs!)
What Makes You FEEL Fast?: Light breeze, 50s, and a good night’s sleep


Why did you start running?
My daughter is in competitive cheerleading. There was an athlete at her gym who was chosen as the Junior Race Director for the (then named) Dallas White Rock Marathon. We put together a relay team to show our support for her, the race, and the beneficiary, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. After that, the running bug bit!

Who inspires your running and why?
Everyone inspires me; from the elites to the beginners to the wanna-starts. There is something to be learned from each one. They help keep your eyes on your goal and your feet on the ground.

What’s the most beautiful place that you’ve run?
The wine valley in Oregon was stunning, but NOLA is the most beautiful to me.

What is your favorite go-to pre-race meal?
About 2-3 hours before a Sweet-n-Salty Almond bar, then an hour or so before a NutriGrain cereal bar. Probably not the wisest choices, but I have a hard time eating that early in the morning.

What is the thing you splurge on after a race?
After a half, there is definitely a margarita (or two) with my name on it!

How many pairs of running shoes do you have and which pair are your favorites?
Hello, my name is Christy, and I am a shoe addict. I own 12 pairs of running shoes (down from 16). The favorites are Asics Gel Nimbus (7 pairs). As soon as a new color comes out, it will be in my closet. (I need to get to the running store……)

Why do you race?
I race to stay healthy. I race to prove my doctors wrong. I race to inspire my daughter, friends and family. Even though my daughter is an athlete, it’s hard for her to wrap her head around running, even just a mile. Her school holds an annual 5K, and they run regularly in P.E. class. I picked her up one day and she beamed while telling me how far she was able to run. Mission accomplished!

Big races or small races? And why?
Both. There’s a lot of camaraderie at the smaller races, but a wider range of ability levels at the larger ones.

We asked Christy if there was anything else she would like to share and she had this to say:
In October of 2010, I was in a high-speed head-on car accident. I sustained numerous injuries to my knee, hand and wrist, back and neck (just shy of being in a halo). 5 and a half months later I completed the Dallas Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon. AMA, of course, and it wasn’t easy, but I did it! Running was what kept me focused and determined during recovery. Plus, it didn’t hurt that one of my PTs is a runner.

Those injuries are still a struggle – even had a fracture vertebrae May of last year – but I use them as motivation. I recently registered for my first full marathon (Big D) and my first ultra (RUTS)!! [Shhh! Don’t tell my orthopedists!]

I’m not trying to earn pity points. I’m trying to prove to others that you don’t have to be “100%” to run. Just get out there and go! Make yourself proud, and then others will be proud of you.

Lastly, If my twitter handle wasn’t a clue, I LOVE to bake. I’d bring cupcakes to RUTS if people didn’t think it was weird. (I may bring some anyway, if at least for myself, ha!) Being a former personal trainer, I want people to know that you can indulge every once in a while and still be healthy and fit.


My 3 favorite things about Christy’s profile are she’s a kindred spirit in the shoe addiction department (I’m not alone!), she bakes (and I get to enjoy the cupcakes at RUTS!) and she made an AMAZING comeback (Wow!). One of my favorite things about doing these profiles of Run It Fast – The Club members is that they show the kind of determination runners have to overcome obstacles in their lives. Sometimes the obstacles are caused by outside influences like Christy’s accident or by internal struggles like not believing you are an athlete/runner but if we “Just get out there and go!” like Christy said, we CAN do it. We CAN run and inspire and be inspired while we are doing it. Like Christy. 🙂

Thanks for sharing Christy! Good luck with your double race day and Run It Fast!

If you’d like to join Run It Fast – The Club or would like more information about it, please click this link:

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[All photos submitted by Christy Bowers]

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Run It Fast – The Club Profile David Phar #185

RIF #185 David Pharr

This week’s Run It Fast – The Club profile is #185 David Pharr. David’s running resume includes just completing his first 50 Miler AND finishing it 38 minutes under his goal time and running in a blue dress with a crown. Both feats show he’s got guts!

Intrigued? Meet David aka Lady Liberty:


Name: David J. Pharr
RIF #: 185
Twitter: @davidpharr
Facebook: www.facebook.com/dpharrside


Years Running: 3 years
Favorite Race Distance: Marathon or more
Favorite PR: Any PR is my favorite
Favorite Race: Currently my last one, Lookout Mtn 50
Favorite Bling: Myrtle Beach Marathon

Next Race: Probably the Mill Stone 50k in Fort Mill, SC
What Makes You FEEL Fast?: Beautiful morning on a country road with some great tunes.


Who inspires your running and why?
This is a difficult question because it has many answers. My dad was a runner in college (even bought a lifetime subscription to a little start up magazine called Runner’s World back in the 70’s) and continued when I was a little kid. In fact he surprised me one time when I was 12 or 13 that he had entered me in a local 5k. It was the first and only race I ran till 2010. But I attended many of his 5k’s and 10k’s, holding his keys and waiting at the finish. He always told me that if I keep running that eventually I would “love it.” However it took over ten years past that statement before I loved it. My college roommate, Nathan Judd RIF#166 , also encouraged me to start running and has been a great race buddy over the past year. Reading Dean’s The Ultramarathon Man caused me to be fascinated with the thought of what a human can do with running (however at the time I never dreamed of running a marathon). I receive inspiration by knowing that I have inspired others to fitness/running goals. My family has been the constant inspiration though. I started running because I wanted them to have a healthy dad that wasn’t 100lbs overweight and on his way to an early death or heart disease. Still everyday when I lace up my kicks I think about those I love and making myself better for them.

If you could go for a run with any famous person (living or dead), who would it be and why?
Running with Dean Karnazes would be pretty awesome. I entered a contest once for the chance…but didn’t win.

What’s the most beautiful place that you’ve run?
David, Panama was a beautiful and neat experience.

Which of your running routes makes you the happiest and why?
There are several routes around my town of Boiling Springs that are special. Some because of things that happened on them (good training runs, or firsts), others because of how certain things were “hard” when I first started out.

Have you ever worn a costume during a race? What was it and for what race? If not, would you?
Yes…I have worn a “Lady Liberty Outfit” for 2 or 3 different races. I have some buddies that own Liberty Tax Franchises and they paid for my race fees if I would run in the outfit. People give some great looks when a 6′ 4″ Lady Liberty passes them in a race.

What is your favorite go-to pre-race meal?
Ever since I have switched my diet to Paleo it has been ribs and sweet potato fries.

What is the thing you splurge on after a race?
Chocolate Milk Shakes and Pizza.

Why do you race?
I race so I will train hard. I race so that I know if I trained hard enough. I race for the joy of making my training pay off.

Big races or small races? And why?
The biggest race I ran in was the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, I did not enjoy all the people. The smallest race was a local 5k of under 50 people that I got 3rd in. So I prefer somewhere in between.

What is the one piece of running gear you can’t leave the house without?
If you see me running, I am always wearing my garmin, my road id, an ipod and carrying a Camelbak handheld.

What’s your pre-race routine?
Selecting playlist, dynamic stretching, and a visit to the porta-potty.

What running moment are you most proud of?
Most recently completing my first 50 miler and beating my goal time by nearly 40 mins.

If you can’t run, you’re __dead or close to it______?

Finally, is there anything else you would like the rest of the club?
I started running mainly to lose weight. Back in June of 09 I was over 310lbs. I was sick of being fat and started working out and running, although I couldn’t do a full mile on the treadmill without stopping. I quickly dropped 20lbs just by increasing activity. I discovered the more I ran the more weight I loss, meaning that I was going to start running more. By Nov of 09 I set a goal to run 100 miles that month and ran 106. Then in December in hopes to fight off the holiday weight gain and the urge to stop working out/running, I decided I was going to run 2 miles everyday for 100 days. I started on December 1, 2009 this Dec. 1st I celebrated 3 years of that streak and am still going.

Before and After David's 1st marathon 2010


I’m not sure what I give David more credit for: running as Lady Liberty or losing weight and getting back into shape! But seriously, I can see why David inspires so many people. He’s accomplished a lot in a short time and his transformation is pretty darn cool. He obviously takes running seriously and works hard but also has a sense of humor about it so I’m sure he will have great success in the future! He’s a great example of RIF – The Club…someone who goes farther and faster than he ever thought he could. It’s not about being faster or better than anyone else. It’s all about being the best you/runner that you can be and David has that figured out. 🙂

Thank  you for sharing with us David and I LOVE the Lady Liberty photo! Good luck with the Mill Stone 50K!

If you’d like to join Run It Fast – The Club or would like more information about it, please click this link:

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[All photos submitted by David Pharr]

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Danny & Sandy Wynne AR

Run It Fast – The Club Profile Danny Staggs #186

RIF #186 Danny Staggs

This week’s Run It Fast – The Club profile is #186 Danny Staggs. Danny is another one of our newly minted ultra runners. He just completed his first ultra at the Black Diamond 40 Mile on Black Friday and came in 4th! What a great ultra debut!

Meet Danny:

Name: Danny Staggs
RIF #: 186
Facebook: Danny Staggs

Years Running: 12
Favorite Race Distance: Marathon
Favorite PR: Oct. 2009 Louisville Marathon 3:43:44
Favorite Race: Loonies Midnight Marathon. This was my hometown’s first marathon and I just happened to be co-race director. I also ran in it and had a blast.
Favorite Bling: Little Rock Marathon. The medal is huge with a spinner in the center. It was so heavy I didn’t leave it around my neck for very long.

Next Race: Rocket City Marathon Dec 8, 2012
What Makes You FEEL Fast?: When it’s warm enough I like to run without a shirt. I always feel faster even though I may not actually be faster.

Who inspires your running and why?
My wife and daughter are my greatest inspiration. They have always been very supportive of me even before they began running. Years ago they would call me crazy for training in nasty weather and such, but now they run and participate in races and understand why I was always out there pushing myself.

Which of your running routes makes you the happiest and why?
I love training on the Loonies Marathon Course. It brings back memories of the Marathon training runs we held leading up to the race. We would invite other runners to come and train on the course. It also brings back memories of the race itself which was so much fun.

What is the thing you splurge on after a race?
I always enjoy a big hamburger as a reward.

Why do you race?
The number one reason I race is for the sense of accomplishment I feel after I’ve pushed myself to my limits both physically and mentally.

Big races or small races? And why?
Small races without a doubt. The pre race logistics are much less stressful in smaller races.

What is the one piece of running gear you can’t leave the house without?
Since I’ve been running in them I would have to say my Hoka shoes.

What’s your pre-race routine?
Wake up two hours before the race, eat breakfast which usually consists of oatmeal, yogurt, banana with peanut butter and pop tarts. I then take a shower and relax as much as possible before the race. I always like to get to the race at least thirty minutes prior to start time.

What running moment are you most proud of?
Running with my wife and daughter in a 5K race this past spring and crossing the finish line together. Words can’t describe the feeling.

Finally, Danny had this to share with the RIF readers:
I started running in the spring of 2000 as a way to lose weight and better my overall health. When I first started running regularly I was 40 pounds heavier and felt sluggish most of the time. My first race was a 5K in the summer of 2000 and I was hooked. I completed my first Marathon in April, 2001. Since then I’ve completed 46 Marathons and one Ultra Marathon along with numerous shorter distances. Most of my Marathons have taken place in the last 3 years with 15 of them in 2012. My current goal is to complete 50 Marathons before I reach age 50. If my body holds up I should easily reach that goal soon.

If I could give any running advice I would say to just stick with it. It’s not always easy and setbacks such as injuries will occur. It’s easy to get frustrated when things are not going as planned and things may not always fall into place like we hoped they would but if you continue to set goals and keep reaching for them amazing things can happen in your life. The people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made through running are better than any award I will ever receive.


Danny wasn’t kidding when he said his wife and daughter support his running. They crewed for him at the Black Diamond 40 Mile and they were a great help to all the runners. Danny must have really encouraged his daughter, Amanda, as well because she just became a member of Run It Fast – The Club (RIF #210) too! Welcome Amanda!

It’s kind of funny that I had planned to post Danny’s profile this week on RIF. Sometimes, we get a message from an unexpected source and the advice that Danny shared in his last paragraph was something I needed to hear this week. It’s a good reminder we can all use at times in our running careers. Things won’t always be perfect but I guess that’s what makes it so satisfying when we do reach our goals, whether it’s your 1st marathon or your 46th. Thank you Danny for sharing that and letting us interview you.

Good luck at Rocket City this weekend and on your quest to do 50 by 50. I have no doubt you will Run It Fast!

If you’d like to join Run It Fast – The Club or would like more information about it, please click this link:

Run It Fast – The Club (JOIN TODAY)

[All photos submitted by Danny Staggs]

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Run It Fast – The Club Profile Donna Pittman #181

RIF #181 Donna as an honorary Hatfield at the Hatfield McCoy Marathon

Time for another Run It Fast – The Club profile! This week, we are spotlighting RIF #181 Donna Pittman. I met Donna at the Flying Monkey Marathon earlier this month and we got to run for a little while together which I really enjoyed. The Flying Monkey Marathon is hard enough but Donna had a little mishap during it that made it even more challenging but she survived…I mean, finished and got her first Monkey kill. Read her “don’t” below to read all about it!

Meet Donna:

Name: Donna Pittman
RIF #: 181
Blog: www.themommyminute.blogspot.com
Facebook: Donna Johnson Pittman

Years Running: 5.5 years
Favorite Race Distance: 13.1
Favorite PR: Kentucky Derby Marathon
Favorite Race: Oak Barrel Half Marathon
Favorite Bling: Hatfield-McCoy Marathon finisher’s plaque in a mason jar.
Next Race: My first trail marathon at Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky on March 9.
What Makes You FEEL Fast?: Finishing strong and when I do tiny races and come out with an age group placement.

Who inspires your running and why?
The members of this RIF Club inspire me daily. I love how so many are “outside the box” runners completing extreme challenges in terms of distances, back-to-back races, running on trails and up mountains. You all search out adventure, not just another 5K PR, and I need more people like that in my life.

What is the strangest/funniest thing you’ve ever seen while running?
The strangest thing I’ve ever DONE on a run was at the Run Under the Stars in June of this year. I guess because it is a night race or because I overloaded on sodium, my feet swelled to the point that my shoes no longer fit by mile 13. I had huge blisters and all my toenails hurt. I thought I was going to have to finish in flip flops. Then I figured if MY shoes didn’t fit, why not try someone else’s? My friend James had already run about 20 miles in his shoes and was switching to fresh ones. So, I put on his hot, sweaty men’s shoes three sizes too big and completed my first 50K in them. My friends said I looked like I was running in clown shoes, but hey, whatever works.

Which of your running routes makes you the happiest and why?
My happy place is the Bicentennial Trail in Ashland City, TN. It is 17 minutes from my house. On one side, it is a four-mile paved path along the river. There is an old wooden bridge to cross and even a little waterfall in one spot. The other side is a dirt road/trail along the river for a few miles, then I follow the road through a campground, beside a little beach, and past Cheatham Dam. It’s where I discovered long-distance running. The first time I ever ran 13.1 miles was there. 6. Have you ever worn a costume during a race? What was it and for what race? If not, would you?

Why do you race?
Well, certainly not to win! I love being a part of the community of runners. That camaraderie is my favorite part. I talk to people in port-o-john lines. I initiate conversations on the course. I stay afterwards just hanging out. I enjoy spending time with my old friends and make new ones. In two of my five marathons, I’ve made a friend around mile 13 and stayed with him/her until the end. We shared our life stories (at my pace, we are talking for 2+ hours….), but most importantly, we shared the suffering. Suffering shared is so much better than suffering alone. I do races for fun, mostly, but a few times a year, I go all out to see what my body can do. I’ve only “left it all out there” a couple of times though. I need to do that more often.

What was your biggest “don’t” of a race?
Falling down at the 10.7 mark of the Flying Monkey Marathon is my biggest “don’t.” I had never fallen on pavement or a trail before. One minute I was talking to Lisa Gonzales, the next minute I was looking at sky. I stepped in a pothole in the asphalt, rolled my left ankle, and went down hard on the right side. I sprained my ankle and my wrist. Then I had to run 15.5 more miles. But, I figure the Monkey was going to hurt anyway…..

What running moment are you most proud of?
The race I’m most proud of is the April 2012 Kentucky Derby Marathon. I trained hard, studied the course, and wrote a detailed race plan of what pace when. I even wrote my goal splits in Sharpie on my arm for miles 13, 16, 20, 23, and 25. I executed my plan exactly, ran negative splits, and finished 3 minutes ahead of my “best-case scenario” goal. It was a nine-minute PR, and I definitely left it all out there. Those last couple of miles hurt, but were my fastest of the day.

Finally, we asked Donna if there was anything else she would like the rest of the club to know and that is what she had to share:
When I started running in 2006, I absolutely fell in love. Running changed my life. I knew I had to share this amazing experience with others, so I became a RRCA certified running coach. Over the last three years, I’ve coached aspiring runners ages 5-12, led two Couch to 5K training groups, and have helped 122 runners and run/walkers cross their first half-marathon finish line. As a coach, I’ve discovered that most people just need someone to believe in them. I love sharing my passion with others!


Donna said she admires RIF – The Club members for being ” “outside the box” runners ” but I think she shows a lot of that herself…like wearing “clown shoes” so she can keep running at the Run Under The Stars race (a timed, loop race). She also obviously has a LOT of determination to not quit after spraining her ankle while running the Flying Monkey. She passed me later on in the race and I had no idea that she was hurting like that! I admire Donna for her guts, her outside the box thinking, and her willingness to help other runners and give back! Thanks for sharing Donna! Good luck with your next race and…Run It Fast!

I am seeing an awesome trend while doing these profiles of Run It Fast – The Club members. So many of them are helping others and giving back to the running community and I think that’s what makes it such a great club. It is so cool to have so many supportive and encouraging runners help each other and push each other to be the best we can be!

If you’d like to join Run It Fast – The Club or would like more information about it, please click this link:

Run It Fast – The Club (JOIN TODAY)

[All photos submitted by Donna Pittman]

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Run It Fast – The Club Profile Heather Shoemaker #44

Heather Shoemaker #44

This week’s Run It Fast – The Club profile is Heather Shoemaker #44 from Georgia! Heather is another one of our club’s maniacs…as in Marathon Maniacs so in a good way. 🙂

Meet Heather:


Name: Heather Shoemaker
RIF #: 44


Years Running:  since 1999 so… 13 years
Favorite Race Distance: marathon
Favorite PR:  1:41 half marathon; locomotive as part of pr-ing 5k, 10k, half, and marathon in a 4 week period
Favorite Race:  the one I just finished
Favorite Bling:  2009 flying monkey
Next Race:  real race, Umstead… I hope it will be my first 100 mile!  But I will be doing lots of training runs at races before then… Next is Soldiers Marathon. I will be pacing 4:40.
What Makes You FEEL Fast?:  when there’s no one to compare myself to while I am running!


Who inspires your running and why?
My friends- I have some amazing friends.

What’s the most beautiful place that you’ve run?
St George Island, back on the closed to car area of the national park.

Why do you race?
Depends on the race… To see what I am capable of, to hang out with friends, to help someone reach their goals… I guess really because I can… Not everyone has that luxury.

Big races or small races? And why?
Small!  Definitely!  For one, I don’t want to wake up 4 hours before race time to stand around, for another, I like value in entry fees!

What running moment are you most proud of?
My Boston Qualifying marathon.

If you can’t run, you’re ________?
Crazy.  Truly mental.


“Crazy.  Truly mental.”  I think it’s funny that most non-runners think we are crazy and truly mental BECAUSE we run. But like Heather, I go crazy when I CAN’T run. I’m sure a lot of you feel the same way. Right? 🙂 I also think it’s awesome that Heather said her next “real race” is Umstead 100 when she has a marathon coming up. It’s funny how our perspectives change the more we run and the more we meet and get to know other runners who are pushing the envelope. It makes races you thought were impossible before seem completely possible. 100 Miler? Normal. Vol State 500K…ok, still not normal but not as crazy as when I first heard about it. 😉

I have been following Heather’s racing/running on Facebook and I see her working and planning to get to her goal of completing a 100 miler and I have no doubt she will accomplish that goal. But not only is she working towards her goal, she is also helping out friends by pacing them during their races along the way. That is very cool! Thank you for sharing with us, Heather. Have fun pacing at the Soldier’s Marathon and as someone who’s benefited from a pacer before…thank you for doing that!

If you’d like to join Run It Fast – The Club or would like more information about it, please click this link:

Run It Fast – The Club (JOIN TODAY)

[All photos submitted by Heather Shoemaker]

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Nadia Ruiz Gonzales – Boston Marathon Finisher

Catching Up With Nadia Ruiz Gonzales: An Interview

Run It Fast was recently able to catch up with veteran marathoner Nadia Ruiz Gonzales from Los Angeles. Nadia is 27-years old and ran her first marathon at the age of 14. She has now run a total of 71 marathons to date.

Here is a quick rundown of why Nadia runs and who inspires her:

When did you start running?
In middle school, my mom enrolled me in boxing so I can learn self defense. Yes, cool mom. 🙂 As part of training, the coach had us run and run some more in circles around the gym. It was then I learned I had a thing for endurance.

Did you start with races or just running recreationally or for school?
After middle school, my sister suggested I try out for the high school Cross Country team. Afraid and timid, I trained my first summer hard as a Freshman because it was a fear that I would be left behind. In our first school’s Cross Country meet, I came in first overall for our school. I was hooked. I remained undefeated at any long distance for four years at SFHS.

What distance(s) were your first races?
Standard distance in Cross Country was the 3 mile event. In Track & Field, I was placed in the 4x400m, 800m, 1600m, and 3200m. I was so hooked to the running high, I started running 5Ks and 10Ks on the weekends with my family as training to make myself a stronger racer. Ten years after graduating, my high school records for the 3 mile, 2 mile and 3200m still remain at SFHS.

Who inspired you or inspires you to run? Who got that ‘bug’ activated within you?
I first learned about running as a sport and the marathon distance as a 6th grader from my middle school math teacher who ran marathons for “fun.” Noticing my interest, my father took me with him to cheer on an Ecuadorian runner in the 1996 Los Angeles Marathon who went on the win the race making my dad be a proud Ecuadorian that day. Witnessing such amazing strength and will, I then decided as a little 12 year old girl that one day I would run the marathon to hopefully make my parents proud but most importantly prove to myself that I could do it. My father and I ran our first marathon together when I was 14 years old hand-in-hand crossing the finish line together… in tears. My parents had immigrated to this country with nothing leaving behind everything to allow for their children to seek greater opportunities. This was an opportunity I was taking to discover what I had inside me to run my first marathon. My father and mother to this day continue to be the largest source of inspiration for me.

How many marathons have you run?
After 13 years running, I have now completed 71 marathons as a 27 year old.

What is your fastest marathon to date? Fastest half marathon?
The past three years have been great racing years for me in running and triathlons where I have ran a 3:20:04 marathon PR and a 1:26:45 half marathon PR both in 2011. I hope and will work hard to surpass those marks this year.

How many states have you run marathons in?
I have ran marathons in 15 different states and 4 different countries. I hope to run marathons in as many countries as I can and in every continent.

Have you run an ultra marathon yet? If not, do you want or plan to?
I ran my first ultra in 2011 at the ET Midnight Marathon and 51K at Area 51, Nevada on 8/14/11. With a focused mind and the help of an ultra runner friend, I won first female overall at my first ultra despite how much it hurt my legs to go passed 26.2 miles. It was a great first experience!

What is your favorite race to date?
As many races as I have ran, it is always difficult to narrow it down to one favorite. I can say though my favorite top 5 marathons are: Los Angeles, Big Sur, Rome, ING New York, and Pikes Peak.

What is your dream race that you haven’t run but hope to one day?
The Antarctica Marathon. I’m wait listed for 2015. It is an absolute dream to run at the end of the world!

What shoes and gear do you run in?
I have tried a variety of brands. Currently, I run in Brooks.

What do you eat on race morning?
I have experimented with a variety of combinations and try to mix it up when I can to keep it exciting. I have had in the past: peanut butter and almond sandwiches, granola with almond butter, Greek yogurt with granola, oatmeal with apples, or bananas with honey.

Do you belong to any running clubs?
I am a part of an amazing online running community called the Marathon Maniacs member #1791, Tri Lunatics  #3 (site), and Run It Fast – The Club member #69 (details HERE).

What other runners do you look up to admire?
My father
My mother

Have you ever been seriously injured from running? If so did you have to take off a lot of time from it? How did you cope?
Thankfully, I have not been seriously injured but I did develop tendonitis of the knee once where I stopped running for 6 weeks. That taught me to not ignore what my body needs again. Too much, too soon, too fast is asking for trouble.

What advice do you have for someone looking to improve their time/speed in a half marathon or marathon?
Every little thing helps. If you want it bad enough, you have to adopt a marathon lifestyle. Love and listen to what your body needs and you can demand anything from it. Dream big.

What helpful tips can you give to the newbie runner that has no running experience and knows nothing about running?
The running community is one of the most welcoming groups you can find. No matter what distance, no matter what pace, always aim to have fun and you may just become a lifelong runner.

Posted in Half Marathon, Marathon, RunningComments (1)

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