Tag Archive | "profile"

Santa Shuffle – Susan & Kevin Warcholak

Run It Fast – The Club Profile #244 & #270 The Warcholaks

RIF 244 Susan Warcholak & RIF 270 Kevin Warcholak

Our first RIF Club profile of 2014 is a great couple of runners from Canada! Meet the Warcholaks! RIF #244 Susan and RIF #270 Kevin are one of the few married couples that we have in the club. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting them when they were in California last year and they are awesome (and have cool accents).

Meet Susan and Kevin:

INFO
Name: Susan & Kevin Warcholak
RIF #: Mrs 244 & Mr 270
Blog: http://www.dothingsalways.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @dothingsalways & @KevDoesRunning
Facebook: Susan Warcholak
Instagram: sue_dothingsalways

STATS
Years Running: Both – 2.5
Favorite Race Distance: Both – 26.2 (only done 1 so far though!)
Favorite PR: S – Edmonton Half 2012, took 12 mins off my previous Half time K – San Luis Obispo 2013, second day of back-to-back Halfs (& back-to-back PRs)
Favorite Race: S – Kauai Marathon K – Detroit Half or Hollywood Half (S- think it’s because he met Lisa & Josh!)

With RIF #1 Josh & RIF #5 Lisa at Hollywood Half

Favorite Bling: S – Kauai K – Detroit
Next Race: Pittsburgh Marathon May 4 followed by Calgary Marathon June 1 (marathons 2 & 3 for us)
What Makes You FEEL Fast?: S – Keeping up with Kev when we run together (this may have happened once) K – an unexpected PR on a tough course

FUN RUNNING QUESTIONS
Why did you start running?
S – I started running because I never ever thought I could. Losing 20lbs & working with a trainer at the gym gave me confidence. Kev started running to support me. Now he’s much faster than I am.

Who inspires your running and why?
S – Everyone in RIF, I have never seen so many amazing people push themselves to achieve so much. It’s so inspiring to be a part of. When Brennan (RIF #274 ) ran back to back races in Edmonton this year his dedication inspired me not to give up on my marathon even though I’d lost a lot of training after an IT Band problem.

Which of your running routes makes you the happiest and why?
We mostly run in Fish Creek Park, it runs through Calgary but is still remote, we often see coyotes and deer. There’s a path at the bottom of our garden that leads right out. Every season is different and this year we had a huge flood in June which changed everything. It’s more of an adventure now with bridges out and pathways eroded or gone.

Have you ever worn a costume during a race? What was it and for what race? If not, would you?
We ran RnR LV in 2012 with Team Running Elvi, it was crazy hot in the Elvis jumpsuits! So much fun being around 200 other Elvi (secret – some Elvi had beer).

Running Elvi

If you can’t run, you’re ________?
Hiking, snowshoeing – anything outside! We get up to the mountains as much as we can.

One last thing Susan & Kevin would like the rest of us to know:
Running arguments: In our first year of running Kev was very encouraging and took a lot of action pics during our races, mostly from behind me. This resulted in a great number of horrifying shots of my backside. Since then, the secret we’ve found is to run our own races at our own abilities, we have our individual space but still experience the race together. We make an exception for fun races like RnR LV or races in which we might expire like the -33°F Santa Shuffle this year! You would think with him being English and myself Scottish (auld enemies) we’d argue more but that isn’t the case.

Santa Shuffle

***

I love their story of how they started running and that they run their races together but still run their own race. They have a lot of fun as you can tell from the photos. I admire them for being able to run in -33 weather! But I see they also like warmer places like Kauai. Who wouldn’t!

Thank you for sharing Susan & Kevin! Good luck with your Canadian winter running and the Pittsburgh Marathon!

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 Susan Warcholak]

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Alex Barrientos Must Dash 5K

Run It Fast – The Club Profile – Alex Barrientos #258

This week’s Run It Fast Club Member profile is RIF #258 Alex Barrientos. Alex hasn’t been running very long but he’s a racing fiend. I follow him on Instagram and it seems like he’s doing a 5K every weekend. Or close to it. And we all know how much pain a 5K is! Check out Alex’s profile below to learn more about him:

INFO

Name: Alex Barrientos
RIF #: 258
Twitter: @alexb214
Instagram: alexb214

STATS

Years Running: 1 yr, 7 mos
Favorite Race Distance: Half marathon ( for now)
Favorite PR: Big D Half Marathon – 1:44:35
Favorite Race: Carrollton Trails 5k. It is a local race and real close to where I grew up. This summer my entire family ran the 5k. My daughter and I placed in the top 3 in AG.

Favorite Bling: Dallas Rock n Roll Half Marathon

Next Race: Dallas Cowboys 5k
What Makes You FEEL Fast?:Running downhill.

FUN RUNNING QUESTIONS

Why did you start running?
I first started running to lose weight, after losing 20 lbs I was addicted to running.

Who inspires your running and why?
Everyone on the RIF team, Instagram and Twitter friends. I am always inspired when I see someone post a new PR, new long distance achievement or a favorite running spot.

What’s the most beautiful place that you’ve run?
It would be running on the Oahu Island.

What is your favorite go-to pre-race meal?
Chicken pasta alfredo.

Why do you race?
I like the overall aspect of preparing for a, pushing your body to the limits on race day. I also like to collect race bibs.

What is the one piece of running gear you can’t leave the house without?
iPhone

What running moment are you most proud of?
It would have to be completing the Dallas Marathon relay last year with 4 friends. Last year I was training to run the marathon but got injured three months before race date. I had to cancel my plans on running the marathon.  I did convince four friends to do the marathon relay with me instead. Most of them were not runners but accepted the challenge. We trained hard and completed the marathon relay in 4:20.

***

I absolutely love the photos that Alex shared with us. The photo of him with his family is awesome! The family that runs together…obviously has fun together. :) The photo from the Dallas Marathon is another great example of how Alex is not only encouraging his family to run but his friends as well. And don’t you think the Must Dash photo is great? :) We think Alex is inspiring and a great addition to the Run It Fast Club. We can’t wait to see what he accomplishes in the coming months!

Thank you for sharing with us Alex! Rock the Dallas Cowboys 5K 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 Alex Barrientos]

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Suzy Spiceland Alien

Run It Fast – The Club Profile Suzy Spiceland #280

RIF #280 Suzy Spiceland

This week’s Run It Fast The Club profile is on one of our newest members. RIF #280 Suzy Spiceland may be new to the club but she’s brought a lot of enthusiasm and support in the short time she’s been an RIFer. Suzy is also a Half Fanatic and a Marathon Maniac but she hasn’t stopped there.

Check out Suzy’s profile below:

INFO

Name:  Suzy Spiceland
RIF #:
  280
Twitter:
 @bookaroo32
Facebook:
 Suzy Spiceland

STATS


Years Running:
  8, if you combine the time as both a walker and a runner.
Favorite Race Distance:
 26.2
Favorite PR:
  2012 Illinois Marathon
Favorite Race:
 2009 Delaware Marathon (my first marathon)
Favorite Bling:
 2013 Mississippi Blues
Next Race:  Tupelo Marathon
What Makes You FEEL Fast?:
 When I get in the flow.  When I go down the hill, turn the corner, and take off.  Running on a chilly day.  Passing the people that I consider my toughest competition. :-)

FUN RUNNING QUESTIONS


Why did you start running?
  
I started totally as a walker.  During my son’s junior year in high school, he decided to join the JHS cross country team.  At one of the first “meets” I could  attend, which was in October, I remember freezing my tail off waiting for them to finish.  Right then and there, I decided that while he was out there running, I would be out there walking.  The next event was at his school—a fundraiser.  I walked the 5k.  Finished dead last.  Got 3rd in my AG, since there were only three ladies present in my AG.  I quickly realized, however, that I had to be fast enough to keep up with next-to-last place, so I started jogging whenever I had to in order to keep said person in sight.  It took me three years to be able to complete a 5k without walking.  During that time, I was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma.  I used that as an excuse over and over. 

Who inspires your running and why?
 
Too many people to list. Besides, the list keeps changing as I meet more and more runners!  Right now, I’d say Diane Bolton-Jones (RIF #159), Diane Taylor (RIF #276), and Dallas Smith (RIF #79) are inspiring me to aim higher.  If I’m as insane as they are, I’ll find myself doing something totally irresponsible like signing up for Vol State (a 500K race across Tennessee in July).

If you could go for a run with any famous person (living or dead), who would it be and why?
 
Jesus.  Could you imagine the conversation?  Wow! 

What is the strangest/funniest thing you’ve ever seen while running? 
I was surprised one day to come across a large tomato in the middle of the rails-to-trails path.  It wasn’t summer.  And it’s not like there was a grocery store nearby.  I was confused by that for a while.  Another item I saw on the same trail on a different day gave me some interesting visuals for the rest of my run:  running shorts.  I’ve ditched layers while running, but my shorts???

What’s the most beautiful place that you’ve run? 
Cummins Falls Marathon.  About the only thing that could have made that course prettier was if the event took place in the fall, when the leaves were changing color.

What is your favorite go-to pre-race meal?
 
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich about two hours beforehand.  Then, I usually eat a banana at the start line.

What is the thing you splurge on after a race?
 
A milkshake. 

How many pairs of running shoes do you have and which pair are your favorites?
I set all of my current PR’s in Saucony ProGrid Guide 5’s.  These are no longer available, so I’ve been sulking lately.  I’ve gone back to Mizuno Wave Inspires.  I have three pairs I’m running in now, and one new pair still in the box. 

Why do you race?
 
Why not :-)?  For the hell of it.  For the comraderie.  For the challenge.

Big races or small races? And why?
  
I tend to prefer smaller, more “intimate” races.  That said, I totally loved the San Francisco Marathon, and it was big.  I register for all sizes.  I love variety!

What is the one piece of running gear you can’t leave the house without?
 
Wow!  It would be difficult to whittle the list down to one piece.  Technical clothes are a total necessity.  As are my shades, visor, and lipstick.  Plus, since breathing is not highly over-rated, I carry an inhaler with me at all times.   

What running moment are you most proud of?
 
Completing my first marathon double.  I ran the second one 23 minutes faster than the first one!  Thanks, Josh (RIF #1), for holding the Jackal Marathons. 

If I can’t run, …
I’m on FB or twitter of course :-)  Or watching NCIS, Bones, Law & Order, etc.

Finally, one last thing…
I nicknamed myself ODB during a long run a while back.  If you’re lucky, I’ll tell you what it means one of these days :-)

***

Suzy has already begun her journey to “aim higher”. Not only did she run back-to-back marathons in June but she also ran her first 50K! And then she PRd that distance in July. Way to go Suzy! But…not fair to tease us with your nickname and then not tell us what it is. We’ll have to do a follow up with her to see if she will reveal it to us later.

One of the great things about the Run It Fast Club is getting to see our members accomplish something they never thought they would do. I bet Suzy never thought she would be running a marathon back when she started, let alone 2 in a row. Or that she would even think about doing a 50K (or possibly more). You never know what you can do until you try though!

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 Suzy Spiceland]

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Kevin Brandon FInish Line

Run It Fast – The Club Profile – Kevin Brandon #214

RIF #214 Kevin Brandon

We haven’t had a profile of one of our Run It Fast – The Club members in a while. We have been growing in leaps and bounds and thought it was time we started catching up with our Club members again. This week’s profile is RIF #214 Kevin Brandon from Tennessee. I got a chance to meet Kevin for the first time at the Run Under The Stars Endurance Run at the beginning of June and also got to see him race at the Jackal Trail Marathons later that month. I was impressed with how well he did and how focused he was. Kevin has a funny sense of humor but two things he’s serious about are his family and his running.

Check out Kevin’s profile:

INFO

Name: Kevin Brandon
RIF #: 214
Twitter: @kevinbrandon18
Instagram: http://instagram.com/runswithalimp

STATS

Years Running: 4
Favorite Race Distance: 1/2 marathon
Favorite PR: Murfreesboro 1/2 marathon 1:40:33
Favorite Race: St Judes Memphis Marathon
Next Race: Run Around the World 24 HR Race
What Makes You FEEL Fast?: Fresh legs, a light head wind , maybe even a slight rain

FUN RUNNING QUESTIONS

Why did you start running?
Lose weight and be healthier. I started as a 271 lb exMarine, very out of shape and with small boys that would copy my every move. It was quite motivating to get up and be a better example to them.

Who inspires your running and why?
Many people inspire me, from my friends to my children.

If you could go for a run with any famous person (living or dead), who would it be and why?
Anyone with a great story and a willingness to share a few miles.

What’s the most beautiful place that you’ve run?
Daytona Beach :)

Which of your running routes makes you the happiest and why?
Just the local trails @ Montgomery Bell state park. its funny how they’ve been here my whole life and only now do I feel completely at home anywhere on them.

What is your favorite go-to pre-race meal?
Pancakes :)

What is the thing you splurge on after a race?
Lol, a Guinness or Sammy.

Big races or small races? And why?
I prefer small races. I love the more intimate atmosphere.

What running moment are you most proud of?
Finishing Strolling Jim 40 Miler with my son , who ran 26.2 miles of this very hilly course with me.

If you can’t run, you’re…Lost

Finally, Kevin would like to share this about running:
I’m still very new to Marathon/ultra running. In the 3 yrs I’ve been racing, I’ve met some amazing people. I’ve run in some great places. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me. I’d love to think the best is yet to come.

***

Anybody who loves pancakes is OK in my book! :) But seriously, I think it is awesome that Kevin wanted to set a good example for his sons. I think he has definitely done that! I have no doubts that Kevin has a lot of great running ahead of him and we look forward to watching him grow as a runner.

Good luck with your fall training Kevin!

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 Kevin Brandon]

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15307-077-005f

Run It Fast – The Club Profile Kerri Haskins #261

RIF #261 Kerri Haskins

This week’s Run It Fast – The Club Profile is Kerri Haskins. Kerri is one of our newest members and is on a mission to run 100 marathons. She’s half way there! Read on to get to know a little more about Kerri.

INFO

Name: Kerri Haskins
RIF #: 261
Twitter: @khrunner0815
Facebook: Kerri Haskins

STATS

Years Running: 12 years (age 8 to 22)-track and field (sprints and throws), 7 years (2006 to present) marathons
Favorite Race Distance: Ultras
Favorite PR: Vermont City Burlington VT 2007
Favorite Race: Akron Marathon (fireworks at start, great race and finishing at the baseball stadium).
Favorite Bling: Little Rock 2013, of course.
Next Race: Boston marathon…1st one…so excited.
What Makes You FEEL Fast?: Getting to mile 18 and there is still something left in the tank..to finish.

FUN RUNNING QUESTIONS

Why did you start running?
A transition in life and a relative passed away from being sick. Run for charity and just went from there in 2006.

Who inspires your running and why?
All of my fellow runners…their determination and support has been great. And when I see a person who just started running or those that are older just doing it…so motivational.

What’s the most beautiful place that you’ve run?
Green River Wyoming – small marathon, beautiful scenery and race at 8000 feet.

What is the thing you splurge on after a race?
Beer..and good food. My downfall, but the post parties and dinners are great ; )

Big races or small races? And why?
Small races between 1000 and 3000 runners. Just more of a shared, community feel.

What running moment are you most proud of?
My 50th marathon in Rehobeth Beach Delaware..a fellow runner had a beer in their hand waiting for me when they announced my name and the 50th marathon. From there I knew I could do the 50 states and start the quest for 100 marathons.

I asked Kerri if there’s anything else she would like the rest of the club to know and she had this to say:
I’ve run 50 marathons and 6 ultras to date and run about 600 to 700 race miles a year. 5 states to go to get my 50 states, finishing in July. Then on to ultras (favorite races) and going for 100 marathons.

***

What a go-getter, eh? Love that she just joined the club and is already volunteering to be a profile. Obviously, she is driven which you can see by her goals and what she’s accomplished so far. Whatever your goals are, go after them! And if you need a little push or encouragement, that’s what we are here for. :)

Good luck at Boston Kerri! I hope you have a lot of fun, savor your first run there…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 Kerri Haskins]

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100K Worlds

Run It Fast – The Club Profile Michelle Mitchell #133

RIF #133 Michelle Mitchell

This week’s Run It Fast – The Club profile is Michelle Mitchell #133. Michelle is one of our international members who currently lives in Russia. Michelle is hard core! You should see the snow and the temperatures she runs in! I guess after having lived in Alaska, she’s used to freezing temps. But the cold may just be her secret weapon for running fast! Check out her profile to see how amazing and speedy Michelle is:

INFO

Name: Michelle Mitchell
RIF #: 133
Blog: RunnerChickey
Twitter: @runnerchickey
Facebook: Michelle Mitchell

STATS

Years Running: 25 or so but seriously only since about college  and into my early 20s.
Favorite Race Distance: 50/100k
Favorite PR: Chicago Lakefront 50K CR2012 3:44 not only because it was a 10 min improvement over 2011, but because I did it at age 37.
Favorite Race: Oh that’s tough, but I love the Humpy’s Marathon (now Big Wildlife) in Anchorage in August. I won it all 6 times I did it and being Anchorage in late August always meant perfect weather in the 40-50 degree range. I want to better my CR there while I still can. I miss that race probably more than the rest.
Favorite Bling: Hard to narrow it down, but my three 100k World and European Championship medals are up there with my two 50 and 100k Latvian national titles. Winning a national title is something to be proud of.
Next Race: Next biggie is 100k Euros on April 27th in Breves near Bordeaux, France.
What Makes You FEEL Fast?: If I run smart, I usually negative split in the second half and pass people along the way especially if they are fast runners say 10-20 years my junior. :) Years ago, I worked with a coach in Alaska who had this strategy down to a T and we then used it with the high school track and xc teams and had great results. I have to say, I felt fast in the final 10k or so at Chicago Lakefront 50k last fall. I dropped to half marathon pace with about 8k to go and ratcheted down to a 3.33 final km (5.40 mile) at the end. I had no idea I had that in me I just went eyeballs out with about 10k to go to see what would happen.

FUN RUNNING QUESTIONS

Who inspires your running and why?
The master blasters because they give me hope that you can still do well late in your career. Meghan Arbogast will be 52 in April (looks 32) and finished fourth in 100k Worlds last year after leading most of the way. I also know several of the top Russian marathon women who are still kicking some serious tail like Maria Konavalova (3rd and 6th in Chicago), Lyubov Morgunova (won more big marathons than you can shake a stick at but Russian national champion in 2011 at 40 in 2:30 deserves respect) and several others into their 40s still not slowing down. I train at the same facilities and usually the same times that many of the national team runners do and see what hard work and discipline is all about. We all know each other and encourage each other.

What’s the most beautiful place that you’ve run?
ALASKA hands down especially the Anchorage/Wasilla area. I used to go out in the afternoon right after work and time my run for the mid-late afternoon pink moment before sunset over the mountains! On the Coastal Trail in Anchorage, the view was to die for with the mountains in the backdrop along the coastline heading out to the ocean. I loved running the mountains and trails and miss it so much.

What is your favorite go-to pre-race meal?
STEAK and wild rice.

How many pairs of running shoes do you have and which pair are your favorites?
This question needs a picture! I honestly don’t know but I’d guess over 40 are in my shoe closet which has shelves to the ceiling. In the entryway of my flat I have a 4 levels of shoe shelves my coach helped build. I travel back to the US once a year for most of my shoes, and last year, 12 pairs came back with me. I don’t buy in Moscow, the markups are insane. This includes spikes,flats,summer training shoes, winter icebugs for training, waffles, trail shoes, you name it! I go through shoes like water because of the mileage I do to prep for my ultras. My friends tease me when they visit and see all the shoes in the entryway assuming a centipede must live here!

Why do you race?
I do it to challenge myself. I am a competitive, goal oriented runner. I also like pushing the envelope and seeing what I can do. It motivates me to have a goal  to work for. I am also still at a point in my career where I can improve as was quite evident last year even in the shorter distances. I still want to see how much I can cut from my 50 and 100k times. I was going to try for another 1:24 ish half before the 100k, but my options sadly have been cancelled which is super frustrating. My next chance to run a half will not be until August and likely too hot to run a blazing fast time…sigh.

What running moment are you most proud of?
There are quite a few. This one is tough to narrow down. One that does stick out in my mind was crossing the line at 100k Worlds and Euros in Gibraltar in 2010. That’s one heck of a place to make a 100k debut! I got selected to the 100k team based on my marathon and 50k performances and was offered the slot only 4 1/2  months before the race! I didn’t accept right away because I wasn’t sure that was going to be enough time to prepare properly. I had planned to try the 50 mile at Chicago Lakefront that fall and see how that went and move to the 100k in 2011 if I handled the 50 mile well. Hmmm, I guess the process was just accelerated a bit! I finished a modest 40th that yr but have since improved quite a bit.

3rd place in the Riga Marathon in 2009. That was my comeback race after all of 2007 and half of 08 were a disaster where I was in this serious hole of bad performances that seemed to go on forever and nearly caused me to retire. That really gave me a badly needed boost of confidence.  Riga is one of the major European marathons with 12-14,000 runners. The weather was nice and cool and I went out conservatively to really pick up after 25k. That’s also what got me noticed in Latvia and I started winning more commercial races there more as a result of a need to pay bills during what was the economic crisis and a time when there was much less work at my work. Ironically, that’s what led to the tap on the shoulder for selection to the national team!

My heyday in Chicago at the marathon 2003-05 also stands out not for the times but because my mom, despite feeling really awful tired from the effort to ride into the city with me and the walk to the finish and wait for me and watch me come in, did it because she really wanted to see me. She had terminal breast cancer.  I remember in 2005, telling her she could stay home and rest, she didn’t have to go through the trouble of going to the city with my dad and I, but she wanted to be there. I was still living in Alaska then and by 2005, was already in Moscow, so I tried to make it back to Chicago to my parents when I could. That was the last time Mom got to see me finish. By 2006, she was too tired to ride in with my dad and I. TV coverage usually went on just past the 3 hr mark so I remember thinking I’d better get this one right around 3 ish again so Mom could at least see my finish on TV-and she did. Less than 3 months later, Mom went to heaven.

If you can’t run, you’re ________?
A witch with a capital B flying about town on my broomstick because I’m not very nice to be around if I can’t run. :-)

***

How ’bout them shoes, eh? I’m totally jealous. :) But seriously…love that Michelle is so fired up about racing and works so hard to get faster and stronger. And that she’s not letting her age be a deterrent to her goals. Age is just a number, right? It doesn’t matter if you are 10 or 70, you can still be the best runner YOU can be and you may just beat someone a lot younger than you in the process. I’m still waiting for that to happen. :) It could happen, right?

Thank you for taking the time to do the profile with us Michelle! Good luck at the 100K Euros! We are excited for you and know 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:

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[All photos submitted by Michelle Mitchell]

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Dennis A

Run It Fast The Club Profile – Dennis Arriaga #140

RIF #140 Dennis Arriaga

This week’s Run It Fast – The Club Profile is #14o Dennis Arriaga. Dennis hasn’t been running that long but he’s already accomplished a lot…and not just running. Dennis once suffered from CPS (Couch Potato Syndrome)! But not anymore! Check out his profile to find out more about how Dennis hopes to prevent CPS from recurring:

INFO

Name: Dennis Arriaga
RIF #: 140
Blog: dennarr.com
Twitter: @dennarr

STATS

Years Running: 1 yr, 5 mos
Favorite Race Distance: Half marathon (at least right now!)
Favorite PR: Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon – 1:44:45
Favorite Race: I have yet to run a race twice (maybe a good thing) but my favorite venue and race so far has to be the Big Sur Half Marathon on Monterey Bay. I LOVE the Monterey area and to run along the bay shore was cool.
Favorite Bling: There are two medals that mean a lot to me at this point in my running life: The medal I got for my first race and the one for my first full marathon. They both are basic medals – I do have medals from other races that are cooler in design – but the meaning is what sets these apart. The 5K one was for the Pacific Grove Lighthouse 5K and I had recently “graduated” from the Couch to 5K program. It was the “can I really do this?” test – and I did…BOOYAH! The bling from my first full marathon was, to me, the sign that I had arrived – I was not only a runner, but a distance runner. The course for that “full” involved two loops and runners had to grab a rubber band to indicate that they had completed each loop – I kept those as part of the bling…they were earned! I also got third in my age group for the marathon – which added to the memorable day.

Next Races: Rock’n’Roll San Francisco (4/7), and the Big Sur International Marathon (4/28)
What Makes You FEEL Fast?: It’s weird, but for me it’s the shoes. For some reason, new shoes seem to inspire me to RUN IT FAST and my workouts/runs/races tend to be a bit speedier the newer the shoes.

FUN RUNNING QUESTIONS

Why did you start running?
To be honest, I am a natural-born couch potato. That said, after losing about 115 pounds over the course of 1.5 years (all without a bit of exercise…proof that one can do it by calorie counting alone); my doctor chided me and said I needed to start moving if I wanted to keep the weight off. The fear was that I would put the weight back on as I had numerous times before. I do not like going to the gym, it just doesn’t fit with my lifestyle or schedule, so running seemed appealing. I downloaded the Couch-to-5K app and the rest is history…albeit only 1.5 years at this point…but I see myself running as long as I am able to move forward at any speed.

What is your favorite go-to pre-race meal?
I don’t really eat just before a race (other than a plain bagel), but I do carb load for two days before a half or full marathon. I have two favorite, pre-race, dinners that I alternate between the two days: Spaghetti with just a bit of marinara sauce (the old faithful among runners) and Chinese take-out: a pint of white rice with quart of broccoli. I’ve experimented with other things over the course of a year and these two provide the carbs and don’t bug my stomach the next day (yeah, even the broccoli.)

How many pairs of running shoes do you have and which pair are your favorites?
Right now, I have seven in the closet – all varying in age and mileage. I do most of my running on the road right now, so I only have one pair of trail shoes. I like Saucony right now and my favorite shoe is the Kinvara 3 (I have 5 pair). The trail shoe I use is their Xodus 3.0 and I just added a Type A5 to my coral – light & fast!

Why do you race?
For me, I race to hold myself accountable to training – for some it’s the other way around. As in many areas of life, I can’t see myself showing up to do something without being prepared – racing is no different. Having a “big one” on the calendar always gets me out of bed when I would rather turn over…

What’s your pre-race routine?
Nothing too exciting… The night before, I set everything out and chill. The day of the race, I wake up early and the first thing I do is eat a plain bagel (I guess one superstitious part of this whole routine is that I always buy Sara Lee brand, plain bagels.) I shower, dress, and go. On the drive, I always listen to a playlist I’ve put together of the music from the movie about the 2010 Western States race: “Unbreakable.” I like to arrive at the venue early, hit the Port-o-Johns (PoJ) while they are fresh(!), check in, and then chill – sometimes in my car, sometimes with the crowd. At 45 before, I eat a gel, do some light stretches and strides, and hit the PoJ. At 15 before, I eat a gel, a salt tab, and hit the PoJ. Then it’s GO TIME!

If you can’t run, you’re ________?
Ask my wife…grumpy!

***

Congratulations to Dennis for losing 115 lbs and overcoming Couch Potato Syndrome! It is not easy to keep that much weight off. It takes 10 times as long to take it off as it does to put it on but it is well worth the effort. Running is a great way to keep the pounds off and it’s fun! It doesn’t have to be running, of course, but running is one of the easiest ways to get moving. Yes, it’s hard in the beginning but stick with it and you’ll learn to love it like Dennis does. Just look at how much fun he’s having in his pictures! I especially love the trail photo. That looks like it was a muddy blast!

Thanks for sharing Dennis! Good luck at R&R San Francisco and Big Sur! Run it fast!

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[All photos submitted by Dennis Arriaga]

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Kino Fargo Marathon

Run It Fast – The Club Profile Hideki Kinoshita #88

RIF #88 Hideki Kinoshita after the Comrades Marathon

This week’s Run It Fast – The Club profile is Hideki Kinoshita #88, also known as Kino, Kino the Maniac, Kino the superhero, and Kino the Awesome. Okay, the last 3 titles are ones that I gave him but after you read his profile, I’m sure you will agree with me!

Check out this amazing runner’s story:

INFO

Name: Hideki Kinoshita aka Kino
RIF #: 88
Blog: RunKino.com
Twitter: @RunKino
Facebook: RunKino

STATS

Years Running: 4.5 years (my first marathon was on 2008/09/21)
Favorite Race Distance: The Marathon (26.2mi / 42.2km)
Favorite PR: 2012 Fargo Marathon (Fargo, ND), 3:19:12 (7:36 min/mile)
Favorite Race: Comrades Marathon (56 mi ultra in Durban, South Africa)
Favorite Bling: 50 States Marathon Club – Certified Finisher Plaque

Next Race: Lower Potomac River Marathon (Piney Point, MD) on 2013/03/10 / LA Marathon (Los Angeles, CA) on 2013/03/17
What Makes You FEEL Fast?: I feel fast when I’m passing other runners during the second half of a race, and right before the finish line.

FUN RUNNING QUESTIONS

Why did you start running?
From 2006 to 2008, my main hobby was skiing and snowboarding.  I was a ski trip “maniac”, hitting the slopes more than 20 days per winter.  I enjoyed traveling to different states to glide on fresh powder.  Some of my favorite places were Whistler (BC), Canyons (UT), Steamboat Springs (CO), Mount Tremblant (QC), & Stratton (VT).  I relished the camaraderie of traveling together and renting cabins, then enjoyed being in the fresh and scenic outdoors.   These are some of the same reasons that would later attract me to the sport of distance running.
 
When spring would roll around melting the leftover snow, I would go through ski trip withdrawal because I could not find anything to replace the excitement of these frequent weekend trips.  Reflecting back on the previous weekend’s ski trip, and making plans for the next one, would help make each painful workweek more bearable.  I needed a new summertime hobby that could carry me over to the next ski season.  I didn’t realize it at first, but the answer to this was: Running.
 
At my first job, my co-worker Yasuaki Shimizu would often share his stories of training with his PoweredByDimSum NYC running group friends and the frequent New York Road Runners (NYRR) races he ran.  I enjoyed listening to him, but had no desire to join him.  He finally suckered me into running my first race, the inaugural Japan Day 4-miler in Central Park on 2007/06/03.  Interestingly, I would go on to run my 100th marathon + ultra exactly 5 years later, to the date.  The Japan Day race was started to celebrate Japanese culture in NYC.  We were both Japanese-Americans, working for a Japanese firm, so it was hard for me to turn him down.  I begrudgingly agreed to run.  I did no training and this 4 mile distance was double the length of any distance I had ever run before.  I was 28 at the time, and I made the rookie mistake of going out too fast.  Of course I did, I was after all a rookie.  The later miles were miserable.  I ran the entire distance in 35:31 (8:52 min/mile) without having to walk and was happy to have finished, but swore off running races.  It was that painful.

Then 5 months later, that same co-worker Yasu asked me to go cheer for him in the 2007 NYC Marathon.  I was free and had never seen a marathon live.  Since this event is NYC’s biggest one day event, I figured why not.  Little would I know, November 4, 2007 would be a turning point and forever change my life.  After cheering in Central Park around Mile 24 for Yasu and another friend Melissa Hon, then seeing thousands of runners cheerfully running the final portion of the race, I was inspired to take up running.  I immediately aimed to run a full marathon within one year’s time, by Fall 2008. 

The very next day, I registered to become an NYRR member, joined my very first running club, and signed up for a series of upcoming races.  I outdid my initial goal of running one marathon a year later by running the Yonkers Marathon (9/2008), Chicago Marathon (10/2008), & the Philadelphia Marathon (11/2008) in less than a 3 month time span, thus unknowingly qualifying me for the Marathon Maniacs with my very first three marathons.  After I learned about the Maniacs and joining as MM #1382 in 2/2009, things became, well… maniacal thereafter. 

It’s been 4.5 years since my first marathon, and I’ve now run 125 of them in all 50 states & DC, 26 states & DC into my second round, 7 countries, and 4 continents, including 23 ultramarathons, 6 of which were 100 milers.  Just when I complete one goal, a new goal pops into mind.  First it was 50 States then Titanium (the highest Marathon Maniacs level), and now it’s the 50sub4 Club (a sub-4 hour marathon in all 50 states), 7 Continents, and Boston Qualifying.  The fun never stops.

Kino at the Fargo Marathon with RIF #92 Steven and friend Benny Tam

Which of your running routes makes you the happiest and why?
Running the loop in Central Park in Manhattan, NYC makes me happiest.  It was here where I was reborn, from couch potato to runner.  It is where I have run over 50 local races, where I train with my NYC Niketown @TeamRunNYC,  and is my favorite place in my favorite city in the world. 
 
There is hardly a time where you’re in Central Park and you do not spot another runner along the paths and loops.  Whenever I run there, I am always able to spot a familiar face and exchange a “good job” with them.  It’s always an added bonus to be able to catch up with them to hear about their most recent and upcoming running adventures. 
 
It is this luxury of having a convenient central oasis within an immense concrete jungle where good friends can congregate that makes Frederick Law Olmsted’s Central Park such a special place.  If it were not for this 1.3 square mile swath of land, I can almost guarantee that I would have never discovered the joys and transformative power that the simple act of quickly stepping one foot in front of the other possesses.

Have you ever worn a costume during a race? What was it and for what race?
Oh have I worn a costume during a race?  Let’s see, I have dressed up and run marathons and ultras as a Viking, Three Wolf Moon Man, Old Spice Guy, The Burger King, and Thor.  I love dressing up for big time races, especially the NYC Marathon.  In all 3 of the NYCM’s that I have run, I have dressed up each time.  For the 2012 NYC Marathon, I was supposed to run dressed as Darth Vader, along with my band of Star Wars characters, but sadly Hurricane Sandy altered those plans.
 
My fondest costume running memory was easily the 2011 NYC Marathon, in which I ran as the Avenger Thor, along with my super hero friends who ran dressed as Superman, Batgirl, Captain America, Ironman, Mr. Incredible, and Super Mario.  It is so much fun to run in costume in big city races because there are so many kids and enthusiastic fans cheering along the route.  You end up energizing the crowd if they like your outfit, and in turn you get to feed off their energy and enjoy the race experience even more.  It’s always hilarious to hear all the wrong names you are called.  As Thor, I was mistaken for a viking, Optimus Prime the Transformer, and He-Man.
 
Another great aspect of costume running is that since it allows you to stand out, you can use that additional attention to your benefit.  For this race as Thor, I draped my Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) TeamHOPE charity running team jersey over my hammer, an essential part of Thor’s attire.  Even though the hammer was becoming a burden over the marathon distance, I ran with it and ended up raising $1,000 for PanCAN.  It was also a special experience to help my charity runner teammate, Travis Simpson, finish his very first marathon. 

Kino as Thor at the NYC Marathon

Why do you race?
I race because it gives me a sense of personal fulfillment and accomplishment, especially if my performance sets a new personal record (PR) time or distance.  I believe these feelings are the main reason why any of us are willing to undertake the journey of 26.2 miles on foot.  Successfully conquering such goals adds purpose to life.  Becoming a marathon finisher arms you with the newfound belief in yourself that if you are able accomplish what you set out to do, other obstacles in life do not feel as daunting.  This feeling is further amplified when one becomes a 100 miler finisher.  Such accomplishments instill a new feeling of confidence that carry over into other aspects in life, improving your overall psyche and individual satisfaction.
 
The next reason is that running races is simply fun, no matter how painful it may feel at times.  Ultras are a different kind of painful “fun”, which I’ll save for another Q&A.   The whole experience of traveling with friends and loved ones to a race and hanging out with other friends from far off places, gives marathon weekends a memorable reunion feeling to them.  Running races is a great excuse to travel and visit worthwhile destinations, especially to places you have never been before or otherwise would never have visited had it not been for that particular race.  Marathons tend to be during the most temperate times of year, so they take place during some of the best times of year to visit said location.
 
I enjoy being around other runners.  Runners tend to share a laid back outlook and be genuinely kind.  I immediately noticed this when I started becoming friends with other long distance runners.  I have heard other marathoners and ultra runners making the same remarks countless times.  I believe that since runners voluntarily put themselves into and endure high pain threshold situations, this allows them to be better able to empathize with others who are less fortunate.  From my experience, runners are an overwhelmingly caring and compassionate group of people.  Running also makes me a better person.

Umstead 100 with friends and fellow RIFers

Another reason that I choose to run is for its health benefits.  It is a great activity for weight loss, weight gain prevention, improving the cardiovascular system, increasing endurance, heightening alertness, and strengthening the immune system.  Whenever I go for a morning run, I don’t require coffee to keep me awake and am a lot more productive for the rest of the day.  Additionally, since I have become a runner it has become extremely rare for me to catch a cold, despite the lack of daily sleep I get.

The last main reason why I like to run races is that it is a great way to draw awareness to under-represented causes.   I choose to continually run my races for these three small charities:

I have been drawn to help each of these nonprofits for various reasons ranging from a painful loss, a desire to improve our community, and wanting to honor heroes of this modern age.  Each fundraising page above will explain what I find so special about each organization and how they help those in need with the donations they receive.  I have run over 55 marathons and ultras for these great causes and with the support of the loving running community, have been fortunate to raise over $64,000 for them.  I feel very blessed by the steadfast encouragement of friends and followers who continue to pour in moral and financial support for my various charity fundraising endeavors.  Thanks to my involvement in philanthropy, I have met such amazingly wonderful people who champion the same causes and provide me with tremendous inspiration.  Running is what single-handedly provided me with the impetus and motivation to become involved.

Kino at the Turtle Marathon with friends

What running moment are you most proud of?
It is hard to narrow down a single proud running moment.  Some moments that come to mind are:

  • 2008 Yonkers Marathon (Yonkers, NY) in 5:00:15 was my first marathon finish.  I was the 4th to last to cross the finish line out of 93 finishers.
  • 2009 Asbury Park Relay Marathon (Asbury Park, NJ) in 3:59:41 was my first sub-4 marathon.  It took me until my 15th marathon to finally break the elusive 4 hour barrier.  I had friends Marco Cheung and Mike Moschitta to help pace me at the end.
  • 2010 Javelina Jundred (Fountain Hills, AZ) in 28:23:21 was my first 100 miler finish.  I had run 3 straight weeks of double marathons in 6 different states to build up to this race.  My local Phoenix friend Amy Wang helped pace me for 15 miles.
  • 2011 North Coast 24-Hour Endurance Run (Cleveland, OH) with 104.79 miles was my 24 hour ultra PR.  It was the USA Track & Field 24 Hour National Championships, and I placed 29th.  This race took place a week after the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on NY & DC. I put together a last minute fundraiser based on per mile pledges, raising $5,550 for the Mount Sinai Medical Center WTC Health Program.  The pledges were what kept me going and not quit.  It was a nice quick trip to Ohio with my long-time friend Jackie Choi, who is an accomplished ultra runner.
  • 2011 Berlin Marathon (Berlin, GER) in 3:38:21 was a huge unexpected 10 minute PR.  My closest running friend Steven Thunder Lee decided to forgo running at his pace to pace me on the back half all the way to the finish line.  I would later lower my marathon PR to 3:19:12 at the 2012 Fargo Marathon the next May, but lost to Thunder by 5 seconds as we raced to the finish line.
  • 2012 Comrades Marathon (Durban, ZAF) 56 miler in 9:37:39 was Marathon / Ultra #100.  It was a fun trip with so many good friends from NYC, Houston, & Dallas.
  • 2012 Honolulu Marathon (Honolulu, HI) in 3:58:52 was my 50th State Marathon and a ton of friends from NYC and Cali came out to celebrate with Steven Thunder Lee & me for finishing Round 1 of the 50 States.  Pacers and friends Derrick Tsang, Rick Thiounn, & Dave Carlsson helped me out big time on the second half of this race. I barely broke 4 hours, making this my 41st sub-4 state.  I currently have 5 more sub-4 states to go to finish my 50sub4 goal. 

One last thing from Kino:
I look forward to more proud running moments and enjoy being your Run It Fast teammate.  It is great to meet RIF members at races all over the country.  Special thanks to Joshua Holmes for forming this club and his constant encouragement, and to Lisa Gonzales who took the time to put together this Q&A!

Cheers,
Kino
RIF #88

***

So you agree with me, right? He’s pretty amazing. I think he’s awesome, not only for running so many marathons/ultras and continuing to set PRs and bigger goals, but for doing so much to give back while he’s doing it. The thing that I love most about reading his profile though is the joy that he gets from running with friends and meeting new friends along the way. You can see that in the photos he sent along with his profile. Only one of them was of just him (I had to twist his arm to get the Thor pic. ;) and the rest were with runners and friends who made it more special for him. Even his best running moments are not all about him. We at Run It Fast are extremely proud to have someone as big-hearted and inspiring as Kino in The Club!

Thank you for sharing your incredible journey with us Kino. Good luck at the Lower Potomac River Marathon and the LA Marathon!

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 Hideki Kinoshita and the Kino as Thor pic by Otto Lam]

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JJ50K-Kevin-Leathers-Rope-Climb

Run It Fast – The Club Profile Kevin Leathers #12

RIF #12 Kevin Leathers

This week’s RIF Club profile is Kevin Leathers #12. Kevin is not only a runner but also a coach and has a wealth of information to share. He doesn’t just practice what he preaches though. He has run over 20 marathons including Boston, NYC, Chicago, Disney,  and St. Jude and he has also been doing triathlons for over 28 years!

Check out Kevin’s profile:

INFO

Name: Kevin Leathers
RIF #: 12
Blog: www.CantStopEndurance.com
Twitter: @kevinleathers
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CantStopEndurance

STATS

Years Running: 34 years
Favorite Race Distance: This is an evolving favorite. In high school it was the mile. Now? The longer the better. All time fave? Marathon.
Favorite PR: St Jude Marathon 3:15:31
Favorite Race: Boston Marathon
Favorite Bling: A tie: Boston Marathon/ Ironman Finishers medal
Next Races: 3/2 Mississippi Trail 50 Miler, 3/17 Germantown Half Marathon, 3/31 Darwin Ultra, August: Leadville 100
What Makes You FEEL Fast?: Getting in the groove and flying though a track workout on target with that effortless flow.

FUN RUNNING QUESTIONS

Why did you start running?
I started running in high school cross country and was immediately hooked. It became a big part of my identity. We don’t run as a hobby or activity… we become runners. I’m still amused when people ask “do you still run?” Of course I do! It seems like the silliest question.

Who inspires your running and why?
The athletes I coach inspire me to be a better runner. In an effort to “walk the walk”, I have to race and train smart. Seeing runners of all shapes, sizes and talent push themselves and achieve their goals is amazing. I crave the magical feeling of reaching that finish line and hitting my goals. To be able to help others achieve that feeling… is very gratifying.

What’s the most beautiful place that you’ve run?
The Rocky Mountains. The high altitude trails around Leadville CO, the Colorado Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, Hope Pass… all simply breathtaking.

Which of your running routes makes you the happiest and why?
We are lucky in Memphis to have the Wolf River Trails and Shelby Farms with miles of singletrack, jeep road and paved greenways. I have been running some of those trails for 33 years. My best high school cross country races were in that park. I feel very at home and comforted on those trails.

What is your favorite go-to pre-race meal?
Plain pasta, red sauce, grilled chicken. Plain, simple. I don’t like to feel stuffed the night before.

What is the thing you splurge on after a race?
A cheeseburger and fries or a giant pizza!

How many pairs of running shoes do you have and which pair are your favorites?
I have a real “shoe problem” like many runners. I get great support from my local store sponsor, Breakaway Running, in addition to receiving shoes from various shoe companies to test and review. So maybe 30+? But I am currently rotating through the Hoka Stinson Evo & Hoka Bondi B for long runs and Brooks Pure Cadence for speedwork.

Why do you race?
The “test of self”. I love putting myself to the test and seeing if I have what it takes mentally and physically on race day. Whether its a 5K or a 100 miler, I get the opportunity too find out exactly what I am made of. The competitive side of racing is fun and exciting, but it really boils down to beating the voices in my head telling me to slow down or quit, and achieving my personal goals.

What was your biggest “don’t” of a race?
The biggest mistake runners make, including me, is going out too fast. This applies to every distance. There is a painful, directly proportionate price to be paid for starting out to fast.

What’s your pre-race routine?
Everything laid out/ packed the night before to reduce stress. Light breakfast, rice cake with peanut butter, banana and coffee. Always coffee.

What running moment are you most proud of?
Another tie: My marathon PR because there is such discipline, consistency and a bit of luck required to complete a marathon build injury-free. And then on race day you have to execute the plan physically and mentally. Finishing Leadville 100, but missing the belt buckle by 5 minutes. I learned a lot about myself during that 30 hours. The biggest lesson: never give up. And yes, I am going back for my buckle this year.

If you can’t run, you’re ________?
grumpy

By the way, Kevin is a Road Runners Club of America – Certified Running Coach and he coaches runners from beginners going for their first 5K to advanced runners. He also does coaching for charity teams as well:
Team McGraw – National Coach – training runners for events across the country who are raising funds for the Tug McGraw Foundation (TMF).
St. Jude Heroes – National Coach – coaches runners who combine their pursuit of a personal challenge with fundraising for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

***

You can check out more info about Kevin at his website or Facebook page listed at the top of his profile. I always enjoy reading his blog posts about his races because he goes into detail about what went right and what didn’t. It’s interesting to see his side of it since he’s a coach as well as a runner. But I had no idea he was harboring such a big “shoe problem” or that he is grumpy when he doesn’t run! I guess we can forgive him for these quirks considering all the great work he does with his coaching, especially the charity coaching, right? :)

Thanks for sharing Kevin and good luck at the Mississippi Trail 50! 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 Kevin Leathers, Naresh Kumar, and Joshua Holmes]

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Mark TOF

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:

INFO

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

STATS

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 !

FUN RUNNING QUESTIONS

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:

Run It Fast – The Club (JOIN TODAY)

[All photos submitted by Mark Watson and Joshua Holmes]

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