August 2013 – Runners of the Month – Wendy Mucci and Michael Teague

I had the pleasure of talking with two magnetic personalities, Wendy Mucci and Michael Teague last month about their stories of life, love and running.  For those who haven’t made it out to NRC yet, I hope our August NRCers of the Month show you how “intimidated” can mysteriously change to “inspired” in a matter of miles – all you have to do is take that first step.  For those who come out each week, I hope you learn something new about these old friends.  Either way, as we harvest the rewards of training through the heat and humidity of summer with our friends by our sides, here are two inspiring exposés that show that when it comes to NRC, running isn’t just about pace and PRs… it’s about people.         

Wendy Mucci

Wendy MucciEqual parts fun loving and feisty, Wendy Mucci, is like the proverbial president of your fan club, who isn’t afraid to keep you honest.  She’s been known to get a little rowdy during runs and to video fellow runners’ race commitments (so they can’t back out later).  A serial committer, when the NRC board decided to host our first ever Couch to 5K Program this year, Wendy was so excited that she volunteered to spearhead the project.  We are so glad she did!  Her sincere enthusiasm, great ideas and strong leadership played a huge part in our success.  Hard to fathom that not too long before then, she was trying to get up the nerve to come to NRC.

Wendy ran cross-country in her beloved small town of Mt. Vernon, MO where she grew up the youngest of 3 girls.  She says she wasn’t good at running, but because her high school was so tiny, you could pretty much participate in anything you wanted – so she did!  She had 2 goals for her cross-country stint, don’t get lost (she is a bit directionally challenged) and don’t come in last.  Both were achieved.

Wendy knew if she wanted to go to college that she would have to find the funds herself, so she got creative and pieced together a plethora of scholarships.  In fact, she was so good at it she ended up coming out ahead each year!  She attended Southwest Missouri State and studied Pre-law/Journalism and wrote for the paper throughout her college career.

During a summer job at a small town paper though, she realized (one hilariously unfortunate event after another) that she was no Katie Couric.  Case in point, sent to cover a fire, Wendy found the blaze extinguished and no story.  Well, except that she locked her keys in the car, so the firemen spent more time helping her get her keys, then fighting the fire.  True story, next day she had a wrapped present from the fire crew sitting on her desk… a hide-a-key!

Once she embraced the idea of changing careers, Wendy stepped back and realized her true interests lay in Sociology.  She went on to graduate school at Mizzou, got engaged and finished at Southern Illinois.  But, wait, we can’t leave college without meeting the hubby!

During college, Wendy was the R.A. for the co-ed hall where her future husband, Jeff, just happened to live.  He would walk by her door on the way to the cafeteria and say, “I’m going to date that girl someday.”  It turns out he was also unknowingly mailing clippings of her column (which he thought were hilarious) home to his girl friend.  Once the paper started printing her picture with her byline, he realized the witty writer was the hot babe across the hall!

One late night Wendy was coming up the dorm stairs and Jeff saw her and yelled down, “Hey Apple Butter Queen!”  (This was a reference to her reign as the Lawrence County Apple Butter Queen of 1987 mentioned in one of her columns.)  Amazingly, after that, he managed to get a yes to a first date and eventually an “I do”!  Recently, Wendy dedicated a blog to Jeff called 20 Lessons in 20 Years where she openly offers up what she’s learned in marriage in her own down-to-earth, hysterical way.  Check it out! 

The two moved to Nolensville five years ago and Wendy got a job she loves teaching at Tennessee Tech.  Wendy spends most of her time with her four children Maddie, Josh, Nicholas, and Max.  She is also very involved in her church, plus gives several weekends and off nights to her other love, coaching the Ravenwood Debate Team!

Spurred by her high school friend years ago, Wendy dusted off her sneakers and did the St. Louis Half.  Since then every year they do a race together.  She even did the Danskin Triathlon in Chicago training for the swim in a subdivision lake that no one ever swam in to get her open water miles.  Crazy!

She heard about NRC by word of mouth, Kathy Sorenson’s in particular.  She’d told herself that she couldn’t go since she wasn’t a “real” runner, but go the nerve to meet Kathy one night to run with the crew.  Excited about making a brave move, she soon became a regular.  Kathy and Wendy ran together for the Country Music Half, as well.

Not sure about doing 26.2, Wendy finally asked herself, “Why won’t I do that?“ She says the fact that she was scared of it, made her want to face it even more.  So she committed to run the Carmel Full Marathon in 2013 and admits she loved every minute of it.  Now Wendy is training for the Rocket City Marathon with fellow NRCer, Rachel Eller and is also running Ragnar TN with her team, Couples Therapy.

Some of her favorite running memories are:

  • 2 Rutherford Relays with amazing NRCers – Kathy Sorenson, Jen Manternach, Lauren Reed, Shannon Nelson, Andrea Klint, Terry Bickel, and Kate Jacks
  • Stopping at just about every port-a-potty during the Carmel Marathon with Stephanie Spann and dancing in the streets
  • Long training runs listening to Steve Kraft, the human calculator, figuring out their times and pace
  • Climbing on hay bales to take pictures with former cheerleader, Lauren Reed, in the middle of the hot hilly Franklin Half
  • Standing with her tambourine at Change for a Chance watching c25k finishers cross the finish line – it still chokes her up just thinking about it!

What motivates her now?  Well, she is hopelessly obsessed with Daily Mile (look out, Tim Lloyd).  Plus, her running goals for this year were to run over 1000 miles, run a full marathon, run a Ragnar and run a half in sub two hours.  She said, “It looks like I will meet all of those goals except for one.  I ran a 2 hour and 45.8 second half marathon in Asheville in June.”  So close!

Wendy encourages those who are on the fence to come run with NRC.  “It takes time and if you let the process go, over the miles, you will make some of the best friends you will ever have for the rest of your life.”  Thanks for being one of those amazing friends, Wendy!  Congrats!

Michael Teague 

Michael Teague
This month’s male NRC Member had no idea he was marrying into the NRC “family”.  As the brother-in-law to our own NRC “Godfather”, Scott Alexander, you would think it was inevitable that Michael Teague would become a “made man” in NRC.  You’d be right.  Thanks to NRC he would go from someone who hated to run to someone who can’t get enough, but this caring and courageous soul would first rise to overcome some pretty daunting challenges.  It took a few extra hush puppies at Uncle Bud’s, but I got him to break the “code of silence” for your reading pleasure.

Born in Nashville, Michael moved with his Mom to Pittsburgh at the young age of 3 before settling in Queens, NY where he lived until 6th grade.  Once his friends got word he was moving back to TN, the worst summer of his life ensued – not only did he have to endure jokes about the South all summer long, but it was extra short because of the differing calendars AND he was starting Junior High!  Luckily, he more than survived he thrived.  Not the track and field type, Michael decided to try his hand at wrestling.  He got his first takedown and went on to be undefeated that year!  He competed all through his years at Overton High School; except for one when he participated in a 2-hour AP History/English class.

Straight out of an After School TV Special, Michael and Allison met in high school – cool city boy meets beautiful country girl.  Although Michael was off the market, they got to know each other in the aforementioned AP class and then during a class trip to Italy and Greece where their friendship grew.  Not long after their Mediterranean adventure, Michael’s girlfriend broke it off and Allison was there to pick up the pieces!  Sweethearts ever since, they’d endure seven years of dating before tying the knot!

Terrified of school loans, Michael took on the enormous task of paying his own way through UT Knoxville.   He worked 5-6 days a week as an Assistant Manager at two Journey’s stores, kept a simple lifestyle, and took his classes seriously.  The only thing was that he hadn’t really decided on a degree he wanted to pursue.  He had finally narrowed his focus down to business and was gaining speed until an auto accident stopped him in his tracks.

On his way to work, a driver two cars ahead of him slammed on their brakes and in seconds his car was totaled.  Although he walked away, he didn’t have gap insurance.  So, with two car payments and everything else, he started working 7 days a week to cover his expenses, but knew something would have to give.  He and his best friend had often talked about starting their own company and after talking it over with Allison, he took a chance and came back to Nashville to be his own boss.  For almost a year, he had his own construction business.  Calling his own shots and having control of his success was an empowering experience.  Fast forward, Michael now works at Permobil, a company that manufactures rehab wheelchairs for people living with physical disabilities, and finds it truly rewarding helping people have better lives.

Newly wedded, new house, new job and first child on the way, for Michael, working out was not high on the list.  Then he started having health issues.  Racked with worry and thinking the worst as treatment after treatment failed, he learned that he suffers from Ulcerative Colitis.  With no real cure, Michael knew he had to make changes to keep it in check.  As someone who enjoys a challenge, he got P90X and with 90 days until their son’s due date, he pressed play and followed the plan religiously!  It worked, but when Asher came two weeks early, P90X was put on pause and everything revolved around him, as it should be.

Soon Michael realized he had to get back to exercising.  So, one cold February morning he started hard-core.  He remembers coming in with frost on his beard and feeling proud that he had gone out and run on his own.  Too intimidated to come to the NRC runs, he trained his butt off for the Country Music Half Marathon by himself and met his goal of 2 hours!  He says it was the “craziest, hardest thing he’s ever done”, but “crossing the finish line was indescribable!

After that, Michael had the running bug!  Then Scott handed down his Garmin and Michael says it went to a whole new level.  With five half marathons, nine 5Ks, and two 3rd place race honors under his belt in just a year and half of running, I’d agree!  He naively dared to say “Never” to a marathon, but after running the Carmel half and staying to capture the photo finishes of the marathoners, that he knew he wanted to experience first-hand the pure emotions that showed on each of their faces.  We’ll be capturing his big finish at the Rocket City Marathon this December, and he’ll run the Middle Half and Ragnar TN as part of his training.

He says the best thing to come from his running is being part of the NRC Couch to 5K Program.  For him, like many, it was a family affair.  Allison trained with the 5:1s (while pushing the stroller), his Mom was a Walker Texas Ranger, his in-laws were Oneders (1:1 intervals) and Michael was a 5:1 mentor.  He told me, “I try to encourage people to do their best, especially when [they’re] at the end and think [they’ve] spent it all.  [I tell them] just reach down deep and finish strong.  We’re all proud of each other, but it is also about being proud of yourself and knowing that you didn’t quit.”  The day of the 5K, I witnessed Michael run back multiple times to support his family and friends!  That’s what it’s all about.

Now, the daily routine at the Teague home is like a page out of Runner’s World.  He and Allison keep each other in check on their hydration and regularly adjust schedules to allow for training runs and quality family time.  “I like to run.  I LOVE to run with friends.  It makes all the difference in the world,” said Michael about NRC.  “What we do in keeping each other accountable, having competition, fellowship, and doing things outside of running together, and it being right here where we live, has just been a blessing for us.”  We surely count you among our NRC blessings, too, Michael!  Congrats from the NRC family!

By Amy Owsley