NRC Runners of the Month – Elizabeth Pfeiffer and John Dunn

Elizabeth Pfeiffer
Our female Runner of the Month is vibrant, cheerful, and kind.  I could almost call her bubbly, but you might misconstrue that she’s ditzy and that would be wrong.

IMG_1869Driven, determined and “dubbed” Director of the Nolensville Star Therapy location just years after graduating with her Physical Therapy degree, Elizabeth Pfeiffer is the perfect combination of strength and compassion.  Those who know her would agree, from her NRC friends to her patients young and old.  She’s crossed many a finish line with NRC, but her journey to the start line might surprise you.

Elizabeth was born and raised in Memphis, TN.  She and her older brother enjoyed family get-togethers, especially going to watch Mississippi State football games!  Her Dad played football for Mississippi State and when Elizabeth was there for undergraduate school, she got to be up close and personal at the games as an Athletic Trainer.  She was pretty much always around athletics growing up.  She played tennis and softball, but mainly enjoyed watching from the sidelines.

She followed her interests back home to UT Memphis to obtain her Physical Therapy degree and then moved to Nashville to work at Star Physical Therapy. During that time she decided to “get in the game” and train with a group for the CMM Half Marathon.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great experience.  She didn’t feel prepared and on top of that, CMM Half is a tough race.  When it was all said and done, she hated it.

Time passed and Elizabeth started hearing a lot about Niki G’s Bootcamp from living in the Lennox Village area.  She signed up and found it was a great fit for her.  When the Bootcamp advertised a training program for the Women’s Half in 2012, she decided to give it another try.  This time, it was a really positive experience.  No longer watching from the sideline, Elizabeth crossed the finish line excited to do it all again!  In fact, she’s done the Women’s Half three years in a row!  Hands down, it is one of her favorites!  It’s a challenging, local course, plus you get some pretty cool race bling!

Due to sheer proximity, it was pretty impossible for Elizabeth not to know about NRC.  Every Wednesday night, she would see the NRC runners, en masse, making their way by her office windows, which face Oldham Drive.  Finally, she thought, “I should do that!”

When she first came out to NRC she was just looking for another fun way to get a workout in during the week. Her objective was just to have some buddies to run with and she quickly met lots of those.

2014 was the year of the marathon for Elizabeth.  She swore she was a “half marathoner” for life, but somehow her NRC friends talked her into doing the full Marathon in Carmel.  It was her first marathon made even more memorable by the support and cheers of NRC!

10945491_10204855946870414_7878069404522310859_nThen she signed up right away for the Rocket City Marathon.  Having trained with her close-knit crew using an interval strategy, Elizabeth got a big PR in Huntsville!  Now they’re all training again and this time supporting two first time marathoners, Ken Moore and Daniel Underwood!

It’s pretty amazing all that Elizabeth accomplished in 2014, especially since she was working while simultaneously planning a wedding all throughout her training!  In the midst of a million decisions, bridal showers and weather worries, she said training was a much-welcomed escape.

Elizabeth and her hubby, Bart, were destined to be together.  He lived in Nashville and she lived in Memphis, so it couldn’t merely be coincidence that his cousin was her best friend in high school?  And, that Elizabeth passed by Bart’s senior picture at her BF’s house all the time?  And that she thought he was really cute?  I think not!

IMG_1964.JPGAs fate would have it, it was only a matter of time before the two met. On New Year’s Eve 2008, a big group of her friends all went out in Nashville.  Of course, Elizabeth’s BF invited her cousin, Bart, and the youngsters hit is off as if they’d known each other all along.  After a brief long distance stint, she moved to Nashville and they officially started dating.  What’s even stranger…Bart’s cousin married Bart’s best friend, too!

As for running, Bart enjoys doing 5Ks and laced up for the Rutherford Relay with Elizabeth on an NRC team last year, but more importantly, he is always there to see her and share a special moment right before she heads for the finish line.  When not running, the newlyweds enjoy going hiking at Radnor Lake and Percy Warner, catching up on Blacklist, and going to craft beer breweries.

Elizabeth has made many amazing friendships through NRC.  She can’t say enough about the incredible crew she runs with.  Supportive, hilarious, and able to dish tough love when needed, she laughs and says, “They all make a miserable 5 hours actually tolerable.”

If you’ve met her crew for an early morning run, you likely waited a minute or two on Elizabeth.  In fact, her time management challenges are a bit of a “running” joke amongst her friends, but it’s all in good fun.  Her goals for 20IMG_1634_215 include running the Oak Barrel Half and the Stump Jump Trail 30K all with her NRC training buds.

She is grateful for NRC and all it does for the community, as well.  From helping people meet their goals through the NRC Couch to 5K Program to visiting the Southerland Place Nursing Home at Christmas and being touched by the appreciation of the residents, she likes that NRC is more than just a running club.  Plus, every year since its start, her branch has sponsored the annual NRC charity event, Miles for Amelia.

She says she can guarantee she would not have had the confidence to sign up for a marathon on her own, but that the people of NRC gave her that confidence.  No more sidelines for Elizabeth.  Congratulations, Elizabeth on reaching new heights as a key player on Team NRC! 

John Dunn
What happens when a top-notch news reporter decides to ditch his fast food habits and opt for running with a high-fiving running crew?  Well, incredible friendships and impossible paces to name a few.

2014-10-24 John RagnarOur male Runner of the Month, John Dunn, grew up in the quiet city of Littleton, Colorado outside of Denver.  As a kid, you’d have seen him running a lot while playing different sports; football, soccer, basketball, you name it.  He was good at sports, but running was not his forte.  In 7th grade, he signed up for the cross-country team and hated it.  His forte was, however, singing and acting, which has helped him in his career and more importantly, on NRC karaoke night!

He is a proud graduate of Butler University in Indiana with a degree in Telecommunications and he is a staunch Butler basketball fan.  He even collects Bulldog figurines!  He went to Butler thinking he would pursue a career as a sportscaster, because he loved Bob Costas.  He remembers being as young as 8 years old watching NBA basketball and the Olympics, and the huge impression Costas made on him.  Then in college he saw just how many others were vying for those coveted spots and decided to broaden his scope to news.  This wasn’t a big leap, since he was a total news and history buff.  Case in point, in high school, he had subscriptions to Time and Newsweek.  Not his parents, him!

In college, John also started running occasionally for exercise.  Just for a few miles at a time (with a lot of walking).  It didn’t stick though once he was on the uber-competitive job hunt for a broadcast news position.  He sent out 120 resume tapes (compiled during internships) and luckily after a slew of horrible job offers, he took a position in Johnson City, TN in 2000.

2011-6-11 John and Governor Haslam on election nightA few years later, he landed a spot in Nashville at Fox 17 News.  Due to the stories John reported on, he experienced several once in a lifetime opportunities.  He “got to” jump out of a Chinook helicopter from 14K feet with the 101st Airborne in Clarksville, fly with the Blue Angels, and sail on the U.S.S. Nashville on its final cruise into port at Norfolk, VA!  During his career, he was nominated for eight Emmys and just this year, with his 9th nomination, he was selected for the award.  He was truly honored by the recognition, which meant even more since he had made the decision to change careers.

He now serves as Public Information Officer for the Tennessee Comptroller and as a result is more likely to be on the other end of news interviews as he provides information to the press, the legislature and all Tennesseans.

He met his wife, Jennifer, in college where one of his part-time jobs was houseboy in a sorority (doing dishes, taking out trash).  Jennifer was a dance performance major and a year younger, 2014-11-9 Christmas Card 4but they happened to meet at a party and John was love struck.  Soon after, he realized she lived in the sorority house where he worked, making houseboy the best job ever!  They married after Jennifer graduated and eventually settled in the Nolensville area in 2010. They have 3 bright and beautiful girls, Madelyn (9), Kristyn (7), and their youngest Laynie (4).  John is definitely outnumbered at times, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Around 2008, John decided to try running again, getting out for a few miles at a time, a couple times a week.  Then injury struck.  He tore the meniscus in his left knee and had to have surgery, which sidelined him for a while.  It seemed the odds were not in his favor.

The life of a field reporter doesn’t make it easy to be healthy.  Stressful deadlines, needing to stay energized and working long hours leaves you prone to fast food.  In fact, he used to go by Taco Bell after work at 10:30pm almost every night. John didn’t realize how serious it had gotten until September of 2013 when he went in for check up and learned he had reached his highest weight and highest blood pressure ever.  That day he decided he would eat better, cut out sugary drinks, and he hasn’t been back to Taco Bell since.

He was shocked that just by eating better and drinking water, he was able to lose weight, and then by adding running, he sped up the results.  What was even better was that as he was getting lighter, he was able to run longer without walking and started adding a mile at a time.  By Christmas, he had lost 50 pounds (from 230 to 180) and was up to running 6 miles without walking.

He stalked the NRC FB page for about a year before he got up the nerve to make it out.  He worked Wednesday nights, so the first Saturday in January he showed up at Mama’s Java and ran with David Victory (who in NRC style said he was going no faster than a 9:15 pace).  So, you can guess, they did 6 miles and finished with an 8:55 average pace!  John was amazed that he could run that fast!  Then, the next weekend he ran 8 miles with Scott Alexander and crew at an 8:45 pace and just couldn’t believe it!  See what a little friendly encouragement can do!

That March, he set out on a mission for the Tom King Half Marathon.  He wanted to do an 8:00 minute mile to finish in 1:45 and he planned to run with Scott, but… he was feeling it and took off.  They never saw him until after the race.  John finished in 1:39:30 with a huge feeling of accomplishment.  He kept training and later that year, he PR’d at the Middle Half with a 1:36:30.  His only previous race was the I Run for the Party July 4th 10K, which he had finished proudly in 62 minutes.  He also met his goal of running a 5K in under 20 minutes last year. Recently, his knee injury has been rearing its ugly head, but he’s undergoing treatments and taking it easy, while training for his first full marathon in Carmel.

2014-10-11 John before raceNot only has he made an incredible transformation and met some lofty goals, he’s also earned some cool overall and age group trophies!  All of this, he says, would not have been possible without the encouragement and support of his NRC friends.

John admits, that even though he’s lived here a long time, he hadn’t formed many strong friendships, but with NRC it has been easy right from the start.  He says he probably never would have run more than 6 miles without NRC and that being around people who are better than him has been huge in his running development.  What is the secret to his success?  He says, “It has everything to do with running with NRC!”

John recently was appointed to the NRC board and will be helping to spread some NRC news!  He will be heading a quarterly newsletter to go to official NRC members with some feature articles, recipes for healthy runner eating, and race reports.  NRC is looking for a creative title for the newsletter, so be sure to post your idea on FB to be in the “running”!

Tall in stature, reserved, and gracious, John can seem serious at first, but once you get to know him he is an encourager, team player, and a real comedian.  I hope you feel like you know him better already.  Be sure to congratulate him at the next run!