NRC Runners of the Month – Karen Miles and Rick Sears

Karen Miles redKaren Miles

Our female Runner of the Month took to running like a calf to a compression sleeve. She may be a latecomer to the sport, but once Karen Miles tried running on for size she discovered it was a perfect fit… and as her last name suggests, she is in it for the long haul.

Growing up in Antioch, TN, Karen was never involved in sports. She was in the color guard (flag squad) in high school which called for some pretty quick footwork at times, but that was about it.

In gym, she was the one who’d get as far outfield as she could in hopes the ball wouldn’t be hit her way. Boy, a lot has changed since then. Now as a member of the NRC, she is right up in the mix planning group runs and mentoring others to meet their training goals as she pushes herself to new PRs.

In 2012, when Karen heard about the NRC Couch to 5K from a friend, she thought it sounded fun.  She admits she didn’t have any real motivation to run, she just thought she would go see some old friends and socialize a little bit.

“When Scott [Alexander] e-mailed me about my time trial and said I was in the 3:1 interval group, I nearly fainted”, she confessed. “I told myself that he was crazy; there was no way I could run for 3 minutes!”

But she did, and akaren bibs copyfter her first 5K, the Change for a Chance 5K with her fellow C25K participants, she knew she was hooked. She has now been running for four years and has continued to build her stamina and strength with each new goal. Since joining NRC, Karen has trained for and completed several 5Ks, five 10Ks, ten Half Marathons and one Full Marathon!

Through NRC, Karen forged strong friendships. More often than not, you’ll see her logging miles with fellow NRCers Lisa Reasonover and Dena Lloyd – a triple threat when it comes to taking on a challenge. Case in point, through each other’s encouragement (read: peer pressure) Karen and Lisa decided to take on the Carmel Marathon! Dena agreed to help them train.

“It was mine and Lisa’s first full,” she recalled. “Dena was my mentor in the Couch to 5K, so having her train and run with me in my first full marathon was wonderful.”

Karen and DenaCrossing the finish line of the Carmel Marathon remains her favorite memory with Lisa and Dena and these three have run a lot of miles together. Thinking back on her final steps down the NRC high-five line, Karen remembers, “Words cannot express the feeling I had when I finished that marathon.”

I asked Dena what they talk about out there during all those hours of training and she said, “While training for a full, you get to know a person, their family and work life. During a training run she was talking about work and I asked her where she worked. Karen told me, but at that time I didn’t connect the dots. On another long run, she brought up work again and I finally realized I knew someone she worked with. We also live a half-mile from each other!”

Now, Karen is paying it forward. She is a welcoming regular NRC interval runner and is mentoring 2FAST, the 2:1 interval group, in this year’s Couch to 5K. She also participated with her crew in the 2016 Hoggin’ and Joggin’ relay, which raises money for the Nolensville Food Pantry. “It was an experience,” she laughs. “Not sure about the fried Mac & Cheese! It was a fun time for such a good cause!”

Karen Miles wedding copyHer family is very proud of her running and they now understand that her running schedule is a priority to her. Her positive influence has even recruited them to run with NRC!

Karen found true love in the eyes her high school sweetheart, Vince, and the two have been married for 32 years! Vince started running last year with the 1:1 interval group and is a Wednesday regular.

Karen and Vince have two children, Hannah (27) and Cameron (21).  You may have seen Hannah and her husband, Chris, along with their beautiful little 1-year-old girl, Reagan Marie, at a recent NRC run. Reagan is Karen and Vince’s first grand-baby, so having them all run with the crew is extra special time together.

“Being a grandparent is truly wonderful,” smiled Karen. And, being a grandparent who runs and is a great example of staying healthy and happy? In my opinion, that’s priceless!

Karen FamilyGetting her races in early this year, Karen has already completed 3 half marathons, so she has no current training goals. Her plan is to just keep running, which she has proven she can do regardless of summer heat, winter cold, rain or shine. She hopes to enjoy a few light months of running and then will train for her fourth half this year which she’ll run in October – The I Dream of Jennie Half in Coco Beach.

When Karen is not running she likes to read and shop (which can be a sport all of its own)!  The Coach Store is her favorite, but too bad they don’t carry running shoes! She also love spending time at the beach with her family.

Karen is one of those types of runners who keeps a sincere smile even when the going gets tough. She has faced injuries and challenges, but you would never hear her complain. She is positive, caring and an all-around great runner and friend. We are so glad she is a part of our NRC family! Congrats, Karen!

Karen – Speed Round

One thing you dislike about running: The heat

Dream car: 2016 Corvette

No one in NRC would guess… I got my belly button pierced when I turned 40.

Summer must-have gear: Sunglasses

Favorite movie: An officer and a Gentleman


Rick SearsRick Sears Ragnar Hellcat

Zero. That’s the number of times our male Runner of the Month had ever gone running before he signed up for the NRC C25K in 2014.

13.1. The number of miles in a Half Marathon, of which he’s done eleven since completing the program and has more on the calendar for next year.

How do you get from 0 to 13.1 in less than two years? Well, for Rick Sears, it was a case of the right time, the right people and the right kind of running… intervals.

Rick hails from Shelbyville (pronounced ‘vul, not ‘ville) but was born in New Hampshire, with brief moves to Nassau, The Bahamas and Indian Rocks Beach, Florida. This could have something to do with his love of all things beachy even as an adult. In fact, to get him to embrace the move from the sunny beach city to a farm 10 miles away from town in TN, his parents resorted to bribing the then preteen with the promise of a motorcycle. It worked.

He met his awesome wife and running partner, Melissa, (also an NRCer) while in college at MTSU at the KA house, but it wasn’t until after he had graduated and she was a Senior that they started dating. Their first date was to Zanies Comedy Club in Nashville and they still make each other laugh everyday. Just to prove their love was above any superstitions, they got engaged on a Friday the 13th and the lucky couple will be celebrating their 30th anniversary on June 7th. Rick admitted, “Good thing it falls on a Tuesday or we would be running on our anniversary. When it’s Wednesday. We run!”

Rick Sears CruiseThey have two kids. Their son Drew (27) and his wife Brittany, live just down the road which is great because they are expecting their first child in November. This will be Rick and Melissa’s first grandbaby…and they can not wait! Their daughter, Morgan (25) lives in Knoxville and since graduating UT has been pursuing her degree in Registered Nursing at Lincoln Memorial University. Rick and Melissa are looking forward to celebrating her graduation with her in December.

As for running, both Rick and Melissa started at the same time, May 2014 as participants in the NRC Couch to 5K. Rick remembers, “I personally had never run in my life…NEVER. We had always walked but were not very deligent at it and would miss weeks, even months at a time. The timing of the C25K was perfect, we had been discussing finding something that would encourage us to stay more accountable.” Plus, he learned about the benefits of run-walk intervals and found it was the right kind of training for him.

He’s made many friendships through NRC and he is often out there leading his interval crews keeping them honest when it’s time to stop walking and get back to running, but a popular misconception almost kept him from coming out at all. When it came to NRC and running clubs, Rick thought you had to run races straight through without any walking.

“The concept of intervals never entered my mind,” he confessed. “What a life changer the C25K and running intervals has been.”

Rick heard about NRC through Scott Alexander, who he’s known for over 20 years from their Service Merchandise days. He jokes that even back then Scott loved to give “high fives”! Although, they were not always appreciated as much as they are with the NRC crew.

Rick Sears ChinaRick tells an awesome story of a trip he and Scott took overseas. Rick says, “Notice the picture of us at a golf course in China (Yes, that is me as a much larger person and yes, Scott has hair under that cap). At one of the holes Scott drained a long putt for par and wanted to give one of the caddies (pictured with us) a “high five”. The poor woman did not comprehend what he was doing and acted as if he were going to hit her! Thankfully, we were able show her what he was trying to do and all was good after that.”

Rick has a list of accomplishments starting with his first 5k at the Change for a Chance race, one of only a few right in Nolensville proper. His first half was the Rock and Roll in New Orleans in Jan 2015 which he ran with Melissa. He will always remember that race as being a great one with a level course. Since then they have completed 10 half marathons together.

Rick Sears Turkey Trot 2015One of his favorite runs was his third leg running Ragnar 2015 as a Hellcat. It was a 6.5 mile hard route… and he loved it. He slapped the orange bracelet on and left his exchange at about 4:30 in the morning, a slight misty rain was in the air as he ran from Kirkland down Cox Rd near Arrington Vineyards and ended up at Page High. “It was an awesome run!” he recalls.

His current goal is to keep running. It’s that simple. When pressed, he said he hopes to maintain at least 8 miles every Saturday. His running plans include the Grand Prix races and Middle Half. With the Grandbaby on the way this November, there will be no out of town races for them this fall, but next year they have already planned to do Birmingham Half, Ragnar Trails in Fort Knox, KY, the Oak Barrell Half, the Nashville Rock and Roll Half (will be their third time) and Down Hill at Dawn. What better way to make sure you keep running, but to sign up for some races, right?

Rick Sears New OrleansWhen not running, Rick and Melissa both love the water. “Ask anyone we run with on Saturday mornings when it is warm,” he laughs. “We’ve got to get this done, because we’ve got to go to the lake.”

Rick Sears has been a realtor with Crye-Leike for almost 11 years and loves the flexibility it offers. As a support to NRC, he’s once again sponsoring NRC’s Grand Prix Series which kicks off June 18th!

“I am glad to be able to sponsor the NRC Grand Prix again this year,” he said. “I think the timing of this event is perfect for those just finishing the C25K and it gives you more races to have on your calendar and keep you engaged.”

By the numbers, it’s easy to see that Rick is an inspiration. For anyone who is starting at zero, don’t let misconceptions keep you on the couch. We are so thankful that Rick took that first step to find out NRC is not about running as long and as fast as you possibly can… it’s about finding your own pace and the freiendships you make along the way. Congrats, Rick! So glad you’re part of our crew!

Rick – Speed Round

One thing that you dislike about running: Having a hard time breathing

Dream car: Tesla Model S

No one in NRC would guess… James Earl Jones played my uncle in a movie (good luck finding which one, and no I am not related to Darth Vader)

Summer must-have gear:  Just started running with a hydration pack for long runs; sunglasses

Favorite movie: Animal House

Nickname: In High School and College, some people didn’t even know my first name. Always went by Sears.