There are a lot of reasons NRC is proud to recognize Elizabeth Story as our female Runner of the Month. Her petite frame and soft-spoken demeanor may allow her to fly under the radar, but those who run with her know she is a tough competitor with a big heart.
Born and raised in Costa Rica, Elizabeth enjoyed the unique experience of peace and freedom growing up in a small Central American country with no army, many natural areas, and the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans both within a 3-5 hour drive. It may be a bit different terrain, but now living in the Smyrna area, she still gets outdoors as much as possible going on nature hikes with her family.
As fate would have it, Elizabeth met her husband, Fabian, during a visit to the States. In 2004, she had traveled to Nashville to help a cousin with her newborn and perhaps through divine intervention, while at a church service, Elizabeth met her match! After she returned home, the two lovebirds stayed in contact. Five months later, Fabian flew to Costa Rica to visit Elizabeth and propose which garnered a big “yes” and a first kiss! They were soon married and Elizabeth moved to Tennessee.
They have two adorable boys (Thomas, 8 and Landon, 5) who keep them laughing and on the move. Her family likes that she’s active and doing what she enjoys, but it can be hard to take time away. “Landon especially gets excited when I tell him I’m going to run a race and bring some bling home,” she laughed. A NexGen recruit, Landon has even made it out with Elizabeth to a recent NRC run!
Outside of running photos, Elizabeth posts so many yummy recipe videos on Facebook that you might think she is always cooking something new, but she says that’s not the case. “I just love watching cooking shows and posting recipe videos,” she admits. “My favorite thing to make is soup. It’s so easy!”
Growing up Elizabeth always enjoyed exercise, but had never run. As an adult, she joined a gym, but ended up quitting after getting sick and missing too many days. At that point, she knew she wanted to be active and had always wanted to give running a try, so she decided to start.
A friend suggested she run with a group that runs the greenway in the Hermitage area, but it wasn’t a good fit. “They made you sign a waiver and it was going to be a bit of a drive,” she explained. “Then, [my friend] said she thought there was a group that runs from Nolensville Town Hall, so we met up there one Wednesday. I remember my second run with the group, Elizabeth Schaub and others were so welcoming.”
Now regularly spotted on the road with NRCers Anthony Shelly, Mattie Goostree, Wendy Gurley, and Katherine Cain among others, Elizabeth is clearly an inspiration to their group. When I reached out to members of her NRC running crew, it was clear they appreciate the dedication of this caring wife, working Mom and talented runner.
“She is a great running friend who loves to tell you about her home country Costa Rica, good food, and clothing companies that don’t make the right sizes for runners muscular legs! She loves to run in the heat, power up hills like they aren’t even there, and really turn up the speed at mile 8 of every half. She loves her boys! She also works with ESL (English as a second language) students for Rutherford County and I know she has a strong faith in God.” – Wendy Gurley
“People may not know that she has an autistic son. She is always positive and great at taking care of her family and herself at the same time. She is sneaky fast too, training at an easy pace and then killing it in the races. She loves talking about food during a run, and we usually have to do something about that when the run is finished. Just a lot of fun to run with.” – Anthony Shelly
“She’s one of the easiest people to be around and encouraging when you need it. She sticks with you on the training runs and then smokes you at the race! She’s small, but speedy!” – Mattie Goostree
Since finding her running groove, Elizabeth has participated in lots of memorable NRC moments, so picking her favorite is not easy. “I really enjoyed C25K – how they kept us motivated and pushed our limits, but I also loved the encouragement everyone gave me on my first half marathon… the high fives and the cheering at the finish line! So awesome!”
A natural at the sport, Elizabeth has amassed some cool running accomplishments. In her first 5K, the 2013 Chance for a Change, she placed in her age group. In her first Half Marathon, the 2013 Middle Half, she started with a goal of simply finishing and came in under 2 hours! She went on to PR by 5 minutes on the same course the very next year! Just months later, she earned her 26.2 sticker at the 2014 Rocket City Marathon and she PR’d her marathon time by 12 minutes just two years later in the Greenway Marathon! Plus, she just placed 1st in her age group in the Purity Moosic City Dairy Dash 5K.
Along with celebrations, she’s faced challenges as well. She suffered an IT band injury in training and had to learn to rest and add strength exercises to her routine. Elizabeth’s friendly advice to new runners is simple, “Run your own race and don’t compare yourself with others. You are awesome at your own pace and level.”
Well, Elizabeth, we think you are awesome, too! Your ability to pour on the speed is just as motivational as your inspiring spirit and love of life! Be sure to say hi and give your congrats to her at our next NRC run.
ROTM Speed Round
Favorite Spring thing? Tulips
Ice baths – Yay or Nay? I have done one! I prefer warm baths with Epsom salts!
Surprise fact: I learned to drive when I was 22. My husband taught me.
Our male Runner of the Month, Daniel Underwood is not your stereotypical pace-chasing runner and that’s just fine with him. Rather than starting out slow and gaining speed, his initial obsession with keeping up with Jureks of the world has shifted to more of a Galloway “run, walk and have fun” mentality.
Case in point, Daniel’s first Half Marathon six years ago is now (and could quite possibly remain) his PR. A late adopter of the sport, Daniel didn’t start running until 2011 when he decided to train for his first race, the Country Music Half Marathon. He excelled in his training and ran an impressive time on a tough course, but since then he’s decided that going all out just isn’t for him. Daniel’s experiences dealing with some major injuries may have had an impact.
“I had ACL reconstruction about 17 years ago. The doctors have told me that since my meniscus was severely damaged, I should stop running. I have decided that when the knee goes, I will just get a bionic replacement. I also tore my hamstring from the bone 4 years ago and had a nice 6-month rest from running. The recovery took a year of Physical Therapy and had me in the best shape of my life, just in time to run my first full marathon.”
Having fun running is easy now that Daniel has found a core group through NRC who run using an interval method. Daniel now enjoys every mile with family and friends!
Fellow NRCer and funnyman Ken Moore has trained with Daniel over many miles and describes him this way, “From my perspective, he has always been dependable and committed to a task. I should also mention he is the only male in a house of ladies and does what he is told.”
Completely outnumbered, Daniel is married to Tara Underwood (also an amazing NRCer) and they have two bright daughters, Haley (14) and Caroline (11), and a Weimaraner named Maggie.
With both Daniel and Tara running, sometimes keeping a work-home-run balance seems impossible. But, Daniel and Tara do what they can. Now that the girls are older, the happy couple gets to run together more. Plus, they’ve found that since destination races take a lot of coordination to do without kids, it’s better to just make it a fun, family trip!
He’d like to say his hobbies outside of running are reading classic novels and helping the poor, but the truth is his free time is family time. Goofing off with his daughters and making crude potty jokes is what he can be caught doing most of the time!
A native of Decatur, AL, he initially participated in sports that did not require running shoes, like bowling, baseball and tennis. Academically, his inquisitive mind and knack for problem-solving led him to obtain his degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Alabama – Huntsville. And, he’s a huge ‘Bama fan. When opportunity knocked in 2008, Daniel accepted a position with Nissan near Nolensville, TN.
He first heard of NRC after Tara signed up for the NRC Couch to 5K program. He decided to try it and see what the club was about.
He remembers being super nervous at his first run because he thought that to be in a running club, you had to be fast and he was not. Finding kindred spirits with fellow runners Kenneth Moore, Kelli Alexander, Rachel Eller, and Elizabeth Pfeiffer and others, he has helped solidify a 4:1 interval group for NRC.
His favorite NRC memory was definitely completing his first marathon at Carmel and coming through the famed NRC high five line! It’s also the relationships that keep Daniel coming back to NRC!
Daniel has participated in lots of half marathons, so many that honestly they seem to run together. The races that stick out the most are his full marathons in Carmel, IN and Little Rock, AR. He admitted, “The race and location details fade from memory but the relationships with the people that travelled there are what stick with me.”
Daniel’s current training goal is to not become a couch potato. He broke it down this way, “I have no time goals. I have found that the slower I run, the more fun it is.” As for bucket races, he’d like to do an international race as an excuse to travel.
All non-competitiveness aside, make no mistake that Daniel Underwood is a badass – whether he’s braving trails with the NRC Hellcat team for Ragnar Kentuckiana in weather so cold he would have “split open a Tauntaun for warmth” or experiencing the Runaliciousness of downtown Little Rock in the rain in his most recent full marathon.
His witty and funny personality (who says engineers don’t have a sense of humor?) mixes in well with the wise-cracking characters he runs with. (I wouldn’t be surprised if their sides were more sore from laughing than their legs were from running!) Run slower… and less… to live longer. That’s his current running plan and Daniel’s having a blast doing it! Be sure to congratulate him on your next NRC run!
ROTM Speed Round
Favorite Spring thing: Watching my daughter play soccer (before it gets too hot)
Ice Baths – Yay or nay: Nay. I do long naps.
Super-power: I am a champion jump roper (at least I was when I was in the 5th grade)