Author Archives: Amy Klotz

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.

Runners of the Month – Gina and Jason Loyd

Jason & Gina LoydIMG_7311 copy

The stage is set.  The crowd’s assembled.  The “limelight” awaits.  Behind the scenes, the warm up begins.  Gear is checked, strings are fine-tuned, and preparations made, both physically and mentally.  There is no “RUSH”.  This will be no “fly by night” performance.  She stands at her mark, with her wild, black hair partially tamed by a band of colors and red lips that outlast any “marathon”.  He takes his place beside her; head shaved clean, with tattoos that’ll tell a story (that’s if you can keep up).  Now, there is only one thing left to say…

“Are you ready to ROCK?!”  Yeah?!  Well, you better be, because our two Runners of the Month (ROTM) approach running like Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart of RUSH approach a stage in a packed arena, like true rock stars!  And they would know, since they’ve seen RUSH live in concert (a few times, I think)!  Get your Zippos out (or iPhone apps up and ready) and read on for a Rolling Stone style interview in honor of our own Gina and Jason Loyd.

NRC:  So, let’s start at the beginning.  Where were you born? 

GINA:  I was born in Manhasset, New York.  Jason was born in Nashville.

NRC:  As ROTM, we know you run.  What people may not know is that you both are officially ultra runners and Jason, that you recently PR’d at your third Ironman.  I have to know did you have any athletic interests growing up?

GINA:  Swimming and Ballet.

JASON:  Baseball in high school.

NRC:   Really?  I’m kinIMG_1629d of surprised neither of you answered cross-country or track, knowing you now.  So when did your non-running paths finally meet?

GINA:  We met at the scrub sink in the operating room.

JASON: It was my first time working with this new (to our hospital) Dr. Hamrang.

GINA:  I couldn’t even see all of Jason’s face, because he already had his mask up, but I fell in love with him at first sight and instantly knew he would be the father of my children.

JASON:  When I saw her I was, let’s say, pleasantly surprised. She was beautiful, talented and extremely intelligent. Suffice it to say I assumed she was way out of my league. I’m a very lucky man.

NRC:  Wow!  That is amazing!  Sounds like there was definitely chemistry in the midst of all that biology, and years later you can still see sparks when you’re together.  Any recent family celebrations to note? 

JASON:  On February 13th we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. Twelve years ago Gina and I ran away together to Las Vegas (we bought our plane tickets the night before) after a 2-year engagement.  We were struck with a fit of inspiration when trying to decide what to do for Valentine’s Day.  We realized that the day before would be Friday the 13th and we thought, “That is the day”.

NRC:  What a cool story!  You have two incredible kids and, I hear, a few pets that keep things interesting. 

GINA:  Yes, we have a boy who will turn 10 years old this month namedIMG_7942 Cyrus K and a 6-year-old girl named Erin Rose.  As far as pets, the elder statesman of the bunch is Tommy, our chatty 15year-old, tuxedo Tomcat (also known as Darth Kitty). Lucky Luke Loyd is our 5-year-old black golden doodle (the sweetest dog ever). Cyrus has a dwarf hamster named Geri (to go with Tom the cat).  He also had 2 fiddler crabs, but we’re now down to one. At press time we may have none.  Erin Rose has an empty fish bowl that is between fishes at the moment.

NRC:  That’s a lot to keep up with, especially with all the training you do and your demanding jobs.  What’s something you enjoy about your work?  Anything, that’s helped you in your running world?

GINA:  I am a managing partner at Genesis Women’s Care, Inc. and an OB/GYN.  I am also an active committee member at Stonecrest Medical Center and currently hold the office of Secretary/Treasurer of the Medical Executive Committee.  What I like about my job the most is delivering babies.  I did my first delivery in 1993 and have performed thousands of deliveries since. The long work hours as an obstetrician translate well into ultra running.

JASON: I am a RN/First Assistant in the operating room.  I work at the same hospital I’ve worked at for 20 years on Tuesdays of each week and on Wed. and Thurs. I work with a plastic surgeon at a Smyrna ambulatory surgery center.  My favorite part of my job is sewing, oddly enough, which I get to do plenty of on the plastic surgery days. I also just enjoy scrubbing in with the docs and getting my gloves dirty helping to fix what is wrong.  I know that might sound crass, like working on a car, but it’s the truth.

IMG_8369NRC:  Not at all.  Helping people is also part of your running stories, so let’s talk more about that.  When did you start running and why? 

GINA:  I was volunteering at the Country Music 1/2 Marathon finish line, turned my head for a second and saw the marathon runners collapsing at the finish line and being wrapped up in mylar.  It affected me so much that I went out the next day and ran my first mile. I never thought of anything during that mile other than at the end I would need to make another 25.2 miles to be a marathon runner.  At the end of my first marathon, all I could think of was running my first 50 miler.

NRC:  Those finish lines can be some powerful inspiration! 

JASON:  She was volunteering at that half marathon, because it was my first half marathon. We missed each other at the finish line, she says, because I was “so much faster than she expected”.  I know that it was really because she was mesmerized by the marathoners.

NRC:  How funny.  So how about you, Jason?

JASON:  I started running off and on in the early 2000’s as an addition to my gym workouts. I didn’t start running in earnest until I was preparing for my first triathlon, the Memphis in May Olympic Tri in 2007.  The NRC has been instrumental in my coming to actually love running and not just doing it to train for a tri. Endurance sports of all kinds have also contributed handily in quitting my pack a day smoking habit 4 years ago.

IMG_1226NRC:  Congrats!  That’s not easy.  How did you first find out about NRC?  Do you remember who you ran with that first time out?

JASON:  Our good friend of 11 years who we work with, [NRCer] Yong Kim, kept encouraging Gina to come out and run with them.  Gina also kept seeing so many of their runners out in groups on her long solo runs on Saturday mornings.  Around this time, I met [NRCer] Rachel Eller at the preschool that both of our children attended.  I’d noticed the NRC sticker on her car.  So, one day we pulled up behind her vehicle at the school and Gina was so interested to meet this person with the “50K” and “NRC” stickers on her car that we waited so that Gina could talk to her.  She was extraordinarily welcoming and encouraged Gina to join the group also.

GINA:  My first run was on a Saturday morning with NRC and it was with Yong Kim and John Pryor.  Jason joined much later at my urging, but wasn’t able to attend very often until the childcare started up regularly which has been a boon to us.

NRC:  Gina, I heard you placed first female in your age group for the Black Warrior Trail 50K and had a 55K PR at the 2016 Pistol Ultra Run.  I also saw Jason earned a bronze level status as an Ironman for having a great 2015 season and placing in the top 10% of his age group, plus took 2nd place in his age group in his first ultramarathon, the Pistol 55K.  I know you’ve set a lot of goals and run a lot of races.  What others stick out in your mind?

IMG_2713GINA:  After 13 marathons and 4 ultra marathons, I’m proudest of the 50 mile Nashville Ultra in 2014.  This was my favorite distance.  The Flying Monkey was my favorite marathon and I ran it for the first time in 2015.  In 2014, I really enjoyed Jason pacing me to my PR of 4:30:01 at the San Diego Marathon and in 2015 I had the honor of pacing Mayor Jimmy Alexander to first place in his age group at the Carmel Marathon.  Still, to have been named the MVP of NRC’s Miles For Amelia Run benefitting Tucker’s House was my greatest accomplishment.  I ran 31 miles that day around a half-mile track and my friend David Dye ran 40 miles.  This event means more to me than any race I’ve ever run.

JASON:  My first Ironman was special in Los Cabos, Mexico 2013.  At the end, I ran my first marathon.  They both nearly ended me.  Ironman Louisville 2015 was special because it was my PR (11:12) and I had the privilege of being paced/encouraged during the marathon by both Gina (on foot) and Yong Kim (by bike).  Rocket City Marathon in 2014 was huge because it was the first time I broke 4 hours with a 3:45 and gave me the confidence to go for more in my running.  It was also my first time at a big race with a large NRC group, which was extraordinary.

NRC:  Do I dare ask, what’s next?FullSizeRender

GINA:  Strolling Jim 41.2 road ultra marathon.  My real goal is to go farther and get stronger in more extreme conditions.

JASON:  The Oak Barrel Half Marathon and the Chattanooga Ironman in October but I’m sure I will find a few other things to do between those two.

NRC:  When you rise to the level of running (and biking and swimming) that you two have; a level that I will take the liberty of labeling “Rockstar”, one might beg to ask, why?   

GINA:  I run for the runner’s high.

NRC:  Hah!  Your positivity and philosophy on life is a big part of that, I’m sure.  Like your Facebook posts often read, “Happy to be alive!”…  I can say from running some shorter distances with you that even then you bring a sense of appreciation and wonder to the run.  I would think you’d have to have that attitude to tackle the challenges you take on.  What keeps you running, Jason?

IMG_2663(1)JASON:  My favorite thing about running has become the camaraderie. Sharing that sense of accomplishment at the end of a race that runs through us all.

NRC:  Well said.  And whether the end of that race is 25 minutes or 10 hours after the start, it is runners like you who show what it means to really enjoy the journey and not just the destination.  On behalf of your fellow NRCers, congratulations and thanks for letting us get to know you both a little better. 

GINA – Speed Round:
Hobbies:  Swimming, yoga, weight lifting
Favorite RUSH song/lyric:  Marathon – “You can do a lot in a lifetime, if you don’t burn out too fast. You can make the most of the distance. First you need endurance. First you have got to last.”
Dream splurge:  A mobile home to travel the country while running.
Must-have piece of gear:  Hoka shoes.

JASON – Speed Round:
Model building
Music that motivates you:  Arcade Fire. Maybe some early Motley Crue pre race.
Dream splurge:  A new watch or bike… depending on the enormity of the splurge.
Must-have piece of gear:  Head gear (hat, cap or buff). Without hair, the sweat runs right into your face…

NRC Runners of the Month – Tara Underwood and Yong Kim

Tara Underwood

Tara Family1Unassuming.  Webster’s Dictionary defines the word as not pretentious or arrogant; modest, and the picture next to it should be NRCer, Tara Underwood.  At first glance, her light blond hair and effortless smile might resemble more of a Disney princess than an ultra marathoner, but go out on a run with her and you’ll see why muddy trails cower in her presence.

Born in Gallatin, TN, Tara was five years old when her family moved to Decatur, AL where she spent her formidable years.  She claims she had no athletic ability as a child, so she obviously saved it all for adulthood.  After college, she traveled north to live in the Cincinnati area staying there for 8 years until finally circling back near her birthplace, to settle in Brentwood.

In 2010, Nissan was raffling free entries to employees for the Middle Half.  A co-worker challenged her to put her name in, but she was not selected.  Inspired by the challenge, she thought, ‘Why not just register!’  Like a lone wolf, she trained alone and completed that race and several half marathons before an injury flared in 2012.  By then, she was burned out and needed a break.

She’d heard of NRC several months before the 1st Couch to 5K, but was nervous about showing up.  After talking to a friend about the C25K flyers one day, she decided to sign up as motivation to start running again.  I’d say she found her motivation and then some.

Tara marathon finishSince then she has made many running accomplishments.  The Carmel Full Marathon 2014 and Stump Jump Trail 50K 2015 stand out among the rest, not because they were both firsts; it was the training leading up to them that made them the most memorable.  “Having Kelli Alexander, Rachel Eller and Elizabeth Pfeiffer by my side, encouraging me and challenging my self-perceived limits was amazing,” said Tara.  “They made the many hours and early mornings worth it!”

For anyone considering an ultra or ultra trail, Tara is a great source of inspiration.  She signed up for Fleet Feet’s 13-week ultra trail training program earning the designation of “Ultra Dirtbag” as she upped (and downed) her running game on the paths at Percy Warner Park.  She definitely felt the training plan made it easy (albeit minus the actual running); you just follow the schedule.

Still with any goal that lofty, there will be challenges to overcome.  For Tara, a big lesson she learned was how to not get overwhelmed by the end goal.  When the enormity of it all was too much she told herself to just take it one training session at a time and trust Fleet Feet when they said ‘If she followed the plan, she’d be ready’.Tara IMG_1522

Was there ever a moment when she thought she might not be able to do it?  More than once during training, she admitted.  But, her husband Daniel, also a NRCer, would remind her that she’s too stubborn to give up on anything she’s set her mind on doing.

That stubbornness was put to the test when hard rains turned the Stump Jump course into a muddy mess.  Tiring and treacherous in some places, even experienced ultra athletes were calling it the toughest trail course they’d ever run.

During the race, Tara felt strong and never doubted she would finish until she was about 5 minutes from the 21-mile cut off.  Tara and NRCer Rachel Eller ended up crossing the checkpoint just 3 minutes too late, but since they ran in, the race personnel let them go on!  With that they were rejuvenated and pushed through the remaining mucky miles to the finish line!

Need more proof that Tara got a hold of the “good Kool-Aid”?  When asked about Ragnar 2014, she can actually be quoted as saying, “What an experience being trapped in a van with some of my favorite people for 36 hours!”  If you were there running down the back roads of Tennessee all hours of the night, you might have caught a glimpse of the ever-elusive Hellcats. What is a hellcat, you ask?  According to Tara – NRCer Ken Moore in all his glory!

Tara and her husband, Daniel, havTara IMG_1521e two bright and beautiful daughters, Haley (age 12) and Caroline (age 10).  Going the distance in marriage and in miles, the two ran the 2015 Carmel Marathon together, his first!  They also have a tradition of running the Turkey Trot 5k in Huntsville, AL and this year will be their sixth.

Tara gives back to NRC in more ways than one.  Since the 1st C25K program prompted her comeback to running, Tara makes a point to mentor the 3-1 group every year and loves seeing the participants’ confidence build week to week.  She was key in NRC’s involvement with the WALK TN challenge, which won Nolensville the title of “Most Active Town in Tennessee” and recently accepted the Secretary position on the NRC board.

As a family, the Underwoods have participated in the annual NRC Turkey Challenge, Miles for Amelia fundraiser and NRC Angel Tree that benefits area elementary students.  “I am honored to be part of a club that is so much more than its name implies,” says Tara.  “I am proud that the community recognizes that as well.”

Favorite board game:
Apples to Apples
Top race on your bucket list­: Chicago Marathon
Favorite food after a big race: Chocolate milk

Yong Kim

Yong 2015-09-28 22.26.39 Our male NRCer of the Month lives life to the extreme!  Whether it’s stretching his limits on the IRONMAN course or wolfing down a plate of Nolen’s Place mega-nachos for a local cause, Yong Kim is so much more than a “fastie”.  Equal parts athlete and academic (with a little bit of jokester thrown in for good measure), Yong works hard and plays hard.  You can find him running ultra lengths at lightning speeds over trail and road, and helping others as one of the most supportive and encouraging coaches in our crew.  For all of these reasons and more, we’re excited to share his story!

Yong was born in Taegu, South Korea and immigrated to the U.S. when he was two years old.  He was involved in competitive sports from a young age, but running was never a focus.  It was boring compared to the strategies and skills of his other sports.

Then in high school, his soccer coach required the team to run cross-country as their off-season training regimen.  Not surprisingly, he had some success and it sparked his interest for running.  Now, Yong is not only a runner, he switches up his time between trails, ultras, cycling and swimming.  He has completed many triathlons and proved his mettle (pun intended) gaining the title of IRONMAN in Chattanooga in September 2015.

Yong DSC07920His wife, Joo, and daughter, Hailey, also run.  Joo completed her first 50k at the 2015 Stump Jump (mud and all) and their family formed a 3-man team for the Hoggin ‘n’ Joggin relay benefitting the Nolensville Food Pantry.  Yong’s adventurous nature must run in the family, because they were one of the few H ‘n’ J teams willing to participate in the nacho speed-eating contest to knock out hunger, and they won!

I asked him his secret to finding time to be with family, train, and work plus still find time for fun.  He shrugged, “No secret, it’s the only way to do it… with fun.  It’s been a blessing to have Joo and Hailey more involved with my running,” said Yong.  “Hopefully it encourages the fitness in all of us and it makes the journeys we share more memorable.”

When life allowed little time for running, finding NRC made a big impact on Yong.  There was not much time for running in his late 20’s and early 30’s.  He was so busy with family, home, and work that he was making very little time for himself.  The few races he did were on a dare and he simply survived, no glory.

It was after they settled in Nolensville that he saw a few guys out running (he thinks it was NRC original, John Pryor, and Steven “Speedy” Fleming).  It got him thinking about his health and fitness and the need to make them a priority again.  Before long, he discovered NRC.

Since his return to running he has attained some awe-inspiring goals.  One that stands out from the rest is his 2010 Music City Triathlon that brought 100° temperature and many firsts.  It was his first near death swimming experience, his first experience getting passed by a, shall we say well-aged, cyclist wearing tri briefs (it was 100 degrees!), and his inaugural upchuck on lower broad without the intrusion of alcohol!  I’d say that was pretty memorable race!Yong IMG_2033

2015 was the year of the IRONMAN for Yong.  He had planned to train for 9 months, but circumstances allowed him to manage only 6 with 4 truly effective.  From that experience, Yong learned the importance of discipline. “When it comes to the IRONMAN distance nothing comes easy,” he explained.  “I’ve managed to compete in most events just off my fitness; however there’s no faking a full IRONMAN.  The need for training, nutrition, and executing the plan are all amplified.”

Facing a 2.4-mile swim in the Tennessee River, a 116 mile bike course with two loops through the scenic farmland and mountain views of North Georgia and a 26.2-mile run around beautiful, but hilly Chattanooga, I wondered if Yong ever had doubts he could finish within the time to earn the IRONMAN title.

He answered honestly, “I think it’s human to have doubt when one is willing to tackle a monumental challenge for the first time.  Mistakes are inevitable and breakdowns are expected.  Though we may harp on errors or bad luck, the competitor is determined by what he/she does next.  I take those overwhelming tasks and simplify, do tasks within my means, and keep moving forward.”

A natural encourager, Yong is always sharing his knowledge and supporting other NRCers to achieve their goals.  He noted there are primarily three things that cause injury: trauma, overuse or deficient areas; so he created the Nolensville INNaE Project, a boot camp style, weekly workout, designed to impact the latter two of those factors.  Yong got the name from a Korean term that refers to a person’s inner strength, inner tolerance, endurance and fight, which fits this hard-core group perfectly!

Yong IMG_2219Having run with NRC since its early days, Yong feels amazed to have witnessed the growth of the local running community.  He remembers the small group runs and one-table, post-run gatherings of a few years ago, but is not surprised that there are so many NRCers now, it’s hard to keep up with all the names.

“It’s a blessing to be immersed in such an inspiring club,” said Yong,  “The people, the stories, the achievements, the failures, the massive support, and all the joy and laughter… it only keeps me coming back.”

Yong enjoys running, because it’s simple.  He has a deep appreciation for what he sees as the most natural, “no equipment necessary” sport and how it is competition in its simplest, yet finest form.  Likewise, he is “simply” inspirational!  Whether we are learning from him, chasing his award-winning legs (NRC Best Legs 2015), or saying “Cheers” to him after a run, Yong makes NRC better and for that we are extremely thankful!

Favorite board game:  Monopoly, dibs on the Top Hat
Top race on your bucket list:  Pike’s Peak, one of the original marathons in the US and it hits 14000 ft., literally breathtaking
Favorite thing to eat after a big race: Vietnamese soup

NRC Runners of the Month – Katherine Cain and Jimmy Stitt

Katherine Cain 11150997_10153273252089066_5759150716224817361_n     

Whenever our female runner of the month is out with NRC, the streets of Nolensville get a little lighter under our feet and the hills seem less daunting.  Known to get a little bit rowdy, Katherine Cain’s unending store of energy and boisterous sense of humor have not only taken her far towards her running goals, but have lifted those around her to do more.

Born and raised in Philly, home to Rocky Balboa’s first famous run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Katherine traded cheesesteak for chocolate, attending college in Hershey, PA and obtained her teaching degree before moving to Nashville.

She met her future husband, Jeff, in the college worship band (he was a drummer and she was a singer).  It took 2 years of friendship before they went out, but man, when Jeff did plan a date it was epic.  Case in point, one night he picked her up, took her to the chapel on campus and had set up a mini concert just for her consisting of songs he’d written all about their relationship.  Talk about romantic!

Her love connection (fiancé at that point) was making lots of industry connections in Music City and so she made her way south and started looking for a job.  After a month of home décor overload at Bed, Bath and Beyond, she found a posting at Ravenwood High School and within 24 hours she had an interview lined up and was offered a job that same afternoon!

Katherine was a volleyball, basketball, and track athlete in high school and played volleyball in college, so she was excited to coach at Ravenwood and took the chance to run with the girls a lot.  When she had her first daughter she couldn’t coach anymore, but says she “needed something to put [her] competitive edge at ease”.

So, she took up running and challenged herself to run her first Half Marathon (Country Music Half in 2012).  Unfortunately, her training partner ended up getting hurt and Katherine had to run the whole thing by herself.   It was such a “fun” experience that she vowed she would never run that race again.

Well, a lot has happened since then.  Check out the finisher photos from the Country Music Half 2015 and 11164681_10153289735249066_8789847302583371757_nyou’ll catch her crossing the line, smiling and LOVING it!

Why the transformation?  Could it have something to do with NRC?  Maybe!  Her introduction to the crew came in June of 2013.  Looking to get back in shape after having her second daughter, she reached out to a student’s mom who she knew was a runner, the ever-encouraging Wendy Mucci.

She took a leap and posted on Facebook that she wanted to run.  Within minutes, Wendy posted back that her and Kelly Rasbury were running in a half an hour and she should come.  Katherine wasn’t expecting such a quick response, but thought “what better time than now.”  During the run, she mentioned she was a morning person and learned of a fellow early riser, NRCer Julie Sparrow.  They connected and started running together three mornings a week throughout the summer.

While “chasing” Julie one morning, Katherine learned about the Saturday group runs with NRC.  Her first Saturday run was with Julie, Angela Compton, Amy Lynch and others.  After the run, they chatted over breakfast at Mama’s Java and she was hooked with NRC.

After that, she started coming out on Wednesday nights and running with the 11 minute pace group and now has an early morning crew that speeds things up a bit.

Favorite memories with NRC?  She has a TON!  There’s Ragnar 2013 (Couples Therapy) & 2014 (NRC Sole Crushers) and finally getting a sub-2 at Carmel in 2015, but her FAVORITE OF ALL so far is training with Vicki Victory for the 2014 Rocket City Marathon.

If you’re one of those people who told yourself you’d NEVER do a full marathon, harken your ear.  Katherine was just like you, but someone must have spiked the water with Kool-Aid one Wednesday night because she and Vicki somehow agreed to stick together for 26.2!

For race day, NRCers David Victory and JoAnne King split the marathon in half and paced them, which made it an awesome experience that she will always remember.

Katherine and Vicki raced in the last 0.2 miles and crossed the finish line with a 10868298_10152937890744066_4215233332761801745_ntime of 4:26, overwhelmed, with no words to describe her feelings.  The months of hard work, hours of memories, challenges of training, and bonds she had solidified were now at an end.  She didn’t cry until about 30 minutes later when Scott Alexander, NRC President came up and hugged her and said how proud he was of her (there may have been a tear or two in his eyes, too).

Many of these NRC friendships have been forged in the wee hours of the morning due to Katherine’s demanding schedule, which is also a testament to her incredible self-motivation and early AM intestinal fortitude.

What gets her out of bed in the morning at o’dark thirty?  Accountability of friends!! She works long hours and she knows if she waits to run at night, it won’t get done.  However, having a pack of “AMAZING” people waiting for her makes it a whole lot easier to get up.  That and the occasional wildlife sightings which usually result in somebody jumping into another person screaming!

“They are my accountability, my confidants, my “sole” sisters, and forever friends,” Katherine admits.  “I don’t take any morning for granted with them and they know that I love each of them dearly.”11205487_10153315650219066_3823711597412923995_n

She’s currently training for the Savannah Marathon on November 7th with Vicki Victory, Sareya Kidd (who is running Chicago), Adam Malone (who she hopes will run the full), and others who tack on miles when they can (they LOVE to have newcomers)!

When she’s not running, she’s being supermom to her equally beaming beauties, Lydia (her 5 yr old 1K runner) and Audrey (her 2 yr old 1K runner in training).  Plus, she gets to live out her passion for making a difference and share her love for fun in her new role as Assistant Principal at Christ Presbyterian Academy which keeps her plenty busy.

If you haven’t had the chance to share steps with Katherine Cain, take my word for it:  she brings the fun to the run no matter the mileage, the temp or the time of day!  We’re proud to have her as part of NRC!


Favorite mid-race fuel:  Gatorade fruit punch chews (under 15 miles)/Orange AccuGel & pretzel crisps (over 15 miles)

iTunes or NoTunes:  I don’t run with music – I LOVE to chat when running.  As a matter of fact, if we are going too fast, you will often hear people saying, “Shut up Katherine, we need to slow down.”

Hidden talent: I can do 3 sound effects with my mouth simultaneously.

Scenic miles:  This past summer I had the honor to take students abroad and I made a point to run in EVERY city we visited.  My favorite was a 4 mile morning run in France followed by a bus trip and 4 mile night run in Italy!

Jimmy StittBio Pic

One of the first times I had the pleasure of running with our male Runner of the Month was at Carmel 2015.  I hadn’t really met him before and it was only for a mile or so, but in that short amount of time I pretty much laughed non-stop and felt an instant like for the guy.

Jimmy Stitt, also lovingly known as the Human Highlighter, is not afraid of neon yellow technical clothing, cracking a few jokes on a run, or taking on new challenges.  Add to that, the fact that he is a fun loving, family man who gives back to his community and you can see why NRC feels blessed to have him in our crew.

Jimmy was born in Danville, IL but moved to Tennessee at age 11, so if you hear a tinge of a southern accent that’s why.  He met his wife, Jamie, in graduate school at Illinois State University when they both worked for the Recreation Department.  They started hanging out together at graduate assistant gatherings, hit it off and the whirlwind romance began.

wedding picMore like “two peas in a pod” than opposites attract, Jimmy and Jamie both love sports and come from very similar family and faith backgrounds.  The two went to church together their first week dating and it must have been a blessed union, because he stills says he loves her more everyday.  Aww!  They married in 2004 and have two beautiful children Jayden (8) and Jaycie (6).

Jamie was a big motivator when it came to Jimmy lacing up his running shoes.  A runner herself, she talked him into the Illinois Half Marathon in May 2010.  This being pre-NRC and him just starting out, Jimmy trained by himself all but a few runs.  Not knowing what to do, he downloaded a Hal Higdon plan and just tried to be consistent three days a week.  His race goal was not to walk, which he accomplished while running a 2:05:56!

Still, in that experience he learned a big lesson on the importance of the 12-mile training run.  His longest run had only been 10 miles and the last 3.1 miles were awful!  His legs felt like concrete bricks.  Now, you’re probably expecting me to say but he “got the bug” and signed up for another, but you’d be wrong.  He quit running because it was golf season!

A few years later, Jamie coerced him to do the 2013 Scenic City Chattanooga race.  At the time, she ran an 11:30 pace and he was a 9:00.  The deal was he’d run at her pace and hang with her.  Slowing down was easy and he really enjoyed the sights at the race.  “But now,” he laughs,  “I can’t speed back up!  She’s faster than me!”

He’s been running ever since.  In April 2013, they moved their family to Nolensville to save Jamie time in her downtown commute.  They heard about NRC while attending Nolensville First United Methodist Church with the Mucci, Alexander, Eller, and Pryor families.  First, Jamie started running on Wednesday nights and Jimmy would run mornings with an NRC crew.  Then, somewhere along the way, she took mornings and he got Wednesday nights, but they’re regulars just the same.

HumanHiliterNow, the male to female ratio in NRC means that often he runs with mostly females.  I asked him what he’s learned from his conversations over the miles with the women of NRC and he had this to say:

“Wow!  I owe a lot to Julie Sparrow, Katherine Cain, Gina Loyd, and the “Carmel on Tour Group” (Queen Kelli Alexander, Wendy Mucci, Rachel Eller, Tara Underwood, and Elizabeth Jones Pfeiffer).  Julie can run from now to eternity and make it look effortless.  She pushed me many mornings and taught me to run for the friendships.  Katherine says one pace and runs 30 seconds faster, so I always know I will be challenged, and entertained, when running with her.  Gina is very philosophical and methodical about running and I have learned so much about life in general while running with her.  Then there is the “Carmel on Tour” group – marathon training at its best!  Though they barely get a chance to talk when Kenneth Moore is around, I could lose track of the miles listening to their world travels.  I loved every minute… well, maybe a few minutes sucked at the Carmel Marathon, but all in all, I truly love my time with them!”

As a result of his dedicated training, Jimmy has clocked some impressive PRs including a 26:17 5K at Tom King 2015, a 2:04:53 at Illinois Half 2015, and a 4:52:34 at Rocket City Marathon 2014.  Still, his favorite race is the Scenic City Half he ran with Jamie.  The hilly Chattanooga course was such a bonding experience as a couple and showed him how precious, time spent doing things you love, can be.

He’s currently training for the Middle Half in October and will then train for his “LAST” full marathon, the Little Rock 2016; then he will focus Fall 2016 on going sub 2:00 for a half.  (Help wanted!)

IMG_3230In his spare time, Jimmy is big into youth sports and assistant coaches for the Nolensville “C” Panthers.  He also paints the field on Friday nights for home games, something he did back in college and enjoys now, as a fun way to give back to the league.

“It’s a blast,” he says.  “It is amazing to see a light bulb go off and the totally different understanding of the game these 7 and 8 year olds have when they get their role and how they can contribute.”

For all these reasons and more, we’re glad that Jimmy found his way to Nolensville and NRC!  Make sure you tell him congrats!


Favorite mid-race fuel:  Gu, Advocare Rehydrate Gel

iTunes or NoTunes:  Only when I run alone which is hardly ever.

Hidden talent:  I was a scratch golfer before moving to Nolensville.

Scenic miles:  Ragnar Tennessee 2014.  I ran at sunset on Friday night and also had the privilege to run at sunrise on Saturday morning; two beautiful runs for me.  It was quiet, peaceful, and I was in total awe of God’s creation and glory.

NRC Runner of the Month – Nancy Foust

Every April NRC helps people kick the couch and get moving with the C25K program.  Those who stick with it gain strength and endurance, but the participants aren’t the only ones to reap benefits.  NRC is blessed to add phenomenal people to our crew who may never have joined if it weren’t for C25k. 
Many of our Runners of the Month are C25k participants turned regular NRCers and mentors for others.  Their stories are as unique as they are and we’re proud to share them with you!

imageNancy Foust

Our female NRCer’s childhood was a little bit country and little bit rock ’n’ roll!  She was born and raised in Detroit, but Nancy Foust spent her summers and many weekends outside of the city in a little town called Dexter, as one of nine children living in a cottage on a lake.

After school, she married and the happy couple welcomed their first child.  True to her feisty and fearless nature, she agreed with her husband to spontaneously put their house on the market with no prospects.  It sold in one day!  It was 1974, and the three headed out on the road on a new adventure.  While it’s not quite a Nolensville broken spoke story, its close.  They settled in Nashville, because it was where they got tired of being in the car!image[2]

Nancy and her husband Gary (now deceased) were blessed with five wonderful children:  Dana, Lindsay (died in infancy), Matthew, Travis and Wesley.  She’s not just a super Mom, she has three amazing granddaughters aged 17, 16, & 15 too!

Wherever Nancy is, you’ll find laughter.  I asked her if the trait runs in the family and she admitted, it’s hereditary.  All, but Wesley, the serious one, seem to have inherited it.  “He is a real grump, that Wesley,” she jokes.  “You should ask him about his cranky pants.”image[1]

Nancy’s not just funny, she also happens to be one of the most compassionate people you’ll ever meet.  She has used this gift as an RN in Labor and Delivery at St. Thomas Midtown, formerly Baptist Hospital.  “I have been so blessed to be allowed to share with families their great joy in the birth of their child and help support those experiencing the greatest loss they will ever know,” says Nancy.  Having dedicated 28 years, she plans to retire this September.

Running is relatively new to Nancy.  When her son Matt, an NRCer, told her that they were starting a C25K program, she decided to try it.  She finished the 2013 program with the 1:1 interval group, The Oneders, but it was a challenge.  “I hated every minute of my first 5k, because I couldn’t get my breathing right,” she says.

If it wasn’t for the people, she may have given up!  Thankfully, her new friendships motivated her to keep coming out after C25k to join the NRC walkers.  When the next C25k came around, she trained in the 1:1 group again and has steadily improved ever since.  Nancy says she isn’t one of those “born to run” people, but because of the friends she’s made, she’ll keep running!  Plus, she likes to challenge herself and she acknowledges that running for her is not easy.  She draws on that part of her to power through and notes, “I refuse to let something beat me!”

nancy 2nd placeIn her short time running, she has wowed us with her accomplishments, like the first time she placed in a race at the 2014 Change for a Chance.  Since then, she’s gotten dubbed by NRCers as “The Podium Queen”, but if you ask her just finishing a race makes her proud and happy.  “Placing in a race just makes me laugh at myself in disbelief,” says Nancy.  “The good thing is that when you’re my age there aren’t many participants!”  Even more of a reason why she is so deserving!

She survived her first 15k earlier this year at the 2015 Hot Chocolate 15k and another momentous occasion for her was actually running the Race for the Cure which is near and dear to her heart, especially since her daughter is now a 19 year breast cancer survivor!  She had walked it many times, but actually running it was very special.

She recently ran her first trail run at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit Monk’s 5k in Conyers, GA with her daughter.  She laughs and says she thinks she’s now ready to run the Savage Gulf/Stone Door Trail Marathon with NRCer Yong Kim next year!  Hey, I wouldn’t put it past her.

What’s next?  Nancy is doing four of the five NRC Grand Prix races and she has signed up for the Middle Half.  She is going to train and see if that is a doable race for her.  Still, she is optimistic and has signed up for the half marathon in Savannah, GA in November to run with her daughter and son-in-law, but she assured me that she WILL NEVER do a full marathon!

Whether its mentoring C25k or befriending newbies to NRC, she has been such a huge inspiration, so I asked Nancy, wimageho inspires her?  She replied, “I am in awe of so many NRC members, from the walkers to those who love running and accomplish so much.  I love hearing about their races, looking at the pictures and the joy on their faces as they run.  Outside of NRC, my biggest inspiration comes from my son Travis and my daughter Dana.  They both battled and beat cancer.  Their courage and strength makes me so proud of them.  Their will to live is so strong.  They are my heroes!!!”

To Nancy, NRC means more than good exercise, new friends, and being accepted for who she is – it’s also being part of a group so caring and giving of themselves, their time and their money that it amazes her.  It’s because of Nancy, and members like her, that NRC continues to grow and make a difference in the lives of others.  Give her a high five or better yet, join her for a mile and a laugh to share your congrats!

Runner of the Month quick-fire question section

Hobbies: Reading and swimming
Furbabies:  Gabbi, a 2 yr old dog adopted from a shelter a few weeks ago & Ophelia, a Great Dane (pictured right)
Dream splurge:  A new car
Brand of current kicks:  Brooks
Favorite “beat-the-heat” treat:  Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream!