Category Archives: Member Of The Month

A monthly spotlight of NRC members making a difference and meeting their goals.

NRC Runners of the Month – Elizabeth Story and Daniel Underwood

Elizabeth Story

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.


Daniel Underwood

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)


NRC Runners of the Month – Mary Beth Moore and Brian Petak

Mary Beth Moore

Just six years ago our female NRCer of the Month was recovering from a broken femur. Yep. Femur. After surgery and pins in both her hip and leg, getting back on her feet would not be easy, but Mary Beth Moore was determined. She set her sights on local charity 5K, Change for a Chance. It would be the first of many momentous finish lines and her introduction to NRC.

Mary Beth is a Nolensville native and in her roughly five decades in the close-knit community, she has seen a lot of changes in the landscape. She attended grade school at the Nolensville Historic School building before classes were moved to the Nolensville Recreation Center building. Now, thanks to community efforts, the Nolensville Historic School is on the National Register of Historic Places and with more people craving the small town charm of the area there are numerous schools and a full service recreation center all serving Nolensville residents with more growth to come.

“Honestly, I never thought I would be a part of such a great club, especially a running club,” she confessed looking back on life before NRC.

With limited options for athletics growing up, Mary Beth took baton twirling and piano lessons for several years. At 5’ 9″, she was a shoo-in for basketball her sophomore year, but quit the next year because they switched the girls court from a half court to full court like the boys. The extra running on the court and in practice was a deal breaker. If her sophomore self could only see her now.

A regular kingpin, Mary Beth was a card-carrying member of several area bowling leagues back in the day. In fact, it was the glow of lanes that lit the scene for her first date with her husband, Kenneth. The two will celebrate 34 years of marriage this year.

Mary Beth has always been an “on and off” walker for exercise. Walking the track at the ballpark while her boys practiced baseball and football. She knew Scott and Kelli Alexander from youth sports events over the years. So, when she learned about NRC at the Change for a Chance 5K she told Kenneth to check it out.

“He kept encouraging me to come and try intervals,” she said. “But, I had to practice on my own first.”

After building her confidence, she decided to participate in the NRC Couch to 5K Program in 2014. She was put in the 4:1 intervals group initially. It was a challenge for her and while she pushed herself and was able to keep up, she made the decision to train with the 2:1 interval group. She met her goal and finished strong!

As will happen with us runner types, somehow Mary Beth went from the couch to 5K to a Half Marathon! In spite of back injuries that had her doctor recommending she ease up on her mileage, she committed to running the Carmel Half Marathon. Kenneth was already training for the full and she was making the trip with him, so why not!

2015 was a big year for Mary Beth. Back to back weekends doing Half Marathons – Carmel and Country Music. That year she also did the Nashville Running Club four race, 6-mile trail series and four 5Ks!

Still, her proudest accomplishment was the Carmel Half, which she completed in 2:41:33 – a personal record for her that year. She credits a lot of her success to several dedicated training partners who kept her company across the miles throughout their training including Suzanne Wolff, Stefanie Waterman, and Rick and Melissa Sears.

“At the end of the Carmel race and coming to the finish line, I was so overwhelmed by all of the NRC members cheering and high fives, exhausted, and feeling quite proud of myself,” she laughed. “I got to see what the inside of a race medical tent looks like! I could not breathe!”

Since the end of that year, Mary Beth has decided that walking is right for her and now she is a part of a growing group of NRC walkers. Her regular Facebook posts and consistent presence are a big motivator for her fellow walkers, but in turn she says she depends on her friends Marion Mitchell, Nancy Foust, Deborah Chapman, Suzanne and Stefanie to hold her accountable and make the miles fun!

Mary Beth participated and ranked in the top ten females for the 2016 NRC Summer Grand Prix challenge. Her fastest walk was the Smyrna 5K where she was able to keep a 13:36 pace on the fairly flat course. A self-proclaimed, Real Housewife of Nolensville, Mary Beth is all about her family! She, Kenneth, and their two sons Rusty and Andy all took part in the inaugural NRC Rollin’ Nolen 10 Miler.

“They ran and I walked. Well, I ran down a couple of hills,” she joked. “This race was so cool. A couple of the roads I had only been on a few times in my 50 years in Nolensville. Never thought I would run (walk) the streets of Nolensville!”

She’s training for the 2017 Hot Chocolate 15K in Nashville and has succumbed to the peer pressure to sign up for 2017 Oak Barrel Half.

So, if you think that you can’t join NRC because you think you have to be a “runner”, you’ll have to find another excuse.

“Anyone can be a part of this group. You don’t have to run,” said Mary Beth. “Walking is great exercise. I have met so many new people and friends that I would not have met without this club.”

From our weekly runs to our charity and social events, Mary Beth is a great example how NRC is not just a running club or a walking club, for that matter. It is an encouraging community, so no more excuses. We’ll see you next Wednesday!

ROTM Speed Round

Post run splurge: Since Saturday is my long walk day, my favorite splurge is having breakfast and coffee at Mama’s Java. And I do like M & M’s!

Favorite TV shows: Survivor and The Middle

Hobbies: Keeping Kenneth out of trouble, helping out with family when needed and playing with and taking care of our high maintenance dog, Macy!


Brian Petak

Brian Petak is a modern Renaissance man. Not only is he a skilled runner, but an incredibly talented pianist with a natural gift of sharing his faith through words and inspiring others. His adventures have taken him across the globe and granted him access to some amazing once in a lifetime experiences. We knew his fellow NRCers would want to know, so read on to discover the many sides of our male Runner of the Month, Brian Petak!

Our story starts on the shores of Lake Michigan. A die-hard Green Bay Packers fan, Brian lived in Racine, WI from about age 5 until he moved to Nashville. While he misses being right on the lake, he doesn’t miss the harsh winters. I may be wrong, but that could be due to him being the oldest kid in a family that didn’t own a snow blower. Just sayin’.

In 1998, while on staff at a church in WI, he heard that Fellowship Bible Church was looking for a music and worship pastor. As a musician and songwriter, this seemed like a great opportunity to move closer to Music City. Through this role, he has expanded their music program and now oversees their Global Outreach Program traveling to cultivate partnerships in places such as South Sudan, Uganda, Peru, Germany, Jordan, and Russia. He gets in runs when able, like his run on the snowy streets of Moscow in sub-zero weather this past month!

“Honestly, my faith is at the very core of who I am,” Brian explained.  “I’ve made so many mistakes in my life (and still do!), but God has changed me from the inside out, replaced my guilt with an eternal hope, and given me a fresh start.”

Brian also loves music. To constructively channel his energy, his Mom handed him over at 4 years of age to a fledgling piano teacher. He was a natural, and has continued to develop his talent in both classical music and jazz improvisation ever since. He’s played the piano for two U.S. Presidents – George HW Bush & Gerald Ford; as well as VP Dan Quayle, and one of his songs was performed on stage at the Ryman Auditorium with a 200 voice choir and full orchestra!

Brian is also an accomplished songwriter and has been fortunate to have his several songs published over the years. In fact, he and his wife Heidi co-wrote a Christmas musical for kids which, of course, had to get the stamp of approval from their four youngsters.

With four boys between the ages of 7 and 14 there is never a dull moment in the Petak household. Josiah, Jonathan, Joshua, and Justin love regular sing-a-longs with Dad and packing up the family Pop-Up Camper to head outdoors and hike, fish, and swim. As his kids get older, he hopes to do more backpacking.

Not so long ago Brian was climbing Colorado’s 14ers – mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation. He has climbed seven of the 54 peaks so far, so he and his crew have some work to do!

As for running, Brian never ran consistently until 2008 when a couple friends jokingly told him he needed to get into shape. He trained for the Music City Half Marathon, and lost over 35 pounds in just a couple months. He finished the half marathon and thought to himself, “I’m halfway to a marathon – why not keep going?” So he ran his first marathon a few months later.

“I really didn’t know what I was doing,” Brian admitted. “Since NRC, I’ve really studied and researched training technique and nutrition, continually trying to improve. But the greatest benefit has been the friendships.”

Brian started running with NRC in the winter of 2012-2013 while training for the Music City Marathon (MCM). He ran a few times with John Pryor and a group who kept talking about the Carmel Marathon in Indiana that fell the week before the MCM. Brian was training for a PR and at the NRC Wednesday Night Run the week of the Carmel Marathon, John convinced him he was more likely to PR in Carmel than in Nashville. Three days later, he was in the Pryor’s minivan on the way to Carmel. Brian ran a 3:29 marathon and gained some close friends who continue to inspire him to run today

A certified fastie, Brian has earned stellar times at several races including a 3:37:00 at his first marathon, the 2008 Fox Cities Marathon (Appleton, WI), a 3:25:09 (PR) at the 2015 Erie (PA) Marathon, 20:14 (PR) at the 2016 Run Rock Roll 5K (Nolensville), and 2nd place age group at the inaugural Rollin’ Nolen! Plus, I don’t know what’s more impressive, his three-peat of consecutive 1st in age group awards at the 5K4MLK, or his ability to eat and run which earned him 2015 Hoggin n Joggin’s 1st place male Iron Hogger!

Currently, he’s training diligently to get a marathon PR and wipe away the memory of his 3:25:09 finish time which caused him to miss a BQ by 9 seconds! His bucket list includes a trail ultra, a 50K, and a 50 miler.

A few years ago, Brian made a conscious effort to get more involved with NRC. Brian volunteered his musical talents to play at NRC’s inaugural Giving Thanks Dinner for Nolensville public servants and at the year-end bash.

But, he said it would be really hard to top the experience of delivering the NRC Angel Tree gifts to Tusculum Elementary School first graders, many of whom are from refugee families who come to the U.S. with very little in the way of possessions.

“Seeing the joy on their faces is something I’ll never forget,” he added. “NRC is such a giving community, and it was special to be able to represent NRC that day.”

We’re proud to have Brian representing NRC and blessed for all the many strengths he contributes that make our club better.


Favorite post-run calorie splurge: Kettle-cooked potato chips and pizza!

Favorite book: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. I highly recommend it. Re-reading Endurance about Earnest Shackleton’s 1915 attempt to sail to Antarctica and be the first to traverse over the South Pole on foot.

Hobbies: Music, there is nothing like sitting down at a piano and playing… working on a new classical piece… writing a song… And I love seeing my boys learn piano, saxophone, violin, and guitar.

NRC Runners of the Month – Marie Berry and Ryan Dickson

im-finishMarie Berry

You know that person who drives you to run faster, farther and harder… that is our female Runner of the Month. Marie Berry is that no excuses kind of runner. She can dish out serious, gauntlet-laying smack talk, and somehow, you don’t want to sock her for it. From her years in the Navy to her experiences facing down threats to the active lifestyle she’s come to enjoy, she doesn’t just talk the talk – she walks (and swims, and bikes, and runs) the walk!

Marie grew up in Hendersonville, TN the third child of four. She joined the Navy and served eight years. She was stationed at VP-17, Barbers Point, Hawaii for four years and was deployed to 10 different countries. While stationed in San Diego, she had a LT who “forced” her to choose between improving her enlistment status, applying for Officer Training or going to college! Well, college won, setting her on the road to becoming the amazingly social, computer geek she is today.

As a runner and triathlete, she draws a lot from her Navy experience. She explained, “My military family kept me strong and helped shape my mental fortitude that I use today to train and push my body past what my immediate limitations present.  We can always do more than what we think, we just need to believe and have the courage to step forward.”marieabouttoswim

Marie’s fitness experience amounted to youth basketball and Navy PRT (fitness tests which for her included a pre and post cigarette) until a major surgery got her thinking about her health. She reluctantly signed up for her first 5K, the 2006 Octoberfest which ended up being an unseasonably, cold morning. “I thought I am going to cough up a lung,” she laughed. But she got a free beer after, so she was hooked!

Since then, Marie has made a lot of healthy changes. Signing up for her first full marathon, she thought she was going to have a nervous breakdown, but her friend and seasoned runner, Glen Dodson, kept nagging her to commit, so she did. She’ll never forget their first 20 miler.

“It tried to take us down,” she joked. “It was HOT, HUMID, we didn’t have enough water, and I was still learning how GROSS some GUs can taste. One went in and came right back up—so I choked and choked and all Glen said was “YOU GOOD?” I knew right then we were going to be good training partners!”

marieamyMarie has been a long-time supporter of Fleet Feet Brentwood. It was at a Speed Sessions that I first experienced Marie’s inescapable motivation and she became a fast friend. I mentioned NRC and although Marie is mainly an early morning runner, she makes it out whenever she can.

She’s an original member of the NRC Ragnar Team – Blood, Sweat, and Beers. Ragnar TN 2011 was the origin of some awesome one-liners including, “Cut their heads off, Marie!” and a video recap set to LMFAO that (thanks to many awesome NRC voters) won a free team entry!

Marie enjoys a challenge, which is good, because she’s had her share. In the past three years, she has had five surgeries and has come back stronger every time earning her the nickname, “Bionic Woman.” The biggest was back surgery to address an injury that had plagued her since childhood. After surgery, Marie couldn’t walk without the assistance of a walker in the hospital, but she never lost her competitiveness. One time, she passed another lady on a walker in the hallway and of course, she marked a “Kill” down on the white board in her room when she got back!nrc-immd

It took months of PT and activity to build her strength back. There were mentally and physically miserable days. She couldn’t stand seeing other people run but, she knew one day she would be back. Her support system of friends were invaluable and in low times, Marie leaned on some key inspirations: her Big Goal (Ironman); her small goals (showering without assistance and wearing shoes that tie); and several mantras, like “I ‘GET 2’ exercise” also etched on her RoadID!

Stronger and maybe even a little taller, Marie went on to complete her first Ironman in October 2016 in Maryland under some heinous conditions. Rain and wind wrecked havoc on the course and made it too dangerous to swim.

“I got blisters on both feet around mile 7 of the marathon. So that meant a lot of walking!” She admitted, “I thought a lot about the last 3 years of PT and how this was nothing compared to that. I thought about my doctors and PTs and how they helped me continue to move forward. I thought about what I really wanted from IRONMAN and mostly I thought about all of the LOVE… family and friends went out of their way for weeks to help me succeed and a special video from friends helped motivate me through the finish.”

Crossing that IROimfinish2NMAN finish line, Marie was elated, but it was bittersweet. She couldn’t help her disappointment about the swim cancellation and dreaded comments about it, but anyone who’s smart knows IRONMAN is more than one race day. It’s a road less traveled of commitment and sacrifice. She’s already signed up for Puerto Rico 70.3 followed by a 2.5-mile channel swim from St. Kitts the next weekend, and she is narrowing down her pick for an IRONMAN in 2017!

A big reason Marie has been able to overcome so much is the support of her partner, Kat. The two have been together for over 23 years. From kayaking with Marie’s Nashville Aquatic Center crew on cold lake swims at sunrise to leaving helpful notes when training has them both on different schedules, Marie said, “Kat is a motivational activist. Her support is second to no one!”

Marie Berry is a running, biking, swimming beast! She’s been through a lot, but has made a lot of great friendships and memories along the way. We’re glad she is a part of NRC and wish her all the best in her future goals!

Favorite holiday guilty-pleasure: Mom’s Homemade Turtles
Running in place at stoplight: NO WAY
Hobbies outside of running: Travel, reading how-to articles and listening to TED talks.

ryan-dickson-w-brianneRyan Dickson

Standing over 6 ft. tall with one foot in college and the other taking steps to start his career in Tennessee, our male Runner of the Month quickly made a name for himself when he joined NRC. I’m not sure if it was his obvious youth, his boyish humor or his bold summer runs (sans shirt) that earned this twenty-something the moniker, “Young Ryan”, but clearly Ryan Dickson doesn’t seem to mind.

Born in the Detroit suburb of Sterling Heights, Michigan, Ryan admits growing up he was more of a mathlete than an athlete. His knack for math led him to the University of Michigan, from which he graduated with a degree in Actuarial Mathematics, and while he loves him some Michigan he decided to settle in middle Tennessee where he worked summers for his uncle.

Because he grew up tall and thin, people just assumed he was in shape, but that was not the case. In fact, he had to resort to taking a shortcut during the mile fitness test in 9th grade. But, that all changed after his first 5K. He wrote a short piece about his transformative 5K experience, which won him scholarship funds, and he has also shared it with NRC Couch to 5K trainees as inspiration for their journeys:ryan-dickson-mile-for-amelia

Going into 10th grade, my mom insisted that I join the cross-country team. She said, “It will look good on your college applications.” I wasn’t a fan of the idea, but gave it a shot. The first ‘practice’ I was able to attend, however, was the first race of the season, which I was made aware of when I arrived. I had gone out jogging on my own a few times in the week or so leading up to this, but I knew immediately that I was screwed.

The gun went off and adrenaline kicked in; at that moment I was determined to not fail. Unfortunately, I had no comprehension of how far five kilometers is, and adrenaline only got me to about the two mile mark. At that point, I could do nothing but walk along the course (a dirt trail through the woods) gasping for air while guys who were better prepared flew past me.

ryan-dickson-joe-louis-arenaWhen I finally jogged across the finish line, I was in 89th place out of 89 with a time of 29:40, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was hooked. Following that race, I practiced regularly and was able to drop five minutes off of that time in two weeks, and eight and a half minutes over the three month season. 

More importantly than my time, however, is that the 5K changed the course of my life for the better. Not only has it led to me becoming a healthier and happier person, but I also met some of the best friends that I have that day. We still meet up regularly despite living in various parts of the country and have now done the Detroit Turkey Trot 10K together for 12 straight years.

Ryan admits he can get a little competitive. His 5K PR, a 20:02 set in November 2005, still eats at him, but not just for obvious reasons. He had trained months to get a sub 20 in preparation for the fastest cross-country course on the schedule. He kept pace with his main training partner, also named Ryan, during the race and knew it was going to be close. Although, they both failed to meet their goal, his friend edged him out by one second and a year later, got his sub 20. Sadly, his teammate passed away in a tragic car accident during his first year in college.

Now, when Ryan reflects on that PR, he is reminded about what’s important. “Every time I think about that race and how frustrated I was to miss the mark,” said Ryan, “I realize how little those few seconds of time mean in the grand scheme of things.”

Ryan has accomplished much since joing NRC. In training for the 2013 Carmel Half, he got into the best running form he had ever been in and he attributes that to his fellow NRCers keeping him accountable and motivating him to run faster.

“I had a chance to run the Tom King Half the month before Carmel,” Ryan recalled. “Andrea Klint, who these days I would be lucky to keep up with for more than half a mile, was running her first half marathon and I decided that trying to stay with her and Zack would be a good training run for my Carmel attempt. As we got closer to the finish, it was clear that Andrea was going to far surpass her goal, and that I would also have a new PR (to be broken the next month at Carmel)! That is oryan-dickson-canoene of my favorite NRC race memories, and probably the best I have ever felt while crossing a finish line.”

As you might expect, this millennial is also big in the NRC social scene! From lawn chair lounging post-Miles for Amelia to paddling NexGen NCRers in the right direction at the NRC Canoe Trip to sunset selfies at NRC Arrington potlucks, Ryan enjoys the fun, community-conscious feel of NRC.

Ryan met his girlfriend, Brianne, while still in college at Michigan, but they didn’t begin dating until a ryan-dickson-detroit-budsyear after they graduated. Now, Ryan and Brianne both run with NRC. When they aren’t running or participating in duathlons, they enjoy visiting new breweries, wineries, or distilleries or just lounging catching up on TV shows during which Brianne inevitably falls asleep – (Those crazy kids!).

Currently, Ryan is training for three Spring 13.1s – Oak Barrel, Country Music Half, and Downhill at Dawn. He also plans to do one or more triathlons in 2017, with the goal to complete a Half Ironman!

Ryan has been keeping NRC young since the summer of 2012, but we have been blessed to watch him grow as a runner and a friend! Here’s to many future milestones with our crew!

Favorite holiday guilty-pleasure: Procrastinating work
Running in place at stoplight: Not a chance
Hobbies, outside of running: been trying to read more and eat healthier

NRC Runners of the Month – Traci Boswell and Keith Kettrey

Traci Boswell

“What the mind can conceive, it can achieve.” ~ Napoleon Hill

tboswellkauaiOur female NRC Runner of the Month, Traci Boswell, knows this all too well. At one time in her life she never would have thought of running a marathon, but once she set her mind to qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon nothing could break her focus on achieving her goal.

Traci hails from Tullahoma, TN, went to Franklin County High and ultimately, Vanderbilt. Her only stint out of state was when she spent about 18 months going to college in North Dakota, but it didn’t last. Nothing against ND. Traci says it was a neat place to live, she just missed TN too much.

We certainly couldn’t imagine NRC without her, but just for kicks I asked if she had to live somewhere else where it’d be and she said, “I think it would be San Francisco. I love the weather and there is so much to do there!” We’d hate to think about those Wednesday Night runs…talk about Hill Yeah!

As a kid, Traci had yet to find her inner competitor. She played church league basketball, but never made the school team and ran track for one year in junior high until the mile event wore her down.  She ran briefly after graduate school and ran her first half marathon at the Country Music Half in 2007 but…(wait for it…) she hated it! Not only that, she didn’t run again for a long time.tboswelloakbarrel

Running didn’t become a steady part of Traci’s life until the post-baby era of her second child. After her youngest was born in 2010, she turned to running to lose the baby weight. The motivation was there, so she got serious about running again and this time it stuck!

Running alone wouldn’t have brought her to NRC. No, it was all because of NRCer Jonathan Davidson’s invitation during an evening run through the neighborhood that Traci decided to join a group run with NRC. She showed up for her first Saturday run at the old Mama’s Java. She met Joe Singer and a slew of nice people, so of course she fit right in!

Her favorite NRC charitable event is definitely Miles for Amelia. The event, which benefits families who need life-changing renovations to accommodate wheelchairs and other needs, and is comprised of a silent auction, track lapping mileage challenges and lots of NRC hijinx, is such a fun day for an awesome cause. Plus, Traci would point out that running on the track makes visiting with friends so much easier!

tboswellkidsrunOutside of running Boston, I asked Traci for a favorite NRC memory and she was hard pressed to pick just one. “I think the first time I saw the true heart and spirit of NRC was at Carmel in 2014 when everyone waited for our last marathoner and ran across together,” she recalls. “But any race with NRC is awesome, especially Hoggin-N-Joggin! And of course, NRC parties are the best!”

Crediting the pacing skills of NRC president, Scott Alexander, Traci clocked in a big PR at Middle Half in 2015. And her favorite award is from the Oak Barrel Half 2016, where she got a half-barrel lid for 1st in her age group! Her most scenic half marathon was in Kauai, the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands, but arguably not the flattest!

Spurred by NRC encouragement, Traci worked hard to qualify for and run the 2016 Boston Marathon, but it was kind of an unexpected aspiration.

“I initially never even wanted to run a marathon,” Traci said. “But once I finished my first marathon in 2013, I decided to make Boston my next goal.”  With the goal firmly set in her sights, Traci qualified in Chicago in 2014 but had to better her time at the Albany Marathon in 2015 to guarantee her spot.

tboswellboston“Being at Boston is indescribable. It is the ultimate dream for most marathoners, so just being there was so emotional,” says Traci. “And getting to run every step with my running ‘spouse’ Andrea Klint just made it that much more special!”

But none of this would be possible without having friends that are willing to meet her at 4:30 or 5am, so that runs are done before work or kids wake up. It is so important in keeping her run/life balance in check.

Thankfully, her husband, Bo, is her biggest supporter. When you’re reaching for goals like a Boston qualifying time, this is pretty much mandatory! Bo takes on extra duties with the kids sometimes so that Traci can train and race, but always with a smile. Their boys, Turner (8) and Weston (6), also love to run and sometimes tag along.

With the 2016 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon just over a month away, Traci learned she was injured with a stress reaction of her second metatarsal. She is boot-bound for a few weeks, which means she has to bail on Indy, where she was hoping to requalify for Boston. Still, she is keeping it in perspective… she’s thankful it isn’t a stress fracture!

tboswellfamilyhogginShe’s shifted her current training goals to healing and preparing for the inaugural NRC 10 mile race, the Rollin’ Nolen. Still, I bet Traci is already scouring the Internet to pick a spring marathon to try and requalify for Boston. Once she’s added that notch to her running belt, don’t be surprised if you hear her recruiting for her bucket list race – a female ultra team for Ragnar Napa Valley!

One of the nicest NRCers you’ll ever meet, Traci is also a prime example of what you can accomplish if you set your mind to something. Working towards her goals is not always easy, but when the going gets rough, Traci has her family and NRC friends for motivation and support. We’re so glad to have Traci as part of the NRC crew and look forward to seeing more amazing achievements!

ROTM Speed Round
If you could learn anything in one day it would be… To swim competitively – I would love to do triathlons.
You own how many pairs of running shoes?  4 pair of Adidas Boost and a pair of trail shoes.
Hobbies outside of running? (yes they exist) – Hike, ride bikes with my family and read.
If you could go back in time… I would love to go back to the 1980’s. I was too young to really appreciate it. Fun fashion trends, great music, Ronald Reagan was President, and things seemed so much simpler then.

Keith Kettrey

kettreysohioOur male runner of the month can be quoted as saying, “100 miles… it really isn’t that far.”  And that is a big statement especially for someone who has only been running about 5 years! But Keith Kettrey is not trying to brag. One of NRC’s biggest encouragers, Keith is a remarkable example of how anyone can achieve their goals through strength and determination.

Keith is originally from Columbus, Ohio and a huge Buckeye’s fan. It’s hard not to be a big Ohio State fan when you grow up three miles from the campus. It was even harder for him to move from Ohio to Tennessee in 1991, but having family and a future at the Saturn (GM plant) made it an easy decision and one that he’s never regretted.

Facebook lists his occupation as “Mofo in Charge at Supreme Commander of the Universe” – LOL! He jokes, but in all seriousness he had the high-pressure job of answering and dispatching emergency calls for Williamson County for over 8 years, before moving on to the administrative side of Public Safety this past February.

“It’s tough being Supreme Commander, but someone has to do it!” Keith laughed. When asked about his days (and nights) in dispatch, he added, “It was very rewarding being able to help those in need and sending the appropriate help. Believe it or not, starting a running program was instrumental in helping me to remain calm in high stress situations just, as handling those calls has helped me with my running. Whether it is hitting the wall at 20 miles or managing a critical medical situation over the phone, it is really just a matter of remaining calm and managing it until you get to the finish line or the proper help arrives.”

kettreyjapanUnfortunately, it was a medical emergency that helped motivate Keith to get active and start running. In the spring of 2010, he was about 60 pounds heavier and sedentary. Then one morning while at the dispatch console he experienced a “wake up call” of sorts. As a result, he learned he had some medical issues to address, heart disease being one of them.

As fate would have it, his grandson was putting on a 5k as part of his senior project that fall, so Keith made that his goal and motivation to change. Who would think 5 years later he would be a running machine!

NRC first caught his eye in the old Nolensville Dispatch. He emailed Scott Alexander for information, but it took him awhile to build up the courage to attend one fall night in 2011.

“I’ll never forget it. Everyone one was so welcoming, even though I was certainly anxious about being able to keep up with anyone,” said Keith. “A very nice lady named Amy [hey that’s me!] kept me company as we chatted and ran around the neighborhood. I’ve been hooked ever since.”

Now, Keith can be spotted all over Nashville and beyond participating in races and runs. Without a doubt, his favorite memory was training for and completing the Black Warrior 50k in winter 2015. He and fellow NRCers Rachel Eller, Tara Underwood, Gina Loyd, and Geoffrey Mason spent tons of miles and time together training for that event.

kkettreyblackwarriorHe recalled, “It was heartbreaking knowing Rachel trained so hard with us and an injury kept her from the race. It was also so rewarding to see Geoffrey finish his first 50k! Tara will probably never forgive me for following her for so many miles before taking over the lead and helping us both get to the finish. And what can I add about running with Gina that hasn’t already been said – the most positive runner ever! That time will always be special!”

Keith’s favorite NRC charity event this year so far was Miles For Amelia (MFA). Having a 10-mile race in Lincoln County didn’t stop him from taking part either. Nope, he drove like crazy to finish the morning out running track laps for MFA. Also, he and his wife Chris were able to donate two Rollin’ Nolen 10-mile race entries!

Stand out races for Keith include his first marathon in October of 2013 in Columbus, his first 50k less than a year later (March 2014) in Mississippi and his first run of over 50 miles in October 2015 at the Senoia Running Festival.

In 2016, Keith is on fire! He has participated in an incredible slew of races, taking 1st place in his age group at the Cummins Falls Half Marathon in February, besting his 2015 time by over 20 minutes at the Strolling Jim 41.2 mile race in May and took 3rd overall male in the Midsummers Night 6 Hour Ultra in June. Riding this momentum, he hopes to complete his first 100-mile run at the Darkside Distance Festival in October!

kettreysgrandchildrenNow there is a rhyme and reason to Keith’s perpetual motion. In fact, he has a specific purpose for every training run and a race. His motivation for going for 100 miles is his grandkids. He added, “I want to show them that at no matter what age you are, you can dream big and accomplish whatever you put your mind and effort toward.” His bucket list race is the Pony Express 100 in Utah.

His beautiful wife, Chris, is a fun-loving NRCer, too. Known for her smile, wit and generous spirit, she is also Keith’s biggest encourager!

“I would never have accomplished what I have so far if it hadn’t been for the love and support of Chris,” Keith admitted. “She has supported and crewed me on many of my long races, encouraged me to try new events, tended to all my pains and injuries when I needed her and always had the magic words to keep me going when I’ve felt like giving up.”

Between them, they have five kids: Noel (45), Stephanie (43), Amy (41), Ryan (39) and Megan (32) and 15 grandkids ranging in age from 22 years kettreysraceto 8 months, two of which are now serving overseas, and they are both quite proud of them! They’ve been truly blessed! Their kids like to joke that they have some “special jackets” for them to wear in some “nice rooms” to spend time in when they finally decide to hang up their running shoes. They obviously inherited their parents’ sense of humor!

Whether he’s donning his American flag gear head to toe on the race course or cheering others on from the side line, we love the inspiring and invincible Keith Kettrey! From his Ohio roots to his love for his adopted state of Tennessee to 100 miles looking “not that far”- we are blessed that Keith’s journey brought him to NRC!

ROTM Speed Round
If you could learn anything in one day it would be… learn how to speak Spanish.
You own how many pairs of running shoes? 8 pairs of road shoes and 6 pairs of trail shoes.
NRC would never guess… I’m definitely a lover of hard rock and alternative music.
Hobbies outside of running? (yes they exist) Traveling (especially cruising) and reading fiction and history

NRC Runners of the Month: Kara Molitor & Robert Petree

Kara Molitor

Our female Runner of the Month has been running with NRC since 2014 and in those two years has consistently crushed every goal she has set for herself. From running short distances on and off as a teenager to recently winning tokara-molitor-2p female in her first ever 50 miler, Kara Molitor has perfected her formula for success and even faced with a sidelining injury, shows she has the true grit to move on.

Originally from Rockford, IL, Kara and her family moved to Nashville in 2010. A week after they moved with boxes still all over her house she accepted her sister’s invitation to run a local 5K on a whim. She placed 3rd in her age group and decided, “I might actually be good at this!” She tried another 5K, actually training this time, and placed 1st in her age group! Six months later she ran her first half marathon.

I had the chance to run early miles with Kara on some of her first runs with NRC, along with Shyla Moss, Jennifer Chaffin and a few others. She was so friendly and her hot pink streaked hair showed she was adventurous too, but when she would talk about running, I could tell she was serious about her training.kara-molitor-5

She was coming back from a major ankle injury and training for her first full. In fact, she learned she was accepted in the lottery for the Chicago Marathon the day she got her boot off.

“I knew it was going to take motivation and support of others to get me through it,” said Kara. “That is exactly what I found at NRC!”

One of her favorite memories with NRC was participating in the Franklin Classic 5K/10K. Seeing all the members staying after they had finished their race just to cheer other members to the finish line; seeing people smiling, supporting each other and high fiving; it was amazing to see how a sport can bring everyone together. Then, there was the huge group picture!”

A few first races hold a special place in her heart including the 2011 Nashville Half Marathon, the 2014 Chicago Marathon and the 2013 Stump Jump 50K which she ran with her best friend and always brings back good memories because of how hard she had to fight to finish.

kara-molitor-12015 was a huge year for Kara, earning her many trips to the NRC PR gong. Possibly delirious from non-stop training and maybe a bit oblivious to how badass she had become, she won first female at the Stanky Creek 50K and didn’t even know until the day after! She also placed first in her age group in her first 3-day stage race. That same year she PRed at the Stump Jump 50K on a harder course and tough weather conditions and crushed her first 50 mile race in November, taking the first female trophy.

If you weren’t already reading this in a fetal position, that isn’t all. Her longest run on the road so far is the Strolling Jim at 41.2 miles and her road marathon PR is 3:59:14 at the 2016 Nashville Marathon. But her strongest race to date was the Music City Trail Ultra 50k, where she placed first female. “I have never felt so proud of myself,” she said.

Kara has definitely had her fair share of injuries. Overcoming a major ankle tendon tear, torn hamstring, and tendonitis in her knee and ankle, she’s learned how vital skara-2trength training is to prevent injuries, especially because of the way her body structure is naturally. She also learned her body takes better to the trails for running long distances.

Kara admits her husband, Russ, understands how much she loves running even though he thinks she’s a little crazy to pay to run and put herself through so much. Her son Jayson (10) and daughter Ella (8) don’t always love Mom being gone to train and race, but they are her biggest cheerleaders. Part of NRC’s NexGen, they have even run a few races of their own. “I think running has rubbed off on them,” she smiles, “and I hope to be a good example for them to never give up.”

Having just learned she has a stress fracture and will need to take a break from running for 3-5 months, her plans to take on the Barkley Fall Classic 50K at Frozen Head State Park in September, Stump Jump 50K in October, Dizzy 50 Miler in November, and possibly a 100K in December will be replaced by lots of bike riding and swimming. Still, she knows she will be back strong and one day she hopes to race the Western States 100.

kara-molitor-4Kara is a fierce competitor and not intimidated by mileage, terrain, elevation or injury. From road to trail and triathlon to cross-training, she boldly takes on every challenge and we’re proud to have her as a member of the NRC!

ROTM Speed Round
Fav Grillin’ Food: Burgers
Tunes or no tunes: If by myself, yes; current go to is “Wonderland” by the Ginger Runner.
We’d never guess… I have 9 siblings.
Hobbies outside of running: Baking, biking, shopping, anything fitness related or outdoors.

Robert Petree

If you know our NRC male Runner of the Month, you know running is in his blood. In fact, if he didn’t have red hair, you might think he was Kenyan. Inspired by his marathon-running Mom, Robert Petree has a natural running ability and competitive instinct that has helped him conquer some incredible achievements.

An Air Force brat, Robert was born in Hampton, VA and after several moves settled in Clemson, SC when he was 9 years old. One look at his Facebook page and you can tell he has kept his Clemson spirit even now!

Robert has always been a runner, but he distinctly remembers getting the competitive bug in 7th grade. Peer pressure drove him to his very first run of 4 miles, which took him what seemed like forever. He says he didn’t become “fast” until his junior year of High School when his work paid off.

He earned a spot as one of the top runners in the state of South Carolina, and then the college recruiters came running. His freshman year of college was beyond memorable! As the fastest kid on their team, Robert helped them qualify for NCAA DII Nationals for the first time in the school’s history.

The day that Robert’s wife, Erin, decided to start running was also the day the two officially started dating (coincidence?). After cheering Robert across the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K finish in Charleston, SC (the 8th largest 10k in the world), Erin said she wanted to try a 5K. Since then, it’s proven clear that both her robert-petree-4running and their love are here to stay.

“It’s amazing to see how far she has come in the past 5 years and how fast she has gotten,” said Robert. “She’s run more half marathons than I have and will be running her first marathon in October at the Chicago Marathon!”

Life was good in Charleston, SC, but when it came to finding a bigger city near family for settling down, Nashville was an easy decision. Robert can’t pin point exactly how he heard about NRC, but knows Scott Alexander greeted him that first Wednesday. The camaraderie and atmosphere left him and Erin intrigued, and they have been regulars ever since.

There are many reasons why he keeps coming back to NRC, but Robert admits, “Most importantly is being surrounded by people from all walks of life, fitness levels, and experiences that share the same passion you do. We have made great memories and friends through NRC and are very grateful for the experiences we have had so far.”robert-petree-1

Just for fun, I asked him to list a few of his running accomplishments and was amazed to learn his 1-mile PR is 4:20, his 5K PR is 15:55 and his 10K PR is 34:20! Equally cool, his first marathon was in Dublin, Ireland in 2011. It is not uncommon for him to place at races and the handy man he is, he even built a trophy case to keep his collection of trophies.

Running the Carmel Marathon in 2015 with NRC is one of his favorite memories with the club. The numbers that traveled for that race and the support we brought for our crew astonished him. “I knew NRC was a special club,” said Robert, “but it wasn’t until that weekend that I knew we were a part of group of amazing people!”

Trobert-petree-3his past year he’s had to overcome his biggest and only serious running injury, tearing his hip labrum. What’s his biggest training tip? If something is hurting, lay off. If it keeps hurting, go see a specialist about it. He learned first-hand ignoring it doesn’t do any good and results in hurting yourself even worse.

His current training goal is to be healthy, fully recovered and pain free. He has received doctor’s clearance to run the Rocket City Marathon in December where he hopes to BQ. Aside for the obvious reasons, this is a big goal because his Mom ran the 100th Anniversary of the Boston Marathon along with many others. The ultimate race on his bucket list is the Hood to Coast Relay Race.

So, if you’re out running with NRC and an anvil falls orobert-petree-2ut of the sky attempting to squash a fellow runner, it is likely Wiley Coyote trying to catch Robert Petree. Seriously though, Robert brings so much to NRC through his friendship and support. We’re glad to recognize him for all he does for NRC and look forward to cheering him on in December!

ROTM Speed Round
Fav Grillin’ Food:
Grilled corn
Tunes or no tunes: I have never run with music. At the gym working out a song that gets me going is “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore.
We’d never guess…In high school, I hated the fact that I had red hair so I dyed my hair every color from black, brown, blonde and even dabbled into the frosted tips!
Hobbies outside of running: There’s hobbies outside of running?! Anything Clemson oriented, traveling, and hanging out with our lab/retriever, Sophie.


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