Are you from this area? If not, how did you wind up living here?
I’ve lived in Stephens City my whole life. I graduated from Sherando High School and went to college at Lord Fairfax and Shenandoah University. So, I’ve always been around the area.
How did you get started in running?
I always played sports while growing up. I was on the basketball and tennis teams in high school. During my college years, I started watching sports instead of participating in them and my weight started to climb a little.
When I was about 25, I remember playing tennis and feeling so frustrated that I couldn’t play well because I was slow and always felt winded. I decided to lose some weight and get back in shape by running. I remember struggling with my first couple of runs, but I enjoyed the challenge of trying to run a little longer and faster than the previous time. It didn’t take long before I was hooked on running and I decided to sign up for my first race, the Apple Blossom 10k, in 2006.
How did you get involved with Shenandoah Runners and why do you stay involved?
I ran a couple of local races and was surprised by the amount of support that other runners (that I did not know) provided. In a world, where it seems that every newscast is filled with so many negative stories, it was nice to be around so many positive and encouraging people. After running more and more races, I started to develop some friendly rivalries and enjoyed the competition and the feeling of being part of the local running community. I’ve developed some great friendships along the way and feel lucky that we have such a great local running organization. The Winter Series is also a great part of SVR. It helps motivate me to stay in shape during the cold winter months.
What are your best achievements in running?
Running the Richmond Marathon in 2009 has to be my biggest running achievement so far. I was always intrigued about running a marathon, but never really thought I could do it. A friend, Rick Feathers, who had run his first marathon about a year or so before, gave me some pointers and encouraged me to sign up. It wasn’t easy, but the feeling of crossing that finish line is something that I will never forget.
Other than the physical benefits, what do you get out of running?
Just like everything in life, what you put into something is usually what you get out of it. The more you run and focus on stretching, fitness, and nutrition, the better your runs will be. Most people know about the physical benefits of running, but non-runners really don’t understand the mental benefits of running. The freedom you feel while running can just melt away any stress you have in your life.
Favorite places and races?
My favorite distance is the 5k, but I like to mix in a longer race (10k to 10 miles) every once in a while. My favorite place to run is Sherando Park. I like the trails and the new expanded bike/running path on Warrior Drive. Seeing the teams practicing at Sherando always brings back some good memories too. Go Warriors! My favorite races are the Apple Blossom 10k and the Sherando Thanksgiving Day 5k. I also enjoy the challenge and the uniqueness of the Greasy Gooney 10k. I also have to add two races that I tried for the first time over the last year: the South Berkeley Christmas Parade 5k and the Civil War Sesquicentennial Race/Scavenger Hunt.
How do you find time to train?
I’ve never been married and do not have children, so finding time to train is really not much of an issue for me. I help coach a middle school basketball team in the winter, so I often just bringing my running gear with me, so I can run right after practices.
How do you train and how do you keep from getting injured?
I usually like to average about 20 miles a week most of the year. If I have a longer race scheduled, I usually try to increase the mileage. I sometimes meet a friend for an early morning run, which is sometimes tough on those cold winter mornings. Most of the time, I usually run in the evenings. I think it’s important to mix in other sports/exercises to keep things fun and to work different muscles. I have always enjoyed playing tennis and try to play one or two matches a week when the weather cooperates. About a year ago, a SVR runner recommended that I start doing some upper leg work and cycling to help prevent injuries. So, I’ve tried to mix in some spin bike and weight training for my upper legs over the last year. I do think it has helped.
Do you have a coach?
I don’t have a coach, but I sometimes consider SVR as my coach because there so many experienced runners who offer a lot of great advice. I also use DailyMile. DailyMile is a social network where people can post their runs, rides, and other fitness activities. It is a great source of information, encouragement, and motivation. I’ve met a lot of local runners through it.
What advice would you give to other runners?
For beginners, I would recommend not worrying about pace for a while. So, many new runners get discouraged when they can’t run a specific pace or keep up with someone who has been running for a while. Just keep it fun and work on increasing your cardiovascular health and stamina for a while. Try a local race and don’t worry if you can’t run the whole thing or if you finish near the back. It’s all about having a good time and improving your fitness and your life. For an experienced runner, I would recommend trying to run with someone that is faster than you or mixing in different workouts (mile repeats, hill repeats, speed intervals). My sister started running last year and she started out slow and has gradually increased her distance. We have both signed up to run the Hershey Half Marathon in October. This will be the first half for both of us and I’m really looking forward to it.