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Meet the WOG Athletes

Doreen D.  “ I joined the cross country team in junior high when I found out I would receive a free pair of running shoes.  I jumped at the opportunity and I’ve never looked back.”

Doreen has been a runner for 36 years but didn’t consider herself “competitive” until 14 years ago.  She started competing with herself at first and then found out she enjoyed competing to win her age group at races and competing against the clock to qualify for Boston (twice).  Currently, Doreen is focusing on staying healthy and looking to run some faster times in the shorter distances in 2015.  

Pure joy is what keeps Doreen going.  She feels extremely fortunate to get to experience the crisp morning air, the peacefulness, and the beauty of her surroundings on a good run.  She also values her “running family” and being healthy.  Doreen ran the Boston Marathon in 2013.  After that, she cherished her running family even more.  She returned to Boston the next year to celebrate life and running.  Doreen was also a part of the WOG women’s group who ran from Rim to Rim at the Grand Canyon in 2013.  “Mentally, that was the most challenging run I've ever done.”

Emily M.  “Honestly, the main reason I have continued running is because of the awesome relationships I have gained through the sport.”

Emily started running cross-country about 8 years ago to improve her tennis game. Within a year she had stopped playing tennis but continued running As a freshman in college she signed up for a half marathon mainly to avoid the “freshman 15.”  By her junior year she was recruiting friends to join her in rotating between a half marathon and a full marathon per year.

Now days, Emily is still very social but her running has become more competitive.  She has been doing consistent speed and tempo workouts with The Workout Group and her commitment to training is paying off. She recently crushed the Boston qualifying standard by 4 minutes and is hoping to get the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon in 2016.  She is excited by the changes she sees in her running and learning how to push herself, but admits that it’s easy to love running when you are improving.  “It’s a bit harder when you find yourself in a rut or plateau.”

Emily’s plan is to always find new ways to enjoy and appreciate the sport of running by experimenting with different distances and events. She just completed her first triathlon and this summer she plans to incorporate more trail runs into her routine.  She also intends to add an ultra-marathon to her list of accomplishments in the near future.

Joe P.  “Running is the most efficient form of exercise for my over-scheduled life.”

Joe has been running for 18 years.  In addition to running he rode mountain bikes, road bikes, and was a swimmer.  Over the years the other sports have fallen away but running has stuck. He credits running with providing some calm to his day.

Joe recently completed his second Zane Grey 50 miler on April 26.  Now he plans to stay fit for Boston (2016), which he qualified for at the Phoenix Marathon this February.  It was his first marathon in 10 years and he completed the training and hit his goal time beautifully.

Joe is looking forward to turning 50 and enjoying running with friends without taking it too seriously.  He does see himself possibly hitting the mountain biking scene again in the future.

Katie K. “ I mostly chase personal records in all kinds of running events to keep from going nuts.”

Katie’s athletic endeavors began around the age of 10 with the standing long jump and 50-meter dash at summer track meets in Colorado.  Years later her high school track team won the Colorado state title (2000) and Katie won 4 individual titles. 

Recently, Katie set PR’s in the 5k, 10km, half marathon, and marathon distances.  She is excited by the possibility of running times and distances that didn’t seem possible before.  Katie ran a 3:05 marathon in Phoenix in February, crushing the qualifying time for Boston and setting herself up for a sub-3 hour marathon in the future.

At this time, Katie is working on “getting her wheels back” by focusing on challenging speed work, but she always loves a good long run, especially a few hilly loops at Saguaro East.

Linda W. “50 Is the new 30!” 

Linda can confidently say that she is more fit now than she was in her 20’s.  She admits her priorities were different then but she has also continued to improve in the last 5 years.  How does she know?  Four years ago Linda ran the Sabino Canyon Sunset Run in 1:10:36 (9:32/mile).  This year Linda ran the same race in 1:00:57 (8:14/mile).  As we all know, the Sabino race course has a fairly “challenging” 3.2 mile climb.

Did Linda find the fountain of youth?  Nope.  She found The Workout Group.  Having a coach tell her how far, how fast, and how often made a huge difference for Linda.  She started incorporating regular speed work and tempo runs into her training.  She also found that running with companions, who are now friends, pushed her to run faster than her treadmill did.

Michelle H. “I have to say that each starting line, goal, or running adventure both scares and excites me at the same time.”  

Michelle began running in junior high.  She started with the hurdles and to this day her coach jokes that he’s not sure she ever finished a single hurdle race.  Michelle soon discovered that cross-country was her calling.  She loved cross-country and running through the mountains and trails in Northern California.

Thirty-five years later, Michelle has taken some breaks here and there but she always comes back to running.  “It is a part of who I am now.”  Michelle likes to run out her front door and disappear into the desert landscape of the Tucson Mountains as she winds her way over the trails and gets lost in the raw beauty.

Michelle’s goal/race is the Flagstaff Grand Canyon Stagecoach 100.  Despite only having done 33 miles, Michelle finished strong in the Old Pueblo 50.  Michelle was the first woman at the 2003 Duke City Marathon in Albuquerque, NM.  She was not expecting to win or run a PR but she did both.  Other high lights in Michelle’s running career include the Grand Canyon adventure (R2R2R for her) and running through Yosemite with her fellow badass women of WOG.

Molly B.  “I especially love trail runs, solo or with a group, and communing with nature.”

 Molly began running at age eleven when both her dad and older sister started running.  Soon after she started running she ran her first half marathon in Oregon called, The Pear Blossom Run, hosted by Frank Shorter.  Molly still loves running in her hometown of Portland, OR because of the scenery. 

What Molly enjoys most about running is interesting scenery and terrain, being outside, and running with good company. She gets excited about traveling with friends to and from races and events as well as the daily training runs they share. 

Molly competed in her first Boston Marathon this April.  She qualified for Boston in the Phoenix Marathon (2014).  Next up, Molly would like to focus on an ultra-marathon.  She plans to run the CV 50/50 next November.

Robin G.  “Running gave me the most bang for my buck.  It did not take too awfully long, I didn’t need a gym or expensive equipment and it got my heart rate up.”  

Robin started running at age 39 due to a diagnosis of pre-osteopenia.  She wanted to build bone strength and thought running would be the best way to do it.  Robin taught herself to run by doing walk/run intervals until she could run the 3-mile loop around her neighborhood without stopping.  (At a recent doctor’s visit, Robin was told that her low heart rate is that of an athlete.)

Eventually, Robin found the courage and the time to start doing regular speed workouts with The Workout Group and weekend long runs with the Comerun Group. Robin has run several marathons, including 2 trips to Boston.  She was there during the bombing in 2013 and went back the next year.  “The energy was spectacular and something I will never forget.” Another running adventure that Robin will never forget was running the Grand Canyon (R2R) 2 years ago with fellow WOG women.

Sheryl F.  “I decided I didn’t want to just watch.” 

Sheryl ran on the track team in high school but stopped running for several years after.  She continued to stay fit by doing aerobics until she met Steve in 1984.  Sheryl watched Steve run the SAR races and one day she decided that she didn't want to sit and watch, she wanted to run too.  She gradually picked up running again and started running 5k's, then 10k's, and eventually the Tucson Marathon (twice). 

Sheryl likes challenges and new races but is plagued by nagging hamstring and glute issues.  She plays it pretty safe when doing speed work so she won't have to stop running.   Sheryl’s main goal now is to be able to run and have fun.  There is nothing she likes more than a good run with friends followed by Starbuck's coffee or breakfast.

 

Steve F.  “Even though I’ve been racing against them all along, it takes on a whole new meaning once you're in the same age group.”

 Like many folks, Steve started running as a way to get better at another sport.  At first, he used running to get better at soccer.  However, once he started running cross-country and track in junior high school he couldn’t stop. Steve looks forward to the yearly race schedule but gets especially excited when a new race pops up.  He will be "aging up" to a new age group this summer and is looking forward to competing against a whole new set of runners. 

Steve’s running high lights include 2 trips to the Boston Marathon and 4 appearances in the Ragnar Relay.  He is very proud of his WOG-Comerun team that was the division champs the last 2 years.

Steve O.  "Running the Bear Canyon Loop is one of the best ways to spend a morning."

 Steve has been running since high school. While in the Navy Steve was the anchor-person of a multi-person relay team that covered a total of 50 miles.  He ran 3 legs of about 1.5 miles each.  He out kicked an Army guy at the finish to bring home 2nd place for his small Navy contingent.  To this day, Steve continues to love running and the great friends he has made through running.  He cherishes the feelings of accomplishment and well being after a good run.

You can often find Steve running the trails, especially his favorite Bear Canyon Loop. Enjoying trails and being able to handle hours on his feet is what helped Steve finish the OP 50 in 2014 despite very cold and dangerous conditions.  Steve is looking forward to another 50-miler, the CV 50/50, on the AZ Trail in November 2015.

Chris G.  “Having the support of someone else who shares your interest (in running) goes a long way in keeping you actively doing it.”

Chris has been running on and off for the last 20 years.  It wasn’t until he met his wife, Jen, 8 years ago that he got motivated to run consistently. When running, Chris looks forward to focusing on the path ahead of him and unplugging from the rest of the world.  He also loves unpacking his running shoes when traveling and taking in the sights on foot.  Some of his favorite running excursions were running in the mountains of Northern New Mexico, next to the Mississippi in Louisiana, on the beaches in Hawaii, around farms in Colorado, and along the Pacific in California.

Chris looks forward to the Meet Me Downtown 5k Night Run every year because it doesn’t require an early morning wake-up call and it feels “more like a party than anything else.”  Chris is happy competing in the local road races but thinks his age group is one of the toughest.  As long as he can maintain a sub 8-minute pace, often while pushing his son, Eddie, in a stroller, he goes home satisfied.

Merry D.  “Running makes me feel so alive; when I push my body to it’s maximum I feel every moving part.”

Merry ran her first mile after graduating from the UA College of Nursing, 30 years ago, and she hasn’t stopped. By graduate school she was running 70 miles a week and cycling, too. Merry pushes herself hard because when she’s done she feels strong and ready to tackle new challenges in her non-running life.  She tries to transmit that positive energy to her patients when discussing disease risk factor modification. Although Merry takes training and competing seriously, she also values running as a social experience.  She was introduced to some of her closest friends through running

Merry admits to being scared of not hitting training paces and race goals as aging occurs and there’s a natural drop in her VO2 max, but that won’t be stopping her any time soon.  She will work through those fears and continue to compete in marathons well into her 80’s and 90’s.  Currently, Merry has her sights set on running a 3:10 marathon and nabbing 5k and ½ marathon PR’s along the way. 

In addition to placing in the top 5 in her age group at the Boston Marathon (2014 & 2015), Merry’s running high lights include a 3:12:58 finish at The Phoenix Marathon (2014), finishing the V/CC 50k (2014), an extreme trail adventure with her family through the Andes in the Patagonia Region of Chile and Argentina, running on the south island of New Zealand, and running the Grand Canyon R2R.

Kamran T: "Running is a natural movement in which each spot is a home, each step is an experience in itself, and each moment a life by itself."

In his senior year of high school, Kamran Talattof shortly dreamed of being a decathlete. In college and throughout his graduate studies, he played soccer or swam, and ran short distances only as a supporting sport.  In 2001, he began to run long distance events; a turning point that according to him redefined his lifestyle. He considers his first marathon, Boston, 50 mile, 100k, and 100-mile races as the highlights of his running life not to mention numerous friendly local races. He firmly believes that joining WOG was another pivotal moment that helped him realized many of his goals. He reveres his Sprit of Rob Bell Award given to him by SAR in 2012, which he received for the love of running and service to the community. He cherishes running with groups particularly with ComeRunTogether, a group he cofounded in 2005. He says, "Running is a truly social sport to me," even though he also runs long distances alone. See Kamran's article on running.http://azroadrunners.org/uploads/newsletters/SARNewsletterMarch2015.pdf                                                                                                     

Monica B. “It wasn't until the summer of 2010 when I was 40 lbs. over- weight, constantly ill, and going through the final stages of a divorce that I decided to run again.”

Monica ran on and off to lose weight in between having her 5 children, but she wasn’t consistent.  Once she started running regularly, Monica suffered from intestinal issues, joint pain, and severe abdominal pain.  She completely changed her diet and continued to run.  By the end of that summer, she had lost 20 lbs. and could run 10 miles.  A friend talked her into doing a couple races and she was hooked.  Monica learned about The Workout Group from her trainer at LA Fitness and her running life became complete.  She found a family to workout with. Now, Monica can honestly say that she loves running and feels “exhilarated” after a good workout.

Monica still worries about bathroom issues.  Since going gluten free, her issues are almost nonexistent. She has started participating in more triathlons and cross-training to prevent injuries.  She feels like that has made her stronger all the way around.

Monica has a busy race schedule ahead of her.  In addition to running the Grand Canyon and doing the Vail 50k in November, she plans to run the Utah Marathon in June, the San Francisco Half Marathon in July, and America’s Finest City Half in August.  In the next few years, Monica would like to qualify for Boston.