Stephanie Rafferty has gone from being a treadmill runner to an ULTRA RUNNER! Her journey with running is quite beautiful. As a military wife, running helped her cope with the daily stress of a spouse who’s husband was serving overseas following 9/11. Stephanie has been living in Pensacola with her husband and two teenagers for 8 years and she hopes to stay here forever. (so do we!) Originally from Mississippi, Stephanie considers Northern Kentucky her hometown having spent high school and college years in that area. Her children are both musically inclined, but she can’t claim their talents as a maternal trait. It is a thrill for Stephanie to watch her teens play in Mobile Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Stephanie works at West Florida Hospital and has been working in the behavioral health unit for the past three and a half years, and absolutely loves it! At times her job can be a challenge but overall finds it extremely rewarding. She values the professional bond she develops with her patients while helping them navigate through some of life’s most difficult obstacles.
When Stephanie is not working or running, her and her family love camping and traveling!
Read all about Stephanie’s journey and her passion for running..
Why did you start running?
“I had started running a little bit after I had my son, mainly just trying to lose baby weight. I really wasn’t into it at all. Then 9/11 happened, and my husband deployed Sept. 20th. It was traumatic as that event was for all of America, and while I had a lot of support, one of the only places I could go to be alone and process everything was on the treadmill at the gym (Yes. I was a treadmill runner!). The more I ran the better I felt, and it just sort of grew from there. When we moved to San Antonio in 2002, I was still only running 2-3 miles. I wanted to explore our new area, so I started running farther each run. I still clearly remember running 5 miles for the first time. I was so excited! I never ran with other people until we moved back to Pensacola in 2008.”
How has Running Wild helped you reach your goals?
“Running Wild has been such a huge part of me achieving my goals.
I ran my first marathon in 2010 because some friends were training for one. I just winged the training with some plan I found on-line and ended up with a decent time. Then I did two more with so-so results. I had heard about the marathon training program at Running Wild and wondered if I could improve my time if I had access to the knowledge and the paced runs. I signed up and ran Pensacola in 2011 in 3:32 and just loved the whole experience. The training plan has manageable mileage for new marathoners and works for experienced runners as well. I use that plan for every marathon making modifications as needed. Last fall I decided I wanted to go for a sub-3:30 marathon. I had come close several times but just couldn’t get under that magic number. I used the program again training with the 3:30 group and made my goal with a 3:28.
I’ve paced for RW several times and coached the Couch to 5K program in the past. All of their training plans are great. Paul believes that anyone can be a runner, and he makes that happen with the excellent training programs for all abilities.”
What was your favorite thing about training with Running Wild?
“Definitely the people. It is a very supportive and welcoming environment.
Whether you show up for Phat Girlz on Wednesday, 6@6 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or long runs on Saturdays, you will have someone to run with. When you are running with someone you really get to know them on a level that’s missing in today’s world of electronic devices. We know each others’ joys, sorrows, accomplishments, failures, worries, and concerns. You can solve a lot of problems talking it out on a long run.
What is your greatest (most favorite) athletic/running accomplishment to date and why?
Probably finally achieving my sub-3:30 at Pensacola marathon last year with a close second running the Mount Desert Island marathon in 2015 in 3:33. It was the toughest, hilliest course I’ve ever run so that 3:33 felt like gold to me. Also, my husband and I turned this trip into one of my favorite vacations ever.
TOP 5 Products from Running Wild to help you achieve success?
2)Handful Bra. I have 5 and wish I had more.
3)The Marathon Stick. Similar to Trigger Point (another good product) but easy to use and compact for travel.
4)Nuun electrolyte tablets. A necessity in hot and humid Florida. Endurolytes are good too, but I find the Nuun easier to use on a race course.
5)GU energy gels. There are many varieties of energy gels. I like this brand as there is a huge selection of flavors, and they also come with or without caffeine.
What is your next athletic goal and how do you plan to reach it?
I have two main goals.
1) I’m planning to run the Cayman Islands Marathon next December. I did this race several years ago, and ran a stupid race. I did not account for the heat. I want to beat my time and run smart. I’m planning to be more aggressive with my hydration/electrolyte use and NOT GO OUT TOO FAST!
2) I would love to have a solid sub-22 5K. I’m a good distance runner (love the marathon distance) and a not so hot short distance runner. Speed work at Phat Girlz on Wednesday has improved my speed. I’m planning to keep working with that group on speed.