Meet our July Athlete of the Month- Hunter Stewart

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Hunter Stewart is a recent graduate from Pensacola Christian Academy High School. He has been living in Pensacola with his loving family for all 18 years of his life and he has been running for 6 years. Between school and running, Hunter doesn’t have too much free time. When he does have down time, he enjoys reading and like most teenagers, watching Netflix and playing games. Last summer, he got serious about his running since it would be his final year to compete in high school sports. Hunter ran all summer and then would run 6@6 at RW in the mornings before school, shower, and make it into his first period class just before the bell. Now he’s squeezing in runs after church or running 6@6 before he goes into work at PCC Publishing helping make textbooks for the Academy.

Hunter runs because it makes him, feel better physically and emotionally. He loves pushing his body to its limits and seeing himself improve over time. Running also keeps me him shape so his diet can include many cookies and ice-cream :)

Read all about Hunter’s passion for running..

 

hunters5Why did you start running?

“My dad told me to try cross country in 7th grade and though I didn’t have much interest, I soon took a liking to the sport. I continued to run cross country and track throughout high school and those meets and practices have been some of the best memories regardless of winning.”

 

How has Running Wild helped you reach your goals?

Running Wild helped me become serious with my training this past year by helping me reach my goal of 500 miles before cross-country season. I wanted to medal at state which I did and I broke my school record with a PR of 16:01. I know I couldn’t have done it without all the help of harder training and longer runs at Running Wild.”

 

What was your favorite thing about training with Running Wild?

“At Running Wild, I was running much longer distances and with people who were much faster than me– things I was not used to but that were very beneficial. My favorite thing about training with Running Wild however would be the friendliness and genuine care of everyone there for my success as a runner and as a person. I came into the store just to log a run on a course that wasn’t my neighborhood, but I was immediately greeted by friendly faces and engaged in conversation. A year later, and these people are some of my closest friends. There’s also something special about running with someone and getting to know them more which is really nice and an experience you can’t get elsewhere.”

 

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What is your greatest (most favorite) athletic/running accomplishment to date and why?

My favorite running accomplishment was at the T.R. Miller XC Challenge this past cross-country season. It’s called Challenge and not invitational for a reason: this is the hilliest 5k course I have ever run! I pushed myself to beat my competitors and to set a new course record and (then) PR of 16:18 which I was very happy with on that course.

 

TOP 5 Products from Running Wild to help you achieve success?

1) Injinji Toe Socks: Multiple variegated pairs of Injinji toe socks!!!! These socks are very stylish and feel amazing. If you don’t have these, you need to go get some right now!
2) A good pair of trainers for the daily runs: I personally like the Brooks Ghost since they have so much padding and last a long time. I have well over 1,000 miles on mine
3) Garmin Watch: GPS watch- Garmin forerunner 620 to track your pace and mileage is very nice
4) Tasc RW Shirt: Running Wild shirt- Support the store and feel comfortable too
5) Short shorts: The distinguishable mark of every runner (bonus points if they’re a bright color) .

 

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What is your next athletic goal and how do you plan to reach it?

As I was training for cross country, the Long Runs at Running Wild definitely strengthened my endurance and gave me the extra boost I needed to succeed. I have realized I enjoy the longer distances now having run some unofficial half marathons on Saturdays with the group and am now training to run my first marathon before April and qualify for Boston next year.

 

Running Wild is thrilled to watch this young man grow into a strong athlete (cheetah)! Keep on pushing Hunter, we are right behind you every step of the way!

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The 2016 Boston Marathon- Told by Cheetahs…

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In-de-scrib-a-ble; adjective, A-K-A- The 120th Boston Marathon experience.

 

Similar to race recovery, writing this blog has required some time.So, here it is! Monumental memories, my running must-haves and pictures of my first Boston Marathon.

PLUS recaps from three of our Cheetahs who also crossed the finish line this year!

 
 
 
 
 

    • January 2016 | Cherie gives me my training schedule; “Run some this month, run more in February, run a lot in March and taper for two-weeks in April. #Boom”
    • April 15th | Paul gives me my entire pre and post-race plan. Google maps was all over the computer screens. “You won’t remember any of this, but I enjoy it. Makes me feel like I’m there…” That 30-minute prep is unforgettable.
    • April 17th | Riding the escalator to packet pick-up on Sunday, it hit me that this was something that many of these runners had worked for years to be able to do. I was overcome with joy for them.
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      April 18th | RACE DAY!

    • 6:30 am | Loaded onto the busses and sat next to another Alexandra who is also from Colorado…. Shut.Up. She was nothing but excited which helped with any nerves I had. A total Phat Girl. Side note: I looked her up after the race and she had a killer run! Yay!
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    • 7:30 am | Walk into Athletes Village and went to find Pensacola peeps. We all wanted to meet up but it never quite worked out… I did find Jack Bruni (a very familiar face from our Saturday morning long runs) and then went on the hunt for my friend Meghan Connor and her teammate Jackie.
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    • 10:00 am | First wave. I think of the Pensacola team; Eric, Brent and Daniel who have just started!
    • 10:45 am | A few rows back from the start line, chatting with those around me. Everyone is smiling. I have goosebumps and just realized what I was about to do. Feeling God’s overwhelming grace I began praying, well more accurately, praising.
      Boston Start
    • 10:50 am | The start gun fires and we’re off!

The Run:

  • Miles 1-4 | were country-esque (is that a word?), and full of energetic spectators. It is almost impossible to run a rational pace. Adrenaline is through the roof and you want to run much faster than you should be so early on. You run through about eight towns throughout the marathon which was so cool!
  • Mile 5 | a lady ran to the side of the road with a bathroom emergency. She did not have the fortune of a tree or coverage…. #RunnerProbz.
    ***All of our Pensacola/ Fairhope team is running now. WOO HOO!
  • Miles 6-8 | Framingham. I think of Meghan as this is her favorite section and I can see why. This place loves the Boston Marathon and the runners in it.
  • Miles 10-15 | I ran beside a girl named Lindsey who was running for the Boston Children’s Hospital. She didn’t tell me this but I heard people yelling it out every few minutes. They were reading her singlet. This was her 7th Boston Marathon and loved it more every time. I could sense her positive and loving energy.
  • Mile 13 | Wellesley College. A few minutes before I was able to see the wall of girls, I heard them. The faint roar became louder and then deafening once by them. I stopped twice to exchange kisses on the cheek with birthday girls because #1 it was their birthday! and #2, Cherie told me it’s a must-do.
  • Mile 16-21 | The Newton Hills. I intentionally did not study the course before the race. I told myself to expect to “embrace the suck” between 15 and 22 and that I did, humbly. The hills were no joke. Not just one or two but the entire 15 miles or rolling hills that you didn’t really notice beforehand. I had no clue where I was in all of the mountain climbing until I saw a sign that a spectator was nice enough to make that said, “Top of Heart Break Hill”. I felt like I had reached the summit of a Fourteener. The crowd support was outstanding.
  • Mile 22-24 | Boston University students are AMPED. They are looking you dead in the eye, pointing and yelling positive affirmations. Even with physical fatigue, motivation is far from running out.
  • Mile 25 | The Citgo Sign that Paul told me to look for. I’m almost there!
  • Mile 26 | Right on Hereford… I see my family cheering for me. Left on Boylston. ROARS of cheering and applause.
  • Mile 26.2 | Glory.
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    The 30+ high-fives that I had from ecstatic kids, seeing multiple handicapped athletes and the guides that were supporting them and the love that you could sense from each and every cheering spectator is what made this run so spectacular. I shared a lot of thoughts with God throughout my run, too. Thanks, praise and healing prayers for those in any kind of pain. Blissful thoughts. After the mile of refreshments and aluminum foil blankets I met my family in the Boston Commons. It was the perfect cap to the 26.2 miles of challenging splendor.

    13 runners from the Pensacola/Fairhope area ran that day. Hundreds of miles were ran on the same roads to make April 18th a reality. That thought is so moving. To be among that group is a privilege.

     

    Here’s what a few had to say…”

    Michele Williams, a real life cheetah

    Michele

    “I loved the high fives from the kids, the sign that said when your legs are tired run with your heart, the hit this signs for Mario Brothers power ups, the support from the locals-I had 3 orange slices, a piece of watermelon and a Popsicle along with a dry paper towel, a wet wipe, a bag of ice I later gave to another runner who stopped and was holding his knee…amazed to run with those in prosthetics, I was kissed by a Wellesley college girl, ran up heart break hill with a little person that smiled and gave the thumbs up…remarkable experience and seeing JR freezing cold waiting for me at the end -couldn’t of done it without him! He ran that morning with Meb a previous Boston Marathon Winner! I’m truly blessed and appreciative!”

    Brent Schneider, four-time Pensacola marathon winner

    Yes… he was on TV!
    “-The little boy with his hand stretched out for a high five.
    -The woman with a tray of sugar cubes.
    -The strength,power and will of the handicapped athletes
    -The elderly couple cheering from the same spot for many many years.
    – The hills that earned my respect.
    – The pain canceling roar of the finish line crowd.
    – The anticipation of seeing your loved ones at the finish line.
    – The honor to represent your home town alongside such amazing people
    Thank you Boston 2016!”

    Meghan Connor, Navy Marathon Team, marathon #17

    Meghan
    “The Boston Marathon is by far, my favorite marathon. Boston is the only city that can get people from eight towns and cities to line the streets for 26.2 miles. Everyone has a different reason, a different story of why they are there. For me, its the indescribable feeling I get when I turn the corner of Boylston street that has made me want to come back a 4th time this year. How the buildings surround the street and echo the crowds cheers. How the 26 mile marker catches your eye and you know that all the work that you have put into the course is about to pay off. Even though my legs are usually begging me to slow down after they have taken a beating from the Newton hills, I find a new energy on Boylston that keeps me going. Although this years marathon was warmer than usually, I still take pride and joy that I am still able to qualify, run and return to the Boston marathon each year.”

     

    TOP 6 Products from Running Wild to help you achieve marathon success:

    1.Trigger Point Therapy System rolling is non-negotiable. Before every run, do it.
    2.Skin Strong- 12+ miles, things begin to chafe, no bueno. Not with this stuff.
    3.Amphipod Stretch Belt This thing holds everything. Huma Gels, Endurolytes and has tabs for your bib!
    4.Injinji Toe Socks-Bye-bye blisters. Who wants their toes squished together? Gross.
    5.The One by Altra- My favorite shoe. Lightweight, and a forgiving toe box for my Flinstone feet
    6.Moving Comfort Bra-They make you feel like you don’t have boobs. Great support and so comfy!

    If you have aspirations to run this race; whether you have not yet trained to qualify or have attempted multiple times and have not quite made it, don’t stop. Make it happen. TRY AGAIN.
    Every mile of training, every minute and dollar of traveling, EVERY EFFORT it takes to cross that finish line, it is worth it.

 

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