Meet Our October Athlete of the Month- Racine Guarini

IMG_5826Racine Guarini and was born and raised on a large dairy farm in rural South Dakota.  She was the baby of five children so you now understand why she had to learn how to run at a very young age (from her siblings that is)! Racine graduated from high school and moved to Fargo, ND for her undergraduate degree in Exercise Science (GO BISON)! This is the time that she truly fell in love with running. She ran her first 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon all within a single calendar year, one could say she was hooked! Now running avidly for about 10 years, she cannot imagine not having it in her life. From Fargo, she then moved to Connecticut where she obtained her Doctorate of Physical Therapy and met her loving husband, Anthony Guarini. Racine and Anthony moved to Pensacola a little over two years ago and they have since fallen in love with the community and their jobs, which led them to settling down and buying a house here in town. Both, Racine and her husband are physical therapists within the Sacred Heart Healthcare Community. Being a therapist and caring for others who are injured and/or ill reminds her on a daily basis the importance of how taking care of herself now will help prevent future injuries and/or medical complications; therefore, she has made it a priority to put her health first. Busy days at work and being on her feet all day often leaves her tired and exhausted by the end of the work day; therefore, she has learned to truly enjoy her mornings! Racine and her good friend Kelley wake up around 4:30 AM and meet each other shortly after to run before they head to work. Starting her day off with a good chit-chat with a friend, getting those endorphins flowing, and a fresh cup of coffee is an ideal morning in her eyes.

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Read all about Racine’s passion for running…


Why did you start running?

“I really began running when I was a senior in high school going into my freshman year of college, almost 10 years ago. I started running to find some peace and quiet in the day to just “think” without distractions. It was my time to not worry about studying or work and just simply be alone with myself. This quickly became one of my favorite parts of the day. Running Wild has opened up a totally new avenue for me, group runs! I can honestly say I would now much rather go on a run with a friend or a group rather than solo. It truly is amazing how we change as we age. My purpose for running is no longer to seek that alone time, but rather engage with others and build new friendships with those who share a similar interest.”

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What is your favorite thing about training with Running Wild?

“My favorite thing about Running Wild is the constant support they provide and their involvement within the community. Cherie and Paul have given back so much to the community by opening their doors (even at the wee hours of the morning) and helping people of all different ages and fitness levels reach their goals through sharing their vast running knowledge”

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

“Running the Boston Marathon in 2015 is definitely on the top of my list of running accomplishments. However, I’d have to say one of my favorite memories/accomplishments would be crossing the finish line of my first marathon. I remember that day like it was yesterday! What I was wearing, the kind of shoes I was running in, and my braided hair. I learned so much about myself while training for this marathon and met some incredible people along the way, one of which was Jane Faber Wolff. Jane and I frequently ran into each other at the NDSU Wellness Center while training. Jane had run numerous races when we met and we instantly bonded as she shared some of her running wisdom with me. She knew I was preparing for my first marathon that Spring, the Fargo Marathon. Her kind soul had a sweet surprise for me as I turned one of the corners on the course to find out her house was along the course and seeing a huge sign saying, “Let’s Go Racine!”  Her innate kindness and how she made me feel so special on that day are two things I will cherish and never forget!”

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

“Only FIVE? Okay, in NO particular order…”
1) Obviously, the running shoes! It doesn’t matter what you are looking for or how picky you are, I promise you the staff is patient and educated and will most certainly make sure you leave in the proper shoe.
2) My nutrition products, both Nuun (fruit punch) and Clif Shot Bloks energy chews (tropical punch). I really didn’t realize how important my nutrition was while training for a marathon until last summer during the marathon training program, proper nutrition has been a game changer
3) Endurolytes yes, yes, yes! We live in Florida, that’s all.
4) The sports bras! My favorites are definitely Brooks and Handful. Super comfortable, easy to care for, and supportive!
5) The socks! Injinji and Feetures! I struggled a TON with blisters this summer. I quickly learned the importance of running in the correct socks to help prevent moisture build-up and friction. Changing from my normal everyday socks to these two changed my life and helped me get rid of my painful heel blisters.

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

“My husband and I got married last summer and didn’t have the opportunity to go on a honeymoon, so we decided to take a trip to central Florida this Fall and form it into a little honeymoon centered around a race and of course Disney World! I am currently preparing for the Great Floridian Triathlon where I will be completing two-thirds of a full Ironman (92.6 miles) and my husband will be completing the full Ironman distance. I plan to reach this goal by taking this training one day and staying positive, even on days when it is hard. I frequently remind myself that the mind will give up a thousand times before the body will!”

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This Speedy Cheetah is always using her tail to balance her busy schedule and we admire her for that! Remember, you can’t spell Racine without r-a-c-e!

“We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.” – Jesse Owens –



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Meet our July Athlete of the Month- Hunter Stewart



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.”



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) .



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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Why You SHOULD Set New Year’s Resolution(s)…


noun | a firm decision to do or not to do something.
Synonyms: intention, resolve, plan, intent… etc.

New Year’s Resolutions get a bad rap. Why? Do they seem like a lost cause? Considering only 8% of people’s “NYR’s” are deemed “successful”, it makes sense that the tradition is ho-hum.
So, why only 8%? Is it a lack of willpower? Are our goals unreasonable? Not inspiring or exciting enough? Or do our original goals change in time? Maybe it’s all of the above.

Why make NYR’s anyways? Who needs to think about silly little plans or changes in order to achieve, right? If it’s important enough, we’ll do it without needing a plan.
But what about going on a vacation, buying a new car or crossing the finish line of your first 5k like our Athlete of the Month, Suzy?
suzy_dad_coachrachel Those achievements typically don’t happen without a plan. The accomplishment of those goals provide joyful experiences, strengthened confidence and bring life to you AND your loved ones. Making plans brings life! Not to say that life doesn’t happen without a plan but some planning is required for experiences that can be life-changing.

We’re pretty familiar with the benefits of purposefully setting goals and implementing a plan to get you there. That whole “marathon thing” requires resolutions left and right. From the initial decision to run, to what your time goal is, when you will be able to get your daily runs in, equipping yourself with the right shoes and running gear to keep your body healthy, etc. You might be able to finish 26.2 miles without a training plan but race day will be ugly. A structured plan will ensure a MUCH better outcome. You will become stronger, mentally and physically every week, your race day will be more successful and GRATIFYING. Most importantly, you never know who you are inspiring by your works.
Don’t just take our word for it, read about these first time marathoner’s experience at the Pensacola Marathon and their thoughts on “the training plan”.

So why not put in the little extra effort? Be purposeful in all you set out to do and don’t shy away from aiming high.

Start here:

We invite you to plan big (and starting small) in 2017.

  • Set two small goals that can be attained by the end of January (ex: “I will exercise for a minimum of two days a week” or “I will call/reconnect with one person every week that I haven’t talked to in awhile”) this will help keep the goal setting attainable and keep you encouraged. Reset for February with two goals to maintain through the month. Etc.
  • Then one mega goal for 2017 that you work on for the year (Maybe your first half-marathon? Start small with a 5k! We have training programs for that!!! ). Daisy Weckerly, Derek Olford and Barbara White can all attest to small goals leading to BIG change! Along the way, maybe the big goal changes and that’s OK! The main goal is to keep setting goals, as small as necessary, to stay motivated to truck along in becoming the best YOU that you can be.
  • The Key to Your Success: GET YOUR TEAM! Gather your trusted crew (or maybe just one accountability partner) and ask them to support you in your goals. Check in at least once a week and share your progress AND the obstacles you may have faced. Encourage others to join you in setting goals and be their support crew, too. It’s a big circle of love. Spread it!
  • Reminder: life is not black-and-white. It is a kaleidoscope of ever-changing craziness. I mean, where did 2016 even go?! SO if the original goal gets knocked off track or it becomes lack-luster, don’t fret! Simply readjust what that next small step needs to be. A “step (or five) backwards” (and we WILL have them) this doesn’t mean that the next step won’t be forward.
    Planning for setbacks is just as big a part of the puzzle as the ultimate achievement.  

    Here’s some of our staff’s 2017 resolutions:

    Small goals:
    1) To exercise joyfully 6 days a week for a minimum of 20 minutes…at least. Exercise can include but not limited to air squats, push-ups and planks. A yoga class, swim class, run or bike ride would be the icing on the cake!
    2) To reach out to an old friend to make a “new friend” OR a family member once a week. My brain also needs to be challenged to remember names. I’m really bad about that.
    My BIG goal for 2017: To get a few triathlons in and secretly to beat Mike Overton in just ONE of them so that I can have bragging rights in the back office…until the next race. (There’s been big time rivalry/love going on between these two for some time now…. we expect 2017 to get a little dicey).
    Small goals:
    1) To take a continuing education course in fitness/nutrition. I have my masters in Business, a Bachelors in Exercise Science and am now craving knowledge to improve my personal training.
    2) To strength train 2-days a week. I run and/or ride almost every day but have started to feel fatigue in my muscles.
    My BIG goal for 2017: I’d like to do at least one 70.3 (Half-Ironman triathlon). This will require lots of small goals to prep for. (Watch out, Cherie!)
    Small goals:
    1) Educating myself on proper nutrition. It is so important to properly fuel yourself, especially when exercising. I’d like to be informed on what my body needs, for example, more carbs before exercise and protein afterwards.
    2) To begin a meal prepping routine. First by getting a menu together for the week, then creating a grocery list. I’m thinking shopping on Saturdays and cooking on Sundays!
    My BIG goal for 2017: To be eating all nutritious, home-cooked meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner that I have prepped for myself. You get one body, gotta take care of it!

SO, get out a pen and paper and write out your 2017 Goals.
We’ll have your shoe, apparel, and fitness gadgets covered! As well as group runs and training programs, too!

Happy New Year’s, wild friends.

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Meet Our January Athlete of the Month- Suzy Bajjaly


Suzy, a senior at Pace High School started training with Running Wild’s My First 5k program in July, 2016. Since then she has crossed the finish line to TWO 5k runs… with flying colors we might add. Her next goal is a personal best time at the Bayou Hills 5k in March!

She shares what she likes to do (other than running), upcoming goals and her favorite training tools!

What is your daily grind?

“I go to school, the gym, take our dogs for a walk or do some other type of workout like run at Running Wild or in my neighborhood. Then I come home, do homework, go to sleep and do it all over again. I also like to bike, go to the mall, take my dogs for walks, listen to music, take pictures, go shopping, go to church, and hangout with family, friends and animals.”

Why do you choose to run?

“To me, running is a relief from stress, anxiety, worry, or whatever the case may be. I run because over the years I realized it is very important for not only my physical health but mental health as well. I run after school in the evenings. I choose to fit it in because I love running and it’s good for my health and is also really fun.”

Why did you start running?

“I started running to bond with my dad, to lose weight, to feel better, and to get active. ”

How has Running Wild helped you reach your goals?

“Running Wild has helped me reach my goals by helping me to run longer than just 2 or 3 minutes without having to stop to walk. It helped me run a 5k without stopping, no matter how hard it was for me which was one of my goals. The people I have trained with are so nice and supportive and I love them for that. They are the best.”

What was your favorite thing about training with Running Wild?

“My favorite thing about Running Wild are the trainers and staff. They are so nice, helpful and knowledgeable. I loved the core work, trigger points, intervals, running tips and warmups/stretches.”

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

“My greatest running achievement is when I ran the Ho Ho Hustle 5k without stopping. It may have been difficult at times, but I was determined not to stop until I finished. I was very proud of myself for achieving my goal.”

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

1.Brooks Ghost- Favorite shoe!
2.Moving Comfort Sports Bras- Supportive and comfy must-haves.
3.Balega Socks- These socks are soft, stay put and keep your feet as dry as possible.
4.Trigger Point- I love this kit. Hurts so good!
5.Tops and shorts- The right clothes make all the difference when running.

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

“My next goal is to run a 5k in 30 minutes. I plan to reach that goal by training a lot more and eating healthier.”

“It was so great having Suzy run with us. She is always happy with a smile, great attitude and had the best tunes! After finishing the Bridge to Bridge 5k she has become hooked on not only running but striving for personal improvement. You can’t ask for a better example than that!”

~ Coach Nina

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Meet Our September Athlete of the Month- Eric Larson

Eric began running in elementary school and hasn’t stopped since! Elementary school run club led to High School state championships and then a collegiate running career at Florida Southern.

You can now find him training for his next race by riding around Pensacola with the Ride More Bicycles or West Florida Wheelman crew and leading the running pack during an occasional 6@6 Group run.


Why did you start running?

Running…how did I start, I ask myself that a lot, haha. Why do we do this sport? Why do I wake up @ 5am to run to confront the 90 degree weather with 1,000,000% humidity, the rain, and the cold….why? After getting the email and the honor of being asked to be Running Wild’s Athlete of the Month I went running at UWF after work and asked myself how I got here, what actually got me started and motivated to RUN of all things. Why not soccer, football, baseball, or any other sport? What ended up happening was getting lost in my thoughts; running through the woods, away from distraction, work, and the stresses of life. So I searched my thoughts and found me reliving my collegiate running days of traveling and basically living with my teammates for 4 years, looking at High School where my running career truly blossomed, Middle School where my PE Coach Gary Upshaw motivated me to make this sport my focus, and Elementary School where jogging club sparked the fire of competition in my belly. So let’s start from the beginning, in a Galaxy Far Far Away there was….. a boy.

A Middle school boy, this is when things really started for me I was starting to run to get in shape for Soccer, and every Wednesday at Workman Middle School we would have to run the mile. Like any other kid I walked it with my friends because you know that was cool, and I’d run a lap or so just to get it over with. Unknown to me, my PE coach Gary Upshaw was watching this and payed some attention when I would run at the Cross Country club in the morning and realized I was faster over longer distances than most. So one Wednesday before the mile Coach Upshaw came up to me to bargain with me. Come to find out the three PE coaches had a running bet every Wednesday on whose athlete or student would win the mile….yep they were betting on us at PE, obviously not for money just a playful bet. Upshaw had been beaten for months by Coach Kelchner and one of her girls. So 10 minutes before the mile started Upshaw began recruiting me to run this mile instead of hanging out with my friends so naturally I said no…Until he leaned in close and said “Eric if you win I’ll give you a Check Orange Pop or Soda” Coach Upshaw kept drinks in his fridge that he would sell for a quarter after PE. So for a free Orange Pop I ran and never looked back, I got that Orange Check and every Wednesday after that our same deal was on and I ran myself into the ground for that Orange Pop. So how did I start running? Orange Pop…Orange Check to be exact… from Sam’s Club.

How has Running Wild helped you reach your goals?

Looking at what I’ve accomplished in life, I credit immensely to running and the people that have helped me to reach those goals; from monumental coaches to rock solid knowledge and help from local shops, most importantly Running Wild. There are two sides to the accomplishments that running and the pillars holding me up have brought to me. On one side I have the athletic side, without the coaching of men like Gary Upshaw and Everett Whiteside I would have never been able to perform and learn how to race the way that I did. Without Running Wild I wouldn’t have been helped with getting into shoes that would allow me to run day in day out for 15 years running 8-10 times a week putting in 60+ miles every week. Without Running Wild’s help I wouldn’t have been able to do that and would have very well been plagued with injury, but no matter what you do injury is inevitable and they were right there as well.

What was your favorite thing about training with Running Wild?

Connections…connections and knowledge, running with the 6@6 group on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings “when I wake up in time” has allowed me to meet people that are so passionate and knowledgeable. Without it after college I wouldn’t have started Triathlon, my new addiction. Running Wild brings a community aspect to the sport that I hadn’t yet experienced. I’ve been stuck in the regimented competition side of the sport which I LOVE!!! But being able to dig into the community and help people and give back the way people helped me is a new aspect that puts a fire in my belly.  Producing local races and informational classes that can teach people and help people getting plugged into the sport is what Running Wild brings to the table.


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

There are three accomplishments that are monumental thanks to running, Running Wild, and My Coaches Gary Upshaw and Everett Whiteside; 3-Time State Champion, getting me to college and allowing me to be successful in life after college.

My Sophomore Year of Cross Country I pulled my Hip Flexor the night before the Regional Cross Country Meet. I finished out the race the next day and State Finals a week later but had nowhere near the performance needed. With my rock solid pillars of Everett Whiteside and the rehab and injury prevention tools and exercises Running Wild provided I was able to return the next year winning my first individual State Championship going on to finish 4th in the 2-mile in track the same year and round out my Senior Year with a 2nd Place at the State Finals in Cross Country and win my third State Title later that year in the 2mile in Track guaranteeing me scholarship, a ticket to college and being the 2nd person in my family to go.


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

1.Trigger Point Therapy Kit love/hate relationship with this but it’s what keeps me going when I’m beaten and battered.
2.GPS Watch-helps me keep on pace during touch workouts. PLUS got to upload to Strava and make sure you get the segments….right?

3.Shoes- without the right shoes I wouldn’t have been able to put in the 60-70+ miles a week  and stay injury free.
4.Shorts-not everyone’s cup of tea but I like the shorter length shorts that Running Wild offers over big box stores. Who likes short shorts??).
5.The Staff-Probably one of the most understated products at Running Wild. Without these guys I wouldn’t have had the years of running advice spanning shoes, apparel, nutrition, and beyond. Basically anything running related. These guys are an awesome resource. Pick their brains every chance you get!

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


Well……That’s a great question, haha! A long standing goal was to break the 15 minute barrier in the 5k. I came dangerously close my Senior year of College running 15:09, to reach this I’m going to need to seriously look into finding the right race and take a hard look at my training program. The problem that I’m facing is I’m enjoying Triathlon and Cycling a ton right now and I know what it would take to get me to sub 15:00 minute shape and that would mean sacrificing Triathlon’s and Cycling and I’m not sure if I want to do that. I love the Triathlon community in this area and I don’t know if I would want to shift focus away from it and only focus on running.



Eric’s running obsession has transformed and is currently taking the triathlon and cycling world by storm! Most recently having won an overall finish at the Red Eye Velo Crit road race and XTerra Triathlon!

We are thankful that he is a part of the Running Wild family and look forward to seeing what he’ll accomplish next!

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