The Pensacola Marathon & Half-Marathon through “first timer’s” eyes…
November 13th was a big day for our Running Wild family.
Of the 44 participants in our marathon training program, 10 placed in their age groups, one placed 3rd OVERALL female and one won OVERALL female. This training season we saw it all; many FIRST TIME marathoners, veteran marathoners, overcoming minor injuries and VICTORIES across the board.
For 16-weeks 60+ local runners trained with the Running Wild Marathon and Half-Marathon Training program. This training program includes personalized weekly training schedule, coached guidance, and pacers for workouts, gear, clinics and more encouragement than you will know what to do with.
From 5+ hour marathon finishers (five hours of total running time) to the Overall Female winner, we asked about their experiences and what’s next for them.
Shortly after completing her first marathon, Mehgan Cash was feeling that runner’s high, “I am so overwhelmed with emotion today. Never have I felt so much support and love from people.” A runner in the 5:00 training group (self-proclaimed “Fierce Fivers”…how awesome is that?!), not only overcame but EMBRACED mental and physical challenges on race day which led to her incredible success. “My experience with the Running Wild training program was nothing short of wonderful. The pacers I ran with are Liz Mulcahy and Greg Schnoor. Liz is one of the most upbeat people I’ve ever met, never wavering on support and energy. Greg is without a doubt the most inspiring person I’ve met, overcoming his own obstacles and dedicating one-on-one time to pace us when needed. The program was organized and thorough, and I felt prepared to tackle 26.2. When it came to race day, nothing has ever been so exciting for me. I had so much fun…for the first 17 miles. After that, I relied solely on the support of my pacers and running partners. Without their encouragement, I’m not sure I would’ve finished it on my own. At mile 20, the Phat Girls were there to provide water and fuel. They provided much more than that: they let me cry and they hugged me and told me I could do it. I didn’t think I had it in me but I did. I couldn’t recommend the Running Wild training program enough. It turned me into a marathon finisher.”
Joel Fleekop was a part of the 4:00 group (four hour total run time). This group was led by experienced marathon and ultra-marathon runner, Vernon Compton. “For most of my adult life running has been a solitary activity; a chance to quiet the demands of work and fatherhood; to escape into the rhythm of my stride and the distraction of a favorite podcast. But as my running goals changed, and the distances to which I aspired increased, I knew there were things I couldn’t do alone. As in so much of life, success would depend on the support of a community. I found that community at Running Wild. The training schedules, nutritional guidance, and other information provided by the Running Wild Marathon program have been indispensable. Equally indispensable are the words of encouragement and support one receives; the sense of community that somehow makes getting up at 5:00 in the morning to run 20 miles in the heat something to which I look forward. I have now completed two marathons. I am not sure I am yet, or will ever be a “marathoner.” But I do know that neither journey would have been possible without the staff, pacers, and fellow runners in the Running Wild training program. I still like to escape into the rhythm of my stride and the distraction of a favorite podcast, but now I do so running alongside a community of friends.”
The Pensacola Marathon Overall-Female winner, Kelly Bahn
, was a part of our 3:15 training group (3 hours and 15 minutes total run time) led by 2:45 marathoner, Justin Gates. Kelly, 24, ran cross country for UWF and was no stranger to the importance of group training. “When I decided that I wanted to run a marathon, I knew I would need a group of people to train with and a training plan to follow. I know all about running 5ks and 10ks but I had no clue how to train for a marathon. When I found out that Running Wild offered a training program for the Pensacola Marathon I was so relieved! I signed up for their 16 week training program and started my journey to running my first marathon. I attended the clinic at Running Wild that reviewed what we would be doing for the next 16 weeks. It sounded like a lot of work but everyone was so positive and supportive! I was probably way too excited to meet for our first Saturday run. I was part of a running team from middle school through college and since I graduated, I have missed having that team atmosphere. Meeting for our long runs felt like I was part of a team again. It was so motivating and inspiring to see so many people awake at 6am on their Saturday morning, ready to run. There were people of all running abilities supporting one another and pushing each other to be their best! The past 16 weeks wasn’t just about running a marathon, it was about living a happy, healthy lifestyle. It provided me with friends that share the same passion with me. Participating in this training program reminded me of the true beauty of running and how it brings people together.
Meredith Thompson and Joe Zerber have been a part of the Running Wild Training Programs for over a year and recently tackled a major feat.
“Having just started running back in July of 2015, and our longest run being 10 miles, we were a little nervous about a half-marathon. We had already completed a few training programs with Running Wild so we knew many fellow runners, the RW staff, coaches, and the routes. Coach Stacey, Coach Kristen, and our classmates all helped us get to that finish line. We really liked the fact that we met Saturdays for long runs AND Tuesdays for hills and speed work. Having Tuesdays with the group definitely helped us stay accountable on the days we wanted to turn off the 4:30 am alarm. Stacey and Kristen were awesome coaches! Always able to answer questions (or refer us to someone that could), and always pushing us to get to the finish line in November. Joe doesn’t have Facebook, but Meredith really liked the Closed Group Page to stay connected with everyone to discuss goals, aches and pains, plan runs outside of the group, and to share laughs with one another.
Paul put together an excellent race from start to finish as race director. We know that without him, we either wouldn’t have this amazing race in Pensacola or it wouldn’t have been such a great experience for us. There were plenty of bathrooms at the start. Dropping off our gear check bags was a breeze. We wish every race could have one. The race itself was great! The water stations were well put together, and there were plenty of bystanders to cheer on the runners. Meredith is currently training for her second Double Bridge Race and we can’t wait to train for the Pensacola Marathon next year…with Running Wild, of course. “
If you’re questioning whether or not to take the jump, first time marathoner, Alissa Ramsey may help you to decide, “I owe it all to Running Wild. That community there is amazing. I get emotional just talking about it… Just get out there and do it. Believe in yourself. It is possible.”