Encyclopedia Inspiredia (Part I)

Up until I started running in high school, I as a hockey, and to a lesser extent at the time, lacrosse player.  Both are obviously team sports.  Despite competing on a team, running, on the other hand, is considered an individual sport.  The transition, at first, wasn’t an easy one.  In hockey, you can have an off shift and your team’s performance likely won’t suffer too much.  In running, there’s no one to pick up the slack.  It’s you against the clock, and even though you may have teammates running alongside you, no one can get you across the finish line but yourself.  Luckily, I learned that even if no one can finish a race for you, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of ways for others to help you get your training to the place it needs to be, motivate you before and during a race, and encourage you after the race is over.  I’m exceptionally fortunate to be surrounded, both “in real life” and virtually, by a number of fellow runners who continuously inspire me to reach my maximum potential through their own running exploits, give me advice and guidance when needed, and make me feel like I am a part of something greater than my own running.  It is a huge reason why I love this sport and I wanted to use this post to (attempt) to recognize the runners that inspire me to give all that I have to give.  Invariably, I’m going to miss someone.  If you happen to read this and don’t see your name here, the fact that you’re reading this at all means it should be, and I’m sorry it slipped.  That said, here is my Encyclopedia Inspiredia, presented in no order in particular save for the first entry:

Rebecca Robertson: My wife, who is still fairly new to the sport, but has attacked it with her trademark gusto.  Rebecca pushes herself when it hurts and is always striving to make herself a better a runner in every way.  When I don’t feel like running, Rebecca won’t allow slacking, and I always feel better for it.  Off the road, she inspires me to make my diet better and to take care of myself to get better on the road.  Even before she started running she supported my racing and would always be on the side of the road cheering when I came by.  Now, I try to return the favor when she does a race I don’t.  Rebecca also supports fellow racers that she doesn’t know when she is out there, encouraging them to stick with her when they falter.  Finally, Rebecca is inspiring the next generation of runners through her tireless work as a head coach of Girls On The Run Boston.  KHL for all you do to inspire me, Rebecca. Now, on to the rest, presented in the order they appear on my Facebook list!

  • Thor “Thunder God” Kirleis: Easily one of the most unceasingly positive people, not just runners, I have ever encountered.  Even when you don’t believe you can do something, Thor does, and he will let you know in a novella-length email or post that reminds you how well you have done in training and how you are ready for this next challenge.  Thor’s running accomplishments are legion and spread out over a wide swath of distances, including finishing the Canadian Death Race.  I’m confident in saying I am a better runner for knowing Thor Kirleis and the running community at large is a more positive place because he is a part of it.  Oh, and he’s a pretty darn enthusiastic father too!
  • Melissa Tanguay: I first met Melissa when she volunteered her time to coach any runner who was raising money for Girls On The Run Boston as a SoleMate.  This involved answering questions from over a dozen runners and helping each craft a training plan, mostly gearing up for Reach The Beach Massachusetts.  Melissa also has given her time, and possibly sanity, to drive a van for the GOTR teams for 2 years now.  Melissa also happens to be a pretty fantastic runner in her own right and I, for one, look forward to when she gets off the disabled list and back on the roads!
  • Gregory Soutiea: Greg is one fit dude, and he doesn’t mind showing off his triathlon-honed body in a speedo whenever given the chance.  If not given the chance, it appears that he’ll just go ahead and make his own, if necessary.  Reading about Greg’s race results just makes you want to be faster but, despite his serious results and serious training, I never get the sense that he takes himself too seriously.  A good guy the few times I’ve gotten to talk to him IRL, I know there are many out there who count themselves among those he’s inspired.
  • Dave Ross: A very quick runner now in Oregon that follows professional running the same way most people follow baseball or football.  Dave’s workout are always intense and it’s vicariously thrilling to read about the times he sees the Nike guys out for their runs.  Sure, Dave has some (read “many”) strong opinions on some topics, but he’s a good guy who cares deeply about our sport and I’m happy I got the chance to meet him at the Olympic Trials in Eugene in 2012!
  • Emmett Murphy: I met Emmett through the Shamrock Road Runners and am very fortunate that I did.  Emmett has really transformed himself through running and he’s gotten some great results in the process.  Emmett’s a supremely positive voice in the community and does a great deal to help the Shamrocks.  Emmett and I ran the first half of the 2012 Boston Marathon together and I couldn’t have asked for a better running partner on that sweltering day.  I am a big, big fan of Mr. Murphy.
  • Gail Martin: One of the Trail Animals and one of the few people I know who can rival Thor for the title of “Most Positive Runner EVER.”  Gail and her husbands are marathon machines but she might be even better at being supportive of other runners than she is at running marathons, and that’s saying something.
  • Ryan Couto: Want to know what Ryan just did?  Just look at his waist…where you’ll likely see his finisher’s belt buckle for the TARC 100 Mile race.  Heck, I would have that thing embedded in my gravestone.  Of course, finishing the 100 mile race under the cutoff time is just the cap on an already remarkable running career in ultras, made all the more remarkable by the fact that he was once an overweight rugby player.  Equally inspiring as his ultra exploits is his clear love and admiration for his wife, Bethany, who I’ll get to later.  Ryan may not beat you in a 5K, but he’ll keep going…and going…and going…long after you’ve decided the couch would be a much better place to be.
  • Eric Narcisi: If you aren’t already on the Level.  Eric is one of the two brains behind Level Renner, an online magazine for the underground New England racing scene that focuses on local talent.  There is no better way to get the stories behind the runners than Level Renner.  The fact that Eric and Kevin Balance put it out for free is astounding.  Aside from the Level, Eric is a great runner for Whirlaway, well on his way back from an injury that sidelined him for a while.  I know we’re all looking forward to seeing him back at 100%!
  • Shannon Katzmayr: Shannon is a running buddy from my weekly City Sports Boston and Marathon Sports Boston group runs.  A transplant from Florida, she’s quickly become a part of the Boston running community and races a ton.  She is determined to qualify for Boston and it’s clear from the way she dedicates herself to her training that she is going to get there!
  • Senna Pinney: Senna is another Portland runner that I have gotten to know in a very roundabout way as she is married to one of my brother-in-law’s best friends.  I often heard of “Jamie and Senna” from Rebecca and finally got to meet them on one of our trips out to the PNW.  Senna is simply a kind person that is always ready to offer encouragement and support and is a leading force in her running group.  I know that when I post a running accomplishment on Facebook, Senna will be the first person ready with something positive to say.
  • Kevin Stack: One of my Brooks ID brethren as well as brother-at-the-bar.  Kevin’s a great runner and a leading voice among ID’ers.  I hope to get the chance to run with him some day!
  • Mike Saporito: One of the Trail Animals, Mike is an accomplished ultra runner and part of the DFL Ultrarunning podcast.  He’s been very supportive of this blog and my entrance into trail running and I’ve been grateful for his guidance!
  • Alett Mekler: Alett is truly a fixture in the Boston running community.  If you met 5 runners in Boston, odds are 5 of them would have some connection or another to Alett.  Alett can usually be spotted at road races with her hair up in pigtails and possibly sporting some interesting running skirt, perhaps a polka dotted one.  Alett has relatively recently entered the world of triathlons and seems to be attacking that world with the same intensity and dedication she puts into her running.  Of course, she also doesn’t take herself too seriously, a quality I try to emulate, and is a committed HHH’er.  On on!
  • Liana Rogue: Though I only know Liana through TARC, her blog  in which she chronicles her racing as well as her boyfriend’s is a great read that makes me want to race more (and faster).
  • Nich Haber: I know nothing of his running, but I love what he is doing with the New England Distance Project, a post-collegiate running program similar to the Hansons Original Distance Project that offers housing and coaching to promising pro runners in addition to community-oriented work opportunities.  Nich is doing his part to support US distance running, and he’s doing a heck of a job with it!
  • Jessica Green: Jess is my sister-in-law and is a runner out in Portland.  I admire that she takes whatever time she can get to go for a run, not always easy with an almost-five-year-old.  Jess has run some very cool races in the past, including a relay race with Senna.  It was a great experience when Rebecca, Jess and I all got to run the Bowerman AC 5K on the Nike campus in 2012!
  • Reno Stirrat: Reno is a stalwart of New England racing but puts guys half his age to shame with his race results, usually while rocking the red and black of Whirlaway.  Every post-race picture you see of Reno gives you an idea just how much he loves to race, and kick butt while doing so, as he’s always smiling, and usually accompanied by another runner who no doubt would like to be like Reno some day.
  • Karen “Gumby” Durante: Another one of my favorite Goon Squad Runners.  Holy cow is Karen fast!  When I first learned she WON her age group in the New York Marathon, my first thought was “how can that be? Karen’s not X years old?”  Well, I was wrong.  Her youthful approach to running and overall spirit belies her years of experience.  It really is a pleasure to see someone who is so supportive of others have such great success for herself.  It bears noting that Karen and her daughter were tremendous supporters of our Challenged Athletes Foundation fundraiser and we were all very grateful for it.
  • Courtney Goldberg: Another running buddy from my Marathon Sports Boston group runs, Courtney is a transplant from DC and we are lucky to have her here!  Courtney is an avid racer and is one of the few people who can rival me for Chatty Cathy status while on a run.  Courtney really made the most of it this year when the NYC Marathon was cancelled and persevered with another marathon despite the headache of it all.  It’s always an entertaining run when Courtney is there!
  • James Falvo: James is a great guy I’ve gotten to know through TMIRCE’s Monday night Lululemon runs.  James may or may not be joking when he says things like “I want to jump off the bridge into the river” while on runs, but it’s always great to see him at a group run, or at a They Might Be Giants concert.
  • Rebecca Massie: Rebecca is another Brooks ID runner from Alabama, and an active voice for Brooks.  In addition to her great racing results, I admire her ability to handle the Negative Nancy that trolls the Brooks ID group, hoping to bring anyone else down into her pit of negativity, without losing her cool, something I have often struggled with.
  • Kyle Feldman: I have gotten to know Kyle through her coaching with Rebecca for Girls On The Run.  Kyle is simply an amazing runner, one of the top females in the city, and formerly ran with the Greater Boston Track Club, though now she runs as a part of the Brooks ID Elite squad.  I love Kyle’s ambition as she has set her sights on qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials.  Anyone who knows her knows that she is going to achieve that goal.  Seeing others set their goals high inspires me to do the same, though on my own scale, of course.
  • Bethany Bertrand Couto: Bethany is Ryan Couto’s better half, and the one responsible for making him the runner he is today.  As much as anyone I know, Bethany combines fast running with fun, usually showing up to runs in a sparkly running skirt.  Seemingly running carefree, Bethany has qualified for Boston several times over and does stunts with Ryan like running to every local B. Good in a day, just because.  Her support of Ryan during his 100 mile race was pretty incredible and she sets a great example for all of us to follow in supporting our spouses in everything they do.
  • Jake Champagne: An ID’er who represents Brooks extremely well and is a very positive voice in the ID community!
  • Rosanne Boyle: Roseanne runs with the Boston River Rats as well as Marathon Sports on Wednesday nights.  Roseanne’s recent race results are really a testament to the hard work she puts into her training and it’s been inspiring to see her drop her times precipitously lately.
  • Marron Burke: Marron is a Chicago runner with the ID program, and a fast one at that.  Marron always has a word of congratulations or encouragement for her fellow ID’ers, and presumably everyone else as well, and seems to be turning her fiance into a great runner in his own right!
  • Martin Potter: Martin’s a Marathon Sports run clubber who just seems to run effortlessly.  I often try to keep up with him on runs, pushing myself to stick with his group, usually with mixed results, but it’s good to have targets!
  • Mike Dow: Although he has been AWOL for some time from the MS run club, Mike can be forgiven for his absence because he is just a genuinely nice guy.  He also happens to be wicked fast.  It’s always great to have Mike’s company out on a run because I know there will be times when it will just be an easy, conversational run, and other times when we might pick up the pace, in which case I’m going to be pushing myself to stay on his heels.

Now that i’m over 2600 words into this post, it occurs to me that I should break up this epic effort into several chapters, so I’ll end the list here, for now.  Up next, Renata Koziol!


2 Responses to “Encyclopedia Inspiredia (Part I)”

  1. Greg S. Says:

    Thanks Michael, great read and it’s a GREAT idea to give shouts out to those who inspire you. I know a few others on this list and they are all equally inspiring, ESPECIALLY ALETT, and yourself included! Keep up the good work, hope to run into you again soon!

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