The backdrop: Heading into this race I had a PR of 2:26:42 set at my debut @chimarathon three months ago. I needed an almost eight minute PR (5:17/mile) to qualify for the trials. My training post Chicago was excellent, but it was still a long shot. But with the trials in late February Houston was the deadline to qualify.
Mile 1: I took a manual split and saw it said 5:40. I wanted to get out slow, but not that slow. “S*’$” I mumbled and slowly turned up the pace.
Miles 2-5: I kept searching for “the pack” (the group trying to run sub-2:19), but found myself in the lead woman’s pack for the half due to my muffed first mile. In front of us was a media and timing van tracking the woman’s marathon leader.
Miles 6-8: I was in an awkward spot now as I could see the pack I wanted to be in but couldn’t advance because of the two vans. Thankfully the van had an estimated finish time showing at 2:18:50 so I knew I had made up for my slow first mile. So I just settled in and waited.
Mile 9: Finally on a turn there was a chance to move past the vans and me and two other guys attempt to close the gap of 10 seconds to the 2:19 group.
Mile 10: Only 5 seconds off the back of the pack now someone goes down hard inside the pack. Minutes later we finally latch onto the back of the pack after 10 miles!
Miles 11-12: Finally with the pack and settling into a rhythm the mind work begins! For this race I dedicated miles to people close to me and thought about those people during those miles. My kids, wife, brothers, sisters, parents where all very present with me in my mind. It’s sounds weird but being able to free your mind as the pain starts to build was massively helpful during this phase of the race.
Mile 13: I go through half and forget to make the connection that I had just went through half. About a mile later I remembered and asked someone what our half split was. He didn’t know. I think it was a blessing. My half was 1:09:12 and if I’d seen that I would have been a little nervous we were going a bit to quick. Ignorance was bliss in this case.
Part 2: The Pack
Mile 13: I pass the halfway point and forget to make the connection that I just past the halfway point. As the race continues my capacity to think is reduced to a primal level. Blood is going to my legs not my nugget. About a mile later it clicked we were over halfway and I asked someone what our half split had been. He didn’t know. In hindsight I think it was a blessing. My half was 1:09:12 (I was targeting 1:09:30+) and if I’d seen that I maybe would have worried that we were overcooking.
Miles 14-18: It’s here I have to give a shout out to two guys (I’m still trying to figure out who they were) for setting the pace up front, breaking wind for the 2:19 group for 18 miles. Not only that but they shared their fluids with the group. It was the most cohesive pack I’ve ever run with. We all had the same goal. Sub 2:19. And those guys up front took the wind for 3/4 of the race so 10 of us could have a shot! During this stretch I focus on just existing and I truly feel the support and prayers of my friends and family. Like how can I still feel so good?
Mile 19: I’m at the front of the pack now and I still feel really comfortable, but I’ve heard all the stories over the years of people going to soon in the marathon. So I just tell myself to relax, stay calm, and hold pace. I tell myself that at mile 23 the gloves come off and I can go for it if I’m still feeling like a spring chicken.
Mile 20-21: @stevenandmartinez makes a move off the front, but since it wasn’t 23 yet I was nervous to go with him and he pulls away. Shorty after his move though I’m starting to itch and really feel like I need to accelerate so around 21.5 I decide to cautiously accelerate off the front. At this point I’m feeling like a breakaway guy in the Tour. Can I close the gap? Can I hold it till the end?? Will I get the most combative prize???
Part 3: Finish
Mile 22-23: I begin to pass a few guys and slowly make up ground on Steven after his acceleration. I see @jasminniemiec at 23, give her a heart, and realize the chips are down and I’m 100% committed to my move at this point. My thoughts are binary. It’s doubt contrasted with truth. A doubt would surface like hey you probably went to early...but the Lord is my shepherd...idk if I can hold this...the lord is my shepherd...wow that hill kinda sucked and it’s windy and are my legs even attached anymore?...the lord is my shepherd...and so on...those words comforted me and literally killed doubt as it surfaced.
Mile 24-25: No more thinking at this point just trying to stay on top of my legs. I am literally at cave man intelligence level. Get to finish line! Make fire! Survive! I see a clock and try to do math to see how much I could slow down and still get the OTQ but my brain doesn’t work and I’m bad at math so I just keep going. I pass 4 guys during this stretch, but then am passed back by one of them (he ends up being first American). I don’t even register anything at this point as I just really want to be done. It feels like I’m slowing down but every time I check my watch it’s in the 4:50’s. Just stay on top of your legs is what I keep telling myself. There are STILL moments I think my body could stop working. I never felt like it was in the bag till the final 100 meters.
Finish: After the longest straight away in the history of straightaways I finally see the finish and process that it’s ending. The last 100 meters I just start yelling my guts off. The emotion, pain, excitement, exhaustion, accomplishment of that finish is finally released as a caveman roar. I’m sure it sounded ridiculous, but it was an indescribable feeling forged in the fire of many many set backs, failures, and doubts that I could no longer keep inside. I cross the line, stop my watch (it didn’t happen unless it’s on @strava ), then promptly fall over. I lay on my back staring up at a really pretty tree enjoying the moment, till some guy tells me I need to move so I don’t get run over.
Official Gun Time: 2:17:23
We asked three of our athletes a few questions on why they use Cocoa Elite for fueling their recovery. Victor Pataky, Eddie Garcia and Ryan Bugler provided the following comments.
1. Which Cocoa Elite products do you use?
VP: I enjoy using the Complete Body Recovery Protein powder. It is a staple for post-workout recovery for me.
RB: Looking at my progression of Cocoa Elite product use is interesting. When I initially began using their products I solely used their Complete Body Protein. I was pretty ignorant when it came to recovery or even what my body needed so I defaulted to the train of thought that all I needed was protein. Thankfully, the Cocoa Elite family not only provides great products, they also provide phenomenal resources so that you can learn all that you can about what your body needs and when. (I highly recommend taking a look at their blogs page: https://cocoaelite.com/category/news/).
For instance, when training up in Silver City, New Mexico at 6,000 ft. elevation and often times 100+ degree heat, I would find myself using Cocoa Elite’s Elite Endurance product line to keep myself hydrated and able to recover between sessions when I was doubling up workouts. These days, when training with the ASICS GTC Elite program in Greenville, SC, I am able to find consistency in my use of Cocoa Elite’s Sleepy Time Recovery as well as their flagship Complete Body Recovery Cocoa Powder.
EG: Cocoa Elite Complete Body Protein and Cocoa Elite Sleepy Time are the two products that I use with training daily. I am long distance runner specializing in the marathon distance and recovery in between sessions are crucial for optimal training and performance. Cocoa Elite Complete Recovery is my go to protein supplement to take after a challenging workout session. Sleepy Time is a product that helps me recover during the night while I rest and also helps with getting adequate rest.
2. For each product you selected, why do you use it?
VP: I use the Cocoa Elite Recovery Protein powder because it truly makes a difference in how quickly I can bounce back from a workout. I need to recover quickly to be able to be my best for the next session. I also like how it is a very simple product (3 ingredients), so I know exactly what is going in my body. The great chocolate taste it has makes it an all around fantastic product.
RB: The easy answer to this is simply to aid in my endeavor to become the greatest runner and athlete that I can be. More specifically, very few products out there can provide the proper nutrients needed to increase insulin levels while also having a positive impact on the cardiovascular system and blood circulation, thanks to the added flavanols. It also doesn’t hurt that each product carries a flavor that you cannot get enough of!
EG: I use the Cocoa Elite Complete Body Recovery as soon as I finish working out to help speed up recovery. Cocoa Elite helps repair and rebuild my muscles after workouts and also helps to regulate my blood sugar, so that I am not feeling hungry after a run is over. I use the Sleepy Time, which contains both casein and melatonin to help rebuild muscles and aid in sleep respectively. Recovery is arguably one of the most important components to any training regimen and Cocoa Elite is a brand that I trust to get me ready for my next session or race.
3. What is your favorite flavor (if optional flavors are offered)?
VP: I love the chocolate flavor because it tastes just like chocolate milk! You cannot beat that!
RB: I will admit that I’m a bit boring when it comes to most of their flavor choices. In my defense, it is because nothing beats the original cocoa flavor! Outside of my normal go-to flavor pallets, I genuinely enjoy their arctic blast flavor line and highly recommend it to anyone who does the bulk of their training in the heat of the day. It is incredibly hard to find something more refreshing than when you finish a workout under the beating sun and are able to treat yourself to an arctic blast.
EG: I have enjoyed the original Cocoa Elite Complete Body Recovery flavor. It contains cocoa and is very nourishing after a really challenging workout. Knowing that I have Cocoa Elite at my disposal after practice gives me something to look forward to and is rewarding at the same time. I really enjoy mixing Cocoa Elite with milk or water and sometimes I get creative and make a smoothie as well. I usually add milk, ice, cocoa elite, and a banana.
4. How often do you use Cocoa Elite?
VP: I use Cocoa Elite after every hard session we do (about 4x per week). I also use it after every session the week of a race just to ensure that I am as ready as I can be.
RB: Multiple times a day, every day. The versatility of these products goes beyond just the standard post-workout recovery drink. I add a scoop of their Complete Body Recovery Protein to my steel cut oats each morning to add some much-needed flavor and use the Sleepy Time Recovery each night as I’m getting ready for bed to not only aid me in my recovery during the night, but also to help me relax and fall asleep. Cocoa Elite is ahead of the curve in knowing that recovery is a 24/7 process and sleep is a big part of that.
EG: I use Cocoa Elite everyday both in the mornings after practice and in the evenings before bed. I can recall during my build up for the 2019 Houston Marathon, taking cocoa elite was a huge priority. As a matter of fact, before departing for Houston, I made sure to pack my Cocoa Elite Complete Body Protein and Cocoa Elite Sleepy Time, so that I can stay in my recovery routine. I believe in consistency with every component of training and recovery is no different. This is a practice that I still implement whenever I travel for any competition.
5. Do you believe it enhances your performance or recovery?
VP: Definitely! I feel ready to go for my afternoon sessions when I take it after our morning workouts. I have noticed a substantial difference in how my body feels the day after those hard sessions as well. Cocoa Elite helps me recover so I can put in my best effort day in and day out.
RB: Trick question! The answer is both as they are synonymous in athletics or any sport for that matter. You cannot have one without the other, and that is why having Cocoa Elite in my corner provides me with a competitive edge on the starting line. It is a powerful feeling knowing that I am as recovered and strong as I can be when it matters most.
EG: I believe that there is a positive correlation between Cocoa Elite and better performance as well as better recovery. However, I believe that seeing improvements in both performance and recovery requires consistency. I make sure to always use Cocoa Elite after practice within a 30 minute window of finishing the workout to help start the recovery process and before bed every night.
For example in order for me to reach my competitive running goals, I not only have to practice daily, but also make sure to do all of the "little things" (stretching, foam rolling, hydration, adequate rest etc.) I will not reach my goals by doing this for a few days or weeks. It is by doing this continually for many months and not missing any component before I will start to see improvements in my running. I consider taking Cocoa Elite one of the many "little things" that make up the biggest difference between falling short and exceeding my goals.
I also believe in this product and its added benefits to training, so I believe that this is a key component to the effectiveness of Cocoa Elite in my case. I would recommend this product to anyone looking to reach his or her exercise or competitive goals.
Posted on February 23, 2018 by Cocoa Elite
We wanted to learn more about Austin. We think you will enjoy reading more about this talented and up-and-coming runner. He competes at the highest level in his sport. However, his journey there wasn’t easy. Austin had to deal with college rejection and health issues.
Why do you run?
I find it to be my most relaxing part of the day. It’s my time to be alone and think or not think. There is just something special when it is just you and the open road. No wrong turns. No rules and no one telling you what to do. The mind is clear. However, I also love the competitive side of it and pushing the limits of the human body. It is my way of stepping away from this very distracting world. Even if it’s only for a moment or should I say a mile or two of my own paradise.
What was your catalyst for pursuing a career in racing?
It was the aspect of it somewhat being an individual sport. The individuality of running intrigued me. I liked the idea of it being me versus the rest of the field. In the past, I was involved in team sports, where the team either won or lost. There were no individual wins. With running it’s different. It is up to me how well I do as an individual. I have no one to blame but myself. I just loved the simplicity of the fact that I alone determined my future. But don’t get me wrong; I also love the team side of sports. It is something special when you accomplish something as a group. I have had many moments where if it were not for my teammates, I would not have been part of some celebratory moments.
Who inspired you? Who are your idols?
No specific individual inspired me to become a runner. What inspired me was how amazing the human body is and the unknown potential it carries inside. That is what drives me each and every day. Not the times. Not the records. Simply the fact of how fast can I train my body to be. Finding my limits. I believe those limits have not yet been reached. I will continue to challenge myself.
My idols would have to be my family and God. Without my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, I would definitely not be where I am today and my mom reminds me of that every day. I am so thankful for my family, and they have supported me from day one. No matter how good or how bad I did in competition, they were there to pick me up. Without the support of my family, I do not think I would be in the position I am in today.
Tell us more about yourself and your background.
I am originally from Gaffney, SC. This is where I graduated from high school. Then I began my college adventure at Spartanburg Methodist College, a junior college, where I received my Associate’s Degree. After that, I transferred to the University of Mount Olive in North Carolina, where I received my Bachelor’s in Business. I am now currently running professionally for Asics Greenville Track Club ELITE based in Greenville, SC.
I have competed in sports since I was young, including baseball, football, and basketball. But I started running in the 8th grade. After playing all the other sports, I had finally found my calling. Initially, I thought my calling was to become a hurdler. Hurdling was my attraction to competing in track and field. But shortly thereafter, Kevin Hammitt convinced me to run a 1-mile time trial after watching me practice for a few weeks. I finished in 6 minutes. He looked straight at me, with excitement all over his face, and said, “You’re in the wrong event. You’re a distance runner.”
After seeing his reaction, I was convinced. Each day I got a little better and showed improvement. My mind was set, and I wanted to be good enough to run in college.
So did you run in college?
My running career took a small detour. You see, it all came to a halt in the summer before my senior year in high school when I became anemic. After the summer of my junior year, I had been convinced that I was in the best shape of my career. After my first race as a senior, I was ranked 2nd in the state. I was excited for what the future held. However, each race thereafter became worse as my performance diminished and my confidence vanished!
Not only had my racing become poor, but more dis-heartening, all of the colleges that had shown an interest quit contacting me. I felt empty. However, I wasn’t going to let my health condition of being anemic hold me back. I took actions to start correcting my medical condition.
Somehow it paid off. After thinking that I had no shot of going to college as a runner, I received a phone called from a man named Mike Foley.
He was the head coach of Spartanburg Methodist College (SMC)—a Junior College with a good running program. Coach Foley had followed me from the beginning of my high school career and he was confident that I would bounce back. He told me he could continue to improve me as a runner. And he did just that. I left SMC with 8 school records and a couple All-American rewards. I am forever grateful to Coach Foley for believing in me. His initiative in my life at that time changed the course of my running career.
What was next?
After graduating SMC, I continued my career at a Division II school, the University of Mount Olive, under head coach Matthew Van Lierop. I was able to continue to work extremely hard and improved each year, earning All-American, All-Region, and multiple Conference Championship awards. My time at Mount Olive was unforgettable. As my senior year came to an end, my coach and I discussed continuing my career as a professional. We reached out to many different professional programs, and ASICS Greenville Track Club-ELITE (GTC-Elite) in Greenville, SC, accepted me. It has been an honor to train with and compete for this club.
After only a year and a half in the program, I have accomplished 8 personal best in 8 different events and competed in the USA 5k Road Championships. I have traveled all over the country competing against some of the best athletes in the nation. ASICS GTC-Elite has been a huge blessing in my life, and I look forward to what the future holds.
Many running goals have been set, and I am determined and committed to do what is necessary to accomplish these goals.
What was your favorite race memory?
My favorite race would definitely be the DII NCAA Track and Field Championships my senior year of college. This was the year that changed my running career.
It was the first year I had ever competed in the steeplechase and I ended up advancing all the way to the Championships, where I placed 2nd overall. I had competed in the 5,000 meters in the previous years, but never did as well as expected. It was such an amazing moment, and it was also my first time becoming All-American in Division II. But more importantly, that moment is my favorite because I had finally defeated the mental block I had been fighting with for so long.
Throughout college, I had never had a problem getting to the Championship race; my problem was competing at the level I had displayed during the year. The pressure was always too much for me. I’m not ashamed to admit it: I would choke in big races and everyone knew it. But I had entered my senior year with a different mindset. My coach (Matt Van Lierop) and I had really worked hard on the mental side of running all year because we knew this was my last shot to do well at the Championship race.
What was your worse race memory?
My worse race memory was back in high school before I knew I had become anemic. It was my second race during my senior year, and I was expecting to have a great season. And then it happened out of nowhere. We were having a dual meet on my home course and I was expected to win. The gun went off and I had never felt so exhausted and weak from the get-go. It felt as if I had already completed an extremely hard workout and then immediately jumped on the line to race. It was confusing to me because my training was going so well! I ended up losing that race. I visited a doctor a couple of weeks later after realizing I was not getting better. My senior year was over before I knew it and the road of recovery from anemia began.
What was it like to race against world-class athletes in the USA 5k Road Championships?
My experience racing with such world-class athletes at the 5k Championships was absolutely amazing, and it will be a race I will never forget. All my hard work was starting to pay off. It was my first time ever competing in a USA Championship road race, and I could not ask for a better field to compete against. Although I didn’t run as fast or place as high as I would have liked to, I still learned a lot from the race alone. Also, it was so inspirational to chat with other athletes before and after the race to get their view about the sport. Those athletes definitely inspire me to achieve and reach for higher goals. It is amazing how humble these guys are. Being able to connect with them will be something I remember for the rest of my life.
What adjustments have you made since then?
As far as training goes, I really didn’t make any adjustments to my training after competing in the 5k Championship race. Now, as time passes, workouts will continue to get faster, but the workouts we have been doing will stay the same. My coach (Mike Caldwell) and I strongly believe in our approach to getting better, and we believe it will continue to make me better. Since joining GTC-Elite in 2016, I have already seen so much improvement in my overall fitness. We see no need to make changes, although it was informative to hear what these guys do daily.
Now my mental approach for a Championship race like the 5k has changed. I now have a better understanding of how the race will most likely play out and how strategic a race like that can get. I was not expecting such a big move from the field with a mile to go. That was when a gap was created from me to the lead group, and once I realized what happened, it was too late for me. Next time, I’ll be ready for the move.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
As for 5 years from now…. I am not sure. My primary focus is the next two-and-a-half years and the 2020 Olympic Trials. My coach and I are focusing on qualifying for the 3,000-meter steeplechase or the 5,000-meter run. Once I achieve this goal, I will reevaluate my running goals/career with my coach.
The following article originally was published in the Summer 2017 July/August/September issue of Pace Running Magazine
Austin Steagall, Age: 24, Greenville, SC
Which is your favorite Greenville race? The TD Bank Reedy River Run 10K would have to be my favorite Greenville race. This race attracts great athletes from all over and it provides a challenging course, which gives you a good understanding of your current fitness level. This year was my first year competing in the Reedy River Run and I was fortunate enough to come out with the win. I plan to return next year.
What inspired you to start running? The hurdle events are what attracted me to running. I never thought in a million years I would have become a distance runner. In the eighth grade, after playing football and baseball my entire life, my friend (Eddie Sutton) and I decided to go out for track and field together - to run hurdles. Long story short, after a few weeks of training for the 400 hurdles, my high school coach (Kevin Hammett) convinced me to run a one-mile time trial on the track one day after practice. After having watched me run for a few weeks, he was convinced that I was not a hurdler, I was a distance runner. I ended up finishing the time trial in six minutes, without any endurance training, and my coach was amazed. With his amazement, I quickly changed my mind about event I wanted to compete in on the track. Although I had no idea about distance running, my coach’s reaction made me want to find out.
After you graduated from Gaffney High School, you were offered the opportunity to run for Spartanburg Methodist College (SMC) by Coach Mike Foley. Can you share with us some of your racing accomplishments for SMC? First of all, if it were not for Mike Foley I would not be in the position I am in today. As a senior in high school, I became anemic. This caused me to lose many college opportunities, schools did not want to take the risk on me because I had basically lost all fitness that I had worked so hard to get over the years. But, Coach Foley had been watching my career develop for many years and never lost the belief that I could become a strong distance runner. I corrected my anemia and I got started under Mike Foley’s program. It took about a year and a half to get my iron levels and fitness back to where I had been. Some accomplishments I was able to obtain at SMC were: Eight school records, NJCAA Half Marathon All-American honors (sixth place) and second place at the NJCAA Cross Country Championships in 2012. I bettered my fitness level each year I was there. So, thank you Coach Foley for believing in me!
You are a member of the ASICS Greenville Track Club-ELITE. What made you decide to join this post-collegiate Olympic development program and what are your events? I joined because I was one hundred percent sure that I was not ready to hang up my spikes and let go of such a special talent God had given me. I knew in my heart that I had more to prove to myself and I knew if I did not take the opportunity God has placed in front of me, I would regret it for life. After being with ASICS GTC-ELITE for a year, I could not be happier with my decision and I have improved since day one. I look forward to what the future holds. As for my events, I am currently focused on the 3,000 meter steeplechase and the 5,000 meter race on the track.
As the Elite program states: “Olympic development” - is your ultimate goal to qualify for the Olympic team? Will you share with us what that will require? Yes, making the Olympic team would be exactly what I am after, but I have to get to the Olympic Trials first. Completing this goal will require me to continue to believe I can do it. It will take consistent training (staying injury free) and remembering to do the little things. Little things such as getting the correct amount of sleep, proper nutrition after each session, drills, stretching, active release therapy, etc. I can’t take any shortcuts to achieve this goal, although there are days where I don’t want to get out of bed. With that being said, I have two and a half years until the 2020 Olympics and I plan to do everything in my power to make my goals a reality.
How has training full-time with Coach Mike Caldwell in a group dynamic benefited your running and racing experience? Training for Coach Mike has benefited me in ways I can’t fully explain. Coach Mike has changed my entire outlook on running! I had never valued the science behind running until meeting Coach Mike. After many discussions with him about the science behind running and making changes to my training, I truly believe I have become a better all-around athlete. I have seen improvement since day one and I have no doubt that there is more to come. As for racing experience, I feel like I am truly blessed. GTC-ELITE has given me so many great opportunities to compete with other great athletes and I am truly thankful.
Congratulations on winning the 2017 Greenville News Run Downtown (a course record of 14:14) and first at the Reedy River 10K! Is there a half marathon in your future? For now, there are no half marathons in the future. Although I have completed half marathons in the past, I plan on putting my focus on races 10K and under. If I do end up doing any half marathons, they will be used strictly as strength work for my shorter races.
What has been your most rewarding running experience? My most rewarding running experience was when I placed second in the 2016 NCAA DII Track and Field National Championships in the steeplechase. I had never raced the steeplechase before 2016 and I am extremely happy I did because it has opened up a new door to my running career. Now the steeplechase is one of my main events and I plan to see how much I can accomplish in the event.
What are your race plans for the remainder of the year? I will be taking a short break from racing before starting my fall season in September. Although I have not yet sat down with my coach to finalize my race schedule, I am pretty positive I will be returning to these races; Cow Harbor 10K, Lake Nona 10K, and Richmond 8K. Although Coach Mike may have some other races in mind that will be added to the schedule, my main focus for the remainder of the year will be to prepare for the USATF 5K Championships in November and the USATF Club Cross Championships in December.
Do you prefer racing on the track or the road? Although I enjoy both, I would have to say I prefer to race on the track. I just really value the fact that I am able to update myself on pace each 400 meters, whereas on the roads, pace updates are each mile. Also, I really enjoy hearing the fans the entire race, whereas on the roads there are bits and pieces of the race where there are no fans. The track has stolen my heart.
Mark recently joined the ASICS GTC-ELITE program after a collegiate career at American University in Washington, DC. In his first competition as a GTC member he won the Michelin Memorial 5K with a time of 14:54. The next weekend he won the Maggie Valley Moonlight Run 8K in a course record of 25:08. He led both races from stat to finish. He will be competing in the USA 20K National Championships in New Haven, CT on Labor Day.
Q: Why did you decide to join GTC-ELITE?
ML: I wasn’t ready to give up running yet and I was looking for a new experience. GTC –Elite offered a great opportunity and support that could help me reach my goals and live in a new place.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of being in Greenville?
ML: I enjoy being in new places and meeting new people, the culture is different from what I am used to up north.
Q: Have you discovered a favorite coffee place?
ML: No I have not tried any coffee places yet.
Q: Favorite meal that you prepare?
ML: I usually don’t spend that much time cooking so I just make things that are fast and simple. Probably chicken, rice, mixed with some sort of vegetable.
Q: Favorite restaurant in G’ville so far?
ML: I recently went to a restaurant with some teammates called Gringo’s, a Mexican place I thought was really good.
Q: What is your favorite running event?
ML: Probably the 1500 meters.
Q: What is your favorite sport other than running?
ML: I like watching football, go Giants!
Q: What was your best finish in your conference championship during college?
ML: 2nd in the 5,000.
Q: Favorite workout session?
ML: My favorite workout we have done so far is the 1 x 1000 followed by 200’s because I like feeling fast.
Q: Which is your least favorite workout?
ML: Steady state runs because they feel like they take forever.
Q: All time favorite movie?
ML: It’s hard to say especially with new movies always coming out but I do know all the lines from Gladiator, so it was probably my number 1 at some point.
Q: Favorite musician?
ML: The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Q: Favorite running place in Greenville so far?
ML: Tuxedo up in North Carolina and Parris Mountain State Park, I like getting on soft surfaces and they both have great scenery.
Q: How much do you run each week?
ML: Somewhere between 85 and 90 miles.
Q: All time best song?
ML: Not sure, it’s hard to pick a number 1.
Q: Favorite desert?
ML: Probably ice cream, favorite flavors change daily.
Q: Favorite breakfast?
ML: Breakfast from a diner, usually the special that includes everything.
Q: Tell us the funniest thing that ever happened to you on a run.
ML: I had a teammate in college that was bitten by a squirrel…
Q: Tell us what type of employment you are looking for in Greenville?
ML: Anything. I have a degree in Business Administration and Masters in Health Management, so something related to that would be nice.
Q: Where did you go to college and how did you like it?
ML: I went to American University, I really enjoyed living in DC.
Q: What do you like best about GTC-ELITE?
ML: My coaches and teammates are great and all the support that is given to us. I am grateful for the opportunity to pursue something that I enjoy.
Nicole recently placed second among open women in the 2015 Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, GA—the world’s largest timed 10K, with 60,000 entrants Previously she had won the Women’s Invitational 5,000 meters with a time of 16:17 at the Music City Distance Carnival in Nashville, TN.
Q: Why did you decide to join ASICS GTC-ELITE?
ND: I decided to join GTC-Elite for many reasons. The main reason, however, was Coach Mike's knowledge of exercise physiology and Coach Laura's successful background in running. We also receive some of the best support I have seen from any Olympic Development team. As a member of GTC-Elite we have ASICS footwear and apparel, access to A.R.T. at Performance Therapy, a fitness garage to do our drills and ancillary work, an ElliptiGO, running form evaluation at Pro Axis, and we are less than five minutes away from great places to run. The weather in Greenville is also great, and Greenville is flourishing city.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of being in Greenville?
ND: Whether it is live music, the farmer's market, or a festival, there is always something happening downtown. As someone who likes to be out and about, an active community was another important factor in choosing what team to join.
Q: Favorite coffee place?
ND: Hands down The Village Grind. They have a lavender chocolate mocha that is absolutely amazing.
Q: Favorite meal that you prepare?
ND: Grilled chicken with fresh vegetables and a piece of Stecca bread from the Swamp Rabbit Café.
Q: Favorite restaurant in G’ville?
ND: Soby's! Any place that designates an entire section of their brunch buffet to dessert is the clear winner in my book.
Q: What is your favorite event?
ND: Probably the 10K, but the 5K is a close second.
Q: ACC or SEC?
ND: SEC all the way!! Go Dawgs!
Q: Best finish at an SEC championship?
ND: 5th in 10K and 8th in the 5K.
Q: Favorite workout session?
ND: The Lactic Shuttle. The Lactic Shuttle is a 300m workout consisting of varying race paces with a 200m "float" in between intervals. The "float" is the rest portion of the workout, but is supposed to be slightly faster than the recovery jog in regular workouts. The thing I like about this workout is that the float in between the 300’s doesn’t give you a lot of time to think about how tired you are.
Q: Which is your least favorite workout?
ND: Hills. Any type.
Q: All time favorite movie?
ND: The Devil Wears Prada. It's the only movie I have ever liked better than the book. Miranda Priestly is one of my favorite characters of all time, and Meryl Streep does a flawless job of bringing her to life.
Q: Favorite country musician?
ND: Taylor Swift. Does that still count?
Q: Best section of the Swamp Rabbit Trail for running?
ND: The soft surface between Downtown and Swamp Rabbit CrossFit.
Q: Least favorite part of the SRT for running?
ND: Where you have to cross the railroad tracks. Especially when you're on a roll and there's a train coming through so you can't cross!
Q: All time best song?
ND: Party in the USA! You can't listen to that song and be in a bad mood.
Q: Favorite color for apparel?
Q: Favorite desert?
ND: Trader Joe's Cookie Butter. In any form. Ice cream, chocolate, or straight out of the jar with a spoon.
Q: Favorite breakfast?
ND: I'm a huge fan of Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and granola. No breakfast is complete without coffee though.
Q: Tell us the funniest thing that ever happened to you on a run.
ND: Long runs through the UGA campus on game day always made for funny stories. One time, we had a group of tailgaters that saw us running and challenged themselves to see how far they could run with us. One guy made it over three miles. None of us heard if he ever made it to the game.
Q: How did you decide to move to Greenville?
AP: My sister (who’s also a runner) heard about GTC-Elite through some of her college teammates. She mentioned it to me, and I did some browsing on their website. I applied online and contacted Coach Caldwell. We had an initial phone interview. Then, I flew myself down for a visit and met with the coaches and the team. I loved what I saw – dedicated and passionate coaches, and an immediate support system of friends. Greenville is a great place to live and train!
Q: Greenville has some great places to eat. What is your favorite?
AP: Tupelo Honey! They are known for their Southern comfort food. I ate there on my first visit to Greenville with coaches Mike & Laura, and current teammate, Kim Ruck. I’ve been back several times since. Every dish is delicious!
Q: We understand that our GTC-ELITE athletes have part-time employment positions so that they can gain on-the-job experience and enhance their resumes, while still focusing on their training and racing. You are part of the “Adopt and Athlete Program” and are sponsored by ScanSource?
AP: Yes, that is correct. My AM training is supplemented with my PM part-time job in a professional work environment. Thanks to our team’s President, Bill Keesling, and Coach Mike Caldwell, for helping me network within the Greenville community. I have been employed part-time with ScanSource since September 2014. With a background in the HR field, I began working in the HR and Training & Development departments. In January 2015, I had the opportunity to transition over to the Marketing department. I’m exploring new territory and gaining experience. I thoroughly enjoy my coworkers’ sense of humor. The Marketing folks are a fun and lively bunch! I am also in the midst of developing a Corporate Shield ScanSource sponsored race.
Q: What is your favorite running shoe?
AP: ASICS Gel Nimbus hands down. It’s a heavily cushioned shoe, which I like. I’ve always worn ASICS brand running shoes for their comfort, style and narrow widths.
Q. What is your favorite racing distance?
AP: The 5K because it incorporates both speed and distance. This is the race my Olympic Trials aspirations center around.
Q: Coffee or Tea?
AP: I really like both, but if I had to pick one to enjoy for the rest of my life it would be coffee. A cup or two a day does the trick. I like coffee both hot and iced!
Q: Favorite meal that you prepare?
AP: Fish tacos – I use Trader Joe’s fish and Farmer’s Market salsa. Healthy and yummy!
Q: How many miles do you run each week?
AP: Currently in the ballpark of 65-70 miles, but our training philosophy is more time-based. My background is mid-distance running, and I faced injury (piriformis syndrome) with higher mileage in college (JMU).
Q: What is your favorite musical band?
AP: It’s difficult to pick just one because I have a wide range of musical taste! My favorite genre is definitely classic rock (thanks Dad!). Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers would be my first choice.
Q: Favorite song?
AP: Tom Petty’s, “Refugee” – I blast the song when it comes on the radio while I’m driving.
Q: Which do you like best: cross country, road racing or track?
AP: I like cross-country the best because of the grassy fields. I love soft surfaces and you can’t do much better than grass. Plus, there’s something about the wide open spaces and natural surroundings that brings me comfort and makes racing seem more effortless. Although, I’m learning to like road races since there’s usually prize money awarded!J
Q: Favorite training place in Greenville area?
AP: Well, let’s just say it’s NEAR the Greenville area: Tuxedo, NC for our weekly long runs. I absolutely love running there because of the beautiful scenery. It’s a 9 mile loop around a lake. There are attractive homes along the route and their structure incorporates nature (natural wood work).
Q: Favorite Farmer’s Market: Downtown or TR?
AP: Downtown for sure! There’s a greater vendor selection at the Downtown location. Plus, Downtown was the one I visited first, and it set the bar high for what a Farmer’s Market should be like! I love Mercy Verity candles and Daylilies salsas.
Q: Favorite workout session?
AP: As a former 800m runner, I like speed work on the track. I generally look forward to 400 repeats on Tuesdays and specific economy on Saturdays (usually 1000m or 1500m).
Q: Favorite aspects of being on GTC-ELITE?
AP: Always having someone to train with! I love cross-training on the ElliptiGO, too. I also enjoy team dinners at Mike & Laura’s house.
At the time of this interview, ASICS Greenville Track Club-ELITE's Kimberly Ruck is currently 23rd on the 2015 IAAF World Rankings at the 10,000 meter distance. Ruck's 33:17.05 performance at the Stanford Invitational on April 3rd also has her 10th in the current USA rankings.
Q: When did you consider running post-collegiately?
KR: I considered running post-collegiately when I began graduate school at USC. My roommate and I were former collegiate runners and our love for the sport only grew when we left undergrad and went to graduate school. We realized how hard it was to train without a regimented program and a team, so that’s when I contacted Mike and Laura Caldwell inquiring more information about GTCE. When I ran a mediocre race at the Greenville Downtown Run, the Caldwell’s decided that I had a lot of unreached potential and that’s when we made the agreement that I would join the team and become their first female runner.
Q: How did you decide to join the GTC-ELITE program?
KR: I was really impressed with the training regimen and benefits of the program. We have many reputable sponsors such as Asics, Boston Bills Sunglasses, and Soleus watches, as well as access to injury-prevention outlets such as Performance Therapy and Carolina Spine and Rehab. The team is also given housing on top of all the other benefits. Another big reason I joined the program was that they encouraged the athletes to have a job. I knew I wanted a stimulating job to compliment my running career and when I found that they supported that, I was sold!
Q: What are your favorite things about living in Greenville?
KR: I love all the local support, the beautiful downtown, and the somewhat predictable weather. I also like how Greenville is a growing city but can still have a small town feel with lots of opportunities for exploration.
Q: You have performed well at different distances, which one do you prefer?
KR: 10k is my preferred racing distance.
Q: What is your favorite training season?
KR: My favorite training season is the spring because I love the mix of road and track races.
Q: Each of the GTC-ELITE athletes also work in the Greenville area? What is your job?
KR: I am a Human Performance Lab Manager employed by the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville and work at the Greenville Health System.
Q: You are known for experiencing many of Greenville’s coffee/eating establishments. Which is your current favorite?
KR: Moe Joe coffee is my favorite coffee and eating establishment in Greenville. Their coffee is phenomenal, food is delicious and at night they turn into a music café and bar. They offer something for everyone!
Q: What has been your best experience since joining GTC-ELITE?
KR: I had the privilege of going out to Stanford to race an elite 10k. I was very thankful for the opportunity and it ended up being one of the most fun and memorable trips to date. I was able to travel with my coach, Laura Caldwell, and it was a blast because I had someone to share the success with and to explore San Francisco with, all which made the trip much more enjoyable.
Q: What are your upcoming goals?
KR: For this year, my goals are to qualify for USATF Championships 10k in June, get a personal best in the 5k and 10k and to remain the number one female in South Carolina.
Q: Do you adhere to any particular diet regimen?
KR: I do not adhere to any particular diet regimen, but I try to eat healthy on a regular basis focusing on whole foods. I especially love Indian, Thai and Mediterranean food and find myself eating a lot of fish and seasonal foods from the Farmers Markets.
Q: Preferred pre-race meal?
KR: Anything from Panera!
Q: What are your favorite running shoes and why?
KR: I have always been easy to please when it comes to shoes, but anything ASICS I absolutely love. I run in the HyperSpeeds on the roads, BlazingFasts on the track, and Excels and Cumulus on my easy days. I love each shoe differently and they are all durable, comfortable and reliable.
Q: What is your favorite song?
KR: Anything upbeat and techno is music to my ears!
Q: How many water bottles do you carry on your long runs?
KR: I don’t carry water bottles on my long runs, usually about 2 hours. If I need water, I will do a loop back to my car or to a water fountain and take a few sips and continue on.
Q: You didn’t compete in high school, so how did you start running at Clemson?
KR: The Greenville Track Club, my parents, and the iRun group at Run In are the ones who encouraged me to try out for the team. As a freshman at Clemson I had success in a few local road races, and next thing I knew I was doing workouts with GTC and trying out for the Clemson team. My tryout/walk-on was a one mile time trial (my first ever timed mile) and I ran a 5:23. That was good enough for the coach and I was on the team!
Q: How long to you plan to continue competing at the elite level?
KR: I plan to compete at the elite level as long as my legs, schedule, and lifestyle allow it! Definitely through 2016 and the Olympic trials, and after that I will reevaluate where I am and plan to continue if everything lines up.
For the past few years, I have typically trained mostly in either the GEL-Nimbus or GEL-Cumulus. However, I recently decided to try a lighter shoe for my tempo sessions, which would condition my legs for competing in racing flats or spikes. Therefore, the arrival of the ASICS GEL-Super J33 offered a unique training opportunity.
I am always trying to find ways to improve my leg strength as well as my running, without adding the risk of injury. The GEL-Super J33 comes from the ASICS Natural33 line, which are lightweight, natural running shoes. The model offers a soft landing with some stability, but lighter weight (7.3 oz size 10), to support my legs during tempo sessions or even longer steady-state or progression runs. The one-piece upper fits snuggly onto my foot without any overlays that cause foot irritation.
Previously, I have never been a fan of lightweight trainers, but after trying the GEL-Super J33, I have noticed a significant positive difference in my gait. The FluidAxis technology allows the foot to have a more natural foot-strike onto the ground. With another shoe to help with my biomechanics, I can only see benefits from using this model to mix up my training and bring out the best in my running over the long term. It is also nice to have a lighter and still stable shoe to incorporate in my weekly rotation with the GEL-Nimbus and GEL-Cumulus.
Adam Freudenthal was the first member of ASICS Greenville Track Club-ELITE and also works as a sales associate for the Run In in Greenville, SC.