Because ZOOMA Atlanta conveniently kicks off two days after Thanksgiving, feelings of grace and gratefulness will be lingering in the air. We’re thankful to be able to run, to spend time with family friends, to challenge ourselves and to taste the delicious feeling of accomplishment that comes with crossing any finish line. These five women, the ambassadors of the race, are especially thankful to be able to encourage you all to do your best. (And they’re also looking forward to burning a few of the calories from the Thanksgiving table.)
Callie Green Van Fleit, 35 years old
Running the: half marathon. It’s my first one.
Race goal: to run the entire race: no stopping or walking.
Best training run: While on vacation in Florida, I did my long run along 30-A from Seaside to Santa Rosa Beach. You can’t get much better scenery than that, and despite the heat, I pushed myself to run one mile further than planned. My reward? Fresh crab legs for lunch!
Worst part of running: The seemingly inevitable aches and pains that accompany it. The mental pain of NOT being able to run due to soreness or injury is often worse than the pain itself.
Thanksgiving treat she’ll burn off at ZOOMA: Asparagus pea casserole. Paula Deen’s recipe, of course.
Kristy Duckworth, 27 years old
Running the: half marathon. This will be my 10th half.
Race goals: My first goal: I’d love to beat my personal best half marathon time of 1:56. My second: to break 2 hours. My third goal, which is really the most important, is to have fun!
Running on the job: I give running tours of Atlanta for a living, so I run with other people a lot. I also try to get a few solo runs in during the week. It helps me really keep in tune with how my body is feeling and how my training is going when it’s just me and the road.
Must-have piece of gear: I wear compression sleeves on my calves whenever I’m not running. I wear them all day and night, and I swear by them; my calves always feel fresh.
Thanksgiving treat she’ll burn off at ZOOMA: hands down, sweet ‘tater casserole!
Lauren Richards, 29 years old
Running the: half marathon. This is my first.
Race goal: to encourage other women who are first timers to run and finish this the race, along with my fellow ambassador and sister, Callie.
Must-have gear: my heart rate monitor. It lets me know how hard I am working, along with motivating me when I see the final results at the end of a run.
Night owl: I typically run in the evening after work; I have never been a good morning workout person.
Thanksgiving treat she’ll burn off at ZOOMA: Do I have to pick just one? I love turkey, dressing, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie…Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love cooking, eating, spending time with family and giving thanks for the many blessings we often forget or overlook.
Leslie Cash, 31 years old
Running the: 5K. I’m currently 21 weeks pregnant so I’m leaning towards the 5K because the longer distances are getting more difficult these days.
Race goal: to run the entire thing without having to stop to use the bathroom.
Total groupie: I love to run with a group. My best run while training for the ZOOMA race was probably the first training run. It was, of course, with a group.
Thanksgiving treat food she’ll burn off at ZOOMA: PIE! I can’t really narrow it down beyond that as we usually bake a variety, and I love them all.
Most looking forward to on race day: seeing all of the women we have trained with kick butt at the race!
Mari Fridenmaker, 40 years old
Running the: half marathon.
Race goal: Goal #1: Finish strong. Goal #2: PR.
Power song: “Lose Yourself” by Eminem. “You only get one shot/do not miss your chance to blow/this opportunity comes once in a lifetime.”
Best part of running: seeing how much progress can be made with proper training.
Worst part of running: when I can’t find a port-a-potty when I need one.
Thanksgiving treat she’ll burn off at ZOOMA: Wine (wait…is that considered food?)