RUN FAR COACHES
Midtown Run Far Coordinator
After running with Run Far for the past three years and coaching for the past year and a half, I’m excited about stepping into the role of Midtown Run Far Coordinator. I have set many running goals for myself over the past three years since joining Run Far. While I feel that the Run Far program has definitely had a direct impact on my running success and my ability to reach my goals, I also feel that the other coaches and the members in the program have been a big influence on me as a runner as well.
I look forward to running with and assisting everyone in the program in reaching their goals.
8:30 – 9:30
I started running about eight years ago. I never ran before. My first running program was from a short article in a health magazine. It was probably titled “Get off the Couch and Run a 5K,” or something of that sort. I never imagined I would ever run half or full marathons. A lot has changed over the years and I have now run plenty of half’s, full’s and even a 200+ mile relay race. My training has changed too. If you have not trained in a group before, I think you will be amazed of the benefit from the group dynamic. The first year I trained with the group I cut more than 10 minutes off my half marathon time. I really enjoy seeing the improvement in my group. I have seen runners transform in the program and do some amazing things. I have a busy law practice and a busier home life. I have twin 9-year old boys and an understanding wife. I am a Cub Scout den leader and an assistant baseball and basketball coach. Time for me is in short supply. I run in the morning before I go to work. It takes a lot of discipline to go out at 5:00am. A bonus for early morning running is I get to see 200 sunrises a year. Running is my therapy; it helps moderate stress and provides a healthy recreational outlet. I am the example that you do not have to be athletically gifted to be a runner, you just have to be persistent. I look forward to running with you.
9:30 – 10:30
I ran my first 5k in 2014 after joining an after work training program offered by my employer. I joined the Run Far program in 2015 to prepare for my first 10k. Soon after completing the 10k, I surprised myself by running a half marathon (Racefest) in the spring of 2015 and feeling like I could run some more at the end. A Run Far coach encouraged me to continue training for another half marathon (Thunder Road) in the fall of 2015 and a full marathon in the spring of 2016 (Tobacco Road). I completed my second full marathon (Wrightsville Beach) in 2017. In addition to improving my fitness level, I have learned a lot about myself, gone to new places and made good friends by participating in the Run Far program.
11:30 – 12:30
DeNise Willis Gerst
My first race of any sort was a triathlon in 2009. It was great, I loved it , but I did not continue. In 2014 I ran my first 5K as a support to my husband on his weight loss journey. I liked it so much I set goal to run at least one 5K per month in 2015. This was my way to help keep me consistent. I continued my journey in 2016 completing several 5K’s and 4 milers, two 8K’s , two 10K’s, one 15K and 4 half marathons. In 2017, I set a goal to complete a marathon and began training with Run Far. I accomplished my goal in November of that same year. Running not only helps me stay fit, it also helps me release stress and keeps me energized. I am a natural encourager and I fully believe in the saying “Your race, your pace.” My new lifestyle has encouraged friends, family and co-workers to embark upon a lifestyle change as well. When I am not running or training, I love to write (I’ve written 3 books including one about surviving in the public school system), speaking on educational concerns, encouraging fellow educators, singing and dancing liturgically. I encourage you to get fit, but never quit!
8:30 and Under
In the Summer of 2012, I decided to make a lifestyle change because I was overweight and out of shape. I set out on a journey to lose 40 pounds, get in shape, and never allow myself to look and feel like that again. I started by walking an hour a day, seven days a week. After a couple of months, I decide to try running a mile and it almost wiped me out. I slowly kept increasing my distance and when I was able to comfortably run 3 miles, I ran my first 5k. Over the next two years, I continued to run three to five times a week, gradually increasing my distance and speed. In the Summer of 2013, I decided to train for the Thunder Road (now Charlotte) marathon on my own and successfully completed it. In 2014, I ran a race about every two weeks on average and placed in my age division for the first time at the Greek Fest 5k. In 2015, my goal was to run the same 19 races that I ran the year before and try and place in every one of those 19 races. While I felt that I had done fairly well training on my own, I decided to join the Run Far program in the Spring on 2015 to help me reach my goal of placing in 19 out of 19 races. Because of my success in the Run Far program, my running improved and I ended up placing in 18 out 19 races in 2015. In the Fall of 2015, I decided that my next goal would be to qualify for the 2017 Boston Marathon. In March of 2016, I ran the Wrightsville Beach marathon and qualified for Boston. A month later, I ran the Kentucky Derby marathon in Louisville and qualified for Boston again. In April of 2017, I ran my first Boston Marathon. To date, I have 11 full marathons and 11 half marathons under my belt. I started coaching with Run Far in the Summer of 2016. I enjoy helping other runners reach and exceed their goals in the same way the Run Far program has allowed me to reach and exceed my goals.
8:30 – 9:30
My running journey began 15 years ago when I made an impulsive decision to register in a lottery for a marathon. Lucky me, it was the first lottery of any sort that I had won in my life. Six long months later, after breaking in my first pair of running shoes, discovering chafing and blisters, learning about electrolytes, and logging miles and miles of run-walk training, I accomplished a full marathon and experienced the indescribable joy of accomplishment. Years later, I proudly classify myself as “a runner” and I am grateful that running is part of my life. Running fuels me with positive energy, and helps me stay centered when I allow my plate to get too full. A fellow running mate often reminds me “80% of life is just showing up” and I subscribe to that. Belonging to the Run Far group has greatly influenced my commitment to prioritize exercise and a healthy lifestyle and I’m so happy to be part of it.
10:30 – 11:30
I’ve been a runner since grade school, participating in track and cross-country. I ran my first half marathon in 2009 and have been hooked on longer distance running ever since. I started training with Run for You in 2012 for my first full marathon, Thunder Road. I returned in 2013 as a coach and have been doing it ever since. I’ve run one ultra (50K), several marathons, and countless 13.1s. I’ve made many long lasting friendships with the run group and look forward to meeting new runners every season. I enjoy helping them reach their goals and set new milestone distances.
12:30 & Up and Run / Walk
Tired of open-ended or non-committal New Year Resolutions, I decided 2011 was the year to try my hand (or rather, my legs) at running and set my mind to running my first ever 5K. Six years and quite a few races later, I’m still at it!
I started running with the Run Fit/Run Fast run program in 2011 and graduated into the role of Coach in 2012 at the University location of Run For Your Life. Having moved further south of Charlotte, I hung up my Coach shirt in 2015 and found myself looking for a run group closer to home. After searching far and wide, I found myself right back at Run For Your Life but a little closer to home, at the Midtown location.
I particularly enjoy working with first time runners and runners new to longer distances. Having been a new runner not so long ago, I feel that I have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share.
In addition to running, I am also a triathlete having completed my first triathlon in 2012 and a half ironman in 2015. I enjoy swimming, cycling and pretty much anything else that can be done outdoors – although I leave the golfing to my husband.
8:30 and Under
I joined the Run Far training program (called USA Fit at the time) in 2008 at the age of 41 to train for my first marathon. My oldest son was 9 years old at the time, and as I walked up the 2 flights of stairs to my office one morning, I was out of breath and it struck me that I hadn’t really exercised very much since my son was born, certainly not consistently.
I decided to run a marathon that year because I wanted to do something that was challenging enough that I couldn’t fake my way through the training. I was pretty active for most of my life and was always able to pick up and go run 5 miles, even after months of no training. But my experience running a half marathon in 2001 taught me that the marathon and half marathon distance is no joke. I joined the Run Far program because I didn’t really know how to train for a marathon, and I knew that I wouldn’t stick to a training program on my own. I wanted and needed the accountability that comes from telling other people that you will meet them for a run.
The group of people I ran with that year, and the almost 10 years since have been much more than that. Not only did I have great coaches helping me through my initial struggles with getting back in shape, but I have met great friends who not only helped to hold me accountable to my goals, but also supported me on the bad run days and cheered me on when I crossed the finish lines. I ran a 3:31 in my first marathon that year and was hooked. I started as an assistant coach with the program the following year and was a head coach for a few years after that.
Since running my first marathon in Charlotte, I have completed 11 marathons in total. I ran a 3:17 PR in 2011 and achieved my goal of qualifying for the 2012 Boston Marathon. I’m excited to be coaching with the Run Far program and look forward to seeing you out on the roads of Charlotte.
9:30 – 10:30
I started running in 2013 when I moved to a new town and wanted to meet some people. I ran some as a kid and in a little bit in high school, but it never stuck before then. I was one of those crazy people who ran a full marathon before a half marathon. My first marathon was in 2014 in Chicago. It was such an amazing experience and I knew immediately after completing that I would do another full. I moved to Charlotte in 2014 and did the marathon training completely on my own in a city I didn’t know. Since then I have ran NYC marathon and Marine Corp, both of which races I trained with Run Far. My big goal for running is to run the World Marathon Majors. I truly enjoy running and never want to be without it. I tend to be very go with the flow and not stress over upcoming races. Running for me is more about the training than actual race day. I don’t do a whole of racing and tend to stick to a few races a year. I’m super excited to be returning for my third season of coaching this pace group!
10:30 – 11:30
I was never a runner or had any interest until I reached the age of 60. As with many others of a certain age I had become overweight and basically out of shape. My daughter encouraged me to diet and train for a 5k which I did. I successfully completed that 5k and said I would never do anything longer. Next thing you know I had been talked into a 10k and then a half marathon. I had become hooked on running. I retired in 2012 and made one of my better life decisions in joining the RunFar group to train for a marathon. While my time was not great I did complete it. The next year I was asked to help lead one of the pace groups in training. I was not sure about doing this but agreed. I started those duties in 2013. I believe I have received much more inspiration and encouragement from those in my group than I could have possibly given out myself. With the group’s encouragement I have ran numerous half marathons and six marathons. I particularly enjoy the chance to mentor those training for their first half or full marathon. I consider myself a social runner. Getting to know fellow runners and making new friends is my favorite part of the program.
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