Sunday, February 14, 2010

Runnerdude's Runner of the Week: Stan

This week's featured runner hails from my hometown of Greensboro, NC. I've known Stan for about 12 years and we have kids about the same age. Several years ago I ran with Stan a time or two, but at the time, running didn't seem to be his thing. Fast forward to 2009...I bumped into Stan while working the NC Marathon expo last May. Wow! What a transformation! Stan was never overweight, but he had definitely lost weight since that last time I had seen him and he looked like a runner! He and his daughter had signed up to run the GO FAR (Go Out For A Run)5K that was being held in conjuction with the marathon. GO FAR is a nonprofit organization that gets kids trained for their first 5K. Running is definitely Stan's thing now. Check out his story.

Featured Runner: Stan Park
RD: So Stan, I know you’ve lived in Greensboro, NC for quite a while, but where did you grow up?
Stan: Grew up in Lincolnton, NC and have resided in Greensboro since graduating college in Chapel Hill for last 21 years.

RD: Share a little about yourself. What do you do for a living? Hobbies?
Stan: I will have been married to the same woman for 20 years in May. We met in college (UNC) and are blessed to have 2 daughters—a freshman in high school and a 6th grader. I am a partner in insurance firm—Craft Insurance Center. I run our Employee Benefits department—we help employers manage their health care cost. It has been an interesting time with health reform. I am involved at our church—Westover. Member of Nat Greene Kiwanis (of Neal Leeper fame) past board chair of the Enrichment Fund for Guilford County schools, board member of Reading Connections (adult literacy) and also Spears YMCA and board member of the Better Business Bureau. Like to read, garden and workout.

RD: Man, Stan, you’re a busy guy! How long have you been running?
Stan: Off and on for a while—ran track in high school—but that isn't saying much. Ran some 10K's about 18 years ago. Really serious in the last 20 months.
RD: What got you back into running more seriously?
Stan: Need for physical fitness. This last venture into running is a result of realizing my children needed more physical activity—after about 9 months of realizing telling them to exercise was not real effective, I made the conscious decision to change my behavior (without any fanfare) and model healthy lifestyle. 40 lbs and 20 months later—not only am I in great shape, but my oldest is on the high school cross country team and forbids soft drinks in her teenage body, my wife has completely changed our diet and is a regular at Y (and has done some mild trail running) and my youngest is committed to swimming and running along with a great diet for an 11 year old. So I think my main "thing that got me into running" was my family.
RD: Being a model for your kids and family is awesome man. Besides seeing how your running as benefited your family, what do you enjoy most about running?
Stan: It is peaceful—I enjoy the sense of accomplishment, the redemptive feeling of fatigue, the mental challenge that surpasses most any other experience we can have.
RD: You mentioned your 40-lb weight loss. That’s awesome. I used to be “the fat kid” till I lost 40-lbs in high school. So, I can relate to how good that weight loss feels. Eating right is a big part of training. What are your favorite training foods?
Stan: I like a bowl of Kashi cereal before I run. Best post-run snack is my own creation. Grabe some oatmeal (liberal amount), add Skippy natural peanut butter, some raisins and chocolate soy milk, and then mix it all up—partake in the great flavors!
RD: Are you a lone runner or do you run with some buddies? What do you like about each?
Stan: Mostly I have been a lone runner. It suits my time schedule best and I like focusing on my running and not letting my competitive instinct overtake all runs. I recently started running with a local running group called the BlueLiners (named after the blue line on the pavement where we start our long runs; also happens to be the color of the line that marks the Olympic Marathon course)—it has been surprisingly great. Good conversation and some dependability in knowing others are wanting to run on these really cold mornings. It also helps with pace—good to talk with those who are into the sport. Most of my friends just don't quite get it.

RD: I’ve been attacked by Canadian Geese in flight, had to jump over a copperhead snake, been stung in the mouth by a bee and crossed paths with a rabid coyote on my various running adventures. What's the funniest or oddest thing that's happened to you while on a run?
Stan: Usually jumping deer during dark evening runs always puts a jolt into me. It wasn't funny but before the Fun Fourth run, I ate my bowl of Kashi (as usual) and I thought the milk smelled bad, but I was more focused on the race (it was my first since my return to running). I started feeling a little odd at the very end of the race—turns out the milk was really spoiled. The next 24 hours were awful, but I finished the race.

RD: What's your biggest running accomplishment? Why?
Stan: Mainly sticking with it. I completed a short triathlon in August and placed 2nd or 3rd in my age category—it was a good feeling. Mainly though the change in my overall health and my family’s positive response to it has been the most rewarding accomplishment related to my return to running.

RD: Do you have a favorite brand of running shoe? Which model? Why?
Stan: I am still working this out. The folks at our local running store (Off’n Running Sports) have been very helpful. I’m currently breaking in a pair of Asics—previously wore Saucony—think I like the Asics better.

RD: What's your favorite race distance(s)? Do you have a favorite race you run each year?
Stan: Not sure yet—but I really enjoy trail running. Did the Triple Lakes Half Trail Run in October. I think I enjoy it because it reminds me of my childhood running through the woods. I like the mental aspect of being aware of every step and being in the woods is awesome. Yeah I think trail running is probably my favorite.

RD: If you were speaking to a group of non-runners or runner wannabes and trying to encourage them to run, what would you say?
Stan: First, you can do it and you won't regret it. Start slow—maybe even on a bike or elliptical (I like the elliptical a lot.) Getting your weight in check before subjecting your body to the rigors of running might be helpful. I have said to many who have asked me about my avid running, “You have to look at a commitment in totality. Then you have to basically look at each day and determine when am I going to work this in.” Our lives are too hectic to be stuck on a regimented plan. If you focus on a regimented time to work out and that time passes, then you miss the workout. It’s better to be focused on the dedication to working out and find the time each day, no matter if it’s the same time every day or not. You have to be flexible with your workout schedules, but inflexible with the desire and commitment.

RD: Open Mike: Share anything you‘d like about your running experiences, past accomplishments, goals, dreams….anything you haven’t previously shared.
Stan: Not sucking up—but I read RunnerDude’s Blog practically every day. It has been a nice connection to the running community and is one of the top valuable tools on the Internet. I think it is a great space for new and experienced runners—I appreciate your dedication. Goals—finish my first marathon in March—Tobacco Road Marathon in Cary, NC.
Thanks for the interview Stan! It's awesome knowing that RunnerDude's Blog has been so helpful! I hope it has for other runners as well! See ya at the BlueLine!


Claire said...

Great interview! I wish more parents were like Stan... wanting to set an example for his kids..what better reason?!!....Way to go Stan!

Johann said...

Great stuff! My dad did it for me and I'm also trying to do the same.

Sister Mary Agnes said...

I love this interview, and especially the fact that he runs with children. It is amazing how much running can enhance a child's self esteem.

Stan said...

Thank you all for the nice comments! running community is great!