Runner Profiles by Bob Slowpants

Monday
May222017

Sharon Williams - No Longer Weighted Down

Sharon was raised in Barrow County, self-deporting to Gwinnett County for twenty years after marriage and returning when her parents were in poor health.  The middle child between an older sister and younger brother, Sharon grew up on the family farm that had been in her family for generations.  Sharon’s grandmother retired from teaching about the time Sharon was born and was an integral part of her childhood memories on the farm.  Sharon’s father, Pat Taylor, was an accomplished professional musician, who played lead guitar for many well-known country and western musicians such as Mel Tillis, Bill Anderson, Ray Stevens, Loretta Lynn, Don Williams and Ricky Nelson (but never Bo Ryles) to name a few in the 1960s and early 1970s in Nashville, Tennessee.  Her father was inducted into the Georgia Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999.  Sharon still has her father’s music on her playlist that she listens to while running.  Her father was also a pilot and a flight instructor.  Sharon recalls spending many hours in a small aircraft with her father.

Sharon’s mother worked full time but always found time to be the “perfect mom”.  She was a Sunday School teacher and classroom helper for Sharon and her sister while working full time in the textile industry as a seamstress.  Her mother made sure that Sharon and her sister were involved in everything “girly”, to include but limited to ballet, tap, Girl Scouts, and baton twirling. Sharon considered herself physically slow in school, and recalls being picked last for relay races.  In middle-school she did excel in gymnastics, and for the first time showed promise athletically.

Sharon graduated from Gwinnett Technical College with a degree in Education.  In October 1982 she met her husband to be, Steven, while working at a bank and later he transitioned into a position as a Special Education Paraprofessional.  They were married in May 1983 and have experienced thirty-four anniversaries and raised three children.  Their daughter graduated from the University of North Georgia with a business administration degree and is a Developer of Field Operations for Benchmark Physical Therapy.  The oldest son and middle child graduated from Georgia College and State University.  The eldest is a Critical Care Nurse while the youngest son is a student at the University of North Georgia pursuing a degree in Computer Science and works as a restaurant manager.  Husband Steven is retired from senior food service management.        

Sharon at age forty-six, after routine surgery, developed some disturbing health issues.  She had high blood pressure and was thirty pounds heavier than she is presently.  Sharon was inspired by her good friend Janice Duncan to run the Frog Hop 5K at Sandy Creek Park in 2009.  Not-withstanding the “dam hill”, Sharon was hooked on running.  Since she has participated in over two hundred and sixty 5/10K races and when you read her profile she will have run twenty-eight half marathons.  Her fastest 5K was 25 minutes at a Vinings Downhill 5K.   Her best half marathon time was 2:11.  Her favorite race is the Peachtree Road Race.  Sharon and Steven have volunteered for nine years as well as run the Fourth of July 10K road race.  Sharon consistently ranks in the top five in the competitive 50-54 female age group in the Black Bag Race Series and in the 2016 Run and See Georgia Grand Prix.  Sharon’s goal is to continue at her current level of fitness and to travel to more out of state half marathons.  Steven does not consider himself a runner but relishes his role as Sharon’s “roadie” accompanying her to half marathons.  He is ever present taking photos of Sharon along the course and at the finish line.           

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Watch for the profile of Pastor Mike Taylor and profile of Marie Jesweak.

Monday
Apr172017

Buddy Davis - Once is NOT Enough (Peachtree Road Race)

As per the lead photo, this is the real “Buddy” at the Real Buckhead 5K this spring.  Buddy Davis “grew up” in Milledgeville, Georgia, the middle child of three “stuck” between two sisters.  Buddy was self-proclaimed “good at tormenting them both”.  Buddy’s environment was modified at age eleven when the family relocated to rural Georgia.  Buddy’s father was a WWII veteran of the Pacific Theater, later working for Southern Bell and in civil service.  His mon stayed at home.  She had to deal with Buddy tormenting the girls!  Buddy became a “country boy” fishing, camping out and riding his bike anywhere he could.  His first run was the eight-mile trek from his home to that of a friend in Milledgeville on a dare with no vehicle or a bike that was not working.  This experience led Buddy years later to observe the Peachtree road Race on television and observing “I can do that”.   Buddy graduated from Baldwin High in 1980.  His rural roots eventually led him to go postal as a twenty-six-year to date rural letter carrier for the United States Postal Service.       

Buddy met his wife Laura in 1987 and they married the following year.  The union has produced two daughters, age twenty-seven and twenty-two respectively.  The oldest Brittany is married and resides in Kennesaw, GA with her sister Hannah graduating from Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville this June with a degree in exercise science.  Buddy and Laura moved in 2000 to the even quieter environment of Gray, GA.  Buddy’s involvement in the Gary community resulted in Buddy being asked to organize a road race in conjunction with the Day Lily Festival, now in its soon to be fourteenth year.  Buddy enjoys organizing the Day Lily Festival 5K “almost as much as running” in the race.  He keeps the “runner in mind in every detail of the race”, and credits this prospective in attracting runners from all over Georgia to the Day Llly Festival 5K.  As Buddy laments “too many races now, doesn’t do that anymore”.                  

After several years of entering the Peachtree Road Race lottery, Buddy received a number and ran the 1982 4th of July 10K road race.  After participating in the Peachtree again in 1983 and 1984, Buddy ran his first non-Peachtree race, the Kaolin Kanter 10K in Sandersville, GA in 1984 placing first in his age group.  This was the motivation that put Buddy over the top and he has been consistently running in middle Georgia since when not delivering the mail.  The Peachtree has become a family tradition with the three Davis females accompanying Buddy in his thirty-five-year streak of Peachtree Road Races. Buddy has also competed in hundreds of 5K and 10K races in his thirty-five years of running.  His PRs   were achieved, like most of us, when we were younger. He can boast of an impressive 16:48 5K, 35:53 10K, 1:20:19 half marathon, and 3:20 full marathon.  Buddy can still huff a low twenty minute 5K at age 54.

Among Buddy’s favorite races, other than the Peachtree, are the Torture Trail 10K in Eatonton, the Christmas Rush 8K in Madison, the Brasstown Baldbuster 5K, and the Hogpen Hill Climb in Helen, GA.  Last September Buddy ran in the Blue Ridge relay on a team of twelve runners in a 208-mile relay race from Virginia to Ashville, North Carolina.  Unlike delivering the mail, Buddy experienced thirty hours of running and riding in a van with little to no sleep.  Notwithstanding Buddy’s avid race participation, he still enjoys being outdoors working in the yard or in the mountains of North Georgia.  Buddy, like most of us, laments races that are no longer available. His favorite in that category is the Sock Trot in Union Point, where runners received a race golf shirt and a BBQ lunch for $8. 

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Watch for the profile on Winder’s Sharon Williams and the profile of Pastor Mike Taylor.

Sunday
Mar192017

Victoria Patrick - A PUSH Over

Many have taken note of Victoria as she adroitly handles a stroller pushing her granddaughter, Erilynn, in local 5K races.  Even with an extra sixty pounds to push, Victoria finishes under thirty minutes.  A lot of us, including Bob Slowpants, carry an extra sixty pounds and cannot compete with her.

Victoria was born in Cartersville, GA, the youngest of four and the only girl.  Her brothers were seven, eleven, and fifteen years older than Victoria, allowing her to be “spoiled and getting away with everything”.   Her father was in the texile industry and mother was a stay at home mom.  The family moved six times between Kentucky, Alabama, and Georgia, landing Victoria in the seventh grade in Winder, GA.  Victoria graduated from  Winder Barrow High School in 1980.  She alleges the closest she came to being athletic was “timing Track and Field events so she could be near the athletes”.  Husband Eric was a senior runner when Victoria was a freshman at Winder Barrow.  They dated some but when Eric graduated he joined the Air Force.

Their paths crossed five years later.  They dated for a year before marriage, one that is in its thirty-fifth year.  While dating, Eric would return to Winder from Washington, D.C..  Not into running yet, Victoria would drive Eric’s car along side Eric while he ran so that they could talk and be together.  When they married, Victoria would ride a bike for half of Eric’s long runs and wait for him to come back to her.    

Eric is retired from the Air Force and still is a runner.  If you ever want to move to or leave Winder, Eric and Victoria own a U-Haul and Towing business there.  Their only child, Erica, is an Assistant District Attorney for Jackson County and a University of Georgia alum.  Erica is a runner and is frequently with her mother at area races.  The addition of Erica’s daughter, Erilynn, completes the only three generation participants in an area race to my limited knowledge.

Victoria began a program of aerobics and weight lifting in her early thirties but stopped after her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer.  Victoria comforted her mother through her three year battle with cancer.  Victoria began working for the American Cancer Society as the organization was promoting  a program named “Active for Life”.   It stressed healthy eating and exercise.  Victoria at age forty, decided  to “see” if she could run.  She found that she and Eric could do this together progressing from 5K and 10K distances to half marathons.  Victoria left employment with the American Cancer Society after twelve years to become a stay at home grandmother for her five year old granddaughter.  Not content to just run and nurture her granddaughter, Victoria participates in a boot camp program 4 to 5 days a week at Braselton Fit Body.  She also volunteers at Winder First Methodist church and the Tree House (a child advocacy center), plus Adult Literacy Barrow. 

Eric and Victoria have traveled to twenty half marathons to date including destination locations in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Myrtle Beach, as well as Charlotte and Talladega Motor Speedways.  Her PRs are 2:04 for a half marathon, 56.57 for a 10K, and a 5K pushing her granddaughter 29.19.  Granddaughter Erilynn loves the fun runs  and is starting the sport at an earlier age than her grandmother.

Bob checking out from the back of the pack. Watch for the profile of Buddy Davis and Sharon Williams. 

Thursday
Feb162017

Gary Hosmer - I DO Own a Shirt!

Gary Hosmer was born on February 11, 1951 in Columbus, Ohio.  His father, Air Force pilot Sam Hosmer, flew P-47s in World War II, and survived, what history confirms was, a 50% survivor rate.  Hence, Gary is lucky to be here today!  His mother Ruth was a stay at home mom who was expecting a Valentine’s baby.  

After moving several times in Gary’s formative years, his father’s final assignment was at Homestead Air Force Base (AFB) south of Miami.  Gary recalls being a “very scared eleven-year-old kid in 1962 during… the Cuban missile crisis”.  Homestead AFB was a mere ninety miles from Cuba.  Gary recalls grade school exercises where he practiced climbing under his desk and putting his head down. 

Gary graduated from the University of Florida in 1973 with a degree in Business Administration.  His first and only job was as a federal Government Service employee specializing in Human Resources.  Gary initially worked for the Department of Defense (DOD) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and later at Fort McPherson in Atlanta for nineteen years.  Gary later transferred to the Environmental Protection Agency in Atlanta where he worked in HR for another seventeen years.  

As for Gary’s illustrious running experience, he always considered himself a good athlete.  He was a “pretty fast sprinter for but not more than 600 yards, but never played in organized sports”.  Gary’s first running foray was participating in JFK’s Presidential Council on Physical Fitness standards, which included the 600-yard run/walk.  In 1979 Gary participated in his first race the Fort McPherson Roadrunner Classic with a goal of avoiding a beer paunch (he does not imbibe now) with a 23-minute finish time.  Gary’s newfound commitment to running resulting in meeting his wife of twenty-two years, Patrice, while running trails at Cochran Shoals, later marrying her on a running trail at Kennesaw Mountain.  This must be what Roy Rogers used to sing as “happy trails to you”!

Gary became serious about training in 1986 and in the next five years ran PRs in every distance from 5K to marathons as follows: 5K-17.44 (Macon), 10K-37:44 (Charles Harris in Lawrenceville), 15K-58:38 (Peachtree City), half marathon-1:23:52 (Gary acknowledges probably his best race ever on the old Atlanta half marathon course), and marathon -3:02:13 (Chickamauga).  Gary ran his first of thirty-six Peachtree Road Races in 1980 breaking his string in 2016 due to a knee problem.  Gary has been a staunch volunteer for the Atlanta Track Club since 1988, and was recognized as volunteer of the month in September 2015.

Gary stays trim running and is easily recognized as the male runner now over sixty-five years old, running without a shirt.  He has slowed down but is more than competitive as he “still loves to race for age group awards and age/current PRs”.  Gary acknowledges he “really loves the camaraderie and support received at races. I have made so many friends and acquaintances over the years that it is truly amazing”.  He lauds Gary Jenkins for what he has done for the sport of running as “the Grand Prix was a great idea and was instrumental in getting hundreds if not thousands of people running”.  He is also glad that Gary Jenkins has quit running as he is in Hosmer’s age group and “used to smoke him by at least thirty seconds per mile”.

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Watch for the profile on Victoria Patrick and profile of Buddy Davis.

Saturday
Jan212017

Jill Floyd - It's a Wonderful Running Life

When contemplating the recent Christmas holidays, like George Bailey in “It’s A Wonderful Life”, Jill Floyd has concluded that she has had a Wonderful Life…and a wonderful “running” life.  Jill was born in Sugar Valley/Calhoun (Gordon County) Georgia.  Her parents, Faye and Jim, were both in the textile industry.  Her father was employed by a company that made Women’s robes (and sold to companies like Saks, Nordstrom’s, etc.) and her mother was employed in the carpet industry.  They were not runners, but they were very active and did a lot of things together as a family.  Her father passed in 1996 but Jill’s mother, who is an inspiration to her, is still going strong at 80.  

Jill graduated from Calhoun High School in 1981 and then attended Georgia State University, moving to the “big city” at the recommendation of a professor at Dalton College who felt that it was academically a better fit for her.  In Atlanta, Jill began walking and a tiny bit of running with my newly found boyfriend Ken (who has been her husband since 1998).  After graduation in 1986, Jill became a high school Social Studies/Economics teacher and debate coach at Gordon Central High School.  During that time, she put on weight and decided to start running in 1991.  Jill lost weight with the goal of participating in the 1992 Peachtree. Her first race in preparation was a hospital race in Calhoun; then came the 1992 Peachtree—her first of many and then the Atlanta Half Marathon.

Later that summer, Jill ran races in Rome and then Ellijay that were part of the Run and See Georgia Grand Prix series.  Jill enjoyed the Grand Prix races and the people she met.  She continued to pick up a race or two here and there in different cities as she could.  As the fall of 1992 rolled around, school was back in, so that meant less time to run with her debate responsibilities (her team traveled throughout the state and nation to tournaments every weekend).  She squeezed in a ten miler and the 1992 Atlanta Thanksgiving Half Marathon.  

In 1993, Jill applied to the Japan Teacher and Exchange (JET) Program through the Japanese Consulate in Atlanta and got accepted to go to Japan.  Jill lived in Niigata, Japan from 1993 to 1996, living first in Joetsu and teaching in three high schools and then moving to Niigata City in 1994 to work for the Prefectural Board of Education (like the Georgia Department of Education) and coordinating the JET program for the prefecture as well as working with the High School Division in administration.  She says “Running was a great thing because my first week in Joetsu, I couldn’t find anything as my Japanese skills were minimal at best.  I ran everywhere, one time running round trip 12 miles just to see a friend from New Zealand in a neighboring city and riding a Granny bike (with basket) 50 miles to see another friend.  When I moved to Niigata City, the job was much more stressful and there was only one person who spoke English in my office, so running was a great release. Niigata City is still one of my favorite places to run with the Shinano River, Sea of Japan and running paths that surround the city.”  Jill ran what was her best 10K time for several years there.  Running races in Japan was an experience—the Niigata Half Marathon had only one water stop and women were not allowed to run in the Marathon in 1993—they were allowed in 1994.  She ran half marathons and even did one run of about sixteen miles after meeting a Japanese group doing an “ultramarathon”.

In 1996, Jill returned to the states and completed a Master’s degree at Georgia State in Educational Administration and Instructional Technology.  While in school, Jill secured an internship, and worked part-time for the State Department of Education while working other jobs, so her running time came to a halt.  In 1998, after graduation Jill was employed by Centurion Systems as an instructional designer building “e-learning” systems for corporations and various agencies.  Jill joined the Concourse Athletic Club that was near work and met some great people that helped start her again with her morning runs. In 1998, Jill married Ken and ran the New York City marathon after some arm-twisting from her Concourse exercise friends.  Her feet hurt so bad, but she knew she would do another one and did the next year in Chicago.  Jill trained a bit more and cutting over 30 minutes off her New York time.

From 2000-2002 her running was sporadic with work being quite hectic.  She would run the Atlanta half and other 5 & 10ks, but not very well.  However, in 2002, She ran a 10k and noticed that her time had improved, with no change in her training.  From 2003-2010, in the 40’s age group, she ran her best times at all distances.  Jill’s 5K PR was 23:45, 8K-38:00, 10K 48:00, Half marathon 1:48, and Marathon 3:55 which qualified her for Boston.  Jill ran the 2003 New York marathon 1 hours and 20 minutes faster than in 1998, and the 2008 Boston with a cold in 4:09.  In 2005, Jill heard about “ultrarunning” on a local sports radio station describing a race in Peachtree City that was eight hours, running around a track at night!  She promised her husband she would do about five hours and then call it a day.  Eight hours later, Jill had run 43 miles and set the women’s course record.  Jill was hooked again and now has run 100+ marathons and ultramarathons, including a 100 miler the black hills of South Dakota in 2008 in 25 hours and 40 minutes.  One of her best races ever was a 50 miler she ran in 8 hours 30 minutes, placing her 2nd overall—not just female, but overall in the race (a female won as well).  Unlike most of us, Jill loves ultrarunning and trail/off road running to this day!

Late in 2010, Jill had a job change and her running came to a complete halt again.  She was working a lot and became burned out.  In 2012, she returned to running, but out of shape and slower after finding out she had lingering issues from newly diagnosed scoliosis.  Jill alleges that she is still getting her feet back under her, and has run some half marathons, the Georgia Jewel 35 miler twice, a marathon, and a couple of short triathlons.  Due to weight gain, being out of shape and just being over 50 (this is nothing, wait until she turns 70), Jill thinks everything is much slower, but that’s fine—She is still doing it!  Jill is currently with Shaker Technology Group as a business analyst in tech so she works from home and has flexible hours.  Jill decided to fulfill her goal of 1992—to do the Run and See Georgia Grand Prix series. Then she found out there was a Black Bag series and a Clover Glove series! “I’ve truly enjoyed this year, traveling all over the state and meeting so many wonderful people—It truly has been a wonderful year and a wonderful running life!”

Bob checking out from the back of the pack. Look for the profile on Gary Hosmer, and the profile on Victoria Patrick.