Runner Profiles by Bob Slowpants

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.

Sunday
Dec182016

Thomas Linski – Running is like a Second Chance in Life

Tom was born in Milwaukee Wisconsin, the second of four boys. Times were tough growing up in a basement apartment.  Dad worked as a machinist in a foundry while mom took on numerous jobs in the stocking/clothing manufacture field, catalog companies and 5 & 10 stores. Even the payment of fifty cents a quarter for tuition at the local catholic school, was difficult and payment usually late. Catholic education continued in high school and the love of playing sports, baseball, basketball & football, all four years, got him thru graduation.

Early on, work was never a problem.  He delivered the local newspaper, was an usher at the theatre and installed auto seat covers & convertible tops on used autos.  His first full time job was as an assistant purchasing agent in the local hospital.  Working there 2 years and attempting some college credit, he still didn’t settle down. 

The next step was the military and he entered the Air Force and basic training at Lackland AFB Texas in1961.  What intended to be a four-year enlistment resulted in a 26 year military career.  His first 13-month assignment was in the state of Maine, at a radar site.  After which, he returned home, married the girl left behind, Mary Lee of Marquette, Michigan and their travels began.  Overseas assignments included Korea, Germany, Vietnam, The Netherlands and Sicily. Their two children, David and Kathleen, continually experienced new schools as the travels continued to stateside assignments in Florida, Nevada, Kansas, California, Louisiana and Georgia.  During those years his brothers also served in the military, Air Force and Marine Corp totaling some 54 combined years.  This compulsion to serve was a severe strain on the parents, almost unbearable when they lost the youngest in Vietnam 1967.  Now 1987, Tom retired from the military and began another 10 year period at Robins AFB Georgia, civil service, in the logistics management field.

Tom enjoys following his boyhood sport teams including the Wisconsin Badgers, Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and the Marquette Warriors of Milwaukee.  A bass fisherman for years, upon arriving in Georgia 1979, he began hunting waterfowl, small game, and big game including deer, elk and caribou.  In the turkey world he has registered several Grand Slams, two Royal Slams and one World Slam with the National Wildlife Turkey Federation.

The ease of retirement at the Lake Sinclair home site, ordinary aging and travels to the many hunting lodges brought about many health problems.  Tom enjoyed eating at the lodges, just as one would on leisure cruises. His weight ballooned to over 400 pounds, he had knee surgery, suffered with diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems became the norm

The thought of a shortened life, no more hunting, loss of enjoyment with the four grandchildren, meant a change was necessary.  A lifestyle change took place with Tom reaching out to a dietitian, walking outdoors/indoors at Wal-Mart, Kroger’s and membership at the locale gym’s Silver Sneakers exercise program.  Within some thirteen months, participation in a weight management contest, prayers and entrance in his first, be it incomplete 5k in February 2012, he had lost some 207 pounds.  Life was restarted. The first full year of running up and down interstate 75 was 2013.  The following year his Garmin GPS found the various small towns/communities of Georgia, the Biggest Losers 5k’s  at Six Flags Georgia, Panama City Beach Florida and Georgia’s Golden Olympics, Warner Robins.  Another special event included running a leg, carrying the Special Olympics Torch with a group from Soperton to Dublin, Georgia.  During the year 2014, he was able to complete some 94 events, and the weekends were now totally consumed with spending time with the new found “Running/Caring Family”.  Tom never led the pack during any running event unless permitted to start early, but found comfort in the “back of the pack” meeting other new runners.  He not only encouraged them to never give up but to begin that new lifestyle with healthy eating.  Tom has competed in the 70-74 age groups and now 75+.  His favorites include those listed in Run & See Georgia along with the Black Bag Series where he placed 5th and 3rd the last two years.  

Looking back Tom and his wife, friend, hunting/fishing partner Mary Lee, recently celebrated 54 years of marriage.  Their two children David the oldest, lives in Alabama.  He is a previous computer science major however will be ordained a Presbyterian Minister in December 2016. Kathleen, their daughter followed in Tom’s footsteps and is working as a civil servant, Contract/Acquisition Manager, at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.  A recent auto accident took the life of one grandson, only 22 years old.  While another serves as a Sheriff in Macon, yet another continues his college studies, and lastly the grand daughter is a Registered Nurse in a children’s hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.  Tom & Mary Lee still live at Lake Sinclair and attend Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Milledgeville. They are slowly preparing to downsize, sell off the many treasuries acquired over the years and move to a local apartment size dwelling.

The good life continues for Tom & family especially after the weight loss and lifestyle change.  The almost daily workouts at the gym, discipline learned in the military or stubbiness as his wife calls it, prepares him for the Saturday morning ever enjoyable running rituals.  His mantra continues to be “what happens during the race isn’t important except, to cross both the starting and the finish line”.   Tom is leading the 75-79 age group in the Run and See Georgia Grand Prix, and finished 2nd in the Black Bag Race Series, and is second in the Clover Glove race Series 2016 standings.

Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Look for the profile of Atlanta's Jill Floyd and of shirtless Gary Hosmer.

Friday
Nov112016

Heather Sloan - Her Engine is Still Running!

Heather was born in Toccoa, Georgia.  The family later moved to Winder, and settled in Athens.  Heather was the youngest of three children of her father pharmacist and runner Bill Tweedell (profiled in October 2015) and mother Joan, who was a stay at home mom until Heather attended middle school. Heather’s birth sealed the family decision to trade their 1964 Pontiac GTO for a station wagon that would accommodate the growing clan.  Heather, to this day, regrets that the GTO was sold!

Young HeatherHeather graduated from Clarke Central High School in 1988 and enrolled at the University of Georgia (UGA).  Beyond a couple of Anthropology classes, college did not hold her interest.  Heather left UGA after two and a half years entering the work force.

Heather met her husband David in 1996.  David was a runner (in good weather) and participated in occasional races such as the Marigold 10K.  After watching him and wondering what it would be like to try running, Heather ran after David until they married in 2002.  The newly marrieds moved to David’s home community of Winterville.  David was an instant hit with Heather’s family as he, like her father and brother, liked to work on older cars.  Among those restored by David was a 1960 Chevrolet Impala that he gave Heather as a birthday gift.  Heather and David have still spent many weekends with Heather’s father, her brothers, her son, and grandson at area car shows.

Heather with her Classic CarsDavid has slowed down due to an injured Achilles Tendon and Heather’s health has deteriorated.  She was diagnosed with Psoriatic and Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2000.  Heather experienced inflammation in her chest and lungs, plus had joint and bone damage in almost every joint in her body.  Her physician recommended cardio exercise to strengthen her lungs.  Heather’s sister had started running, influencing her father Bill to do so.  Heather wanted to join them starting the Couch to 5K program in July 2013 leading to her participation in her first 5K, the Butterfly Dreams in late August.  She ran New Years at Noon in 2014 and noticed other runners picking up their year-end awards.  A motivated Heather and her father ran seventy-two race in 2014.  They even began to do two races a day only to find that other runners were occasionally doing three to four races in a day.  Heather placed first in the female age 45-49 age group in 2014 in the Run and See Georgia Grand Prix.  She completed her first half-marathon, the River Vista at Dillard, with her sister Melissa.  Heather in 2015 completed one hundred races earning first place in her age group in the Black Bag Race Series and Clover Glove Race Series, and second place in the Run and See Georgia Grand Prix.  Heather also completed the Smoky Mountain Half Marathon accompanied by her mother who drove her to the race.  

Heather with dad and sisAdditional complication of Ankylosing Spondylitis (rheumatic disease of the spine) have modified Heather’s race participation to run walk mode.  Her lower spine is curving at a 90-degree angle with her lower vertebrae out of alignment affecting the nerves in her legs and feet.  Despite shooting pains and numbness when running, her physician encourages her to “keep moving” as long as she is able to do so.   Her favorite race is any race with her father.  Heather observes that she “knew running would be good for her heath but never dreamed of the great friendships” she would make with so many “inspiring people”.       

 Bob checking out from the back of the pack.  Look for the profile on senior runner Tom Linski and on Jill Floyd.

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