Go! Running with Michael Harmon
As we celebrate our 7th Anniversary, we took a look back at some of the people who have been with us from Day 1. One of those true “been there from the start” friends was Michael. I look back and can see his smiling, cheeky self popping up at our grand opening, and on our original weekly run (Tuesday for a short period of time), at packet picks ups and special events. And before we knew it, we were hooked and had to get to know him better. He quickly went from ‘Customer’ to ‘Customer Service’, working for us part time and joining in full steam ahead with the Go! Family. If you’ve been to one of our weekly “Thursday” runs, or any Grand Prix race, you’ve probably met Michael. He’s an attorney by trade and a runner at heart. What has always amazed me about Michael, is that he is truly liked by everyone. Just speak to any trail runner, marathon maniac, road runner warrior, AURA member, track trekker and more. He has a very welcoming way about him and can relate to both the novice and the experienced runner alike. So we thought it fitting, to sit down with Michael for a chat, and here’s what he had to say about running and his life on the road.
What are your hobbies, outside of your professional life?
Outside of work, I enjoy running, traveling, gardening, beekeeping, and acting. When I’m not injured, I try to run at least three times a week. Tuesdays at the track with the fast people (I’m the slow one.). Thursdays at Go! Running or at home when work keeps me from Go! Sundays at Scott Field. Spring and summer will find me tootling around in the garden trying to do my best to raise garlic, tomatoes, peppers, okra, and eggplant. It’s good to get the hands dirty I have two beehives of honeybees but have yet to figure out how to get honey. I love the theater and occasionally be found acting a fool on one of the several theaters in Little Rock. Support local theater! Between all those hobbies, I’m always busy. Lastly, but probably most importantly, I’m ‘Gary The Dog’s’ human.
Why did you start running?
I got started running when I was approaching one of those milestone birthdays. A friend of mine said he was going to run a marathon, which caused me to think i could do that. Well, he ran the marathon. I bailed and ran the half. I decided then and there that people who ran marathons were insane. I only ran 13.1 miles and felt like l had been run over by a steamroller. So, naturally, I ran the marathon the next year. During the training for the marathon, I met Michelle Rupp. She was my running buddy and motivator during the training. Thanks to her, I was able to finish the marathon and was hooked. Since then, I have finished at least 35 marathons (I lost count) and 3 – 50Ks. I travel with work two to four times per year and usually try to find a race during my travels.
What’s your favorite thing about working with Go! Running? The people. The people who come to the store, the people who work at the store, and the people who own the store. I love getting to visit with the people who walk in the door, finding about their goals, and helping them with their goals. Working at Go! is great because it’s not like going to work, it’s like going to the hangout with running friends and socialize. Everybody has a story.
What three words describe your running? Slow. Slower. Slowest.
Do you have any quirky habits while running? If it’s anything longer than a 400m run, I will be point-running. I will pick out a point to run as hard as I can as fast as I can. Then catch my breath, walk, and repeat the point run. One day, I’ll be able to put these points together and not stop during a race.
Finish this sentence. I won’t run outside when it’s storming. I don’t mess with lightning, though I thoroughly enjoy a great thunderstorm. Anybody up to chasing tornados?
What was your best run ever? My best run ever was at the 2009 Seattle Rock ‘N Roll Marathon in Seattle, Washington. It was my birthday. It was a PR. I haven’t come close to that time since.
What’s your favorite race and why? Cossatot River Trail Half Marathon at Cossatot River State Park in Wickes, Arkansas. This race takes place in October, usually when the leaves are showing a brilliant display of orange, gold, and red. The race starts at the north end of the park and follows a single-track trail along the beautiful Cossatot River. The single-track trail meanders along the river and crosses the river before hitting the hills above the Cossatot Falls. The Cossatot River, by the way, is the only place in Arkansas that has Class IV or V rapids when the water is high. Otherwise, the rapids are rated Class II or III. The changing color of leaves, the trails, the sights of the river, and the sound of the falls, all make this race my favorite.
What do you love most about running? The socialization. Running may be an individual sport, but it is definitely a social sport.
What is a goal you have for your runnning? My goal, as it has been for the last six years, is to run the Go! Mile in 6:59.99.
If you would like to meet Michael, we invite you to stop by and chat with him on a thursday night and the rest of the Go! family. We welcome runners and walkers from all paces and walks of life. Come and be part of our running/walking community. Remember, every run begins with Go!
WRA – Celebrating 20 years of Empowering Women
Each year, Go! Running has the opportunity to meet some amazing and inspiring women all across central Arkansas through the Women Run Arkansas (WRA) clinics. This organization has been sponsoring FREE run/walk clinics across the state since 1997. This 10 week training program begins the first week in March and finishes with a 5k on May 13th. Since it’s well underway this year, we’d like to give a shout out to all the amazing women who are out there right now, making their goals a reality. Congrats.
Recently, Go! Running caught up with a few of the leaders of local WRA groups to see what they had to say about this wonderful group of women runners:
Monica Ritchie – North Little Rock
When we asked Monica what her favorite thing is about her group she said, “The smiles, the encouraging words, experiencing their successes while achieving a few of my own. Meeting so many different women with different stories, careers and personalities is incredibly inspiring. It’s absolutely refreshing and fulfilling to be part of a group with similar goals. When women find the strength they seek within their selves they find it changes them somehow. Usually for the better. It takes a leap of faith to join a large group of strangers to do something you have never done before. I think this is why we have so many return every year. It’s empowering to know that the smallest changes in your life can make the biggest impact.”
Getting to know Monica. Monica is the co-director of the North Little Rock WRA group and has been running for 7 years. She is also President of the Hot Legs Running club and enjoys exploring, running and walking on wooded trails all around the state. She especially loves her WRA running group. She loves watching women become friends and support and motivate each other at the WRA clinics. The group empowers women to run through action and understanding. They understand that every woman is different but everyone has the ability to achieve goals. This group lends support to runners and walkers of all levels and no woman is left behind on the trails.
Monica’s favorite race is the Village Creek 25K at Village Creek State Park. She said, “There is something about gorgeous trails in the woods with spectacular views that give me peace and bring me back year after year.”
Join Monica and the North Little Rock WRA group on Mondays and Thursdays at 5:30 at Burns Park Soccer Field. There is access from here to all the various paved trails in the area as well as all the gorgeous views along the river trail system.
Lisa Perk – Little Rock Fellowship
When we asked Lisa what makes this chapter of WRA so special she said, “The clinic is a truly special group – although we have many returning faces each year, our new participants seem to feel like long-time friends from the minute we start our workout. We have a dynamic group of leaders and my co-director Barbara Sugg is the peanut butter to my jelly.”
Getting to know Lisa. Lisa claims herself to be an adult onset runner, because she picked up the sport at age 39. She started running with a small group of women and fell in love with the sport. When she moved to Little Rock in 2012, she sought out the running community here, which has provided her with new friends and wonderful opportunities to give back to the running community. She especially loves working with her chapter of WRA because the group welcomes all women at all levels of running. Their group even has a stroller moms walking group. WRA is truly a judgment free place to exercise and the leaders really create a safe space where women can be enthusiastic about running and healthy living. This chapter of WRA meets at Fellowship Bible Church on Kirk Road Mondays and Thursdays from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Wendi Holzkinecht – Hillcrest
When we asked Wendi what her favorite thing is about her group, she said: “I love seeing the ladies transformation about themselves, especially Week 5, when the ladies start seeing a big change.”
Getting to know Wendi. Wendi is the director of the WRA Hillcrest Runners and has been running for 11 years. She loves this group of ladies that lead and participate in WRA. Wendi enjoys helping ladies become stronger and her favorite thing is seeing each woman’s transformation as a runner and a person. She especially enjoys week 5, when women really start seeing a change. Her favorite race is Women Can Run 5K Run/Walk event in May when everyone “graduates” at this special 5k.
Not everyone runs. You can join a walker group, where your goal is to walk up to 3.1 miles using slow-fast intervals and increase your time to 50 minutes. You can also join one of their runner groups. The beginning group run/walks and their goal is to complete a 5k and the intermediate runners train to run consistently and run at least 4 minutes before taking a break. The Hillcrest WRA group meets on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 5:30 at the War Memorial Stadium Parking Lot, corner of Markham & Fair Park Blvd.
Proud to support:
Go! Running is so proud to support these clinics. And anyone who participates can come in during the clinic (Mar – May) and mention you’re running with WRA to get a 10% discount! We’ve had the pleasure of speaking at most of the clinics in and around Central Arkansas – on topics ranging from Good Form Running, to the importance of shoe fitting, motivation, bra fitting, tech apparel and more.
Many ladies from these groups have even formed their own local running groups and stay together year ‘round! And when they finish their clinics on Thursdays, often join in with the Go! Running Thursday night runs at 6pm. If you’re interested to learn more on WRA and sign up for the May 13th 5k, you can go to http://www.womenrunarkansas.net.
Enjoy each and every moment. Some of the best women we know are out there to help.
Go! Running with Stacey Shaver
It’s time for a WOW. A shout-out to our Go! Family runner, Stacey Shaver. Our employees are a passionate part of the local running community and a big part of our family! Stacey, who has been with us from the beginning (working in the store now 5 years), just finished her 100th “distance” race (of Marathon distance or longer). And for those who know Stacey, understand that when we say longer – we mean wayyyyy longer. Since she is kind of a big deal around here, we wanted to catch up with her and share a little bit of her story with the rest of our running community.
Here’s what the “Queen of the Trails” (and our hearts) had to say about her life and her time on the trails:
1. How did you earn the nickname “Queen of the Trails?”
I don’t really know I suppose it was after winning the Ultra Trail Series several times. Friends have been very kind with their support and the nicknames. When I started trail running I fell so often I almost got nicknamed Tripper! It might be a more suited name for me actually. CNote is probably my favorite that has been bestowed upon me. Queen of the Trails is overly kind as there are so many amazing female runners in our community.
2. What’s your favorite thing to eat after you finish?
POPCORN without a doubt! I eat a home cooked, healthy, and plain version usually but splurge on the aged cheddar variety occasionally.
3. Where’s your favorite place to run?
Truly, anywhere my friends are running is where I want to be running but my absolute favorite place to go for a run is Flatside Pinnacle. The coolest race though was the Trail Rail in Montana with my friend LisaLu near Glacier National Park.
4. Tell us about your time at the store… what’s your favorite thing you like about Go! Running?
I loved the atmosphere of the Go! Running store from the first day they opened. I was still finding my way into the Little Rock Running Community and immediately found a home with Go! I had sought help elsewhere without much acceptance until Go! Running opened the doors. They had an arms wide open, everyone is welcome policy. It didn’t matter if you walked or ran, were speedy, middle of the pack, or a little slower, you were welcome and no question was considered too silly to ask. The opportunity to work at Go! Running fit so well with my philosophy of running and my idea of how people should be treated that I jumped at the chance when asked to join the Go Family. I see it as my chance to give back to the running community though the daily advice I get to give, listening to the great race stories people come in to share, not to mention the many events big or small that we at the store get to be a part of. Let me just say that my co-workers and our loyal customers are exactly that – FAMILY! I am lucky to have them!
5. How and when did you get started running?
I started running after I had my son to get fit. After step aerobic class, where an 82 year old woman could out step me, I would run on a treadmill until I couldn’t run anymore. Eventually I was able to run longer and longer. A cousin introduced me to Angie Swaim, a marathon runner in my community. She invited me on a run and after the first run had me talked into registering for my first marathon – Route 66. I ran it that same year in 4:14. I was hooked! When I moved to North Little Rock I met Steve Preston and Jenny Beard. Those two introduced me to my biggest running love – TRAILS!!!! Even as a kid I loved to explore nature. I would go off for hours and hours alone to play in the woods that surrounded our house. I had no idea such a sport existed.
6. Tell us something about you that nobody knows.
I am an open book so most who spend much time with me at all knows my life story. Those who haven’t might not know that I have a degree in Early Childhood Education because I do not teach anymore. I even taught at a British Primary School in the Netherlands many moons ago. Now that was fun!
7. How would you describe yourself.
I like to think of myself as kind.
8. If you could run anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I have a very small handful of races/runs on my bucket-list: Rallervegslopet so I can see my Norwegian friends again, Grand To Grand Ultra 7 Day Stage Race in Utah if I could swing the $3,000 entry fee, Rim2Rim2Rim with my trail buddies if I can convince them as it is not one to do alone, and the Transylvanian Bear Race in Romania.
I love an adventure and would love to run most anywhere there are trails surrounded by beautiful scenery! It doesn’t take much more than a friend saying “Hey, want to go on a running adventure” before they can tell me where I am already agreeing and planning.
9. Other hobbies?
Spoiling my family! When I am not working or running I am spending time with my hubby and kiddos! Time moves way too fast and I know my kids are not likely to stay nearby forever as they also have very adventurous spirits. I have never tried to clip their wings but I will fly with them while they are living near. Cooking and Reading is how I spend any remaining time. I Absolutely Love to Cook, which is really a part of the spoiling my family hobby.
10. After reaching 100 races… what’s your next goal? How can you possibly top this?
Very Good Question. First it was running a marathon, then qualifying for Boston, then running a 100 miles, then running 100 miles in another state, then reaching my 100th race. I was so focused on the 100th race (which had to be in Arkansas) that I haven’t given it a lot of thought yet. I suppose saving money and running the Grand to Grand Ultra 273k before I get too old to do that kind of distance.
If you would like to meet Stacey, (and seriously, who wouldn’t), we would love for you to stop by and chat with her and the rest of the Go! family. We welcome runners and walkers from all paces and walks of life. Come and be part of our running/walking community. Remember, every run begins with Go!
Want to be part of a crazy, fun-loving community? Come join us. We love our running community and want to share some news, running tips, motivation and inspiration – along with a healthy dose of humor (and who doesn’t need that now and again).
Just Go! Do It.
At Go! Running, we’re passionate about running and our mission has always been to support community races, local runners, and help people live a happy, healthy life. It was our way of giving back to the sport we love and our motivation to open the store in 2010. It’s the reason we’re still here today. We believe in community, and welcome runners and walkers of all levels.
Take a seat. Ask a question, and share a story or two.
When you stop by Go!, you’ll find a place where everyone is welcome. Terrific, knowledgeable staff (all runners, walkers, triathletes) and each of them started from the same place as you. It’s a place where you can find people who support and inspire you. A place where you can be part of this crazy, fun-loving running community.
So let’s get together. Say hello. See what it’s all about and connect with other people who are as excited about running as you are!
Join the Go! Family.
From the minute you enter, you’re part of the Go! family. We have a few community runs we do every week – rain or shine!! Every THURSDAY at 6 p.m. at the store, and a trail run on SUNDAY mornings at 8 a.m. – all paces welcome. Are you looking for other runners to connect with? Join our growing community! And don’t forget to stop back by the blog to get all the latest updates on upcoming races and everything you need to know about running/walking and living a healthy life in central Arkansas. Remember, it all begins with Go!