Athlete's Spotlight Archive
November - Kris Greene, firefighter and owner of Kris Greene Cycles
December - Simon Kessler, professional cyclist and cycling coach
January - Erin Demarines, triathlete and founder of 3bar
February - Jimi Kiner, University of Tampa swim coach
March - May - Fred Vasconi, Founder of the Tampa Blue Sharks Running Team
June - Lynn Gray - A RRCA Certified Coach and an accomplished long distance runner
July & August - Myrna Haag - World class athlete with a fountain of knowledge on nutrition
Sept - Seminole Heights Bicycle Club
Oct - Dec - Brian Landman – A runner with an exotic career
Jan - Lisa Jamison - Lisa Jamison and her “I’ve got your back” campaign
March - Gloria Marchese - Safari Ventures Cycling Tours
Firefighter, Avid Cyclist and Owner of Kris Greene Cycles, Inc.
Just how a firefighter becomes a bike mechanic that everyone trusts? Read on to find out...
GAT: Who is Kris Greene?
KG: I am a firefighter in Tampa. Growing up, I hung out with my childhood buddies whose fathers were firefighters. I became fascinated with the profession and decided that that’s what I would do. I took the required test and went back to the father of a friend of mine and told him that I was all ready to go. Unfortunately, the city put on a hiring freeze for 3 years. I finally made it and I have been a firefighter for 30 years. I am going to retire in 6 months.
GAT: So what did you do during those 3 years?
KG: Well, I had to do something to pay the bills so I made a living as a carpenter. I was part of the team that constructed the Tampa International Airport and the University Square Mall. I also did some welding, building gymnasium equipment and race cars. A lot of the skills that I learned as a carpenter carried over to what I do now as a firefighter and bike mechanic. I have always enjoyed the process of building something and it always gives me a great sense of accomplishment when a job is done right.
GAT: How did you get into cycling?
KG: Well, one day my wife Tammy and I decided we wanted to go for a picnic and we had no bikes. So we went to buy 2 mountain bikes for ourselves. Later, we sold the mountain bikes and got us a road bike and we’ve been cycling ever since. We also got into adventure racing for a little while.
GAT: Tell me about your bike shop. How did you become a bike mechanic? It seems quite an odd transition from being a firefighter?
KG: When I was into adventure racing, I got to know this gal who is a licensed bike dealer. She showed me what she did and I got to thinking maybe I can do the same thing as well. I was so excited about the possibility of not having to lift those heavy auto parts and equipment again. After all, a bike is only 35 pounds. My inquisitive nature always prompts me to tweak things around. I would always like to take things apart and put them back together a different way to see if it would get better results. I have always had a knack for building and crafting things. So I went to get my license, thought of a business name and got the bike shop started. Kris Greene Cycles has been around for about 6 years and I have many customers to thank.
GAT: So what are some of the places to ride in the Tampa bay area?
KG: We always like riding on the Suncoast Trail, the Pinellas Trail, Withlacoochee Trail, Davis Islands and Flatwoods. Our bike shop has weekly rides at Flatwoods and Davis Islands and they both draw quite a crowd out there each time. The last couple months we have been doing a lot of hill rides at San Antonio since a lot of us were getting ready for the 6 Gap ride in Dahlonega, Georgia.
GAT: Are you going to do a triathlon?
KG: I’ve always wanted to compete in a triathlon but have never really been a good swimmer. When you are out there in a race, those swimmers are not watching out for you. They are out there to swim as fast as they can. I wanted to gain a little more confidence before I signed up for my first triathlon. This friend of mine taught me how to swim with proper technique and I would practice on the beach at the Causeway. When I swam, I would think about what he taught me, like hand entry, body position. I asked him how much longer he thinks I will be ready for a triathlon. He told me 6 months!!! I was really discouraged by his response and really wanted to give up. Then I got this book written by Terry Laughlin of Total Immersion and I became fascinated with the theories he employed in swimming. I followed the advice in that book and went out practice again and I was able to swim about half a mile without using much energy. I knew I was ready and so I signed up for a reversed triathlon (run-bike-swim) and finished.
GAT: What are some of the advices you can give to beginning cyclists?
KG: Well, I think the most important thing is to find a bike shop that is competent and that you can put your trust in their staff. I also think that a bike shop should spend the time with you until you completely satisfied with whatever you are purchasing, after all, its all about the bike. It’s also very important that your bike is well maintained, and fits you correctly.
GAT: Kris, what is your plan for Kris Greene Cycles in the future?
KG: I’m at the point now where I’ve outgrown my location now, I’m currently looking for a larger commercial building so I can carry a wider array of products and give my customers more choices. Providing great customer service has always been my niche. Most of my businesses are from referrals so nothing pleases me more than having a happy customer walking out of my shop.
GAT: Kris, here comes the 5 questions that everyone wants to know your answers to. Favorite music?
KG: Easy listening jazz
GAT: Favorite pre-workout and post-workout meal?
KG: For me a baked potato, and post a Cuban sandwich
GAT: Favorite indulgence?
KG: There are lots, pizza, burgers, chicken fingers, fries
GAT: Kids or pets?
KG: Sorry no kids, and all of my past pets have passed on.
GAT: What are you doing when you are not working or riding?
KG: Spending valuable time with my wife TAMMY!
On a personal note: We first got to know Kris from Tampa Bay Runners, a local running club in Tampa. When my husband finished his first triathlon, I decided that I wanted to be in on all the fun, too. Kris brought out the perfect triathlon bike to a bike ride to show me and I just fell in love with it. He has helped me started in the sport of cycling and triathlon and has given me numerous helpful advice and led me on many enjoyable bike rides. Over the years, we have come to know Kris as the most hard working, competent, and honest bike mechanic in the Tampa Bay area.
Kris Greene is the owner of Kris Greene Cycles located just 5 minutes north of downtown Tampa. He can be reached at 813-376-4671 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Bike shop opens Monday thru Friday 9am to 5pm, and on Saturday noon to 5pm. Kris Green Cycles also leads group ride at various locations in the Tampa Bay area. See our cycling page for more details.
Professional Cyclist and Cycling Coach
A young kid, growing up in South Africa, with drive and passion for cycling and becoming a professional cyclist and cycling coach. Who is he? Read on to find out…
GAT= Get Active Tampa
GAT: Simon, it’s so nice to finally meet you!!
Simon: Same here.
GAT: For those of us who don’t know who you are, tell us a little about yourself.
Simon: I am from South Africa, my mother is German and my father is French. Growing up, my dad was into the sport of cycling and naturally I was exposed to the sport and really enjoyed it. At the age of 12, I started track racing. Track racing is particularly popular in Europe but not so much so in the United States. It is done on a banked surface and there is no brake on the bike. So it is a form of cycling that requires some skills and control of your bike. I also competed in road racing in France for 3 years. Unfortunately, I had an injury that required an operation and I briefly ended my competitive cycling career when I was 20 years old. 3 years later, after yet another operation, I decided to try and become a professional cyclist again. It took me almost a year of very intense training and racing to achieve a high enough level to be able to land a pro contract. I raced as a pro for 6 years with the Minolta, IBM Lotus, and Microsoft teams. I also competed with the national team of South Africa in Malaysia and Korea.
GAT: Wow, that is an impressive resume. So how did you end up in this country, and specifically Tampa?
Simon: Well, my wife is also from South Africa but she and her family has immigrated toTampa 10 years ago. She grew up in South Africa just 2 miles away from where I grew up but we never met. She was coming to South Africa for a wedding and we met on the bus on the way to the airport. I asked her for her number and we had our first date in Paris 3 months later. We now have a 2 year old daughter named Hannah Paris.
GAT: That is unbelievable!!! And congratulations on having a daughter.
GAT: So what are you doing in Tampa?
Simon: I am now a cycling coach and run my own coaching company called Simon Says Cycling. It is based in New Tampa.
GAT: How did you become a coach?
Simon: I have actually been coaching since I was racing competitively and professionally. I was in charge of the teams’ training plan and mentoring young cyclists on the teams. This naturally leads me to becoming a full time coach. I have trained local pros, triathletes, and cyclists of all levels. Most of my business comes from referrals.
GAT: What type of services do you offer?
Simon: I offer workouts and technique tips, training plans, and coaching packages. Depending on the packages you desire, you can e-mail or call me and we can revise your customized training plans. Most of the athletes I coach make significant improvements. Sometimes improvements may not only mean riding faster, but also understanding the dynamics of riding in a pack better, or just feeling better and more confident on the bike and enjoying the overall riding experience more. We are feeling beings and if we feel better and more confident about our riding then improvements often follow.
I am also interested in setting up camps and tours. Cycling camps can be one of the most effective and fun ways to learn more about the sport. I think that we have a lot of great locations for cycling camps in Florida. San Antonio is right here in our backyard. It could be a weekend camp where we spend a couple nights in a bed & breakfast and go out for a ride in the morning and then have a lecture on cycling in the afternoon. As for tours, tours to Europe will be very popular especially during the Tour de France. These are all things that are in the works and I am really excited about them.
GAT: Sounds like you have something for everyone. So how is racing compared to coaching?
Simon: Racing is very selfish, the focus is always on you. When you compete professionally, you train for about 4-6 hours a day and then you have the rest of the day for yourself. However, racing tends to be more stressful since you have to deal with sponsors, directors, teammates, and other things. When you are tired and just don’t feel like riding on a race day, you have to just suck up and go out and do it. You can’t say you are going home, there is no home to go to. On the other hand, coaching is about the athlete, and more importantly caring for the athlete as a person. I believe that if you genuinely care for the person you are coaching, then better results will come out of it.
GAT: So where do you get your carbohydrate when you are training?
Simon: I would eat some cereals or energy bars. My favorites are the Lara bars and Cliff bars.
GAT: So do you miss racing competitively?
Simon: I thought about it sometimes but I am so involved in coaching now that is all I do. It is a very rewarding job. Recently, one of the athletes that I coach finished ahead of the Tour de France winner Alberto Contador in the Tour of Missouri time trial and only 30 seconds behind the overall tour leader George Hincapie.
GAT: Wow, congratulations!! Although you are not racing anymore, are you still training?
Simon: Yes, I am still training.
GAT: Where are some of your favorite places to ride when you train?
Simon: Since my coaching service is based in New Tampa, we ride at Flatwoods a lot. We also go out to San Antonio on Sundays and occasionally do the Greco ride. On Wednesday night, we have a time trial group coaching session at Flatwoods at 6:20pm. We meet at the Bruce B. Downs entrance. Thursday’s I coach a group from Oliver’s Cycle Sport in New Tampa at 6:30pm. Training here is geared more to group skills and race simulation.
GAT: Simon, before we wrap up the interview, here are the 5 burning questions everyone wants to know your answers to. What is your favorite music?
Simon: Something relaxing and easy listening.
GAT: Favorite pre and post workout meals?
Simon: I like organic cereal and energy bars.
GAT: Favorite indulgence?
GAT: Kids or pets?
Simon: 2 year old daughter Hannah Paris.
GAT: Finally, when you are not training or coaching, what are you doing?
Simon: Spending time with my wife and daughter.
GAT: Well, Simon, thank you so much for sharing with us your journey in cycling. We wish you the best of luck in your coaching endeavor.
On a personal note: I have to admit that first time meeting a professional cyclist, I was pretty nervous. But Simon’s laid back and polite personality put me at ease. If you are looking to improve your cycling or just want to feel better on the bike, Simon can certainly help you achieve your goals. He has the expertise, a proven track record, and gives you the individual attention that you want from a coach. Simon genuinely cares for his athletes and provides individually customized plans for you.
Simon Says Cycling coaching services are tailored to the individual and include monthly Coaching Packages, Training Plans, Local Sessions, Camps, and Tours. They know what it takes to achieve personal victory and athletic success. In their many years of coaching they have helped top professionals, national champions, and a world champion medalist. Simon Says Cycling caters to road cyclists, triathletes, and mountain bikers of all levels. Whether you want to ride 2-3 mph faster or compete in your first race, they can show you the fastest and most effective way to achieving your goals. To contact Simon Kessler, go to www.simonsayscycling.com.
Erin DeMarines Triathlete and founder of 3bar
How do you turn a homemade cookie into a healthy and tasty energy bar? Read on to find out.
GAT = Get Active Tampa
GAT: Erin, how are you doing?
Erin: Busy, but good, just trying to track down my shipment of the bars. I was promised 5 cases but I only received one so I have some work to do.
GAT: How are the 3bars doing?
Erin: They are doing great. They are selling faster than I can fill them.
GAT: So where did this idea of an energy bar come from?
Erin: I used to make cookies out of my own kitchen and gave them to my personal training clients and they all loved them. So I started making more and more and started selling them. Then I got to thinking what if I modified the ingredients a little, how are they going taste? What if I added more protein to it or switched to olive oil? I would always like to tweak it to make it better and healthier. Next thing I knew, they became healthy energy bars.
GAT: I remember when we first met, your energy bar was called e-bar rather than the current name 3bar and they had to be refrigerated. You used to carry a cooler full of e-bars out to track practices. I liked them the way they were already even though they had to be refrigerated.
Erin: Yeah, it took me 5 years working with a food scientist to come up with a version of the energy bar that doesn’t require refrigeration. It took us quite some time to form a stable product without preservatives and with the right blend of protein and other natural ingredients in it. It was a long process but I am very happy with the result. As for the name, the idea behind the e-bar is that this is the bar for everyone. But our marketing group thinks that it may be difficult to target an energy bar towards a general audience. We then examined what’s out there on the market and we felt that the market lacked an energy bar that is targeted towards triathletes. We believed that this is a segment of the market that had huge potential but was neglected. With my background in running, triathlon and personal training, we felt that we could really serve this market well, so we decided to give it a try, hence the name 3bar.
GAT: Any exciting news for 3bar?
Erin: We are going to sponsor the awards ceremony as well as the celebrity breakfast at the Ironman Championship in Kona this year so we’ll be spending a week there in Hawaii. We are really excited about the opportunity. We are also very close in getting the legendary Dave Scott (a former professional triathlete and 6-time Ironman World Champion) to endorse our product. Ironman finisher and professional triathlete Desiree Ficker also endorses the 3bar.
GAT: How do you know so much about nutrition?
Erin: I have been a personal trainer for over 10 years and through personal experience and clients that I train, I have come to understand the importance of nutrition to maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle. I started studying nutrition and became a certified sport nutritional consultant.
GAT: How did you get into running, triathlon and the fitness industry?
Erin: Growing up, my dad was an avid runner. I would always run with him since I was a little girl and I have been running for as long as I can remember. I have always been involved in sports such as running, gymnastics, etc. I actually graduated with a communications degree but my passion for fitness naturally led me to where I am at now. I cannot believe that I am so fortunate to be doing what I am doing for a living. Sometimes people say your paths are chosen for you and it certainly resonates with me.
GAT: Is there anything else that you are trying to do besides the energy bar?
Erin: My parent company e-fit Foods, Inc. also develops 13 other health products besides our 3bars. One other product that is very popular is the e-Pop organic popcorn. It comes already popped and is loaded with protein. There is also no saturated fat or trans fat in it. It is definitely much healthier than movie theatre popcorn.
GAT: How did you become such a successful entrepreneur while being a personal trainer and staying fit yourself?
Erin: I have always been passionate about the sports of running and triathlon. My friends told me that I am the most persevered person they have ever met. My protein supplier has been with me since the very beginning and believing in me. I guess sometimes you just have to believe in yourself, too, and don’t give up.
GAT: Have you done any races lately?
Erin: Yeah. My boyfriend and I just finished a half ironman up in Michigan. We had a great time. He passed me on the bike leg, that’s his strength but then I passed him on the run which is my specialty. When I caught up to him on the run, I decided to slow down and run with him so we both finished together. The weather was nice, there was no humidity. The course has some hills but nothing too much even for a beginner so I highly recommend it.
GAT: Erin, here are 5 burning questions everyone wants to know your answers to.
Erin: Beastie Boys
GAT: Favorite pre and post workout meals?
Erin: 3BAR and 3BAR
GAT: Favorite indulgence?
Erin: Venti Iced Soy Chai from starbucks
GAT: Kids or pets?
Erin: Pets for now but hope for kids one day!
GAT: What are you doing when you are not training and working?
Erin: Spending time with friends and family
On a personal note: Erin is definitely one of the most inspiring women I have come to know in the Tampa Bay area. She is passionate about the sports of running and triathlon and has translated her passion into a successful business empire by producing a product for those who share the same interests and passion as she does.
Erin DeMarines is a sponsored triathlete and president and founder of e-fit Foods, Inc. 3Bar is an energy bar that is formulated to be a balanced, all-natural energy bar that is diabetic-friendly, safe for hypoglycemics, vegans and vegetarians. 3Bar is also a Kosher product. Its balanced nutritional ratio combines protein, carbohydrates, and essential fats into an easy to digest energy source. It has 3 flavors: blueberry blast, cocoa crunch and tropical tri. 3Bar can be found in Sweet Bay supermarkets, local bike shops and health and organic grocery stores in the Tampa Bay area. To contact Erin or purchase 3bar online, go to www.tri3bar.com.
Jimi Kiner, University of Tampa swim coach
Swimming your way to becoming a swim coach… the story of a college standout swimmer and coach of the University of Tampa swim team, Jimi Kiner.
GAT: So Jimi, how are you?
Jimi: I am doing great. I have just been really busy.
GAT: How is the masters swim team? Are people still showing up at the 5:30am practices now that they are moved up from 6am?
Jimi: Yeah, people are still coming out although not as many as a couple months ago. I think it’s because this is the end of the triathlon season. But honestly, people that are out there that early in the morning really want to do this and want to get better so I never hear any complaining or whining. They get through an hour worth of work out and they get out of the pool happy.
GAT: You also have evening practices, too, right?
Jimi: Yes I do, they are not as crowded as the morning practices though.
GAT: How do you like coaching the masters swim team?
Jimi: You know, I have been doing it for a little over a year now and I’ll tell you, getting up this early in the morning takes a little getting used to. It was difficult at the beginning but now I’m used to it. A friend of mine encouraged me that I should start a masters swim team and there’ll be triathletes flocking to practices. I thought about it and finally decided to start a team and it’s been great. I got to meet so many people that I otherwise would not have had a chance to meet. Everywhere I go now, I run into people that I coach. It’s pretty awesome!!
GAT: Well, I know I need to come back out and get some lessons from you but swimming has never really been my sport. It’s just something I have to do if I want to do triathlons… so why swimming? Seems like everyone has a story behind their chosen sport.
Jimi: Well, I don’t know, I just liked it. I played football, baseball and basketball before and I just found that I like swimming. I could have gotten a college scholarship playing football but I just like swimming.
GAT: Did you swim for the University of Tampa as well?
Jimi: Yes I did.
GAT: What events did you swim?
Jimi: I swam the 100 breast and the 200 breast.
GAT: Talking about breast stroke, have you heard the dolphin kick controversy?
Jimi: Yeah, it started at the last Olympics with a Japanese swimmer.
GAT: Recently in a swim meet in Singapore, a swimmer from Greece was caught doing the dolphin kicks while swimming breast stroke the entire length of the pool, in addition to using the dolphin kick when he came out of the turns.
Jimi: Yeah, you are only allowed one dolphin kick when you come out of a turn and that is.
GAT: Do you think Michael Phelps is going to top Mark Spitz’s incredible record at the Beijing Olympics?
Jimi: It will be awesome if he does it and I think that he really can do it, he is still very young. This year they switch the schedules for the preliminaries and the finals. The finals used to be in the evenings but this time around in Beijing it’s going to be in the mornings which means that we’ll get to see them live during the evenings in the United States.
GAT: I understand that college swimmers put in quite a bit of time training.
Jimi: Yes, swimmers are probably one of the most overtrained college athletes. We typically put in 2 hours in the pool in the morning and then another 2 hours in the evening. On top of that, we do weighs and strength training every other day. Sometimes swimmers swim close to 8,000 yards in 2 hours.
GAT: What is the point of swimming 8,000 yards when all you are doing is 100 or 200 free in a race?
Jimi: I mostly do that for purposes of mental training. Sometimes swimmers need to get it in their heads that if they can finish a 8,000 yard workout, they can certainly handle the last couple hundred yards in a competition.
GAT: Other than coaching the UT swim team, do you also coach other athletes?
Jimi: I am really lucky in that I am doing what I love, I really enjoy coaching. I also give lessons. For someone that has just started swimming, it’s probably best to take some lessons first, get the technique down, before they come out to masters swim practices. I am also involved as the head coach of the Greater Tampa Swimming Association. The Association has developmental programs for youths to learn how to swim. We have 5 years old kids all the way to highschool.
GAT: Any plans for you in the future?
Jimi: Well, I want to do St. Anthony’s again next year. I am so busy that I don’t even have time to swim myself. I want to start swimming again to prepare for it. A couple years ago the water was really rough out there. That’s got to be the worst condition I have ever swam in. I also need to start cycling again if I want to do St. Anthony’s.
GAT: Jimi, best of luck to you and thank you for being a contributing author for getactivetampa.com.
Jimi: You are welcomed, any time.
Jimi Kiner is in his fourth year as an assistant coach with the UT swimming program following a storied career in the pool for the Spartans. Jimi was a national champion in the 100 breaststroke for Tampa in 2001 and holds the school record in that event. During his career with the Spartans, he was a 22-time All-America, a two-time national runner-up, and a four-year letterwinner. In 2000, Jimi was an Olympic Trials Qualifier. Jimi has been the head coach of the Greater Tampa Swimming Association since 2001 and has mentored numerous top ten national swimmers and high school state finalists. He also coaches a masters swim team that practices at the University of Tampa. For practice or personal lessons info, please contact Jimi at email@example.com or 813-787-8717.
On a personal note: I first came to know Jimi at my very first masters swim team practice. Coming from a running background, swimming was not a fun thing to do and I often was the last to finish a workout. Jimi encouraged me to take some lessons and with his great patience and keen eyes, he was quick to point out areas I could work on. Although to this date, I still cannot call myself a decent swimmer, I have certainly become more comfortable in the water and started to enjoy my workout more than before.
Fred Vasconi - founder of the Tampa Blue Shark Running Team
How much do you know about the Blue Shark Running Team and its biggest supporter, Fred Vasconi?
GAT: Get Active Tampa
GAT: Fred, it’s so nice to finally meet you.
Fred: Yes, Stella, we ran past each other many times and it’s nice that we are finally introduced.
GAT: So tell me about the Blue Shark Running Team and how it all started?
Fred: A friend of mine, Michael Benson, and I used to train together and we would start at the YMCA in downtown Tampa. This was during the summer of 2000. Maureen at the Y came up to us one day and said, “Hey, Fred, why don’t you see if you can get a group of people to run?” At first, I dismissed the idea and thought that no one would want to get up that early to run. But Maureen was pretty persistent and kept encouraging me that I should give that idea a try. So I started trying to get people to come out to run on a Saturday morning and sure enough, no one showed up. But then the second week, I had 8 people showed up. The following week more people showed up and it continues to this day.
GAT: Fred, that is amazing!! I have to ask you, how are you able to put out Gatorade and water for the runners week after week for so many years?
Fred: When I first started doing this, I would put out all the coolers ahead of time and then I would do my usual run later. But then after I got injured, I have morphed into the role of a facilitator rather than a runner and I like being a facilitator. I have runners come up to me saying how appreciative they are with the hydration that is provided strategically along the course. People often show their appreciation and that makes it rewarding.
GAT: Where do the dedication and the passion come from that drive you to do this week after week?
Fred: I think it has a lot to do with how I was being brought up in my family. We grew up around Italian families where when someone in the family needs something, everyone chips in to help. I will tell you, I cannot wait for Saturday morning to come every week so I can see my friends again. I will be honest, preparing and planning for Saturday morning is not a one day job. I started mixing the Gatorade Thursday and refrigerate them in containers in my fridge. I have gotten down a secret formula where the Gatorade comes out just right, not too sweet and not too watery for the runners. What’s in the coolers is spring water, not tap water coming out of a faucet so good quality water is going into the runners’ bodies. When the Blue Shark Running Team first started, I used to buy the Gatorade myself. As the group grows, runners start bringing me cups and Gatorade and now I have a garage full of supplies that will last the group for a very long time. The Gasparilla Distance Classic Association also donated a lot of their leftovers to us so that was helpful as well. I think that by putting out the coolers, it alleviates runners’ concern for finding water fountains or bringing their own water bottles and therefore they can focus on the training itself. Having an established group of runners and these coolers out on the course, it also helps attract new runners to come run with us.
GAT: Fred, occasionally when I do my Saturday morning run, I still see those coolers out there well pass early morning hours. I have to say that I have benefited from your hard work and dedication.
Fred: I like to leave the coolers out there until the last person finishes his/her run. To me, what’s important is every single runner is taken care of, not just those fast runners but also the recreational runners or first time marathon runners. I have been to races where there was no water left at the finish and I wasn’t one of the last few runners coming to the finish. The last runner is just as important as the first runner and I make sure that they are taken care of as well.
GAT: It is amazing that although the Blue Shark Running Team is not a “running club”, it has one of the most diversed groups of runners with different abilities to train with.
Fred: Yeah, I think it is all worth of mouth and I try to promote the group as much as I can. When I run into runners, I would tell them about the Blue Shark Running Team and a lot of them have heard of us but never really come out to run. So with the short conversations I have with them, hopefully that motivate them to come out to join us some day. The Blue Shark Running Team is not a “running club” since there is no membership and there are no dues to join. I find that sometimes when you have to deal with operating and managing a club, it takes away the fun of running since you have to deal with club politics. The only requirement in becoming part of the Blue Shark Running Team is to come run with us once and bring a friend the second time. Runners support each other and that’s the driving force of growing the group. In addition to bringing cups and Gatorade, runners often volunteer certain duties without being asked. Tom Singletary printed out the Davis Islands map of the route, completed with markers and water stops. David Homan painted the mile markers along the route. They did that without being asked. The Y also allows our runners to use their shower.
GAT: Has the Davis Islands course always been the route for the Blue Shark Running Team?
Fred: No, actually, when the group first started, we would run on Bayshore, then Gandy and then up Dale Mabry. For some time, we also ran down to near the air force base. It took us a while to figure out the logistics and move the route to Davis Islands.
GAT: How many people do you have coming out on a typical Saturday?
Fred: On a typical morning, we have anywhere between 65 to 85 runners. During peak training weeks, we could have close to 100 runners out there. We officially start our season the first weekend of August and ends after the Gasparilla weekend. The group has really grown and has brought a wide spectrum of people together. There are judges, congressmen, attorneys, painters, etc., people of different professions that otherwise would not have probably met. And as a result of being part of the Blue Shark Running Team, I have also made a lot of friends. The other day, I overheard some ladies’ conversations and the accents just sounded so familiar and it turned out that they are from Italy. This group really has brought people with different backgrounds and cultures together.
GAT: I heard that on the first run of the season, you came out to the first water stop in a tuxedo? Was that true?
Fred: I was trying to inject as much fun and humor as possible for the first run so I decided to do something unexpected. I told some of the runners that I probably won’t be at the first run of the season just so they wouldn’t expect to see me. But some of the long time runners in group knew me too well and said, “Yeah, right!!” Nevertheless, I went out there that morning surprised them by serving them water and Gatorade in a tux!! It was something fun for the first run of the season to keep them going.
GAT: So what happens when you go on vacation? Is there anyone taking over the hydration duty?
Fred: My friend Michael Benson who I share the same passion and philosophy with usually takes over for me. It doesn’t happen very often during the year, maybe just once or twice. I also send out a weekly e-mail to our runners a couple days before Saturday to motivate them to get out there to run. I now have about 300 people on my e-mail list and I try to inject humor in my e-mails to help them stay focused and positive.
GAT: Well Fred, here are the 5 burning questions everyone is dying to know your answers to. What is your favorite music?
Fred: Classic Rock.
GAT: Favorite pre and post run food?
Fred: Definitely pasta, anything Italian.
GAT: Kids or pets?
Fred: I have a daughter.
GAT: Favorite indulgence.
Fred: Spending time with friends and families.
GAT: What are you doing when you are not running or helping out the fellow Blue Shark Running Team runners?
Fred: Working my tough but rewarding job in keeping the community safe.
GAT: Well, Fred, it was a pleasure and honor talking to you and I hope to visit the Blue Shark Running Team sometimes.
Fred: Thank you, Stella.
The YMCA Blue Shark Running Team is a running group that gathers at 5:30am each Saturday, from the first weekend in August through the Gasparilla Distance Classic Weekend, at the downtown Tampa YMCA for its weekly group run. The team is not a running club and there are no dues to join. Instead, it is self-supported by its runners. Runners leave the YMCA right by Franklin street in downtown Tampa promptly at 5:30am and run through Davis Islands and Bayshore Blvd.
On a personal note: I received an athlete spotlight nomination from Maureen Chiodini at the downtown Tampa YMCA, nominating Fred for its tireless efforts in facilitating the weekly Blue Shark Running Team run. I have run passed Fred many times on Bayshore and he recognized me and said Hello to me every time even though I have never been to a Blue Shark training run. Fred’s passion in the sport of distance running and his dedication in helping his fellow runners and friends are contagious. In just a short morning meeting with him, I realized why the Blue Shark Running Team is hands down the most successful running group in the Tampa Bay area.
A RRCA Certified Coach and an accomplished long distance runner
A lot of us have been runners for a very long time but how much do you know about training an average person who has been sedentary for quite some time to finishing up her first 5k or even qualifying for the Boston Marathon? Meet Lynn Gray who sat down with us and told us all about her “Walk to Run” fitness program.
GAT: Get Active Tampa
GAT: Lynn, tell me how did the coaching get started?
Lynn: We Stella, this started about 11 years ago. I have always been a runner and this friend of mine wanted me to train her to run. So I said, find me 10 people and I’ll train you. A few days later, she called me and said she found the people and I have been coaching since then. In fact, we have just finished up our long run in San Antonio this morning. I have recently opened up a training center where I offer yoga and tai chi classes and I have just landed my first sponsor recently.
GAT: So tell me some of the programs that you offer.
Lynn: We have organized group speed workouts, group long runs. I also offer a program called “My First 5k” that teaches non-runners how to go from walking to finishing their first 5k. There is also a walk/run program where beginners will alternate 60 sec of walking with 60 sec of fast walking or jogging, depending on their fitness level. Because of the good fortunes that we have had, we are able to sponsor some of the elite runners in the Olympics training camp. As a return of our investment in the training camp, I am able to bring 25 women with me, all at various levels including beginners, to a 4 day camp each year and be put under the wings of these elite runners for a few days and learn a great deal about running.
GAT: Why do women come to you for training? What motivate them from wanting to jump off the couch and be fit?
Lynn: A lot of them see this as a personal challenge. They want to get in shape, or lose weight. Some of them want to get back in shape after they have had babies; there are all kinds of reasons. You definitely cannot be judgmental. Every person has his or her own reasons for wanting to start walking, jogging or running. What I do is teach them the basics, and how to start taking little steps to achieve their goals. I provide a log book to them so they can keep track of their progress. I also teach them stretches. Each time we go for a group run, I teach one stretching technique that they are required to practice for that week. I also teach them arms lunges and regular lunges to build and maintain strength in their legs. I also try to help them develop their core strength by doing sit ups. Our goal is permanent fitness, to stay fit for as long as you are able to.
We are not only a running group, we also have socials and gatherings together. Each year when my runners qualify for Boston, I would go to Boston with them. They have actually become my friends and they are really some of the nicest people you will have ever met. I remember when I first started running, I was running with a few male friends of mine since women running was not a popular sport at all back then. We used to run our 26 miles, picking oranges along the way and it was very low key, unlike right now where races have big name corporate sponsors. There was no Gatorade so we would just have water. We did that for a very long time and that’s because it was fun and you meet a lot of friends through all the years of running and it is the friendship that has kept us running all these years.
GAT: What is the typical plan for someone that comes to you with very minimal fitness level?
Lynn: I usually start her in an 8 weeks beginner plan, add in some plyometrics, and help her build core strength. She’ll start alternating walking and jogging, or fast walking. Usually most of them come back and ready to start something new and more advance. Occasionally, some of them might not come back for whatever reason and I never take it personally. I know I gave 100% to these runners and I do my best to help each and every one of them.
GAT: What are some of the current projects you are working on?
Lynn: Well, I am writing a booked titled “FIT & FASTER – 100 workouts for walkers and runners” and it should be published about end of July this year. I will probably go to a book store and do some book signing. I also wrote a book on children’s’ running. I have coached kids for a long time and they are lots of fun.
We also have a 5k summer series this summer that are held on 2 Wednesdays in June, July & August and it is a very low-key event. We are giving out 1 T-shirt for the entire series and a lot of my runners are going to be there.
GAT: Of all the years coaching, what are some of the challenges you see?
Lynn: I think the most difficult thing is to get people to stay and commit to the idea of being fit for as long as they are able to. Sometimes people just don’t stay long enough to see the benefits of staying active.
GAT: So Lynn, when and why did you start running?
Lynn: Well, I was in college and I put on a little bit of weight so I started running. At the beginning, I would just jog a mile each time and I did that every day for a long time. Later, I slowly added more miles to my daily mile routine, doing about 2-3 miles at a time and that’s how I worked up to running long distances.
GAT: With all the years of running, how did you stay injury free? Was there ever a point in time that you were out for a long time?
Lynn: I stay injury free by doing yoga and stretches to strengthen my
muscles and my core. I also adhere to my strict rule of taking 2 days
off each week. When I was in my 30s, I had this coach who was
training me for Boston. I was being pushed to the point that it was not
fun to do speed workouts anymore. Even when I was able to finish
them, I was in pain every single step. I was crying during the workouts. I kept trying and trying and I was never able to qualify for Boston. I finally decided that I had to do something different so I went to this friend of mine and told him my story. He started training me in a whole new different way and within 6 months I was able to qualify for Boston. Now thinking back, the old coach I had was very involved with training elite runners and I was never at that level and that’s why it hurt so much for me. I told my runners that they ought to throw out all the books written by the big names in the sport because those books were meant to be for elite runners and they do not apply to them. Your training should be geared towards you so that you are not trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
GAT: What are you hoping to do with this new training center that you just opened?
Lynn: I offer yoga and tai chi classes here and they are open for everyone, not just my runners. It is important to stay agile and flexible and yoga and tai chi will help you achieve that. I will also have workshops, provide gait analysis, and
weight training. I am also planning on having a dietitian here as well.
GAT: Well Lynn, here are the 5 burning questions everyone is
dying to know your answers to. What is your favorite music?
Lynn: Classical music.
GAT: Favorite pre and post run food?
Lynn: Pre- race I’d like half a bagel or toast. But if it was a marathon then I’d have the entire bagel!! After a race, I'd like to have some protein shake.
GAT: Kids or pets?
Lynn: I have a 23 years old child and a poodle.
GAT: Favorite indulgence.
Lynn: Naps. People that know me know that I like to take naps.
GAT: What are you doing when you are not running or helping out your fellow runners?
Lynn: Swimming and biking.
GAT: Well, Lynn, it was a pleasure talking to you and best of luck with the new training center.
Lynn: Thank you, Stella.
Lynn Gray is an experienced marathoner, a RRCA certified running coach, and overall age group winner for over 30 years. Her experience includes over 40 years of long distance running and completing over 80 marathons. Lynn specializes in the permanent fitness goals which leads the speedwalker, beginner jogger, and runner to achieve the aerobic ability to complete distances such as a 5k, 10k, ½ marathon, marathon, and triathlons. Through her training center in North Tampa, Lynn holds weekly fitness clinics, has yoga classes for walkers and runners, organizes children and teen fitness programs, and more.
On a personal note: Lynn Gray has been a fixture in the Tampa Bay running scenes for many years. I used to see her at highschool cross country meets when she was teaching at Jesuit highschool. She was the most enthusiastic supporter of the team and rarely missed a race. Later, I learned that her specialty is coaching beginning walkers and runners. I am amazed at her patience and her ability to see through her walkers and runners’ potential. She has helped countless number of women in the Tampa Bay area in achieving their fitness goals, whether that be starting a walk program, finishing their first 5k, running a marathon, doing a triathlon, or even qualifying for Boston. She has been featured in many articles in local papers and has helped hundreds realizing their dreams. You can reach Lynn at 813-453-7885, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Her training center is located at 7620 Gunn Hwy suite 110 in the Citrus Park area. Her website is www.thefirststepprograms.com.
World class athlete with a fountain of knowledge on nutrition
If you know Myrna, you would not believe how fit and healthy she looks for her age. Myrna is passionate about sharing her knowledge of a balanced and healthy life style with people of various backgrounds and physical abilities. Read on to find out about her 6 step program and how it can help you.
GAT: Myrna, thank you for inviting me to your clinic at the Y. I have to say that although I am a big fan of staying fit and healthy, I never knew that there was a difference between healthy and balanced.
Myrna: Yeah, a lot of people are eating really healthy but they can never really get good control over their weight. That’s because they are not “balanced”.
GAT: I will tell you, I am one of those people that are eating really healthy and although I don’t have a big problem with weight, sometimes I do feel like I don’t have much energy in the middle of the day or during a workout.
Myrna: I used to be one of those people that were concerned about their weight. My weight would fluctuate and I could never really have good control over it. I was eating healthy but still wasn’t able to effectively maintain an ideal weight. Finally I realized that although eating healthy is a big part of it, I was never really “balanced”. Eating healthy is easy, a lot of people know and do eat healthy but that doesn’t really mean that they are balanced.
GAT: So what exactly is a balanced and healthy diet?
Myrna: What I mean by “balanced” is that, take for example, you eat an apple for snack. Now that is a really healthy snack but it only gives you some carbohydrates and fiber and lacks protein. So how about apple with some cheese so you are getting some protein.
GAT: That was one of the examples you brought up during the clinic and I am now eating an apple with a serving of cheese.
Myrna: That’s great!!
GAT: Myrna, how did you get started in nutrition and fitness?
Myrna: I have been involved in nutrition and health and fitness for over 30 years. I was the program director for the YMCA. So I have been involved in this arena for a long time. I had an idea to start a social enterprise making and selling a healthy food product to benefit the homeless in our community. It was just a crazy idea …that actually received some notoriety ….the Myrna bars served as an educational tool that taught the homeless residents about eating healthy and also gave the community an opportunity to buy a product that helped others directly and indirectly.
GAT: Yeah, I have seen your bars at the Extreme Juice store and have tried it myself. They are pretty tasty!! Have you thought about marketing your bars?
Myrna: I talked to some people that are in the business of marketing energy bars and we talked about branding and becoming a manufacturer. Frankly, I started this as a social enterprise with the goal of helping others…I hadn’t thought about being in the manufacturing business. I still believe it is a good idea….but after meeting with several consultants …I was advised that I would be more productive helping others through my healthy lifestyle clinics. Because my six step method has had great outcomes…They recommended I work on perfecting my program….and not spend energy and time on manufacturing a bar. I thought it made sense …so I asked the YMCA to help me pilot my program ….. The clinic that I offer at the Y is free. I have developed a 6-step process that will help “re-wire” the way people think about food and their attitude towards food. We have to have our brain wired correctly before we can start thinking about losing weight and becoming active. I also offer follow up sessions that are all free as well. In the follow up sessions, we get into more specifics and help them jump start the process.
GAT: When I was at the clinic, I saw people from all walks of life, people of every color and young and old alike, who are truly concern about the way they live.
Myrna: It has been over 15 years since I developed this 6-step program and I have to say that after lots of research, this is the only program that I know of that works. I have to emphasize that participants are not in this alone. I have women who have been on this program for years and become very successful at it. They have become my volunteers. When you participate in this program, you are led and supported by a coach. I have to say that this is not an easy program so don’t try to do it all by yourself. There will be constant communication between you and the coach. We’ll take you grocery shopping and explain the nutritional information to you on the packaging. We’ll show you how to shop and show you what’s healthy and balanced. I have worked with busy mother, cancer survivor, and competitive athletes. Everyone can benefit from this program.
GAT: So what are the 6 steps in the program?
Myrna: Well, it starts with water. Water does wonders for our bodies by doing nothing to them. Water balances the body, unlike coffee, tea, soda and juice. Then we focus on eating small and balanced meals, balancing fiber and proteins, eating adequate essential fats which are usually found in fish and nuts. When we achieve that, we can start to think about exercises. And finally, by building a strong support network, with coaches and other participants in the program, it greatly increases the chance of success.
GAT: I am amazed that given the proven success of this program, not more people are taking advantage of it. After all, it’s FREE!!
Myrna: I have been doing community work to spread my message such as speaking at running and triathlon clubs, holding seminar or clinic at the moffitt cancer institute and speaking at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) seminars. People have to find it within themselves that they want to live a healthy life style, they want to feel better and become active. I am also going to redesign my website and I also hope that your website can help me reach more audiences.
GAT: Well Myrna, here are the 5 burning questions everyone is dying to know your answers to. What is your favorite music?
Myrna: Since I am a 50 year old with undiagnosed ADD…I can’t remember the name of the songs I really like or the artist. …. But I can tell you my favorite radio station is Spirit FM. I love music that makes a person feel like they can do anything… … music that reinforces what is right in this world … combine this with a Zippy beat…and I’m hooked.
GAT: Favorite pre and post run food?
Myrna: Running is one of those sports where it feels better to have your belly free of any bulk….I can eat a full course meal and bike and swim…but for some strange reason the run holds its own rules. The truth is that most athletes don’t perform well because they are under-fueled….not under-trained . Since most my runs are in the morning…. my calories are in liquid form. My favorite drink is 16 ounces of 2% milk with 2 tablespoons of honey …and a spike of espresso. My runs are usually less than one hour…so this seems to be plenty of calories. If I’m exercising more than one hour I always bring Accelerade in water and bars I have made.
Knowing that I have a window of less than 1 hour after exercise to properly replenish my glycogen stores…I find my favorite post-exercise foods are those that will allow me to hit it hard again the next day. This means getting the post meal right! Studies show the perfect combination are post exercise foods that are a 4:1 ratio. (for every four grams of carbs you have one gram of protein) …I try to find foods that have fiber as well as meet the 4:1 ratio. Some of my favorite post foods that have a 4:1 ratio are: …whole wheat pasta…I like spelt whole wheat pasta best…I usually eat it with tomato sauce and a sprinkle of Parm cheese. ….& whole grain bread warmed fresh from the bread store…with a sliver of raw salmon.
GAT: Kids or pets?
Myrna: My favorite kids are my own!....Although I have had moments of wanting to return them!...Love animals…I take in strays….in fact ….I see a dog roaming ….I always make sure he/she has a home…something about dogs?...can’t really explain it?
GAT: Favorite indulgence.
GAT: What are you doing when you are not exercising or reaching out to our community?
Myrna: Reading….I love to read books that teach me stuff…
GAT: Well, Myrna, it was a pleasure talking to you and we will definitely spread the message of your 6 step program throughout our website.
Myrna: Thank you, Stella.
Myrna not only is a world class athlete, she also is deeply committed to teaching people from all walks of life the principles of living a balanced and healthy life. Myrna has a website www.myrnahaag.com that has valuable information on her 6-step program. Myrna also puts her Myrna Bars’ recipe on her website for all to share and donates the proceeds to Metropolitan Ministries. Myrna frequently holds seminars about balanced and healthy living at the YMCA just outside of downtown Tampa. You can contact Myrna through her website.
On a personal note: Myrna introduced herself to me in the transition area of my first triathlon. Not only did she not have the arrogance that some elite athletes possess, she encouraged me and welcomed me to the sport. Recently, we saw each other in group cycling rides and started talking about our passions for the sport and living a healthy life style. When a GetActiveTampa newsletter subscriber nominated Myrna to be featured on the website, I could not be happier. Myrna is truly passionate about living a balanced and healthy life and she wants people to be armed with the knowledge that she has and make the best of it. Myrna could easily market her bars to the sports community and achieve remarkable financial success. However, she stays true to her passion and reaches out to her community. I want to encourage you to contact Myrna and learn about what her program has to offer. This is a program that will change your life.
Seminole Heights Bicycle Club (SHBC)
Get Active Tampa sat down with a group of cycling enthusiasts, the club’s organizers Alan Snel, Mike Limerick and Steve Swiger, to get the story on how SHBC got started and what makes it such a success so early on in the short history of the club.
GAT: Mike, thank you for the opportunity to sit down with you, Alan and Steve to learn more about the club. So tell me, how did this club get started?
Mike: Well, we had an idea of setting up a bike club that is catered to residents in the Seminole Heights area and we wanted it to be something laid back, casual and family oriented. There are a lot of bike clubs out there that are for road cyclists looking for speed and really not much out there for the leisure riders. We thought we would set up a bike club that would fill that gap.
Alan: Yeah, one January, Mike and I got together and brainstormed ideas. We threw around the idea of a bike club in the community and received great responses. A month later, the club was born and we had over 35 people in our first meeting. We had committees set up that day and with volunteers taking various responsibilities.
Steve: A lot of what we do is on a volunteer basis. Alan has been our liaison with the city and local cycling communities because of his involvement in cycling over the years; Mike actually got the business cards printed and Rick Hickman built the website for our club.
GAT: You guys are really in it to make this work!!
Alan: Yeah, we thought about the alternative which is to have more structure, have a president, a board, charge a membership due, etc. but we wanted something that is more casual and more fun but less politics so we decided to run this on a volunteer basis and so far it has been working really well.
GAT: So what are the requirements to become a club member?
Steve: There’s really no requirement other than you must wear a helmet when you ride with us. There is no dues, no form to fill out. We are based in Seminole Heights but you do not have to be a Seminole Heights resident to join us on our rides.
Mike: That is correct. We even have people coming from Riverview to ride with us.
GAT: What are some of the club rides?
Mike: All our rides are on Saturdays, starting at 8:30am and from Seminole Heights. On the first Saturday of each month, we have a family, kid-friendly 5 mile ride around the neighborhood. Then on the second Saturday of each month, we have an intermediate ride that is about 10 miles. It goes along the Hillsborough River and it’s more of an urban ride that goes to into downtown Tampa, the convention center and back to Seminole Heights. And on the third Saturday of each month, we have a little more fast-paced ride that is about 20 to 22 miles that goes to Davis Island and back to Seminole Heights. So there’s something for everyone.
Steve: There is more information about the rides on our website www.seminoleheightsbicycleclub.com. And you can e-mail us with questions, we do monitor our e-mail regularly.
Alan: We also attend special events to promote our bicycle club. We participated in Earth Day Tampa in April where we were the only bicycle club participated. We also have social events where members get together outside of our regular rides. We had a bike-in movie night not too long ago and 35 people came out. Some of them even hauled the food in trailers behind their bikes!!
Then in July, in celebration of the Tour de France, we contacted Chipotle, which sponsored a team this year in the Tour de France, to see if they would help sponsor our Chipotle ride. They were happy to help us out. One Saturday, 50 of our members rode to the Chipotle restaurant in south Tampa and enjoyed complimentary burritos. It turned out to be a great success.
Mike: Another social event in the works in another movie night on October 18, 9pm. You can check the club’s website for more details.
GAT: What are you hoping this bicycle club will become in the future?
Alan: Well, we really are very happy with how much support we’ve received so far. This has already exceeded our expectation. On our first official club ride, we even had Mayor Pam Iorio join us for the ride. Part of what we do is to bring cycling to people who otherwise won’t want to bike. We also want to bring community awareness to bicycling safety and with the Mayor joining us for the ride; she got to see firsthand the need for bike lanes in the city and education of bicycling safety to cyclists and motorists alike.
Mike: We feel that bicycling is a recreational sport for everyone. However, because of the unknowns of cycling on the roads, many people decided that it is just too dangerous for them to cycle. A lot of us have been participating in road cycling for a long time and are aware of the rules of the road. Part of what we do is leading the rides and educating riders about road cycling techniques, traffic negotiation and other important safety issues. Many families would not have gone bicycling had they not been led on a ride.
GAT: What other events does the club participate in?
Alan: Well, although it is not an official club event, I am very involved in the Bicycle Bash event that is being held in St. Petersburg in October. It is basically an event that is all about bicycles. There will be demos, vendors, swap meet and more. It has attracted cyclists of all abilities including road cyclists, fat-tire, hybrid, fixed gear… it is just like a flea market for cycling enthusiasts. This year the event is even more special since it is being held in conjunction with the St. Pete Bike Club’s Share the Road Ride. The event is also held ahead of the Florida Bicycle Association’s annual meeting in St. Pete as well. Steve has built a very nice website for the event with all the details on it, so go check it out.
GAT: Well, I have to say that you are all doing amazing things for the cycling community and bringing cycling to people in all walks of life. Good luck with everything.
Mike, Alan & Steve: Thanks.
Alan: We actually have 2 adult helmets to give away free. For those that do not have a helmet and wish to ride with us, they can contact me.
GAT: Great, thanks for your time.
The Seminole Bicycle Club (SHBC) is an informal bicycle club based in the Seminole Heights area of Tampa, FL. SHBC regularly plans 3 different ride types: Kid-Friendly Family Rides; Longer, slow-paced rides on local Seminole Heights streets; and faster 15 to 30 mile rides which begin and end in Seminole Heights. They also hold an occasional special bicycle event that celebrates the Seminole Heights community. No fees or membership, just folks having fun.
On a personal note: when I first contacted Mike Limerick for an interview, I honestly did not think how the SHBC would be any different from many other local bike clubs… aggressive riders, all out pace and often riding with racers. Upon talking to them, I realize that the SHBC fills an important gap in the cycling community by bringing the joy of cycling to average folks that have never been catered to. I would have been happy just speaking to Mike about the club, but the club’s other organizers voluntarily showed up for the interview. After talking to them, I realized why this club is so successful.
Brian Landman – A runner with an exotic career
The name may sound familiar to you, and that’s because chances are you have read his reports and blogs on the Seminoles in the St. Pete Times. Brian Landman has covered Florida State University athletics since 1996 and has been a sports journalist for more than 20 years. He has interviewed athletes from NBA stars to Olympians and has been to some of the most exhilarating sporting events. Read on to find out more about a sport writer’s exotic career.
GAT: Brian, thank you for sitting down with me. So what is your background and how did you end up with such an awesome job?
Brian: I was a Biology major in college and was all set to go to medical school. I took the pre-med courses and the entrance exam but unfortunately I didn’t get into medical school; and frankly, now that I look back, it was a blessing that I didn’t get into medical school because I remember hating labs and I didn’t really enjoy the classes. During college, I took journalism as an elective and I remember that was the only class that I really enjoyed. So I decided to go back to school after graduating, took more journalism classes and got a job working for the school paper covering sports at University of Cincinnati.
GAT: So what did you do for the school paper?
Brian: My first story was about the women’s soccer team at the University of Cincinnati. It was about that time that I realized if I was going to make a living out of journalism that I needed to be more competitive. So I decided to get my master’s in journalism at the University of Southern California. During my last year at USC, I was very lucky to work for the L.A. Times as an intern.
GAT: That was such a great opportunity. So what did you do there?
Brian: I was working on a lot of very different assignments. I interviewed Bob Seagren, the Olympic champion in pole vault. Also, there are many professional sport teams in L.A. so I had the chance to work on NBA and NFL draft stories.
GAT: As an intern at the L.A. Times, were you nervous at all interviewing these players?
Brian: Well, one thing I learned is that you cannot be a fan. It is a job and you need to be objective as a journalist. Some players are really good at doing interviews. They understand what you are asking and respond well to your questions whereas some are difficult to get a word out of, especially if they lost a game.
GAT: So what else did you do while you were at the L.A. Times?
Brian: Well, I figured when the internship is over, I would probably need a real job. So I started applying to the top 100 newspapers in the country and I finally got a taste of what real world journalism was like. I received a few letters back from a few of the top newspapers in the country, saying that their writers all have 10 to 15 years of experience and therefore I was not qualified for the job. I still have some of those letters. Fortunately, as the internship was about to end at the L.A. Times, they offered me another semester as a full-time intern and that bought me some more time to look for a full-time job.
GAT: How did you end up here in Florida, writing for the St. Pete Times?
Brian: There was a small, afternoon newspaper in St. Pete called the Evening Independent many years ago. Because of my biology and pre-med background, the paper had me writing about sports medicine, stories about shoes and sports drink. The paper eventually folded and all the staff at the Evening Independent was absorbed by the St. Pete Times. Today, the St. Pete Times has the largest circulation in the state of Florida.
GAT: So what stories do you cover for the St. Pete Times?
Brian: Initially, I was covering high school sports for a couple of years. Then I moved onto covering college sports. I covered the University of Tampa, then the University of South Florida for six years, the University of Florida for a year and I have been covering Florida State University for the past 13 years.
GAT: So you must be traveling a lot during football season?
Brian: Yeah, in the fall, from August until early January, I’m usually gone every weekend. I’m on the road again for March covering the NCAA basketball tournament.
GAT: With the busy schedule you have, how are you able to keep up with your own training?
Brian: Well, I am trying to get my run in whenever I can. When I am traveling during football season, I do some of my runs in Tallahassee and have run a few races there. Sometimes I am just too busy in Tallahassee that I am not able to run at all.
GAT: Who are some of the people you have interviewed for the St. Pete Times?
Brian: I remember my first interview was with George Steinbrenner. At the time he was negotiating a deal to buy the Tampa Bay Downs, but was unsuccessful, so I couldn’t get a lot out of him. Last summer, the Times was looking for other stories since college was out for the summer. It just so happened that the Tour de France was going on at the time. I interviewed Floyd Landis, the former Tour de France champion. I was hoping to just get him on the phone for 5 or 10 minutes but he actually was very accommodating and was willing to talk to the media so I ended up talking with him for about 35 or 40 minutes. I guess he was eager to get his side of the story out. Over the years with the St. Pete Times, I also went to numerous Magic basketball games in Orlando and the World Cup event in 1994. So I have done stories on a variety of sports.
GAT: What are some of the most memorable interviews you have done?
Brian: Well, unfortunately the more memorable interviews are usually the ones that are tragic or sad. In 2001, a football player at FSU, just 18 years old, died after a workout. It was devastating news to the family and the team. I went to talk to the family. That was really hard as they were struggling to deal with a tragedy. Over the years, we have built a trusting relationship and they have welcomed me into their home.
GAT: Well Brian, what an exciting career you have!!
Brian: I feel very fortunate that I am able to make a living out of what I love.
GAT: Brian, here are the 5 burning questions everyone is dying to know your answers to. What is your favorite music?
Brian: Mainly the oldies from the 1960s and ‘70s. My favorite, and you’d know this if you ever borrowed my IPod, is Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
GAT: Favorite pre and post run food?
Brian: Before a run, I usually grab a Clif bar; the crunchy peanut butter is my favorite. When I go long, and long for me is 8 or 9 miles, my wife Heidi and I treat ourselves to the whole wheat blueberry pancakes at Daily Eats. Talk about incentive.
GAT: Kids or pets?
Brian: My wife and I have 5 cats together!!!
GAT: Favorite indulgence.
Brian: I’m not one for cookies, cakes and candy. But I do like a martini or two when we go out for dinner.
GAT: What are you doing when you are not exercising or working?
Brian: Well, I do love to watch sports on TV (we spend July watching the Tour de France) and Law & Order (which does help with my job, too). I also love to read; biographies of presidents (like John Adams and Abraham Lincoln and JFK) and legal thrillers by John Grisham and everything by Stephen King and the entire Harry Potter series.
GAT: Well, Brian, it was a pleasure talking to you and keep those stories coming.
Brian: Sure will. Thank you, Stella.
Brian Landman has been a sport writer for the St. Pete Times for 22 years. He covers college sports at Florida State University. You can find stories on FSU on the St. Pete Times sports page. Brian also contributes to a blog on the St. Pete Times, the Seminole Report, which contains up to the minutes news on FSU.
Lisa Jamison and her “I’ve got your back” campaign
A massage therapist, a triathlete, and a coach. Not to mention, Lisa is also a cancer crusader. Now how does she do all that? Read on to find out.
GAT: Lisa, thank you for sitting down with me. I understand that last year was very life changing for you.
Lisa: My brother-in-law Mike has stage 3b melanoma. I spent the year living my life in honor of him. My goal was to race, raise awareness, and fundraise for a charity.
GAT: Was it your first ironman?
Lisa: Yes it was, and it was probably my last one, too.
GAT: So how did this idea of living in someone’s honor come about?
Lisa: I was at Ironman Florida in 2007 while Mike was undergoing some pretty substantial surgery. When I watched the athletes getting in the water that morning, I was hit with that “need” to do the race. All of a sudden it made sense to me. It’s hard to know what to do when someone is going through a tough time, so I decided to take his treatment year and intertwine it with my world—culminating with IM FL in November. Everything I did took on a new purpose and meaning. I did my same work, my same training, and lived my same life; I just was more aware of his struggle. In the end, I raced, raised nearly $20,000 for the Melanoma International Foundation, and educated some folks on skin cancer.
GAT: Wow, that’s wonderful!! How is your brother-in-law doing now?
Lisa: It’s been a year since his surgeries to remove all of the cancer...and a little extra. He finished a year of drug treatment in December that will further combat the recurrence of the disease. We are in a “wait and see” situation right now. He did incredibly well being on the treatment. The doctors have said he’s “one in a million”; most people have to make significant changes in their lives, go on disability, and often don’t make it through the protocol. He got through the year without missing work and still had a couple of weeks vacation!
Mike had his primary lesion (his “mole”) behind his left ear. He had to have most of his ear removed. They took out his big superficial neck muscle and all the nodes, but were able to spare the nerve and vein they thought they would need to remove. He had his ear rebuilt from chest cartilage and skin from his hip. He goes to physical therapy a couple days a week just to keep his posture balanced and muscles properly working in their new roles. He gets pretty tired, but has really taken to being in the pool. He’s buoyant, so he gets to relax and recover before he retrains.
GAT: And how was the Ironman?
Lisa: Oh, it was great experience. I had a great time. I partnered with Janus in their charity challenge. With Janus, you are responsible for selecting a charity as well as the amount you would like to raise; there are no requirements for an amount. Some people go in with the goal of raising $500 and some people set more ambitious goals. In the end, Janus contributes to your fundraising goal. Another amazing thing about partnering with Janus was that I was able to have Mike cross the finish line with me. Typically, North America Sports only allows you to have one of your own children cross the finish line with you. Although I had pictured Mike crossing the finish line with me and I had told him that would happen, it was only possible when Janus stepped in on my behalf.
GAT: That is pretty amazing!! So what is the “I’ve got your back” campaign?
Lisa: I wanted Mike to know I’d always have his back during and after his fight. I also wanted other people in my world to show that concern and consideration for the people around them.
As a massage therapist, I have the advantage of seeing my clients’ backs and all sorts of other places they may not be able to see. I check for skin abnormalities on a regular basis. I’ve been able to spot several spots that needed biopsy. More importantly, my clients have been more aware of their skin and have become their own best advocates with physicians. Several people have found melanomas this year.
As a coach and athlete, I want athletes to have the backs of the people around them. Professionals need to be better role models and athletes need to stay on top of each other with recognition and prevention.
You can go to www.LisaHasYourBack.com to learn more and how to donate to the MIF.
GAT: It’s unbelievable that so many of my friends do not think about skin cancer. They don’t even put sunscreen on when they are outdoors.
Lisa: People just don’t realize the danger of melanoma. There is definitely a link between melanoma and time in the sun, but people don’t know that you can get melanoma in places where the sun has never shined! There are still more problems on the left side of the body than the right (the side that’s in the window when you drive). Sun is not always the causative factor. That said, if you are to get melanoma some time in your life, all the sun exposure you’ve had will come back to haunt you.
I used a product called KINeSYS. They make all sorts of product but the one I like best is the spray. I’ll put it on prior to a six or seven hour workout and still not have bike short tan lines when I finish. I swear by this stuff now! In addition, if you purchase from them (just click on the link above), they will continually make a donation to the MIF.
GAT: So tell me about your business. What is LIFT Performance Enhancement?
Lisa: When I was personal training in the late 1980’s I started my business as L.I.F.T., or Lisa’s Individualized Fitness Training. As I finished school and got different certifications I worked more in “athletics” than “fitness”. (That’s really often a subtle difference in the way we view our sport and mode of conditioning. It’s often more an attitude than anything else!) I want to help people through all phases: acute injury care, neuromuscular retraining, sport specific conditioning, a general resource in the sports community
GAT: So what are some of the problems that athletes come in for? Do they mostly just want to relax with a massage?
Lisa: I see relatively few people who want a massage for the sole purpose of relaxation. Most come in with some specific complaint. They quite often think they need a massage to “fix” it, when often an exercise will do the trick much more quickly. Massage is a modality, as is flexibility training and conditioning. It’s a constant game of balancing the body and its systems. I just try to look at each person with fresh eyes and decide what is the best for them that day or during that phase of training. Quite often it isn’t the sport that is making them painful, but some other aspect of their day. Most of “our crowd” identifies themselves as an athlete but will get hurt from their 40+ hours of working or their full time parenting job! It’s about looking at the total package and selecting an appropriate modality.
I view massage and training and coaching as quite individualized, and feel that part of my mission is to help people do as much as possible on their own. They may be helping you find your motivation or just giving you enough to learn to do it on your own. I’m a firm believer in “homework”. In the long run, my goal is to have to you come in to see me as little as possible. We all have the potential to have enormous control over our health, fitness level, and vitality. That’s where I want everyone to have success!
GAT: Yeah, Lisa, I have to tell you, you impressed me when you told me I have inflexible ankles when I came to see you for the first time. We were only 5 minutes into the appointment.
Lisa: Well, thank you.
GAT: So your background is really a massage therapist.
Lisa: Actually, that’s about the last thing I studied. I went to The University of Connecticut for Sports Medicine/Athletic Training and then became a certified athletic trainer (ATC) and strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS). I’ve worked in fitness, worked with golf coaches and a golf school, and went through the USAT and USAC coaching systems. I’ve taught high school and college level courses. This year I’m going through yoga instructor training. I identify with all of those roles, but none of them alone identifies me.
GAT: How do you think all these various disciplines help you in assisting your clients?
Lisa: My tag line is “Connecting athletes to their sport one skill at a time” and I do that by realigning posture, reeducating movement patterns, and rebuilding strength, speed, skill, etc. The treatment for the day is dependent on where you are that day. I try to work with coaches as much as possible so we’re all on the same page and working toward the same goal. I’m most often trying to fit into a coach’s protocol.
GAT: In talking to you, I understand that you also travel to see clients?
Lisa: Yes, I am a partner in been there, an integrative executive wellness consulting practice. Our expertise is in the area of stress. We educate Type A folks who work in stressful environment on the science of stress. From there, it’s teaching strategies that work to maintain balance in that stressful world. For most Americans it’s about getting back to a level of “health”, not working towards fitness or competition. There is some carryover between my “LIFT” work and my “been there” work. We all are in need of the balance between work, play, emotional stress, recovery, and rest.
GAT: With your busy schedule, how do you find time to train?
Lisa: One thing you hope to figure out is the balance between quality and quantity. That often changes with the wind and the season, but I enjoy the game of it. I’ve learned a lot about keeping a good attitude, “counting it all joy”, and feeling grateful when I do the best I can do. Living in Tampa Bay is fabulous, as there are always “people to meet, places to go” when it comes to training. We have a wealth of professionals and resources (like GAT!!). For those of us who like races and events, our “season” is endless!
GAT: Lisa, here are the 5 burning questions everyone is dying to know your answers to. What is your favorite music?
Lisa: I listen to a lot of Christian music, with Third Day and Jars of Clay being my favorites in the rock category. I’ve got a renewed interest in blues and am hooked on my “anything by Tab Benoit” playlist right now. Pandora is my favorite new app on my iPhone (thanks to a fellow triathlete!)
GAT: Favorite pre and post run food?
Lisa: PowerBar Protein Bar (peanut butter) before, because it’s easy and doesn’t repeat itself...you asked. As for post workout, Martha Vidal, RD got me hooked on having an orange as my first food. I think my body knows it’s “finished” once the orange gets in my system!
GAT: Kids or pets?
Lisa: I don’t have pets, and don’t feel I’m really at home enough to make it worthwhile for the animal! I think I missed the boat on the kid thing, although I like spending time with other people’s kids.
GAT: Favorite indulgence.
Lisa: Good cheese. Good wine. Good conversation.
GAT: What are you doing when you are not exercising or working?
Lisa: Sitting still. Reading a book. Napping.
GAT: Well, Lisa, it was a pleasure talking to you and we are here to help spread your message across.
Lisa: Thank you, Stella.
Lisa Jamison is a licensed massage therapist, a triathlete and a coach. She has helped many athletes in the Tampa Bay area in managing their sports related injuries. She “spots” you bad habits and reprograms you so that pain does not occur again. You can contact Lisa at 727-510-4959 or e-mail her at email@example.com.
On a personal note: Lisa is full of energy. I have personally been helped by Lisa on an injury I sustained and she definitely helped me get back to running in a much shorter period of time than I expected. The majority of Lisa’s clients are referrals from fellow athletes. This goes to show how trustworthy she is within the sports community.
A mom, a pioneer in education, a triathlete and the brain behind Safari Ventures’ active cycling vacations.
GAT: Gloria, thank you for sitting down with me. How have you been?
Gloria: I am doing well thank you. The New Year is off to a great start and keeping me very busy. I'm developing "active vacation" tours for Safari Ventures that include road cycling, mountain biking and hiking. I've also been busy attending lots of open houses at several different high schools with my son Nino. He is a great son gifted both academically and musically. I also have a nine year old daughter Isabella Maria who has boundless energy and loves to do triathlons, mountain biking, gymnastics, cooking, joined a book club at school, wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up and loves going to the salon and spa with me.
GAT: I didn’t know that you have a son that is of high school age. You really don’t look the age.
Gloria: Well, thank you, Stella. As a matter of fact, this year we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of Trinity School for Children. A charter school we helped start with ten other great parents and business people. Anthony served as the founding board attorney and I raised money for the school through grant writing and fundraisers. That is, when we weren't painting or fixing something at the first school building we opened our doors at. It was very much a grass roots effort and many parents donated their time and talents to make it happen. Our charter was approved by the Hillsborough County School Board for its "Bankstreet" curriculum. It is deeply rooted in early childhood education which I am a firm believer in. It's a great concept in that you operate much like a private school, but are partially funded by the state therefore, requiring an annual report and be fiscally sound. Other than that you operate autonomously with your board of directors and administrator heading the school. Fortunately, I was able to use my work experience to help raise money for the school and pursue grants which enabled us to build a state-of-the-art media center.
GAT: Wow, I didn’t know you are such a pioneer in education. So what is your professional background and how did the opportunity with Safari Ventures come about?
Gloria: My background is in private investing banking and I use to work for a venture capital firm in Clearwater. I loved coming across small companies I believed in that had strong fundamentals and whose stock I could promote, raise money for and be part of that company’s success. It was kind of like being involved at the incept ion of Trinity at a time when the whole charter school movement had just begun.
I was very grateful; we needed so much at that time. I've always believed divine intervention was involved because I was no expert I had never even written a grant before. It's funny how things happen. I never imagined working for a travel adventure company. One day, I read an article in the paper about a plan to build a major sports complex center here in Tampa. The paper pictured a copy of the schematics I was impressed and knew I wanted to be part of it. It was a forty million dollar project and with my daughter starting first grade I was ready to go back to work so I contacted the developer. We met, talked, and shared ideas I was ready to jump on board! However, the 18 acres needed for the project had not been acquired and without that I could not do my job. There was no way I could raise a cent without the land acquisition. Every month for the next year I kept in touch waiting to hear the land had been secured. During this time I became more familiar with the office personnel and realized there was a partnership in that same office with a company called Safari Ventures.
GAT: So what is Safari Ventures?
Gloria: Safari Ventures is a full-service tour provider with offices in the United States, Canada, England and Africa. They specialize in safari expeditions and guided tours to Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. I have been so impressed with everyone at Safari Ventures. They conduct business with the highest integrity and are committed to making every guest tour an amazing lifetime experience. When I suggested offering cycling tours to what the menu of what was already offered the idea was met with much enthusiasm and that is how it all started for me at Safari Ventures. Recently, Safari Ventures was named one of the best adventure travel companies by the National Geographic.
GAT: Yeah, I checked out that article by the National Geographic and Safari Ventures was ranked pretty high on quality and customer satisfaction.
Gloria: Yes, they truly deserve the recognition and that's why I'm honored to be a part of the Safari Ventures family.
GAT: So tell me a little bit more about the cycling tours?
Gloria: The cycling tours are 9 to 10 days long with an optional safari experience at the end. They are fully supported from beginning to end. Bike shipment is free of charge as is the bike set-up and any maintenance needed in South Africa. Sag vehicles are present on all riding days enabling cyclist of varying abilities to experience some of the world famous routes like the Argus route. We also encourage non-cycling friends or spouses to come along as there are other events planned like learning to scuba dive in the beautiful turquoise waters to shopping or whale watching. In addition to road cycling, we now offer mountain biking and posting soon is hiking on Mount Kilimanjaro. Next, I will be working on a Family Tour and Teen Tours that provide an educational experience and will offer opportunities for service work.
GAT: Those sound like incredible adventures. I know that there are companies in the country that organize cycling tours overseas. What sets Safari Ventures apart from the others?
Gloria: As a guest of our cycling tour, you are not only cycling for pleasure but also for a great cause....The Life Cycling Academy. It was founded with the purpose of introducing cycling to the children of some of South Africa's most impoverished communities. This organization has done great things for these children. Do you remember getting your first bike? Well, the gift of a bicycle to some of these children enabled that child’s family to become gainfully employed. Other children at the LCA have grown up to become professional elite cyclist. It's emotional for me every time I talk about this… Who would have thought cycling could be so life-changing?
GAT: That is a wonderful cause? How is the company able to help support the mission of the Life Cycling Academy?
Gloria: Each guest cycling tour includes a $500 donation to Velokhaya which is the fund-raising arm of the Life Cycling Academy. The purpose of Velokhaya is to make cycling more accessible for these young children in South Africa's poorest communities. Through cycling they have instilled lessons of discipline and personal responsibility. The Velokhaya campaign – aimed at raising the funds it needs to provide the infrastructure - was launched in London in July 2007 with the support of Team CSC, the world’s number one pro-cycling team, and its sponsors CSC, Cervelo and Descente. The cycling tour commences with a celebration dinner and presentation of a check to representatives from Velokhaya and some of the children they help.
GAT: Gloria, I have to agree that not many people can say they love their jobs. You truly are passionate about what you do.
Gloria: Yes, I am fortunate. I am doing what I love; helping children through a sport I am passionate about while creating opportunities for fellow cycling enthusiast to take their riding to another level and experience the magic and beauty of riding in South Africa.
GAT: With being a Mom, your involvement with Trinity School for Children and Safari Ventures, how do you find time to train? I recall seeing you only at a couple of races last year and none the year before?
Gloria: Yes, I did only one triathlon, St. Anthony's and some organized runs. It was because in the spring of 2006, I underwent maxiofacial surgery a very invasive procedure that required operating on my upper and lower jaw. The surgery was successful, but my body did not handle the recovery well. It was a very difficult time and took nearly two years before the pain subsided to discomfort. Thank God for family and good friends. Since then I've had good training days, but never enough consecutively to constitute an effective training regime. My spirit always wants to do more than my body will allow. It did provide an opportunity to introduce the sport to family and friends around me who have found a love for the sport or one of its disciplines. One of my brothers, Joseph who came to help during that time has become an avid cyclist and loves to road race. My sons swim coach, Payton and his friend David, have become triathletes. My niece Kathleen has become a runner and I ran her first half marathon with her last year. My cousin Michele wants to do her first sprint triathlon. My niece Sofia and nephew Joseph do the kids tri’s now. Also, a very special young lady Janna, who I love like a daughter took the triathlon world by storm. I can’t forget my Isabella who encourages her classmate Tommy to race with her and anyone else who will listen. Isabella and Tommy have since done the 2007 and 2008 St. Anthony's Meek and Mighty triathlons, a couple of Clermont races and last year’s 5k at Gasparilla, a first for both of them!
GAT: To get kids active these days, you have to make it fun for them. How does training for triathlons help their self esteem?
Gloria: Yes, this is very true and there's no reason why it shouldn't be fun. The purpose should be to encourage a healthy lifestyle. I've witnessed with my own children many positive affects that have helped to shape their personalities. My son was very shy as a young boy. He was the kid still holding his Mommy's leg half an hour after taking him to school. He was seven when he did his first kids race in Clermont. The experience of training with a swim team and going to my running races and riding our bikes together sometimes just to the pool or our local ice-cream shop was the start of his developing self discipline. When race day came he loved to compete and when he realized he was good at it, a more self assured young man began to develop. It wasn't long before these attributes carried over into his school life. He was no longer the shy kid, but rather the one raising his hand and speaking with confidence. He raced until the summer of 6th grade when he broke three fingers skateboarding. The following summer he broke his nose playing basketball. He's enjoyed being on his school’s basketball team the past four years. He doesn’t race much these days but he enjoys going for a run and we love mountain biking together.
GAT: How about your daughter? Is she involved in athletics as well?
Gloria: My daughter on the other hand seems to have been born with a fiercely competitive spirit. Of course, her brother set the bar high with grades and athletics. But, she strives to do whatever he does and wants to do it better. At her first St. Anthony’s Meek & Mighty triathlons, you could feel her enthusiasm and as she came across the finish line. After the race I decided to go see if race results were posted before the awards ceremony started. Before I knew it, awards were being handed out and there was no way of convincing her to leave now. She knew exactly what was going on. I didn't want her to be disappointed for not placing and just enjoy the day and experience. Now the announcements are being made for her age group. They call 5th, no Isabella Marchese. I really thought that was her only chance then 4th, then 3rd (oh no we should have left I’m thinking) then 2nd and 1st was Isabella! We were SHOCKED! She was ecstatic and has loved racing ever since! Her experiences carry over to her classroom as well. She is a leader and loves to help other children and her teachers.
GAT: So how did you get into the sport?
Gloria: I've always enjoyed playing sports. I played volleyball throughout high school. In college, back home in New York I'd meet my mom at her office and we'd walk/run over the Brooklyn bridge and back. Here in Florida, I'd run on Bayshore after night classes just to relieve some stress. When my son was a toddler I pushed a jogging stroller. What a workout that was! Then I joined the Avon Women's Running Group, put on by St.Joseph's Women’s Hospital and the Tampa Bay Runners. I started running more and trained for my first 5k and loved it ever since. Training with other women is wonderful and encouraging. It was at this running group that I met three very special women Lena, Lara and Celeste whose friendships I treasure. It marked a special time in our lives where we all committed to a healthier lifestyle and the excitement we felt accomplishing an athletic goal together. We each went on to do triathlons and try to attend each other’s events to cheer one another on. I still remember Lara and Hartley coming to cheer Nino on at his first triathlons in Clermont. We just had our reunion not too long ago and I think someone suggested we all train to do our first Ironman race together!
GAT: You know, that is another reason why I treasure the sport so much. You get to have friendships that last a life time.
Gloria, here are the 5 burning questions everyone is dying to know your answers to. What is your favorite music?
Gloria: There's so many genre I appreciate. I have very romantic parents who listened to great Jazz music on their Friday night dates in our living room. I love all Jazz, but really enjoy the greats like Louie Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington and Count Basie. My oldest brother Chris was a record producer and had his first gold record for "Let The Music Play" when my sisters and I were in high school. We listened to him make music all the time and couldn't wait to hear the next thing he'd produced. I have to admit we loved Disco music!
It brings back great memories for me. When I taught spinning classes I enjoyed fast, upbeat long remixes of Techno music. I love the rock music of the 80's like Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, and Sting! I also like modern rock with great guitar solos like Slash, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lenny Kravitz, Dave Mathews, oh and Santana! To calm down while I'm driving classical music works best.
GAT: Favorite pre and post run food?
Gloria: For a long run or race I love "tostones" there made from the hard green bananas called platanos ma duro. Afterwards, I like a hearty soup like “chicken toscana”.
GAT: Kids or pets?
Gloria: I have both children and pets. I am blessed to have a son and a daughter. However, my two border collies Lucy and Bianca were easier to train.
GAT: Favorite indulgence.
Gloria: A weekend at the Safety Harbor Spa and Resort. If we’re talking desserts....I love pastries with sliced apples tossed in cinnamon and brown sugar served warm.
GAT: What are you doing when you are not exercising or working?
Gloria: Just relaxing. Listening to music and soaking in a tub.
GAT: Well, Gloria, it was a pleasure talking to you and good luck with everything at Safari Ventures.
Gloria: Thank you, Stella.
Gloria Marchese is a safari consultant at Safari Ventures. You can contact her at 813-232-5222 or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
On a personal note: Gloria is a wonderful mom, an education pioneer, and a triathlete. She is very passionate about what she does at Safari Ventures and her mission in helping children in South Africa to learn the joy of cycling. She also is a fierce competitor in triathlon competition. I had the opportunity racing against her and she is one fast mama!!