Ron Marinucci November Column-RunFit 501

Ron Marinucci November Column-RunFit 501

In August, I wrote about Doug Goodhue “Teacher,” not necessarily Doug Goodhue “World-Class Age-Group Runner.” Recently I caught up with several of his Running Fit 501 students and asked them about the course, one of several that Goodhue teaches.

Angela Sakulidis and husband-wife Dennis and Jillian Peck had all run to varying degrees before taking Running Fit 501. Each had begun running with somewhat different goals. But as they progressed, they wanted more, to improve by running faster or farther. This is when they looked to Goodhue and Suzi Stock for help in Running Fit 501. And, by all accounts, they received even more than they anticipated.

Angela Sakulidis had always “tried to maintain some level of running…to be fit and for weight loss. Six miles was “usually” her longest distance. But, eventually a marathon came into her plans. She decided to take the course, not once but twice. “I felt there is no way I could or would properly train for a marathon without it. It worked the first time and even better the second time.”

She went on. “My goal [for the second class] was to do my second marathon,” the 2012 Free Press, “and to beat my previous time. I more than exceeded my goal. I beat my time from 2010 by thirty minutes! I attribute this to the 501 course…. I did a better job of putting in the [course’s] work. I was more religious about showing up for all of the workouts and following the training plan provided.”

Although he played hockey in high school, Dennis Peck admitted, “In my late 30s I weighed 236 pounds. It was time to do something. I started running to lose weight. It worked.” He added, “I currently tip the scales at 175.” After this, “I needed a new goal. So I started entering races—5Ks, 10Ks, and then the Hungry Duck Half Marathon in 2009.” He then took aim at the 2010 Free Press, which he completed in 4:15.

“I was sure I could be faster, so I joined the Running Fit 501 group in the winter of 2011 in order to improve my race results.” That he did. “I ran the Kalamazoo Marathon in May 2011 in 3:54. I learned so much from the coaches [Goodhue and Stock] and other runners in the group; it is incredible.”

Dennis’ wife Jillian had run track in high school, “sprints and relays…. Anything over a 440 was difficult for me. I had not run since.” But she had started walking, long-distance walking, including the Breast Cancer Three-Day 600-Mile Walks. In training for these events, she laughed, “My friends and I used to comment on the runners we saw. None of them looked like they were having any fun. Running appeared too painful. We all agreed that we would stick to walking. Ha!”

Running again for her began “as a result of a joke.” Dennis was planning to run a marathon. “One Sunday after mass, he was discussing his plan with a fellow runner. I overheard [him] say, ‘I want to make a vacation out of my marathon. Jill can come along if she runs, too.’ Being the smart ?#$ that I am, I said, ‘Of course I’ll run.’”
Jillian figured most marathons also have accompanying 5Ks, which was her target. “The next week, two of my friends came to me and said, ‘We hear you are running. We want to run, too.’” The three friends found a local 5K to run that spring and finished it together.

Dennis’s Grand Island Trail Marathon, though, didn’t have a 5K, but a 10K. Oops, but Jillian said, “I was committed to completing my first 10K in order to join him.”

But she admitted, “Once you begin racing, it is difficult to stop…. I set my sights on a half marathon.” That’s when she “dropped in” on the 501 course. And, she acknowledged, “Thanks to coaches Doug and Suzi, I finished eleven minutes ahead of my goal time” at the Kalamazoo Half Marathon.

She then targeted the Spring Lake Half, so “I became an official 501 Team member, with the singlet to prove it! All the Saturday long runs and Wednesday night speed work and hill repeats [part of Goodhue’s schedule] paid off. I shaved another thirteen minutes off my time.” Next, she joined Dennis on Grand Island, but not for the 10K. “I now proudly display a 26.2 magnet on my car.”

All three agreed on the benefits they gained from Goodhue, Stock, and the 501 course. Sakulidis said, “I am a better runner. I learned how well I really could run. I have lost weight. I ran two marathons because of this course. I have gained more of a love for running and being a part of the running community.”

Dennis echoed that. “During my training for the 2010 Detroit [Free Press], I thought I was doing speed and strength work. After about four weeks with Doug and the 501 group, I learned how to do speed and strength work correctly and had someone to provide that extra push. Yes,” he admitted, “at 50 [years old] peer pressure is effective and a desire to impress the coaches still exists.”

Jillian noted similar benefits to her. She listed “health and quality time with my husband…and confidence and drive.” She added, half-jokingly, “guilt-free shoe purchases and a whole new wardrobe.” She also learned “long-term planning around next year’s race schedule.”

More specifically, they all appreciated and learned from Goodhue’s vast knowledge and experience and his ability to impart them. Sakulidis said, “Doug clearly loves all things running, knows what workouts will work, keeps the workouts challenging, new, and interesting, and takes time with all runners regardless of their levels.” She also enjoyed “the timely and helpful seminars” arranged by Goodhue. She singled out one in particular. “My favorite was a very inspirational and informative talk by Randy Step.”

And, it seems like with runners everywhere, all three 501 students came to treasure “the friendships,” as Jillian called them. These friends, “other couples,” are even thinking about competing as a team in the Great Lakes Relay next summer. “The Pecks are on the list, too,” she said.

Sakulidis is equally appreciative of “the friendships and camaraderie of the coaches and fellow runners. I looked forward to seeing each of them each Wednesday and Saturday. [It was] a great time to catch up with one another. Just as important, Doug shares himself with us, making it more like a 501 Team or Family. His openness and genuine desire to help others encourages that type of attitude from those around him.” Of the group workouts, she said, “It was so great to be a part of this [the 501] group…. We really became friends and supporters for one another. I have gained so many friends, [who] I hope will be lifetime friends.”

Dennis noted, “My favorite part is the friendships that have developed.” He’s also grateful for “the genuine support and concern Doug and Suzi have for all the 501 members.” He recounted his experience. “During the Winter 2012 session I fell on the ice during a Saturday morning run at Kensington [Metro Park] and broke my fibula which resulted in six screws, one plate, and thirteen weeks of forced rest. While in the ER, Doug called Suzi and they showed up and spent time with me. The group sent an Edible Arrangement and Doug reassured me, several times, that I would in fact run again. They got me back in shape during the summer of 2012 and I finished the Grand Rapids Marathon [in October].” Confidently he said, “One more surgery to remove the hardware [from his leg], a few weeks of rest, and on to the Winter 2013 session and a new PR in the spring of 2013.”

Highlighting the Running Fit 501 experience with Goodhue, Stock, and his classmates, Dennis said, “Last year during the 501 off-season (November to January), at least ten and up to twenty people would [still] show up at Kensington every Saturday morning about 7:00 just to run and spend time with each other. Doug, Cindy [Doug’s wife], Suzi, and Lee [assistant coach Mamola] were often part of this semi-formal group. That says a lot about the 501 group and its coaches.”

Is it any wonder Angela, Jillian, and Dennis highly recommend the Running Fit 501?