Drive, bike-ride or take an evening walk around our scenic Sorrento East community, and on any given day, you may encounter Melissa Reifschneider and Jen Robertson –running. Four days a week, the friends run a six-mile loop and often, their neighbors Kim and Jim, and Amy and Jamey, who live along this route, join them. Depending on the direction the run, they name their route the “Amy-Jamey-Kim-Jim” loop or the reverse, “Kim-Jim-Amy-Jamey” loop! They give comical names to every route they plan to add some playfulness to an otherwise strenuous experience.
The women met when Melissa was teaching a running clinic and Jen was enrolled as a client. Running together has created a strong bond of friendship between them, as they complete each other’s sentences and display an equal enthusiasm for the sport. The two friends encourage and motivate each other. On their daily runs, they share stories of their families and jobs, and help each other solve the myriad problems of daily life.
The friends created an email list of those who have expressed an interest in running and periodically, they send messages to the community inviting all to run along. Their neighbors Paige, Katie, Regina, Bob, and David and Greg run with them too. Some are experienced runners, others are beginners who walk-run, and some are in training for competition. Runners of all levels are welcome. Please contact Melissa at email@example.com for more information.
Most runners in this area belong to the Manasota Track Club in Sarasota County. The New Balance store on Stickney Point in Sarasota sponsors “Team New Balance.” Team members receive a card for a 10% discount on any one item in the store and earn points on referrals. Contact Melissa to obtain a discount card.
Jen and Melissa have a lot to be proud of in recent years. In February, they finished their first 100K race (that’s 62 miles!) in the Iron Horse Endurance run, Palatka, Florida. This was an “Ultra Marathon,” which is a race designed with distances that exceed that of standard Marathons. To prepare for this race, the ladies trained on a 6-mile route, running it over and over, circling back each time to Melissa’s house, where coolers of cold water were waiting for them. People in the community joined them for one lap or more, but Melissa and Jen had to run the route 6 times a day to build up their strength and endurance. The neighbors along the way stopped to watch and they asked the runners: “what are you doing?”
In November, Melissa and Jen will compete in the New York City Marathon and that’s what they are training for now. In addition to the competitions in Florida, Melissa ran the Chicago Marathon in 2017 and Jen ran in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. several years ago.
Melissa cautions Florida runners that in the tropical climate, they will lose a lot of sweat while running. She said “…it’s important to plan your route to refuel your water supply or carry it with you to rehydrate often. Besides hydration, the next most important concern is to buy good footwear and to find a plan that works for your body.” “Some runners try to keep up with everyone else but everyone’s body is different and it’s important to find your own pace. Start with walk-run routines, and slowly develop a personal running plan.”
Melissa and Jen recommend finding a running buddy to help with motivation. “Run as many days a week that feels right for your body and age. If you are training for a marathon, you may want to slowly build up to 17 miles, then back it down to 12 miles and build back up again. In addition to running, strength training, core and back training, stretching and yoga, supplemented by massages to loosen the muscles, are important. Good nutrition and sleep are also keys to success for a marathon runner.”
The passion for running is more than a sport for enthusiasts. Local races raise money for worthy charitable causes including up to $2500 per race, for school scholarships. Melissa and Jen also run in the race sponsored by Stacey Monroe, which is a 5K race in Siesta Key held in January each year in memory of her son, Andrew, killed in a tragic automobile accident in 2011. Each Christmas, they run in the “Jingle and Jog” 5K road race for The Haven in Sarasota, where over 800 individuals with disabilities are enrolled in personal growth programs and services.
The primary physical benefits of running include cardiovascular health and bone density, especially for women. Weight-bearing exercise like running can help those battling depression and maintain a healthy weight.
Here are some helpful links and websites for runners:
- To find local races and fun runs: Go to www.Manasotatrackclub.org
- For Marathon Training: Go to www.HalHigdon.com
- New Balance Store, Stickney Point Road in Sarasota: free fun run once a month, http://stores.newbalance.com/sarasota/races.aspx
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