Runner’s world: A budding athlete discovers a new hobby

Holly Herring and Randi Rod took photos of themselves on every long run to document their journey. Photo: Amy Jackson Holly Herring and Randi Rod took photos of themselves on every long run to document their journey. Photo: Amy Jackson

When Randi Rod says she completed a couch-to-10-mile running program, she means it. She was sitting on her couch when her friend, Holly Herring, called last fall to ask her to run the Charlottesville Ten Miler with her. Rod, 53, who hadn’t exercised much while raising her three children (her youngest is 16), laughed at the suggestion, but said she’d do it.

The two showed up to the first training session, organized by Ragged Mountain Running Shop, in late October not knowing what to expect. They were in the beginners group, and were told to go around the track at UVA’s Lannigan Field twice. The women planned to walk the curves at either end and run the straightaways, but Rod says she remembers jogging the first stretch and thinking, “We’re never going to be able to do this.”

For the next 23 weeks, Rod and Herring met every Saturday morning for official practice with their training group, and ran at least one day a week together, either around Rod’s hilly Peacock Hill neighborhood or various outdoor spots. One of the best things about running outside is rediscovering the place where you live, Rod says.

One of the first solo runs the pair did—two miles—was in Claudius Crozet Park. They started on the paved trail and then branched off to one of the dirt paths. They marveled at the streams and wooden bridges they had no idea existed in their backyard.

“It’s so fun to discover all this stuff,” Rod says. “You don’t see it in your car when you’re zooming down the road.”

Rod says another key motivator in training for the popular Charlottesville race was running with someone else. They made a pact during training that they were not going to push themselves so hard that they wanted to quit, because their goal was simple: to finish. The pair walked up hills and jogged down them, with the goal of running a 15-minute-mile pace. Their race goal was 2 hours, 30 minutes. On March 24, they crossed the finish line under pace in 2 hours and 26 minutes. The first thing they did after finishing was high-five each other, and Rod also got a big hug from Ragged Mountain co-owner Mark Lorenzoni.

Rod says she wore her finisher’s medal to a celebratory breakfast at Cavalier Diner, and kept it on in the car on the way to Cape Charles, where the friends stayed overnight to celebrate their success.

“We kept looking at each other and saying, ‘Can you believe what we just did? We’re rock stars!” Rod says.

The pair plan to keep up their running with the goal of training for a half marathon.

“After 10 miles, what’s another three?” Rod asks.


Words to run by

Randi Rod says if she can do it, anyone can do it. She remembers how excited she was the first time she ran two miles without walking, as well as the point when six miles no longer seemed daunting.

“Just try it,” she says. “I didn’t think I would last, but once you get going, you get sucked in. Then, you don’t want to let yourself down.”