Washington, DC

Name: Natalie Atabek

Self-described age group: F 25-29

Residence: Washington, D.C.

Occupation: Director of Communications at AFS Financial Group

Why you run: I run because I never feel more like myself than when I’m running. No matter what kind of day I’m having, I know that once I start my run, nothing else matters and everything else can wait until I hit stop on my watch.

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Name: Adam Lesser

Self-described age group: 35-39

Residence: Fairfax

Occupation: IT Consultant

Volunteer roles in the running world: 5k Fun Run Committee member for my son’s annual elementary school 5k fundraiser event

Why you run: This has changed over the years, but anything from: pushing myself toward big goals, stress relief, to solve the world’s problems, for health and to motivate others to be active (especially my kids).

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Name: Lisa Romanzo

Self-described age group: my mornings fueled off coffee, my evenings off wine and ice cream, my current bosses can’t even complete full sentences, and I’m in bed by 930… i must be in the 30-35 range. waiting to move on up to the next age group!

Residence: Ashburn

Occupation: Physical therapist, but currently on hiatus to be home with my kids.

Why you run: Running makes me a better person. It’s my “quiet” time. With a traveling husband and family states away, running serves as my hobby but also my self care time. It allows me mental clarity, to work through things in my head or to just be in that meditative, steady state where I am free of thought. I love the endorphin release. How strong it makes me feel. And for the invaluable lessons it continues to teach me about self acceptance, resilience and hard work.

When did you get started running: Once college soccer came to an end, I needed an outlet to maintain some sanity and release some energy to get through graduate school so I picked up running. When I was deployed to Afghanistan, about three years later, my love for running grew deeper. Not only was it one of the only things for me to do, it filled the void and served as my therapy at a pretty low point in life. I carried it with me during the transition home and ran my first marathon, Marine Corps, that same year. I haven’t turned back since and running has never given up on me!

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Name: Norman B. Reich

Self-described age group: M 50-54

Residence: Arlington

Occupation: Owner of an IT Consulting Company

Volunteer roles in the running world: (as applies) I have been an active member of the DC Front Runners for 3.5 years, and serve on the board as co-race director finishing up my second term.

Why you run: I started running for health reasons.  I continue running because I love it and because I’m addicted.  During my March 2015 physical I was given some news about some serious health issues.  I immediately changed my lifestyle including healthier eating and walking.  At some point I decided to try running.  I thought it was just for my health, but a few weeks later I fell in love with it.  It has completely reversed the health issues that I was concerned about and lost over 50 lbs.  Running is not only good for me, but it’s a good way to clear my head, challenge myself, and also to enjoy the social aspects of doing many of my runs with the DC Front Runners and with friends.

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Name: Olivia T.

Self-described age group: Dang millennial (25)

Residence: Silver Spring

Occupation: Scientist – I work in an applied biology lab

Why you run: I really like carbohydrates and it helps keep me (somewhat) sane. My long runs alone with a good podcast are often the highlight of my week.

When did you get started running: I ran cross country in high school, but didn’t pick up the longer distances until after college, when I started training for my first marathon in the summer of 2016.

Have you taken a break from running: I didn’t really run at all for most of college. Studying and beer were way more interesting to me at the moment. Looking back on that time though, I don’t know how I just didn’t run at all. Since 2016 though, I don’t think I have taken more than five or six days off in a row, and that is only after hard races – otherwise, I am out there 5-6 times a week.

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Name: Kelly Buroker

Self-described age group: F 35-39

Residence: Alexandria

Occupation: Attorney specializing in litigation of government contracts

Volunteer roles in the running world: I have been involved with Girls on the Run, and I spend a lot of time mentoring fellow runners and pacing them in races.

Why you run: In my high-stress life, running is the one part that is completely mine. I (half) joke that my runs are often the only time I get to myself all day long. Running started as, and remains, an outlet for me.  I love that I can customize every run to what I need on any given day.  If I’m super stressed and just need to find some peace, I can run easy.  If something really got under my skin that day, I can throw on some angry music and push my limits with speed work or hill repeats.  I always return from a run in a better state of mind than when I left, and I never get less out of it than I put in.

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Name: Daniel Ahern

Self – described age group: 50-54

Residence: Logan Circle

Occupation: Public Affairs

Why you run: To beat my little brother. Every summer we meet in Falmouth, Mass., with family and friends to race seven miles through the shady early hills, then the exposed beach segment towards the mile five Allen Avenue cheering station, while turning for home up to the hill with a fast finish on the downslope. The loser has to adorn the champion with a medal and recite “you are the better runner this year, and I only hope to be your equal.” I haven’t had to say those words in many years. I could probably slow my pace and make these races competitive, but I only know one speed. And before you start feeling sorry for him, he’s a Jets fan. He’s used to losing.

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Name: Madeline Shepherd

Self-described age group: 30-34

Residence: Washington, D.C.

Occupation: Nonprofit Lobbyist

Why you run: Running is my alone time, when I can tune into the pattern of my footsteps and breathing and tune out everything else.

When did you get started running: I realized that I enjoyed running when I was working to make the varsity volleyball team in high school, but I didn’t start running for its own sake until after college. I was inspired by friends and former classmates running half and full marathons and thought I would give it a try. After my first half marathon in 2010, I was hooked.

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Name: Dale Learn

Self-described age group: 45-49

Residence: Washington, DC

Occupation: Attorney, Law Partner

Volunteer roles in the running world: I have volunteered at several race water stops, finish lines, etc. for my running club, the Potomac Runners. I have also volunteered to coach track and interval training for my club. The most rewarding volunteer roles have been when I have helped get once non-runners into the sport by given advice and training tips.

Why you run: There are SO many reasons why I run. It is SUCH a central element of who I am – It grounds me, makes me feel like I have done something good for myself, is great stress relief, and is a good way to venture out into a new place. Plus, you are never as free as when you are out there and you body is in a good running rhythm and just humming along.

When did you get started running: My oldest brother was a good runner and I enjoyed watching going to his meets, especially cross county. I did local youth track, but started full time running in junior high school and continued through high school and in college (Go Dawgs!!).

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Photo: Amanda Hicks

Name: Kristen Serafin

Self-described age group: 30-34

Residence: Gaithersburg, MD

Occupation: Associate Director in Market Regulation Technology at FINRA

Volunteer roles in the running world: I was recently elected as a Board Member At-Large for Montgomery County Road Runners. I also volunteer as the assistant director and pace coach for MCRRC’s Summer Half Marathon Training Program. You’ll often see me at MCRRC’s low key races, volunteering for everything from course marshaling to parking.

Why you run: I find that no matter how I’m feeling, running is always there for me. I can run alone or with friends, on trails or road, fast or slow. The reliability of this sport and a love of being outside motivates me to get out the door.

When did you get started running: In the spring of 2014 I was rushed to the emergency room with pneumonia so bad that I was initially tested for a pulmonary embolism.  After years of repeatedly getting pneumonia and bronchitis I was finally diagnosed with severe asthma and GERD.  My pulmonologist put me on six different medications and asked me to build up my lung strength through running or swimming. I picked running because I figured that if you stop swimming, you drown, but if you stop running, you just walk.  The first day I was well enough to run I made it two blocks, sat down on the sidewalk in Pentworth, and cried.  I was wheezing and had to take my emergency inhaler.  After a few minutes I decided that the next day I would try to run three blocks.  Eventually I worked my way up to a 3 mile loop, and decided on a whim to sign up for the Marine Corps Marathon.

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