Name: Brad Byrnes
Self-described age group: Pre-Masters (almost 40)
Occupation: Federal Police Officer and former head XC coach at Bishop Ireton HS
Volunteer roles in the running world: I’m one of the few that can claim membership in the old Pacers Ambassador program. That was a long time ago and I haven’t volunteered a lot since then…that needs to change. I did coach the Boys on the Run program at the Grace Episcopal Elementary School for 5+ years which was a lot of fun.
Why you run: Mostly to race and compete against others but I’m always challenging myself as well. As we get older, beating our old selves becomes more and more of an obsession. Running is also my time to decompress and escape for a bit.
When did you get started running: I tried every sport in the book but nothing really caught on. A high school friend suggested I come out for the track team so I did that my sophomore year. I ran my first XC season that fall of my junior year and the rest is history.
Have you taken a break from running: My first two years of college I really didn’t run much at all and instead spent more time with weights in the gym and playing rugby. The rugby guys liked me because I had endurance and didn’t drink which meant there was at least one sober player at our matches.
Self-described age group: 35-39
Occupation: Special Education Teacher
Volunteer roles in the running world: I love being a Race Pacer for marathons, half marathons, 10k’s and 5k’s.I have paced as many races as I have raced. I also love to be on the course volunteer for races.
Why you run: I run for a lot of reasons. I started as a way to keep in shape, I continued to run because it kept me even keeled during stressful times, and I will continue to do it because I love the people it brings into my life. It is an ingrained part of who I am at this point.
Name: Nick Reed
Self-described age group: 25 – 30
Residence: Fairfax, Va.
Occupation: Substitute teacher with Fairfax County Public Schools, Pacers (Fairfax) employee and assistant coach for cross country, indoor and outdoor track at Robinson Secondary School
Volunteer roles in the running world: The Robinson team volunteers at Potomac River Running races as a fundraiser where we course marshal the courses for specific races in the area, generally races held at Fairfax Corner.
Why you run: I run for the pure joy I get from it and more importantly for the competitive spirit I get from running races and having the chance to go out a beat the runner that you used to be and see improvements in yourself.
Name: Caitlin Kovalkoski
Self-described age group: 30-39 F
Occupation: Federal Policy Director, Corporation for Supportive Housing
Volunteer roles in the running world: One of six DC/MD/VA Oiselle Volee leaders
Why you run: Stress relief
Name: Shawn Zeller
Self-described age group: Masters, 40+
Residence: Northeast D.C.
Volunteer roles in the running world: I coordinate the running team at my company, CQ Roll Call, and our involvement in team races, such as the National Press Club 5k and the ACLI Capital Challenge.
Why you run: To be fit, to compete, to stay trim, to maintain friendships, and to set a good example for my kids. This past year, after my nine-year-old daughter participated in “Girls on the Run” through school, the whole family, including my wife and six-year-old son competed in the DC Road Runners Bunion Derby series of races. It was extremely gratifying to do so as a family. I ran with the kids and Madelyn finished 1st in her age group, while the rest of us took second in our respective age groups. We were thrilled! It turns out that young kids can run distances!
When did you get started running: I ran as part of my crew team training in high school and college, but only as cross-training. I only realized then that I had any propensity for endurance sports. In grade school, the focus was always on sprinting and I’m still not a very good sprinter.
Name: Leah Williams
Self-described age group: mid 30’s
Residence: Olney, Md. by way of College Park
Occupation: Genetic counselor
Why you run: Running is my time. If I’m running with friends, it’s my time to socialize and be challenged by a group of people who “get me.” If I’m running solo, it’s my time to get whatever I need that day – sometimes I relish the quiet, sometimes I need speed to get out some negative energy, and sometimes I just want to zone out and listen to a great podcast. Either way, it’s my time to dedicate to myself which is otherwise hard to find in my daily life.
When did you get started running: In college. I have a hard time sitting still, and was looking for something to challenge me and get some of my energy out. I never considered myself a runner and thought I was just terrible at it, which was the perfect motivation to see if I could actually do it.
Name: Miguel Cuya
Self-described age group: Early 40s
Occupation: Probation Officer
Volunteer roles in the running world: Every year I volunteer as a driver for elite runners competing in the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler. I am also a race director for a few DC Road Runners races, including the DCRR Cross Country 3+Miler, DCRR Bluemont 5k, and the National Capital 20-Miler and 5-Miler.
Why you run: After running for the last 10 years, I have found running to be a great stress reliever and a great way to keep fit. More importantly, I have found running to be a great way to meet people and now most of my close friends are runners.
When did you get started running: I started running at age 32. In the past, I used to associate running with going around in circles around the high school track (no workout plan like PE in high school). This changed after I ran my first race, the DCRR Capital Hospice 12k, in February 2009. This was the moment when I decided I was going to start running and competing in races.
Name: Tanya Senanayake
Self-described age group: F 35-39
Occupation: Attorney specializing in campaign finance litigation
Volunteer roles in the running world: I love mentoring other runners, especially women and those new to running. I also created an Instagram account (@oaktreerunner) to bring attention to mindful running and women’s running, and to connect with women of color runners, since a meaningfully diverse representation of runners encourages even more people to try out this great sport. And I assist Coach Wilson Komen with his outreach and community partnerships building.
Why you run: Running makes me feel stronger, builds my resilience, and gives me space to find stillness. There is something about running that makes me really attentive to my surroundings, like the sounds of gravel crunching underfoot and the presence of roots and rocks and frogs, but also lost in a flow state at the same time. This is meditative and healing for me.
When did you get started running: I started running after I turned 30, during my first year in D.C. On a whim I decided to organize a team at work for the Lawyers Have Heart 10K. At the time, I couldn’t run more than a few blocks, but I printed a 10-week Hal Higdon plan that I found online. I crossed out Weeks 6 and 8 because there wasn’t enough time (mistake!) but ended up loving the feeling of camaraderie and friendship that come with training for a race and the feeling of accomplishment at running a half mile without stopping, then a mile, then two miles, and eventually the race.
Name: Bryan Steverson
Self-described age group: 40s
Residence: Loudoun County
Occupation: Federal Employee
Volunteer roles in the running world: (as applies) I’ve helped with a few local 5ks and am on a steering committee for a new to be announced local race in LoCo
Why you run: To eat! Actually I’ve been running since I was in middle school, so its just a habit that has taken over my life (in a good way). Cooking is a hobby of mine so running helps me think I’m justifying some of the food I’m cooking (I like to cook french food).
When did you get started running: 6th Grade – I was a miler at first. Then I switched to run the 400 meters and relays. Relay races are where I did the best and had the most fun. I always enjoyed running with a team and competing with other teams – takes the burden off of myself a bit. Plus there is just something about running with a baton and trying to beat your competition to make the handoff that drives me to run faster.
Name: Naomi Warner
Self-described age group: mid-thirties going on 22
Volunteer roles in the running world: (as applies) Unofficial and official race pacer – I’ll be pacing the 4:15 group at the Disney World marathon this month.
Why you run: I run because it gives me life. Running is my therapist, happy hour, social time with friends, a way to clear my head, a break from the stresses of work and family.