Sandy Springs catering sales manager makes a run for it in all 50 states!
When I joined the Atlanta Track Club in 2011 to train for my first half marathon, I didn’t know what kind of socks or shoes to wear or what chafing was. Who knew that “cotton is rotten” because it’s so absorbent and holds on to so much sweat? Twelve years later, these are things I teach other people. In fact, I recently ran my 83rd half marathon and often serve as a pace runner in various races. My ultimate goal is to run a marathon or half marathon in all 50 states. So far, I’ve marked 25 states off of my list. Of course, that type of goal never entered my mind when a friend casually approached me about running the AJC Peachtree Road Race in July of 2011.
The 6.2 miles of the Peachtree Road Race seemed daunting to me, and I told my friend I would commit to walking it—not running it. On that day, I walked the first 2 miles. The atmosphere was electric. The energy of the crowd pushed me along, and I found myself running. I ran the last 4 miles and felt incredible. I instantly knew I wanted to train for a half marathon and became part of the Atlanta Track Club.
During my early running years, I couldn’t get enough. I liked the way it made me feel so accomplished; at one point, I was running 60 miles per week. I started joining more races, which I could do thanks to the flexibility of my job at The Brickery, the Sandy Springs restaurant my family owned for 25 years. My undergraduate degree is in music, and I initially worked as a music therapist and in the nonprofit sector. I began working at The Brickery in 1997, moving up from server and bartender to bar manager and floor manager. I also did some catering with the restaurant before it closed in 2015. That experience made me realize where I wanted to be professionally, and I found my way to Three Sisters Catering in 2018. Of course, when you’re in catering, you’re very busy during certain times of the year, which affects my running schedule. Work will always come first because I love my job, so I choose races based on my availability.
By 2016, I was running bigger races like the Chicago, New York and Boston marathons. I ran 14 full marathons before focusing exclusively on half marathons. Traveling to other states for races inspired me to set a goal of racing in each of the 50 states. My friend and I travel together for the races, and other friends often join us. We look for races in states we’ve never visited, and we typically take several days to explore the area and do a food tour and try local activities. That’s how I combine my job and my hobby; if I try an amazing dish in another state and feel it will work with our menus at Three Sisters Catering, then I bring it to our chef.
Right now, I try to do three races each year. I scratch each new state off a map my running friends gave me as a birthday gift. In 2023, I scratched off Arkansas, Colorado and Washington. When I’m not actively training, I run three days a week and do a Burn Boot Camp on three other days. I also volunteer with the Atlanta Track Club. Other than completing races in all 50 states, I’ve reached my personal running goals, including finishing a 5K in under 30 minutes and running a 10K in less than one hour. Now I enjoy helping train others. And I will continue to cross states off my race list.
My motto has always been, “Do what you love and love what you do.” I love my job more than anything, and it’s the same with running. I love getting out there. Running isn’t for everyone, but for me, it’s exciting and fun. It also offers a great way to meet people and make friends. Who knows? It could take me 15 more years to complete the list. I don’t know what reaching the goal will look like, but there definitely will be a big celebration.
ATLANTA TRACK CLUB
THREE SISTERS CATERING
As told to Amy Meadows
PHOTOS: Erik Meadows
15 Minutes With columnist at Simply Buckhead. Freelance feature writer, children’s book author and President of Green Meadows Communications, LLC.