The East Nashville Tomato Fest is practically a holiday for the East Nashville community, and the Tomato 5k is the perfect kickoff to a day filled with fun, sun, and perhaps a little debauchery. For some, the race is a great way to get some miles in before 3 Crow opens; for others, the Tomato 5k is a great excuse to come listen to Drew Jones on a microphone for two hours. However, for an amazing group of people, the Tomato 5k is a celebration of 8 weeks of hard work and dedication. The Potato to Tomato training program takes non-runners and turns them into 5k finishers and superstars, and the unsung heroes of this group are the coaches, each of whom devotes countless hours helping those in the program achieve their running goals. So, this week, P2T coaches, we salute you as this week’s East Nasty of the Week!
From June 13 through August 8, over 50 coaches dedicated their time and energy to the Potato to Tomato training program (or P2T for those in the know). Every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, these coaches trained, cheered, inspired, and motivated the P2T group as they progressed from their couches to running the Tomato 5k! Many of these coaches are alumni of the P2T group, return coaches from previous training groups, or as is often the case, BOTH!
Susi Willis began her running career with the P2T program and is now one of the coaches. She loves that the P2T program has coaches that come back and do this every year AND that P2T graduates come back and coach the new runners. Each coach dedicates 4.5 hours a week to the program. That is 36 hours per coach and 1,800 volunteer hours from the whole coaching group. According to Susi, that’s pretty cool, and it’s what makes this program so special. In fact, she says that most of the coaches agree that this is one of their favorite things to do and that they get more out of it than the participants.
To coach Diane Zandstra, one particular moment from the program stood out and truly exemplified what P2T is all about. According to her, “One of my favorite moments from this year was the first time our “potatoes” ran the 5K course. It was a hot and humid morning, and a pretty grueling run for all. First time P2T participant, Alana, finished and was feeling a bit defeated because it was a difficult run, and she thought it was only a portion of the 5K route. When we informed her that she had indeed run the entire 3.1 miles, she was elated! Alana accomplished something that she didn’t know or even realize that was possible. It was an amazing reminder to me of my first runs with a P2T training group 3-years ago (with my coaches Kim Stokes-Lanier and Beth McCaskill). That first time you realize that you’ve gone from barely running 90 seconds to completing 3 miles is an unforgettable experience. What’s even better is running alongside someone when they reach that goal.”
Bree Roy (and Rula Baby/Rudy Big Head)
Joy W Howard
Lee Ann Lynch
Teryn McNeal: coordinated the water for all of the runs