ENOW: P2T Coaches


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!


Fine Looking Group of Coaches

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.”


P2T Group after 4th of July training run

Susi also had this to say about her fellow coaches and the the program: “We should never take for granted the INCREDIBLE commitment that East Nasty makes to the community and how many lives we are influencing and changing.  We are helping people see what is possible via running and also by creating new friendships that come from the P2T program. The saying East Nasty for Life has so much meaning- and the coaches are living that out every summer. And now I will cry. It means that much to me.”
And now for the entire list of coaches who made the 2015 P2T training program such a success:
Jeremy Taylor: co-leader of kicking off each training run
Mike Clark: co-leader of kicking off each training run
Susi Willlis
Christine Edson
Patrick Sullivan
Melinda Morgan
Beth McCaskill
Peggy Stanfield
Polly Alexander
Megan Nunn
Janet Parry
Jeff Little
Juanita Taylor
Sam McDuffee
Nina Stroud
Misty Cross

Kim Baldwin
Kym Gerlock
Bree Roy (and Rula Baby/Rudy Big Head)
Diane Zandstra
Joy W Howard
Kevin Howard: brought popsicles to every training run!
Mary Larimer
Barry Olhausen
Michelle McPherson
Dan Strimer
Bethany Champion
Lee Ann Lynch
Glenda Crowder
Lana Olson
Lenny Bertoldo
Jessica Winn
Sara Spencer
Jenny Mills
Dustin Green
Teryn McNeal: coordinated the water for all of the runs
Brenda Russo
Brandon Greer
Alexandra Melton
Sarah Blizzard
Linda Sadler
Art Thompson
Rachel Schaffer
Amy Smith
Melissa King,
Rhonda Tolliver
Terri Dorsey
Ralph Booker
Jeff Crafton
Thank you, coaches! You are beyond amazing, and congrats on the special edition ENOW!

3 Responses to ENOW: P2T Coaches

  1. Katie Payne says:

    I cannot thank the coaches enough for an awesome 8 weeks of lacing up and hitting the pavement with new friends and new goals! I had so much fun training with my fellow tomatoes and couldn’t have done it without you, coaches!

  2. […] been organized on Saturday, February 18th at 6pm to support fellow East Nasty veteran P2T Coach Diane Zandstra as she conquers breast cancer. Donations can be made for Diane’s medical […]

  3. […] for Headlights” fun run is this Saturday, February 18th at 6pm to support fellow East Nasty veteran P2T Coach Diane Zandstra as she conquers breast cancer. Details […]

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