every runner has a story

Meet Abby Rowzee

Abby has been a LRC Member since 2019. Abby’s first LRC Race: The Aching Quad Challenge (race retired in 2022). Favorite Distance: 5K  Running Goal: the NYC Marathon

After escaping the bitter winters of the Northeast and moving to Lakeland in 2018, Abby recognized how large and active the running community is in Lakeland.  That recognition led directly to a decision to take up running for the first time.  And, as we all have learned or will learn, getting started is the hardest part.  “It was certainly not easy starting to run” shared Abby, “especially when I’ve never ran before. I probably would have stopped after a week or two but my boss Ben, who is a runner, kept encouraging and motivating me, even what seemed like the simplest of milestones such as running a mile without stopping for the first time. It was enough to keep me going until I learned to like it, enjoy it, and then eventually love it.”

Once I fully immersed myself into the LRC community, improvements, and self confidence in my ability to run started taking place.”

Initially a bit shy about participating actively in the club, Abby knew there was much more to being an LRC member than just running the races.  She then made another big decision – to take full advantage of all the benefits LRC has to offer.  “I started off training/running by myself, but I knew I needed more if I wanted to get more involved with the LRC Community and to improve my running. In the fall of 2021, I joined the 10K training group which led me to attend the Speed Work training on Tuesday nights and Hill Runs on Thursday nights. My running did not start to improve until I incorporated all of these training tools from LRC into my weekly runs. I quickly started to see speed and endurance improvements in my 5K races as well as useful knowledge provided through the 10K training group. I’ve never had a running coach, but I owe a lot of my running success thus far to a few people (in no particular order): to Speed Coach Brian Heipp who pushes me to be the best I can be.  To Sarah Kozul who is full of advice and knowledge and is willing to share it.  To my boss Ben, and my family who listen to me talk endlessly about running and are always supporting me in my running ventures. Lastly, to the LRC community and my running buds (ya know who you are!). Running has become such a joy since I’ve gotten involved and met all these wonderful people. I look forward to seeing everyone every week. The LRC Community gives so much support, direction, and encouragement. Running wouldn’t be as fun without them.”

Abby loves a good race and is particularly fond of the 5K.  “My favorite distance so far is the 5K. I enjoy seeing the time of the clock when I pass the finish line get lower and lower as I slowly improve. I’m starting to dip my toes into running half marathons and then someday, the New York City Marathon. My favorite victories are when I achieve a personal record and usually, they’re unexpected. I went from running a 31 min 5K to 26:39 min 5K in about 3 years.”

“One of my favorite memories is running the Run for Pies with my twin, Brooke. She’s not a runner but I encouraged her throughout the whole race. I told her she can do more and go further than what her mind and legs are telling her. She pretty much ran the whole 5K without stopping! Such a proud twin moment and she is slowly starting to get into running now, which makes me delighted and hopefully one day, she’ll love it as much as me.”

Most of us have experienced an injury or set back along the way and Abby is no exception.  Coming back from an injury or extended time away can be grueling.  In Abby’s case, it was a hairline fracture.  “I had a hairline fracture and didn’t get my foot checked out until the spring of 2020. I couldn’t run for 9 months and all the progress I had made up to that point went down the toilet. When I was able to run again, it felt as though I was starting over.”  To prevent further and future injury, Abby consulted with Jon Mott and was fitted with the right running shoe for her.  Additionally, Abby learned about the importance of rotating running shoes, changing insoles, stretching, nutrition, and, most recently, cross-training.

The LRC Community gives so much support, direction, and encouragement. Running wouldn’t be as fun without them.”

Asked what advice she would offer to new runners, Abby said “My advice to new runners is to keep running and never give up. When you feel like you want to stop or quit, just go a little bit further. You’d be surprised at what your body can do. It’s going to be a struggle, but it truly helps if you join one of the LRC’s training and running groups such as the Spring Ahead 5K group, the 10K Training Group, the Thursday Hill Run, The Saturday Brew Crew Run, or the Tuesday Interval Workout. You’ll learn the correct form, receive advice, and most importantly you’ll be with other runners who will be there to encourage you along the way of your running journey. Four years ago, I would have never believed I could run a mile let alone a half marathon. Anything is possible if you are persistent and never give up.”

Running is now Abby’s favorite activity to do in her spare time.  “Running has certainly changed my life for the better. It keeps me active and fit. I’ve learned so much about what my body is capable of and all the obstacles my body and mind can overcome. I am always surprising myself with my improvements in the physical and mental aspect of running. My family does believe I’m a bit crazy for waking up at 4AM to go for a run, but they see how passionate and dedicated I’ve become to the sport and are very supportive.”  When not running, Abby loves working (really, not kidding) and enjoys reading, walking, volunteering, visiting the Theme Parks, and hanging out with family and friends.

Within Abby’s story we find a lesson we can all take to heart – welcome the newcomer.  We all need to remember how intimidating it can be to break the ice with a group of people we’ve never met.  Let’s go out of our way to shake a new hand, offer some words of encouragement, and have a run with someone new.  Your “shake and howdy” could be just what they needed that day.  We are, all of us, ambassadors.

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email

More To Explore

Meet Kathy French

Kathy French took advantage of the variety of training programs offered by the LRC, which gave her the tools to be a confident runner. Initially running for fitness, Kathy’s perspective shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic when she joined the Spring Ahead 5K training group with Betsy Slay. Through this and other LRC programs, she learned the science of running and found a supportive community.

Read More »

Meet Marshall & Glenda Babbitt

A love of fitness brought Marshall and Glenda together, and now they share their passion for this sport as a director and coach for the LRC. Together, they embodied the ethos of giving back and paying it forward.

Read More »

Meet Bob & Sherry Harter

Bob and Sherry Harter exemplify that even if you’re not actively running, you can still make a significant impact and give back to the running community through dedicated volunteering and support.

Read More »

Meet Tim Edgemon

This summer, Jefferson Blizzard, age eight, unknowingly became motivation for 47-year-old Tim Edgemon when they crossed the finish line side-by-side at Tim’s first 5k – the June Summer Sunrise Watermelon 5k. 

Read More »
Meet Abby Rowzee