Real women reveal what keeps them running

Elizabeth Seiter

Age: 50

Day job: Pediatrician, The Baton Rouge Clinic

Started running: At age 45. I had recently been held up at gunpoint in a grocery store parking lot, and I realized that I had lots to be thankful for, including my life and ability to train, so I “just did it” and have been loving it ever since!

Favorite races: Rocketchix (it’s so much fun to race with local women of all ages and abilities) and Santa Rosa Triathlon in Pensacola, Fla. (the venue is beautiful).

Biggest achievement: Last year, I completed the Ochsner 5150 (51.5K) triathlon in New Orleans, an Olympic-distance event.

Goal race: New Orleans Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon in New Orleans March 4, followed by the St. Anthony’s 5150 Triathlon in St. Petersburg, Fla., April 29.

Music to move to: My running playlist is what I consider “multi-generational”: I listen to rap songs, Beyonce, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, just about anything with a good tempo and beat. My inspirational songs include the Mission Impossible theme and “Circle of Life” from The Lion King.

Getting motivated: I am motivated by trying to set an example for my patients and their families. Being a pediatrician, I see the effects of sedentary lifestyles in childhood obesity. Unfortunately, it is truly an epidemic that is easily avoidable. We just need to move, even if just a little!

Fitting it in: I definitely try to prioritize: Family first, work second and training third. However, training is one of those things that I must put on my schedule to make it happen.


Holland Nader

Age: 38

Day job: Stay-at-home mom

Started running: I really can’t remember not running … I associate running with great childhood memories.

Favorite races: St. Jude Memphis Half-Marathon (such a great cause, with great friends) and New Orleans Marathon (I loved running with my brother, Boyd Greene).

Biggest achievement: My first marathon last year in New Orleans—I never thought I would do a marathon, and it was worth all the work.

Goal race: Boston or New York marathon

Music to move to: I have a running mix ranging from country and alternative to hip-hop and rap, mostly songs that my husband, Breaux, has downloaded and “dedicated” to me.

Getting motivated: It’s the recharge that it gives me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I feel like I can think through things most clearly on a run and come back feeling totally refreshed.

Why I love it: I can run anytime or anywhere. All I need are my shoes, watch and music, and I’m good to go.

Fitting it in: This has become somewhat of a joke in our family. They all know that “Mom needs her run.” When my girls were little, it was my only alone time, so I would run when I could. Now that they’re getting older, it’s much easier, and I hope to run with them more and more.


Dee Childs

Age: 57

Day job: Deputy CIO, LSU

Started running: At age 54. I completed my first triathlon at 55.

Favorite races: The Baton Rouge Urban Adventure Races involve a little orienteering as well as some surprise challenges in addition to running, biking and canoeing.

Biggest achievement: Being able to enter a sport later in life and be competitive is incredible. It’s not something I could have predicted for myself.

Goal race: An Olympic-distance triathlon this year, followed by a Half Ironman in the next year or two.

Music to move to: The music of Michael Franti is really upbeat in both spirit and tempo. I also enjoy a lot of Louisiana artists, including Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, Geno Delafose, Wayne Toups and Cedric Watson.

Why I love it: Being competitive in a triathlon is like working a puzzle or doing math problems. You have to try and determine in advance how hard to push and how much to hold in reserve so you can optimize your overall time, and that calculation can change several times during the race.

The big picture: For its size and population, Baton Rouge has a wealth of opportunities for all levels of athleticism and a wide range of events. Not only is this an incredibly supportive community for novice athletes, but we seem to know how to combine effort with good sportsmanship and good cheer. I can’t think of a better place to be participating in sports.


Aimee Russo-Mounger

Age: 39

Day job: Dentist, The Smile Spa

Started running: To lose weight while I was in dental school.

Favorite race: New Orleans Rock ’n’ Roll Half -Marathon. It was the longest run I have done and the biggest challenge, and my husband, Marcus, ran with me.

Biggest achievement: Last year, I finished first in my age group in the half marathon and also first in a duathlon, where I ran 5K, biked 30K, then ran another 5K.

Goal race: New Orleans Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon in March. I also want to compete a Half Ironman triathlon at some point.

Music to move to: My running playlist changes a lot. Right now, it starts off with Adele, whose songs are calming and keep me from running too fast too early. At the halfway point, I pump it up with fun dance songs. A great Christian song, “Stronger” by Mandisa, got me to push through at the end of the last half marathon.

Why I love it: Even though it’s a race, you’re actually just racing against yourself and trying to meet and beat your personal best.

Fitting it in: I couldn’t do it without my wonderful husband, my biggest cheerleader and supporter. He watches the kids, runs them to practice, and even does some homework so I can get it all in. It is a juggling act, but you always find time to do the things that make you happy.


Vivian Broussard Guillory

Age: 58

Day job: Retired administrative law judge

Started racing: At age 54. As an empty nester, I had time on my hands, and I chose to spend that time getting healthy. … I had no idea that my training would lead me to this.

Favorite races: Rocketchix Triathlon and “The Half” in the Louisiana Marathon, which taught me that training well for a race makes all the difference.

Music to move to: Black Eyed Peas, Sting, Oliver Mtukudzi and k.d. lang.

Getting motivated: I just know that whenever I swim, bike or run, I have a smile on my face! It’s fun. My mantra from the very first tri I did has been to have fun, try to complete the race and don’t get injured. So far, so good.

Why I love it: It is a great way to spend quality time with yourself. My energy level is off the charts! I am thankful that I am healthy enough to run, and if I can, I will run well into my golden years.

Fitting it in: My husband, J.G., has always been supportive of my workout schedule; and our son, David, wakes up early in the morning to drive me and my equipment to the competitions, and he cheers me on.


Liz Harris

Age: 47

Day job: Firm administrator, Kevin Harris Architect

Started running: At age 43, when I did my first triathlon, Rocketchix II.

Favorite race: The Rouge-Orleans Ultra-Marathon, a 126.2-mile race from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. You can run it solo or as part of a two-, three- or six-person team. It was epic—you literally run down the levee, past plantations, chemical plants and cows to New Orleans.

Biggest achievement: Competing in the first three Half Ironman New Orleans events and finishing all three within the time allowed. Those events have been the most taxing on me mentally, physically and in terms of training volume and commitment.

Goal race: My biggest goal is my “2040 Project”: to be active, healthy and competing in the year 2040! I’ll be 75 years old then. I even have a little blog dedicated to the adventure,

Music to move to: My run mix could be identified by the large number of Glee songs and Broadway show tunes!

Getting motivated: Races … transform exercise into training. Sign up for that race, put that money down, and I’ve now got skin in the game. Every run on my schedule plays a role in getting me to the race in good form.

The big picture: Regardless of where you are now, if you want to, you can redefine how you see yourself through sport.


Andi Smart

Age: 34

Day job: Controller, Ochsner Medical Center-Baton Rouge

Started running: As a walk-on to my college’s cross-country team. It was a very brief experience, but I discovered that I loved to run as a result.

Favorite race: I absolutely love the Fat Boy 5Ks! Chocolate doughnuts and milk at the beginning and sausage at the end. They know how to make racing fun!

Biggest achievement: Completing the New Orleans Half Ironman in 2009. I didn’t know if I had it in me, but I made it and had a great time doing so.

Goal race: Right now, I’m training for the 2012 Augusta Half Ironman in Geogia. … Also, I haven’t managed to complete a marathon yet. I trained for one, only to injure myself two weeks before. I’d really like to mark that one off my bucket list.

Music to move to: My running playlist is very eclectic: everything from TobyMac and Thousand Foot Krutch to classic Aerosmith and Queen—anything with a great bass line or beat.

Getting motivated: It’s a personal achievement thing. Of course, there are health benefits, but it’s more of knowing that I can say, “Yeah, I did that.”

The big picture: Anyone can do it. Give it enough time and enough attention, and anyone can run a race. You may not be the fastest. You may not have the best form. You may even walk across that finish line. But you can do it. Just keep moving forward!

Finish line in sight!

Stephanie Cauley

Age: 57

Day job: Optometrist, Ochsner Medical Center-Baton Rouge

Started running: In optometry school, when I was 21.

Favorite race: St. Anthony’s Triathlon in St. Petersburg, Fla. The weather is perfect, the venue is beautiful and it’s a large race with a great vibe.

Goal race: I plan to do more “destination” races … this year, the New York City Triathlon. The swim is in the Hudson River, and the run is in Central Park—it will be fun! However, my ultimate goal is to still be doing this 20 years from now.

Music to move to: I have everything from Disney movie soundtracks to LMFAO. But in triathlons, headphones are not allowed, so I do most training without music.

Getting motivated: Races are just fun. I train with a great group of women who range in age from their 20s to 60s. We laugh a lot, enjoy training together and really have fun at the races.

Why I love it: I really enjoy triathlon because of the variety of activities. I feel stronger and in better balance physically than I did when I was just running.

The big picture: The sense of accomplishment that you get after training for months and then actually doing something that you never thought possible is huge… All of that exercise just makes me feel strong and capable of taking on whatever life has to offer.


Shannon Carlson

Age: 40

Day job: Higher education administration, LSU

Started running: At age 35.

Favorite races: Whether it’s cycling 160 miles on the Natchez Trace, climbing to 14,400 feet or crossing the finish line for my first half marathon, it’s all worth it!

Biggest achievement: Half Ironman and climbing Mount Rainier in the same year.

Goal race: My first Ironman in Panama City, Fla., later this year.

Getting motivated: I’m not driven by time but rather by effort. I learn something new about myself each time I race.

Why I love it: I’ve met amazing people who are committed to encouraging and creating a culture that supports all levels. I train with people from all professions and backgrounds, and when we come together, we’re all athletes.

Fitting it in: Waking up at 4 a.m. three times a week is difficult. And quite honestly, prior to this Ironman training, I probably wouldn’t have been the person to do it. But now it’s what’s needed if I want to reach my goal.

The big picture: My grandmother and father passed away only a few years apart, and one day I looked up and realized I was in exactly the same place I had been for several years. When Susan Hayden provided the opportunity to be involved in a Rocketchix Triathlon, I did it, and I’ve not stopped since. That single opportunity provided me with the confidence to stretch into cycling, swimming, running, hiking and even climbing! It changed my life.


Kathy Baker

Age: 51

Day job: General manager, Crowne Plaza

Started running: At age 18, as a senior in high school. I didn’t really want to go to study hall for the last period of the day, so I went out for track, which started practice then. Our relay team went to state that year!

Favorite race: St. Louis Half Marathon four years ago. Before I began training for that race, I had never run more than six miles, and I wouldn’t have thought it was possible.

Goal race: I’m not really motivated by competition. … My goal is to continue to complete my once-a-week, 10-mile run for as many years as I can.

Music to move to: I sing hymns to myself sometimes, especially if I’m having difficulty or if I feel extraordinarily good.

Getting motivated: I run completely for the interaction with other people in my life. Participating in a race is a great bonding experience. I’ve run with my nieces, nephews and siblings. Our sales staff at the Crowne Plaza ran in the Hollydays 5K year before last, and it was a great team-building experience.

Fitting it in: I exercise 10 hours a week. It is something that I schedule and plan for and is as important as anything else that I do. My husband and I often work out and run together.

Cheramie Gosnell

Age: 37

Day job: Director of catering, LSU Dining and LSU Faculty Club

Started running: At age 36.

Favorite race: Santa Rosa Island Triathlon. I was at the beach—how could that be bad? I was on such a natural high!

Biggest achievement: Learning how to go the distance. My coach, Anne Shawhan at FitBird Fitness, has taught me how to train while staying within my target heart rate. Over time, I have been able to run longer distances while maintaining that heart rate.

Goal race: I have mapped out a three-year plan to increase my distances… leading up to my ultimate goal of an Ironman when I turn 40 in 2014.

Getting motivated: Alone, I have had epic failure at maintaining a workout program. I need the support of a group. Knowing that they are expecting me to be there, because I said I would, is just what I need to get up and go.

Why I love it: I love the way I feel every day and the people I have met.

Fitting it in: When I recently hit a brick wall in my training—I was exhausted, and work was kicking into high gear—I went on a search for answers, and one common piece of advice was to plan out your training each week and schedule it as you would a meeting at work. Especially during those rough weeks, make a plan and stick to it.