Running to Accomplishment: Highlights of RUN HAC

Run HAC, Hockessin’s oldest running club, finished out it’s 11th season this past month at the 2021 Rehoboth Marathon and Half-Marathon. For many of the club’s members, this event marks their first race of this distance, and a huge chunk of the club’s runners turn out to support the first-timers each year. But, to coaches Jen Besten and Andrea Bradley, celebrating not just the marathoners and gold medal winners but also the first-time 5kers, the training PRs, and all the little achievements in between is the best part of leading the club. Here, we’re celebrating and reflecting on just a few of this year’s Run Club firsts:

Melanie Arnold

What was the event? Suffield 10k (Suffield, CT) and Fall Foliage Half Marathon (Rhinebeck, NY)

What were you most excited about? Both; I like to explore new areas by running.

Most nervous about? Fall Foliage. I knew it would be hilly and I hadn’t run a half in 21 months, so I didn’t know how I’d do.

Melanie is currently aiming to run a half-marathon in all 50 states!

How did Run HAC help you prepare? The Run HAC sessions add structure to my running by scheduling in those workouts that I might not do otherwise. Andrea and Jen are great at encouraging everyone to do their best wherever they might be in their running. The camaraderie of Run HAC is so important, too. I really value the friendships made through Run HAC and everyone is very supportive at races.

Would you do it again? Yes

What’s your next big “first”? First half marathon in Utah at Zion National Park in March 2022.

Vanessa Lee

What was the event? Freedom from Seizures 5K

What were you most excited about? First 5k race and placed first in my age group.

Most nervous about? I am competitive and did not feel prepared when Jen asked me to sign up.

How did Run HAC help you prepare? Before joining Run HAC, I had only run on a treadmill and did not have anyone to compare to or compete with to push me to do my best.

Would you do it again? Yes

What’s your next big “first”? 10K

Anything else you would like to add? Thanks to the HAC for having this program and thanks to Jen & Andrea for pushing me!

Sydney Wolfe

What was the event? I ran my first 5k in June at Glasgow Park and did my first 10 mile race, the Rocky Run, in Philly on 11/13.

What were you most excited about? I was most excited about completing the events to say I accomplished them, and then receiving the sweet Rocky medal!

Most nervous about? I was most nervous about the preparation for the races and going out too fast and dying by the end. The 5k I did just that, but I had only been running for 2 months. For the 10 miles, I had been running for 7 months, and had a solid 2 month training plan leading up to the race, so I felt better prepared. I also kept my phone in my hand to watch my splits for the first mile in the 10 mile race so I did much better pacing overall.

How did Run HAC help you prepare? Jen and Andrea have an amazing Road to Runners program in Run HAC for beginners and I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking to dip their toe into running. The group is so supportive no matter if you’re running your first 5k or marathon. While I can’t say I love running and usually dread it each day, I do enjoy the camaraderie of the group and the encouragement as we pass each other in class or by doing our own thing. (For reference, I enjoy it enough to keep doing it and pushing my limits, but that’s the appeal for me – doing something I don’t enjoy to see how far I can go. I just don’t wake up and think hmm it’s a great day for a run!)

Would you do it again? I will certainly be joining Run HAC next year. As much as I’ve joked that I’ll be ‘retiring’ from running on 12/5, I have no doubt I have some 5ks in my future, and have already signed up for the Rocky Run in 2022 – this time the half marathon 5k/10 mile Italian stallion challenge.

Anything else you would like to add? For anyone who thinks they aren’t made to be a runner, you can absolutely do it. Jen and Andrea are amazing coaches and make the program work for anyone of any level who’s willing to show up and put in the work. I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but it’ll be worth it!

Stephanie Forman

What was the event? Nemours Run for Children

What were you most excited about? I finally broke a 9-minute mile pace. I’ve been fighting an injury for the past two years that hasn’t allowed me to finish the Run Club season. This year I’ve been able to work through it with help from Jen and participate in a few races while finishing the season.

How did Run HAC help you prepare? The varying runs during our training helped me prepare. I’ve been able to increase my pace and endurance as the season progressed. I was also ready to tackle the hills of the race thanks to all our hill training. Jen and Andrea are so knowledgeable. They’ve helped me with my form through the season and made a training plan so I can feel confident and ready for my
half marathon.

Would you do it again? Absolutely. I’m looking forward to dropping my times.

Anything else you would like to add? My younger self was not a huge fan of distance running. Run Club has been fantastic. The camaraderie and team atmosphere have made this club so enjoyable. Before joining the team I’d go out and just run on my own. I’ve learned so many different tactics and various ways to train that running has become something I look forward to doing again. I was always an athlete growing up, playing multiple sports and teams through college. This group has helped me regain that feeling of being a part of a team. It’s helped me regain that feeling of being an athlete and has helped me make time to better myself.

Renee Baffone

Sydney and Stephanie were among the runners that completed their first half-marathon in Rehoboth last month!

What was the event? 125th Boston Marathon

What were you most excited about? Making a five year dream finally become a reality.

Most nervous about? I got hurt 42 days before the race and could not run. I was not sure if I was going to make it to the start line, but I did with the help and guidance of Jen Besten. She modified my training plan to adjust to the injury and communicated with me every day. She had me do pool runs and eased me back into running each week.

How did Run HAC help you prepare? Running with HAC Run Club helped me become a faster and overall stronger runner. The runners in Run Club helped push me each week when we would run together. The group is very supportive and encouraging. We are all there together to cheer each other on with our personal goals.

Would you do it again? Yes! I just found out my New Hampshire Marathon time qualified me to get into the 126th Boston Marathon that will be held on 4/18/2022.

What’s your next big “first”? I am signed up to do a 3-mile open water swim June of 2022 and someday when I am done with marathons I would like to do a Half IronMan.

Anything else you would like to add? Coach Jen and Coach Andrea are truly amazing. I would not be the runner I am today if it was not for them. I joined HAC Run Club after my 3rd marathon when I realized I could not get faster on my own. They have taught me so much over the last 5 years when it comes to running. They helped me achieve a PR with my half marathon and PR with my full marathon. They helped me qualify for the Boston Marathon 4 times.

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