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Inspiration

Get to Know and Get Inspired by the 2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors

At Brooks, we live by our purpose to inspire people to run and be active. We see running as a pillar in our lives and something we choose to experience by giving it the time it deserves, among the many demands of our day-to-day. Whether you are chasing down big dreams, trying to earn a certain iconic race medal or qualifying time or logging 30 minutes on your local running path, when you lace up your shoes and get moving, you make a commitment to your health and wellbeing and we love to honor that! To give you a dose of inspiration for any point in your running journey, we want to introduce you to our Run Happy Ambassadors. We have chosen each of them because of the active role they play in their communities and based on our shared value of inspiring others to run and be active. Meet them and give them a follow. 
 

AJ Dronkers, @aj_dc
Washington

2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsFavorite race distance?
5K – super manageable and reminds me of all the charity and holiday races I’ve done with friends and family. 
 

When do you like to run?
Jogging is one of my favorite things to do when I travel. It’s easy because all you need are your Brooks shoes and some inspirational music to get started. 
 

How do you set up your week of running?
I’m big on allowing for flexibility and not over-scheduling. I set a goal of how much I want to workout for the entire week, and I also prioritize walking every day. 
 

Alexandria Williams, @alexandriawill
Dallas
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsDo you prefer to run solo, in a group or with a friend?
I prefer running solo to teach me mental toughness, but I also enjoy running with a group on long runs (for safety and a bit of a push). While I run solo at my races and normal runs, I am really fond of meeting up with my friends before and after a race. 
 

Favorite post-run snack?
Since I live in Texas, anything cold and sugary! I always love a good popsicle, pickles or tacos. 
 

Favorite cross training method?
I enjoy doing hot yoga or a spin class to get me going! 
 

Ashley Diamond, @healthyhappier
Brooklyn, N.Y.
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsWhen did your running journey begin?
I have been running since my senior year of college. Initially, I started running just 1 minute at a time as a way to lose weight. Since then running has evolved into so much more and now is a way to relieve stress and enjoy some “me time.” 
 

Coolest place you’ve ever run?
Chamonix, France for a trail race in the Alps. 
 

How do you bring Run Happy to your life?
I realize that every chapter in life requires agility and you can’t try to live one day like you did the last. By bringing Run Happy into my everyday life, I can remember to use the run for what I need and want that day and appreciate that it may be different every single week or day.  

 

Audrey Springer, @runningthealley
Knoxville, Tenn.
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsBucket list race?
I’d love to run the Chicago or NYC Marathon! Destination wise, it’d be my dream to run in New Zealand. 
 

Which piece of gear would be the most difficult to break up with or replace?
For me, it’s shorts! I have such a hard time finding shorts that fit me. Once I find a pair, I won’t buy or wear anything else. The Chaser 3″ Shorts are my current go-to and my closet is stocked! 
 

Do you prefer to run solo, in a group or with a friend?
I like a mixture of both! I definitely need my solo runs for mental sanity but also love hanging out with my friends on a run. Running in a group also helps the long runs to fly by! 

 

Brian Kelley, @pavementrunner
San Francisco
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsHow do you prioritize training?
I work to balance my time and make sacrifices to ensure that I prioritize what’s important…sometimes the sacrifices include sleep or TV. Oddly enough, I’ve found comfort in running late at night, at a time when I’m not missing out on family time because the family is asleep. 
 

Favorite race distance?
13.1 – long enough to test your endurance but short enough to still function that same day. 
 

Favorite recovery tools?
Just the basics – compression socks and foam roller. 
 

Bryan Webb, @bryanwebb
Nashville, Tenn.
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsWhen did your running journey begin?
Super recently… mine began when my fitness journey began in July of 2018. Along with my fitness journey, I started to realize I was decent at running. So, I decided to take on the challenge of training for my first half! 
 

Which piece of gear would be the most difficult to break up with or replace?
Right now, the Canopy Jacket.  
 

Do you listen to music while running?
Yes! Favorite music when running is pop remixes. (Take a listen to a Brooks playlist featuring plenty of pop here).  

 

Camilla Opperman, @tonedtravels
New York
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsWhat does Run Happy mean to you?
Every time I go on a run, no matter how I’m feeling before, I feel happy after it. I really do think that doing physical activity has a huge impact on your life and overall happiness! 
 

Tips to those new to running?
Start slowly — don’t expect to be a marathon runner overnight. The key to getting there is building up slowly and following a training plan. If you try to jump into a long run too quickly, you’ll end up getting frustrated and/or injured!  
 

How do you set up your week of running?
On Sundays, I plan my workout schedule! I look at the weather and what else I have scheduled that week. Then, I plan which runs will be outdoors vs. indoors and long vs. short! 
 

Carlee McDot, @carleemcdot
Oceanside, Calif.
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadors
Quick workout when pressed for time?
Hill work! I don’t live in a flat area, so what better way to get a hard workout than throwing in some serious climbs!? 
 

Do you prefer to run solo, in a group or with a friend?
If I am training for something specific and need the distance or pace, then I prefer running by myself so I can grind it out. If I am just logging miles, then I prefer running with the hubby because one of my love languages is time…and what better way to spend time with the one you love than by running next to them for miles?!  
 

Coolest place you’ve ever run?
Grand Canyon. There is a statistic that says something like 95 percent of the people who visit the Grand Canyon never go below the rim… Not only did we go below the rim, we ran from one side to the other AND THEN BACK AGAIN! 
 

Claire Messinger, @clairerunsthere
Arlington, Va.
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsWhat does Run Happy mean to you?
Run Happy has been a mantra of mine for years. Running and training is not a means to an end. It is a continual process and journey in which I connect and meet with friends, discover interesting locations and explore, while energizing and strengthening my body. I see a shift in many runners that are no longer referring to running/training as a “grind.”  It’s a privilege not afforded to everyone. I treat it as a gift and an opportunity to enhance my day and life.  
 

Which piece of gear would be the most difficult to break up with or replace?
Hands down, the most difficult gear to part with are my training shoes. You spend so many hours together logging miles and when the treads are worn, you love the thought of a fresh new pair, but the ones you’re retiring are like an old friend that’s moving on. It’s tough to let them go!  
 

Favorite race distance?
My favorite race distance is the half marathon although I have not raced that distance as much as I have the marathon. It’s long enough to be challenging but short enough to feel good the next day and to get back to a regular training/running/life routine.  
 

Danielle Hartman, @daniellehartruns
Windermere, Fla.
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadors

Tips to those new to running?
I love to say FORWARD IS FORWARD and that is all that matters! If you respect the sport, it will reward you over time. 
 

How do you bring Run Happy to your life or your running?
I get to share my happiness with my sons by pushing them in the stroller. When my husband has the time he runs with us, too, and we make it a family affair. Life is all about being able to share your passion with those you love most – WINNING!  
 

Which piece of gear would be the most difficult to break up with or replace?
My running watch – I wear it every single day.  
 

Darryl Dzapasi, @darryldzapasi
Provo, Utah
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsTips to those new to running?
Just go! Walk here and there if you need to and then pick it up again. Get lost in it!  
 

Do you listen to music while running?
100 percent! I listen to South African house music – DJ Heavy K, DJ Cleo and a few others.  
 

What is the coolest place you’ve ever run? 
Washington!I ran from monument to monument. It was great and such a good work out. I used my excitement to see each monument to motivate me to keep running.  
 

Dave Coast, @davecoast
Santa Monica, CA
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsWhen did your running journey begin?
I began running when I was attending Queen’s University in Canada. I was living in a beautiful area close to Lake Ontario and running seemed like a nice way to get exercise and clear my head.  
 

How do you find time to prioritize training?
It’s a habit I haven’t been able to break/quit for 10+ years. It’s near the top of the list of my priorities. I feel like adding races (and new events like triathlons) to my calendar give me something to work towards.  
 

Any non-traditional fueling tips?
V8 to replenish post workout! It provides electrolytes and a full serving of veggies.  
 

Devin Shallop, @devinshallop
New York
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsTips to those new to running?
Don’t compare yourself to anyone. We are all built differently.  
 

Why did you start running?
I started running to get a better firsthand experience of learning my city (New York). I wanted to explore new neighborhoods, but on foot. I think that’s one of the best perks of running.  
 

How do you fuel?
I eat clean and healthy all week. Meal prep at the beginning of the week is important – lots of veggies and healthy meats.  
 

Gina Middaugh, @happytrigirl
Ferndale, Wash.
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsWhat’s your best tip for staying hydrated during long runs?
Drink often – I drink every ten minutes during an ultra. I wear a hydration pack, which is extremely helpful during training and racing.  
 

Favorite running mantra?
Run the mile you are in.  
 

When did your running journey begin?
I ran a little bit in college, but never more than 4-5 miles. Fast forward to 2006, when I joined a local training group. I figured if Oprah could run a marathon, I could too! I met with my training group every weekend, slowly building mileage and making friends. I ran my first marathon later that year and was just 8 minutes shy of qualifying for a huge race. That lit a fire in me to keep going and keep pushing. Running became a passion and that passion turned into more marathons, Ironman distance races, and now ultra marathons.  
 

Janae Baron, @hungryrunnergirl
Provo, Utah
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsWhen did your running journey begin?
When I was 12 years old I started running with my older sister. My mom didn’t want her running in the dark by herself! After college I started running races and that is when my addiction to the sport really began. 
 

What is the most memorable race you’ve ever had?
The St. George Marathon 2018! I worked towards a sub 3 marathon for 8 years and at this race, it finally happened. All of the work, sweat, tears, failures and time were all so worth it when I crossed the finish line and I saw 2:59! It was the greatest feeling to achieve what I knew I could do and had worked so hard towards.  
 

Any non-traditional fueling tips?
As I trained for my ultra, I ate sandwiches, French toast and doughnuts!  
 

Janelle Fabian, @run4daysss
Souderton, Penn.
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadors
Quick workout when you’re pressed for time?
A 30-minute easy run is always worth the time – don’t underestimate it! Otherwise, a quick spin or strength session are both great options, too.  
 

Tips to those new to running?
Visit your local running store and get fitted for a good pair of shoes! Be sure to ask them about run clubs in your area and get out there and have fun!  
 

Favorite race distance?
The half marathon! This is the race distance I’ve complete the most times and the one I find to be the most fun! I’ve done them the morning after flying home from across the country, I’ve done them while traveling and I’ve even done them after showing up 45 minutes late to a race start…oops.  
 

Jen Delucchi, @fueledbyfrosting
Sacramento, Calif.
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadors
Why did you start running?
I was searching an outlet to work on bettering myself as a person overall. I liked the concept of working towards goals and improving at something. It was so much more than a fitness goal – it became a huge part of my identity and taught me how to chase after challenges by getting out of my comfort zone in all aspects of life.  
 

Which piece of gear would be the most difficult to break up with or replace?
I tend to get emotionally attached to my shoes! I made some incredible running memories in certain shoes (in training up and on race day), and even though some pairs have too many miles on them now to run in, I couldn’t give them up.  
 

How do you set up your week of running?
I like to get my runs done early in the morning before work so that nothing can interfere. It’s the best way to start the day! On Monday, I plan my schedule for the entire week and build other cross training workouts around my key runs. My long runs are usually on Saturdays, and I enjoy Sundays off as a complete rest day to sleep in and recharge.  
 

Jen Kane, @peacelovemotherrunner
Groton, Mass.
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsHow do you set up your week of running?
I’m a high school track coach so I run with my track kids! I also run to and from the school. That’s my typical weekday run (around 8-10 miles per day) and on the weekend I strive for a longer run.  
 

Favorite post run beverage?
Chocolate milk! 
 

What does Run Happy mean to you?
Run Happy is honestly how I feel. I could have a rough day teaching and go out for a run on my lunch break and come back feeling 100x better. Run Happy also means inspiring others to be the best they can be.  
 

Jesica D’Avanza, @rUnladylike
Tampa, Fla.
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsWhen did your running journey begin?
Running has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. It was passed down like a family tradition from my dad who was an elite track and field athlete. Running was never forced upon me or expected, but I always saw it as a part of life. I remember being 7 or 8 years old watching college cross country meets that my dad was coaching and thinking how cool all his runners were. I spent the better part of my adolescent and teenage years trying to follow in his footsteps. As an adult, I started training for long-distance races in 2009 and ran my first marathon in 2010.  
 

Favorite cross training method?
Elliptical or spin for cardio and barre or circuit training classes for strength. 
 

Favorite running mantra?
Stronger than you think.  
 

Lauren Seserko, @breathedeeplyandsmile
Baltimore
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsWhat does Run Happy mean to you?
It means gratitude for being able to lace up my shoes and run every day. It means self-reflection, time to myself with nothing but the sounds around me and my feet hitting the pavement. Run Happy means laughing and talking on long training runs with friends. Run Happy means being part of a community of people all involved with the same sport and making that community welcoming, supportive and kind.  
 

How do you prioritize training?
I am flexible. Some weeks are honestly a mess as far as running and training. Keeping my runs like appointments and setting a specific time I’ll do them really helps, especially with my busy schedule!  
 

Longest race distance completed?
Ultramarathon – a 50K!  
 

Lora Johnson, @loramarie03
St. Louis Park, Minn.
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsTips for those new to running?
Give yourself a break! Starting running can be frustrating as it takes a while to build up your fitness and find your groove… take that time to find your passion for it and don’t be too hard on yourself.  
 

Favorite race distance?
I love, love, LOVE the marathon! It’s such a journey from the moment you start to when you finish… and even though I’ve run 32 of them, I never quite know what to expect. Maybe the moment it gets a little boring I’ll switch to a new favorite race distance.  
 

What tools do you use for recovery?
The couch. All kidding aside, when miles really ramp up, I take a yoga class once a week and focus on doing active recovery as well as foam rolling.  
 

Marquis Bowden, @humblequis
Los Angeles, CA
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsHow long have you been running?
I’ve been running for about 3 years.  
 

How do you set up your week of running?
I like to set up my week of running by looking at my training plan and getting my mind right to crush the week. Reading and meditation are also important.  
 

Favorite race distance?
The marathon, hands down. It’s such a battle. Each run is a new experience and it takes so much effort. 
 

Nakia Brown, @nakia_fitlb15
Englewood, Colo.
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsFavorite race distance?
5K! I’m not a distance runner but it’s a greater challenge for me.  
 

Which piece of gear would be the most difficult to break up with or replace?
Sports bra! When I find a comfortable sports bra that works great for running and in the gym I have to stick to it.  
 

Fueling tips?
Find what works for you! Don’t feel like you have to be like others or use the same supplements, etc. Everyone’s body is different, and that’s OK!  
 

Natalie Mitchell, @natrunsfar
Pacific Palisades, Calif.

2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsHow long have you been running?
I started running at age seven with my parents. I then went on to run cross country and track in high school and college. I ran my first marathon 3 years after college.  
 

Tips for those new to running?
The days of people walking right out the door and running should be over. A proper dynamic warm up is essential for injury prevention and it makes the first couple of miles so much more enjoyable.  
 

How do you bring Run Happy to your life or to your running?
I bring Run Happy to my life by sharing it with others. It’s gotten to a point where when people see me, the first thing they ask about is my running or mention that they saw me running. I hope to spread the joy of running to many, many people and inspire them to get out there – it really will change your life in the most amazing way and that is pretty powerful.  
 

Noelle Lovoi, @runningwithbubbas
Spokane, Wash.
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsMost memorable run?
Definitely the Boston Marathon last year. It was by far the worst weather to run in, but there at the end was my son, soaked to the bone, holding roses for me and with a giant smile upon seeing me said, “Love you momma!” (cue the tears).  
 

Favorite race distance?
I love the 5K distance because I like pushing myself, but I also love the mental challenge of the marathon.  
 

Any hobbies?
My hobby is helping women to get out and run. I lead a local run group and spend a lot of time getting the group engaged, hosting group runs and creating games and challenges for the ladies to participate in.  
 

Sara Turner, @therunningwife
Danville, Va.
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsTips to those new to running?
Consistency! It’s the biggest key to running. You don’t have to run a million miles, but the most important thing is just getting out there every day and putting one foot in front of the other.  
 

When did your running journey begin?
I’ve been running for twelve years. Initially, I watched my (now) husband run for years before giving it a try myself. Once I started, I’ve never looked back!  
 

Bucket list race?
A 50-miler!  
 

Starla Garcia, @starla_shines
Houston
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsMost memorable run?
Last year, I ran Hood-to-Coast in Portland. I loved running through the mountains and the windy roads. Running has shown me a lot about myself, especially in races, but it was nice to experience running in a beautiful place without the racing environment.  
 

Which piece of gear would be the most difficult to break up with or replace?
My college racing uniform and flats have been the most difficult. I eventually parted ways with my spikes, but my uniform is still folded in a plastic bin. I have too many memories with them!  
 

What’s your best tip for staying hydrated during long runs?
Carry a hydration bottle with electrolytes and give yourself permission to stop at a fountain at every 3-5 miles. You want to be well hydrated to help you keep from overheating and fatigue.  
 

Tanner Olson, @tannerolson92
Salt Lake City, UT
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsWhy did you start running?
I lost a bet to run a half marathon.  
 

What is the coolest place you’ve traveled to for a race?
Paris Marathon. We ate all day and probably walked as many miles as we ran while site seeing. We even went to a Macklemore concert!  
 

What fuel do you use for training?
Skittles  
 

Tina Haupert, @carrotsncake
Hanover, Mass.
2019 Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors, Brooks ambassador program, who are the Brooks ambassadorsWhat does Run Happy mean to you?
Run Happy means good health to me. I remember having terrible flares over the years (ulcerative colitis) and not being able to run. When I was healthy again, those first few runs made me so happy, I cried tears of joy. Nowadays, I still feel that way, and I never take a run (or my health) for granted!  
 

Which piece of gear would be the most difficult to break up with or replace?
A pair of sneakers that you ran a memorable race in. I have certain pairs that I just can’t part with…despite no longer wearing them and them being totally worn out.  
 

Favorite race distance?
10K! It’s not too short and not too long. I like the pacing strategy aspect of it too.  
 

Thanks for following along, and we hope you are inspired to get moving! The Run Happy Ambassador program is a closed influencer program. Individuals are contacted directly by Brooks on a rolling basis to become an ambassador.

 

 

About Alina Steiner
I’m a true Pacific Northwest gal with a passion for golden retrievers, live music, flannel, and the outdoors. I run, albeit not fast, and I definitely #willrunforfroyo. Three things I can’t live without: PB&J sandwiches, lip balm, and my Brooks Greenlight Tights.
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