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Eyes on Iron Man

By John Sicat

I did the Richmond Marathon last November and had a fantastic day. I improved my previous PR by about 20 minutes (3:27:03). I’m short about 2 minutes for Boston, but I see it within reach! I’m thrilled and I think a lot of my success was due to utilizing the good form/technique Coach Brenda taught me.

Brenda, your wisdom paid off! In hoping to keep the momentum going, I’ve signed up for an Iron Man in September (Chattanooga, TN). What have I done?!!

PR Every Race

By Amy McCann

As a later-to-life distance runner, I did not have much experience when I met Coach Brenda.  I had run some marathons, half marathons and other races, but my performance was unpredictable.  Coach Brenda used her experience and expertise to set a training plan specific to me and my goals.  Her approach is different from the one-size-fits-all training plans I was using.  Since working with Coach Brenda, every race has been a new personal record!  She continues to challenge me, but is always mindful of keeping me healthy and injury free.  Her knowledge and experience have helped me achieve my goals AND enjoy the training process.  I highly recommend Coach Brenda to runners of all levels.

Yes, I am a runner!

By Sue Tait, Peak athlete

“I think that you would enjoy my running group,” said a workout friend of mine. “I do not think so, I am not a runner,” I replied. “But I see you on the treadmill and you have run the Monument Ave 10k a few times….” Hmmm—I do love working out with a group and I did want to run the 10k again with an improved time. So in the summer of 2014 I joined Brenda Averette’s Peak Running and Fitness training group. It has changed my life!

Brenda fully exemplifies what a healthy mind, body and spirit are. She is as passionate about life as she is about running. As a coach, she spends time getting to know each of her runners. She wants to understand where you are, both mentally and physically, and where you would like to be. She provides her runners with inspiration, encouragement and unlimited support. She will challenge you to be the best that YOU want to be. You will be successful.

When other workout friends found out about this new endeavor they all asked if I was going to run a ½ or full marathon. “Heck no! Not on my bucket list; no interest at all. Never!”

Brenda created a training plan for my 2016 10k. One of my training days was a mileage day and she gradually increased that distance from 6 to 8 to 10 miles. After I did the 10 miles, I thought to myself “Huh! Not that bad. Maybe I could and should run a ½ marathon.” Brenda was very enthusiastic when I shared this thought with her. She checked out the race I was thinking of doing and said “Sign up! I know that you can do it! “

I did! It was an inaugural race in November 2016 through Everglades National park. Brenda developed a training plan just for me to prepare for this distance and for this race. Her goal was for me was to be confident and successful and to enjoy the race. We communicated regularly throughout my training. She made sure that I was hydrating well, eating nutritiously, stretching and resting. She was always there to answer any questions I had and she ran with me on many training days, always smiling and encouraging me.

As I headed to Florida she said, “You are ready for this. You have trained well. Enjoy the experience.” As I was approaching the last mile of the race there was a pacer in a bright yellow jacket, just like Brenda’s, encouraging all of the runners. I immediately felt Brenda’s presence by my side. As I headed for the finish line I heard her saying “you are almost there. You got this! “

Now when asked I say “Yes, I am a runner!” Thank you Brenda!

I’ve Never Gone All the Way

By Carolyn Palombo

13.1. Always a bridesmaid and never a bride. The ultimate running experience seemingly out of my reach…the marathon.  My personal Everest.

As I picked up my race packet for the Richmond Half Marathon, I could only focus on the fact that my shirt was red. I couldn’t tell you what it said or anything about the graphic. It was red. The marathon shirts were blue. Why couldn’t the shirts be the same color? Why did everyone there have to know that I was only running half the race? I wanted that marathon star on my belly like Dr. Suess’ Sneetches. This was ‘race’ discrimination! Where was Sylvester McMonkey McBean when you needed him?

As I finished half of the real race, my feet were throbbing and pain was shooting down my back. However, I felt no sense of accomplishment or joy afterwards. Strangely enough, if someone had put a gun to my head and said go back and run that again, I would have invited them to pull the trigger. So why do I think I should even attempt a marathon if I found 13.1 miles so brutal?

The good Lord answered my plight with an email. (Actually it was from Sports Backers, but I’m sure God wanted me to read it.) The byline caught my eye — “If you make it to the finish line, does it really matter how you got there?“. The story was written by a 55 year old woman who was preparing for the NYC marathon ( She was using the Galloway method to train; a combination of gentle running and regular walk breaks, along with checking your ego at the front door.

Heck, I could do that! After the initial excitement subsided, I wondered what Coach Brenda would think. Here’s a woman who powers through every run, digs deep, doesn’t lose focus, and beats the pants off others half her age. I suspected she would turn up her nose and snicker quietly at the thought of run/walking a marathon. I was afraid to tell her. However, I put on my big girl panties and ‘fessed up. Coach Brenda said she would love to work with me to create a plan. I was overjoyed.

I finally feel like this ultimate goal is attainable with help and support from my coach. On paper, I’m a mess — 50 yr old woman with arthritis in both feet, scoliosis, disk degeneration and asthma. However, now I feel I can get off the porch and run with the big dogs. If I get that blue shirt next year then watch out Richmond. I may start saving for a trip to Nepal.


“I did it!!!!”   I just wanted to say “Thank you Brenda” for all of your help over the past five weeks.  Your help in my time trial preparation was just what I needed.  Thank you for pushing me when I needed it, thanks for believing that I could do it when I wasn’t able to. Now I know that I can and I have!  It has been so nice to work with someone that is passionate about what they do and there is no question that you “live” running.  Your positive outlook and motivation definitely helped at 6:30 in the morning!  Continued success with training/coaching Richmond’s runners…anyone would be lucky to have you as their trainer.

~Jason Gray

My Love Affair with Running (Not)

By Carolyn Palombo

I don’t like to run. Really. So when Brenda asked us to “think about all the wonderful reasons we run”, I drew a blank. I would prefer to enjoy a good book, the company of friends, or a fabulous meal in a climate-controlled environment. So why do I continue to sign up for training year-round with her? Maybe I should start at the beginning.

I originally became involved with Brenda because I wanted to check an item off my bucket list — the Monument Ave 10K. A couple of my friends were running, so I decided to join them in their training (after all, misery loves company). Brenda coached us through the race, and once completed, I was ecstatic. I never dreamed that I could run that far! In fact, I was so high at that moment that I made a pact with my friends to train for the half marathon.

I will sign up for my third half marathon training session in a few weeks, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why?. I thought maybe a pro/con list could help me make sense out of my strange relationship with running.


  1. Leaving my comfort zone
  2. Feeling like I can’t go another step
  3. Humidity
  4. Getting up early to run
  5. Races
  6. Sweat stinging my eyes


  1. Leaving my comfort zone
  2. Feeling like I can’t go another step…and then doing it
  3. Conquering the humidity
  4. Getting up early to run and having your exercise behind you for the day
  5. Post-race brunches with Bloody Mary’s
  6. Sweating
  7. Solving world problems (usually takes 3+runners and an hour)
  8. Learned how to use an ipod
  9. Friendships I’ve forged
  10. Brenda

Funny, it seems like much of what I dislike about running is actually in the “Likes” category, with a twist. I guess any affair is complicated, and my relationship with running is no different. I don’t see double rainbows at the end of every run, and more often than not, curse the fact that I could be laying in bed instead of driving to Huguenot Park at some ridiculous hour of the morning to run so many miles that are too long and hard for me to achieve. But I do it. And Brenda knows I can and I will. And I guess that’s really enough for me.

Double PR

As I approached the start line of my very first off-road marathon, I couldn’t help but be a little apprehensive. I knew that I’d trained harder than ever, felt stronger than ever, and was toeing the start line with the best coach ever, but all of those little thoughts that go through a runner’s head at the start line crept up in my brain anyway. What if I couldn’t find my groove? What if I had to use the bathroom? What if it started to rain? What if I fell? What if I just gave up at mile 18 (I have, in fact done this, so it wasn’t entirely ridiculous to think it)?

The starting pistol went off with a jolt. No, literally: people were milling about and then, BANG!, someone announced we were starting. I started my watch and took off, trying to keep a nice, even pace knowing I’d have to pick it up at the half. The first several miles were uneventful, until I had to pay a little visit to the bushes around mile 4. But no sweat, I was back on course in no time. Somewhere around mile 21 or 22, I could see a wall in the distant horizon. I wasn’t quite upon it, but it was there lurking, calling me to it. “This is where the real work begins”, I told myself. So instead of staring at that wall and running straight into it, I called into focus all of the training I had done and the race I had run just two week prior: a ½ marathon at which I set a 3 minute PR!

So after several internal monologues in which I told myself repeatedly, “Just hold whatcha got”, I made it to the finish line. I was in shock as I realized I’d set a 4 minute PR. Also, of five marathons, this was the first of which I ran all 26.2 without at least one 30-60 second walk break at a water stop. So really it was double PR day for me.

Wow. As I reflect back on this racing season, I’m still in awe that I was able to set two back to back PRs. I would not have been able to do either one without the training plans and continuous support Coach Brenda gave me throughout the season. I am so fortunate to have worked with her; she helped me see the potential I have within me and has shaped me as an athlete in numerous ways. Coach Brenda is the best!

~Alison Manning

All it takes is Faith, Trust, and a little pixie dust

Chris after Disney Marathon

After spending the first two years of my running career going from doctor to doctor, I was finally given what ended up being the best advice–go see Brenda.

At this point, I was willing to try anything to overcome IT band syndrome and other things that hurt. I was under the impression that running was something that you learned in grade school and thirty years later not much had changed.  Well, that’s where I was completely wrong. There is so much more to running than going to the local sporting goods store, buying sneakers, and taking off.  Prior to working with Brenda, the internet, random strangers and doctors were all giving me advice that should work for me.  I even tried a running program that meets the needs of the masses, but with the same results… more doctor bills. I ran my first marathon just because I wanted a gold colored Disney medal of Mickey Mouse.  I finished in 4:30 +.  Needless to say, I followed the marathon with more visits to the doctor’s office.  A year later, the second marathon did not go as well, because I was still hurt but decided to run the 2010 Disney marathon anyway for more Disney bling.  After taking a required 3 month rest from running, Brenda entered into the equation.

We started out with the basics of running, which all came down to form (and my lack of it). She was concerned with fixing my form and keeping me healthy in the process.  We spent hours and hours working on the basics.  While at the time, it was hard to understand the progress that I was making because to me it felt very slow, it became evident in my health and pace.  The day-to-day advice kept me going and I was encouraged by the fact that I was running without pain for the first time since I’d started two years ago.  Having someone guide me each step of the way through the training process took the uncertainty and guesswork out of my regimen, making me a better athlete. I learned that I didn’t have to run every day, in fact, that had been part of my injury problem. Not only did she deliver excellent training, Brenda provided support, encouragement, and guidance as often as needed.  This year, with Brenda’s coaching, I ran not one, but two marathons, finishing in 3:43 and 3:40.  Utterly amazing!

~ Chris Schenack