2015 Runner Profiles

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Kym Bowen


How long have you been running?
I started running in college but in March 2013 is when I began to take it more seriously. I learned proper running techniques and researched shoes and equipment that were best for me. Since then I have become very passionate about running.
What motivated you to start running?
Initially I started running for the health benefits. However, once I had my daughter in April 2014 I became motivated to stay active and maintain a health lifestyle for her.
What’s the longest race you have run so far?
I ran the Jazz Half Marathon, 13.1 miles.

How long did it take you to run that race?

What race are you running at the JA Race For Success?
Half Marathon

What motivates you to continue running?
I stay motivated by my daughter and my husband. I want to be able to stay active and play with her and one day become her running partner.

Lucas Robertson


How long have you been running? I started running in Kindergarten at Dunbar Primary. I am now in third grade at Brandon Elementary.

What motivated you to start running? It is a fun way to exercise and build up my strength. It also helps me with soccer.

What’s the longest race you have run so far? I have ran a few 5K’s.

How long did it take you to run that race? 31 minutes and 19 seconds

What race are you running at the JA Race For Success? 5K

What motivates you to continue running? I want to run a 10K before I finish third grade. And then, I’m going to run a half marathon!

Ken Johnson


73 year old Ken Johnson of Texas is a streaker…a run streaker.
On New Year’s Day 1992, Ken began his first run streak of 600 days that included at least one mile of running per day. Since December 30, 1997 Ken has only missed 18 days of running and enjoys both the road and trails. Ken runs the full array of race distances from 5km to ultramarathon with 101 marathon/ultra finishes. Ken recently ran the half marathon distance at the Love. Run. Marathon. on pine needle covered trails in Huntsville, Texas and crossed the finish line in 3:23:03! Being in the Army for 22.5 years and the two mile wall the surprise of Ken’s first four mile run courtesy of the division Commander that first 10km race experience at Ft. Hood with 2500 other runners starting at 3:00AM the continued involvement in running after retiring from the Army, then the run streaks begin strongest memories of the people and community in this sport reflections on the half marathon scamper at the Love. Run. Marathon. a special Team RWB experience from his marathon finish at Love. Run. Marathon. in 2014 – Mighty Awesome!

Brad Pesek


How long have you been running?
I have been running races for 17 years.
What motivated you to start running?
In 7th grade I heard district cross country medalist talking about their times. I made the comment that I didn’t think it would be hard to run that distance in that time. As a result I had to back it up the following year. I was able to do so and more importantly I developed a love for running I still have today.
What’s the longest race you have run so far?
The Shiner Beer Run Half Marathon. My first and last half marathon. Close to freezing temperatures and rain didn’t help.
How long did it take you to run that race?
What race are you running at the JA Race For Success?
In addition to being a member of the planning committee, I plan on running the 5k.
What motivates you to continue running?
Running rejuvenates my mind, body, and soul. It is a great way to relieve stress, stay in shape, and feel accomplished after a great run!

Edith Bocanegra


I began running about 3 years ago because I wanted to lose weight.  I have always struggled with weight and I had been working out, but could’t lose those last few extra pounds.  A great friend of mine suggested that I start running.  I had always wanted to run a 5K so I set that as my goal and did it with her help.  She told me “This is your race, you can do it!”  I really appreciated her encouragement.  Last year she asked me if I wanted to run a half marathon.  My first reaction was “I can’t run 13.1 miles, she believed in me,  so I started training.

I ran my first half marathon in November 2014 in 2 hours and 35 minutes.  After I finished I felt a huge sense of accomplishment since just 3 years before I couldn’t even make it around a track one time.  I’m glad I have a group of friends that encouraged me to run and remind me that I can do it again if I put my mind to it.

I will be running the half marathon at the JA Race for Success.  I want to encourage anyone who is running their first half marathon that you can do it!  Don’t compare yourself to others in the race. Just relax, enjoy it and stay positive.
I hope to see you on the course!

Mark Bush


How long have you been running?
I began running in earnest in 2012. There have been a couple of false starts along the way due to shin splints and runner’s knee. But, thanks to some good physical therapy and strength training exercises, I have run more in the past 12 months than at any time before that. In that same year I started running 5ks and ran a total of four races. But, each year after that I have run a few more and now have 20 5ks under my belt. My distance and speed have slowly increased and I just finished my first 10 mile training run this July. I’m getting closer to that elusive 13.1 mile Half distance! One of my coworkers tells me that if I just put my head down and run another 13.1 I’ll have run a full marathon! Okay… we will have see about that next year!
What motivated you to start running?
Originally, I began running to improve my health and participate in a regular exercise program. I enjoy hiking and backpacking but I can’t do that every day. Running seemed like a good way to get outside and stay active. I read John “The Penguin” Bingham’s book “The Courage to Start” and he made running actually seem possible for me! Other authors and runners like Hal Hidgon and Jeff Galloway also have some great books on running and I have beaten down a path to the Barnes & Noble in Tyler! Did I mention “The Everyday Runners Podcast”?There are some very good training plans available and no one should feel that they have to start from scratch!
What’s the longest race you have run so far?
I ran the Junior League “Sprint into Spring 10k” earlier this year and that 6.2 miles is a distance that (until recently) I never dreamed I would run. Until this year, the Fredonia Rotary Club hosted a 5 mile race and I remember reading about it and I could not imagine how or why anyone would run that far! Well, I have run the “new” Fredonia 10k, the CASA Superhero 10k, and the Sprint into Spring 10k for a total of three 10ks this year. And, I will run the Helping House 10k in September. So now I’m training for my very first Half, okay two of them… the Race for Success and the East Texas Half. Both of them this fall. It should be fun… I can’t wait!
How long did it take you to run that race?
56 minutes for the Sprint into Spring 10k.
What race are you running at the JA Race For Success? Half Martahon
What motivates you to continue running?
Along the way I’ve had some great encouragement and suggestions from friends to keep me motivated. There really isn’t anything new under the sun and the running community is a very welcoming and helpful group of folks…. thanks LAPS! Also, I just want to stay healthy and active. I have read a lot of articles about the cognitive and physical benefits of running. There is a lot of science that supports longevity with a more healthy lifestyle. One of the most amazing things that I have learned from running is the financial support local races provide to the community. Race entry fees really do help support the needs of great organizations like Junior Achievement, Lufkin Community Partners, CASA, Crime Stoppers, etc.

Ryder Pierce


I started running in 2001 after someone told me that putting your shoes on was the hardest part of running.  Once you put your shoes on you never regret it afterwards.  I realized very quickly that they were right.

When I was in college, I used to time trial 53-54 minute 10 milers in college. The longest race I have done is when I paced the final 31 miles of the Arkansas Traveler 100 miler in 2011.  I started at 9PM and we finished at 7 in the morning.  I have several PRs that I am proud of:  4:26 mile, 9:41 2 mile, 15:24 5k,  25:44 5 miles(8k), 32:25 10k, 54:15 10 miles, 1:58:30 20 miles. My 2 favorite accomplishments is I averaged 96 miles per week in 2009 and the most miles I’ve ran in a week is 140. I also exclusively coached the 2012 Arkansas high school state mile & 2-mile champion.

I used to be motivated by the successes of running fast.  Today I’m motivated by keeping my fitness level from regressing.  In other terms, I was once motivated by the carrot.  Now it’s the switch.

As a member of the planning committee for this year’s race, I plan on running the 5k on race day.  I am starting a couch to 5k and couch to 10K program that is open to anyone who is interested.  I love to help others meet or exceed their fitness goals through running and look forward to seeing you in training and on the course.  If you are interested in help, message me for details.  Ryder.Pierce@edwardjones.com

Elissa Winder


How long have you been running? Since Nov 2014

What motivated you to begin running? My friends said it would be a good new workout for me!

What’s the longest race you have run so far? 5k

How long did it take you to finish it? 29:26

What race are you running at the JA Race for Success? Half marathon 

What motivates you to continue running? A new challenge to see how far I can go and how strong I can feel!

Emily Fleniken


I used to think people who did marathons and running for fun were crazy. I could never understand the fun or enjoyment from running. But when my friend challenged me to do a half with him, I figured, if he can do it, I can do it. So I started running around my neighborhood and was pretty miserable the whole time. But I slowly got better and I followed a half marathon training program. The training program had me do one long run each week, slowly working up the distance. Each week with each new distance, that was the farthest I’d ever run at a single time. And each week I began to feel like I had really accomplished something I had never done before.

I had never competed or even participated in any distance running so I figured I should do a few 5K’s before my half. Well, I signed up for them and paid the entrance fee, but never actually went to the race. I psyched myself out so much the morning of each race, that I never even went. If I didn’t have my friends running the BCS Half with me dragging me to the starting line, I probably wouldn’t have gone. But I did. And I had set 3 goals for myself that day. 1) to finish the race 2) to run the entire thing and not walk and 3) do it in under 2:30:00. And I met all of those goals!

As I’ve trained more and improved my diet, running as become much easier and sometimes even enjoyable. I keep running because I want to keep trying new things and pushing my limitations. Now, I don’t think people who run marathons are crazy because one day, I’ll be running in a marathon myself!

John Carlos Estrada


I’ve been running for 4 years. I began in 2011 when I lived in New York City.   It began as a way to clear my mind and get back in shape. But it soon became away to honor my mom when I began ‘marathoning.’ I’ve raised money running for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation – the illness my mom passed away from in 2010.

I’ve fun two full marathons – 2012 Philadelphia Marathon & 2013 Marine Corps Marathon in DC.  My first marathon in 2012 it took me over 5 hours to finish. It was tough but I kept going.   I’ll be running the half marathon.

My motivation to keep running is my  mom, Gloria Estrada. She loved to walk around the block almost every night. She would always take my siblings on walks around the park. Running reminds me of her and helps keep her memory alive.

Stephen Smith


I have been running about 12 years because I wanted to maintain weight loss .

The longest race I have run so far is the White Rock marathon in 2006 in Dallas Texas.  It took about 5 hours that was one of my first big races.

My best time was the race for success 1/2 marathon last year. I finished in 1 hour 42 minutes and 53 seconds that’s my new PR 5. I will be running that again this year.

I love being healthy it’s given me a resting heart rate of under 50 beats a minute. it gives you a great feeling of accomplishment. I like pushing my body and seeing what it can do…our bodies can do amazing things if we are diligent to train them. That’s my motto 😉

Veronica Pinkert


I have been running for a little over a year now. I started running because I recently returned to college. I needed a hobby that would ease my stress with beneficial returns. I also wanted to set a good example for my children. I know health is important to living happy. Not only do your decisions about diet and exercise affect your body but they affect your mind and emotions as well. I want my children to have a well rounded happy mom and I want them to live a well rounded happy life.

The first race I ever participated in was while I was in the military. In order to successfully pass boot camp we had to run a mile and a half within 15 min. I completed it in 11:32. This was an empowering moment for me. I didn’t realize, up to this point, the potential I had and this was my first experience with an enjoyable run. After the military I did not continue running but always wanted to start again. It took me a long time to gain the confidence to run again.  A few of my friends signed up for the color run and I thought this would be great way to start a new running program. I started using the Nike+ app to get started. Since then I have continued to run. The JA Race for Success race will be my first official race. I am signed up to do the Half-Marathon.

I have continued my running because I want to continue using a healthy coping strategy. Life is very fast-paced, as I’m  sure it is with most moms, so I need a hobby that keeps me happy, healthy, and confident so I can keep up.

David Newmann

junior achievement race runner profiles

I used to run quite a bit in high school and competed in a few 5k events along the way, but stopped running during my college years.  My wife, Laura, decided that she was going to run the Aramco Houston Half Marathon in 2008.  I went out to the course to watch my first half marathon and to support her.  There were thousands of people running the event and it really peaked my interest.  It was not long after her finish that I told Laura that if she could finish one, I knew I could finish one.  My first long distance race was the Aramco Houston Half Marathon in January 2009.

Since running my first half marathon in January 2009, I have continued signing up for half marathons.  I have ran half marathons all over the nation including San Diego, Dallas, San Antonio and New Orleans to name a few.  As of March 2015, I have completed 30 half marathons and 2 marathons.

I ran the Chevron Houston Marathon for the first time in January 2015 and finished in 5:05:08.  I am not a speed demon, but considered it a win since it was my first marathon and I was able to go the full 26.2 miles!  Two months later, I competed in the Seabrook Lucky Trail – Trail Challenge (1/2 marathon on Saturday plus full marathon on Sunday).

I will be running the half marathon for the 2015 Race for Success.  It will be the second time running this race and looking to beat my time from last year.

The motivation for me participating in so many races is the medal at the finish line.  I really enjoy the feeling you get when you have ran a long distance, cross the finish line and receive a medal to show your accomplishment.  It may sound funny, but the hardware makes the hard work and dedication in your training all worthwhile.

Hope to see you along the 2015 course!

Linda Malnar


I started on my 56th birthday, August 4, 2014.  I couldn’t wait to get an iPhone so I could download the C25K app.  I got my first iPhone in July 2010 and downloaded the app, then got a newer iPhone in July 2012 and transferred the app.  Still had not even looked at the app.  Then on my 56th birthday I was looking at Facebook and saw a friend that posted she was on week 3 day 1 of the app and I thought if she can do it then what is holding me back.  So that is the day I started running.  I ran my first 5k on September 27, 2014 – Spirit of Hope 5K in Carthage, Texas.  I was so scared.  I ran it in 43.57.  There were 251 runners and I was number 151.  A side note on this race.  As I stated I was so scared.  Many years ago my step-dad, Joe Mosby, was an avid runner, biker, & swimmer.  He would run races, do bike races, and tri-athlons.  (He passed away in June 2012)  The night before this first 5K for me, my mom asked did I want spaghetti for dinner.  She said “Joe always ate spaghetti the night before a race.”  The next morning before the race began, I was just walking around trying to get my nerves settled and get my heart rate up.  I happened to look down and found a penny on the ground.  Hopefully you know the poem “Pennies From Heaven”.  I picked that penny up and showed mom.  Joe ran with me that morning and runs with me at every race since.

I have only ran 5K’s. My personal best 5K time was on January 31, 2015 – Crime Stoppers Run in Lufkin, TX.  I finished it in 39.52.

For the JA Race For Success I will run the 5K.  I have had people ask me why I don’t do a 10K.  My goal is to complete a 5K without walking some in it.  After I reach that goal I would like to start training to run a 10K.

Amy Parrish


I have always been “athletic” as a three sport athlete, but never considered myself a runner until a few years ago. I always disliked it actually and gave up before I could ever see results in either my time or weight loss. It wasn’t until just 3 years ago that I decided to really give it another try.

After having my third daughter a friend was doing the Couch to 5K program. So, I ordered a double jogging stroller and after i…t arrived, I got to work at the program also and from there, it stuck. It was a release for me. Me time that I enjoyed.

The longest race I have done to date is a 10k. I have now actually completed the Cho-Yeh Trail Run 10k and the Run Girl 10K.

The best of the two 10k races for me was the Run Girl 10k this past December and I completed it in 1:09. I have never been a “fast” runner, but for me the completion of the distance is my triumph. If I happen to PR too, then that is an extra bonus.

I have been wanting to complete a half marathon for a long time and have finally taken the plunge and will be completing the Half Marathon at the JA Race For Success in October.

My motivation is definitely the three little sets of eyes that are constantly watching me. Staying fit and active has always been a goal of mine since I was younger and it is definitely a stress reliever for me. However, my three girls ages 8, 5, and 3 are my biggest motivation. They are my biggest supporters and I can’t let them down.

Elena Rodriguez



1. Have been running for about 5 yrs now.
2. Started by only walking, then a couple of friends from work got me to start running, and loved it!
3. Half Marathon ( 2 )
4. 2 hrs 14 mn
5. 5k or Half Marathon!?😜
6. My passion for running, staying healthy, my sons/family.


How long have you been running?

In my early twenties I ran 3 to 5 miles. I took it to another level when I ran my first half marathon in 2011.

What motivated you to start running?

I have always had a love for running. It takes me to a place only a runner can understand. It is something I am passionate about.

What’s the longest race you have run so far?

My longest race was in 2013. The Tyler Rose Marathon. (26 miles).Which was my first full marathon. One to remember!

How long did it take you to run that race?

It took me 4 1/2 hours to finish

What race are you running at the JA Race For Success?

I am running the half-marathon in the Race For Success

What motivates you to continue running?

The quick weight loss I have accomplished keeps me motivated but most of all the way I feel during and after MY runs. I am much faster and have more energy! Gotta love THE RUN.