NOVA Featured Runner: Gwen Gunter

By | July 6, 2020

From Coach Jerry:Gwen has been a great addition to NOVA during her time with the team. Gwen has steadily improved over the course of the last several months, and she had some excellent performances in the fall of 2019. Gwen was in even better shape in 2020, and she would have run some huge PRs if the opportunity had presented itself. With her work ethic and dedication, I’m sure that Gwen will continue to develop as a runner, and the PRs will come when racing returns. 

Gwen Gunter at the 2019 Chicago Maraton

1) What are your PRs (5k, 10K, Half/Marathon, any others?)
5K- 19:48
10K- 42:31
Half Marathon- 1:38:29 at 2019 Richmond Half
Marathon- 3:37:53 at 2019 Chicago Marathon

Both the 5K and 10K PRs are from college track races.

2) Goal race(s) for this year? Other races planned?
My goal race— assuming it somehow doesn’t get cancelled— is the Richmond Marathon. I really enjoyed the Half so I’m sure it will be a fun Full! The goal is to break 3:30! I’ve also been doing a few shorter virtual races which have been fun since I haven’t done a lot of 5Ks or shorter distances since college.

3) What do you consider your best race performance to date?
I think my best race performance to date was the Richmond Half last year. Even though I’ve been running competitively for over a decade I have never had the greatest finish kick nor have I negative split races that often. I went into the Richmond Half with a goal of breaking 1:41:00 (my old PR). I was feeling a little uncertain since it was just 5 weeks after Chicago, so I started out conservatively. I felt great pretty much the entire race and I remember feeling so excited when I passed the 1:40 pacers. I managed to pull off some nice negative splits along with a PR, which I was obviously excited about.

4) How and when did you find NOVA, and what do you like best about the team?
I found NOVA last Spring when I decided to start getting back into running after taking a break following the 2018 MCM. I was actually still living in Bethesda at the time and would drive in traffic to Tuesday practices. I think that speaks volumes to the welcoming atmosphere of the team. Even though I was pretty intimidated the first practice (there are so many great runners!), I enjoy the competitive camaraderie on the team. I like that the team is both serious about putting in work and serious about having a good time!

5) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from Coach Jerry, and/or another member of the NOVA club?
A particular piece of advice doesn’t necessarily stand out to me but I think overall the NOVA club members just have a wealth of wisdom and advice based on a breadth and depth of experience running.
I do remember in a workout earlier this year— one of the last before COVID— Coach Jerry said to me, “Where did this fitness come from? Whatever you’re doing, keep it up”, which I found to be funny and also really reassuring that I was in the right place.

6) What thoughts do you have on your performance at the Chicago Marathon, or other recent races?
I honestly had a lot of thoughts following the Chicago Marathon. While I was super happy about a significant PR I was also still bummed I missed the BQ. I totally hit the wall around mile 19— my legs just wouldn’t go any faster. I knew I had also probably gone out a bit too fast, although that did probably save me some time in the end even though I bonked. All that being said, it was only my 2nd marathon and gave me confidence that I can break 3:30 soon!

7) What non-running fitness related (or other) activities do you enjoy?
I really enjoy pilates, yoga and circuit-based strength work! I think it does wonders for injury prevention plus I just find it to be fun to reach new goals in those areas. Outside of running/fitness I enjoy reading, creating art, and spending time with my family/friends, whether it’s hiking or sitting on the couch.