Gary Mulvihill

Gary Mulvihill

Gary grew up in Michigan and landed a job with Ford Motor Company after graduating from college. It was a dream come true for Gary and his parents since those opportunities were not often available. However, he had friends who he often visited in Houston, and he longed to live in the warmer climates of the south instead of the harsh winters up north. So Gary finally quit his dream job and moved to Houston where he began running with his friends. He says they did not know anything about training methods or pacing but just enjoyed being active. For many years, he would come through the first mile of a 5K in 6:00, but by the end of the race he slowed to an 8:00 pace. He says they were clueless. But then he met Noelle who invited him to join her at the Houston Harriers track practices. Gary says he is pretty sure Coach Jim McLatchie would never have agreed to let him participate, but Jim liked Noelle and was willing to put up with Gary’s slow times and lack of understanding for Noelle’s sake. In the next year, Gary dropped 40 minutes from his marathon time and learned what it meant to run a smart race. He loved being with other runners and decided that no matter what he did for the rest of his life, he wanted to stay involved in the running community. He read several books on how to train and race, and in 1999 he decided to start his own running club called Runners High Club. The first year he had 50 members, but in the last 15 yrs they have sold out at their self-imposed limit of 350 members. He says every year he has people join the club who have never run before. Throughout the season, he watches them become overwhelmed with pride and joy as they finish their first 5K, then their first 10K, then complete their first 10-mile long run… He says they look like they have just won the Olympic marathon, but that excitement is what means the most to Gary. He has also had 2 members who have been with him from the beginning, and he appreciates their loyalty and servant’s heart. Today Gary is not able to run like he used to. He had a major knee surgery in 2003, but he says just being part of the running community is still his dream come true. 

Patrina Mosca

Patrina Mosca

In 2011, after Patrina had her 5th child, she found herself frustrated by the way her body had changed. She was embarrassed by her stretch marks and the weight she had gained, and felt hopeless in her attempts to return to her definition of “pretty.” Patrina grew up in an obese family and says she had never learned how to follow a healthy eating plan. But in 2014 she decided she would become serious about nutrition and exercise. However, during this physical change, Patrina also went through a personal renewal. She says she realized that, regardless of the way she looks, she is beautiful and loved. After a year of lifting weights and wholesome eating, she decided to enter a body building competition. Her entire family came to the event, and even though she finished in last place, she says they were extremely proud of her courage and the joy she exhibited on the stage. In 2016 Patrina noticed that several other moms she knew were going through the same struggles she had experienced a few years earlier. She decided to start a personal training program called Be Committed Wellness. She not only wanted to teach ladies how to exercise and eat right, but also how to how to reclaim their joy, strength, and confidence. Although she hopes that her client will follow all of her advice, she says the even she does not do exactly what her own body building coach advises. He told her that in order to compete at the top level and have a perfectly proportioned physique, she needed to stop running because it is too much cardio work and would cause her to lose muscle mass. Since she spends her quiet time with God while she is running, Patrina decided it was worth having a little less muscle. She says she knows life is a marathon, and not a sprint. Her desire is for all women to establish habits and attitudes that allow them to realize their own value and beauty, regardless of their circumstances.

Ruth

Ruth

Ruth grew up in The Heights. In the mid-80s her brother’s cross country team competed in meets at Memorial Park, and she often ran there with him. Then in 1995 she decided to venture to the Park by herself & start her own running routine. Ruth says she never ran more than 1-lap, and she always ran by hersef-that is until the day she met her husband. They eventually married & have been pillars in the running community for many years. In 2005 she joined #PowerInMotion, a 10-week clinic that helps new & intermediate runners train for a 5K. There she met many people & was encouraged to enter a half-marathon. Ruth says she did not think it was possible for her to run 13.1 mi, but after finishing the Half she set her sights on completing a Full. Throughout her journey she faced many injuries, and her family tried to insist that she quit running. But Ruth did not give up. When she was finally able to cross the finish line of her 1st marathon she says she was overwhelmed w/ emotion & could not hold back the tears. She eventually joined the Tornados Running Club & found several more friends who she enjoyed hanging out w/ away from the Park. They jokingly call themselves the Speedy Tortugas, and they can be seen laughing & having fun as they make their way around the trail. Ruth says that she always thought she was too slow to run w/ most of the other Tornados, but she distinctly remembers a day when the entire group ran w/ her. That single lap around the Park w/ the other faster members gave her confidence & made her feel like she belonged. In 2015 Ruth’s husband became very sick and she was forced to stop running so she could be by his side. She eventually began to feel sick herself. She finally realized that her time away from Memorial Park & her running friends had left a physical & emotional void in her life, and she had to make time to run again. Although Ruth is very soft-spoken, she is the volunteer coordinator for the Tornados & the#CincodeMayo 5K. She also helps PIM as a pacer/coach. She says she enjoys racing, but she knows it takes many volunteers to host an event. She feels like she needs to give back so other volunteers can enjoy the races too!

Don Dearborn

Don Dearborn

Don says he has had a #loveaffair with Memorial Park for almost 30 years. In the early 90’s he lived on Westcott and would walk his dogs, a mindless Basset hound named Beauregard and a Red Chow named Sebastian, there every day. Don works in a salon and prefers to spend his time away from work in the warmth of the sun. His walks with Beauregard and Sebastian became the highlight of his day and brought him great joy. During that time he was also a#gymrat. He was proud of his strong physique, but one day he woke up and decided, “No more of that; take me the way I am or drive through!” But then the#drama happened. After a few months of not working out, Don was shocked one day when he studied himself in a mirror and took note of how much his body had changed. He says the first thing that came to his mind was, “I must be sick!” He immediately scheduled an appointment with his doctor who told him that at 55 years old, even though Don looked young, he was past the speed limit. He advised Don that the muscle mass would return if he lifted weights for 90-days. So Don reluctantly joined the Memorial Park Fitness Center on Arnot. But after a couple more months, he decided his passion was to be outdoors. He did not want to be in a stuffy gym and did not care if he looked thin. 6-years later, Don says he walks at Memorial Park 4 days per week. He always has his headphones and says music is his mistress. He listens to everything from Aretha Franklin to Josh Grobin to Willie Nelson to Showtunes. He calls the other people he sees on the trail Gypsies and has learned to accept his 170 lb body and #skinnylegs. Don says that today, he is truly a #happycamper and still in love with Memorial Park, his headphones, and the Gypsies. 

Phred

Phred

Phred stops by Memorial Park before work and often during his lunch break too. He says he has not always enjoyed reading because he felt like it was too constrictive and slowed down his mind. He and his wife have 2 sons who are 15 and 12. But after Phred became a father, he discovered an appreciation for literal arts and decided life comes down to one word: WISDOM. He says that once he got a taste of Wisdom and realized she is timeless, he went on a quest to find her in every culture throughout history. Phred initially tried walking and reading because he wanted to do something good with his body since he was already challenging his mind. He quickly realized that walking while reading actually allowed him to focus more and concentrate on the book. In the last 3 years, Phred has probably walked 1,000 laps at the Park, all while reading, but he has never once tripped. He says his peripheral vision is strong, but he also thinks he has learned to "see" using his other senses and his heart, which he uses to "feel" his way around. Phred says he thinks the human race has lost hope and faith because, as adults, we stop pushing the envelope and assume no one cares. Instead, Phred hopes to inspire others to never stop thinking about bigger and bigger things, because they can actually feed us with life. Although he says he is shy, if you tell him, “Good morning!” he is always quick to smile and wave. The only thing is you have to be the one to speak first since Phred’s nose will almost surely be buried in a book! 

Chris Gould

Chris Gould

Chris is a happily-married father of 2 young children. He owns his own company and is a hard-working, selfless friend to many individuals. Most people who did not know him 13 years ago would be surprised to learn that his life was almost the exact opposite of everything he is today. Although he ran cross country and track as a teenager, he was already deep into a drug addiction, and dropped out of high school. He lost nearly everything to his addiction and by his late twenties, he lost even the will to try and live a normal life only to continue to fail. The consequences of his actions caught up with him and he found himself facing up to 99 yrs in prison. With this fear he took a suggestion to go to drug rehab and was introduced to a 12 step recovery program to which he surrendered and ended up receiving only probation. Looking back, Chris can see God’s merciful hand protecting him and making paths for him to break out of the grips of addiction. In 2010, after being clean for 4 years, Chris decided to quit smoking, but over the next year he gained 50 lbs. In 2011 he made a New Year’s Resolution to stop eating fast food and drinking sodas. He also started running, and the pounds slowly fell off. That year Chris was in a used book store and found Al Lawrence’s Self-Coached Runner. He began following the schedules in the book and enjoyed seeing his times improve. Then, in 2015, Chris began training directly under Al. He feels like Al’s wisdom and encouragement allowed him to flourish and he relishes the sweet memories of being at Memorial Park under his guidance. Despite his love of the Park, Chris had a frustrating experience last week when someone busted the lock on his truck and stole his credit cards. In the last week he has spent many hours filing police reports and dealing with the credit card companies. What is most annoying to Chris is that 99.9% of the people at Memorial Park are working to improve their lives, but there are a few selfish individuals who are set on causing trouble. However, that was exactly what Chris’ life looked like 13 years ago. He is thankful for second chances and a loving God who redeems.

Phil Edgley and Laura Sarkis

Phil Edgley and Laura Sarkis

Phil and Laura hail from Scotland, but have lived in Houston for the last 3 years. They met at the University of Aberdeen while competing in triathlons. Phil works in construction and says the thought of sitting at a desk makes him queasy. Laura is the exact opposite and has thrived at her job in business contracts. One thing they have in common is that they are always smiling. They both have a knack for seeing the funny side of a situation, and Laura can be quite blunt in pointing out something that many would be too shy to discuss. Laura’s job has brought many changes to their lives in the last few years, but they have remained active and continue to finish in the top tier of almost every race they enter. Upon moving to Houston they joined the Tornados Running Club and can usually be found racing around Memorial Park during the club’s Thursday evening tempo runs. Sadly, for their friends in Houston, they are preparing to move back to Aberdeen next week. Laura says that logistically, one of the hardest parts of their move has been organizing how to get their 6 bicycles home so they can start riding them as soon as they return. Their beautiful smiles and humor will be sorely missed on Sunday long runs. In all my years of running at the Park, this saying goodbye to sweet running buddies has been a common practice. It means they will cross our minds many times as we run past a spot where something funny happened or we raced together. We wish them the best and are thankful to have had them light up our lives for the last 3 years!

Ifoma Olausson

Ifoma Olausson

Ifoma is a native Houstonian and grew up watching her older sister win numerous awards for her outstanding performances in track & field. When Ifoma was 5, she recalls a high jump pit in her back yard. To this day, she is not sure who brought it or where it went, but she spent many hours playing on the pit and eventually perfected her own high jump technique. She was an All-American in the high jump and heptathlon for the #UniversityofHouston and continued to compete on the European circuit after graduating and marrying one of her college teammates. Ifoma qualified for the Olympic trials in the high jump in 2000, 2004, 2008, & 2012 and has continued to maintain a healthy lifestyle, all while being a devoted wife and mom to her 2 children. In 2012 she decided to become a personal trainer because she needed a job that would offer flexibility and work-life balance. She lived near #MemorialParkand began going to the Park to find clients. She says she would walk up to perfect strangers at the Park, introduce herself, ask about their fitness routines, and invite them to come out for personalized training sessions. This usually resulted in them wanting to train with her. For three years, her business was made up of people she met at the Park. Then, in 2014, her family moved to Sugarland. Although there are many parks throughout the city, the individuals at Memorial Park are hard to duplicate. She never realized it at the time, but the#peopleofmemorialpark have a different outlook and are more willing to try a new fitness approach. In 2015 Ifoma attended a Healthy Kids Running Series in Florida and decided start HKRS- Sugarland (healthykidsrunningseries.org). They meet on Sundays at Fort Settlement Middle School in Sugarland and encourage kids to become active and fight childhood obesity. Just as she did with her adult clients, she has enjoyed seeing the kids improve and gain confidence. Although her busy schedule does not allow her to return to Memorial Park as often a she would like, she says she still loves being there and now realizes what a unique atmosphere it provides!