Marisa Browning – Communications
Marisa Browning grew up in Delaware from the time she was born to the time she uprooted herself and moved to Winston-Salem.
In 2019, she met her boyfriend. In 2020, they had to enter a long-distance relationship until Marisa graduated from university and could move. She had joined the runners’ cult in 2014 with her spring track team in 8th grade where she ran the 400 and loved running. After not getting much opportunity to compete for the indoor track team in 9th grade, she moved to join the “dark side” (distance) of running where she surprised herself actually enjoying the mile.
She joined cross country the following fall, and has stuck with it since. She ran all through high school and college. Unfortunately winding up with some bad burnout as she overtrained her freshman year trying to run at the level her other teammates were at. She battled to keep her love and motivation for running basically the rest of university.
Before the end of her junior year, she was approached to join the new triathlon team that was starting her senior year. She almost laughed herself out of the opportunity as she could barely pass her lifeguard swim test of swimming 100 yards much less swimming half a mile plus cycling for 12 miles plus running for 3 without stopping. After giving it some serious thought, she figured it was worth a shot since she had been dealing with the effects of burnout for two years at that point. At the very least if she didn’t like it, she’d be prepped for cross country. Training flew by faster than she could realize and after seriously questioning her sanity (as all endurance athletes do in their first racing experience) she enjoyed the crazy sport and wanted to keep up with it.
As she was prepping for moving day, I attempted to do my research to find triathlon teams within or around Winston. Unfortunately, that did not bode so well as there wasn’t really anything within 20 minutes. Moving day came and went, she transplanted myself from everything and everyone she’d ever known to the Twin Cities. She still tried to do what she could to find a triathlon group because she found herself more motivated with the obligation of a group than to herself.
As she started to discover some of the parks she could go to for running, an idea emerged. The main park she chose to run at was Tanglewood, as she just felt safer there in the early mornings. Tanglewood had a lot of cyclists riding around through the summer. Despite her introverted self screaming, she promised herself if she could find a cyclist who wasn’t actively cycling for a few minutes, she would ask about triathlons. As luck would have it, a few days after that, a gentleman and his wife were stopped at the bike rack by one of the pavilions. She politely asked about their being triathletes and if they were part of a group (they weren’t), then asked if they recommended any groups or shops she could look into. He said Winston-Salem didn’t really have any actual triathlon groups but there are some running groups that have triathletes, then mentioned Twin City Track Club and Fleet Feet.
She took the next couple of weeks to research the group. She had heard some stories of people with bad experiences in run clubs, so she wanted to make sure she was joining a club that was good for her. She finally felt brave enough to attend a Tuesday Night Track Night July 5—until it started storming so she couldn’t go. Unfortunately she couldn’t attempt to join again for four weeks due to work and trips. She was able to attend another one on August 2. She was welcomed immediately, getting introduced by Frances and a few of the other members coming up to talk to her. Linda and Trish picked up on her triathlon backpack toward the end of the workout and they got to talking about triathlons. By the end of the evening, she had burning eyes from sweating doing the workout, a few potential friends, and a new running group.
From there her interest flourished. The following week was $5K, which was her first 5K race in almost a year. She attended track night regularly and looked for more of these groups to attend during the week. The more people she got to meet and know, the more comfortable she felt getting to venture into doing some of the other groups and activities on her own. She became very appreciative as she got more involved with the club because she had found a group of really supportive and positive people, and she wanted to figure out how to give back for that.
One of the biggest things she’d been making a goal for herself with this club, is helping out new runners and members where she can. It is scary moving somewhere unfamiliar, even scarier trying to meet new people and do the research. Lots of clubs and groups (running clubs around Winston-Salem are an exception of course!) aren’t friendly with newbies either to the area or the hobby. For several new runners that have joined the Saturday Reynolda group, she made a big document that gave a quick descriptor of the specific groups that meet and what dates/times they meet. She sends that to people who want to run more through the week so they can explore as they wish. The newcomers appreciate the info immensely and do feel more comfortable to get involved in the runners community.
Above all else, Maris couldn’t be happier to have found this group. The support and positivity you get with the groups in AND out of TCTC are unmatched. I’m happy to join the board and help out where I can to continue to create the positive environment for others as they have for me.