I met our newest East Nasty of the Week (ENOW) this past summer when I coached her daughter Emma in my P2T group. This ENOW, described by friends as "Joyful" not only gives her time every summer coaching our P2T runners, she's also made East Nasty a family affair by including her daughter and husband. It is my pleasure to introduce you to our newest ENOW, Joy Howard!
Joy is a native Tennessean, born in Oak Ridge, TN. She grew up in a small, rural community called Coalfield. She has always been a chatter box and quite peppy, so she started cheerleading early and continued through high school. She went on to study journalism at Tennessee Tech, where she met her husband, Kevin.
Joy moved to Nashville in the mid 1980's and fell in love with it. She recently started a new job with HCA where she gets to talk for a living as an IT systems educator. She hopes this is her retirement job.
Joy started running in January of 2011 during the winter East Nasty Couch To 5K program. Kristine Mylls, a friend from her book group, posted about the C25K training on Facebook and Joy showed up along with some other friends, full of excitement about what was to come. That excitement quickly turned to frustration during the second interval of a 60 second run because Joy couldn't make it through the entire minute. That was a big eye-opener about the physical shape she'd let take over her body. She wanted to quit many times, but her coaches kept her going. One night she was lucky enough to meet Peggy Stanfield, who is her pace partner to this day.
I spoke to Peggy while putting this post together and this is what Peggy had to say about her friend, Joy: "I met Joy at a C25K program in January 2011. We were both struggling one cold, damp night at the back of the pack. We started encouraging each other and before we knew it, we had finished the run for that night. Each session after that, we would run together and became fast friends. In 2012, Joy and I ran/walked her first half marathon at the Disney Princess Half Marathon. Joy is someone who is easy to get to know and a very funny person. She is always encouraging the slow or struggling runner. She is a proud mom to Emma, and committed to her family and friends. I am proud to call her my friend and pacing partner. This is a well deserved honor."
Joy's biggest accomplishment in running is completing the Disney Princess Half Marathon with the same group of friends she started running with just a year earlier, including with her pace pal, Peggy. Doing it with her Princess Posse made the experience even sweeter. She followed that eight weeks later with completing the Country Music Half Marathon.
Speaking of the Princess Posse, fellow ENOW, Susi Willis had this to say about Joy: "Joyful - that is who Joy Howard is to me. She is a lover of books, stinky cheeses and is the best magician whether it be putting together an outfit, fixing a plate into a beautiful food presentation or decorating a room. We started our running journey the same day and I think we still are surprised that we have kept it up. We have grown closer over the last 3 years. We usually get 3 runs a week in and we have laughed that many of these runs have really been a form of therapy. Maybe that's in part why we still keep coming back. I credit Joy as the one who discovered our gem of a friend Peggy during our intro Couch to 5K. These couch to 5k programs is where Joy really shines, helping the new runners out, sharing her own journey and always ready with a fun tale to keep the runners distracted from the fact that the running might be overwhelming."
When it comes to memorable East Nasty experiences, Joy says that coaching C25K groups is the best: "It gives me the opportunity to pay it forward to new runners and watch them get excited about the changes they're making in their lives. I love coaching the back of the pack, too. I know what it's like to be the person going slower than anyone else and struggling to take each step. I don't ever want anyone to feel like less of a runner just because they're pulling up the rear. Finishing the run and knowing your body is capable of much more than you originally thought is the important thing." Finishing last summer's Tomato 5K with her family is also something Joy won't forget.
Friend Glenda Crowder had this to say: "I think the thing that impresses me so much about Joy is her devotion to running in spite of having a very busy family schedule. In fact, she's drug them along - with Emma, her daughter, completing two 5Ks and Kevin, her husband, becoming a regular runner himself. Joy also regularly coaches new runners in the training sessions and helps inspire the non-traditional runners. I love that she always has a smile on her face and a kind word for everyone. So happy that she's our ENOW!!"
The people she's met and the fact it's such an encouraging group is what Joy enjoys most about East Nasty. No one judges the fact that she's "slower than a turtle" sometimes. Her Mt. Nasty slog is the same distance as the fast runners. She goes up that same stupid hill. It's all about the effort made and the dedication to the sport. The fact that her husband has joined the East Nasty madness is great, too.
When Joy's not running, she loves cycling, movies, reading, traveling, documentaries, and trips to the beach. She also loves trail walking and hiking and is planning a Mt. LeConte trip with a few other East Nasties this summer.
Joy, thank you for all you do for our new runners. Congrats and welcome to the ENOW club!