Anna after The Bear

I did it! I’m still celebrating while walking back down Grandfather Mountain after completing The Bear.

A year ago, I told you about my goal to become a more consistent runner. And about this time last year, I set a new personal goal for 2019: to run The Bear, a five-mile race to the top of Grandfather Mountain, held each July as part of the Highland Games. I scheduled a reminder for the early February registration date, because the race typically sells out in about an hour. In the spring, I created a 13-week training plan for The Bear, and I’m proud to say that for the most part, I stuck with it, with a few adjustments along the way.

Best of all, on July 11, I made it to the finish line at the Swinging Bridge! It was incredibly satisfying to pursue and achieve a goal over the course of a year, and now I can look ahead to new goals, like running a personal best in the 5K, and maybe, maybe training for my first half marathon. We’ll see!

In just a few years, I’ve had several minor injuries to my ankles, knees and back that have temporarily sidelined me from running — sometimes as long as a month. I’m realizing that if I want to continue this activity for as long as possible, I have to make sure I’m strengthening the full body — all of the parts that function together to help me put one foot in front of the other. So, a trip to the physical therapist is likely in my future.

Physical therapist Tracy-Lynn Schuster is one of three women featured in this issue who not only are leaders in health and fitness, but are entrepreneurs, business owners and trailblazers, too. After serving as the director of rehabilitation services for Ashe Memorial Hospital, Tracy-Lynn and her husband Greg opened Schuster Physical Therapy in Jefferson in 2015, and this year the practice was named the Small Business of the Year by the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce.

Zika Rea is the force behind ZAP Endurance, a training facility in Blowing Rock for elite runners that is nationally known and sought after — by such publications as Runner’s World, for example — for its expertise. Zika started the business nearly two decades ago, when she was 25 years old.

And Laura Barry is blazing trails of her own. The basketball coach was named the Northwestern Conference Coach of the Year in 2018, the same year she founded PEAK Basketball, which offers group and individual training year-round to help players grow their strengths, improve weaknesses and add to their skills. This spring, it was announced that Laura would not only be coaching Watauga High’s girls’ team, but the boys’ squad as well.

Here’s to women achieving their goals!


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