From Starting Lines to the Front Lines

COROS GPS watch users are a diverse group, with talents, hobbies and professions that expand far beyond their local running trails. Many including some of our professional athletes and ambassadors are first responders, who when Covid-19 hit and events were cancelled left their usual place on race starting lines and headed straight to the front lines of this world-wide pandemic. Here are just some of their stories of how their lives have changed over the last few months and how running has helped add balance and even a bit of normalcy to their lives.

Anna Pfaff – COROS Pro Athlete, Emergency and ICU nurse

When the Covid -19 pandemic hit the US, it was second nature for me to jump in and help. I have been an Emergency and ICU nurse for 17 years working on and off in different places. The past year or so I had stepped away from the hospital to focus on training and expedition climbing. At my home in Colorado I had been putting all my efforts towards training for an upcoming Alaska trip when the news of Covid -19 revealed itself to be our new reality.

I immediately signed up at the local emergency department in my area and learned the plan in the case of a large outbreak within our valley. I wanted to make myself available to help and put my skill set to use if needed. So far, the situation in our valley has been manageable and I have only worked a handful of shifts. Hopefully it stays that way!

In between working and learning about COVID-19 I kept my training up which is super easy to do with the COROS APEX GPS watch. It’s so easy to use and the immediate download of data into TrainingPeaks is so helpful. Between my coach at Uphill Athlete and my COROS GPS watch all I need to do is train!

I want to acknowledge all the healthcare and essential workers that are working so hard to fight this pandemic. We are all in this together.

Dr. Steven Ellis and Dr. Phoebe Lee – COROS Users, Husband & Wife and Emergency Department Physicians

Never did we imagine that the world would change from a virus. We are both Emergency Medicine physicians and we are honored to be on the front lines of this pandemic. We are fortunate to serve our community. We have trained for years to be experts in Emergency Medicine and we are proud to be public servants. With responsibility, there are also sacrifices.

Everyone working on the front lines of this pandemic sacrifices something. Whether it’s added stresses of protecting ourselves in the workplace, or the stresses of protecting our family from potential infection. Some people have given the ultimate sacrifice while working to save lives.

We both use running and fitness to alleviate stress, especially throughout this time. COROS GPS watches have helped us track our workouts and stay accountable. Not to mention, the watch’s battery life and data accuracy are like no other. That’s one less thing to worry about. Thanks to COROS, we can use the time to escape and focus on self-improvement. We feel that if we work on being the best version of ourselves, we are able to give more to others. We are proud to be COROS GPS Watch owners.

Dr. Justin Grunewald – COROS Ambassador, Internal Medicine Physician

For me, time on the trails is a time to clear my head. A time to reflect on everything and everyone I see in the hospital.

More recently in the time of Covid-19, there is the added stress of being at risk of getting sick myself. Caring for an even sicker population of patients who were, more or less, healthy days before. That said, I am even more grateful for each mind clearing run I’ve been able to go on during the pandemic. Some days it’s just to get fresh air, other days, when the stresses build, it’s to find a different type of stress on my body which oddly puts the mind at ease.

I’ve never regretted going out for a run, now more than ever. It keeps me functioning on the front lines and keeps me calm when dealing with the added stressors of this pandemic.

Reagan Metcalf – COROS User, Retired US Military

I spent twenty years in the military: 4 in the US Navy with two deployments to Iraq and Bosnia, and 16 in the Army National Guard full time with two deployments to Afghanistan and Kosovo. I am now retired and a teacher at Gilbert High School in Iowa. My wife is a School nurse at Ames Middle School. We both interact a lot with others and try to do our part to volunteer health wise as I also have some medical training. I picked up running trails three years ago in preparation for a Gladiator Assault challenge and because I had always loved running. While also having had put on 80 lbs, running historically has been the way I lose it.

I bought a COROS GPS watch at first because I really liked the reviews and battery life. When I ran my first Ultra, my Galaxy watch lasted four hours and then was done, dead! Since that time, I have been using a COROS GPS watch and it is phenomenal!

Detective Kent Lyman – COROS user, Police Detective

I work as a detective in the Town of Easton. I have been with the department for 10 years, 5 of them being the detective. My schedule is generally 8-4, but I often work cases that bring me over hours quite a bit. I run when I can, sometimes at 5AM and sometimes 8 at night, sometimes 3 miles, sometimes 15. I also balance being a father to my adorable 9-year-old girl and husband to my beautiful wife of 15 years. Luckily, she is a fit person and appreciates a good workout and supports what it takes to stay fit in the age of indulgence and encourages me to run as often as possible. I run for 3 reasons. The first and foremost is because it is a time of reflection and thought for me. It is a great outlet to unplug and relax. The second is to stay fit to adhere to department standards. I am on our local Emergency response team as a sniper, and our physical standards are more rigorous than patrol. Third and finally, I run as motivation. I like to set goals and achieve them.

(I was severely overweight for a bit before I joined the department, and one of my goals was becoming a police officer, so I lost over 50 pounds.) Three years ago, I had never run a half-marathon, so I did. After that, I ran a marathon, then a trail marathon. My goal by the age of 45 is to run an ultra, then my goal by 50 is to complete a full ironman.

Since the pandemic has hit, things in my profession have changed, hopefully only temporarily. I assist with the Emergency Management protocols when needed and try to answer questions for the general public when they call with a question regarding the virus. People are nervous because of all the different information available to them. Even when I go running, I have been yelled at because I didn’t cross the street as I ran by, even though I am on the road and the person is on the other end of the sidewalk. People are scared of something they can’t see or understand, and people look to us as Officers to help them through their fears.

Sarah Soffer – COROS User, Officer, US Air Force

Running has been the constant presence in my life for the past nine years. The last place I got to travel before COVID-19 changed our lives was to Costa Rica, for a six-day ultramarathon running down the coast. I am a US Air Force officer and my job has brought me to some amazing places. Plus, I always make it a goal to run everywhere I go. In the past two years, I’ve added several states (Florida, Maryland, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, Hawaii) to my list of places I’ve run, and two countries (Honduras and Guyana) thanks to my job. It has been my stress relief and the calming presence my life needs.

These past few months, I’ve turned to running even more, by myself on the treadmill, or out on the trails with my husband, Andre, and our dog Wallace. Up until the pandemic, I served as the strategic communication lead for large humanitarian medical and engineering events in Central and South America, but now, my office focuses on assessing information and countering the disinformation spread about the pandemic. My husband works in the local emergency room as a paramedic where he tests and treats COVID-19 patients. He’s even provided care to some of his own coworkers. For him, getting out on the trails has been his way to relax after dealing with grueling 13-hour shifts. We are so thankful we still have the ability to get outside and stay active!

Sarah Jakober – COROS User, Firefighter

I remember my first PT hike. My pack felt heavier than I could’ve imagined, my lunges heaved, my legs burned, and that infamous metallic taste lingered at the back of my throat. Those dark places in your mind where you go when things are hard having a distinct comprehensive dread to announce their arrival, and they fill your brain with associations of panic. Years of feeling this alarm enforced the familiarity, and the dread became an old, sinister friend. The heightened emotions of fighting fire would never dull, and the smells of smoke and sound of flames would further deepen into nostalgia, but my physiological battles with the dark places would take me to lots of new places.

I’ve been fighting wildland fires for the US Forest Service for ten years. I started my career as an eighteen-year-old kid in western Montana. I cringe remembering how little I knew back then, and the trials of not only learning a new job and growing up simultaneously were amplified by the excitement and adventure of my idealized vision of this job. I could try and describe how hard it is at times, I could rant about 100lb packs, heat, smoke, and never-ending shifts. I could self-glorify and attempt to paint it as a noble achievement to get attention, but I’d rather try and explain the ways it has changed me. It’s forced me to pay attention to my body, push my physical limits, and want to be a better athlete so I can better do my job.

Without fire, I may have shied away from my physical weaknesses. I may have never been forced to accept them. I may have never become a runner. I probably wouldn’t have ever hung a pull-up bar from my doorframe. I certainly wouldn’t have spent all those hours on the treadmill trying to drop my 1.5 mile run time. I would be different without these challenges, and I would be missing out on all of the joy and energy I derive from improving my fitness. The physical journeys I’ve initiated to become a better firefighter have left me with so much more than a career. They’ve given me priceless friendships, suffering and growth. They’ve led to ultramarathon finishes and sphincter clenching ski descents. They’ve completely changed my career aspirations so I can spend more time in the mountains. Most importantly, they’ve made me better at accepting my own inadequacy, and given me the drive to push for better from myself. Ten years ago, I unknowingly stumbled right into those dark places, I am so grateful for all of those ass-kicking’s.

Joshua Martinez – COROS User, Police Officer

I started running back in middle school competing in track and cross country. I ran the 1500 and the 3000 meter in Oregon. My father introduced me to long distance relays which resulted in me running Hood to Coast every year till about 2002. I also took up cycling in college and was part of a local club where I competed in some small races. Though, that was more just for fun. Running (some years more consistent than others) is something I have kept up. I made a resolution to myself at the beginning of 2020 that I would get back into a more structured training routine. I am hoping to finish a half marathon, be part of another long-distance relay team and finish 3 spartan races before the end of the year. Although Covid-19 has kind of put a wrench in the competing part. I have always been kind of a gear junkie and when doing research for a new GPS sports watch I kind of stumbled upon COROS GPS Watches. I liked what I saw and what I read in reviews and decided to give them a shot. Haven’t been happier than I am with a company like COROS.

I started my law enforcement career in 2014, right when my first daughter was born. I was in academy when she was only a few weeks old. I have worked basic patrol, Motors, (motorcycle cop), SWAT and Narcotics. I am currently still on our SWAT team and on Motors. I love working for my community every single day. It isn’t always rainbows and sunshine though. We as law enforcement or first responders see and experience some pretty heavy things. I have seen guys and gals who don’t have a healthy outlet become broken down mentally more times than not. I have always relied on my ability to just ‘go for a run’ to help process and decompress. I know that if I don’t make time for an easy 5k, some days this job would take its toll on me. Our job is always risky and dangerous every single day. Now we are faced with this virus. It’s unseen and we don’t know who has it or when we could possibly get it. We have been limited in our contact with the public which makes it really hard to do our job and do it efficiently. There is always that risk. The stay at home orders don’t apply to us. We have to show up. We need to show up. I worry every day that when I come home that I could have contracted it or even worse shared it with my family – my wife and my daughters. It weighs on you. Right now, I know of 3 close coworkers that have contracted it. Luckily, they are still healthy and will most likely be back at work after a bit. When it gets to be a little too much, I lace up the shoes, strap on my COROS GPS Watch, my HR monitor, and head for a run. I use my runs as a time to reflect, break down and assess my day at work. It’s just me. I don’t have to worry about a citizen and wonder if they are friend or foe. I don’t have to worry if the pen I just used was the one I handed out or my personal one. I just know that the weather is nice, and I am going to go just one extra mile today.

I praise the health workers though. They are in the thick of it. We sometimes joke in our profession that we don’t ever want to see our health care workers because it usually means that you got yourself into a bad way. Right now, though I wish I could go into our local hospitals and shake their hands and give them hugs. They are the front lines right now.