OCCUPATION: VA Medical Center
FAMILY: Partner, Montoyia, and five children: Kemetria (25), Noah (24), Keticia (22), Jaicari (19), and Jaidon (14)
Since 2010, fit father NOAH MORRELL has trained for and ran the Navy 10 Nautical Miler every year like a ritual, but his running career evolved in 2013. His partner, Montoyia, introduced him to the local running group Black Men Run (BMR). That’s when he began to get more serious. Black Men Run is a support group that encourages health and wellness among African American men by promoting a culture of running to stay fit. The group is open to men and women at beginner and advanced levels.
With encouragement from his running community, Noah tackled his first marathon in 2014 at the St. Jude Marathon. That race sparked his love of marathons, and the busy dad hasn’t stopped. To date, he has run seven marathons, five in 2016 alone. “I started a small running group in 2016, Run Less Run Better, to help hold me accountable for my marathon training,” Noah says.
His favorite race is the Publix Georgia Marathon but not for the course or a PR. Thrown off by the time zone difference, Noah arrived an hour late to a deserted start line. Still determined to run and with no on-course support for the first 13 miles, he used his GPS and followed a trail of discarded water bottles to catch up to the tail end of the runners. Several people encouraged him to quit and veer off for the half marathon, but Noah persisted and is proud that he accomplished it.
Noah’s training schedule includes three runs per week—speed work on the track, a pace run, and a distance run on Saturday mornings. Twice per month he joins BMR for his long run, and he cross-trains one day a week either cycling or doing classes at the Desoto Athletic Club. “Cycling has really helped with my endurance and has been key to my marathon training,” he says.
Noah has altered his eating habits to be a better runner. When preparing for a marathon, he eats a primarily vegetarian diet and only has one portion of meat per week. “I definitely feel lighter and healthier eating that way. I recommend trying it if you’re serious about running.”
With five children from age 14-25, Noah says part of the reason he runs is to be able to be around longer for them and his grandson. With a second shift job and a small business he owns on the side, he runs early in the mornings so that he can spend the day with his family. Both of his sons are also going to the state championship for track this year, and he likes to set a good example for them. “I encourage my kids to be better and faster than their dad,” he says.
By Christin Yates. Photo by Philip Murphy.