Meet Our Coaches

Abby Omerza

Bob Meinig

Cynthia Kimball

Regan Sundara

Kate Adele

Laura Julien

Nicole Knecht

Ravi Sundara

Abby Omerza

Abby was a runner in high school but didn’t seriously come back to it until her late 30s. She has run the Boston marathon twice, has completed two ultra marathons as well as a trail marathon and an Ironman triathlon. She has a Master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified personal trainer, nutrition coach, and wellness coach as well as an RRCA certified running coach. She believes that most people can run with a low risk of injury if they are willing to be consistent, progress slowly, take time to eat and recover well, and don’t neglect to do some strength training.

Rapid-fire questions with Abby:

Why run? To challenge yourself and enjoy this beautiful world.

Favorite race? The Illinois Marathon

Fun fact? I walked to the hospital when I was in labor (very early stage!) with my first child

Special interests? Running, swimming, cycling, and coaching!

Proudest running moment? A 3:26 marathon at the 2015 Illinois Marathon

Training tip? Recovery is when your body actually adapts to training and gets stronger and faster. Don’t try to skip the rest days and rest weeks. Good nutrition is an essential part of good recovery so feed your body with what it needs to be ready to run again.

Bob Meinig

Bob has been an endurance coach since 2002, starting as a USA Cycling certified coach. After spending time with two Chicago area cycling teams, he pivoted to coaching runners in 2009. Since 2016 he’s also planned each season’s workouts for Dick Pond Racing Team—Saint Charles. Bob’s coaching philosophy is based on identifying individual needs for his/her target event; determining his/her personal strengths and areas for growth; and ensuring that the athlete is ready mentally to achieve his/her goals. Bob is a Lydiard Foundation Level II coach and is Stryd Power Certified.

Rapid-fire questions with Bob:

Why run? The friendships made through running – there is nothing like spending hours running and talking with your friends!

Favorite race? Chicago Shamrock Shuffle 8k – it is a perfect way to start the racing season.

Fun fact? The fastest I have ever gone on a bicycle is 59.5 miles an hour.

Special interests? The psychology of sports – the mind is key to success! Also sprinting – it is interesting to see how we can apply lessons from that world to endurance sports.

Proudest running moment? Personally, persevering through a 50k trail race, but seeing the athletes I work with succeed has been much more fulfilling than any personal achievement.

Training tip? Smooth is fast – while running max speeds is fun, even sprinters can run faster at a submaximal effort level than at full effort.

Cynthia Kimball

Cynthia began running after the birth of her second child in 1982. Her first race was through a winery in Napa Valley in 1983. She was hooked! Around 2005, she connected with a running group and learned about wicking shirts, shoes, hydration, training schedules, paces, etc. She wanted to know everything she could about running performance. How do you run faster? Longer? Stronger? But along with all this, the anxiety began. Was she good enough? Could she get better? What was better? How do you deal with failure? She had some successes; qualified for Boston twice. But she also had deep failures; DNF DNS, PW’s. And injuries, sigh.

Rapid-fire questions with Cynthia:

Why run? It’s all about the feeling of strength, love of nature, freedom from restraint, desire to connect with my body. I want to challenge myself. But I need to enjoy it. I need to feel some success and this is where I get in my own way…definitions of success. My views on this are changing but for now, I want to run fearless, even when it sucks!

Favorite Race? Leading Ladies marathon in South Dakota…the waterfall at mile 20 was breathtaking!

Fun Fact? I was a gymnast throughout middle school and high school

Special Interests? Kayaking, cross country skiing, reading, hiking

Proudest running moment? Qualifying for Boston twice

Training tip? Go out curious…what are you capable of today? Let yourself be surprised as you let effort guide you.

Regan Sundara

Regan started running at age 38 and ran her first marathon at age 40. She went from challenging herself to complete her first 5k, to setting a goal for one more mile and knocking it down. Regan found a passion within to set personal goals, train hard, complete first time distances and reach for new PR’s. She feels lucky to have found FRTR, a community of runners with the same ideals and focus. She has completed over 14 half marathons and 4 marathons. Regan hopes to help others train and achieve their goals. She is a RRCA Level 1 Coach Certified.

Rapid-fire questions with Regan:

Why run? It’s the one form of exercise I actually enjoy.

Favorite race? Big Sur Marathon

Fun fact? Adrenaline junky: skydive, cliff jump, ski, motorcycles, next?

Special interests? Traveling and country music

Proudest running moment? Breaking 2 hours in a half marathon

Training tip? Listen to your body and remember recovery is just as important as the miles. Foam rolling, stretching, and core work are your marathon support crew.

Kate Adele

Kate was a dancer turned runner. She loves to fully immerse myself in working out, running, and lifting. She has coached track at schools she has taught at, and is an RRCA cert. Coach. Kate also taught small group workout classes. She loves to help others find their love of staying fit and give any help and insight where she can. Running is a time you learn just how strong and determined you can be and how far you can go when you push past your comfort zone.

Rapid-fire questions with Kate:

Why run? It’s an escape, therapy 🙃, time for me, gets me outside

Favorite race? Fort 2 Base. Awesome race I’ve run many years with my Dad, Fort Sheridan to Great Lakes Naval Base with lots of service men and women cheering us on.

Fun fact? I know how to Irish Dance, I am continually learning sign language

Special interests? Hiking, climbing 14ers, getting outside in nature

Proudest running moment? Mochain 50 miler, trail, hilly, longest distance to date, so far. Most fun I’ve had during a race so tough

Training tip?  Cross train and weight train!! I have been lifting for many years now and I know that has been a major contributing factor to keeping my body healthy and injury free.

Laura Julien

My obsession with running started when I was about 12 and watched the high school cross country team do a hill workout. They looked miserable, but there was something about their grit and determination that intrigued me. I remember going home and asking what “sport” that was, because I wanted in. 

I ran throughout middle school and high school, but took a long hiatus during college and law school. I returned to running in 2011 and have since run 11 marathons, including three World Majors (Boston, New York, and Chicago).

I have served as an assistant coach for high school cross country and track and I am also a Level 2 RRCA Certified running coach. I love running. I love talking about running. I love helping others meet (and exceed) their running dreams.

Rapid-fire questions with Laura:

Why run? For mental health and a social life!

Favorite race? Boston. I didn’t know it was possible to feel that miserable and still smile for an entire race.

Fun fact? I am proficient at running backward uphill. I also thrive on “high mileage”. 

Special interests? Running. Reading. Reading about Running. Coffee.

Proudest running moment? Winning a local 10k while pushing my (then) 1 year old in a stroller. 

Training tip? Don’t give into the “grind” mentality. Social media has us thinking we are heros if we are always overcoming some adversity. There is a time to keep your head down and work. There is also a time to skip a run and enjoy a cup of coffee instead. Balance is key. 

Nicole Knecht

“Coach Connect” is a long-time runner (20+ years) who has always had a strong interest in connecting health and nutrition. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and diabetes specialist by day. Nicole earned her RRCA Coaching Certification (level II) to connect her passion for running with her expertise in fueling well. She aims to improve health, performance, and quality of life. This coach believes if we are having fun then we are doing it right. While 13.1 is her jam, marathon training has become her life. Nicole has run 12 marathons and BQ’d in over half, despite having an undiagnosed hole in her heart (until recently). She enjoys pacing local races including America’s #1 Boston Qualifier: BQ.2. She’s eager to give back to her beloved running community by coaching, pacing, and bringing joy to the sport.

Rapid-fire questions with Nicole:

Why run? Personal growth and to wear neon colors.

Favorite race? The 126th Boston Marathon celebrating 50 years of women running.

Fun fact? I love the first snow and will absolutely gear up and run in it with the energy of a kid on a snow day (with my husky, Maverick).

Special interests? Running with furry friends. Huskies have a special place in my heart.

Most proud running moment? Fundraising to run for Team Ronald McDonald Charities in 2020 (virtual) and again in 2022 in Chicago!

Training tip? Keep runs playful. Let your inner child come out in bursts of speed, awe of nature, laughter with friends, and let’s not downplay fun shoes!

Ravi Sundara

Ravi is an attorney who specializes in representing nonprofit organizations. He grew up in Schaumburg and has been running since the 7th grade. Ravi competed in both cross-country and track for James B. Conant High School and also The University of Chicago, before going on to law school at Washington University in St. Louis. After spending nearly 26 years in St. Louis, he returned to the Chicagoland area in 2018. Ravi has run dozens of marathons and plans on doing many more. He is RRCA Level 1 Coach Certified and looks forward to helping others reach their training goals.

Rapid-fire questions with Ravi:

Why run? Because I can and I’m not good at much else!

Favorite race? Pikes Peak Marathon. It was the most difficult marathon, but that made it the best!

Fun fact? I don’t even like running (while I’m running ) but I like how I feel after and am always glad I did it! I guess it’s why I’ve been running for over 40 years and still going.

Special interests? Pizza… and Da Bears!!!

Proudest running moment? Completing the Pikes Peak Marathon… felt so awful, but also so good!

Training tip? Run every week, multiple times, with different kinds of runs…consistency, frequency, and variability…that’s where the magic happens!