Meet The Coaches
Lift | Run | Perform was founded in 2017 upon the concept that performance running and lifting go hand in hand - and, with the addition of a positive, supportive coaching team: the potential for success is limitless.
Rochelle Basil joined the LRP team in August, 2017
Katie Edwards joined the LRP team in October, 2017
Heather Caplan joined the LRP team in November, 2017, as the team dietitian
Kirstin Ritchie joined the LRP team in December, 2017
Kaci Brandt joined the LRP team in January, 2018, as the team physical therapist, and began coaching runners in July, 2018
Carly Gill Larios joined the LRP team in May, 2019
Nick Klastava joined the LRP team in August, 2019
Mary Denholm joined the LRP team in March, 2020
Stefanie Flippin joined the LRP team in September, 2020
Nora Gozzo joined the LRP team in August, 2021
Erin Williams, Amanda Verrengia, & Meriah Earle joined the LRP team in January 2022
After working in the fashion industry for 6 years (and realizing there was way more to life than retail events and working behind a desk), Mary made a career transition in 2015 and joined the team at Ranfone Training Systems, in Hamden, CT, as a strength coach. She began coaching runners with Mckirdy Trained in 2016; and launched LRP in 2017.
She holds both USATF and VDOT02 coaching certifications and is a Functional Range Conditioning Mobility Specialist (FRCms). She has also undergone the Kinstretch Level I instruction certification program.
On the running coaching front: she has had the pleasure of coaching athletes of all levels and abilities - from sub-3 marathons to beginner 5ks. She believes in a slow progression and constant communication between coach and athlete. As a mother to two babies (a little boy, born in July, 2019...and a little girl, born in September, 2021) Mary loves working with postpartum mamas, and believes in meeting yourself where you are as an athlete, and flourishing from there.
Mary started running in 2010 as a hobby and whittled her marathon PR from a 3:44 to a 3:06, and her half marathon from a 1:48 to a 1:25. When the pandemic hit, she also decided to start exploring shorter distances, running a 18:31 5k and 38:44 10k in the fall of 2020.
She founded Lift | Run | Perform after speaking with several runners and realizing there was a need for running programming that supports the athlete as a well-rounded human: remembering that we all wear a lot of hats in life, and running needs to fit into it all with sustainability. She also wants to encourage more runners to shed their fear of the weight room, because a strong athlete is a strong (and fast!) runner.
She also writes the blog itsamarython.
When LRP was just a brainchild nearly three years ago Mary and I had no idea of the adventure that we were in for! Leaving graduate school to pursue coaching full time was undoubtedly one of the best decisions of my life!
As native of New Zealand, I grew up competing in a wide array of sports - judo, equestrian, volleyball, netball and settled on distance running in my senior year of high school. I was fortunate enough to enjoy some immediate success which secured me a D1 scholarship to the United States. Cross country was my favorite season and I received multiple Academic All-American and All-Region honors and hold our indoor record over 5000m.
In 2015, after a hiatus post collegiately I realized how much I really missed running as an outlet and as a critical piece of my overall health and well being. Since dusting off my sneakers I have gone on to represent New Zealand on the world stage a couple of times and hold a marathon PR of 2:39. With a Masters in Cognitive Behavioral Neuroscience I rely heavily on the latest research and my coaching philosophies are empirically and physiologically driven.
During my tenure at Lift. Run. Perform. I have helped athletes from every walk of life towards their goals - be it a healthy return from pregnancy, completing a first marathon, hitting that elusive BQ, breaking three hours, and finding balance in an ever unbalanced world. Too, with Coach Mary we run group training programs in both the Spring and Fall and are always on the lookout for new and exciting initiatives for our athletes!
Kirstin grew up as a gymnast and walked on to the Bucknell Track and Field program as a pole vaulter. After spending one summer running with some of the distance girls, she was offered a spot on the cross country team. She went on to compete for two years as a D1 distance runner specializing in cross country and steeplechase. After graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science in Neuroscience, she moved to Boston to do research at Harvard Medical School. Kirstin graduated from Yale School of Nursing in the spring of 2018 as a Nurse Practitioner with a master's degree and a focus in Mental Health and Psychiatry and now works with students at Amherst College in western Massachusetts.
Since college she has taken her passion for distance running to the marathon first as a member of the Boston Athletic Association and then with various teams in Connecticut and Massachusetts. She has since run six marathons including two Boston Marathon finishes and three sub three hour finishes with a personal best of 2:54 when she won the 2021 Manchester City Marathon, six months after the birth of her first daughter, Teresa Grace. Beyond the marathon Kirstin has explored her range by competing in various trail and ultra distances including completing a 100k trail race and challenging herself at the USA Mountain Running Championships.
Kirstin has always been interested in the interplay between the body and mind, having seen first-hand how negative thinking, distractions, and self-esteem impact athletic performance. Conversely, she has seen how filling the mental skills tool box has had a significant impact on finding joy and success in running. She wants to help athletes appreciate and train their minds as tools for improved performance. A proud mama, she has a passion for working with women who want to continue their athletic pursuits preparing for, during and beyond pregnancy and birth.
Carly grew up playing soccer, and always found joy in running, but didn't get serious until her adult years. In 2015, Carly signed up for her first marathon in Philly and she lined up unsure if she'd finish 26.2 that day. She debuted with a 3:21 and a BQ. She thought this would be her only marathon -- not even close. Carly recently qualified for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials in Atlanta with her current personal best of 2:42;09.
In 2016, Carly started training more seriously, coaching herself and ran her second marathon at the NYC Marathon in 2:59 -- placing 60th female and astonishing herself and those around her (truthfully). She came back from a winter injury in 2017 to run her third marathon at the Berlin Marathon, knocking off another 10 minutes and shocking herself with a 2:49 -- good for 35th female and 5th American. Carly ran the Boston Marathon in 2018 in the epic monsoon-like conditions -- clocking a 2:55 in her third marathon major and another 35th female finish. She hired a coach after Boston in 2018 and ran a personal best, 2:47, at CIM in December 2018. After CIM, she wanted to really incorporate more strength training and take a spring season to focus on speed (and set some shorter distance PR's!). It paid off in Berlin 2019, where she set her current personal best and OTQ'ed by almost 2 minutes!
Carly loves set big goals for herself, but if she's learned anything, it's that balance and recovery are the keys to growth. As someone who used to count herself out before the gun went off, she's passionate about mental strength and positive body image in the sport. She hopes she can inspire athletes to dream big and work hard, while elevating patience and longevity in the sport.
Kaci, a native of Toronto, Ontario, was a national figure skater for Canada and the US, and competed at an elite level through her undergraduate degree. While running was always a personal interest and supplement to training, Kaci took an interest in long distance running upon retiring from her skating career and having the need to maintain a competitive edge and an unrelenting passion for physical fitness.
Kaci embarked on her doctorate degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Hartford, and since graduating, has shaped her career with a focus on sports medicine and rehabilitation for athletes. In addition to being a coach with the US Figure Skating Association, she has also trained youth hockey teams to achieve optimal on ice performance.
Having a history of personal injuries throughout her skating and running career thus far, Kaci has an invested interest in combining her clinical skills and passion for strength training as way to prevent injuries in sports. Kaci offers running coaching, PT consultations and gait analyses for clients who are looking to identify causes of injury and prevent future setbacks with targeted strength training based on gait abnormalities and muscle imbalances.
Nick started running back in1996 and has been competitively running for 16 years now with a brief break in his 20’s. His spark for running came back in High School, being a part of a team and finding a sport that brought out the best in himself. He knew even back then one day he wanted to run the Boston Marathon, which he would do in 2014.
He ran competitively in college for Monmouth University in New Jersey and ran PR’s in the 5k and 10k that stood until he finally broke them earlier this year. Post college he took 8 years off and gained valuable experience that has helped him excel when he began again at age 30, putting entirely less pressure on the results/himself and more on the process and truly enjoying running.
He currently runs for rabbitELITE and has run 15:51 5k, 32:39 10k, 1:10:56 Half Marathon and 2:30:47 all within the past 9 months at age 37. He attributes a lot of his success to hiring a coach back in late 2017 when he felt stuck and not progressing on his own. He is currently chasing down some huge goals this fall but he ultimately believes a goal is just something to shoot for not to define himself, the key to everything is balance and enjoyment.
Nick lives just outside Baltimore, Maryland with his wife and two daughters (Chloe and Amelia). Nick has a degree in Software Engineering and currently works as a program manager by day. His favorite thing about coaching is to unconditionally support runners and their journeys. To invest in a runner and their experiences. The good, the bad, and the day to day to help them achieve things they once thought were impossible. To ultimately help them understand no only the physical training side of running but the mental approach to running and having a mindset to support the ups and downs of running. He loves working with athletes of all experiences no matter what they are training for.
Mary has 14 years of experience competitively running. She ran XC all 4 years for her high school and DII in college at St. Michael's College. She ran her first marathon during her freshman year of college in 2006 - The Vermont City Marathon - and finished in 3:39:52 (A BQ at the time). She was the 2008 Vermont State XC 5K Champion (combining DI, II, & III schools). After college she took 6 years off from running while attending law school and her first few years of being an attorney.
In 2015 she returned to competitive running and ran a 3:03:22 marathon at Lehigh Valley. From there it took her 3 attempts to break 3 hours in the marathon and she chipped away at her PR finally running an OTQ after another 3 attempts to break the 2:45:00 time barrier at CIM in 2019. She raced the Olympic Trials Marathon on February 29th, 2020 running a PR of 2:41:08 and placing 51st in the United States.
Mary has run her all her other PRs in her early 30s as well. 16:56 for the 5K, 35:16 for the 10K, and 1:17:38 for the half marathon. She was also the 2019 San Diego USATF Women's XC Champion during an undefeated season.
Mary loves investing in the goals of others and helping her athletes learn to love the process of training like she does. Removing the stress of performance to know that fitness gained will pay off long term even if the time on a clock does not reflect the hard work the first time or even the first few times. Helping athletes find consistency over time and enjoying every step along the way in pursuit of big goals is what it is all about!
Stefanie is a professional runner for HOKA, specializing in ultrarunning. She currently resides in the Front Range of Colorado.She is a San Diego native, having graduated from the University of California San Diego in 2010. She grew up playing various sports and running with her dad, but didn't turn to competitive distance running until she was in medical school, as a way to manage her stress. Stefanie worked the finish line medical tent at the Chicago Marathon in 2011 and after seeing and treating the frontrunners - she knew her heart was in distance running. She completed her first marathon in 2012 and quickly dove further into the endurance sports scene. Stefanie is the 2021 USATF 100 Mile National Champion and course record holder, with her PR of 14:35:20. She holds the 6th all-time fastest 100 mile time for an American woman. She is also the 2020 Tunnel Hill 100 female champion, and has raced dozens of ultras from 50k to 100 mile distances.
After completing her surgical residency in the Detroit area, Stefanie and her husband took over a private practice located in Lakewood, Colorado where she practices as a foot and ankle surgeon with a passion for treating athletes. She returned to road running in recent years, which has led to PRs in the 10k (36:32), half marathon (1:20), and the marathon (2:54) - a long way since her first marathon in 4:16.
Stefanie is passionate about running, but even more passionate about being in a healthy relationship with it. Having personal experience with balancing a professional career in medicine, family, and training - Stefanie places a lot of importance on flexibility, adaptability, and training being a joyful addition to her athlete's lives, not a stressful one. She strongly believes that big, crazy dreams are for anyone, at any stage of life - and that it's never too late to become who you were always meant to be. Her favorite aspect about distance running is the ability to find yourself and thus your why, out on runs - whether in training or in races. Stefanie highly values the coach-athlete relationship and believes there is significant power in lifting her athletes up at every stage of the journey.
Stefanie lives and trains at 8,600 ft with her husband and two high energy pups. She has some unfinished business with road running, but likes to keep her trail running mindset at the forefront. You can find her enjoying the views from local mountain peaks, pushing her limits along the way, and enjoying a craft brew after.
Nora first started running in high school while on the track and field team. However the longest distance she raced was 400 meters, and a “long run” to her was 3 miles. Things changed in college when she ran her first marathon, the Rochester Marathon, in 4:36. Since then, she has fallen in love with marathons, half marathons, and the process of training.
For many years, her goal was to ‘BQ’ and run the Boston Marathon. In 2017, she started working with Coach Mary Johnson, who helped her lower her marathon PR by 21 minutes to run a 3:32, a BQ at the time. However, when it came time to register, Nora missed the cut-off for acceptance into Boston.
Through fierce hard work, persistence, and a hearty dose of stubborness, she kept chipping away at her marathon time, finally self-coaching her way from the 3:32 to 3:21 in November 2020 at the Manchester City Marathon. While she finally has her BQ with a sizable buffer, she’s not done yet - Nora still has unfinished business with the marathon.
Nora lives and trains outside of Boston and can be found at many local races chasing down her speedy fiance. She considers herself a student of the sport and loves reading as much as she can about the science of running. She has spent significant time working in run specialty and loves geeking out over the latest running shoes.
Nora firmly believes that you do not need to have been a collegiate athlete to find running success later in life. She believes that dedication, longevity, and smart training are key to big breakthroughs. Whether you are looking to Boston qualify or break 5 hours in the marathon, she believes it is possible for everyone to achieve their goals. As a grad student working towards her Master’s degree in School Counseling, Nora is also passionate about coaching her clients from a place of unconditional positive regard, meaning she wants to support and know her clients on a personal level. To that end, she also believes that it is deeply important to nurture a love of running in her clients, which can mean adapting training to fit busy schedules, identifying the right goal to chase, and knowing when to press pause on training. Nora loves nothing more than working with runners to help them unlock achievements they never thought possible.
Erin was a basketball and volleyball player growing up, but dabbled with some track (400 hurdles – major fail – and 800m – somewhat decent) in high school. Unsurprisingly, she was not recruited for track but instead played basketball at Army West Point. She scored 1,000 points, grabbed 1,000 rebounds, and was a 2x First Team Academic All-American during her career as a Black Knight. After graduating, Erin commissioned as an Engineer officer in the Army and deployed to do route clearance (IED detection) in Afghanistan. Running became part of her life after that deployment, and she used her first marathon in 2014 as a way to reflect and work through some of the more challenging deployment experiences.
After having her first baby in 2016, Erin trained with a team for the Army 10-Miler in 2017 and really fell in love with the art and science of training. She earned her RRCA certification in 2018 and began guiding athletes a few weeks later. Since then, she’s coached runners at nearly every distance and ability level – from couch-to-5k through experienced marathoner.
As a mother of 3 kids (ages 2, 3.5, and 5), a wife, and a military officer, Erin wholeheartedly believes that running should complement your life. She’s spent her post-kids time whittling down her 5k time from a 20:54 to an 18:52, and hopes to tackle her half marathon PR (currently a 1:36) in the near future. Erin and her family currently live in New York, but have called North Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee, and Massachusetts home in the past decade.
Amanda can’t remember a time that running wasn’t a part of her life. As a child she thought everyone ran and when she started running with her parents at a young age, she never really stopped, but it wasn’t until sometime in 2013 that she realized running and fitness could be an ACTUAL JOB for her.
In 2013, Amanda became an ACE certified personal trainer and Sports Performance Training specialist. Shortly after, she became a certified run coach through USATF and RRCA. After giving birth to her first child, she realized how in need of support and resources that birthing people are and decided to become a certified pre and post-natal fitness specialist. Currently, Amanda is finishing work for her Masters of Exercise Science and is in the process of opening up a gym that focuses on personal training.
Her own running is something that she constantly finds new purpose in — a true love. As is the story with so many, the last two years haven’t been full of races — but the half marathon is where she feels the most unfinished business. Her 1:36 PR needs dusted off and chipped away at.
Amanda has had the privilege of working with athletes of differing abilities both virtually and in person. She’s a huge believer that runners absolutely must incorporate lifting into their training and that, when they do, their greatest runs will follow. She believes in the validity of whatever goals athletes are working towards and always looks forward to helping them discover their true potential.
Meriah is a 2020 Olympic trials marathon qualifier and 3rd place finisher at CIM with a 2:34 marathon, but she didn’t start that way. She went from a girl who couldn’t run one mile without sitting down...to a woman capable of 26 of them in a row under 6min pace. This sort of progress exemplifies her most cherished truth about running, that she encourages all of her athletes to remember: consistent efforts get results.
Meriah started running at age 12 when her P.E. teacher approached her about needing more girls on the cross county team. Workouts back then involved multiple breaks to sit down and she was shocked when her coach asked her to try and run the whole way without stopping. 3 miles without sitting down?! Impossible! That year she was awarded the “Most Improved” trophy when she finally learned to complete the courses with only walk breaks (no sitting.)
Meriah moved on from middle school cross county to run high school track specializing in the 400m. She walked on to the track team at San Diego State and earned a full scholarship her sophomore year by running the 6th fastest time in school history (at the time) 2:10 in the 800m. She stepped away from serious running in her 20’s and returned to the sport in her mid 30s, driven by the desire to complete a marathon and simply check it off the bucket list. She ran her marathon debut at Rock N Roll San Diego in 3:16 and found her running competitive drive promptly restored.
All of her lifetime distance PRs have come over age 40, and include a 1:13 half marathon, 34:04 10k, and 16:32 5k. She truly embraces the idea that PRs can come at any age, and we should always continue to set big goals and test our limits.
Meriah continues to share her love of the sport with members of the running community. She serves as a coach and mentor for the San Diego Track Club, is an assistant coach at Pacific Ridge High School, volunteer coach at Cal State San Marcos, and has privately coached athletes virtually and in person, for over 4 years. She has USATF and VDOT02 certifications.
Cara grew up playing basketball and played through college. She scored 1,000 points at Clarkson University and tied the school record - bummer - for the most 3-pointers made in a season. She was also named First Team All-Conference and academic All-American during her senior year. After basketball season ended, she decided to pick up running as a way to stay in shape. Transitioning from basketball to distance running was tough at first, but she eventually fell in love with running and hasn’t looked back.
Cara started working with coach Mary Johnson shortly after she started her running journey. While working with Mary, Cara has run several marathons and half marathons. Her marathon PR is 3:43 and half marathon PR is 1:37. These PRs are from several years ago and she has some unfinished business with both distances.
On the coaching front, Cara believes in consistency and trusting the process. Cara has worked with new and experienced runners who have trained for distances ranging from the 5k to the marathon. She is no stranger to a busy work schedule and wants to help athletes find balance between life and training. As someone who has also experienced pre-workout and pre-race anxiety, she’s passionate about helping runners build their confidence and find joy in training and racing.
Cara is a Connecticut native who lives with her golden retriever, Leo. She teaches high school math - Algebra II and Geometry - in Connecticut with a goal of helping students gain confidence in the subject.
Alissa hasn’t always been a runner, quite possibly the opposite for most of her life. That changed in 2015 when she signed up for her first half marathon (without having any clue how to train). That race lit a fire in her and she’s been chasing down big goals ever since.
Coaching came into the picture because she loves understanding the “why” behind her training. She hired her first coach in 2017 after self coaching to a BQ at the NYC Marathon, this experience led to her pursuing her RRCA level 1 certification along with reading every single book she could find about run coaching and theories behind training.
Alissa has a PR in the marathon of 3:00:46, half marathon of 1:24:52, 10k of 38:12 and 5k of ?? because she never runs them. She loves working with runners of all ability levels because chasing down big dreams has a different meaning to everyone - whether you’re looking to just complete your first race or have dreams of BQing, she would love to be a part of that journey. As a mom of two, Alissa understands the logistics of trying to maintain a training schedule, while working full time and also trying to make sure everyone gets everywhere they need to go. Running should add to your life, not take away from it, so if that means you miss an occasional run because your family comes first, she will always understand.
Outside of run coaching, Alissa is a Marketing executive in Cleveland Ohio where she lives with her pre-teen girls and two very demanding labradors.
Katie is a lifetime CT resident and a "late bloomer" to running - never having run in high school or college. In 2008, at age 26, Katie ran her first marathon (and first road race) at Hartford in a time of 3:37, securing a BQ and also the idea that she would never run a marathon again.
Three years later after having her third child, she reconsidered the marathon distance and ran Hartford again--this time finishing in 3:17. Her competitive spirit found its place that day and as they say, "the rest is history."
Katie has dropped her marathon from 3:17 in 2011 to a 2:41 in 2014, securing a 2016 Olympic Trials Qualifying time. Katie was self-coached until she hit 2:58 in 2012 and then decided hiring a coach would be helpful in reaching her goals. In turn, she realized her own passion of helping others through coaching, and became USATF certified - truly believing that you can do anything you set your mind to and a little help and support goes a long way.
Katie recently took a break from running to focus on her career and is now back to training with the goal of a second Olympic Trials qualifying time for 2020. She has set numerous PRs in the midst of heavy marathon training; including a 1:17 half marathon, 35:40 10k and a 17 minute 5k.
Katie resides in South Glastonbury with her 3 children ages 11, 10, and 7. She has a Bachelor of Science from UCONN and works full time. In her free time....well, she doesn't have much of that...but you can find her at her daughter's gymnastics meets or lacrosse games, cheering them on from the sidelines or running laps behind her very active son!
Heather Caplan is a registered dietitian with a private practice. She focuses on intuitive and mindful eating practices for athletes, primarily runners, to help them hone fueling strategies and reduce risk of injury. She is also a co-founder of the Lane 9 Project—a nonprofit raising awareness of, and providing a community for, women who have struggled with the Female Athlete Triad. Her work has been published on a variety of national publications such as Runner's World, Motiv Sports, Women's Health, Women's Running, Outside Online and Runners Connect, and in FITNESS and EatingWell magazines.
Personally, she prefers trail running to road races, and (often) champagne to water. More of her nutrition and lifestyle writing, and information about her nutrition coaching services, can be found at heathercaplan.com.