Race It: Pettit Indoor Marathon, Half Marathon & Relays

Although the Pettit Indoor Marathon is a new race, it will seem familiar to runners who’ve run a Pettit race in the past. There’s a new race weekend (Feb 9-11) and a few changes to the race distances, but one thing that’s staying the same is the fun factor.

Below, Race Director Bill Schneider tells us more about the race weekend and how there’s a race distance for every runner.

Let’s start with a Q we’ve heard a lot of runners asking – is the Pettit Indoor Marathon a new event or is it a new name for the beloved Icebreaker Indoor Marathon?   

The Pettit Indoor Marathon is a new event. However, it will have the feel of the old event as most of the organizing crew from Icebreaker is organizing the Pettit Indoor Marathon. I have been a part, in some form, of all nine years of Icebreaker having run the full marathon eight times and on the organizing team for seven years. Because of my familiarity with the crew at the Pettit Center, they asked me to organize this new event. I was more than happy to keep the great marathon tradition alive at the Pettit Center.

What distances are offered during race weekend? 

On Friday, February 9th, we begin with a new event, the Half Marathon Relay. Just as the name suggests, it a relay equal to the distance of a half marathon (47.5 laps) for teams of four runners. Besides the normal divisions: male, female and mixed, we have added a new boys and girls high school division to the half marathon relay.

On Saturday, February 10th, we will have two heats of the half marathon at 7:00 AM and 9:30 AM followed by a 1:00 PM full marathon relay. Then on Sunday, February 11th, we will run our crown jewel event, the full marathon.

Also returning will be the “Running In The USA 142.3 Challenge” for runners brave enough to run the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday. This year, not only will the 142.3 Challenge runners receive three total medals, but they will also earn themselves a dozen specially made Running in the USA Cookies.

What makes this event different from others in the area?

This event is unique not only in the area, but the entire nation. We are the largest indoor marathon in the world, on the longest running track in the nation. There are other indoor marathons in the US, but none with temperatures as perfect as at the Pettit Center (~50F) and gradual turns. Our 3-lane, 445 meter track allows for little to no extra stress on your turn leg and ease of passing throughout the race.  We have 95 aid stations for the full marathon and 47 for the half. There are 190 opportunities to use the restrooms only feet from the course. We are also the flattest race in the world, with an elevation change 0.

Can you explain how the relay races work? What types of strategies work best for achieving a fast time?

The relays are the fastest events of the weekend. Teams of two to four run the entire distance in relay format, alternating runners. Instead of a baton, runners exchange an ankle chip that counts laps. We allow teams to exchange as many times as they wish allowing for many creative strategies. It does take a few seconds to move the ankle chip from one runner’s ankle to another runner’s ankle (and, yes, it is REQUIRED to be worn on their ankle), so how long you run all depends on what is best for your team. I have seen teams running 4-lap repeats and some running 11 laps at a time. The chip exchange is always fun to watch. Teams may want to consider having a 3rd teammate do the exchange, thus saving a second or two.

We love the idea of a half marathon relay – can you tell us why you added this race to the weekend?

We decided to not have the 5K as the number of participants just wasn’t what it needed to be. When discussing what should be done instead. Randy Dean, the Executive Director of the Pettit Center, came up with the idea. The full marathon relay is always a very popular event, so, to be able to add more teams to the weekend, it was decided to add the half marathon relay. This allows runners who don’t run longer distances to participate (as the average distance per half relay runner is only 3.3 miles). So, if you are a 5K runner, this is right up your alley.

Obviously, the course is mega flat with ideal temps. But, do you have any tips for runners hoping to run a fast time?

Fast times are possible at the Pettit Center. Since a lap is 445 meters, making it virtually impossible to have mile markers, runners should review the pace chart in advance in addition to keeping track of their lap times. Every 445 meters can be seen if your lap time is on pace with your goal. Also, if all runners follow the rules as to which lane to run in, this will allow for the best possible passing situation. If slower runners are in lane 1, it makes passing difficult. If there is anything special you need during the race, please make sure you keep it trackside (along the wall on the east turn) for ease of pick up whenever needed.

Are overall and/or age group prizes awarded?

For full marathon and half marathon we will have awards for the top three overall males and females.  Each runner will receive a finisher’s medal. For the relays, awards will be given to the top 3three teams for males, females, and mixed. We will also have awards for the top boys and girls high school relay teams in the half marathon relay. All members of these teams must be in high school or younger.

What do participants get with their race entry?

All participants receive a goodie bag including a Pettit Indoor Marathon long-sleeve technical shirt, ideal for running at the Pettit Center. Runners will have post-race refreshments in the Hall of Fame room, including the world-famous Running in the USA cookies.

Are spectators welcome?

Absolutely! Spectators are more than welcome to sit in the bleachers and watch their family or friends run their race. We encourage the kids to give high fives from the bleachers and signs are welcome.  Where else can you watch someone run a marathon in person and see them pass by 95 times without moving an inch? Just bring a light jacket or sweatshirt as it gets cold in the Pettit Center.

Tell us more about these famous sugar cookies …

Mary Flaws from Running in the USA is baking her world-famous cookies for all runners. They will be available after every race. In fact, Mary and Running in the USA are now sponsors of the Running in the USA 142.3 Challenge. Runners who complete both the half marathon on Saturday and follow up with the full marathon on Sunday will receive a dozen of these cookies.

Any other comments?

We will be keeping the great running tradition at the Pettit Center alive and well. We hope those who have run at the Pettit before return in addition to introduce a new batch of runners. For those who have more questions, please see our website at www.pettitindoormarathon.com or email us at pettitindoormarathon@gmail.com. Feel free to ask me questions, in person, at the Pettit Center. I am usually there running on Saturday mornings in the winter, and on some evenings with my daughters.

Thanks for chatting with us, Bill – we’re looking forward to an awesome weekend of racing!

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

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PRO Adds More Strength + Run Programs

For many runners, late fall/winter is a time for rebuilding and getting ready for spring races in the upcoming year. This year, why not make strength training part of your routine?

Performance Running Outfitters is once again offering it’s popular 8-week strength program, which is designed to help you become a stronger, faster, more efficient runner. Each class begins with a 25-minute runner-focused body weight workout that will engage and challenge your running muscles. The classes will finish up with a 2- or 4-mile run.

Class Information and Registration:

Shorewood (4533 N Oakland Ave)

Tuesdays at 6pm

Beginning Tuesday, Oct 31

Brookfield (2205 N Calhoun Rd)

Wednesdays at 5:30pm

Wednesdays at 6:15pm

Beginning Wednesday, Nov 1

All levels of runners are welcome, including those who are not comfortable running 2 or 4 miles. Shorter routes will be available to accommodate all participants.

In addition to a great strength/run program, participants will receive a pair of technical running socks and a winter beanie. Classes are taught by PRO’s in-house coach, Nicole, who is a certified coach and personal trainer.

To learn more, or to register, reach out to Coach Nicole via email: nicole@performancerunning.com

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Let’s Get to Know … Brian Frain

When Brian Frain first began running it was to shape up and lose a few pounds. But like many of us that started running for the same reason, he was quickly hooked. After a few years of hard work and careful training, he now has a BQ time to show for his efforts.

Read on to learn how this local runner went from being unable to run a single mile to earning a coveted BQ time!

Age: 36

Team affiliation: Performance Running Outfitters

Years running: 4

Favorite workout: Hill Repeats

Favorite gear: Clothes from Lululemon, shoes from Altra, and Swiftwick socks!

Pre-race routine: Mostly panic and stress!

Favorite post-race treat: A chocolate shake from McDonalds

Favorite race distance: Half marathon

Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

Why did you start running?

I started running to lose those infamous “last 10 pounds”. I was out there in basketball shorts and a cotton T shirt, and I couldn’t do a single mile without stopping and gasping for air. I signed up for the Brewers Sausage Race 5k as an excuse to run around the outfield at Miller Park, and was hooked after that.

How does running improve your outlook? What keeps you motivated to run?

To be honest, running doesn’t always improve my outlook. I’ve been trying for a BQ for nearly three years. There have been more than 10 marathons that I trained for and didn’t get the goal. That’s a hard thing to experience that many times! But on the whole, I love the structure and discipline that comes with training for a race. That structure helps me stayed focused, both on running and outside of running. My motivation to run was always to keep training for the BQ. But now that I’ve achieved it, the motivation to keep running is simply that I love it. I love feeling tired and sweaty and like I can’t go another step, because inevitably that next step always happens. And when it happens, I learn that there is unlimited potential inside me (and all of us).

Who do you look up to in running? Do you have any role models in the sport?

I look up to Annie Weiss, my fiancé. One of the reasons it took me so many tries to get my BQ is because I lack the ability to push myself into that “next level” of pain. When things really hurt at mile 20, you can grind it out or back off, and I’ve always had difficulty grinding it out. Annie is able to push herself harder the more things hurt. When the going gets tough, she gets faster because she wants the race over. That’s something I don’t have in me! I also have a great admiration for Mike Wardian, who has completed races all around the globe, including the World Marathon Challenge (7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days)!

Congrats on getting that BQ at your recent marathon! Let’s talk training for a bit – how did you focus your training to get you to your goal?

My first marathon was the finale of the Dopey Challenge in 2015. At that point I was aware of the Boston Marathon, but I wasn’t aware that the requirements to get in were so difficult. Once I learned more about the standards, I was hooked. My training became focused over the past six months, when I started doing more mileage per week (averaging about 60 per week), but most of them were at a very slow pace. I’d have 4 days of long and slow, and then 2 days mixed in of speed work. The longest run I did in the past six months was about 18 miles in preparation for my marathon.

What running goals are you looking to tackle in the next few years?

After running Boston in 2018, I would like to focus more on the ultra distances. I completed my first 50 mile race earlier this year, and I’m going to do more of those. I also would like to do the Dopey Challenge a second time – the first time I did it, I was so concerned about making sure I had enough energy to complete the four races that I didn’t exert a lot of effort in the early races. I’d love to go back and pour my heart into all of them!

What race has been the most memorable for you?

I’ve had several interesting marathons over the last few years. I did the Rome Marathon which started nearly an hour late and was almost entirely in a downpour. I did a small marathon in Central Illinois that was black flagged due to a severe thunderstorm, and I ran the last 4 miles in ankle deep flash flooding. But the Erie Marathon 2 weeks ago will be the one that I’ll forever cherish. Perfect course, perfect weather, and a 9 minute PR will be the thing that I’ll never forget.

Do you have any favorite Milwaukee races?

The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, without a doubt. I’ve done it the last two years, and both times were great experiences. There is great crowd support, and for me it’s always helpful to be running on a course that I know. Those last few difficult miles of a marathon seem to be a little bit easier when I can visualize exactly how they will look.

What makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?

The community. We are extremely lucky to have such incredible support for both roads and trails. In the trail world, groups like the Lapham Peak Trail Runners are made up of some of the kindest, most gracious people I’ve ever met. The Badgerland Striders have a huge membership and they organize some great events each year. Trae and Jess at Performance Running Outfitters would do anything in their power to help anyone that needed it. Beyond the organizations, there are some incredible individuals who have dedicated huge blocks of their lives to making running an enjoyable experience. Matt Thull at Thunderdome is a world-class coach who is literally in our backyard. There are so many people who care so much about the Milwaukee running community, and all of us have an easier, more enjoyable time on race day because of them.

Thanks so much for chatting with us and sharing your story, Brian!

If you’re a runner in MKE, we’d love to chat with you. Send us an email at keeprunningmke@gmail.com if you’d like to be featured or know someone who should be featured in an upcoming Let’s Get to Know . . . post.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Race It: Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon 5k

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon is one of our city’s biggest running events. But up until recently you had to be ready to tackle 26.2 miles to take part in race weekend.

Last year the Badgerland Striders introduced the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon 5k as an event to celebrate runners of all abilities. This year, the race will be even better – the ideal event for all runners whether the aim is a podium finish, new 5k PR, finishing a first 5k or just enjoying a morning with family and friends.

Below, Scott Stauske with the Badgerland Striders tells us more about the event. For race specifics, visit our Featured Races page.

Can you start off by telling us a bit about the Lakefront Marathon 5k? What makes this race unique?

First off, thank you very much for the opportunity to speak a little bit about this newer event. The Badgerland Striders will be hosting the 37th Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon on October 1. Since many family and friends of runners will be at the finish line area of Veteran’s Park, I thought it would be great to create a true “family” running event in an effort to get the spectators more involved in the day’s activities. The Badgerland Striders have also been the sponsor of a youth running program over the past 10 weeks and many of the kids will participate in the 5k as their graduation from the program.

Is there anything new or different happening at this year’s race? Any changes from last year’s race?

Yes! Last year was our inaugural year, and it was also meant to be a fundraiser for the Milwaukee Police Department Endurance Club. ALL proceeds were going to be given to this group in exchange for their volunteering and management of the run. Unfortunately, they were told by superiors to abandon the effort only two weeks out from the event due to the continued protests from the Sherman Park incident. With very little time, the Striders tried to pull the race together and not disappoint those who had signed up. The course ended up being not adequately measured and there were definite shortcomings from what you would expect in a Strider-supported event. This year’s course has been accurately measured, we have volunteers in place, and are looking forward to producing this niche event.

Why did you pick the location for the race?

The Milwaukee lakefront is a spectacular backdrop for enjoyable running and our course is 99.9% next to water. The Lakefront Marathon finishes in Veterans Park so a course was measured to take the 5K participants on a great course and finish through the same chute as the marathoners will a very short time later. The announcers, the crowds and the truss itself are all designed to welcome everyone home. It is my hope that the 5K’ers will feel like they are part of a larger event. Everyone feels like a rock star!

Are there any post-race festivities?

The grounds will have the tents and excitement in preparation for those who are participating in the 26.2 mile distance. Check out the merchandise tent and cheer on the runners as they come down the long stretch toward the finish. Also enjoy the sights, smells and food and beverages.

Are there overall and/or age group prizes? Any top contenders for the overall wins this year?

We will have first place overall winners for male/female and Masters M/F. In addition, we will have Age Group awards in 10-year increments. We want to keep this event rather “small” and with an emphasis on having fun. So everyone is invited – it doesn’t matter if you are a speedster looking for a PR or a dad pulling a wagon of kids – we want you here! Since it’s only our second year, we’re not sure who to expect to contend for the win!

What do participants get with their race entry?

This is where we shine! For those that signed up early, an event shirt will be provided but for those reading this now and not eligible for a shirt, we still have an outstanding value. You’ll get a timed and accurate 5K run and, in addition, we will have bakery from Papas Bakery, a Strider finishing medal, a customized race belt, coffee and water and the adults may enjoy a couple cups of great beer! Also, you should know that you are supporting future youth running programs.

Why is this race a good fit for runners – and walkers – of all abilities?

The Badgerland Striders, Wisconsin’s largest running club and the 6th largest in all the United States, welcome all runners regardless of ability. Our 5K has a generous 45 minute cut-off time. Plus, as mentioned, it is a fun course to start the day off right.

Any other comments?

We know that local runners have lots of options when it comes to their running dollars, and the Badgerland Striders always try to offer the absolute best value. For as little as $20 dollars, you can get all the perks for this event. But you should also know that all of the money is going to Girls on the Run of Southeastern Wisconsin as a thank you for their assistance with our “I Can 26.2 It!” program. Kids between the ages of 5 and 12 have been participating in at-home and weekly group sessions. On “Marathon Sunday” they will be running their last 1.2 miles to complete their cumulative 26.2 mile marathon distance. Best of all, they begin this at 8:45am, so as soon as the 5K is finished, those runners get to be the cheering section for our youngest runners and see the huge smiles on their faces when they are presented with their medals. Please consider registering at: www.lfm5k.zapevent.com – you can also register onsite on race day. Thank you for supporting the Badgerland Striders, Girls on the Run and our mission to keep our youth physically fit and happy through the sport of running.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Scott! Remember runners – you can register for the race at lfm5k.zapevent.com or onsite on race day.

How is your week going? Any race plans this upcoming weekend?

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Race It: Badgerland Striders Track Meet

These days, you can run a local road race pretty much every weekend. But the opportunities to race on a track are few and far between. Luckily for MKE runners, the Badgerland Striders host several track meets throughout the spring and summer making it easy to test your speed on the oval.

Joining us today are event directors Alice and Ron Winkler. They’ve run the Strider track meets for 25 years and have all the info you need to jump in the upcoming meet.

To get started, let’s talk specifics: When is the May track meet and where will it be held?

The May Track meet is on Tuesday, May 30 at 6:30pm. It will be held at the St. Francis High School Track located at 4225 S. Lake Drive, across the street from the bike trail and Lake Michigan. It is on the boundary between St. Francis and Cudahy.

Who can participate? Do people need to register and, if so, is there a registration fee?

People of all ages and abilities are welcome to participate. This is a developmental meet. There is no registration and there is no entry fee. Consequently, there are no awards. Participants can just show up prior to the 6:30pm start and run in as many events as they want.

Which distances will be run at the meet?

There are no hurdles or field events. The events are: 100 meters, 200 meters. 400 meters, 800 meters, 1600 meters, and 3200 meters. The following relays will also be included: 4 x 100 and 4 x 400. Participants are welcome to compete in as many races as they like.

Will people run against others of similar gender, age, ability, etc?

Yes

A lot of newbie or slower runners may be hesitant to participate – are they still welcome to run? Are there any time requirements to participate?

This is a developmental track meet so there are no entry standards; all ages and abilities are welcome. The object is to have fun. We cheer each other on.

Let’s talk history: How long have these track meets been held and how did they get started? 

The track meets date from 1959 when the old Milwaukee Track Club (MTC) was founded by Jim Hanley and Brian Murphy. The MTC sponsored track meets and road runs. One of those road runs was a 10-mile race held for the first time in 1961. Today, under the auspices of the Badgerland Striders, it is Wisconsin’s oldest distance race, known as the Cudahy Classic; this year will be its 57th running.

Fast forward to 1973 when the well-organized MTC, with a large membership, lacked a base of operations. Conversely, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Track Club (UWM-Track Club), founded in 1972 with the intention of retaining post-college athletes, had few members. The two organizations merged to provide a home for the MTC and the opportunity to boost its image, while the UWM-Track Club gained the expertise and membership of the MTC.

By 1977, the UWM-Track Club, now separate from UWM and with members from all over Wisconsin, felt that the name limited the club geographically. In addition, the words “Track Club” bothered some people because the club was active in not only track and field, but also road running and cross country.

We (Alice and Ron Winkler) have been in charge of these track meets for about 25 years.

Has anything crazy or unexpected happened at any of the track meets in previous years?

We are literally next to the lake, so the track can be much cooler than the rest of the Milwaukee metropolitan area. Many times people arrive at the track unprepared for the cooler weather. In addition, the weather at the track can change unexpectedly when the wind shifts to the east. The wind coming off the lake can cause sunny and warm to become cloudy and even foggy with an accompanying temperature drop of twenty degrees or more.

Will additional BLS track meets be held this summer?

The other track meets will also be held at St. Francis High School Track at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, June 20 and Tuesday, July 11.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Alice and Ron!

Who will we see at the upcoming BLS track meet? Which event(s) will you run?

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Will a Local Runner Break the Ice Age Trail Speed Record?

Many of us are thinking about spring racing in terms of 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, marathons and, if you’re testing your endurance, a 50k or perhaps a 50 miler. Elite ultrarunner, Annie Weiss (based in MKE), is taking on a lot more – starting on May 1, she will attempt to break the speed record for traveling the Ice Age Trail through Wisconsin – a total of 1,204 miles.

The current male record is 22 days, 6 hours and the female record is 36 days. Annie is attempting to break the current male record for the fastest overall time. Her goal is to run the trail in 19 days, starting at the MN border and finishing in Door County.

Below, Annie tells more about why she’s going after this record and her plan for completing the journey.

Annie Weiss

Why did you decide to go after this record?

I decided to do this for a couple: First, I think I can do it and second, I want to narrow the gap between a male and female record. There is no reason a female can’t smash any record set – women can set the same records as men! I also want to do this because I need a change from racing. The expectation of myself is to be racing and winning. This changes that mentality for me – it’s not a race against anyone but me, which is really great.

How have you prepared for this journey?

I’ve been preparing for years – since starting to run. There is no super long distance you can just decide to do and train a couple of months to succeed at it. I decided to complete this FKT around Christmas time, but the groundwork has really been set for a few years now. I run, hike, cycle, weight train – everything. The ‘everything’ part is so important. It’s not just running. Much of training is having the time for it. I do on average 100 miles per week just running and hiking, with 20-30 miles of cycling, and about 3 hours total of strength training. I stretch, roll and REST. Lots of rest. It’s not going to work if you don’t recover and rest. Nutrition has played a huge role as well in the ‘training’ process. It can’t be neglected and so much energy is needed each day to keep up with the workload.

What is your plan for the run?

My plan is to run 60-65 miles per day. I’m a morning person so expect early morning starts! A handful of people have already stepped up to run with me for various segments, which is much appreciated, of course!

I stay hydrated with basic water and sometimes Gatorade liquids. Because I’m an endurance athlete, I use real food – I make Nutella sandwiches for long days on the trails and use Clif products. I recover with Fluid Nutrition – it’s honestly been the more consistent item in my nutritional regimen and I believe has allowed me to recover even better day to day.

What types of challenges are you expecting along the way?

I honestly expect a lot of challenges! Of course weather being at the top of the list! Getting lost is a close second though! Those two will be the biggest challenges with other minor things along the way. I’m not too concerned about chafing, blisters or terrain – once you are on cruise control you just have to get over that and keep moving.

How will you overcome challenges?

Definitely with patience and gratitude! Probably help from my crew, Brian, as well 🙂

What are you looking forward to most during your upcoming journey?

The amount of food I get to eat! Lol – just kidding 🙂 I am looking forward to being able to cross out each completed day on my calendar and watch the miles completed fade away. That is the best feeling – for me, it’s always about how much I’ve completed, not how far I still have to go.

How can people help support you during this record attempt?

Definitely find me on social media (https://www.instagram.com/ani_weiss/) or come out to run along on the IAT. Realize that goals can be reached no matter what!

Any other comments?

Coached by Tommy Rivers Puzey and working with the Iron Cowboy, James Lawrence, I am preparing for this adventure both physically and mentally because for any runner it will take strength and courage. This is not only a personal goal of mine as an ultra-distance runner, but also a message of complete inspiration. The body image stigma within the running community is quietly building – I am often asked, “You are a runner?! You don’t look like a runner.” Comments like this don’t feel good and lead most runners, men and women alike, to think we have to look a certain way to be respected athletes. As a dietitian working with eating disorder patients, I hear from a myriad of parents that their child can only be successful at a particular weight even if it’s harmful to their health. By completing this adventure, I want to show people that it doesn’t matter what your size, shape, or build is; talent is not defined by the shell of our bodies, but rather perseverance, motivation, and hard work. Anything is possible. It’s the age-old saying: don’t judge a book by its cover…ever.

Thanks for chatting with us, Annie, and best of luck on your upcoming journey! Remember, you can follow Annie’s record attempt on Instagram.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Let’s Get to Know … Nicole Hengels Gainacopulos!

Thanks to encouragement from her dad, Nicole Hengels Gianacopulos started running at a young age. These days, she’s the one encouraging runners – beginners, those in the hunt for a BQ, and everyone in between.

Many of you know her as Coach Nicole – she’s the owner of Momentum of Milwaukee and also manages all of Performance Running Outfitters training programs. Today, she shares with us a bit about her own running as well as what it’s like to coach everyone from high schoolers to weekend warriors to marathon winners.

Age: 29

Years running: 20?

Favorite workout: 400m repeats. I could seriously do them every week and be thrilled. My second favorite workout is hill repeats varieties and my favorite right now is at a steep hill after a warm up: 90 seconds AFAP up, rest down, 60 seconds AFAP up, rest down, 30 seconds AFAP up, rest down. Repeat this 3 times!

Favorite gear: Saucony shoes (Ride, Kinvara, or Freedom), SmartWool socks, Any apparel at PRO!

Pre-race routine: Usually a 1 Mile warmup (depending on the race) + 3-4 strides. I try to teach my runners to do dynamic warm ups but for me I usually prefer to not do them on race day.

Favorite post-race treat: Cookies. Always cookies.

Favorite distance to race: I haven’t raced a marathon since 2014, but I’m looking forward to getting back to them in 2017 (first one is Grandma’s Marathon in June!). The past couple of years I have really enjoyed racing half marathons and I paced a few as well either as an official pacer or pacing clients.

Favorite inspirational running quote: “Running is 90% mental, and the other 10% is thinking about it.”

How did you start running?  

My older sister, Laura, was in high school cross country, so over the summer my dad and I would run with her to help prepare her for the upcoming season. I HATED it. One time my dad needed some repairs on his car so we drove it to the repair shop and ran home (about 5 miles). I remember hating every second of it until we got home and I felt amazing. From there, my dad and I continued to run each weekend and I eventually learned to hate it less, which turned into a love for the run and time with my dad. I had a fantastic high school coach and team, which truly blossomed my love for running.

How does running improve your life/outlook? What keeps you motivated to run?

Anytime I am grumpy, upset, confused, or way too energetic, I get out the door. I’ve made some of the best decisions while running, such as starting Momentum of Milwaukee and marrying my husband! It also helps a person get away from technology, appreciate what is around us, see what our body/mind is capable of, and explore new neighborhoods.

The days that I am having a hard time with motivation, I grab my dog’s leash, and there’s no turning back at that point. I also get motivation from my clients and they remind me why we run in the first place!

If you could run with anyone, who would you pick and why?

My husband, Nikos. We got to know each other as friends though running, and I always look forward to runs with him even though he’s gotten so much faster (he started listening to my running advice…lol). Unfortunately, due to our schedules, we don’t get as much time to run together so I really value the runs and races we can do!

If I had to pick someone famous, then no question, Paula Radcliffe. I have always idolized her and watched her races. Her book, “My Story So Far” is the first running book I read in high school and it led me to start believing that running was not just a workout, but a lifestyle.

What does a typical training week look like for you?

Right now, I’m at about 40-50 miles per week as I’m training for Grandma’s Marathon (my first marathon since 2014 and my 23rd marathon total). Usually about 20 of those miles each week are with the training programs that I coach at Performance Running Outfitters or with clients. The other miles are what I can squeeze in to my own actual running schedule.

I run 5 days a week with 1 long run, 1 speed or tempo day, and the rest of the miles at an easy pace. I’m coming off of a broken toe (playing with the dog), so I’m trying to just make sure the runs all feel good. I typically do strength training 2 days a week and core 4 days per week.

Tell us about your coaching business, Momentum of Milwaukee – what services do you offer and what types of clients do you accept? How is Momentum different from other coaching services in the area?

I started Momentum in 2012 and focused on personal training. But I kept gravitating toward clients who were runners. I knew a lot about running, but I wanted to start programming training programs better. So I started completing running certifications and traveling to running camps for coaches to develop my skills better. Now I typically only take on runners or people who are interested in getting started in running. I currently coach runners who have literally never run to the mailbox and want to complete 1 mile to runners who are winning marathons and focused on BQ times.

How is my coaching different? I offer monthly online coaching for $75 per month as well as in-person services. I custom design each runner’s program to fit their needs and what is needed to hit their goals (that I help them establish). I also help them fit training in to what realistically works into their life. I know when to be the push my runners need vs. when they are pushing themselves too hard and I need to be the voice of reason.

We’ve heard you also coach at Dominican High School – how did you get started with the team and what has been your experience coaching high schoolers?

I re-started the track team at Dominican HS (after they had a couple years without a team) on the agreement that I could start a cross country team the following fall. While I like track, I LOVE cross country. I no longer coach track but their program continues to grow and the athletes flourish. Our cross country program is picking up, and while our team is young, they have amazing heart and dedication.

Dominican’s cross country and track programs are drastically different than the HS program I came from in Illinois. My HS team had almost 100 girls on the team, and my Dominican XC team is coed with about 15 members. It’s been an unforgettable experience watching my runners improve, mature as humans, and my ultimate goal is to allow them to see running as a lifelong sport.

You also manage all of Performance Running Outfitters training groups – How did you get started and what’s your experience been like working with so many community runners?

I LOVE working at PRO! I have been working there since 2014, initially at the Shorewood store doing the training programs for the 5k and 10k beginners. Since then, my role’s expanded to managing all of the training programs including: Half Marathons, 5k, 10k, Speed Class, and Strength Running.

It is such a difference group coaching adult runners, who have real lives and struggle to fit running into their schedule but make such a dedication to it. It’s fantastic to see the transformation when a runner starts at the 5k class and can’t run a ½ mile and then the next season they are completing a half marathon! One of my favorite stories is one of the runners who sent me an email before starting the 5k program and said, “I’m old, I’ve never run before, and I’m terrified to do this class.” Well now she has run several half marathons and counts on running as her normal in her life.

Being a part of the PRO family has been beyond anything I expected. It’s such an amazing experience at PRO and I’m so thankful to be there!

What running goals are you looking to tackle in the next few years?

My biggest goal is figuring out how to balance coaching and my own running. With running so many miles at other runners’ paces, I sometimes forget to focus on my own. Of course I’d still like to BQ, but that’s not at the top of my goal list as I’m just getting back into marathons again. I just want to love them again and not take two years off from being burnt out. My dad is trying to run 50 states, so when possible, I really like joining him (I only have 20 states; he has 40!).

What are some of your favorite Milwaukee races?

I love the Milwaukee Marathon (half marathon was my favorite) as I think it’s so amazing to bring so many different aspects of the city together (spectators, runners, stores, local businesses, etc.) and to get to run in areas I typically wouldn’t. I also love Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, as it’s a beautiful course; Rock ‘n Sole; and Brewers Mini Marathon. I also really love going to the super tiny races that not many people go to and just enjoy!

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Nicole!

If you’re a runner in MKE, we’d love to chat with you. Send us an email at keeprunningmke@gmail.com if you’d like to be featured or know someone who should be featured in an upcoming Let’s Get to Know . . . post.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!