Let’s Get To Know … Steve Pavlik!

With 37 years of miles logged, 57 marathons to his name and an RRCA Running Coach Certification, Steve Pavlik knows running.

Read on to learn more about his training (there is no typical week!), most memorable race moment and  favorite local races!

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Age: 53

Years Running: 37 years

Favorite Workout: Mile repeats @ Sanders Park (Racine) – it’s a 1.2 mile loop

Favorite Race Distance: Half Marathon

Pre-Race Routine: A good night of sleep, shower in morning, simple breakfast, drive to race, a few strides, 10-min warmup run, stretching and a quiet alone moment for prayer and reflection.

Favorite Post Race Meal: Pepsi & a cheeseburger (or wings)

Must-Have Gear: Timex Ironman 100 lap Chronograph watch (but just recently got a Garmin)

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How did you start running and what’s kept you going over the years?

I started running in high school. I tried but wasn’t really good at other sports. Running was a great way to stay active, and I loved competing and challenging myself. Over the years it’s become more about challenging myself instead of being competitive. Running is something many can do for a lifetime.

Do you have a quote or philosophy that inspires your running?

The one that keeps popping up is “HARD WORK PAYS OFF”. I’ve seen a hundreds of quotes on social media, but this is simple and true. It applies to running and life in general.

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

There are so many options but first choice is my father, Emil Pavlik. He was always interested in my race results and enjoyed coming to races whenever possible. He never ran and wasn’t athletic and passed away in 2011 at 92 years old. I love seeing people running races with their parent(s).

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What was your most memorable race moment and what made it stand out?

In so many years, I’ve had many great memories. My first marathon (Lakefront Marathon in 1981) is something that stands out from the rest. I had no idea of marathon training, but enjoyed racing 5M, 10K and 10-mile races. I saw the Lakefront Marathon flyer at Merritt’s Running Center in Racine and told my parents I’m going to run this race. They came along and dropped off a nervous 19 year old in Grafton. I was so unprepared, but quickly hooked up with a group and tagged along. I would see my parents at points along the course cheering. I lost the group about 17 miles in but managed to struggle through and finish the race in 3:36. I said something like – “I’m glad I didn’t qualify for Boston. I never want to run another marathon – EVER!” Well, that didn’t last long – I’ve now completed 57 marathons.

What does your typical training week look like?

There is no typical week for me. I have three key workouts I try to get in – a Long Run, Intervals and a Tempo Run. I usually run after work and some days are more exhausting than others, so I shift on the fly. I also enjoy cycling and triathlons – so sometimes my running will lag, but I might try catch up on cycling miles.

What are your running goals for upcoming year?

This year I am traveling to Canada for Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant in late June. That is my “A” race, but I have also given much thought to the I-35 Challenge October 14-15 (Kansas City Marathon & Des Moines Marathon).

Can you tell us about the Pavement Gods running club? And how has running with the group benefited you and how might it benefit others?

It is a running club organized in October 2012. We started the group to race and workout together as a team. We did some races and sparked some interest in the local community. We have a long running weekly group run and interval workout night (May-Sept). It is like “open mic night” and you can never be sure who will show up, but something good always comes of it. It has been a huge benefit to me (and I hope others as well). Group running is good motivation. It holds you accountable and if there are faster runners, you may improve your running. We have no dues. We have a Facebook page where we try to keep others up-to-date with area events and club member results and we also host some type of social event during the year.

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You’re an RRCA certified running coach -why did you decide to get the certification? What do you enjoy about coaching and has it helped your own running?

I decided to get certification when I suffered a torn Achilles tendon and had surgery to repair it. I wasn’t sure if I would run again (or if I even wanted to) but I loved the sport and had gained a lot of knowledge over the years. Eventually, I will retire from my career at the US Postal Service and I would be interested in coaching at the high school level. I haven’t set up a business plan, so my coaching is mainly working with the Pavement Gods running club and some individual consulting. It has helped my own running, because I need to stay active in the sport, keep up with latest topics and continue to grow in the sport.

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?

I love the Oak Leaf Trail going north from Grant Park. I also enjoy the Pettit Center in winter – it is great place to run interval workouts, and I’ve learned to pace myself and “tolerate” longer runs inside on the weekends.

What are your favorite Milwaukee races and what do you like about them?

Race for the Bacon 5K is my favorite – it’s a nice event in a park setting. The post-race atmosphere with bacon “treats” is fun and the band and wide open park on a warm summer evening is perfect. The other Milwaukee favorite is Lakefront Marathon. I’ve run it about nine times over the years. It’s always nice to see friends running/working/watching the race. The course is roughly the same as it was in 1981, the crowd size is very manageable as opposed to some Mega Events and there is no travel involved. Over the years my family has enjoyed seeing me at different spots on the course – unlike many of the other races I’ve run.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Steve!

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!

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Let’s Get to Know … Carrie Hayne Fohr!

Last year, Carrie Hayne Fohr ran 27 races. That’s 5 half marathons, 4 10ks and 18 5ks. And that’s not even including the dozens of fun runs she participated in over the year!

Read on to get to know more about this MKE runner including what motivates her to run and a few of her favorite local races!

Rush on Festa 5k 2015

Age: 33
Years running: 4 years
Favorite workout: A long, slow, steady run with great company
Favorite distance to race: 5k
Pre-race routine: Outfit laid out and Instagramed the night before, wake up 2 hours prior to race, drink a Nuun and eat a bagel with peanut butter
Favorite post-race treat: Avocado, Bacon and Tomato Hash (minus the tomato) at First Watch
Favorite gear: Adidas Supernova Sequence 7 shoes, North Face tights or Nike shorts, and Minerva tank/tee

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How did you get started with running?
I started running with Performance Running Outfitters’ run club as part of the 5k class. I then graduated to the 10k class and was a 10k mentor last year.

Do you have a quote or philosophy that inspires your running?
I run for fun!

What does a typical training week look like for you?
I’m currently attempting a 1-year Run Streak (start date: 08/01/15) and run at least 1 mile every single day. I also do the PRO Flapjack Fun Run on Saturdays and a long run with the Minerva Muses on Sunday.

What motivates you to run?
I love being outside and out of the house and listening to an audiobook (currently the Harry Potter series) or chatting with a running partner. I also love the pride of a new race PR, and I love having a training schedule to work toward the next big race.

Tell us a bit about Minerva Muses – what is the purpose of the group and how has running with these ladies helped your running/racing?
Minerva Muses was started by our fearless leader Micaela Ellevold and is about camaraderie, friendship and keeping each other accountable. The Muses are all about having fun while running and encouraging other women to join the sport of running!

Look for us in our coral shirts at your next Milwaukee race!

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How else are you involved in the running community?
This year I’m a Nuun Ambassador and I’m also a Irun4 runner. This year, I’m running for Kassia, a 3-year-old girl from New York. She has a beautiful smile, a great spirit and an amazing mom, Kathy. She also has tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), a genetic disorder that causes non-malignant tumors to form in many different organs, primarily in the brain, eyes, heart, kidney, skin and lungs. Kassia cheers me on for all my runs and races and I run 4 her! She motivates me to do more and make her proud! I am thankful to have been matched with such a great family and an inspirational little Super Hero like Kassia!

What are your running goals for the upcoming year?
My running goals for 2016 are to continue my Run Streak, sign up for fewer races, enjoy training with friends, and accomplish a new half marathon PR!

Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon 2015

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?
Some of my favorites include the Milwaukee Lakefront, Wauwatosa Hoyt Park and Brookfield Fox Brook Park.

What are your favorite Milwaukee races and what do you like about them?
My all-time favorite Milwaukee races are:
• Brewers 5k Famous Racing Sausages – It’s a summer race and you get a free Brewers ticket and a beer & a hotdog at the finish.
• Summerfest Rock ‘n Sole – This is a great running tour of Milwaukee and it has THE BEST AFTER PARTY!
• Lighthouse Winter Series races – I love that there is a 5k or 10k option, immediate results and medals after the race, photographs on course, and seeing so many local runners at each race!

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Carrie!

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!

Can You Feel The Run Love?

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Is there anything runners love better
Than a new pair of running shoes?

All puns aside, we decided to make this post all about love in honor of this weekend’s Valentine’s Day holiday. But not about our love of shoes, watches, gear, etc. This time, we wanted to focus on local runners who found love through running.

Their stories are super sweet – especially the one about a proposal at a 50k finish line! And note to single runners – it seems running groups are where it’s at for finding your perfect running mate!

Angie Kaiser:
Fred and I met through the Pavement Gods running group, which is located in the Racine area. I think running brought us closer because we both have a huge passion for it and can talk about it for hours. We also understand the importance of getting training in, and we try to hold each other accountable to get out and run, especially on those days when you just don’t feel like it.

Fred and I had our first few dates running together. We got to know each other and he got to start meeting my friends and the people who I train with. I always get nervous introducing my date to my friends, but with running I was able to introduce him without all the pressure and see how easily he could fit in.

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Because my daughter is with us most nights we don’t get to run together often. When it is nice out we will run some of our easy miles together and push her in the running stroller. We take turns since she is five and she takes a little more effort to push around, even with her being so small. Fred tends to push her more, which helps slow him down to my pace. But we usually find when we do get out for a run we settle into a pace that works for both of us. Once and a while I have to remind him to slow down because he is pushing the pace without realizing it.

Fred understands my addiction to racing and that I want to travel just for the medal because I think it looks cool. He also understands when training doesn’t go right or I am injured that it can really change my mood. When I had to take weeks off in April 2015 he would come over every night and keep me company while I had to ice bath my foot. He just gets it.

I learned a lot last year about relationships, and all I can say is do what makes you happy. Nothing is worth living a life that doesn’t make want to get out of bed every day! Runners are awesome and even better to have a relationship with!

Fred Smotherman:
I met Angie at a race where she was being her normal high energy and social self. I saw her bouncing from person to person and I knew I had to know more about her. Over the next few months a friendship grew through running and running clubs until it became more than a friendship.

Running is something that we both love and have in common. It allows us to be a big part of each other’s goals and dreams, and I think that’s helped us grow closer.

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We do run together although maybe not as much as we would like with life getting in the way. Most days, we have to run at different times for both of us to get our runs in, but we work together to make sure we can get our miles in. We run at different paces, but our easy runs are close enough to be comfortable for both of us.

Running dates are great because not only are they cheap but they also keep you both in shape. It’s a win win. There are advantages to dating a fellow runner, such as having someone who can share in your success and failures and someone who understands all the work that goes into achieving goals. Also, there’s always something to talk about – and you can share a foam roller!

Meeting Angie changed my life in so many fantastic ways. Not only did running help me find a perfect woman, it changed my life. Woot!

Karly Sopcic:
Matt and I met four years ago through the Milwaukee Running Group. Everyone used to congregate by Collectivo at the lake before and after runs, so we became friends discussing races, craft beer and live music.

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Running brought us closer together because having a shared interest allowed us to bond over past experiences and make new ones together, too! We were able to relate to each other more and complained about the same things, like bad shoes and being exhausted (haha).

I think running dates are great as long as you go slow enough to carry on a conversation while running. Matt’s fast and I’m slow so we meet in the middle when we’re running with each other. Otherwise, in the running group, he’s usually ahead of me and I try to chase after him 😉

Having a significant other who is also a runner is beneficial because we can motivate and inspire each other! My boyfriend challenges me to keep going on days I don’t feel like it. We also celebrate finishes together, which is much more fun when the other has been through the same race.

Bridget Sandercock:
My husband, Mike, and I met on a group run that was hosted by the Milwaukee Running Group/OMG. We were both training for marathons, so we attended a lot of the same group/training runs.

During a running date there isn’t the usual pressure that goes along with a normal date. You get to do something you both love while being active. Plus, after you’ve gotten your run in, it’s a great segue to grabbing a beer or, better yet, ice cream.

A few months after we started dating, Mike relocated to Madison for work. Around the same time, we decided we were going to run a 50k along the northern coastline of Ireland together the following year. Training for the same race was something we could do together, even though we lived in different cities. The terrain and views during the race were spectacular, but I’d have to say the most memorable part of the race was when Mike proposed to me at the finish line! He carried the ring in his Camelback for all 31 miles!

BridgetProposalBridgetProposalThe sweetest proposal!

Most of our runs are together, either just the two of us or with our local running group. I always say Mike slows down to run with me, and he says I slow down to run with him. We just enjoy running together, so we’ve gradually become similar in pace. I still think he’s faster than me though.

Bridget

We like to run a lot of the same races, from 5ks to 50ks, obstacle races and half iron distance triathlons. We’ve even run a few relays together, like the Door County Fall 50 as a pairs team and we’ll run the Apple Creek 50k as a pairs team in May.

Being married to a runner is great! You always have someone to run with, to keep you motivated and accountable, to encourage and cheer you on. They get it when you just “need” to go for a run. They also don’t think you’re crazy when you register for a race at 12:01 a.m., because that’s when registration opened for “the” race. Since running has played such a big part of our lives, we felt it was only appropriate to take a few wedding photos with our running shoes 🙂

Thanks so much to Angie, Fred, Karly and Bridget for sharing their stories. We loved hearing how a love of running helped you find true love.

MKE Runners: Have you found love through running? Share your stories in the comments!

Coupled or solo, we wish you Run Love during your weekend miles!

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Meet Lakefront Marathon’s New Race Director!

Taking on the Race Director role for Milwaukee’s oldest marathon is no joke. But Erin Smith is up for the job.

Read on to learn more about how Erin got started in running and race directing and what to expect at this year’s Lakefront Marathon!

2015-10-24 12.28.47Meet Erin!

What’s your background as a race director and also as a runner? Are you from the Milwaukee area?
For the past three years I was the race director for the Firecracker Four or FC4 as I lovingly refer to it. I kind of took on the role by accident. I was at one of my first Badgerland Striders monthly meetings and someone asked if I wanted to help plan a race. I was new to the Striders and wanted to get more involved in the club so I said I’d help. Before I knew it, I was organizing (and successfully pulling off) one of the Striders highest attended races. FC4 has had over 1,000 registered runners for each of the three years I was director, with almost 300 of those runners registering on race day! I’m glad that Lakefront has a runner limit and sells out in advance of the race; it should make planning for race day a lot easier.

As for my running skills, I’m not an age group winner by any means but I love running. I ran my first 5k about 5 years ago before I was a runner. I signed up for an event with a friend who was into running. I wanted to support her, so I figured I would just walk the distance and get a shirt for doing it. Well, when the gun went off, I ran…the whole thing. When I returned back to the finish line 28 minutes later my husband looked astonished and asked me what I was doing. I guess I was running. The whole thing kind of took off from there, the distances and intensity continued to increase. I completed my first 50 miler in October 2015 and look forward to running Ice Age 50 in May. I’ve been toying with the idea of a 100K or 100 miler but we’ll have to see what happens.

I’m not originally from the Milwaukee area. I grew up in Luxemburg, WI, a small town east of Green Bay. I’ve lived in the Milwaukee area for the last 10 years and just recently moved to Hales Corners.

What’s your experience with LFM, both as a runner and volunteer? What are some of your favorite aspects of the race?
I ran Lakefront in 2012 as my first marathon and then again in 2014. In 2012, I was still relatively new to running but thought if I was going to be a runner, then I should run a marathon. I joined the Striders and participated in their marathon build-up program. I was really impressed by the whole event from the expo to everything about the race experience. I can very vividly remember crossing the finish line of my first marathon and being greeted by Kris Heinrichs, the former race director. She gave me a hug and said “Congratulations Erin, you’re a marathon runner.” I was so impressed that she would give a sweaty stranger a hug and congratulate them. I ran Lakefront again in 2014 as a recon mission but also as my farewell to running the course for a bit. It was in the works that I would take over when Dr. Jon (former Lakefront Marathon race director) stepped down and I wanted to make sure I had the chance to see the course again as it is on race day. I often bike the course but it doesn’t have the same magic as it does on race day.

For the past three years, I have been the volunteer coordinator for LFM. It’s kind of a thankless job but I really enjoyed it. I was responsible for finding upwards of 1,000 volunteers for race weekend. I love planning and organizing so coordinating volunteers came naturally. The volunteers are one of my favorite aspects of the race. It’s so amazing to me that the Striders can put on this top-notch event and have it run solely by volunteers. The time, talents and dedication of so many people are really what make LFM so awesome. I also really like the unlimited free beer at the end of the race.

Why did you want to take on the role of LFM race director? How did you get the position and what were your thoughts upon learning the position was yours?
I wanted to be race director to be part of something big in the running community. Since I have taken on the RD role I have had people personally congratulate me, clap for me and give me praise. I mean really, I haven’t even done anything yet. You might want to hold that applause until October, just in case I mess it up. Honestly, LFM is a first class event and like I said before it’s completely run by volunteers; that includes me as well. I’ve had a lot of people thank me for taking on the role but I’m actually quite honored that the Striders have that much faith in me to carry out such a huge undertaking. As for getting this position, there wasn’t an interview process or an application. I said that I was interested and apparently proved myself so a few conversations happened and, voila, I was the next RD. I’m really excited to take on this challenge but I’ve also had the occasional freak out moment where I question my sanity for volunteering to organize a marathon!

What should participants expect at this year’s race? Do you anticipate making any changes?
As always, runners should expect a high quality race, amazing course support, smiling volunteers and some awesome LFM merchandise. I don’t anticipate making any huge changes for 2016. We did decide to increase the capacity from 3,500 runners to 4,000 runners. This decision was made very recently so it might be a surprise to some people. My number one goal for the upcoming race is to have a seamless transition from Dr. Jon to myself. My ancillary goal is to not mess it up!

As always, LFM is expected to sell out several months in advance of the race – Why do you think the race is such a popular one in the area?
I think the race is popular because it’s a well-run event. People look for quality and bang for their buck. They definitely get both at Lakefront. The Striders also provide amazing runner support outside of race weekend: the marathon build-up program, fun runs, speakers and track workouts. I also think the elevation profile lends itself to the popularity. It’s a flat and fast course and lots of people qualify for Boston at Lakefront.

We’re working on building some partnerships with local businesses to get more pre-race events in the area to build up some hype for the race. I don’t have any huge plans in the works or anything over the top planned but you never know what might happen.

What are some of your favorite Milwaukee races and why?
I might be a bit biased when it comes to races but I really like Firecracker Four. I’ve only physically run the race one time, but I run the course almost daily now that I live in Hales Corners. I love the atmosphere of FC4; the community support is over the top. Lakefront is also one of my favorites, but again with the bias. I really like the half marathon distance so Strider Half, South Shore and Trailbreaker are some good ones. My all-time favorite race is not in Milwaukee but in Stevens Point, the Point Bock Run. It’s a 5-mile out and back course that starts/finishes at the Stevens Point Brewery. It’s usually blistering cold for the run in March but they have a huge heated tent at the finish and happy people waiting to serve you Point Special.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Erin!

There’s still time to sign up for the 2016 Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon. To learn more, or to register, visit MilwaukeeLakefrontMarathon.org.

Keep Running MKE – You’re doing great!

Let’s Get to Know … Sofie Schunk!

Many runners dream of breaking the 3-hour mark in a marathon. Sofie Schunk did it during her first marathon at this year’s Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, running 2:52. An incredibly impressive race for someone who just started competing in endurance events this year!

Read on to learn more about her training, racing goals, balancing running and graduate work as well as running with type 1 diabetes!

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Age: 23
Years running: 6 (track through high school, played collegiate soccer (not much running), and only recently started competing in endurance races this year)
Favorite race distance: I’m still in the process of figuring that out, being so new to racing! I would have to say a half or full marathon based on performances, but a 5k PR is in the making!
Favorite workout: Mile repeats (x4) two weeks before a big endurance race—they feel short, and you can run really fast! This is always a confidence boost for me. I also love hills and long runs with a group of people.
Pre-race routine: I am not one for superstitions, but I always read through my training log (BELIEVE Journal by Lauren Fleshman) to give me a nice confidence boost. I also enjoy listening to music (I have a set playlist that starts from relaxing Dave Matthews to more ‘pump-up’ such as Eminem) and always write on my wrist HCS 3:23, my sister’s initials and part of her favorite verse—we are very close but live 2,000 miles apart (she is also a stud runner at Texas Tech). In terms of warm-up, I always make sure to get ‘sweaty’ and finish off with six fast strides—my favorite number, and it gives me the ‘fast’ racing mindset.
Favorite post-race treat: A beer with friends or anything salty (fries!)
Must-have gear: Shoes and my continuous glucose meter for my diabetes!
Wins/awards:
• 3rd Place Overall Female (1st Age Group) Wisconsin Half Marathon 1:24
• Female Winner Strider Half Marathon 1:26
• 3rd Overall Female Lakefront Marathon (1st AG) 2:52
• 5K and Mile Female Winner Milwaukee Running Festival 5:42 and 18:12

What inspired you to start running?
Growing up in New Mexico in the foothills of the mountains, I always had access to trails. That being said, I took them for granted, as I never ‘properly’ used them until I picked up endurance running in the past two years. Initially, I ran track in high school, mainly middle distance, because I had a natural talent for it, as did my family (my mom ran track, and my sister now runs track/XC for Texas Tech). When I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2008, my sophomore year of high school, I had a harder time running track management-wise and began to focus on soccer. I pursued soccer in college, but always had a knack for running, despite being a goalkeeper and the stereotype there.

Immediately toward the end of my soccer career at Marquette, I approached Dr. Michael Lovell about Marquette’s ‘President’s Running Club.’ I figured, what could be better than running as stress relief throughout graduate school? I was immediately hooked and began to grow into the workouts and long runs, particularly because of all the awesome people and faculty I met—each had their own separate experience that was passed down to me. I was immediately inspired and enjoyed the fact that running was where I had some of my best reflective and academic thoughts and ideas, on top of providing stress relief and a new social group! Additionally, it was an awesome way to control my diabetes naturally—not to mention, one of the most influential members to me in the running club, John Klika, also has Type 1 Diabetes, providing another awesome resource!

Since joining the running club, I have made a pact to run wherever I go or travel in order to see new things. I have met many people along the way and seen many new places everywhere I travel, including exploring my own backyard trails in New Mexico amongst the mountains that I knew always existed but was never inspired to run until now. Running has given me a way to channel stress into a more positive outlook and promote free thought and happiness that I want to share with others—I won’t stop!

Do you think your training and fitness from playing soccer has played a role in your successful transition to running?
Goalkeeping often gets a notion of ‘little running’, which is true—however; there is a large aerobic part to training in practice involving many plyometric and agility exercises repeated for an extended period of time. Soccer training taught me the importance of strength training and lateral agility, which I have found greatly enhances running and power. My first running injury occurred after I neglected many of the basic strength drills I was taught throughout my collegiate athletics career, resulting in IT band syndrome due to weak hip abductors. Ever since, I will embrace the strength and power soccer gave me, in addition to the competitive drive and work ethic mentality.

Many runners dream of running a sub-3 hour marathon – congrats on hitting this mark during your first one, in addition to a third place finish. Can you tell us what inspired you to tackle the marathon distance? What was your experience during the race?
Thank you! The Marquette running group, amongst myself, inspired me to tackle the marathon distance. I honestly did not expect to run a marathon until after the Wisconsin Half Marathon when I still kept training with the group whose next endeavor was the marathon. That being said, I still had hesitations—my parents always said marathoners ‘are prone to injury’ and time-consuming, which at the time, seemed impossible with writing my Masters thesis. However, the long runs became what I looked forward to every weekend, running farther and faster than I ever had before and having people to do it with along the way. Around the end of May, one of my friends in the group (and Dr. Lovell) said you have to do a marathon—it’s one of the greatest feelings of accomplishment especially when you have been putting in the work! I knew they were right, and found a way to fit in the training with little to no injuries.

I went into the race with no exceptions—I kept telling myself that no matter what happened, it would be the farthest I had ever ran and would be for and with a team. That being said, I could not contain my excitement beforehand. I knew I had to be consistent throughout the race, pace-wise, and take it all in. I found myself running with an awesome group of people—Mike Nelson (Marquette’s Track and XC coach), Tim Cigelske, and two other Marquette students. I truly believe this group made me successful—my watch had died so I was able to get a few splits, and we were almost all laughing and telling the stories the whole first half of the race! Who could ask for a better setup and group to share fun times and run at a fast pace?

I was a bit nervous seeing splits all around 6:30 and below, as I had originally planned on 6:40-6:45; however, I am not one to back out of trying to test my limits, especially when I had nothing to lose. The hardest part was miles 20-24—my body started to feel the fact that I had never run that far at that fast of a pace. Only two of us were still running together, but it was enough to give me that extra boost at mile 22—marking the point of the farthest distance I had ever ran! At that point, I also had caught up to the second place female. I began to stay with her and actually passed her at mile 24; unfortunately, I think I motivated her to use her reserves as I was just starting to deplete mine. She passed me again, but it was enough to ‘bring me home’ without thinking much about my throbbing legs. I remember crossing the line in shock, excitement and motivation to improve—I had exceeded my expectations, but just knowing that I think I could have a higher potential and extra motivation through others was the greatest feeling in the world! I loved cheering in my teammates and giving hugs to all of them that helped me along the way, as well as hearing their race stories.

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What was your training like leading up to the marathon? Based on your training, did you expect to race as well as you did?
I ran with the running group usually twice a week, typically a track workout and 4-8 mile tempo run. The weekends, usually Saturday morning, were devoted to long runs and distance training, usually with the Badgerland Striders group but with my smaller subset of the running club—Dr. Lovell, John Klika, Gary Krenz, Dr. Mike Gordon and Tim. On the days in between workouts, I would get in anywhere between 4-10 easy miles either on my own time or with a friend. I also, if feeling extra fatigued, would replace easy runs with swimming or biking (which I did supplement running with anyways, being a triathlete). I kept up my strength routine 2-3 times a week as well, to prevent injury and keep my power. Based on my training, I knew I had one of the strongest endurance bases I had in awhile; however, with never running a marathon, I thought I could break 3 hours if I pushed it, but that’s it—I proved to myself that I could go beyond! Running a half marathon about a month and a half before was also perfect timing for a ‘predictor’ run. I also think that the taper (although difficult) was very important for my performance!

You continued your fantastic racing season through the Milwaukee Running Festival by winning the elite women’s mile as well as the 5k. What was your experience running these races?
These were all about having fun and running with a friend who just came back from running—Marissa Lovell! We had a great time, and when you run amongst fellow Milwaukee runners and enjoy the experience with all the routes that we constantly run everyday, it’s easy to be successful! These also were the first couple of races I could run for a greater cause (although I will always run for Marquette!) after joining DSP, the Diabetes Sports Project.

Can you tell us about the Diabetes Sports Project?
The Diabetes Sports Project is a team of type 1 diabetic ambassadors, all of whom have had amazing accomplishments—IronMan Kona Championship Participation, climbing Mt. Everest, Running Across America, and multiple ultramarathon completions, for example. Along with myself, there are ten of the leading diabetes athletes ambassadors from around the world, and we use our athletic accomplishments to inspire and educate those affected by diabetes.

There is a huge need for sports and diabetes education, coaching and mentoring in the community. Many people living with diabetes are uncertain how to live an active life; that is where we come in! Whether they are looking to race an Ironman triathlon, play t-ball or dance at ballet class, we are the go-to resource for how to successfully manage diabetes while living an active life. We provide mentoring, through our work in the community, to those in need. For athletes looking for more detailed triathlon coaching, we formed an exciting partnership with Sansego (the coaching organization started by Craig “Crowie” Alexander), which along with our diabetes knowledgebase and mentoring from our ambassadors, provides a powerful combination that truly empowers everyone in the community to reach their individual goals.

DSP is about sports and impacting the community, which played a huge role in my decision to join.

I became involved after pursuing endurance running and following the group when they used to be an integral part of Team Novo Nordisk—I’ve always wanted to speak and help educate kids on how diabetes should not be thought of as a limit—DSP will give me the tools to do so!

Diabetes has affected my running—there are days I just simply can’t control my blood sugar, low or high, and find myself stopping at a gas station on a long run to ‘chug’ a sports drink, or taking injection to get my blood glucose level in a ‘performance’ range. Other times, diabetes has given me a performance aide in that I always have a sense of my body at a particular point in time—I have to be aware. If I am not, I could crash or my performance may suffer. Diabetes is unpredictable and takes a lot of trial and error in terms of managing for endurance running. DSP, and the other type 1 athletes I have met (John in the running club and Igor Stevic, for example) have helped immensely, and I hope to do the same for others.

So, follow us on social media and help support our cause!

Many runners struggle with finding time to train – how do you manage to squeeze in running with your busy grad school schedule?
With the running group, times were always at a set schedule and I managed to use these as a perfect ‘study break.’ Long runs actually got me up early on the weekend and motivated me to focus the rest of the day—with a busy schedule, I learned to be efficient and productive during the times I wasn’t running instead of ‘wasting’ time. That being said, there were many late nights and I’d sometimes get a morning run in on little to no sleep. Running always seemed to give me a sense of energy though, no matter what—and the people I was with inspired me to get work done so I could join them!

What running goals are you looking to tackle next?
I tentatively have the Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon on my schedule, as I would love to PR in a half marathon. I also just want to continue to compete for fun, but eventually have another shot at the marathon and run Boston. If all goes well, I want to consider the Olympic trials for 2020! Triathlon season will gear up again in the summer, and I have lifelong aspirations of IronMan and ultramarathons—but first, a career is of priority!

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In general, what makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?
The people and their knowledge for running, and the many routes I had yet to experience—there are always new trails and paths that I have never seen! I also noticed that since Milwaukee winters can be cold, the running community embraces every bit of good weather (and bad!) which you don’t often see other places. Also, everyone in the running community is friendly and wanting their peers to be successful. There is less concern about pace, winning, etc., than about the healthy lifestyle each and every runner shares, which I think is awesome!

Any other comments?
I will never take running for granted and will run for all those that can’t. As my favorite professional runner Lauren Fleshman once said, “When you recognize that failing doesn’t make you a failure, you give yourself permission to try all sorts of things.” This is something I have grown to live by, along with “You can find evidence to support anything you believe about yourself. So you might as well believe you can achieve your most outlandish goals.” There are no limits, and the Milwaukee running community proves just that!

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Sofie!

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!

Let’s Get to Know … Emily Larson!

We all have our reasons for running. For Emily Larson, one of those reasons is the wonderful people she’s met through the sport – people she counts as training partners as well as close friends. She even met her fiancé through running!

Read on to learn more about Emily, including how she got started in the sport and about her fantastic year of racing, including an age group win at her first 50-mile race!

sm20150730_184249_IMG_0219Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

Age: 34
Years running: I have been running since 5th grade.
Favorite workout: I LOVE a good speed workout! There is something about a tempo run that can be so brutally painful yet so extremely satisfying.
Favorite distance to race: I LOVE trail 50K’s! That distance along with being on trails is THE best! My most successful racing distance this year has been the half marathon.
Pre-race routine: Assuming it is a morning race, about 2 hours before I like to have a cup of coffee, drink some water, and eat a berry or banana muffin. Depending on the distance, I will get an easy 1-2 mile warm up about 30 minutes before race time.
Favorite post-race treat: I have a really hard time eating during and after a race so anything that looks good is my favorite! 
Racing shoes of choice: I am so bummed that my Saucony Virrata’s have been discontinued. I am desperately searching for my next road shoe “love.” For trails, I am currently wearing Altra Superior 2.0’s and they are awesome!

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Why did you start running and what’s kept you running throughout the years?
Ha! Well, some say this is a sad story, but I like to think of it as “inspirational.” When I was in 5th grade we had to run the mile in gym class twice per year. At the beginning of the year, I ran something like a 12 or 13 minute mile. At the end of the year, I ran it in just over 8 minutes. My gym teacher accused me of cheating and as a punishment made me run the mile again… the next day… after school… in front of everyone… all by myself. .. Eeek! Long story short, I ran another 8-something mile and decided THAT DAY I wanted to be a runner.

I ran CC and track all through middle and high school and I ran on and off in my early 20’s. But it wasn’t until my later 20’s, and a significant life change, that I found my real passion for running. I was divorced, “alone,” and needed a healthy and positive “something” in my life. I started to run consistently again. I remember the day I ran my first 8 miler. It was the farthest I had ever run at one time. When I was done I cried happy tears. I will never forget the feeling from that day.

I ran my first half marathon in 2009 and my first full marathon in 2011. After Chicago in 2011, I decided to try and find some people to run with. I went online and found The Milwaukee Running Group- OMG. Now, most of my closest and dearest friends, including my fiancé, Matt Jacobson, I met running in Milwaukee. I have surrounded myself with the most supportive, inspiring, encouraging and “craziest” people I have ever met. You are all so amazing and I am so grateful to have so many awesome running friends. Whether it’s a mid-week long run or back-to-back 20’s over the weekend, I always have someone to train with.

IA50K_Matt&EmilyEmily with her fiancé, Matt

To date, I have ran 30+ half marathons, 12 full marathons, 4 trail 50K’s, and just did my first 50 Miler on October 17th. Woot!

What does a typical training week look like for you?
Monday: AM Weight class off running
Tuesday: Speed workout
Wednesday: AM weight class and PM mid-week LR
Thurs: 45-60 min easy run
Fri: OFF
Sat: LR (roads/trails depending on what I am training for)
Sun: Recovery run (preferably on trails)

You recently raced your first 50-miler – and won your age group! Can you tell us about the experience?
Wow. My first 50 Miler was a “stars aligned” type of race. I felt fantastic from the moment I toed the start line until I crossed the finish line. The weather was perfect and the course was beautiful. I had some awesome friends (Team Woot) running with me and the most amazing support crew on the course cheering. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that distance and definitely surprised myself a bit. I was lucky because the 1st place overall female was in my age group, which allowed me to take first in the 30-39 division. I can’t wait for my next 50 Miler (hopefully) at Ice Age in 2016!

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This has been a fantastic year for you in terms of times and PRs – what do you think has helped you run faster and be so successful?
Thank you so much! I am really lucky to have had such a great year of running. I have really worked hard and have been focused on building base over the past couple years. A strong base, along with weight training interval classes, trail running, weekly speed-workouts, and following a pace/goal specific training plan has made a world of difference. I was able to get a couple PR’s this year that I was NOT expecting!

You’re very involved in the MKE running community. Can you tell us a bit about what organizations/groups you volunteer with, as well as why it’s important to you to be involved and give back?
I am part of the Milwaukee Running Group-OMG, an Ambassador for Milwaukee Running Festival, a member of the Badgerland Striders and “Team Woot” and a pacer for Performance Running Outfitters. I was also a volunteer coach with the Boys & Girls Clubs at Brown Deer High School for the MRF Milwaukee Miler. This was a really fun experience and a great way to share my love of running with others.

I am also part of a group called “Who I run 4.” This group pairs runners with buddies (adults and children) that have physical, mental and developmental and/or special needs and challenges. “iRun4Sadie!” Sadie is 5 years old and has hydrocephalus and a mitochondrial disease. I dedicate my runs and miles to her. She inspires me every day. Who do YOU run for?

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?
I love the Lakefront, especially the South Shore area. I also like to run in Tosa and Brookfield. One huge benefit of living in Milwaukee is that you are so close to everything. I am sure you have noticed from my responses that I also LOVE trail running and can easily get out to Lapham or Nordic in 30-45 minutes for some trail therapy. Whether you are looking for fast flats, hills, trails, or scenic sights, Milwaukee has it ALL! (Or, it’s close enough for you to get there pretty quickly!)

What are some of your favorite Milwaukee races?
Oh wow, there are so many… Here are a few of my favorites: Bacon Race, Lakefront (LFM,) Milwaukee Marathon (MRF,) South Shore HM, Run Into the New Year, Lake Michigan Trail HM, Ice Age (not technically MKE, but…) and Icebreaker.

What makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?
There are several running groups in the area and it is possible to find a group that meets YOUR needs. There are lots of local races of all distances and experiences. There is truly something for everyone! Milwaukee is beautiful during all seasons. And, when it’s not there is the Pettit!

What running goals are you looking to tackle in the next few years?
I am chasing Boston and I hope to get there soon. I am also planning on tackling the 50 Miler at Ice Age in 2016. I am also toying with the idea of a 100miler.

I really enjoy pacing half and full marathons and would like to explore more opportunities with that. Anytime I can share my passion and love of running with others it’s a win-win to me!

Any other comments?
Run strong and happy, Milwaukee!

Thanks for chatting with us, Emily!

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!

Let’s Get to Know … Tim Cigelske!

Tim Cigelske has impressive speed at every distance from the 5k to the marathon. But even more impressive to us is his involvement in the MKE running community.

Some of you may already know him through DRAFT magazine as The Beer Runner. In addition to writing the popular blog, Tim also heads up City Running Tours in Milwaukee, volunteers with Team Challenge and DetermiNation, regularly runs with his Marquette University coworkers and participates in races throughout the year.

Read on to learn more about his training, upcoming race goals and his top pick for a post-race beer!

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Age: 34
Years running: 20
Favorite race distance: 5K
Pre-race routine: Caffeine, meditation and portapotties
Favorite post-race treat: Beer
Racing shoes of choice: Brooks

12207835_10153161288007967_1899046077_nWith Team Challenge at the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon

How did you get started with running and what’s motivated you to keep at it throughout the years?
My middle school gym teacher made us run a half mile before every class and timed us. When I started out, I was an out-of-shape video game addict who was just OK at running. But after months of running I started beating everyone in the class, including the kids a year older than me. This made me get competitive with myself to see how much I could improve. That same motivation to push myself – with a new PR, a new distance, better training or a smarter race – has kept me going ever since.

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What does a typical training week look like for you?
I work at Marquette University and our president, Mike Lovell, is a huge runner who started a running group on campus for students, faculty and staff. We run together twice a week, usually one track workout and a tempo run. I also run downtown and the lakefront with a group of friends 1-2 times a week. On the weekends, if the weather is nice, I like to take my two-year-old son for a long run in the jogging stroller. It’s nice bonding time together and if he finds the stroller in the garage he’ll crawl in and ask to go for a run.

What workout lets you know you’re ready to race?
It’s usually not a hard workout. I feel like I’m ready to race after I’ve put in all the work, I’m tapering and I go out for a short run and my legs feel like they have some “spring” in them. Then I can’t wait to get to the starting line.

Tell us a bit about the Beer Runner blog – How did it get started? And what came first – a love of running or a love of beer?
I started doing some freelance writing for the craft beer magazine DRAFT in about 2007, and a year later I pitched them the idea of a blog about beer and running. My idea was there are a lot of people who live physically active lives and reward themselves with a quality beer. At the time, there wasn’t really anyone writing about that lifestyle. I knew there was a niche out there, but I never knew how big it would get with social media. Since then I’ve been mentioned in Runner’s World, completed a three-year streak of having at least one beer and running one mile a day, and I’m still having a blast being part of this community.

In your opinion, do different beers taste better after different distances? For example, is there a beer that is especially great after a 5k or one that’s best after a marathon?
Today, there are beers that are brewed specifically for a certain race or even a running club, like the Big Boss Brewing Company’s Tailwind IPA or the Boston Marathon’s 26.2 beer by Sam Adams. I believe that the best beer is whatever is free at the finish line.

12204891_10153161288627967_1002881639_nEnjoying a post-race beer!

What is your go-to beer after a hard workout or race?
Any IPA or Pale Ale.

Have you participated in a beer mile? If so, what was your experience, and do you have any tips for runners interested in doing one?
I have, maybe six or seven times. This summer I went out to San Francisco to run and write about the Beer Mile World Classic: http://draftmag.com/canada-takes-world-mile-beer-classic/. The hardest part of the beer mile is drinking all that liquid and then still running. The alcohol doesn’t even hit you until after you’re done running. There’s really nothing you can do to prepare to make it suck less. Just get some friends together, don’t take yourself seriously and have fun!

12200632_10153161290057967_16649817_nTim at the Milwaukee Running Group – OMG Beer Mile

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?
The Oak Leaf Trail, the Hank Aaron Trail, Three Bridges Park and Hart/Hoyt Park.

What are your favorite Milwaukee races and what do you like about them?
My new favorite race is the Milwaukee Running Festival. I’ll just share what I wrote on Facebook about it:

“It hit me when I was headed up the hill on Brady Street. It gave me goosebumps.

Running is how I learned my way around Milwaukee. When I was a freshman in college, I used to purposely get lost and use the US Bank building tower as a landmark to find my way back.

Running is how I discovered neighborhoods, rivers, bridges, beaches and the lakefront. It introduced me to all the city had to offer.

Running is how I’ve formed countless friendships with the people I saw at the start line or cheering along the course.

Running has made this city feel like my own.

For me, it felt like the Milwaukee Running Festival was a journey 15 years in the making. I was thankful for Chris Ponteri for having this vision to make a true city marathon and half marathon a real event.

So headed up Brady Street in the neighborhood Jess (Tim’s wife) and I lived after college, it felt like a reunion, a homecoming, a holiday and a celebration all in one.”

What are your running goals for the upcoming year?
After a year where I PR’d in the 5K, 8K, half marathon and marathon, I’m not sure where I go from here. I’m 34, I think I have a few PRs in me yet. We’ll see.

Any other comments?
“You don’t stop running because you get old. You get old because you stop running.” – “Born To Run”

Thanks for chatting with us, Tim! If you’re interested, here are a few ways to connect:

Website: http://www.draftmag.com/blogs/beerrunner

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thebeerrunner/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheBeerRunner

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!