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

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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!

Let’s Get to Know … Dave Jesse!

If you race in Milwaukee, chances are you’ve crossed paths with Dave Jesse at some point. He races everything from 5ks to marathons to ultras! In fact, this weekend, he is taking on the T-Bunk 200 mile race!

Below, he tells us how he got into running, what he does during a typical training week and how he gets through the rough patches during a race.

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Age: 46
Years running: 46 (I have 4 older brothers, survival tactics!)
Favorite race distance: Do I have to choose? Currently LOVING ultras!
Pre-race routine: Typically an easy jog about an hour prior to start, then another with some sprinting about 30mins prior to start
Favorite post-race treat: McREALcoke! And cheeseburgers!
Racing shoes of choice: Currently the NIKE Lunar Tempo
Best place to run in MKE: Pettit Center, otherwise I typically run in the Muskego area

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How did you get started with running and what’s kept you running over the years?
When I was in 8th grade, I noticed there was a meeting for the cross country team the following year (going into 9th grade and high school). Noticed my 4th grade gym teacher was the coach so thought I would listen. Ended up running cross country instead of playing football.

I actually ran some in the military and then coached cross country and track at West Allis Nathan Hale from 1990 – 1996 as well as running 5Ks up to the marathon along the way. After running my second marathon, I didn’t have that forward goal for afterward and my running stopped. I went on to do some powerlifting and then some handball before returning to endurance sports in 2007. I’ve learned what keeps me going is not only setting the schedule at least a year in advance but also watching others meet and exceed their goals; it’s very motivating and inspiring for me!

What does a typical training week look like for you?
Currently:
Mon – Strength session followed by easy 6-10 miles
Tue – (morning) Hill repeats, 8-10 miles total, (afternoon/evening) comfy 6-8 miles
Wed – mid distance, 12-14 miles
Thu – (morning) Strength session followed by speedwork, (afternoon/evening) comfy 8-10 miles
Fri – (morning) comfy 10 miles, (afternoon/evening) comfy 10 miles
Sat – Long distance day, longest this training cycle has been 46 miles, trails
Sun – (optional, heavily suggested!) anywhere from 12 – 27 miles, trails. If not running, then this is my off day!

What workout lets you know you’re ready to race?
I like to test myself about 4-6 weeks out from a main race with a half marathon. I feel that is a GREAT distance to judge where you are at.

We’ve seen you race everything from 5ks to marathons to triathlons to ultras. How do you train for such different events?
One of my training partners said it best so I will quote him: “I feel that the half marathon is the perfect distance and if you are in shape to run a half then you are either in shape or close to being in shape for just about any race.” This hit home with me and is now the basis for my training. (Thanks Other!)

Your next race is the T-Bunk 200 miler. Can you tell us why you decided to do this race? How did you train to be ready to tackle 200 miles? And what is the longest distance you’ve raced prior to this one?
After completing Ironman Wisconsin in 2014, I knew I was done with Ironmans and quite possibly triathlons in general. I wasn’t sure what was “next”. I was looking at a friend’s Facebook page and saw some posts about when he completed the 200. After reading some of the posts and his report, well, that sealed the deal!

How do you find the strength to push through the tough moments during a race?
There is a lot of trust and belief going on there! Trusting and believing that the training has been sufficient and in the long events trusting the people that are there to help me. Without them I would not have had some of the success that I have had. They are with me in spirit every time.

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Can you tell us a bit about your coaching business? How did you get into coaching and what makes No Limits Endurance Coaching unique?
It’s nothing “official” or anything like that. I love helping others meet and exceed their perceived limits, and like I’ve said, it’s very inspirational and motivating. That being said, I’ll coach anyone, but they better be ready to work and get after their goals!

I never want coaching to be my full-time job as I always want to enjoy it and not have it be a chore.

What are your favorite Milwaukee races and what do you like about them?
I feel there are a great deal of awesome events here in Southeastern Wisconsin, some of the toughest courses in their categories (i.e., IM Wisconsin, Kettle 100…). Specific to Milwaukee, I would hands down have to say that the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon Weekend wins easily. Chris Ponteri and his group do an amazing job year in and year out and besides, what other event out there do you have 95 aid stations in 26 miles????

What are your running goals for the upcoming year?
After the 200 there is nothing left for 2016 except for rest and recovery! Right now the only things I have on the list for 2017 are the Boston Marathon in April and the Fall 50 in October. I will more than likely do one or all of the events again at Icebreaker and then maybe in the summer do a couple of Spartan Stadium races….

Any other comments?
The Milwaukee Running Community has some seriously awesome people!! Thank you for this opportunity, very much appreciated.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Dave!

Dave is running the T-Bunk 200 miler to help raise money for ALS. If you’d like to contribute to his effort, visit his website: http://web.alsa.org/site/TR/PersonalFund/Wisconsin?px=6991351&pg=personal&fr_id=10068#.VjqK6isms22

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 … Carly Windt!

Transitioning from the structured workout schedule of a college athlete to running on your own after graduation is not easy. But Carly Windt has made it work, while working a full-time job that sometimes has her doing 1st, 2nd and 3rd shift all in one week!

Read on to learn more about what it was like to run for Marquette University, what her training is like post-graduation and what she’s aiming for next.

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Age: 25
Years running: About 13
Favorite distance to race: Half Marathon/Marathon
Pre-race routine: Peanut butter bagel and a banana for breakfast, a little jog to shake out and a few drills
Favorite post-race treat: Smoothies and pancakes!
Shoes of choice: Mizuno Wave Rider
If you could run with anyone, who would you run with: Kara Goucher
Wins/awards:
Lucky Leprechaun 7k 1st Overall Female (2015)
Al’s Run 1st Place AG (2015)
Brewer’s Mini Marathon 3rd (2012) and 4th (2014) Place Overall Female
Boston Marathon Finisher (2015)
Lakefront Marathon 2nd Place AG (2013)

Why did you start running and what’s kept you running over the years?
I believe my first race was the Jingle Bell Run 5k when it was at Mayfair Mall. I remember my dad “forcing” me to run it with him, and I hated every single second. I ran it in a Limited Too tank top and windbreaker pants that were synched at the bottom (luckily my running fashion sense has improved!). Despite that, I joined the track team in middle school as I quickly realized my basketball career was not going to go very far. I’ve been running ever since! I do love it, and it provides me a time of the day when I can be alone and not worry about anything else. I love the feeling of accomplishment after a hard run, workout or race. It keeps me sane! Also, running is important to my family, as my siblings are runners as well, and my parents have been our biggest supporters. My brother and I did Lakefront the same year as our first marathon, and are running the Chicago Marathon in a few short days! I love sharing a passion with them, and it keeps us connected.

IMG_0428Carly with her brother after their first Lakefront Marathon

What was it like running for Marquette? Which events did you run?
I loved running for Marquette, and am incredibly grateful I could represent the university athletically. I was able to carry on a family tradition as well as my mom and aunt both ran track for Marquette. I couldn’t have asked for better teammates, and luckily they’re still some of my closest friends. Our team had one head coach, so the men and women’s team practiced and traveled together. I ended up focusing on the 5k/10k on the track during my junior and senior seasons. Once in a while I’d mix it up with a 1500.

What was the transition like going from high school running to college running? What types of adjustments did you need to make to be successful at the collegiate level?
Unfortunately the day after my first official practice (a tempo run) as a collegiate athlete I learned I had a stress fracture in my tibia. It was a tough transition. I was not able to spend time with the team during practice or travel to meets, which made the social transition hard as well. People knew to find me in the trainer’s room or cross training. It was a blessing in disguise though as I was able to focus on my weaknesses and become stronger in order to handle the increased mileage and tougher workouts. Once I was recovered and ready to go, I realized how important recovery, diet and consistency were to training over the next few seasons. I was far slower than my teammates once I did start running again, but staying dedicated and focusing on small things, like core work and recovery, allowed me to make small improvements that eventually added up in the end.

IMG_2939Carly with her Marquette teammates at Briggs and Al’s 2014

What does a typical training week look like for you now? How has your running changed since college?
As an Emergency Medicine Physician Assistant, I have a very unstructured schedule. I sometimes work 1st, 2nd and 3rd shift all within the same week. I attempt to run 4-5 days a week and typically average about 30-35 miles/week. I’m currently training for the Chicago Marathon, so one day a week I try to do a long run >10 miles. When it’s nice out, I also enjoying biking with my sister. During college, we had a very structured workout schedule with designated times for strength as well. It’s definitely hard to stay motivated without that structure. My mileage has overall decreased since college and I don’t do many “workouts.” Running now serves the main purpose of letting me de-stress from work and get some alone time. I still love competing though and there’s no better feeling than crossing a finish line of a race!

Can you tell us about a workout you do that lets you know you’re ready to race?
My long runs generally give me a good indication of how fit I am in terms of half and full marathons. If I feel comfortable and am able to pick it up the last few miles, I know I’m ready to race!

What running goals are you looking to tackle next?
I’m hoping that I will be able to run more consistently in the next few months/years than I have since my collegiate days, along with staying healthy. The long-term goals would be to keep aiming for personal bests in the half marathon/marathon and hopefully dip under 3 hours someday for 26.2.

What races are on your bucket list?
I’d love to do a race in Green Bay (Go Pack!) and my dream would be to do a race in Europe, like the London Marathon.

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?
The Lakefront and Estabrook trail are my go-to places to run. They never get old for me. My other favorites are the Bugline trail in Menomonee Falls and Root River Parkway in Greenfield, which is a half a mile from where I grew up.

In general, what makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?
The running community is fantastic. I’m part of the Performance Running Outfitters Team, and it’s been wonderful to meet other runners in the community and have support from one another at local races. Even during the Boston Marathon, I connected with other Milwaukee runners during the race and it made it less intimidating. I also love running in all the four seasons, which Wisconsin definitely doesn’t fail to provide.

IMG_3731Boston Marathon 2015

Any other comments?
Here is one of my favorite quotes by Lauren Fleshman:

“When you recognize that failing doesn’t make you a failure, you give yourself permission to try all sorts of things.”

I try to apply it to all areas of my life. It’s a good thing to keep in the back in your mind!

I also have to say a huge thanks to my family, friends, boyfriend, teammates and coaches for being so supportive throughout all the years I’ve been running. They’ve sat in horrific weather conditions watching meets, dealt with all of my emotions (from happiness to tears to pain), and understood when I’ve missed events to go to bed early or run. I couldn’t do it without them!

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Carly!

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 … Aaron Pierce!

With a love of running that spans nearly 30 years, MKE runner Aaron Pierce got his first taste of racing when he was only 4 years old. Today, he still trains and races competitively and also shares his knowledge with the cross country team he helps coach.

Read on to learn more about his training, a killer key workout and what he’s learned by taking on the role of coach.

Deer Run Apr 2012

Age: 33
Years running: My first race was as a 4 year old, a lap around the warning track at County Stadium (part of the old Police and Fire Run). You could say I have been running ever since!
Favorite workout: My long hill loop at Kletzsch Park. Racing the trains that go next to the Interurban Trail and Oak Leaf Trail can be an interesting motivator.
Favorite gear: Knucklelights for dark running, and my homemade ‘screwshoes’ that allow for the best traction in wintertime (slotted hex head sheet metal screws work very well).
Favorite distance to race: 8k
Pre-race routine: Get to the race (without being in a hurry to get there), warm up (usually I like to get in a 2-mile jog before a race that is 10k or less), change shoes, drills, striders and go! I can’t say I have any things that are good luck charms that make me ‘ready to race’. You are either ready or you are not!
Favorite post-race treat: Eating everything in sight. This year during a longer cooldown after the Firecracker 4, I ate 6 massive cookies from the refreshment area; it was an amazing experience. Sometimes I will enjoy an ice cream sandwich as well.
Wins/placings/awards:
● Last ever Grape Stomp winner (2007)
● Deer Run 10k winner (2012)
● Guardian Angel Run winner (2008, 2012, 2013)
● Striders Indoor 20k, 3rd place (2013)

Why did you start running and what’s kept you running throughout the years?
As I mentioned earlier, my first race and probably longer running experience was at age 4. I started running because my dad told me to. I didn’t run a ton when I was a little kid, but I was active and I think I did enough to balance out my Nintendo habit.

Police Fire Run 1987

Steady improvement has kept me running. When I was in high school, I was lucky to finish in the top half of a varsity race. I attended a small college and had an opportunity to run on the team so I did. I finished 3rd from last during the first meet of my freshman year. But I kept working at it, and in my junior season, I received the team’s Most Improved Runner award. In my senior season, I finished 19th in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference and was the team’s Most Valuable Runner. Interestingly enough, I had more improvement after college, setting 5k and 10k PR’s as late as 2012, nearly 9 years after my last collegiate race!

Being involved in coaching now, I consider all my runs/workouts/races to be continuing research for my coaching knowledge.

What does a typical training week look like for you?
Usually in the ‘off season’ I am around 45-55 fitness miles per week. At these points I try to fit in one ‘faster day’ and one ‘long day.’ When I am training for something, the mileage goes higher with every 4th week a little less intensity and miles. After a bit of base building, I will mix in some hills and track work and occasional two-a-days. I also like to mix in half mile “pickups” in my runs as a way to transition from base building to when I want to start to focus on faster workouts. My 5k and 10k PRs all came after training 70 mile weeks. In the past few years, I rarely go more than 7 days without an ‘off day.’ I have found that as the miles pile up, off days are pretty awesome.

Can you tell us about a workout you do that lets you know you’re ready to race?
I think it is good to vary the key workouts sometimes so you are not used to a same old routine. With that said, a fun workout is 6-8 x “Kletzsch Park Horseshoes” (about ½ mile). From the light pole that is just about across the street from the north driveway/parking area by the Pavilion and Little Free Library, run north on the grass along the Parkway, and then follow the trail that eventually goes up the long side of the hill. And then you walk easy down the front of the hill, jog back to the starting location and then do it again! If I can knock these out, while keeping the times steadily going faster, I know I am doing something right.

Along with your own training and racing, you also coach cross country. Why did you decide to start coaching? Can you tell us how your own experience helps you help your teams?
My coaching experience began while I was finishing my last semester in college (2004). I figured since I was still around the school, I might as well help the team out, and the head coach was welcoming in having me around. A lot of the knowledge that I shared with the runners was similar stuff that I learned the previous season (2003) when Matt Thull was an assistant with the team. Then I stuck around the next year, and the next year. . . and so on. I was an assistant with my college team for nine seasons. There were three different head coaches during my time there and they all asked me to return, which spoke of my positive impact with the team. We weren’t the biggest cross country team, but we had some great runners that I enjoyed working with. It meant a lot when during the off-season the runners would ask me to come by and run with them.

Now I am working with Head Coach Nicole Hengels at Dominican High School. It is my first season with the team and we are working on building up the program after Coach Nicole restarted cross country in 2014. We are having a blast so far! Lots of fun enthusiasm and improvement and the parents are involved as well. We are even hosting a Milwaukee Running Festival event on Thursday, September 24th, which will be a lot of fun! The best part of this is that I am a Dominican graduate and (obviously) former cross country team member.

DHS Girls JV Sept 2015

What have you learned through coaching? Has it benefitted your own running?
I could write a book about what I have learned coaching! I have found that coaching is more than just having a binder filled with workouts plans. A lot of it is the psychology of running and helping a runner focus on long-term goals, rather than (relatively) instant success. Also, as a coach, you need to provide a lot of encouragement, especially to younger runners.

What running goals are you looking to tackle in the next few years?
I am determined to knock out an 8k PR at some point!

What’s on your racing bucket list?
I really need to do Bellin Run one of these years.

What are your favorite Milwaukee races?
Guardian Angel Run! (3 miles) It’s a lot of fun to race around Whitefish Bay on Memorial Day, and the block party after the race has many different ways to refuel after running. Plus, male and female overall winners get their name engraved on a big trophy that stays at the school, so there is some incentive to run fast. There is also a kids race, so you can see the runners of the future scramble around the block.

Port Washington Fish Day 8k is a challenging course and can test your fitness. If you go out too fast, you will be pretty wrecked after the 2-mile mark.

I also try to do Al’s Run every year. I remember running it in the swarm of humanity down Wisconsin Ave in 1993 and I thought, “Wow, I gotta get faster if I want to get in front of all these people.”

I enjoy watching the Lakefront Marathon and I try to spectate at a few different points between Grafton and the Lakefront (I am the one that you might see on the course with my green/white ‘GO’ sign).

What makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?
The running community is great; not many cities have so many events, groups, running stores, etc. Plus, we have a lot of trails and neat areas to run. Also, I think winter running is fun. Every day you can run with your footprints in the snow!

Samson Stomp 2007

Thanks for chatting with us, Aaron!

As Aaron mentioned, Dominican High School’s cross country team is hosting a Milwaukee Running Festival event tomorrow, Thursday, September 24th. If you’re free, come check it out – it should be a great time for runners of all abilities!

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 … Bill Lamensdorf!

Nine years ago, Bill Lamensdorf began running to improve his health and lose weight. Today, he’s a marathon machine, running the distance several times each year. To date, he’s run 23 marathons.

“If you aren’t a runner and you like the idea of running, give it a start. Just go slow and build up the distances gradually. If you are already running, keep it up, and don’t let anyone stop you!”

Great advice, Bill! Read on to learn more about how he got started, his favorite workout and his must-run local races.

image4Running the HFM Maritime Marathon in Manitowoc

Age: 46; started running at age 37
Favorite Gear: My glow-in-the-dark shirts from when I paced the Rock ‘n Sole Half Marathon twice. They can be seen whether it’s dark, cloudy or foggy, and they are very comfortable.
Pre-race routine: Make sure I eat a big bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal with almonds or walnuts in it about 3 hours before the race.
Favorite post-marathon treat: Anything I don’t normally eat on a regular basis, such as pizza, a burger or ice cream. It’s one of the only times of the year I eat these foods.
Favorite distance to race: The marathon. Although I’ve run 23 marathons, they are still very challenging, and the feeling of accomplishment afterward is incredible.
Dream race: Big Sur International Marathon in California. The course is from Big Sur to Carmel on scenic Highway One. It is considered to be one of the most breathtaking courses in the world. There is a non-guaranteed drawing to gain acceptance in the race since it is in such high demand.

image3With Dean Karnazes after running the North Face 50K Endurance Challenge

Why did you start running and what’s kept you going?
I started running when I was 70 pounds overweight almost 10 years ago. My first run ever I ran a half mile without stopping and almost passed out, LOL. It took me one year to lose those 70 pounds through healthy eating and exercise. During that year of weight loss, I tried every form of exercise imaginable. It was then that I fell in love with running. I have continued to run over the last 9+ years to keep the weight off and I love the challenge running gives me.

image2Lamensdorf before losing weight

My changes were not completely by choice. I was forced to become healthy or face the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle. About 10 years ago, I was feeling very ill much of the time, which prompted me to go to the doctor. Keep in mind I was 70 pounds overweight and certainly not a healthy eater by any means. My doctor ordered a complete set of blood work. I was diagnosed with fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated sugar levels and pre-diabetes. My doctor gave me an ultimatum: get put on a myriad of prescription medicines or lose weight through diet and exercise. I felt this was my wake up call. So I started exercising and eating healthy, while also doing a lot of research on the topics. To make a long story short, once I lost 45 pounds, all of my blood levels went back to the normal range, and the fatty liver disease completely healed itself. But I did not want to stop there, so I kept going and lost the full 70 pounds. It has not been easy to keep the weight off. The experts say that 95% of those that lose weight gain it back. But with the help of the Lord, I have kept the majority of it off.

What does a typical training week look like for you?
My training weeks vary. This year I am averaging about 35 miles a week and training for my 24th marathon, which will be my 3rd marathon this year. In past years, I ran as much as 50 miles a week every week, but I am now working 45-50 hours a week, which makes it difficult to put in the high miles. Throughout my nine-year running career, my biggest week of running was 80 miles about six years ago. I felt like I was running in my sleep that week, LOL. But it was a lot of fun!

Can you tell us about your favorite workout?
My favorite workout is a hill/interval workout. I begin a little north of the War Memorial on Lake Drive in Milwaukee. I run on Lake Drive north to the Lafayette Hill and run up and down that hill. I continue running north to the hill on North Ave, and run up and down that hill. My run keeps going north on Lake Drive. The next hill I come to is the hill going up to Lake Park. I run up and down this hill. I continue north on Lake Drive and run up the big hill in front of the polo range. I then turn around and repeat the exact route on the way back to the War Memorial. This ends up being a run of anywhere from 6-9 miles, but it really feels like 10-15 miles because it is such a difficult workout.

What running goals are you looking to tackle next?
I have a few goals I’d like to accomplish in the near future. I look forward to hitting the 30-marathon completion mark, which should be in a few years, Lord willing! And then eventually I want to train for and run a 50 mile or 100 mile ultra-marathon.

What prompted you to work with a running coach and how have you benefitted?
I am currently being coached by Richard Dodd from Running’s RAD. I worked with a personal trainer for the last nine years. The trainer helped me to lose the weight and keep it off, in addition to helping me become a regular runner. But at the urging of my trainer, I sought out a coach last spring and began working with Richard. The best part of working with Richard is that he is a tenured and accomplished runner, so he understands my lifestyle. He also is an ear for me to bounce things off of and get advice. Additionally, Richard runs with me periodically and we talk about strategies and goals. Richard helped me get my best time in 2 years at the marathon I ran six weeks ago.

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?
I prefer running right out the front door of my house. I am a morning person, so I do most of my runs early in the morning when it is still dark outside. Therefore, it is very important that I run on a road with wide shoulders. Fortunately there is a street two minutes from my house that has very wide shoulders for a good eight miles each way, allowing me to do up to 16 miles on the road. I also like running long distances on the Loomis Road / HWY 36 trail. I like how the limestone gravel trail is easier on the feet and legs, and this route enables me to go as far as I need, since it is a very long trail.

What are your favorite Milwaukee races?
One of my favorite races is the Wisconsin Marathon in Kenosha. This is due to the fact that I raced my PR on this course. I also love the HFM Maritime Marathon in Manitowoc because it is a great course, primarily run on the lakefront in Manitowoc and Two Rivers, WI. I also love the Milwaukee Lakefront Discovery Run in the fall. It’s a 15K no-nonsense course along the east side of Milwaukee.

My all-time favorite race is the Running with The Angel Marathon in the Mohave Desert in Nevada, which I ran about 6 years ago. It is one of the hilliest marathons in the county. But it is also unique in that it is the exact course of the Running with The Devil Marathon in the middle of summer. This is the name of the race in the summer because it is one of the hottest places in America at that time. The Angel race is on the exact same course, but in January. BTW, I have no desire to run the Devil race in the middle of summer, LOL.

What makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?
We have become a very active town, and we actually have a large running community in the Milwaukee area. Fellow runners in Milwaukee tend to support each other very well, especially on social media.

image1With the Performance Running Outfitters Rock ‘n Sole Pace Team

Thanks for chatting with us, Bill!

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 … Christina Grimord!

Located in Davenport, Iowa, and known for its hilly course, Bix 7 is a world class race that draws elites from around the globe. And this year, one of the age group winners was an MKE runner!

A top local runner, Christina Grimord manages to balance family, a full-time job and running. Below, she shares her story, including a typical training week, why she’s kept running and how she manages to fit everything in!

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Age: 35
Years running: 21
Favorite workout: 400 meter repeats
Favorite distance to race: 10K
Favorite post-race treat: Smoothie and a few sweets
Shoes of choice: Adidas Boost
If you could run with anyone, who would you run with: Kara Goucher

Significant wins/awards:
2013 Lake Country Half 1st Female
2014 Brewers Mini Marathon 2nd Female
2014 & 2015 Adrenaline ¼ Marathon 1st Female
2014 Firecracker Four 2nd Female
1998 NCAA Division 3 All-American Cross-Country
1998 & 1997 WIAA Division 1 All-State Track & Field

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Why did you start running and what’s kept you running over the years?
Running to the softball bases, down the soccer field, across the court was always my favorite part of junior high gym class. So when our high school’s head cross- country & track coach encouraged me to join cross- country to strengthen my 400m race for spring track, it only made sense. It was a rough couple weeks starting the sport since I did not do any summer training. But by the end of that freshman season, I was having fun and finding success in this team sport.

I have kept running all these years, because I have basically realized that it is part of who I am. Initially, it was high school & college races. Then I had some breaks in consistent running. Yet, it always finds its way back to me. Including when it was figuring out what my pregnancy or post-partum body tolerated safely. I never imagined myself to be running PR’s in my mid-30’s for distance races. Life with two small children and their activities, along with my husband & myself amidst our careers, brings its own challenges to train. Additionally, I feel that my running models to my children good health & fitness, regardless of whether I have PR’s or Age Group wins.

What does a typical training week look like for you?
I am currently a “low mileage” runner. I run three days a week: a longer run (8-12 miles), an interval workout and either an easy run or tempo. I also try to swim 20-30 minutes once or twice a week.

Congrats on your age group win at Bix 7! Can you tell us about your race experience?
Hot & humid, up hills, down hills. The start of the race is amazing. There is so much enthusiasm and excitement in the 15 minutes before the race. Looking up at the flyover at the end of the national anthem is breathtaking. The first couple miles were fun as I ran with a couple of my friends who are former college teammates. The next couple miles were plain grueling, but as I neared the last mile I heard cheers for Joan Benoit Samuelson (meaning she was running close by). Her presence snapped me out of my running slug and the last mile was great fun again (so cool to run next to her). This race always leaves me feeling inspired.

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During tough races like Bix 7 you’re bound to hit a few rough patches. How do you fight through these moments?
I hit a rough patch around mile 3 going uphill. Seeing the professional runners on their way back from the turnaround spurred me on. Then, it was breaking the hills down mentally and looking ahead to some of the runners that were a smidge ahead, but essentially running the same pace, so I could “stay in the game”.

What advice would you give to runners interested in racing Bix 7?
Be prepared for the weather, but remember we are all running in the same temperature. Do hill training ahead of time (up and down; I slacked on that this year and felt it noticeably). There are a lot of people so come ready to enjoy the post-race food and music! And keep your eyes open for Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Meb Keflezighi; they are regulars.

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In addition to running races, you’ve also tackled an Ironman – can you tell us a bit about why you decided to do an Ironman race and what the training was like? How did your running background help prepare you for this type of training and racing?
My husband completed Ironman WI shortly after we started dating. He strongly encouraged me participate in triathlons even though I did not have a bike, nor did I know how to swim. It has always been inspiring, but never realized I would sign up for one. That next spring I did the Racine ½ Ironman. And another year later, it was my turn at Ironman WI. I remember feeling fatigue with the training. I used heart rate training, and with this I really didn’t have injuries or setbacks. Honestly, it was refreshing to mix up the running with two other activities.

My running background aided me in the Ironman because I didn’t have to “learn” how to run. I had to understand some technicalities of swimming and biking. With running being the final portion, but my strongest, I also wasn’t worried about finishing once I reached that point. I knew that even if I had to walk the whole marathon (6 miles into the marathon I realized walking through every water stop and up the hills was my only way to finish it), I could be an Ironman. Just like preparing for a running race, I took Ironman training one week at a time.

What running goals are you looking to tackle next?
My children’s activities are ever increasing, my husband’s commitments remain full and I work full time outside of the home, so it would be easy to “skip” what little running I do. I think many people can relate to this. My goal is to stay as fit as I can through the remainder of my 30’s (I will focus on the next decade when I get there) that still allows me to have a well-balanced life. Hopefully, that includes a few half marathons, 5K’s & 10K’s. I have had to reset some running goals I made 6 months ago for this year, so being forgiving and realistic to myself is another goal.

How do you balance family, working full time and running?
My family is my top priority. To balance as best as I can, I try not to overbook their activities or our social outings. It definitely happens, though. I look every week at what we have going on and juggle my workouts into the empty gaps. Often, I have to move my running early before work while everyone is still asleep. Sometimes, I am just too tired as the day approaches, so I do a compressed workout (quality over quantity) after work. While we have a fairly organized household, my workouts are an area that I have to be flexible. I am not getting the 50-75 mile+ weeks that a lot of distance running programs present. My mileage is lower at approximately 25 road miles per week, but I also have little psychological burnout from this training. Personally, I am able to run on a low mileage program and still maintain a fairly high fitness level. I do need to improve on my strength training regimen, so that is one area I am trying to add, yet not overwhelm my daily schedule.

What are your favorite Milwaukee races?
Firecracker Four in Hales Corners, Lakefront Discovery Run, Eisenbahn Race (1/4 marathon distance) in West Bend, The Wisco Mile.

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?
Milwaukee’s lakefront and the “Bugline” in Lake Country. Usually, I trot down on the WE Energies Trail in Muskego. I like to venture off to Sunnyslope Road or College Avenue in New Berlin for some hills to mix things up.

In general, what makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?
Despite our temperature changes, it really is a four season sport if your glass is half full. There are a variety of groups to connect with (I find great support from Performance Running Outfitters) if you want to run with people. There are many trails. The lakefront is gorgeous. Whether you desire the indoor or outdoor environment, there are races year round. Many of these are often near a fun festival to celebrate life. If running in the cold is not for you, we have the Petit Center. This past winter, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with friends every couple weeks to churn out miles. I’ve never enjoyed getting up at 5AM so much, nor have that many laps passed so fast.

Any other comments?
One thing I am constantly reminding myself is to stay true to myself as a runner. Whether you are a novice runner or experienced one, minimize your comparisons to others. It’s okay to compare a little bit- that’s normal. Focus more on what your goals are and what you are able to give to running at any given point. In the end, you may have better success than comparing yourself to someone running five marathons a year or running 5K’s in sub-whatever. We all can give forward to this sport of running when we focus on our best gifts we bring. And that’s part of the beauty of “us runners”.

Secondly, I have been truly blessed to have a great support system in running along my life. My high school and collegiate coaches taught me so much about the sport, training and its genuine purpose in our life. Without their guidance, I don’t know if I would still be running today, nor would I have such great memories with my teammates. I am in regular contact with my coaches and several of my teammates. One of my best friendships came from this sport. I even met my husband through running.

Thanks for chatting with us, Christina!

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 … Mariya Batishcheva

Originally from Belarus, Mariya Batishcheva (some of you may know her as Mariya Sorensen) has found a home away from home in the Milwaukee running community.

Through participating in fun runs and build-up runs to running and pacing races, Mariya says running is a great way to meet new friends.

Read on to learn more about why she started running, current goals and why no one should shy away from a group run!

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Age: 27
Years running: 4
Favorite workout: Leg workout 🙂
Favorite gear: My Garmin watch
Pre-race routine: Set multiple alarms 🙂
Favorite post-race treat: Popsicle
Favorite distance to race: 13.1
Favorite inspirational running quote: “You will never regret reaching your goal. You will only regret giving up and not trying harder.”

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Why did you start running? What’s kept you running throughout the years?
My honest reason why I run: Running is good for my brain. After a run I’m happier and better able to handle ups and downs in my life. Also I like to set a goal and work toward it – that keeps me going 🙂

I know I will never quit running, because it’s my perfect excuse to buy a lot of shoes. Please don’t tell my hubby! LOL

Fill in the blank: When I run, I feel …
Free, strong and healthy 🙂

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What running goals are you looking to tackle in the next few years?
I’m intrigued by what my body is capable of…I just finished my first 50K on July 11th and I had a blast. Maybe a 50 miler is next?!

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How are you involved in the local running community? What prompted you to get involved?
I’m a member of two big running clubs: Badgerland Striders & Milwaukee Running Group (OMG). I decided to join because running can be a boring and lonely sport, out there running on your own. The vocal and moral support from teammates can often be the difference between a good and a great run.

I’m really happy I decided to join those clubs. It opened up my mind to trying new distances and races. I learned how other people train, race and eat. Also, I gained extra motivation that keeps me from cutting a run short. I think it’s incredible how many runners I met and became friends with in a past few years.

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Sometimes people are intimidated to come to a running meetup – what would you tell these runners to encourage them to give it a try?
1. You can meet like-minded individuals.
2. You’ll hear about the latest running events and news.
3. You’ll be running as a team, not on your own.

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?
I love to run down by the Milwaukee Art Museum.

What are some of your favorite Milwaukee races?
This is an easy answer: Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon! 🙂

What makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?
I believe Milwaukee is a great place for runners because the variety – a lot of beautiful parks and trails.

Thanks for chatting with us, Mariya!

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!