Build Up Runs Start This Weekend! Plus, Join In For Local July Fun Runs!

Hey everyone! Who’s already counting down the minutes til the weekend is here??

In case you don’t already have it on your calendar, remember that this Saturday is the first Milwaukee Running Festival (MRF) Marathon and Half Marathon Buildup Run. The runs will be held at 8am on Saturday mornings leading up to race weekend. The start/finish location will be the Brady Street footbridge on Lincoln Memorial Drive just south of McKinley Marina.

This Saturday, marathon runners will run 8 miles and half marathon runners will run 3 miles. To see what distance the group will run each week or for more details about the buildup runs, visit the Milwaukee Running Festival website.

Note: The buildup runs on July 25th, August 9th and September 19th will take place starting at the Grant Park Clubhouse in South Milwaukee due to other events along the lakefront.

In addition to the MRF buildup runs, here are a few upcoming fun runs you won’t want to miss:

July 9 – MRF Thursday Night Social Run
Urban Ecology Center (Menomonee Valley)
3700 West Pierce Street, Milwaukee
Details: 5k on the Hank Aaron Trail; refreshments served post run

July 11 – Flapjack 5k Fun Run with Asics
Performance Running Outfitters (Brookfield)
2205 N Calhoun Road, Brookfield
Details: Test out the new Asics Cumulus 17 shoes; enjoy flapjacks, coffee and a raffle post run

July 15 – Badgerland Striders President’s Fun Run
Hart Park, Wauwatosa
Details: 3 mile and 6 mile runs; refreshments served post run

July 16 – MRF Thursday Night Social Run
PNC Bank, Mitchell Park
1597 W National Ave, Milwaukee
Details: 4-miler through Mitchell Park; refreshments served post run

July 16 – Summer Sizzler Pub Run
Performance Running Outfitters (Shorewood)
4533 N Oakland Avenue, Shorewood
Details: 5k run through Shorewood; join the group at Three Lions Pub post run for discounted food and beverages

July 21 – Trail Fun Run with Saucony
Nashotah Park
W330n5113 County Rd C, Nashotah (Meet at the Park & Ride)
Details: Hosted by Performance Running Outfitters. Group will do a 5k. Test a pair of Saucony Nomad Trail shoes and be entered into a raffle to win a pair!

July 22 – Badgerland Striders Junk Food Fun Run
Veteran’s Park, Milwaukee
Details: 3 mile and 6 mile runs; junk food delights served post run

July 23 – MRF Thursday Night Social Run
Wild Workouts and Wellness
3056 South Delaware Avenue, Milwaukee
Details: 4-miler around the South Shore; refreshments served post run

July 25 – Flapjack 5k Fun Run with Adidas
Performance Running Outfitters (Brookfield)
2205 N Calhoun Road, Brookfield
Details: Test out Adidas Sequence 8 shoes; enjoy flapjacks, coffee and a raffle post run

July 29 – Badgerland Striders Corn Roast Fun Run
Minooka Park #4 ($4 parking fee), Waukesha
Details: 3 mile and 6 mile runs; roasted corn and other refreshments served post run

July 30 – MRF Thursday Night Social Run
Pere Marquette Park, Milwaukee
Details: 3-miler on the Riverwalk; refreshments served post run

For more information about the fun runs, visit the following:

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

We Heart Track Part Two: MKE Track Workouts

Last week, we featured tracks around the city where you can get your speedwork on. This week, we’re sharing a few local groups you can meet up with when you want to fly.

This summer, let’s get faster together, MKE!

Badgerland Striders Track Workout
Tuesdays @6:30pm
Hart Park, Wauwatosa
Details: The workout is led by Matt Thull from ThunderDome Running. Participants should be warmed up and ready to start by 6:30pm. During the late fall and winter months, workouts are held at the Pettit National Ice Center indoor track and are led by Angie Smith.

Greater Milwaukee Track Club
Dates vary
Marquette University Track
Details: The goal of the club is to encourage adult cross country and track & field participation. No performance standards to join. Members can attend group workouts that are typically held a few times per week at the Marquette outdoor track.

InStep – Delafield
Wednesdays @6pm
InStep, 615 Genesee Street, Delafield
Details: Runners meet at the store for a 10-minute warmup run to the track. Program runs May – October.

Milwaukee Running Group (OMG)
Tuesdays @6pm
Shorewood High School
Details: There are two separate groups – one for faster runners (6-10 min pace) and one for slower runners. The group is pretty informal and workout suggestions are always welcome.

Performance Running Outfitters
Thursdays @6:30pm thru August 13
Hart Park, Wauwatosa
Details: Participants should be warmed up and ready to start by 6:30pm. Workouts may include tempo runs, hill repeats, intervals and sprints. All abilities are welcome. Know your 5k race time to be put into groups.

We’re curious: Do you prefer to do speedwork alone or with a group?

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Holiday Gift Guide for Runners

Wondering what to gift the runner in your life?

Performance Running Outfitters put together a fabulous gift guide with ideas that are sure to dazzle every runner on your list. You can find all of the items at PRO’s three local shops: Brookfield, Shorewood and Oconomowoc. Holiday Wish List-page-001

MKE Runners: What’s on your wish list this holiday season?

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Let’s Get to Know … Rebecca Benish

For many of us, running is a way of life. But for Rebecca Benish, she is literally running for her life.

Read on to learn how this MKE runner is battling MS, one mile at a time.


Rebecca Benish

Age: 35
Years running: 2 years (still a newbie!)
Favorite workout: I have a different view of training, I don’t necessarily believe that more mileage = better running performance. I Crossfit and I love it when there is running built into the WOD (workout of the day). Ladder runs, sprints, sled pulls – those types of running workouts are my favorite.
Favorite distance to race: 5k and 10k
Pre-race routine: The night before a race, I layout all of my gear, pack my race bag, make sure my playlist is updated and Garmin watch is charged. I paint my nails, too. The morning of a race I get up about 3 hours before I need to leave the house, have a banana (sometimes I will have an English muffin in addition to the banana) and a Starbucks caramel frap. Then I hit the shower, get dressed, grab my bag and am out the door. I take the time during my morning routine going over my plan for the race and the normalcy of my shower routine helps to settle my nerves.
Favorite post-race treat: Surprisingly, it isn’t food or beer; I prefer to treat myself to a pedicure and/or a massage.
Must-have gear: My Garmin watch, my iPod shuffle and my Inov-8 Road x lite 155s. I have tried other shoes and I just keep coming back to these.

Disco Run Jeff Weiss Photo Cred

How did you get started with running?
I was diagnosed with MS, and I knew I had to do something to stop it, if I could. So I downloaded the Couch to 5k app in the spring of 2012 and haven’t looked back. I have learned from my MS diagnosis that I need to keep moving to stop the disease in its tracks.

What’s kept you running?
I run for everyone that can’t. When I don’t want to run because I am feeling lazy, I think about those that can’t run or even walk for that matter. I run because it is better than the alternative. I literally know what it means to have to run for your life.

Do you have a quote or philosophy that inspires your running?
I have been really lucky to know a couple of real-life heroes that inspire me. A few years ago, I started working for the City of Oak Creek and after my first year with the City, we were faced with an awful tragedy. My friend and coworker was shot several times, a peaceful temple was turned into chaos and many lives were lost. My friend/coworker did many, many interviews after this tragedy and one of his quotes sticks with me, “But what you learn more than anything is you’re much more capable than you think you are, and you’re much more able to do what you think you can’t.” He has become one of my biggest cheerleaders on my running journey. If a man that took more bullets than 50 Cent tells you that you are tough and brave, boy you better prove him right!

What does a typical training week look like for you?
Typically, I Crossfit 2 days a week and run 3 days (one long run day and two days tempo/fartlek type runs), my weekly mileage is shockingly low at 15-20 miles a week.

Can you tell us a bit about why you decided to volunteer as a mentor for Performance Running Outfitters 5k Training Program?
I learned about their programs back in the spring of 2013 when I participated in the Rock n Sole 10k program. Since I was so new to the running community, and I had only one runner friend, I wanted to connect with other runners and make new friends. I mentor to help new runners realize that they can do what they once thought they couldn’t. Seeing them at the finish line of the goal race is one of the best feelings in the world, knowing that I was a part of their journey from non-runner or former runner to full-fledged 5ker!

What is involved with being a mentor for this type of program?
PRO puts together the weekly schedule of workouts for the participants and once a week we do their long runs with them. Each week before the long run, there is a topic (injury prevention, apparel, etc.) or a guest speaker. It is our job as mentors to expand on the topics covered each week and to pace the runners on the run. I am usually super chatty out on the runs to distract them from what they are doing and by the time they know it we are done. Keeping them talking helps me to gauge if we are running too hard or if someone is struggling and needs to slow down.

What have you learned/gained by being a mentor?
Confidence. Being a mentor makes me feel not so new at running and it keeps me running. It inspires me to keep learning about running so that I have current and valid input for the weekly topics. I have gained lots of new runner friends.

You were diagnosed with MS in 2010 – Can you tell us a bit about the condition?
I may have been diagnosed in 2010 but I had my first clinically isolated event in 1996, which was a pretty traumatic ordeal. If anyone would like to dive deeper into my history with MS, they can check out my blog at The National MS Society (taken from the NMSS website) defines MS as an immune-mediated process, in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. The exact antigen — or target that the immune cells are sensitized to attack — remains unknown, which is why MS is considered by many experts to be “immune-mediated” rather than “autoimmune.”

Within the CNS, the immune system attacks myelin — the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers — as well as the nerve fibers themselves. The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name. When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing a wide variety of symptoms. The disease is thought to be triggered in a genetically susceptible individual by a combination of one or more environmental factors.

An easy way to think of MS is to imagine that you have a lamp and the cord is all broken, frayed and damaged in places. What happens if you plug it in? Maybe the light bulb blows? Maybe sparks fly and start a fire? Maybe nothing happens? Maybe the lamp works fine for a while but then all of the above start? That’s MS in a nutshell. Except our maybes are vision problems, numbness, tingling, the MS Hug (it isn’t as nice as it sounds), a decline in cognitive function, extreme fatigue (like brushing your hair is impossible because you don’t have the energy or strength to stand up and hold the brush at the same time). The fatigue ugggg, I guess if you imagined having 25 pound kettlebells attached to each extremity and then not sleeping for a week and then try to get ready for work. I guess that would start to describe it.

There are 4 types of MS and I, luckily, have the milder form of relapsing-remitting (for now), meaning I have periods of no symptoms and have periods of symptoms. During remission, you may bounce back to your former self or you may hold on to a symptom and that becomes your new normal. The other three forms are secondary progressive (the disease worsens over time with periods of remission), primary progressive (only diagnosed in 10% of MSers and you slowly get worse with no remission periods over time) and progressive relapsing (even more rare occurring in 5% of MSers, you just steadily get worse from the beginning of the disease with no remissions at all). At any time, the disease can take a turn and your MS turns into a more aggressive form. Most of us diagnosed with relapsing remitting will eventually progress to secondary progressive.

What types of thoughts and emotions did you have to work through after getting your diagnosis?
Well, I didn’t have much time to process my diagnosis. My father-in-law was diagnosed with lung/brain cancer within weeks of my diagnosis. I knew his battle was going to be far worse than mine. I decided I would not feel sorry for myself one tiny bit and that I would fight my disease like hell. He was such a positive, happy person that his positive outlook always sticks with me to this day and I like to think he is cheering me on from above at my races. I learned from this diagnosis that it could always be worse and having a positive attitude makes the disease easier to fight and tolerate.

How has running helped you with MS?
It is thought that exercise quiets an overactive immune system. I think exercise, coupled with a (mostly) Paleo diet and my Copaxone is doing the trick for me. However, no one person’s MS will be the same as the next. Every single one of us has a different set of symptoms and different disease progression. In the beginning, I am not going to sugar coat, starting to exercise was beyond hard and my body hurt all the time. I was exhausted but I stuck with it and now most days I feel energized and great. I cannot stress this enough, you have to deal with the suck to get to the feel good. There will be days you don’t want to run or workout but those are the days it is most important because when you stop moving that is when the disease takes over.

Does MS ever affect your running?
Running makes your core body temperature increase, which is a big trigger for MS symptoms (as long as those symptoms resolve in 24 hours it isn’t considered a flare up). So summer running is slightly hectic for me but luckily the only symptoms I have had during a hot run are my vision getting all wonky (think about a head rush when your vision goes slightly black) and my legs feeling like lead, but as soon as I cool down I am back to normal. Also, running is a stress on the body and there is some mention of excessive stress causing symptoms or flare ups, so anyone with MS would want to increase their mileage slowly over time to see how their MS does with the increased stress and they would want to start running in the cooler months.

In addition to the MS, I have something called Reynaud’s Syndrome, which is an excessively reduced blood flow in response to cold and/or emotional stress. The Reynaud’s started almost exactly when I had my second major MS flare up in 2010. My toes/feet and left hand get ice cold, and turn white when I get too cold or am under significant emotional stress. It can be painful and take forever to feel back to normal.

How do you overcome the challenges?
Usually, going out really early or really late for a run during the summer is enough to get around the heat but sometimes the humidity is just too much and I am forced to use the treadmill. It also helps to wear as little as possible. At one point I was self-conscious about wearing shorts and tanks but then I thought, who cares? My body is doing incredible things and even though it is attacking itself on the inside I am still out there running and finishing and PRing.


You recently joined MS Run the US as an ambassador – Can you tell us a bit about the organization? What are your responsibilities in this role?
MS Run the US is an amazing organization started by Ashley Kumlein is 2013 in support of her mom, Jill, a long time MS fighter. It is a relay run across the country, where the runners run 140 miles per week as their leg of the race. MS Run the US’s goal is to raise money to help those living with MS and also to raise money for research to help find a cure. As an Ambassador, I have committed to raising $1000 by this time next year and to help spread awareness of the disease. I joined to become an Ambassador when I did because I saw team MS Run the US help Jill walk across the finish line at the Brewer’s Mini back in September. It really hit home for me and I was close to tears. I even got to say a few words to her before I left.

Everyone knows what the pink ribbon means and the month of October but how many know the significance of the orange ribbon and the month of March? I want the same level of awareness for MS. Odds are readers know someone fighting breast cancer (I know I do, my stepmom fought it and won) and the odds are just as good that readers know someone fighting MS – but there seems to be far less awareness about the disease.

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?
I love running in Shorewood on our weekly runs with PRO. I love running the big hill at Bender Park in Oak Creek. I live way out in Caledonia and running the roads helped me to learn our little part of town, plus I know lots of people that live near us so I always feel safe. My routes usually take me past people we know in case I ever need help.

What are your favorite Milwaukee races and what do you like about them?
I love the Brewer’s Mini and 10k because it is a challenging, hilly course. I love/hate Rock N Sole because of that darn bridge. The Irish Jig Jog 5k is great because it raises funds for MS Run the US.

What are your running goals for the upcoming year?
I would really like to break 25 minutes in the 5k and 1 hour for the quarter marathon/10k. I will probably run the South Shore Half and Lakefront next year (Anne Chapman the Shorewood PRO store manager, put that little bug in my head, so thanks Anne!).

Thanks for chatting with us, Rebecca! To connect with Rebecca, check out her blog at

If you’re a runner in MKE, we’d love to chat with you. Send us an email at 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 … Nick Szczech

There’s fast and then there’s FAST. And Nick Szczech definitely belongs in the FAST category. The 25-year-old Milwaukee native already has a marathon win under his belt (Lakefront Marathon 2011 – his marathon debut!) and is looking to shave a few minutes off that time to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials.

We recently chatted with Nick to learn more about his training, favorite workouts and goals for the next few years.


Age: 25
Team affiliation: Performance Running Outfitters Racing Team; formerly ran for Marquette University’s Cross Country and Track Teams
Years running: 11
Favorite workout: 8-10 mile tempo runs
If you could run with anyone, who would you run with: Paula Radcliffe
Pre-race routine: I drink coffee, eat oatmeal with some peanut butter and applesauce, and read
Favorite post-race treat: A double Sobelman’s burger
Favorite distance to race: 10K on the track or a 10 miler on the roads
Significant wins/placings: Won the 2011 Lakefront Marathon and 2011 Al’s Run, among others


Why did you start running?
I was always one of the fastest on my grade school soccer team, and I decided to switch up my choice of sport at Thomas More, running cross country instead of soccer.

I definitely have a “type-A” personality, so running and training structures my day. I also love the camaraderie of races and the mental toughness you develop through the training. I also feel flat and sluggish when I am not running, so it helps me clear my head.

What does a typical training week look like for you?
While training for 10Ks and longer races, I usually run between 75-95 miles per week with a weekly long run where I attempt to negative split the second half of the run, some short hill sprints for strength and power, lots of medium-paced runs, and one workout (usually a long tempo or repeat intervals).

Do you have any key workouts that let you know you’re ready to race?
I love doing progressive tempo runs, usually 10 miles, starting at 6:00 pace and decreasing 5-10 seconds every mile until I’m running 4:50 pace for the last few miles. I then know I have both the fitness and mental toughness to race anything from a 5k up to the marathon.

Can you tell us a bit about your first marathon – Lakefront Marathon 2011. What goals did you have going into the race?
I had just finished running at Marquette, and during the spring of 2011, I ran a fairly fast 10k. I knew I had residual fitness from track training, so I wanted to utilize that to run a fast marathon. Life seems to get in the way if you wait too long to race marathons. I was very intimidated by the distance, but I usually set two goals when racing—a stretch goal and a realistic goal. My stretch goal was to run an Olympic Trials Qualifier (2:19 at the time), and the realistic one was to run somewhere in the 2:20s. The goal was to win and just get my feet wet with the distance. Looking back—I think I could have upped the mileage slightly and completed a few longer tempo runs, too. Otherwise, I was really happy with the race.


Have you raced any marathons since your first?
I have not raced any marathons since 2011. I was in Austin, Texas for graduate school, and I have had a few minor injuries that have set back my mileage build-ups in the last two years.

You’re so close to the Olympic Trials Qualifying Time for the marathon distance. Are you looking to lower your time to meet the standard?
I am looking to lower my time. I was thinking this fall/winter would be the target, but my build-up has been slower than I thought. I am hoping to use the winter to gain more fitness, so the goal is a spring marathon. I’m thinking Grandma’s or Green Bay.

What running goals are you looking to tackle in the next few years?
I hope to lower my best times in all distances from the 5k up to the marathon. My long-term goal is to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the marathon. Additionally, I am the assistant coach at Shorewood High School for girls’ cross country and track. I hope to help the girls improve while also cultivating in them the same love of running I gained from my high school and college coaches.


Do you have any advice for runners who want to improve their race times?
Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. The body has a remarkable ability to adapt and handle stress. Push the boundaries of your training. I think long runs, long hill repeats, strides and tempo runs are the best ways to increase race fitness.

What are your favorite Milwaukee races?
Al’s Run is my favorite Milwaukee race. I just ran the Race for the Bacon 5k, which was really fun, and the Lakefront Marathon (of course).

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?
I love starting at South Shore Park and heading south on the Oak Leaf, and I also love the trails in the Seminary Woods in Bay View as well as anywhere in Grant Park.

In general, what makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?
There are plenty of soft surfaces. The (running) weather is great from March through November, and there are great resources for every ability level—Performance Running Outfitters, Badgerland Striders, and many, many more! The winter also makes us much tougher than runners from other regions.

Thanks for chatting with us, Nick! If you’re a runner in MKE, we’d love to hear your story. Send us an email at 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!

Are You Ready to Run Like a Mother?

What better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than with an event that celebrates the women in your life? Run Like a Mother does just that, providing a fun, female-focused race that will motivate and inspire your entire family!

Below, this year’s race director, Rachel Goeden, tells us more about the race, what the course is like and why this is the perfect event for running newbies and competitive runners, alike!

For more details about the race, visit our Featured Races page.


Can you tell us a bit about the Run Like a Mother 5k?


Run Like A Mother Isn’t Just Another Race – It’s Our Way of Life!
The Run Like A Mother® 5K series is an inspiring, celebratory event involving the entire family. The annual race takes place in multiple cities across the country on Mother’s Day. Each event kicks off with a timed 1-mile Kid’s race and continues with a women-only 5K on courses that wind through picturesque neighborhoods, scenic parks and city streets. Whether you are a mother, daughter, sister, niece, aunt, grandmother, friend, neighbor or co-worker, Celebrating Mother’s Day will never be the same!

What makes this race unique?
Run Like A Mother is created by women and is inspired by women. We’re dedicated to bringing you the knowledge, motivation and camaraderie that will help you Run Like A Mother every day.

What is the course like? Do you have any tips for runners hoping to PR at the race?
The 5K course is run mainly on the Oak Leaf Trail starting at Hoyt Park and heading toward the Village of Wauwatosa and back. Women who want to PR should make sure they save a bit of energy for the way back to the park as it is a slight uphill. I would also suggest lining up near the front if you will be running 5 – 8 minute miles and seeding yourself accordingly after that. There will be a lot of first-time racers out so be encouraging and understanding.

Are there any overall and/or age group prizes awarded?
Performance Running Outfitters has kindly donated gift cards for the top 3 overall women ($75, $50, $25). The top three women in each age group will receive a FREE entry into next year’s race.

What do participants get with their race entry?
A well-organized, easy-to-follow race with aid. A technical shirt for all 5K participants as well as a finisher’s medal! Run Like A Mother also hosts a fun post-race party for the whole family to experience! Extend the celebration beyond the finish line by enjoying food and refreshments, cool products and services from our sponsors and fun activities for kids including a huge play area at Start and Finish – perfect for families!

Can you tell us a bit about the race training programs?
We have partnered with the BEST training provider in the Milwaukee area, Performance Running Outfitters, to help facilitate our group training this year. We offer training for the first time 5Ker and the women looking to PR! The training plans are available at: but you can also sign up while registering to join us at PRO for a six-week long coached training program. ANYONE can register for the training program even if they are not participating in the race and that option can be found on the registration page.

Does the race have a charitable partner?
Our charity partner this year is the Metro Milwaukee YMCA. The Y continues to do great things for the health and wellbeing of women and children in our area. You can give to the cause at the time of sign up by selecting to donate. A limited number of $100 registrations are available to benefit the Y 100% as well. These registrations include a race entry, special bib, Run Like A Mother merchandise and SWAG provided by the Y.

Thanks for chatting with us Rachel! If you’d like to learn more about Run Like a Mother, you can connect on:

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Let’s Get to Know . . . Cameron Ausen

You know those super speedy guys wearing Performance Running Outfitters singlets that you see at the local races? Cameron Ausen is one of them.

He’s the winner of the 2012 Wisconsin Marathon and one of the fastest men to represent Wisconsin at last year’s Boston Marathon, and below he shares a typical training week, what he listens to before a race and how the rest of us can improve our race times!

Post Race 2013

Cameron Ausen

Age: 30

Team affiliation: Performance Running Outfitters Elite Racing Team

Years running: 15

Favorite workout: Longer threshold intervals (mile-2 miles) with short recoveries.

Favorite song to get pumped up pre-race: Rachmaninov’s Vespers and some of my old college choir recordings have all been employed to get charged up, while also maintaining some form of calm.

Favorite post-race treat: Soup, more soup, and (of course) beer.

Favorite gear: Winter gear is always awesome (especially the Brooks Utopia Softshell jacket) to help assure me that I can head out in the worst conditions and still be protected. As far as shoes go, I train mostly in the Brooks Defyance and the Mizuno Wave Inspire.

Favorite distance to race: Tough question! The 8K is probably my favorite because it is long enough where the endurance is really put to the test, but you can still let it rip with the speed. I really like the marathon distance as well, but it just beats me up so much.

Significant wins/placings:

  • 20th Place – 2011 Bellin Run 10K (33:13)
  • 5th Place – 2009 Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon (2:35:13)
  • 5th Place – 2011 Brigg’s & Al’s Run (25:51)
  • 3rd Place – 2013 Firecracker Four (21:04)
  • 1st Place – 2012 Wisconsin Marathon (2:36:30)
  • 75th American – 2013 Boston Marathon (2:33:10)

Wisconsin Marathon 02

Why did you start running?

Originally, I started just to get in shape for what I thought would be a blossoming football career. That first run ended up being five miles and the following week I talked to the cross country coach at my high school and told him I would be running cross country the next fall.

What does a typical training week look like for you?

I generally have a longer run (anything from 90-150 minutes) at the beginning of the week, one longer workout with race-specific paces depending on what I’m training for, and a shorter workout to focus on higher end speed. The rest of the running is all at a very easy pace with strides and form drills 3-4 times per week. When I’m in peak training, I will have two or three morning runs added to the schedule to help with recovery or to get me ready to run fast while already tired (a huge part of marathon running).

Fill in the blank: When a race starts feeling tough, I _______.

Allow myself to give the pain its due, but then make the decision as to whether I will be “safe” and settle or take a risk and get after it, while realizing I may go down in flames (which really hurts a lot, but at least I know I tried).

Can you tell us a bit about running last year’s Boston Marathon. What were your thoughts during the race and immediately after, and how were you affected by the bombings?

During the race, it was a strange feeling since I had trained harder for that race than I ever had for anything in my life. In the early miles, it was hard to believe I was actually there after all that preparation, but the mile markers went by like I was thumbing through a flip-book. I especially remember getting really emotional once I turned right onto Hereford with about a half mile to go and seeing just how packed those crowds were and the support they were offering a complete stranger like me. The last turn onto Boylston Street is where dreams are realized. Every time I think about it, I still get goose bumps. Even though I was in a very high level of discomfort, I had a huge smile on my face as I crossed the finish line.


After the race, my wife, Katie, and I got a quick lunch and were watching other finishers come in before we decided to go back to our hotel and headed toward the train station to get back to Newton. Right when we were crossing the Massachusetts Avenue bridge that goes over the freeway, we heard two very loud bangs that I initially thought was a truck backfiring in a tunnel that was nearby but it seemed very loud for that. We headed into the train station to catch the subway back to Newton when a huge group of SWAT personnel crowded into the station and yelled for everyone to get out because there was an emergency. Then, I thought it was perhaps an explosion on the subway.

Once we got out onto street level, everyone was on their phones trying to figure out what was going on and I noticed that the runners in their last mile on Commonwealth Avenue were being stopped on the course and re-routed. They had no idea what happened. That’s when I saw on my phone that those explosions were at the finish line. I immediately thought it was a terrorist attack and my heart broke for the runners that I now realized would not be able to finish. Volunteers at a nearby water station were still cheering for the runners as they came by and were telling them that they had a mile to go (right by Fenway Park). I felt so sad for the runners that I almost felt sick. I almost felt guilty that I was away from the worst of it, but knew that we had to keep walking away from downtown.

In the scramble to text or try calling family and friends to tell them we were okay, we just continued to walk the course in reverse. We ended up passing through Cambridge and got all the way back to the top of Heartbreak Hill after walking almost 6 miles. The streets no longer had the spectators or the party atmosphere that they had only hours earlier. It was eerie to see the Boston College campus vacant of students that had been probably the most raucous spectators on the course. We finally got a taxi that took us the rest of the way back to the hotel where the mood was very subdued, if not mournful. I felt it may not be appropriate to celebrate what had been a great race for me personally in light of such a tragedy. My wife really helped me through that and helped remind me that I could not let what I had done earlier that day ever be taken away from me by what was such a cowardly act by the terrorists. It is still an odd mixture of emotions in thinking about that race even to this day.

Do you have plans to race Boston again this year?

Not this year. It would have been three marathon buildups in 12 months, which would have been asking a little much for the way my body reacts to the training, but I am planning on going back in 2015. For anyone that is running the race in 2014, I know it’s going to be a great day. It’s the greatest marathon in the world and this next year is going to be especially memorable. I know that if I was toeing the line again this year, it would be quite the mixture of emotions, but an unforgettable experience as people once again rally to come together for what will possibly be one of the most noteworthy running events we’ll ever see.

What running goals are you looking to tackle next?

I’d like to break the rest of my personal bests from college (I still have the 800, mile, and 8K on the cross country course to go…) and the long-term goals are to break 15:00 in the 5,000 and 2:30 in the marathon.

What advice would you give to other runners who are looking to improve their race times?

Consistency is your best friend with distance running. If you are running consistently (even if you are not doing speed work), it will pay huge dividends by staying in good shape and much more resistant to getting injured.

Do you have any favorite Milwaukee races?

Brigg’s and Al’s Run is the one I’ve done the most and it never gets old. The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon is so well-organized and has a beautiful course. I also enjoy the Firecracker Four in Hales Corners. It is always very competitive, but a fun way to kick off the Fourth of July.

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?

The Menomonee Parkway never gets old for me (and I’ve been running on it since high school and college) along with the Washington Highlands neighborhood and the beautiful parks we have in the area (Whitnall, Greenfield, Dretzka, etc.).

In general, what makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?

I think a lot of us like the extreme climate that we have, despite what we might say during the coldest points of the winter and the hottest times of the summer. It prepares us well for almost any set of conditions. Living in a city this large affords us beautiful areas to run as well as access to so many running groups. Now that the running specialty market is as alive and well in Milwaukee, there is much more access to the right equipment to keep us running and healthy. I have to pat my employer, Performance Running Outfitters, on the back a bit in that the brand is so much a part of the area running community and racing scene through its training programs, race sponsorships and visibility at major events.

Thanks for chatting with us, Cameron! If you’re a runner in MKE, we’d love to chat with you. Send us an email at 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 . . . Jessica Hoepner

If you run in MKE, it’s likely you’ve visited one of Jessica Hoepner’s running stores – she co-owns Performance Running Outfitters with her husband, Trae. Here, you can learn more about how her love of running helped inspire her to open the stores (there are three in MKE), the gear she recommends to get through these cold and dark winter days and how being patient is helping her recover from an old injury once and for all!


Jessica Hoepner

Age: Almost 34

Years running: 20

Favorite workout: 800’s

Favorite distance to race: Half marathon

Favorite song to get pumped up before a race: Beyonce – Survivor and Katy Perry – Roar

Favorite post-race treat: I always crave a hamburger after a hard race.

Favorite shoe to run in: I have a lot of shoes! Right now, I’m doing most of my running in the Nike Elite.


How did you get started with running? I ran track in middle school and high school, but my love for running really started after my best friend got me to join the cross country team.

Do you have a quote or philosophy that inspires your running? Never settle. Keep pushing forward.

What does a typical week of training look like for you? I’m finally feeling back to normal – I’ve been injured with a hamstring issue for a long time. Right now my training is about being consistent, doing strength work and building a base so I can start to think about racing again.

Can you tell us a bit about how and why you and Trae decided to start Performance Running Outfitters? After college, we both stayed connected with the sport by coaching at the high school level (we still do). I was also marathon training and after a series of jobs that weren’t fulfilling to me, I came home and told Trae I wanted to open a running store. He thought it would be great – we both love running and would maintain and encourage a healthy lifestyle. I had also told him previously that I wanted a bakery . . . he wasn’t as excited about that idea!

How has owning three running stores impacted your own running? It only impacts it as much as I let it. When I’m healthy, I find the time to run. I tend to enjoy working a lot, so owning the stores has impacted my personal life versus my running.  It always makes me think of the Chris Young lyrics “work that job but don’t work your life away”. I think business owners of any kind can really become addicted to working 24/7. There is always something that was supposed to get done yesterday.


What are some of your favorite items for runners in your stores right now? Roll Recovery massager and the new Garmin 620.

A lot of MKE runners are struggling with the cold, snowy, icy winter. What gear do you recommend they try to help them keep running throughout the season? If it’s icy, I actually head inside to the treadmill or Pettit because it’s not worth getting injured to me. We do sell Yaktrax for traction on ice. If it’s just cold and not icy, then wind-resistant thermal tights (or pants), long-sleeve thermal baselayer,  soft shell jacket, wind/water resistant mittens, buff thermal tube, winter running hat, and wool socks.

What are your running goals for the upcoming year? Stay healthy. My overall goal is to be able to jump in and run with anyone at any time. This year I’d like to get ready for a half marathon in the fall.

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee? Any trail that isn’t paved and along the lakefront.

What is your favorite Milwaukee race? Depends on the distance! TosaFest 5k, Cudahy 10 miler, Lake Country Half Marathon and Lakefront Marathon. I haven’t raced in a few years, so there are a lot of races have been added that I haven’t had the opportunity to do.

In general, what makes Milwaukee a great place for runners? The community of runners is amazing – they’re encouraging and friendly. We also have a lot of great cross country and track programs with coaches that promote and teach running as a lifelong sport.

Thanks for chatting with us, Jessica! If you’re a runner in MKE, we’d love to chat with you. Send us an email at 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!

PRO Offers Strength and Stability Classes for Runners

Attention runners looking to get stronger in 2014: Performance Running Outfitters is hosting a series of runner’s strength and stability classes. The sessions will be offered at the store’s Shorewood location (4533 N Oakland Ave).

The classes will address some of the core areas of weakness in runners and focus on improving hip, calf and foot strength, balance and flexibility. Participants are asked to bring a foam roller and yoga mat to the classes.

Two upcoming sessions include:

  • Saturday, Jan. 11 @8am
  • Saturday, Jan. 18 @8am

The cost of each class is $10 and participants must register in store by the Friday before the class.

To learn more, contact Performance Running Outfitters at

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Running With a Group Makes The Winter Miles Less Lonely

Remember MKE, this weekend we turn back our clocks one hour. This means our morning runs will be a teensy bit lighter – for a short while. And our evenings run will be very dark.

Which makes now the perfect time to join a running group! For both safety and camaraderie, running with others is a great way to make your winter miles more pleasant. Fortunately, there are several to choose some in the MKE area – in fact, if you look hard enough, you’ll never have to log solo miles again.

Here are a few local run groups with regular meetups on our radar:

Milwaukee Running Group – This meetup group costs just $5 annually and hosts group runs nearly every day of the week. Runners of all abilities are welcome. The routes differ each week, including some trail running meetups. To learn more about upcoming group runs, visit

Performance Running Outfitters – Both the Shorewood and Brookfield locations offer weekly group fun runs on Thursday evenings at 6pm. The groups run between 3-5 miles. All ages and paces are welcome. To learn more about upcoming group runs, visit

1375815_10151888496477629_1023669780_nAfter a recent group run from the Shorewood store location

Sole Sister’s Club – This meet-up group is free to join and offers at least one group run each month. All women are welcome to join, regardless of age, race, color, creed or speed. To learn more about upcoming group runs, visit

Black Girls Run – This national organization has a Milwaukee chapter that offers run meetups. To learn more about upcoming group runs, visit

We Run This – This women’s only group offers group runs in varied locations around the city. To learn more about upcoming group runs, visit

Fleet Feet – The Brookfield store offers free Tuesday evening and Saturday morning group runs. On Tuesday evenings, the group meets at 6 p.m. and runs 3-5 miles. On Saturday mornings, the group runs 3 miles at 8:45 a.m. All ages and paces are welcome. To learn more about upcoming group runs, visit

Tell us: Are there any groups in town that you like to run with? If it’s a group we missed, feel free to add it in the comments section!

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!