Author: Karen Dudek

Profile on Ryan Leuty

Profile on Ryan Leuty

How many years have you been running?
Started running in high school.  I have been an off-and-on “runner” for most of my life. In the last year, I’ve been training diligently for the first time ever.

Who inspired you?
I read Matt Fitzgerald’s How Bad Do You Want It over the winter.  The book covers the psychology of sports and recounts several experiences of professional and elite athletes overcoming challenges.  It highlights the mental aspect of endurance sports and when things start to get rough, I always remember that your mind will give up way before your body will.

I’m inspired by so many of our local runners and LRC club members – too many to mention really.  I will mention Andy Williams though.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?
Lake Run Club is just one more way that Rachelle Leuty, my wife, enriches my life.  She became an active member of the club and I’ve enjoyed the benefits of our family membership

What makes your favorite race your favorite?
My favorite local race is Park to Park.  It is so cool to take off running down Main Street first thing on July 4th.  The course saves all the fun for the last few miles.  And the Corn Crib finish is so cool!

What race really sticks in your mind for one reason or another?
I ran the 800 and 1600 in high school as a freshman.  While I can’t remember my first race, there was one that was quit memorable.  Our track team had a Sub-5 Minute Mile Club and there were truly awful t-shirts that came with membership – orange shirt with baby blue print.  There was one shirt left.  A senior and I were both competing for the shirt.  The team hung up flyers around school and we had a very good turnout for the meet.  After 4 grueling laps I squeaked out a 4:52 mile and out kicked the senior in the last 200.  Several team members told me I should give the shirt to Matt since he was a senior.  I told them he should have been able to beat a freshman.  I still have the shirt.

Do you have a favorite route that you run?
I primarily stick to Constitution Trail.  It is so convenient and shielded from traffic.  However, AP Prescott took for a 10 mile run all over Normal and Bloomington.  We ran through neighborhoods and along roads.  It was terribly unorthodox.  But it reminded that it’s ok to wander a bit and I’ve incorporated that philosophy in to several runs since then.

If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick, and why?
Well, I love my local races so much, that I’ve not had much incentive to look elsewhere.  But I just searched great races and the Reggae Marathon in Jamaica sounds awesome.  I’ve never run a marathon and would like to visit Jamaica – Irie.

Ryan during the run portion of the Route 66 Half Iron Man in 2017.

Do you have a “you’ll never believe what happened on my run today” story? 
Not really.  Just the usual run-ins with cool animals [baby skunks was my favorite] and narrowly missed bowel-related disasters.

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?
Chilly Chili is definitely an unusual one.  I can still hear Dennis Killian yelling at me, “You’re doing it wrong!”  as I ran past his Spam stand.  One day I’ll run it just for fun..probably.   Race the Dead is another unique one that I really enjoy.  I’m a Halloween nut anyway, so the costumes, firepits and Fireball are right up my alley.

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?
I’ve helped out at the Kid’s Run for Fun several times.  It’s such a great opportunity for kids to be introduced to the sport of running.  It seems to grow each year, too.

What are you training for right now?
I’ve been focused on triathlon and just completed my A race for the year – Route 66 Half Iron in Springfield.  I’m certain that triathlon is one of the most absurd sports out there.  I just love it though.  Even though triathletes are the b*stards of all three disciplines, the good folks at Often Running still let me run with them on Thursdays.

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Profile on Paul Bliss

Profile on Paul Bliss

How many years have you been running?

I started running track and cross country in ’78 (39 years). I was in 8th grade and our PE teacher made our class run around the entire campus, maybe a mile, because a few 9th graders were misbehaving.

As we finished I found myself in the top five and my ego/confidence soared. I started running on my own in the mornings, a half mile run to the end of the street and back. I had no idea what I was doing but in my mind at the time I thought I was doing something important.

I wore my school clothes on these runs. Track season was just around the corner and I joined the team running the 660 yards on cinder tracks.

Who inspired you to start running?

Even though it was my PE teacher that was the catalyst to start me actually running, it was in the back of my mind that I recalled seeing the made for television movie The Loneliest Runner (’76) by Michael Landon. Landon used to run home from school every day racing to beat the bus because his abusive mom would hang his pee soaked sheets out of his top floor window for the world to see as punishment for wetting his bed.

He went on to be a successful collegiate track star. I thought I remembered he went on to run in the Olympics but I can’t find anything to verify that now.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?

Runners join running clubs. When I came out to Illinois to house hunt in May ’15 part of my checking out this community was to discover Parkside JHS hosted the IESA State cross country meet, Constitution trail, and meeting Heather and running with Merlin at Green Gables for the Thursday night run.

The Lake Run was that weekend but I left Friday, just missing my first possible local race. Park-2-Park ended up being my first local race just weeks later.

Steven Laning, Jamey Whitlow, Paul Bliss, and Gary Savage hanging out at a race in Nashville.

What makes your favorite race your favorite?

New York City Marathon (’87 and ’88) is my favorite marathon experience. The experience was so grand on every level.

The 3 million spectators through all five boroughs was beyond epic. It was such a great experience I came right back the following year to do it all again.

What race really sticks in your mind for one reason or another?  

There are so many but Boston ’16 was quite special because I got to share the experience with Andy Williams and Steve Laning in our almost daily training regimen, our travel group of Carol Pratt, Mitch Hobbs, Amber Ferre, Gene Harding, and so many others back home that followed us.

Do you have a favorite route that you run?

I did in Washington State. My daily go to course went along Deschutes river (5 minutes from my house) and park, home of the now closed Olympia/Rainier brewery, down to the Puget Sound where I’d run along the waterfront boardwalk and marina and around Capital Lake.

I’d often see bald eagles, deer, and a wide variety of birds and critters. The run was 6 miles and could easily be made into shorter/longer as desired.

If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick, and why?

Tokyo Marathon. Running is a great excuse to travel.

Do you have a “you’ll never believe what happened on my run today” story?

I did see a bear at close range on a bike trail run in town while I was running with my cross-country kids. I thought it was a dog at first and didn’t think much of it. My lead kid went by the bear before I realized holy smokes there’s a bear between me and my lead runner (50 meters or so)!

The bear took off in the bushes and we kept running as if nothing had happened. It took a while for it to sink in but the adrenaline eventually kicked in and I realized my disbelief.

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?

When I lived in Guam (’84-’86) they had a race that still runs to this day called The Perimeter Relay, an eight-person team that goes around the entire island (8 x 26 miles) with exchanges about every 200 yards for 60 miles. That’s 7.5 miles and 60 x 200-yard sprinting legs for each runner.

Every exchange ridiculously chaotic as the van must floor it every time to get to the next exchange. Use your imagination to figure out how we took our potty breaks! Priceless. Excruciating leg pain the next few days but we all could hardly wait for the next year’s run.

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?

I used to supervise a water station at mile 10 of the Capital City Marathon and Half in Olympia Washington aka the ’84 women’s Marathon Trials course. My cross-country team got $750 for handing out replenishment for two hours.

I really enjoyed watching the 2,000 runners go by but enjoyed even more watching my kids get excited helping other runners survive their running experience.

What are you training for right now?

My daughter graduates from Oregon in June then I’m taking her to Guam for a week where I served two tours in the Navy for 2 ½ years in ’84-‘86. There is a 5k there we plan to run. When I return Park-2-Park is my next race I’m training for.

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Profile on Kate Browne

Profile on Kate Browne

Who inspired you?
I was inspired to start running 4 years ago by, Rachelle Leuty. Her enthusiasm is contagious. #positivepeerpressure

I’m inspired to keep running by all of my friends who have achieved greatness. Each finish line pic I see makes me want to get out there and find some of that sweet success action for myself.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?
Free beer at Green Gables on Thirsty Thursdays is worth the price of admission, but the experience of being an LRC member is really and truly priceless. I initially joined for the discount on races and training programs, but I keep current because I want my family to be a part of a community that makes a difference.

Tell me about your first race:
My first race was the Lake Run in 2014. I must have missed the part of Catch the Wave when Dawn Dieckgrafe said it was 4.37 miles because I thought it was a 5K until I picked up my packet the night before and looked at the t-shirt.

Wendy Anderson ran almost the whole race with me, and I’ll never be able to thank her enough. Around mile 3, when I realized that I hadn’t really trained for anything more than 3 miles, I started to have a panic attack. My vision blurred and it was hard to breathe.

The little voice inside my head said, “What are you even doing here? You’re not a runner. You don’t belong here.” We stopped so I could calm down. Wendy reminded me that I’d already made it more than halfway. That was all I needed to hear. The last mile was ugly and angry and I probably cried a few times, but I made it to the end.

What makes your favorite race your favorite?
The Lake Run is my favorite race because I’m a nostalgic person and it reminds me of how far I’ve come since that first panic attack disaster. It’s also the weekend of my son’s birthday so it’s a good time to celebrate.

What race really sticks in your mind, for one reason or another? 
I ran a local Memorial Day race with my brother near where he lives in Chicagoland, and it was my first time running with so many people. It was very laid back and there were a lot of folks just strolling the neighborhood or walking with their charity group. I didn’t feel rushed at all. It was nice not to be the one holding up the volunteers from going home for once.

Do you have a favorite route that you run?
I’m a big fan of the inner loop, and the stretch of Constitution Trail from Empire to Vernon. But I love to run anywhere I can find trees and wildflowers, basically.

If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick, and why?
The Barkley Marathons because it’s as likely to happen as me becoming an astronaut—completely and totally impossible. But if I ever develop the physical, mental, and emotional capacity to run it, that means I must be living my best life.

Here's a selfie of Kate out enjoying a run.

Here’s a selfie of Kate out enjoying a run.

Do you have a “you’ll never believe what happened on my run today” story? 
It’s a bit of a bummer, but every once in a while teens yell insults at me when I’m out for a run. It used to bother me, but now I actually make a point to run outside because of it. I hope that I can be an example to people that “the runner’s body” is a myth, and maybe inspire someone with a body like mine to get out there and run anyway. I hope the next time you interview me, I’ll be able to say that one time I found a chest of gold doubloons or was discovered by a Hollywood talent agent or something much more exciting.

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?
I still haven’t made it to Chilly Chili! In some ways, I’m glad I’m still new to running because that means there are a lot of new experiences left for me. If spectating counts as taking part, I just happened to be in New Orleans at the start of the Crescent City Classic 10K. The costumes were out of this world, and apparently walking the whole course with a cocktail is part of some people’s tradition. It’s basically a big party.

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?
It’s a blast volunteering at the finish line for Park 2 Park. I love watching everyone in their patriotic costumes running into the Corn Crib. You can’t take yourself too seriously when you’re wearing a screaming eagle-wolf-fireworks t-shirt.

What are you training for right now?
My goals are pretty modest since I returned to running after some surgeries in 2016. I’m after a first place finish in the ladies’ Footpounder division of The Lake Run. There was a lot of competition in 2016, and I hope there will be even more this year. If you want to follow along on my training progress, I’m on Instagram at @takeupspacewithkate!

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Profile on Mike Eckhoff

Profile on Mike Eckhoff

How many years have you been running? 
I started regularly running at some point in the winter of 2011/2012.  Somewhat on a whim, I decided that I’d try to run a half marathon (Illinois), so I started training around that time frame.  I had run some 5k races before that, but never could get myself to be motivated enough to get out and run more than a couple miles at a time.

Who inspired you? 
Like many others, my doctor (or some less than stellar results from a blood test).  I knew that some changes needed to be made, and that was around that winter of 2011.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?
I thought that I’d take more advantage of the group runs and such than I have been able to, but with a couple really busy kids, I run when I can and use my membership to discount race entries.

Tell me about your first race.
Even though it wasn’t technically my first race, I’ll say the Illinois Christie Clinic Half Marathon in 2012.  I had trained, and felt pretty good about things going in, but I still had no clue what to expect when I actually went through the race.  I really had no plan, and was a thought I could bank time early, since I felt good, and adrenaline could keep me going.   Let’s just say that didn’t quite happen, and the last few miles were pretty rough.

What makes your favorite race your favorite?
I like the 12k Lake Run, because of the scenery around the lake, and the post-race party.

What race really sticks in your mind for one reason or another?
For a couple reasons, I’d say the 2015 Illinois Christie Clinic Half Marathon.  I PR’d that day, which was exciting, and it was in conditions that I could not imagine running in.  Everyone’s heard the stories (if you weren’t there), but it was miserable.

Do you have a favorite route that you run? 
I like to mix things up and keep things interesting.  I’ve done a lot of playing around with map my run, and like to find ways to stay close to home, but not duplicate a path that I’ve done.  There tends to be a lot of zig-zagging in my Garmin maps, but to me, it’s better than an out-and-back route on  a straight road.

Do you have a “you’ll never believe what happened on my run today” story?
Just this summer, I was running with my daughters and a middle school cross-country team from B/N.  I was helping to chaperone the faster group, and there was one young man that bolted out, and ran ahead of the group.  I was towards the back, because another boy was struggling a bit to keep up, and I wasn’t going to let him fall out of sight.  The leaders knew where to stop, and decide whether or not to keep going out, or head back to the start.  As I got there, a couple of them were talking about whether or not they were continuing (The turnaround point was about 1.75 miles from the start, so heading back would be a solid 3.5.)

Well, the young man that led the whole way asks if he can keep running, and I say “Sure, I’ll go with you”.  So I sent the other kids back to the start, and we take off to a point unknown.  I immediately asked him how far he wanted to go, and his response was “As far as your legs will take you”.   I chuckled to myself, and I didn’t say anything to him at that point, but I made sure to point out how far we’d be going if we turned around at 2 and 2.5 miles.  He said he wanted to go another .5 miles and make it a total of 6 for the day.  I let him control the pace for 5 of the 6 miles we ran that day, but I think that he learned a valuable lesson that day about challenging old dudes that you really don’t know.

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?
Most of my volunteering has been done at middle school track and cross-country meets.  It’s a lot of fun to see the kids working hard and making such progress from the beginning of the season to the end.

What are you training for right now?
Hopefully I’ll be able to sneak in a few races before this, but right now, I’m focusing on the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis.

Mike on the finish line of Monumental Marathon.

Mike on the finish line of Monumental Marathon.

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Profile on Jennifer Williams

Profile on Jennifer Williams

How many years have you been running?
I’ve been running, off and on, for about 5 years. I’ve been running more consistently for a little over two years.

Who inspired you?
Well, I have to give the credit to my husband, Andy Williams. When you live with someone that eats, sleeps, and breathes running, after a while you decide to see what all the fuss is about! But he’s great about letting me do my own thing with running, which is a really good thing because we are very different runners.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?
I joined the Lake Run Club two summers ago after I joined the Heat Wave program. It’s such a great group of people and a wonderful running community that I had to join the fun! In addition to Heat Wave, I’ve also done Catch the Wave a couple times and I’ve become involved in Kids Run for Fun. This summer, I’m back at Heat Wave as one of the group leaders. (Shoutout to Group 2! Woohoo!) I love that the Lake Run Club has such a variety of programs and training for all levels. It took me a long time to actually consider myself a runner, but I’m perfectly happy with my 12 minute miles.

Tell me about your first race.
My first race was the Komen 5k in 2011. (I think…but it may have been 2012.) I don’t remember a ton about it to be honest, except that my feet were killing me for several days after the race. I had terrible shoes, but rectified that pretty quickly with a trip to Often Running.

What makes your favorite race your favorite?
I think the Lake Run is probably my favorite race, in large part because it got me to start running more. I ran it for the first time in 2014, kind of on a whim. I hadn’t been running very much at all, but decided that I just needed to go out and do it – a week and a half before the race. And I survived. After that, I joined Heat Wave and that kept me going through the summer. Then, when Catch the Wave came around next winter, I joined that to get ready for the Lake Run. Thank goodness Lake Run Club has all these great training programs and races – that helps keep me going!

Jennifer preparing for a soggy run at the Christy Clinic 10k in Champaign, IL in 2016.

Jennifer preparing for a soggy run at the Christy Clinic 10k in Champaign, IL in 2016.

What race really sticks in your mind for one reason or another?
Well, I ran my first 10k in April in Champaign. It rained. And rained and rained and rained. Here it was, the longest distance I’d ever raced, the race I’d actually been following a training plan for (a first for me), and it was a soggy mess. I started with my Hefty bag poncho (which I ditched after a mile), and ended with waterlogged shoes. I managed to avoid puddles and soaked shoes until the fifth mile, which was my second greatest achievement of the day. It was really nice to hear my husband shouting encouragement once I got into Memorial Stadium and crossed the finish line. And it was great to finish and know that I could run that distance. I’m perfectly happy with 5k’s and short races. None of this half marathon and marathon nonsense for me! I’m really good at spectating those races, though.

 

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?
I ran Race the Dead last year for the first time. I particularly enjoyed stopping for a shot in the first half mile!

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?jen1
I wouldn’t exactly say it’s a race, but I love volunteering for Kids Run for Fun on Friday nights. Since last summer I’ve been in charge of registration, which involves some time with spreadsheets (my inner nerd is a fan) and being there on Friday nights. I love seeing how excited the kids are to run and that the Lake Run Club provides such a positive running experience to so many kids in our community.

What are you training for right now?
I’m not training for anything in particular. I’m hoping to complete all of the High Five races this year, and I recently finished Park 2 Park. Running doesn’t come easy to me at all, it’s something I always have to work on. So I’m just trying to keep it up. I’ve learned that anyone can be a runner. I love the variety of people that you see at races, the number of people who use running to get or stay healthy, and the outpouring of support you see for everyone who is running. I guess I’m just training to be a runner!

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Profile on Donna Griffin

Profile on Donna Griffin

How many years have you been running?  
Officially since 2010!  I was a power walker/treadmill jogger since 1995.

Who inspired you? My first Catch the Wave mentors!  Dawn Dieckgrafe, Cheryl Dwyer, and Pam Walden!!!

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?
My first experience with the Catch the Wave, I was hooked and it only seemed the next in joining the “cool kids.” At least, Bill Hahm and Dan Anderson made it tempting to be one of the cool kids!

Tell me about your first race.
My first race was at Central Catholic School 5K.  Donna Jensen and I were running buddies and were going to run with all our heart.  Ohhhh the memories of that experience will always be part of my heart.  Unfortunately, this race doesn’t exist any longer.

What makes your favorite race your favorite?
13509471_10207948903673004_963382154_oThis is a tough one!  I love so many!  My favorite 5K would be Tremont Turkey festival 5K (I won my very first trophy)!  My favorite ½ Marathon would be We Care.  My favorite Full Marathon would be Chicago! As far as the Tri’s go the support and experience is so new, I love all of it! Thank to 2 groups I joined while training (Tri-Shark/Pup group and Fleet Feet).  Shout to my swimming coach Tim Auth.

What race really sticks in your mind for one reason or another?
Running Chicago Full Marathon 2015!  I still can’t believe I did it!  It was a huge event with the best spectators, I have ever witnessed!  It was my first Marathon, followed by another marathon in Indianapolis three weeks later after training with Michael Fazio and Gene Harding.

Do you have a favorite route that you run?
I usually start in my neighborhood and hit the train at the in Uptown Normal.  I also am a fan of Tipton Trail area.  But, I do enjoy running the Inner Loop at the Lake Bloomington.

If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick, and why?
I would love to run Boston Marathon.  To have the experience would be awesome!  I know it is a dream, but it still 13499952_10207948888392622_1605018707_owould be totally cool for me!  :0)

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?
Hmmmm….I think this would be the most unusual race that I have participated in!!!  And I love that is held by some of my favorite running PEEPS!   And yes, I have tried the SPAM!!!

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?
Park to Park…the patriotic spirit is awesome!  The shirts are usually pretty nice too!

What are you training for right now?
I recently started training for sprint triathlons.  I have completed two so far.  Tri-Shark and Esprit de She!!!!  I am extremely excited to continue this fun journey with some great running friend.  My next Marathon is planned for later this year, in Indianapolis.

Looks like there are many supportive good people to thank, for making my journey so very fun!

13499537_10207948920033413_916110986_o

 

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Profile on Erin Dwyer

Profile on Erin Dwyer

Don’t you love it when people make excuses as to why they can’t run?

“I would love to run, but I’m just so busy.”

“I have bad knees.”

“My feet are messed up.”

“My back hurts all the time so I had to stop running.” 

Well, my friends, this is a story about someone who didn’t make excuses.  Her name is Erin Dwyer.

About two years ago, Erin discovered that her friend, Pam Walden, was helping to run a program called Catch the Wave designed for newbie runners (or people who haven’t even started running yet) who want to get started.

The goal at the end of the program is to complete the Lake Run Club’s signature race held the first weekend in May, which features a 7k, a 12k, and a half-marathon.  The Catch the Wave program helps runners work up to completing the 7k along the scenic inner loop of Lake Bloomington.

Erin was intrigued, but had some reservations. A year earlier she was sidelined by two bulging discs in her back and couldn’t walk for more than 30 seconds without pain and numbness in her foot. She sought treatment, and a year later (2014), the Catch the Wave program announcements caught her eye.

Erin making her way to the finish of the Hot Chocolate 5k/15k.

Erin making her way to the finish of the Hot Chocolate 5k/15k.

With a little encouragement from Pam, she decided to join. “She (Pam) promised that it wouldn’t kill me, so I joined Catch the Wave, and thus the Lake Run Club in February of 2014,” Erin says. “I survived it (the Lake Run 2014) and haven’t stopped since.”

While the Lake Run remains her favorite race, Erin has aspirations to run an international event. She mentioned that Run Disney Paris may be on her bucket list. “…I like international travel, I like Disney, and I want an excuse to go back.”

Erin has several races on the docket for the spring, including the Christie Clinic Half Marathon and a number of local races. Her next big event will be the Disneyland Half Marathon in September.

Since her debut race in 2014, Erin has become an active member of the running community these past few years, participating in local events or volunteering at events like a local glow run. You may see her out running on the peaceful North side of Bloomington-Normal’s Constitution trail.

 

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Profile on AP Prescott

Profile on AP Prescott

How many years have you been running?
A little more than three years.

Who inspired you?
I don’t know if anyone inspired me to start running, but I can say that my motivation was strong. I was 300+ pounds and incredibly out of shape. I wanted to change. I wanted to get healthy. I didn’t want to die young. I’m a pretty stubborn person, so I kept trying. I didn’t like running AT ALL for quite some time, but I knew it was a necessary evil. The progression from hating to loving running wasn’t fast – and it definitely wasn’t easy – but I’m so glad to be where I am today. I love to run and I love what it’s done for me. I am a totally new person because of it.

AP starting the run during the TriShark Triathlon in Jun 2015.

AP starting the run during the TriShark Triathlon in Jun 2015.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?
I moved to the area in January 2015 and wanted to get serious about running. I was excited to find a group of people that could motivate me and help me make improvements with my running.

Tell me about your first race:
The 2013 Maple Leaf Half Marathon during Oktoberfest in La Crosse, WI. I had been running for a little over 10 months but I genuinely had no clue about running at that time. I was a newbie in every way possible. I had lost about 90 pounds in that same 10 month period and was just so excited to even be thinking about running – let alone running a half marathon. My goal was to break two hours and I only missed that goal by 1:02. Looking back, finishing this race was one of the best moments of my life. I didn’t realize it then, but this race changed my life!

What race really sticks in your mind (for one reason or another?)
The Hixon 50k in La Crosse, WI. The course is two breathtakingly beautiful (and ridiculously challenging) 25k loops through the Grandad bluffs along the Mississippi River. With an overall elevation change of 8000 feet, this one was not for the faint of heart. This was my first successful ultramarathon. A few years ago, I couldn’t run one kilometer, let alone 50 at one time. This was a huge accomplishment for me on my journey to a life of fitness. More than anything, I was so thankful to be able to spend the weekend and run the race with my fellow LRC runner and friend Tanya Giannotti.

Do you have a favorite route that you run?
My all-time favorite route to run is a series of trails through Eau Claire, WI. That’s where I trained for my first Chicago marathon. Here in BloNo, I really enjoy running through and around the campuses. They’re full of energy and always have something interesting going on to grab your attention.

If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick, and why?
I’m not picky – and I love to travel! One of my goals is to run a race in each state. I’ll run anywhere as long as there’s an adventure to get there!

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?
My favorite unusual running event is the Nearly Naked Mile put on at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The run starts off with an event called “strippin’ for a reason.” How it works: wear as many clothes as you can to the start line, strip off the clothes into the donation bins, and then run a nearly naked mile as fast as you can! The Chancellor even runs too! The run boasts approximately 800 participants and 2000+ articles of clothes donated each year.

Rachel Wells (left), Meghan Gardner (middle), and AP (right) showing off their hardware at the TriShark Triathlon in 2015.

Rachel Wells (left), Meghan Gardner (middle), and AP (right) showing off their hardware at the TriShark Triathlon in 2015.

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?
I love to volunteer for any race. I get the most joy out of cheering on the back-of-the-pack runners. I was there once and got so much energy from the volunteers that wouldn’t quit celebrating. Running is all about paying it forward.

What are you training for right now?
My goal distance for the year is the half marathon. I’m looking to greatly improve my PR at the Grandad Half Marathon on May 7th. In that process, I’m also hoping to shave some time off my 5k and mile PRs.

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Profile on Josh Smith

Profile on Josh Smith

How many years have you been running?
Since 1991 (7th grade).

Who/What inspired you?
I started running ‘distance’ in 7th grade because I couldn’t jump, couldn’t run fast, and wasn’t strong enough to throw the shot put or discus. I remember one of my track coaches asking “Do you think you could run around the track twice without stopping?” This was the beginning of my running career.

By high school, I still wasn’t convinced that I enjoyed running and had every intention of playing Freshman football. However, I fractured my clavicle during PE class in 8th grade and wore a brace the entire summer between 8th grade and freshman year. During my last check-up, my mom asked if I should play football and the doctor said “I wouldn’t recommend football but he could run cross-country”.

I ended up running cross-country and won “Most Improved Runner” my Freshman and Sophomore years (I was really slow) and MVP my Junior year. At the time, I was not happy that I couldn’t play football but 20+ years later I am still running and have no ‘old football injuries’. I should thank that doctor (and my mom).

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?  
I had met the legendary Mike Fazio several years ago and he encouraged me to begin running w/ the LRC marathon training group. I have met a diverse group of people in this group (and the LRC in general) that all share the same passion to run.

Josh and his wife, Whitney, at the Jingle Bell 5k in 2013.

Josh and his wife, Whitney, at the Jingle Bell 5k in 2013.

Tell me about your first race.
My first non-school race was the Bloomington Jingle Bell Run in 1993. Back then the race finished at Jumer’s and involved a post-race buffet that was amazing! As a high school freshman, the idea of running a 5K and then having a buffet of food available afterwards was very appealing. I was hooked!

What makes your favorite race your favorite?
Chicago Marathon. It was the first marathon I ran back in 2002 and I have since ran it twice. I work as a physical therapist and most recently I have been making the yearly trip to Chicago to track the various runners that I have found their way to my workplace. One runner commented after the race on social media “I couldn’t find my wife in the crowd but I did see my physical therapist”. I genuinely get as much (and likely more) joy out of watching a patient be able to finish his/her race than if I ran it myself.

Do you have a favorite route that you run?
My favorite route recently has been any trail out at Lake Evergreen, the best kept secret in McLean County.

If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick, and why?
The Memphis St. Jude Marathon is on my short list. The race takes you past the St. Jude’s Hospital and the children are along the course cheering on the runners. Also, my dad has run the race every year since ’07 and has promised a rib dinner to anyone that runs with him.

Do you have a “you’ll never believe what happened on my run today” story?  
My runs are usually pretty uneventful and that is fine with me.

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?
The most unusual race that I ever completed was in Fairbury, IL. Our cross-country coach, Doug Roberts, organized a race in the mid-90’s in which we had to pick up plastic inflatable dinosaurs and each dinosaur was worth a time reward. You had to make the decision if picking up and carrying the dinosaur was worth the time deduction. This race is no longer in existence but may have been the original ‘obstacle race’.  

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?
I love seeing all of the 1st time runners finish races like The Lake Run, Evergreen Park 5K, and the We Care Half-Marathon. Often I am at these events working and it is great to see someone that a few months ago couldn’t run more than a couple of blocks be able to finish a 5K.

What are you training for right now?
I will likely run the Champaign Half-Marathon next Spring.

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Profile on Kristin Techmanski

Profile on Kristin Techmanski

How many years have you been running?
I had never run in my life, aside from junior high–which I hated! I just started running in January of this year as a way to lose weight and improve my fitness level. I started with the
Couch-to-5K app which worked great for me to get moving in the beginning. I joined Catch the Wave (supported by Often Running), then later joined Fleet Feet’s 10K training program. I have
met the best people in this running community.

Who inspired you?
I was initially inspired to start running when friends asked my husband to join their Tough Mudder team. My husband has always been very active and fit, but he is a weight lifter. He started running in January as a way to prepare for the Tough Mudder in May. We started running together this year–he is always at the front of the pack and I am at the back! It’s fun to compare notes after a race. We always have drastically different experiences.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?I joined when I signed up for Catch The Wave in February. I know that the reason why running has “stuck” for me is because of the awesome running and racing community here in Bloomington-Normal. Getting to know other runners has been motivating and inspirational!

Tell me about your first race.
Miller Zoo Stampede 5K–I had no idea what to expect. The course volunteers were phenomenal. One volunteer gave me a high five and told me I had the biggest smile out there. I smile a lot when I run, because I still can’t believe that I did it–I am a RUNNER!

What makes your favorite race your favorite?
My favorite two were Park 2 Park in July and Route 66 in August. If those two are my favorite, I would say I prefer really *straight* race routes!

What race really sticks in your mind?
ISU’s Neon at Night was fun– I had to yell ahead at a study group to make way for me near the end, “I’m in a race, you know,” I told them as I laughed. The students started cheering me on!

Do you have a favorite route that you run?
I like the route I run near my house. We live out near Fox Creek Elementary. I have a tidy little 5K route that I run out there from my front door. It is fun, because I usually run before dinner
and I get to wave at all the kids’ teachers as they drive home after their work day.

If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick and why?
I’ve read about a half marathon in Bar Harbor, Maine. I am still a ways off from running half marathons, but that area of the country is beautiful. We spent time in Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park on our honeymoon, and it would be fun to go back to run that race!

Do you have a “you’ll never believe what happened on my run today” story?
I swear I saw Rich Beal in drag one time during a run. Or Elvis. Or a pirate. Or a bar wench. Or all of the above?! (And I am NEW to this running community, remember!).

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?
I volunteered at the Donut Run in May (sponsored by Fleet Feet). You’d think that one would be all “fun and games,” but it was serious business! Making sure runners were chewing and swallowing those donuts before continuing on was a nauseating role!

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?
I volunteered at Run the Woods 5K/8K trail run this fall. I had a great time pointing the course and helping with parking. Lots of familiar faces there, of course, but there is a bit of a different crowd at a trail race. Pancakes taste delicious to runners AND volunteers!

What are you training for right now?
I am healing from a foot injury, and I am currently in physical therapy in order to get running again–as a stronger, better runner, this time! My goal is to be running 2-3 miles at a time in
November/December, and to join the 10K training program again at Fleet Feet in January.

Kristin in the last mile of Park-2-Park 2015.

Kristin in the last mile of Park 2 Park 2015.

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