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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50-State Tandem Bike Challenge

For this, the 12th year of bets, I proposed getting a rider from each of twelve countries but Bob Brandt vetoed the idea because he thought that might be too easy. Instead, the challenge was to get a rider from each of the 50 states. To represent a state, riders had to (a) have been born in that state, (b) have lived there 12 years, or (c) currently live there. This had to be the toughest challenge yet! To find riders, I turned to the magic of social media and the concept of “six degrees of separation”.
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To make a long story short, Facebook friends got the job done, and I don’t think we even had to use all “six degrees of separation” (maybe just three degrees, a friend of a friend of a friend). We got all 50 states and even added Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and Dominican Republic for extra credit. We celebrated with a party where Meg made pulled pork, Bob brought a couple of six-packs, and Gregg Chadwick (Mr. Mass.) gave me a 50-state quarter collection to commemorate the achievement.

What a year: 106 rides (49 rides with Meg), 60 different riders (35 new riders), 1,235 tandem miles (545 with Meg). Four riders rode more than once (Meg, Rebecca Payne, Kelly Bowers, LeAnn Poor). Five states had two riders (Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Wyoming). The farthest I had to travel was to Wyoming to ride with Donna Creditor (Ms. Delaware), Tanya Connors (Ms. New Hampshire), and Joseph Connors (Mr. Wyoming). The farthest anyone came here to ride was from China (Robin Schmidt teaches in China and was in the area visiting Anne Schmidt and other family). It was a wonderful odyssey. Thanks so much to everyone for all the great rides, the referrals, and great memories! Here are the riders, listed by state.

Alabama: Tom Lauritson
laska: Tyler Lotz
Arizona: Dianna Yoder Doblosky
Arkansas: Jenna Ramey
California: Kelly Bowers
Colorado: Daniel Mestas
Connecticut: Chris Allison
Delaware: Donna Creditor
Florida: Gene Harding, Tanya Gianotti
Georgia: James Auten
Hawaii: Rualani Simpson
Idaho: Tina Techmanski
Illinois: Stacy Sheridan, Emily Gomalchak, Cojo Aforiwa
Indiana: Kevin McCarthy
Iowa: Keith Bowers, Missi Adams
Kansas: Christiana Reader
Kentucky: Mike Eckhoff
Louisiana: Carl Blomquist
Maine: Brigette Van Hook
Maryland: Deb McNamara
Massachusetts: Gregg Chadwick
Michigan: Paul Betts
Minnesota: Meg Anderson
Mississippi: Sarah Anne Cary Welsh
Missouri: Darla Schwertfeger
Montana: John Quindry
Nebraska: Aimee Dzieken
Nevada: Rob McNamara
New Hampshire: Tanya Connors
New Jersey: Erin Furimsky
New Mexico: Nicole Thornton
New York: Nancy Falk
North Carolina: Joy Williams
North Dakota: Chris Hamilton
Ohio: Deb Schumann, Becky Roesner
Oklahoma: Cheryl Dwyer
Oregon: Larry Schumacher
Pennsylvania: Susan DeGennaro
Rhode Island: Michelle White
South Carolina: Robin Schmidt
South Dakota: Diane Risius
Tennessee: Tony Brewster
Texas: Adriane Powell
Utah: LeAnn Poor
Vermont: Bridget McLeese Frerichs
Virginia: Rob Junkins
Washington: Rebecca Payne
West Virginia: Gisette Brewster
Wisconsin: Seanan Alyasiri
Wyoming: Joseph Connors, Tanya Anderson
Washington D.C.: Meta Mickens-Baker
Puerto Rico: Maura Toro-Morn
Dominican Republic: Melin de la Cruz

The 2017 challenge is the “International Triskaidekaphobia Tandem Challenge”. Triskaidekaphobia means “fear of the number 13”. This is the 13th annual bet and Bob has made it so difficult that I’m afraid of failure. Keeping with the “13” theme, I have to get a rider from 26 countries (13 times 2). Bob wouldn’t agree to 13 countries, so we doubled it. A rider can represent a country if (a) born in that country, (b) lived there for 13 years, or (c) currently lives there. Each ride has to be at least 13 kilometers. This is going to be great!

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ABC#124, for Adopt-A-Family

Epic day! Thanks so much to all 71 participants that came to the Adopt-A-Family Center on December 3 to support the Adopt-A-Family program with donations totaling $1,310. This will provide a great Christmas for our assigned family and provide funding toward one or two other families still on the waiting list.

At 8:30, Lisa Sparks thanked everyone and told us a little something about the family we are helping. Then Stacy Killian, a 29 year volunteer at Adopt-A-Family thanked us and told us more about the program and how it operates. It was a great experience to see the gifts and learn how they manage to provide for so many families in need. For more information on the Adopt-A-Family program, go to:


After a group picture, we all headed out for the 5-mile adventure, which Pat Sheridan informed me later that we actually ran down a moraine. It turns out the Adopt-A-Family Center is right at a high elevation point between two watersheds (Sugar Creek and Kickapoo Creek). We headed North, down the moraine toward Sugar Creek, took a loop around the Tipton Park trails, and came back up the moraine. Now, doesn’t that sound like an adventure?

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Back at the Adopt-A-Family Center, we were treated to a great breakfast highlighted by blueberry pancakes prepared by Jay Sparks and special blueberry assistant, Larry Schumacher. Rounding out the fare was coffee cake from Meg Anderson, breakfast casserole from Stacy Sheridan, muffins from Robyn Walter, yogurt/granola/fruit from Lisa Sparks, chocolate chip cookies from Kevin Fahling, rice pudding from Cathie Haab, and so much more (coffee, chocolate milk, bananas)! I didn’t get the names of all the food providers but it all so good!

During the breakfast, we were honored to welcome a group of about a dozen BRRC runners. What are BRRC runners? Let’s just say they are a secret running society that held their own 5K race and then joined us to support the Adopt-A-Family program. That was great!

We have completed twelve years of ABC runs and had another really great year.  Total contributions for the ten ABC runs in 2016 totaled $15,376.  The total for all 124 ABC runs is $110,001.   We have supported 28 different charities.  Here are the top 10 charities:
$16,367 – St. Jude (14 runs)
$14,553 – The Baby Fold (13 runs)
$10,347 – Timber Pointe Easter Seal Camp (7 runs)
$9,045 – The Seedling Theatre (7 runs)
$7,634 – Sugar Grove Nature Center (11 runs)
$7,093 – McLean County Child Protection Network (9 runs)
$6,239 – Heartland Head Start (9 runs)
$6,020 – Adopt-A-Family (7 runs)
$5,527 – Scott Early Learning Center (8 runs)
$5,223 – Boys & Girls Club (9 runs)

Thanks so much for all your support!

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Merna ASE

Cold temperatures for 2016, but seasonal for any other year, mild winds and greatly appreciated sunshine greeted the 2016 Merna ASE (Another Stupid Event) crew. Following the run, folks enjoyed cold beverages, good food, great cookies and the 2016 version of the infamous ASE mixed drink. Great regrets for those who missed this annual tradition. Look for another chance to enjoy the ASE experience in February.


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ABC#123, for Boys & Girls Club

ABC #123 on November 12 generated an amazing $876 in donations for the Boys & Girls Club. Thanks so much to all 48 participants for your support and for all the great food and fun. The $876 donated this year is easily the most of any of the nine ABC runs for the Boys & Girls Club. The grand total for all nine runs is now $5,223.


It was a great new venue, thanks to Stacie and Pat Sheridan for doing such a wonderful job of hosting!  The choice of running courses added a sense of adventure. To make sure runners knew where to go, Pat printed maps, marked the course with red and yellow ribbons, and personally led one of the three running choices. The choices were: 5-miles on pavement, 2.5 miles on pavement, and 5 miles on grass.

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ABC#123 also included door prizes, an auction, and a water bottle flipping contest.
The door prizes were awarded to Annette Lobdell (a pin-on compass) and Dave Ploense (an ABC shirt).
The auction was a cool ceramic art piece donated by Erin Furimsky. Lisa Sparks was the high bidder. Thanks, Erin and Lisa for giving the total donations a nice boost.
The top two in the water bottle flipping contest were Carrie Mack and Kevin Fahling.

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ABC Run #124 to benefit the Adopt-A-Family program will be held on Saturday, December 3 at the home of Lisa and Jay Sparks.  We hope to see you then.

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ABC Run #122, for Heartland Head Start

Super event at Sugar Grove Nature Center: 71 participants donated an awesome total of $1,590 to Heartland Head Start which will be used to upgrade their playgrounds! In our ninth run for Heartland, we easily topped the 2006 record of $698. Thanks so much to everyone for your support and a special thanks to Shady Hollow Trail Runners for the $500 donated in return for volunteering at their Evergreen Lake Ultra trail race. Several ABC runners and friends of Heartland Head Start spent a fun 5 hours volunteering. Volunteers included Deb Schumann, Brett Leifheit, Sharon Cochran, David & Darlene Weber, Meg & Merlin Anderson.

Thanks so much to our hosts: Angela Funk (Director, Sugar Grove Nature Center), Whitney Chesher  (Outreach & Communications Specialist at Heartland Head Start), Sharon Cochran (member of Friends of Heartland Head Start), and David & Darlene Weber (members of Friends of Heartland Head Start).


We had a great mix of ABC run veterans and newbies. Among the newbies was a group from the Be Strong gym. Thanks, Drew Witted, for encouraging your group to join us. It was an inspiration to see Matt DeMatteo power his conventional wheelchair to a PR distance of 4 miles.

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The menu was awesome as usual with casseroles, coffee cake, bagels & cream cheese, fruit, cookies, snack items, coffee, orange juice, apple juice and so much more. With so many food contributions, I was unable to keep track of who brought what. Thanks to DoubleTree hotels for adding the batch of cookies.

The funds raised by all nine runs for Heartland add up to a heartwarming total of $6,239.   Thanks so much to every participant for your fellowship, sharing food, and generous financial support.  Your support helps Heartland Head Start achieve their mission to “enhance the lives of children and families by providing a comprehensive child and family development program for 3-5 year old children and their families who meet the federal guidelines in McLean and Livingston counties in Central Illinois.” For more on Heartland Head Start, visit

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ABC Run#121, for Seedling Theatre

ABC Run #121 on August 13 was a great success. An amazing $1,035 was donated to Seedling Theatre thanks to the generosity of everyone involved. Thanks much to: (a) Laurel & Larry Schumacher for being awesome hosts. (b) 51 attendees (and 5 other contributors) that donated a total of $1,035. (c) Often Running, for donating several cool items for our drawing. (d) Connor Byrd, for donating four dozen free range eggs for our drawing. (e) Seedling Theatre for donating tickets for an upcoming performance to our drawing. (h) everyone who brought the delicious food! Too many to recall but Jeff Crumrine won the harvest basket that Laurel Schumacher gave at random to one of the food contributors.












Seedling Theatre is a wonderful theatrical program for children & young adults & adults with disabilities, as well as their able bodied peers. Each year Donna Anhalt, the Seedling Theatre director, sends a heart-felt note in appreciation for all our support. This one says it best: “I don’t know quite how to say thank you in the most appropriate manner, so please just know from the bottom of my heart how grateful the entire Seedling Families are for what you are doing for their children. I listen to their stories quite frequently about how Seedling has affected their lives.  It is always heartwarming, occasionally teary-eyed and sometimes even funny. Believe me, these families are overwhelmed by the generosity of the donors for Seedling Theatre and sincerely appreciate your efforts.  So, from the depths of my heart…..thank you”.

ABC runs just keep rolling along. After 121 ABC runs, all of us who support ABC runs have collectively raised $106,225 to help 27 different local children’s charities. Seven of these ABC runs have generated a total of $9,045 for Seedling Theatre. Thanks a million to everyone who has supported these extremely worthwhile causes.

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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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ABC#120, for St. Jude on 7-17-16

ABC Run/Walk #120 was hosted by Meryl & Mike Brown on July 17. An awesome $2,000 was donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital thanks to the generosity of 29 attendees plus 14 runners that could not make it but donated anyway.  The donations will help members of the “We got the runs” team meet or exceed their fund-raising goals.  More importantly, the donations help kids by helping St. Jude provide free lifesaving care and also helping St. Jude continue its groundbreaking research.


The venue was great: nice location, home, backyard, and pool. The weather was good for running but a storm blew in to end my plans to hop in the pool after eating and socializing.


The course was a relatively ordinary adventure heading West on the Constitution Trail to the Audubon Gardens (2.5 miles from Meryl’s home). The menu was really great. Sorry I was so busy eating that I didn’t catch the names of all the food providers. Thanks to Meryl & Mike Brown for hosting and all who provided additional food.

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There were two special events at this run. One was the awarding of the traveling “ABC Top Dog” trophy to Melinda Cheek for her great support for ABC runs throughout the years. The second was having the opportunity to wish Kelly & Keith Bowers well as they move to Memphis. We will miss them greatly but look forward to seeing them now and then either here or in Memphis. You know, that Memphis Marathon/Half-Marathon/5K is a nice event.

We’ve held a total of fourteen ABC runs for St. Jude and the total of those runs is $16,367.  Thanks so much to everyone for all of your support!

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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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