Tag Archives: MemberProfile

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 Kelly McBride

Profile on Kelly McBride

How many years have you been running?
I have been running since 2008

Why did you start running?
I started running when I realized that I needed to make some health changes in my life as I was overweight and facing high cholesterol when visiting the doctor.

Who inspired you?
A good friend from Rockford got me motivated to try running and became my personal coach until my times were better than his. We still laugh about it to this day.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?
I wanted to figure out what this running world was all about, and thought what a better way than to join LRC.

Tell me about your first race.
My first race was the Dwight Harvest Days 5k, and my first thoughts were, what are you doing? As the race took off, it all got real for me, and the rush just kicked in. Crossing the finish line was so uplifting I knew I had to do it again.

What makes your favorite race your favorite?
I would have to say that it is hard to have a favorite but I really enjoy the Park 2 Park 5 Mile. Being from a smaller town it is kind of cool to me to run down Main Street.

Do you have a favorite route that you run?
I really don’t have a favorite, but I do love doing a loop to uptown Normal and back home as I always get to see the same faces in the morning.

If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick, and why?
I would love to do the Great Wall of China Marathon. My wife and I adopted our youngest daughter from China and I remember walking the wall and being so out of shape, it “kicked my butt”, so I guess I just need to redeem myself.

Do you have a “you’ll never believe what happened on my run today” story?
I think like all of us runners there is more than one. I mean how many of us are always giving driving direction to people.  One I always remember is finding money in the street one morning, and they say running doesn’t pay.

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?
I would have to say the Chilly Chili is the winner for me.

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?
One of my favorite races to volunteer at is the Fleet Feet Glow Run, because it is so dark and it is so cool to look out on the course and see all the headlamps and glow sticks just bouncing all over.

What are you training for right now?
I have never done any distance over a half marathon so this year I am doing The Chicago Marathon.

Do you have any superstitions or rituals you go through before a big race?
I always love to take an easy warm up run by myself to have a little time to reflect on how thankful I am to just be able to enjoy the sport.

Who have you been running with lately?
Most of the time I just run by myself, but am always willing to enjoy a run with friends.

What makes you stay with it and keep running? 
I have gained a lot of benefits by running and living a healthy lifestyle.  It’s not all about the health benefits, because I have met a lot of good people in the running community who have become good friends.

Kelly during the last mile of the Park 2 Park 5 mile in July 2015.

Kelly during the last mile of the Park 2 Park 5 mile in July 2015.

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Profile on Tanya Giannotti

Profile on Tanya Giannotti

How many years have you been running?
I’ve been consistently running for about two years, though I ran track and cross country in elementary school.

Why did you start running?
It had absolutely nothing to do with health or social benefits.  I tell people I started running because of a recurring dream.  In 2012, I was going through a separation and divorce.  I had these recurring dreams where I was running and I felt so free.  They were the most beautiful dreams and I was always so happy in them, running fast and never out of breath.  I’m completely aware of the symbolism of those dreams, but I decided to start running as a way to relieve the stress and depression.  Of course, I could barely run more than a minute in the real world without stopping and gasping for air.  About two months later and doing everything wrong, I developed a serious case of hip bursitis and could barely walk.  I stopped running for about six months and became terribly depressed again.  I was hanging out with the wrong people, drinking heavily, abusing my body, smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, then in June 2013 after I had started cleaning myself up and getting better, I decided to just start running again.  I haven’t stopped since!

Who inspired you?
My dad.  He was a great runner in high school and always loved the sport.  He hasn’t run in years and I know he wishes he could, so I hope to one day get him to do a 5K with me.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?
I can’t say it was totally for the social aspects, as I’m pretty shy and nervous.  I think I mainly wanted to join to be “in the know” on various running activities around the area.  I had no idea I would eventually form friendships and really bond with other members.  I feel very fortunate to have found this club.

Tell me about your first race.
Jingle Bell 5K in 2012.  I just wanted to finish in under 30 minutes and I remember it was SO windy that day.  I managed to finish in just under 30 minutes, but I was hurting really bad (this was shortly before my hip injury).

What makes your favorite race your favorite? 
Any trail run.  Love trail races.  I get to run through the woods getting dirty and sometimes wet and I feel like a kid out playing.

What race really sticks in your mind (for one reason or another?)
The Big Sur International Marathon.  It was my first marathon and pretty much the only marathon I ever wanted to do because I love California and the mountains.  I registered on a whim to see if I could get in and I did, without really knowing much other than it was a tough course with beautiful scenery.  Running-wise, nothing will ever compare to that experience.  From the time the gun went off (and texting my boyfriend, “oh my god…here I go”) to when I crossed the finish line in tears of happiness, it was nothing short of amazing.  I wish I could do it all over again.

Do you have a favorite route that you run?
Constitution Trail headed north or toward Tipton. I also like the trails outside the area when I get the chance.

If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick, and why?
There’s quite a few ultra trail races I’d love to do someday.  There’s one called the Miwok 100 that looks amazing (of course, on the California coast) and a couple in Oregon.

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?
I did the Madison to Chicago Ragnar Relay last year, which was pretty insane and I don’t think I quite understood what I signed up for.  You’re in a van for nearly two days with five other people running, literally, on little to no sleep, day and night, for 200 miles.  I didn’t even really know the other girls I ran with, I just kind of jumped into it with no thought (how most of my decisions are made).  I did the Ragnar Trail West Virginia this year, which was two days of nothing but rain and mud and crazy trails and I did it with most of the same group as last year.  As crazy as those are, I’d probably sign up for another one in a heartbeat.

Tanya at the Ragnar Trail Relay in West Virginia in June 2015

Tanya at the Ragnar Trail Relay in West Virginia in June 2015

What are you training for right now?
The Chicago Marathon.  It will be quite a different experience than Big Sur, but I’m excited to have my family and boyfriend with me this time around and no worries about elevation!

Do you have any superstitions or rituals you go through before a big race?
Just coffee.  Always a cup of coffee before a race.  I don’t care what any new study says about caffeine before a race, I need my pre-race coffee.  I also always make sure to set my alarm correctly, because one time I overslept and missed a half marathon.

What’s the coolest piece of running gear you own? (T-shirt, sox, etc.)
I just bought a hydration vest, since I’m moving more into the longer trail runs.  I can’t wait to use that thing!

Who have you been running with lately?
I run by myself a lot, mainly because that hour or so running is my time to kind of decompress and think without anything bothering me.  But lately I’ve been joining in with the Often Running group on Thursday nights.  They’re an amazing group of great runners and I actually look forward to those hard workouts!

Who motivates you as a runner?
Food.  On my long runs, I often plan out what I’m going to eat and drink for the rest of the day. Seriously though, running is entirely dependent on me and I can’t blame someone or something else for not getting out there.  What motivates me is getting out the door and knowing I’m doing something for myself.

What makes you stay with it and keep running?
So many things.  Running seems like the only thing I’ve really applied myself to in life.  I used to give up so easily on a lot of things because if I wasn’t perfect right off the bat, I didn’t think it was worth the time.  For some reason, running is the one thing I refuse to give up on, no matter how many setbacks I have.  I think it’s this determination to see how far I can go and how much I can push my body.  My mom one time used the word “dedicated” to describe me and my running.  I can’t say I’ve dedicated myself to much in life outside of the personal relationships I have now with family, friends, and my boyfriend.  I always use the line from Breaking Bad: no more half measures.  I apply that to my running.  Running has made me a better person, physically and mentally.  I’m still hard on myself when I have a bad run, but that only makes me try harder and work to be a more positive person.  I wouldn’t give this up for anything in the world.

Tanya on the Constitution Trail during an ABC run in 2015.

Tanya on the Constitution Trail during an ABC run in 2015.

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Profile on Amber Geiser

Profile on Amber Geiser

How many years have you been running?
I started while I was still in college, however the intense addiction has really developed over the past 7 years.

Why did you start running?
Stress management!  Running is a perfect way to take a break, get some fresh air, and get your mind on something else.  Must…keep…breathing!  Then there’s that whole endorphin thing, which is a bonus!

Who inspired you?
My mom. She passed away from multiple sclerosis.  I’m making the most of my legs in her honor.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?
I received a membership as a Christmas gift a few years ago.    I didn’t know much about the LRC at the time, but now I know I got the BEST GIFT EVER! The LRC is a terrific organization for connecting with other runners and supporting running in the community.

Tell me about your first race.
I ran the 4-Seasons 5K Fun Run back in 2004.  I thought I had conquered the world!  I had mostly only run treadmill miles before that and I was so proud to have run the whole thing without walking.  I don’t remember what my time was.  But I do remember coming home and calling my family and friends and telling them, ohmygoshguesswhatIjust did!!!!!  I was so pumped!

What makes your favorite race your favorite?
The Lake Run is absolutely my favorite.  There’s a course for about everyone.  I like the 12K – it’s challenging enough and the route is gorgeous. Then, beers and gondolas at the end while you catch up with all of your runner friends…it’s perfect!  Plus, it falls on my birthday weekend!

What race really sticks in your mind?
Indianapolis Monumental Marathon 2012.  My first marathon.  Freezing rain starting at Mile 21.  Enough said.

Do you have a favorite route that you run?
I love the Constitution Trail.  We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful amenity in our community!  I’ll start at Tipton, west to the Triangle, then north through campus.  Sometimes all the way out to Ziebarth if it’s a long run day.  I kinda start to feel like Forrest Gump though, once I see those windmills!

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?
Yeah, I’m pretty sure the guy in the speedo at this year’s race takes the cake!

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?
Any race where kids are involved.  They get so excited and I love seeing the young ones catch the “running bug”.  I had the opportunity last year to be involved with planning with both of the Mulberry School 5K’s and it was a tremendous experience.

What are you training for right now?
Grandma’s Marathon, Duluth, MN June 20, 2015

Do you have any superstitions or rituals you go through before a big race? 
Think, re-think, and then overthink any clothing or gear choices as I carefully lay them all out the night before.

What’s the coolest piece of running gear you own?
I have this purple high-vis shirt from REI that would qualify as my “warmest” piece of running gear as well.  Windproof to 25mph, it was definitely my best friend this winter! The high performance fabrics these days are amazing!

Who have you been running with lately?
Lately I have been doing the Thursday night runs with the group from Often Running (Rachel Matyasse, Clint Wells, Andy Williams, Gary Savage, Nate Farney, Paul Bliss, Karen & Joe Brannan, recently Tanya Gianotti, and others!).  This is very much a new thing for me, as I had never run with a group before, but I’ve really been enjoying it.  Everyone has been so incredibly welcoming and encouraging.  And also very entertaining, I didn’t know it was possible to laugh so much and run so hard at the same time!

What motivates you as a runner? 
Self-improvement.  Trying to achieve the next goal.  Right now I’m chasing that BQ!

What makes you stay with it and keep running?
I truly enjoy running. It is more than simply exercise, it’s a way of life.

Amber with her daughter, Sophia, at the Miller Park Stampede 2015.

Amber with her daughter, Sophia, at the Miller Park Stampede 2015.

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Profile on Kirby Cheek

Profile on Kirby Cheek

How many years have you been running?
That’s a bit of a tough question. Initially I ran very casually and somewhat irregularly with my wife Melinda on our own for a few years. But later we joined a “beginning” running program sponsored by the University of Illinois where Melinda worked. That was probably about 32 or 33 years ago.

Why did you start running?
I ran track a little bit in high school and enjoyed it, and later restarted basically for exercise.

Who inspired you?
I used to work with Pat Dunagan and he is the one who really got me started running with folks in Bloomington-Normal. He was the race director for the return of the Lake Run and perhaps conned me into the social side, including talking me into joining the Lake Run Club. It was a pretty small group back then. Less than 65 members of so.

Tell me about your first race.
Christie Clinic in Champaign used to sponsor a 5K/10K and I ran the 5K the second or third year they had it. I’d trained to run the distance, but race day jitters and enthusiasm got the best of me, so I went out too fast and was wasted by the finish. But despite feeling awful, I guess I was a bit hooked.

What makes your favorite race your favorite?
I have several “favorites”. What they have in common is a great, interesting course, great support by organizers and volunteers, and an exceptional post-race party.

What race really sticks in your mind for one reason or another?
I have two, for very similar reasons. The Allerton Park Trail Run, and the Mingo Trail Run each were almost washed out at one time by incredible rains. The Allerton course was almost entirely mud, and the Lake Mingo route was under water. The runners that actually ran it were either hard-core or just stupid (the group I was in). It was impossible to run seriously, so everybody back with me was just there to have a good time. Pure fun in running in nearly impossible circumstances.

Do you have a favorite route that you run?
I really love the 4.37 Loop Course at Lake Bloomington, and the 3 1/3 mile route around Dawson Lake at Moraine View State Park.

If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick, and why?
Been there/done that. The Big Sur Marathon in California. A 26 mile course up some of the most beautiful coast of the Pacific Ocean. After not running a marathon for over 10 years, I said the only thing that could bring me back to marathoning was Big Sur. And I was right, and I’m glad I got that item off my bucket list.

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?
That would probably be the Groundhog Run in Kansas City. It takes place on the weekend before Ground Hogs Day in late January or early February. Cold weather doesn’t matter, because the entire race (5K or 10K) occurs underground in a huge cave cut out into a hill/mountain. The first time I ran the Ground Hog the outside temps were about 10 below, and the race was run underground with temps around 50. A 10K in the midwest in January in a tee shirt. Going back outside after the race was a treat though.

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?
Either the water stop at Chili Chilly, or any part of Race the Dead, including the water stop. Casual runs just for fun and everyone having a great time.

What are you training for right now?
The 15K at Autumn Shoreline, so I can hopefully run the Tunnel Hill 10 Mile Run in Vienna, IL in November.

Who have you been running with lately?
The Thursday Night crew at Lake Bloomington on Thursday evenings at 5:30. I do it for the great social get together after running at Green Gables.

What motivates you as a runner?
Ah, avoiding death, so far.

What makes you stay with it and keep running?
I’ve been running for so long it is hard to imagine not running. It really becomes a part of your life. You really know you’re hooked when you plan vacations around running.

Kirby taking off for a race sporting his Race the Dead shirt.

Kirby taking off for a race sporting his Race the Dead shirt.

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Profile on Tanisha Lanham

Profile on Tanisha Lanham

How many years have you been running?
I started running in 2011 and stopped because my knees were so bad. I started back up this year with Catch the Wave after getting the right pair of shoes.

Why did you start running?
Peer pressure. I had a friend leading one of the groups for Catch the Wave so I said,  “Hey, why not?”

Who inspired you?
 Caitlin Harrison. She’s the reason I love running so much!

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?
It was part of the fee for Catch the Wave. It is a great group of people everyone seems like a little family. They help keep you motivated too!

What was your first race?
My first race was the Lake Run in 2011. Before the race I took a lot of pain killers because I knew my knee was going to hurt. After mile 2 I felt my knee starting to hurt and I did a lot of walking after that. I was able to finish strong and even though my knee was in pain I felt great for finishing my first race!

What makes your favorite race your favorite?
I love all the races I have done. I just go and have a good time.

What is your favorite route that you typically run?
My house is right by the trail so I just hit the trail most of the time.

If you could run any race in the world which would you pick and why?
The Disney Princess Half Marathon. Who wouldn’t want to dress up as a princess and run through Disney’s Magic Kingdom?

Do you have a “You’ll never believe what happened on my run today story”?
When I was on vacation this summer I went for an early morning run and about a mile in I looked down I saw a snake coming out of the grass on the side of the road. I jumped and screamed so loud I bet I woke everyone up. Later that day I went to the local zoo and held an Anaconda.

What are you training for right now?
The We Care Half-Marathon! My first half. I am very excited!
*Tanisha completed this event in September of 2014.

Who have you been running with lately?
I run with Caitlin Harrison most of the time and all the other hot moms/hot ladies!

Who motivates you as a runner?
My family. I finally got my husband into running so I can’t give up now. Also my little girl. She is 2 and loves being chased around the house. We were able to do the Kids Run for Fun this summer and by the end of the summer she was running the whole thing by herself. Seeing her so into running puts a huge smile on my face.

What makes you stay with it and keep running?
My family and knowing that I can actually do it! For a long time I never thought I could run. Its true I can’t run a 6 minute mile but I can run! and I feel great after each run!

tanisha1 (1)

Tanisha (middle) and friends Rachelle Leuty (left) and Caitlin Harrison (right) after a morning run.

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Profile on Julie Riggs

Profile on Julie Riggs

How many years have you been running?
I have been running for one year and 8 months.

Why did you start running?
On September 25, 2012 I was playing volleyball and ruptured my right Achilles tendon. I actually asked to go an extra month to physical therapy to work on running and jumping since I injured my Achilles playing sports and I wanted to be sure that I was still going to be able to be active. So, that last month they had me running intervals for warm-up, just 2 mins walk/2 mins run just a couple times until I reached 10 mins. I didn’t think that was too bad. Well, my friend, Raymond Sevier, told me that is how most beginning running programs start and that I could check out Catch the Wave’s program on the Lake Run Club website. I wasn’t new to Lake Run Club as my kids had been participating in the Kids Fun Run on Friday night for years. So I printed out the program and started doing in by myself on my treadmill in the basement. I was too self-conscious to run outside and I was 4 weeks too late to start with the actual Catch the Wave group. I was surprised that I was able to do each work out. I wasn’t fast, but I was doing it. From there I started doing the No Boundaries Program with Fleet Feet Sports and was then asked to Mentor the program. I’ve become a Fleet Feet groupie and participated in most of their training programs, No Boundaries (5 times), Winter Warriors, 10k program, and Half Marathon program. So running started as part of rehab and now has become a regular part of my life.

Who inspired you?
I have to give credit to Raymond Sevier on this one, he’s the one that got me to try it. However it’s all the friends I’ve made and the personal challenge that keep me going.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?
Isn’t that what all the cool runners do? Mostly to become a member of a larger running community.

Tell me about your first race:
My first race was the Lake Run 2013 after I’d only been running 6 weeks. I know it was six weeks because I was on week 6 of the Catch the Wave program. I kept talking myself into and out of the race. I finally registered at Often Running the afternoon before the race. I then drove to the Lake Bloomington for the first time so I’d know where I was going in the morning where I ran into Tod getting set for the race the next day. He was very nice and talked to me about the race and everything. What really got me to decide to do the race was both Raymond and Anand agreed that they would come back and help me finish the race after they finished. I had no idea what to expect and didn’t really know about the hills. Once the race started I was only about half a mile in when I started thinking, “what the heck was I thinking?” I just tried to stick to my plan of running 8/1 intervals and hoped for the best. About a third of a mile from the finish when I was just about ready to walk (again) the smiling face of Anand appeared with encouraging words followed closely by Raymond. The pushed me to keep going and that I would meet my goal if I did (goal was to finish in under an hour). I struggled, but finished in 55:25 with Tod (who remembered me from the day before) handing me a water bottle and asking me how it went. I was such a surreal experience for me. I actually finished a running race, wow!

What makes your favorite race your favorite?
So far, it’s the Lake Run, hands down. I don’t ever want to miss this race. It’s my favorite because for me it’s where it all began. It holds such good memories of the first race, but also for the friends I’ve made doing the weekly Thursday night Lake Runs. It just feels like home.

What race really sticks in your mind?
The Turkey Trot. Not sure this really qualifies as a race, but it was the first time I’d run in the really cold (it was 22 in 2013). I used to think my running friends were crazy for running in the cold and snow, but you know what, I like it better than the really hot!

Do you have a favorite route that you run?
There are a couple just because I’ve run then so many times in Training Programs. The “W” route that Fleet Feet sports uses. I’ve run that so many times I think I could do it in my sleep. The other is from Tipton Park to the Triangle and back—ran this route many times in half marathon training.

If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick, and why?
I think the Bay to Breakers in San Francisco. I grew up in the South Bay Area and always heard about Bay to Breakers, but I wasn’t a runner so I never paid attention. Now that I am a runner I would love to go back and do some races in CA.

Do you have a “you’ll never believe what happened on my run today” story?
Nothing super exciting. I almost got hit by a car in the Uptown Circle this summer. Kid wasn’t even paying attention, just trying to beat out a car already in the circle. If my friend hadn’t pulled me back I would have been hit.

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is?
I’ve never done Chilly Chili. The most unusual for me so far is the Glow Run – Prairie Vista golf course at night. Really hard in the dark with hills and bad pavement.

What are you training for right now?
Nothing right now, just concentrating on keeping running through the winter with Winter Warriors.

Do you have any superstitions or rituals you go through before a big race?
Both of my boys have received from their religion classes wood tokens called Cross in my Pocket. They have a prayer on one side and a cross on the other. I carry both of them in a pocket when I run races.

What’s the coolest piece of running gear you own?
It would have to be my 2014 We Care Half Marathon half zip. I’m still shocked that I actually ran a half marathon. I mean I ran the whole thing…13.1 miles…2:30:58…totally unbelievable!

Who have you been running with lately?
Fall 2014 No Boundaries participants. Over the summer it was Jason Hebel and Angie DeBoer.

Who motivates you as a runner?
Those people that finish last, who run slow, but are out there doing it anyway. Running doesn’t come easy to me and I’m not fast, but those that are even slower than me, but do it anyway and are out there longer, that is inspiring. The most inspirational thing I have seen is watching the last two people finish the We Care Half Marathon. They were out there for close to 4 hours giving it everything they could. I don’t know if I could have done that.

What makes you stay with it and keep running?
I love mentoring, so that has kept me at it. Also the personal challenge. I know I’m not going to win my age group, but trying to get a better time or run a longer distance. See what this 44-year-old body can do. There’s always something more to achieve.

Julie striking a pose before a run.

Julie striking a pose before a run.

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Profile on Rachel Matyasse

Profile on Rachel Matyasse

How many years have you been running?
I’ve been running since junior high when I joined the track team at my school in 8th grade because some friends were on the team.  I didn’t really like running at all, felt sweating was disgusting and merely joined the team for the social aspects.  I started running more in college (2001) to “get in shape.”

Why did you start running?
Initially, it was for the social aspects.  Later on, it was to stay healthy and to challenge myself.

Who inspired you?
My younger sister Megan ran cross country and track throughout her junior high, high school and college years.  She encouraged me to start running and I was inspired by her efforts.  To this day she continues to be my favorite running partner, though our joint runs are few and far between since we don’t live in the same town.  I had the privilege of running the first ~8 miles of her first marathon with her in 2009 (I ran the half at the same event and the courses split at that point) and then watched her cross the finish in triumphant exhaustion mere weeks before my own first marathon.  More recently, I’ve watched her get back into running after having a baby which has been very inspiring.

Why did you join the Lake Run Club?
I joined the Lake Run Club in 2009 after my first half marathon (U of I 2009) when I decided to train for my first marathon (Chicago 2009).  I joined the LRC to be a part of the awesome Marathon Training Group after seeing a flier advertising the group somewhere around BloNo.

Tell me about your first race.
I think my first race was the Maple City 4 in 2003.  This race is held in June each year in my parents’ hometown of Geneseo, IL.  I didn’t have any idea what I was doing and probably hadn’t even run 4 consecutive miles prior to that day.  I managed a time of 33:53 and second place in my age group (never mind the fact that it was out of two!).

What makes your favorite race your favorite?
Anyone who really knows me knows that my favorite race is the Bix 7, which is a seven-mile race held in Davenport, Iowa each year.  I talk about it too much and I am sure people would prefer that I shut up about it…because really the course is tough (super hilly!) and it is always blazing hot on race day (the last Saturday in July each summer).  I love this race for a variety of reasons…it’s challenging, you get to see lots of elites run, it’s well-supported by volunteers, and the crowd support is really unparalleled as people line the entire 3.5-mile out-and-back course.  It seems like everyone in the Quad Cities gets excited to come out and support the racers.  This year I ran my 11th consecutive Bix.  This race is the one yearly personal tradition that I don’t compromise!

What race really sticks in your mind for one reason or another?
Ironman Wisconsin 2013.  This was my first full-distance triathlon and hopefully not my last (I have my eye on the full at Rev3 Cedar Point in September 2015).  This race was an incredible culmination of years of training and racing, as well as immeasurable love and support from family and friends.  This race is hands-down one of the best memories of my entire life.  From feeling like I was going to throw up before starting the swim, to seeing my parents (including my dad’s non-stop smile and my mom yelling at me late in the bike “DON’T QUIT), to the many friends who made the sacrifice to drive up to watch the race, to my sister running the 21st mile with me in the dark the entire day was unforgettable.

Do you have a favorite route that you run?
This question seems to promote stalking!  I tend to stick to various portions the Constitution Trail.  When I’m visiting family, I love running along the Mississippi River in Davenport as well as along the Hennepin Canal in Geneseo, IL.

If you could run any race in the world, which would you pick, and why?
I want to run a marathon in another country.  Apparently there’s a bridge in China that’s just over 26 miles long.  I’m pretty sure there’s not actually a marathon on that…but how awesome would it be if there was?!  Until that race is created, maybe I’d say I’d choose the Tokyo Marathon.  As far as the “why,” I guess I would just say because the marathon is my favorite distance and running in a new/unfamiliar place is my personal favorite way to discover it.

Do you have a “you’ll never believe what happened on my run today” story?
Well one “emergency” visit to a porta-potty at Tipton Park that resulted in me leaving my underwear behind does stand out in my mind.

If Chilly Chili isn’t the most unusual race you’ve ever taken part in, what race is? I’ve never run the Chilly Chili…apparently I should?  I don’t know that this counts as “unusual” because lots of people do races like this…but in November of 2011 I completed a Tough Mudder race with my sister.  It was horrible.  It was cold and swimming through vats of ice water is no joke.  Being electrocuted at the end was an experience I could’ve done without.  I finished the darn thing because I don’t tend to quit things, but it was definitely “unusual” and not very pleasant.

Which race do you think is the most fun to volunteer at and why?
This summer I volunteered at the Kids Run for Fun events on Friday evenings and I LOVED it.  Not only is it socially a lot of fun to see friends out at the events with their children, but it is also great to be a part of encouraging young children to pursue running as part of healthy lifestyles.

What are your race  and training plans for the fall of 2014?
I’m training for the Chicago Marathon this fall as well as for an aqua-bike event at Rev3 Cedar Point.  This season has been a little disappointing as I’ve battled tendinitis, but it is giving me many opportunities to practice patience and persistence.  I have high hopes for 2015!

Do you have any superstitions or rituals you go through before a big race?
I used to always sleep in my race attire the night before races.  I don’t necessarily do this consistently right now.  Really my only consistent “ritual” is making sure to have a successful porta-potty stop…I know most of you can relate to that!

What’s the coolest piece of running gear you own?
I love my dorky Lululemon running skirts in silly colors and patterns.  I also love my purple stretchy fuel belt that I purchased at a race expo once.  I believe the brand is Level; however I’ve never been able to find the same product online or elsewhere.  This thing is great:  you step into it and slide it up around your waist and can fill the entire thing all the way around with keys/phone/gels/etc.

Who have you been running with lately?
I’ve been running with the Thursday Night Often Running group which consists of a variety of people…most consistently Clint Wells, Paul Bliss, Gary Savage and Andy Williams. As previously mentioned, I also run with my sister when we happen to be in the same town.  Also favorite running partners of note include Jillian McGriff and Jennifer Blackorby.

Who motivates you as a runner?
I am a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and I work children who present with a variety of speech/language disorders both at Thomas Metcalf Laboratory School in Normal and at Easter Seals in Bloomington.  Working with children with disabilities is challenging but rewarding.  Running, for me, can be a challenge but that challenge pales in comparison to those faced by many of the children and families I work with.  Watching these inspirational children fight to learn to overcome obstacles such as difficulty communicating, walking, eating and more has shown me that nothing is impossible.  For the past two years, I have been a member of Team Believe which is a team of marathoners who raise money and awareness for Easter Seals.  Having the privilege to combine my love of running with my passion for individuals with disabilities has been very motivating to me as a runner.

What makes you stay with it and keep running?
Honestly, running has become a part of my identity and a part of what makes me “me.”  I can’t imagine “Rachel Matyasse” without running and without the people this sport has brought into my life.

 

Rachel running the Operation Jack Marathon in December of 2012.

Rachel running the Operation Jack Marathon in December of 2012.

Rachel (left) and her sister Megan Hankner (right) after finishing the University of Illinois half marathon 2009.

Rachel (left) and her sister Megan Hankner (right) after finishing the University of Illinois half marathon 2009.

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Profile on Briana Paris

Profile on Briana Paris

Briana Paris ran track when she was younger, but didn’t get serious about running until about 10 years ago after graduating college. She realized that she could spend her life sitting at a desk working, and needed an outlet at the end of the day as stress relief and to avoid gaining “office weight.” Her early role models when she joined the Lake Run Club were Meg Anderson, Kim Barman, and Robyn Walter. Meg and Kim were her first Ride the Wave leaders when she was training for her first half marathon (Illinois Half Marathon). “They were so encouraging, and to this day I’m still so thankful for them because it really did launch my running.”

Briana’s first big race was the Illinois Half Marathon in Champaign years ago. After meeting so many people through Ride the Wave and making it through the race, she wanted to continue racing. She was especially appreciative of Robyn Walter for her help as the Ride the Wave Director, and for Meg Anderson for her encouragement during training and after finishing her race.

Her favorite race is the Lake Run, which she started running before she was an LRC member. One of her most memorable racing experiences was the Chicago Marathon 2012, her first marathon. Briana overcame her prerace nerves and had a great race. Unfortunately the race official ran out of medals. This made Briana’s race finish for the Chicago Marathon 2013 even more memorable when she got her official finishing medal. Briana has ambitions to run other marathons, such as Big Sur and Boston. She is currently training for the Chicago Marathon 2014 and the Marine Corps Marathon 2014.

You may have seen Briana this summer volunteering at Kids Runs on Friday nights. She says, “It’s so fulfilling seeing how excited the kids get when you hand them a ribbon and they wear their shirts & want to run another lap when their age group is done.” You may also find her running on the trail in preparation for her fall races with running buddy, Janice Forrest.

When asked about her motivation to keep running, Briana said she is grateful for the health benefits and camaraderie that come along with the sport. “You only live once, so I might as well take advantage of the fact that I’ve been given this body that will allow me to run marathons…I always say running is the one constant in my life- it never leaves me, it never hurts my feelings or disappoints me.”

 

Briana after finishing the Chicago Marathon in 2013.

Briana after finishing the Chicago Marathon in 2013.

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Profile on Meryl Brown

Profile on Meryl Brown

Starting out as a recreational cyclist who loved to be outdoors, Meryl Brown always thought that she was in pretty good shape. That is, until she decided to give running a try about two years ago. “I looked at myself and figured I was in shape, but needed an extra push. I saw all of these people doing fun 5ks and thought, hey how hard could it be? The first day I went out for a run I made it to my neighbor’s house less than a quarter mile away and nearly passed out on his front lawn.” At this point, she began a competition with herself to run just a little bit further each day, and she found that it helped her battle her postpartum depression after the birth of her first child. “Once I started feeling that good there was no stopping me!”

Meryl’s movitation to start running also came from two of her close friends, Sara Thompson and Kristen Dixon. At the time Kristen had been running half marathons for several years, and Sara had also been an avid runner for most of her life. The decision to join the Lake Run Club came when Meryl began to share the same enthusiasm. “I became a crazy runner so fast that I needed a place to share my craziness!” She continues to be motivated by other local runners, such as her friend, Dan Anderson. “He is the only one who is crazy enough to actually DO the things I think about doing!” she says.

Meryl’s first race was the Race for the Cure 5k in Bloomington, IL in 2012. She was originally supposed to run another 5k, but her neighbor talked her in to joining her team for the event. After crossing the finish line around 34 minutes, Meryl was amazed at the feeling of completing her first race, and was even more excited at the 2013 Race for the Cure when she took 10 minutes off of her 2012 time and placed 2nd in her age group while pregnant. She eventually convinced her husband, Mike, to join the running community when they ran the Hot Chocolate 5k in Chicago and has also enjoyed volunteering at the Kids Fun Runs as her oldest daughter, Farrah, participated in the event.

While the Hot Chocolate 5k is Meryl’s sentimental favorite because she got to share the experience with her husband, her most memorable race was the Get Lucky Half Marathon 2013 in Chicago. The name of this race speaks to the irony in this story, because the runners competing in this event were anything but lucky on this day. A winter of training through the rain, snow, and wind seemed mild compared to what was in store. “There was rain, snow, sleet, and wind, causing the waves of Lake Michigan to crash and spray us in the face for much of the 13.1” Regardless, Meryl fondly recalls her amazing pace team that brought several runners to PRs and lead her to completing her first half marathon.

During training, you may find Meryl running on the main stretches of the constitution trail. “Does anyone else feel like they cross a finish line every time they go through the train station uptown?  More often than not, I raise my hands in celebration when I go through.” Meryl’s favorite running gear, her Brooks gloves/mittens doubt came in handy during those chilly fall and winter runs this year. Meryl’s training had a different focus this year as she prepared for the birth of her daughter, Simona, and continued running through 30 weeks into her pregnancy. “As my pregnancy went on, I was running a lot slower than my training partners, Kristen Dixon and Ariel Swift, so it was just me and my baby for 15 weeks.” She unfortunately had to miss the infamous Chilly Chili event in 2014 due to her pregnancy and weather concerns, but hopes to partake in the future. She’s also contemplating doing the Disney Marathon for her first full marathon.

Meryl describes her drive to continue running by saying, “Knowing that running has kept my postpartum depression away and knowing that after a run I am ridiculously task-oriented and focused is what keeps me running…It will be great including this child in my passion and to show my older daughter that working towards a goal is a great quality. She wants to bike with us as I run with the newborn!.” Sounds like a family of athletes in the making.

Meryl after finishing the Monster Dash 2013 half marathon in Chicago.

Meryl after finishing the Monster Dash 2013 half marathon in Chicago.

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