Posts in the category

75 pounds lost…and counting: Non smoker turned runner

By | September 3, 2014 10:07 am | 0 Comments

Editor’s note: I “met” Mary when I posted a question on the Her Times 5K Facebook page asking women to tell me why other women should try the HT5K. Mary wrote me a sweet note and told me a little bit about her journey. I sent her some more questions so I could share her story with you in hopes it might inspire you or someone you know. 

 before after

Before                                                                                                Now

As often happens, Mary Krysiak, 34, of Erie, gained weight when she stopped smoking in November of 2012, topping out at 287 pounds. But, unlike most ex-smokers who accept the extra pounds as the price of healthier lungs, Krysiak decided to take charge of her own health.

The catalyst? An unflattering photo of herself that was taken the summer after she quit smoking.

“I saw a picture of myself and I didn’t like what I saw,” she said. “I decided to take charge of my own life. I didn’t want to get surgery or take pills or any of that. I wanted to do it myself, so I started walking, biking.”

She joined the YMCA in November 2013 – her one-year anniversary of going smoke-free.

“A friend at work told me that it takes a year for your body to adjust to not smoking, so I decided to wait until the year market and then join the YMCA.”

Since then, Krysiak has lost 75 pounds and is now down to 212 pounds. She’s run a 5K, a 10K and completed a triathlon!

I talked with Krysiak about her experience and what the future holds for her (hint: the big 26.2 is on her to-do list!)

How did you start when taking charge of your health? I joined the YMCA and found out that they have coaches there, so I signed up. While I was working there with my coach, they started a program that was kind of like “The Biggest Loser” competition. You had to fill out an application & everything. I didn’t think I’d get in, but I had an interview and they picked me. That made all the difference in the world… to talk a dietician and have trainers there for you at any time. I ended up finishing in 2nd place, having lost 22 percent of my body weight.

What is the farthest you’ve run so far? 6.6 miles.

What race distances have you accomplished so far? I have ran a 5K and 10K, my next goal is a half marathon (13.1 miles). I have also done a triathlon.

What is your workout routine like now? I like to do weights 3 days a week and cardio 5 days.

How often do you workout? Right now, I work out 5 days a week. When I hit my goal weight of 190, then I plan to go down to 3 days to maintain.

Did you make any changes to your diet? How so? My diet before was mainly red meat, carbs, and lots of bread. I never used to eat vegetables and rarely ate fruit. Now, I have increased my fruits and vegetables intake to several a day and bread has been decreased. I also eat fish and try to substitute turkey for hamburger, etc.

What was your highest weight? 287

What is your current weight? 212

What is your goal weight? 190

What is your current running pace? 12 minute miles

Why running? Did you start walking, then progress to running? What made you start running?

I think that running is very effective and it gives me my “me” time. I started to run because when I was doing the YMCA Challenge, they told me that we were going to have a run clinic and I wanted to be able to run. I started to train by walking and running a little. Then, I just progressed into all running. I never thought I would run a mile let alone 10….nor did I ever dream I’d actually want to run a half marathon!

Do you have any support — a dog or friends or family you run with or who encourage you? My trainer Erica ran my first mile with me and always believed in me, even when I didn’t. Now, I usually run by myself. I have awesome friends and family that have been behind me all the way and encourage me all of the time. I am a nurse at the Erie Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center and my patients actually encourage me daily. They have all been a great support system for me.

What is your dream race and/or a bucket list item that you want to complete? My short-term dream is a half marathon. My long-range dream is a marathon.

How do you reward yourself? With my hair. If I reach a goal, I usually do something with my hair to treat myself. When I do, I walk into a salon and tell them do whatever they want, then it’s a surprise even to me.

What do you want people to know about losing weight? That it well worth the hard work and dedication. Also, it starts with one step. Just start moving and if you fall, get back up and start again. It’s worth it to be healthy. I really had no idea that I didn’t feel good before, but now I know because now I feel great!

Inspired, ladies? Good! Sign up for the Her Times 5K!


Where to find races in Erie

By | August 13, 2014 2:34 am | 0 Comments

I received the following email & after I answered him, I thought it might be useful info to post here for any other runners new to the Erie scene:

Hi Heather,

I got your email from your blog on  You seem like a great person to provide me some information.  I’m getting back into running after many years off, and haven’t ever run a race since living in the Erie area.  Is there a list of runs nearby Erie that you can point me to?
Thanks for your help.
~ J.L.
Hi Jason. Welcome back into the running family. You’ll find that Erie has a very active, supportive & friendly running community. I know of lots of groups who run together around Erie county at a variety of paces, so if & when you want to join others, let me know & I’ll see if I can’t find you some folks to run with.

Tonight is Tuesday Night Race League which is an informal racing league that gets together on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in the summer months to run in places all over Erie county. Some race (I don’t) and there are usually two distances given…a shorter & a longer. People of all abilities show up and are welcome at TNRL. It is free and informal (no bibs or shirts or anything…there are times you’ll need to write your own time down). More info on TNRL and the schedule can be found here. Tonight TNRL is at Highmyer park in Harborcreek

Information on local races can be found here.  As you’ll see…there is no shortage of events to chose from. I don’t know that every single race is listed here (it’s up to organizers to send to the Erie runners club to get their event listed), but…the bigger ones are on the list. The official Erie Runners Club events are typically the most well attended and best run (managed).

If you have questions about any of the races, let me know, I’ve been running here in Erie for nearly 20 years. There’s probably not a race course or area of the county that I’m not familiar with (OK, maybe far west county — I’m an east county girl, born and raised).

See you at the races!


Erie running group news, notes

By | June 1, 2014 1:50 am | 0 Comments


Running with other people will improve your performance and it may even improve your running experience (it has for me).

The Tuesday Night Race League, an informal weekly “race” league that is free and open to anyone & everyone of any ability (walkers welcome, too) has a Facebook page now. “Like” it to stay informed about all the group’s happenings and each week’s location and distance options. Not on FB? TNRL news is also posted on Jim Lang’s Big White Trailer website.

This coming Tuesday (June 3), TNRL is at Lake Erie Speedway at 7 p.m. Meet in the parking lot. There is always a longer & a shorter run option.

The Monday beginners trail run group at Penn State Behrend is going to be moving from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.  Park in the Junker Center parking lot and look for the folks gathering in the corner near the soccer fields. It’s “real” trail running with a mostly single-track course and plenty of mud if there’s been a recent rain. Plan accordingly!  If you’re on Facebook, join the Erie Trail Runners group to stay up-to-date.  More info on the trail run here.

If you’re looking for a group to run with…or you have a group that you’d like to invite more runners to, request to join the Erie Runners Club Running Groups Facebook group.

Free running clinic starts Thursday

By | May 8, 2014 9:22 pm | 0 Comments

Once again, Harborcreek Township is sponsoring a FREE 6-week Beginner’s Running Clinic.  Learn how to start running, choose proper equipment, warm up & stretching, diet, and follow a training plan to help you reach your running goals.

The clinic will be held every Thursday starting on May 15th at 6 PM.  Meet at the picnic pavilion next to the Firman Road concession stand at Harborcreek Community Park.

The running clinic is FREE andYou do NOT need to be a Harborcreek resident to attend.

Here’s a Q&A I did with Sandie Sweet, the runner who leads the clinic.

Need some inspiration? This Harborcreek blogger attended Sandie’s clinic and started running (she had not run prior to attending the clinic) and she just completed her first half marathon!  Read all about it here.

You can do it. You are so much stronger than you can possible imagine.

Go!  DO IT. Try it. It can will change your life.

Questions?  Call (814) 899-3171 or email Sandie Sweet at

Things I found — 3/20/14

By | March 20, 2014 1:44 am | 0 Comments

Worth Reading

Star Tribune: She found running and left troubles in the dust

How to pick the right running partner (Tip: If your goal is to get faster, your best running partners are those slightly faster than you. This means you may curse them while running because they will push you, but…that’s how you improve).

Because we can: Why we all need to run

Undies for running women (cute concept, but…pricey — 3 pairs for $48. Ouch).

Forget Fitbit –  This T-shirt embeds fitness sensors into fabric (interesting)

Funny stuff


How Are You Training? from Boss Hog on Vimeo.


Know the lingo: Recovery Run

By | February 26, 2014 8:55 am | 0 Comments

When you’re just getting started in a sport, it’s hard to learn the lingo. Running and walking, like any sport, has it’s own special language and local phrases. Each week, I’ll define a term or phrase that will help you not only walk the walk (or run the run), but talk the talk.

A “recovery run” is a run that you’d do the day after a hard or long (or long and hard) run or race. It’s meant to speed recovery by getting the blood flowing to the legs to flush out all the toxins, lactate etc. Recovery runs are always short, but… most importantly, they’re done very, very slowly.

More info on recovery runs here and here.

Things I found — 8/8/13

By | August 8, 2013 1:19 am | 0 Comments

Worth Reading

* Protein is key to satiating meals and, therefore, key to weight loss (you eat much less when you eat protein). Here are 9 Portable Protein Sources for Athletes (though I disagree with peanut butter…it’s full of sugar and peanuts are legumes, not nuts).

* Can’t figure out what your next race should be? Take the pop quiz to find out what your next challenge should be.

* Dogs don’t sweat, so be cautious about taking your favorite four-legged partner on a run on a hot, humid day (no matter how much they WANT to go). Heed these 12 safety tips for running with your dog in the heat.


Gear of the week (I’m getting bored with T-shirts)

Check out these cool MantraBands!  Mantras can get you through a tough race. I’ve got several mantras and they’ve changed over the years. The one I relied on in the PA Grand Canyon marathon was “Relentless Forward Progression.” I don’t see that one here, but I’m thinking I won’t need that one again anyway.  “Carpe Diem” or “Enjoy the Journey” might be better choices for me now.


Wanna be a Poser?

Also…don’t forget about Pose-method classes that are now available in Erie. Here are the details:





Guest Post: Confessions of a lapsed runner (Don’t let this happen to you)

By | August 7, 2013 1:33 am | 0 Comments

Guest post

By Tom Madura

Hi, my name is Tom and I haven’t run in months.

Well, not quite true. I’ve run. A little.

But this is a story about what happens when you lose the drive, and how hard it is to get it back. See, I’ve been a runner for about 30 years, give or take, and I’ve had my ups and downs. But never like this.

I started running in my 20s, and now, in my 50s,  my PR’s are all behind me. My 1:44 in the Clarion River Half Marathon seems like a lifetime ago. (That’s the fore-runner of the Cook’s Forest Half for you young ‘uns). But that’s OK.  I don’t mind getting older and slower – as long as I can still run and enjoy it.

It’s been years since I ran with the express purpose of beating anyone or trying to continually improve my pace. I started running barefoot to reduce the stress on my knees, and started to run just for the sheer fun of it and to stay fit. I love running and I was having a ball.

But last summer something changed – a long stretch of hot, humid weather led me to take a few weeks off. “What’s a few weeks?” I thought. It’s happened before. As soon as it cools off, I’ll start puttin’ in the miles again.

Only I didn’t. “Just a couple more days”, I thought, and I’ll jump right back in. I promise.

And then I twisted my ankle while out boating. A running injury when I wasn’t even running. Just great.

So then I decided, “Well, with that ankle all swollen and sore I’d better not start running again until it feels better.”

Weeks stretched into months, and then it was almost time for the Turkey Trot – one of my favorite races, and one I have only missed once in the last ten years. I hadn’t run at all since August, and it was early November. I did a few 2-mile runs and felt pretty good so I signed up for the 5K. Afterward I felt great, but there was still a little twinge in my ankle, and it was a little swollen the next day. No big deal, I’ll just take a few more days off (this train of thought was getting way too easy!)

Next up was the Snowflake Run – another favorite. I ran it and felt great.

Then I started to find every excuse imaginable not to run. What was wrong with me? All winter it was “I’m busy tonight”. “It’s raining – maybe it’ll be nicer tomorrow.” “It’s too cold”, or “I had a long day at work – I‘m tired”, or “Boy that couch and fireplace sure look more inviting than a run in the snow.”

Problem is, there are ALWAYS long days at work, or it’s ALWAYS too hot or too cold, or too rainy, and the couch is ALWAYS there. These things never stopped me from running before. I just didn’t have the motivation. I’d lost the drive. I was in a slump. My wife bought me a running motivational calendar for Christmas – it’s hanging in my office – I read it every day.

Didn’t help.

I read Heather’s blog every day for motivation and envied her drive to train for her Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania marathon.

Didn’t help.

It was just becoming easier and easier to NOT run.

Winter turned to Spring and I was really starting to miss running.

Oh, I finally started to go for an occasional 2 or 3 mile run, but getting back into a regular running routine was turning out to be harder than I thought. I did a few after-work runs at Presque Isle, and did 3 miles on International Barefoot Running Day in May. But by then it had been almost nine months (nine months!) since I had run on a regular schedule, and time I had previously set aside for running had now been taken up with other things – yard work; staying late at work; going out with friends. My schedule was full! Was this a permanent change in my life? Was I becoming an ex-runner?

N0. Damn it. I just need to focus on this and motivate myself – it’s for my own good and nobody else is going to do it for me. And I ENJOY IT! Why is this so hard??

As they say – it’s all in the mind. Just Do It.

So last week, on a cool rainy day, after a long day at work, I told my wife that dinner would have to wait a little bit tonight, and with only a passing glance at the couch as I headed out the front door, I did my first 3 mile run in weeks. And I’ve done 3 more since.

And most important of all, I finally WANT to keep doing it again! I’m looking forward to my next run.

I’m back! And it feels great!

I’ll see you on the road.

~ Tom

Friday Question: Advice for new racers

By | August 2, 2013 5:33 am | 0 Comments

What one piece of advice, learned from your own experience, would you give a runner running his/her first race?

Do not go out too fast. To have your best race, you need to run evenly each mile in the race. Yes you will slow going uphill and speed up downhill. But as this is your 1st race, just complete the race and that will be your best race. — Mike Filutze

Have a running buddy. — Mark Dombrowski

Don’t get caught up in the electric excitement and start too fast/hard or you might lose steam way too soon! — Tracy Jenks

Have fun! — Dennis Albrewczynski

My mom always tells me…”don’t start out too fast”. It is so true! — Jessie Zahner

Run your own race. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing out there. — Rhonda Berlin

Don’t worry about your time. It’s your first race. What you get is your first PR – you will improve with more races you do. — Jennifer Bach

Don’t worry about your time. It’s your first race. What you get is your first PR – you will improve with more races you do. — Mike Caggeso

Don’t worry about your time; you ain’t goin’ to the Olympics. Have fun and wear the t-shirt proudly! — Michael Morris

Tie your shoes. Then check. There’s nothing like having to pull off to tie your shoes. — Jim Lang

Look around – not just down. You are creating a memory you will always remember. — Christine Vassen

Walk the water stop(s), and don’t worry about your time. — Lisa Shade

Pretend you are holding potato chips in your hands you don’t want to crush.. keeps you loose. — Ron Peterman

My advice is much of the same as has been said above, but I’d also add a few etiquette things:

* Line up in the back — when you’re new, better to pass people anyway (gives you a nice boost)

* Don’t stop dead in front of the water stops. Runners expect you to keep moving (slow jog). If you want to walk and drink your water (I ALWAYS do), step off to the side so that you’re not in the way of the runners who want to drink on the run.

* Pin your bib to the FRONT of your shirt.

* If the bib is not chip timed (ask), you need to stay in order when you are in the finisher’s chute.

* Be kind to the volunteers at the race — they’re all volunteers. Express appreciation, if you can (smile, wave, “thanks”…whatever).

* Don’t be afraid to ask a veteran runner questions. 98% of runners are super friendly and they love to answer your questions — don’t be afraid to ask. (Avoid the serious-looking ones that are jumping up & down at the front of the start line.)

Also, check out 10 things to know before your first 5K.

Things I found — 8/1/13

By | August 1, 2013 1:38 am | 0 Comments


Worth Reading

* Ironman Andy Potts shares his best training advice. (I think we should all start eating like little kids. I truly think we all eat too often…that eat small meals all day thing is bunk, provided the meals you do eat have protein and fat in them..yes, FAT…don’t be afraid. Trust me on this.).

* Next time someone tells you that running is bad for your knees, hit them with these 9 Ways Running is Good For Your Body.

* Planning to celebrate your latest running achievement with some new ink? Check out these 41 Running-Inspired Tattoos.

* If you’ve taken some time off from running, whether by choice or by doctor’s orders, here are 16 comeback songs to inspire you when you’re ready to lace up again.

Video of the Week

T-shirt of the Week