Posts in the category

Friday question: Best running advice

By | October 24, 2014 1:54 am | 0 Comments

Veteran runners love to dole out advice to newbies. I asked some area runners (some long-time runners, some fairly new to the scene) to share with us the best running-related advice they’ve ever received. Here’s what they had to say:

You can run too fast. But you can never run too slow. — Benjamin Reitz

Ditch the shoes and start running barefoot! I would have given up running years ago had I not taken that advice. — Tom Madura
Trust the Gear. When I doubted that a thin looking wicking shirt could work better than a heavy sweatshirt. —Christine Vassen (editor’s note: Good running clothes are worth EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR..and items usually last for years.)
Don’t do anything in the race you didn’t do in training. — Susan Ellsworth
Lean into the run. Don’t fight it. — Theresa Konzel
The first mile always sucks. This doesn’t mean the whole run is going to suck. Just keep going. (I had no idea!) — Rhonda Berlin
You can do it! — LeAnn Morton
Find a group of friends to run with & do fun runs. — Lisa Meyer
Put your sneakers on & go! — Renee York
Train in all weather conditions…never know what the weather will be on race day. — Megs Shearman
Small achievements lead to big goals. Run small increments set small goals and work your way up. Each step is one more step towards a better finish. This has helped me to not be discouraged at my limitations from being unable to do it. Instead each new achievement has motivated me to do more. It’s been an awesome journey… only regret is not doing it sooner in life. —Dawnmarie Dumond
From a trail sage friend of mine: If you fall down, the best thing you can do is just get up and get moving. — Sean Donachy
Get the miles in don’t worry about time! — Laurie Bruce
Vary the pace. Run slow runs very slow so you can recover and be fresh for the hard workouts. Too many people just run everything at “medium” pace and remain stagnant. — Pat Krott
When running, stay hydrated. I learned that  lesson the hard way when I did my first half. If you don’t stay hydrated, there is a lot of pain that comes after. — Mary Krysiak
Know your body. Know how you breathe. Know how your body moves. Don’t listen to anyone else – listen to your body. — Jim Lang
You will feel better. — Tim May
Even bad runs are good runs. Learn from them and move on! — Leslie Cooksey
Good running shoes are vital. — Amy Morrow
The first mile is a liar. Keep going, it will get better. — Bri Hodges
Give yourself permission to go as slow as you need to…miles are miles. (I often repeat this in my head while wanting to stop) — Karen Forcht
Starting is half the battle. Just go. — Debbie Humphreys
Spend the cash on good shoes. Get fitted. Don’t cheap out. Get new ones by the recommended guidelines for miles. Invest in your feet! — Eloise Hawking
Don’t run every day or you’re more prone to injury. And cross train on non-run days. — Karen Beebe
As for me, I’d have to say the best running advice I ever received was from my father, a former runner, who told me to not to go out to fast in a race & to hold back in a race for the first half mile or mile because it’s easy to get caught up with the excitement and run too hard…and then you’ll flame out in the middle. It’s solid advice that has served me pretty well over the years.
A few other bits of advice from friends that have helped me over the years:
* Don’t put sunscreen above your cheeks (it always runs into your eyes)…put it on from cheeks down & wear a hat & sunglasses to protect the rest of your face.
* Don’t bother carrying water on a long run…drop it in advance (or plan a route with water stops/fountains along the way).
* Everyone occasionally has a really crappy run. No big deal.
* Runners make ugly hood ornaments (i.e. wear reflective gear).


Things I found — 10/23/14

By | October 23, 2014 2:13 am | 0 Comments

Worth Reading

Muscle imbalances can lead to injury. Here how to fix them.

It’s not easy, but if you can master the negative splits strategy, you will enjoy a real advantage in races.

Crack a few: Eggs are GOOD for runners.

A different kind of 400s track workout. Change your 400s speedwork up a bit with this workout.

Why you should start loving and appreciating your body as it is right now.  (And, as runners, we should REALLY appreciate it because it does some kick-a#$ stuff for us!)

What does it mean that so many voices out there insist that the body is something to despise because it is too fat, sinful, ugly, sexual, old or brown? That we teach each other, in thousands of blatant and quiet ways, to think we are shameful? That our bodies are something to be overcome, beaten into submission or to be despised?


Gear of the week

Ladies, check out this new Bia Sport watch designed just for you by a female triathlete. At nearly $300, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever see it on my wrist, but….a girl can dream, right?


 T-Shirt of the Week


It’s just common courtesy, right?

Weekend race results

By | October 20, 2014 7:56 am | 0 Comments

Peak Mountain Challenge

Henry Sullivan, 14, of Clymer, won the Peak Mountain Challenge run, barreling up the mountain in 2 minutes and 30 seconds to win the season ski pass. Desiree Thomas, 26, Fairview, won the women’s pass in 3 minutes and 45 seconds.

Complete Peak Mountain Challenge results can be found here.

ERC Personal Endurance Classic

Seventy people took the endurance challenge and participated in the ERC’s Personal Endurance Classic on Saturday morning. Rain in the first few hours of the 12-hour event, didn’t dampen enthusiasm or stop the runners/walkers who did 1-mile loops around the Presque Isle ponds.

I intended to do 12, but ended up doing 21.  (More on that later).  Of special note were the Urso sisters — Jenna, just 10, did 20 miles! Her little sister, Jessica, 6, did 11!


Jessica, 6, Jenna, 10, and my daughter, Lauren, 11.

Complete results can be found here.

P.S. If you’ve never done the Endurance Classic…you really should give it a try next year!

Here are a few photos:









Guest Post: Getting to Know Elliot Spaeder

By | October 17, 2014 3:56 am | 0 Comments

By Larry Kisielewski


On July 22, 2014, ERC member Elliot Spaeder joined a very exclusive club. Departing from Long Point, Ontario, Canada at 7 a.m., the lean, well-trained, 30-year-old progressed south across Lake Erie to Freeport Beach in North East, PA, arriving 11 hours, 28 minutes, and 5 seconds later to become only the 16th person in the world to swim the 24.3-mile distance.

And so, departing from our usual GTKY format, here are 20 questions answering the who, where, what, and why of that monumental endeavor:

When did you first get the idea to swim the lake?

I’ve been swimming since I was three months old, so it’s always been in the back of my head. My dad, Tim, first suggested it in 1999, but last September (2013) was when I decided to go for it.

What was your typical training regimen and when did you start?

I started serious training that November, swimming 8,000 yards per day I the Prep pool [where he is swim coach] before starting work. I progressed to 5-7 hour swims with running supplementing my workouts on off days. I basically followed a 16-week marathon program (adapted to swimming) which physically and mentally helped my training.

Any training partners or mentors?

My wife, Molly, would get up at 5:30 or 6 a.m. on weekends and paddle the kayak with GPS and timing once the weather broke and we started workouts in open water at Presque Isle, Edinboro or Findley Lake. Ryan Morrow kayaked for me during the week, Eric Mizuba and Sonya (Pyle) Wittman answered a lot of my questions and (previous lake swimmer) Bob North had me over for dinner, looking over scrapbooks and film. (Two-time lake swimmer and record holder) Josh Heynes was invaluable with his coaching.

What was your longest previous swim?

I’d done a 16-mile training swim and planned an 18-miler on July 4th that was cut short because of bad lake conditions.

You had a one-week window you’d decided on. How did you decide on that day?

Our team of 12 people on stand-by had a 40-foot boat and four single kayaks and one tandem kayak. The long-range forecast didn’t look good, so the Friday before, I went to the Indians/Tigers game with a long workout on Sunday. That night, I got a text from Josh saying Tuesday was a go.

What was it like getting to the starting point?

Lonely. The 40-footer took four hours to go across the lake, so it left the night before. I went across that morning in a motor boat with five other people that took about an hour to get there. I wore a hoodie, with my head down, listening to music through my headphones, alone with my thoughts. The Border Patrol helped with the arrangements, previously contacting the Canadian authorities.

How were the conditions?

Perfect! About 70 degrees, surface like glass, crystal-clear visibility to about a 15-foot depth.

What was it like wading in and taking that first stroke?

I went ashore and prayed. I thought, “I can’t believe I’m finally doing this!” but I wasn’t going to let everybody down. I kissed my wife, waded out, and started swimming.

What did you wear?

Wet suits aren’t allowed. I wore a USA Speedo and a swim cap, goggles, and a heart-rate monitor for a Gannon study. I lubed with a lanolin/Vaseline mix and sunscreen.Two months later, I still have the tan line!

What were breaks like?

Unlimited, but you can’t touch anyone or anything. I took 10 breaks (about one per hour). The longest was two minutes. The rest were about a minute. I’d tread water and a kayaker would toss me a water bottle of high-cal electrolytes called “Hammer Nutrition,” which is basically a strong Gatorade mix we’d decided on in training through trial and error to provide nutrition and prevent cramping. Bathroom breaks were on the fly. I had a kayaker play music during the breaks.

What did you think about? Did you relax and “zone out”?

Music (I-pods or radios) isn’t allowed. I went through a U2 concert in my head, but that didn’t take too long. It was hard to relax with all the yelling (encouragement). I usually swim competitively and breathe on my left side, but for this, I lengthened my stroke and breathed bi-laterally (both sides, one breath every three strokes).

How was your pace?

I started out way too fast. My first mile was 17 minutes. My crew slowed me down then, and I averaged 25 minutes per mile, with 31 minutes my slowest mile.

What was your weight loss, if any?

I lost 15 pounds during training, but on the actual swim, nothing.

Was this a sanctioned swim?

Yes. Josh Heynes is a certified observer for both WOWSA (World Open Water Swim Association) and LEOSA (Lake Erie Open-Water Swim Association).

At what point did you know, “I got it!”?

I’d told the crew that I didn’t want to know for how long or how far I’d been in the water. After awhile, I could see landmarks on shore but they didn’t seem to get closer. I didn’t know for sure I had it until I actually saw shore.

You raised a lot of money with this swim.

Yes, we raised $20,000 for the YMCA. They’ve done a lot for me, and I wanted to give back.

How bad was the recovery?

Not bad. I knew there would be a crowd on shore so I told myself to be strong. I waded out with steady legs, kissed Molly, and had a beer on shore. The next day, I went to work a half day, swam 500 yards at the Y, and did the Presque Isle Mile lake swim at Discover Presque Isle that Saturday. That Monday, I was back to my routine of running and lifting.

Will you do it again?


Any other challenges?

Maybe an Ironman.

If you did it over, would you do anything differently?

Seeing that I was only 11 minutes off the record, I may have re-thought the strategy of not knowing my time or distance.
Last words: I’m happy I did it and happy it’s over. I’m glad to get back on my running program and looking forward to the Turkey Trot. Thanks to my crew and everyone who supported me!!

Video here & here

** Getting To Know You is reprinted with permission from the October 2014 Erie Runners Club newsletter.

Things I found — 10/16/14

By | October 16, 2014 2:32 am | 0 Comments

Worth Reading

Can you train your brain to crave carrots instead of carrot cake? New research says yes.

A truly unique (though probably smelly) way to marathon train.

10 secrets to make you a faster, happier and stronger runner.

Forget ice packs and ibuprofen for sore muscles. Move them.

9 Ways Eating Processed Foods Made the World Sick & Fat  (Bottom line: Eat real food)

“Your body is designed to naturally regulate how much you eat and the energy you burn. But food manufacturers have figured out how to over-ride these intrinsic regulators, designing processed foods that are engineered to by “hyper-rewarding.” According to the “food reward hypothesis of obesity,” processed foods stimulate such a strong reward response in our brains that it becomes very easy to overeat. One of the guiding principles for the processed food industry is known as “sensory-specific satiety.”

A different kind of marathon training plan

A friend posted this on Facebook this week and commented on what an unusual plan it is — running a 22, a 24, and a 26. Plus, it doesn’t appear to follow the standard — two increasingly long run weeks followed by a fall-back (recovery) week.


How to stay motivated (So you completed your first 5K)

By | October 10, 2014 9:33 am | 0 Comments

a runner

So you completed your first 5K (like, maybe the Her Times women’s 5K) and now that the “big day” has come & gone, you may be feeling a little lost or confused about what to do now (some people even feel a little depressed when they complete their big goal). What now? What’s next? Where do you go from the 5K? How do you make running a lifelong habit? What will keep you going through a long, cold Erie winter?

I’ve got some advice and tips:

* Aim to run three days a week. If you just completed your first 5K, you will probably want to run about 45 minutes or 2-4 miles. Don’t run more than five days a week. Rest days are very important for recovery.

* Do other stuff, too. On the days you don’t run, do some weight training or yoga or another form of low-impact exercise and/or strength training. Cross training will help keep you build a strong core, which helps keep injuries at bay.

* Commit to it. Make your exercise time a non-negotiable on your to-do list. Don’t let anything interfere. There is very little that can’t wait for a half hour or 45 minutes. This includes your kids. You’ll be a better, more patient and healthier mom if you take the time you need to take care of yourself.

* Make it routine. Make exercise a part of your day. Morning works best for most people who work full time because it’s the least likely time to be interfered with. Yes, it sucks to sacrifice an hour of sleep, but…it’s totally worth it to start your day off right and have it done for the day.  Energy begets energy — if you get up early & exercise, you’ll have more energy all day (maybe not at first, but…once you adjust to it, you will).

Tip: Set your shoes and workout gear out the night before in the bathroom near the potty. I get my workout stuff on right after I pee. Many a time I’ve gotten laced up and realized it’s 3 in the morning.  — Eloise Hawking


* Sign up for another race now. If you’re the kind of person who needs the pressure of a race date looming in the future to keep you going, then just look at the list here…pick one (or more) & send in your registration. Definitely sign up for the Turkey Trot (and do it now) — it’s a fun family event!

* Set a new goal. Work toward trying a 10K or longer race next summer. You can find tons of training plans here.

* Find fit friends. Join the Erie Runners Club. Friend the club on Facebook and request to join the ERC running groups page (it’s not very active, but…it’s a resource). Look for other runners about your pace in your neighborhood or near where you work. Erie has a very active, large, and welcoming running community. Join in and you’ll never have to run alone again.

* Get a dog. Borrow a dog. Adopt a dog. Dogs are fantastic training partners. They go in any weather and are ALWAYS enthusiastic about running. They’re also good listeners and pace setters.

Tip: if you’ve got a dog that pulls, try a “gentle leader” — if you control their head/face…they have no choice but to stay beside you.

* Rely on it.  Pay attention to how running makes you feel. Realize that 3 miles can turn a really crappy day into a not-so-bad one. If you’re about to lose your cool with the kids, go for a run — when you come back, you’ll have the strength, patience and energy to deal with them.

* Invest in winter running gear. Don’t be afraid to run outdoors year-round. Hundreds of us do and – trust me – you’ll find that it’s one of the most pleasant and peaceful times of the year to exercise and, provided you’re dressed, properly, you won’t be cold after the first mile. Here is info on recommended winter running gear.

Tip: Marshall’s always has winter running gear at decent prices. Don’t forget that if you’re running in the dark (and if you’re running in Erie in the winter, you will probably be running in the dark), you need a reflective vest or jacket.)

*  Bookmark this blog. I can’t say it’s always riveting reading (if only I had three more hours in every day or if this was my full time job, I’d write TONS of cool content for you guys), but it will, at least, provide a connection to the Erie running scene and a forum for you to learn more about the sport.

* Ask questions. Runners love to talk about running!  And 99.9% of runners also love to help new runners, so don’t be afraid to chat up any runners you know. Also, you can email me your questions (please do…it gives me blog fodder!) at zipdang22 at aol dot com (spelled out to thwart spammers!).

* Own the “runner” label. Because….


From the Running community

I decided to gather advice & tips from other area runners, too. I asked them: What advice do you have for those new to running? What made you stick with it when you first started?

I loved the racing, but I wasn’t much for the training. My dad would pay me 25 cents per mile I ran toward my next race entry fee. I think intrinsically, I do that for myself even now. Like I get a 10 mile week in, and I know $2.50 isn’t going to get me in any races, but when I string a couple of $10 weeks together, I know I can race. — Greg Cooper (Penn State Behrend cross-country and track coach)

Fun runs with friends! Plan “destination runs” for coffee…wine….dinner, etc. — Stacey Hammer

Having a friend to run with is probably the #1 reason I stayed consistent when I started.
I also started keeping a log, knowing I hadn’t recorded any mileage in a few days was reason to get out the door.
I would also suggest signing up for the Turkey Trot :) — Jennifer D.

Find a running buddy! — Tracy Jenks

Be patient, run within yourself, expect your miracles to occur with time. — Al Warner

Running with friends is my time to chat, laugh, catch up and feel a lot better than I did when I started. I also enjoy the occasional solo run and cherish the “me” time to think through things or daydream without interruption. — Kristen Currier.

Running with friends for fun is really the only reason I run. I’m not even a big fan of running, but the company and the conversations – and sometimes the destination – is what keeps me running. — Matt Kleck

I find tranquility in running. To me, it has become therapy after a long day. My dog – a husky – is my running partner and I enjoy taking him and running the trails until one of us poops out. I have simply made running (exercise) a routine part of my day. I also use the Nike App on my phone and always have a goal to keep me accountable. — Angie Faulhaber.

You don’t have to race or be competitive to enjoy running. I like it so much more now that I just run to run. I had a P.R. at a half marathon this weekend and I didn’t even realize it until three days later when someone else looked up my time and told me. And, never underestimate what you can do it you put your mind to it. — Renee Uht

I enjoy running for the fun and time it gives me with my friends. I can always carry on a conversation (editor’s note: you should be able to carry on a conversation when you’re on a long training run…if you can’t, you’re running too fast). I also like that when I feel like being competitive, it’s only a competition with myself and not what everyone else is doing. It’s my PR. Running with friends keeps me motivated to go greater distances than I would ever try solo. — Debbie Humphreys

I started running track in high school and my teammates kept me accountable. After track, I kept running because I realized that I really enjoyed the time alone to think or de-stress, which was a lifesaver as I got older and was in college. Looking forward every day to that time to run and be alone with my thoughts was what made me stick with it. I loved it. As an adult, I can look back and see that running didn’t just give me “alone time,” it also helped me develop a lot of positive qualities, such as perseverance, resilience and determination. — Karen Beebe

I started running when my doctor told me at age 18 that I had high blood pressure, something that runs in my family. They wanted to put me on meds and I said, “No, what else can I do?” The doctor told me to do more cardio. So I went to Sears bought a $10 pair of sneakers called “Winners.” It was 1985. And the rest is history. I haven’t had trouble with high blood pressure since. I run for stress relief and so I can eat and not get fat. I just started running with other people four years ago and it’s nice to mix things up, though I will say solo runs with some good heavy metal music is my therapy. — Amy Morrow

When I first started running, I would set small goals for myself usually about a month apart. It would keep me interested and on track. Eventually, I found a great group of running friends and now we run for fun. We pick a place (coffee shop, bar, chocolate shop, winery) and make it a social thing. It gets you out of the house and combines exercise with fun – which is think is the key to sticking with it. — Leslie Cooksey

Sign up for a race every month. —Trisha Schrieber

I’m a social runner, so I pretty much never go out alone. So my advice is to get in a running group. Also, make it public. If I NEED to go out alone, I post it online or message my friends…that gives me accountability. — Jen Kelly

Sign up for another event. I like to know I have something else coming up, and then I keep moving. It’s way more fun to sign up to do an event with others. The social part makes it much more fun. — LeAnne Morton

When I really got into running I set goals for myself. First a 10k then a half. Now it’s running different events and places. I do agree to run with friends helps too! Plus change it up! — Betsey Haffley

your own hero

Things I found — 10/9/14

By | October 9, 2014 4:05 am | 0 Comments

Worth Reading

* Athletes, Listen Up: You Should Be Eating Fewer Carbs When Training

* An Ultramarathoner trying to run across the country in an inflatable ball had to be rescued by the Coast Guard.

* Planning to go to Boston in 2016? Here’s what you need to know

* 7 perfect fall recipes.

T-shirt of the Week


Bust out that reflective gear

By | October 8, 2014 8:54 am | 0 Comments


The days are getting shorter, which means more and more of us are running in low-light or dark conditions. Trust me when I tell you it doesn’t matter how neon bright your shirt or how many little bits of reflective “piping” your shoes have…it’s not enough. Motorists can’t see you until they are right on top of you and then it can be too late. (You know half the drivers on the road are glancing at their phones while they drive, right?)

I don’t want you to die and or (maybe worse) spend months or years recovering from impact injuries and hoping you can run again some day, so make it a point to get a reflective vest this weekend. You can buy them locally at the sports stores or you can order one online today.

You can buy them in a variety of styles for less than $25.  They’ve come a looooong way from the days of the ugly safety vests that road crews wear. Today’s vests are lightweight and come in colors (I have a pink one).  I have one similar to this one and I like it because it can be worn year round over whatever clothes I’m wearing. It’s light enough for summer and can be layered over sweatshirts & windbreakers in winter.  It can also be cinched tight so it’s not flapping around or otherwise annoying me while I run.  This one is really nice, too, and comes in three colors.

Some other low-light/dark running tips:

* When in doubt — wear your reflective vest (if you even think it might start to get dark, wear it!)

* Carry a small flashlight. Run with it turned off to preserve the batteries, but when a car comes…turn it on & point it down at your feet — they’ll see your feet moving (and know exactly what is ahead) & you won’t blind them with a spot of light.

* Run FACING TRAFFIC. This is really, really, really important in the dark. If someone doesn’t see you…you want to see them so you can get out of the way.

P.S. I should warn you that if I know you and I see you running without reflective gear, you’re going to get a very nice e-mail or facebook message from me the next day reminding you that I care about you and you need to buy a da$% vest.



Race Review: BattleFrog 15K – Toad-aly bad@#$

By | October 1, 2014 5:08 pm | 0 Comments


Two miles into the Battlefrog 15K  on Saturday morning, I knew I was probably going to be walking funny on Monday.  I also really, really, really wished I’d wimped out & done the Bullfrog 5K, but, in the end, even though I did indeed have plenty of trouble walking & sitting on Monday and Tuesday (oh…every single muscle hurt from my toes to my neck), I’m glad I went the distance.

There were 37 obstacles – THIRTY SEVEN — spread out over nine miles of rugged terrain in an ATV park in Wampum, Pa. We didn’t just run up and down a few rolling grassy/muddy hills, we ran up and down rutted, barren hills with — some so steep, I had to crawl.

It was a challenge to finish, but we did it in 3 hours and 11 minutes.

My husband, the Boston BQer and sub-7-minute miler, earned a whole new appreciation for serious obstacle run athletes and pledged to work on his upper body strength over winter to be ready for next summer’s adventure races.

Dan didn’t skip any obstacles. I did. There were a couple I tried (rope climb & monkey bars), but failed to complete, thereby earning myself eight 8 count bodybuilders (which, much to my disappointment, were not 8 hot muscle guys to help you) and there were two obstacles I opted out of by choice — a tall, flat wall (it was just Dan & I at that point and without a team or a rope to help me over and down….no way) and the Tsunami (video below) because A.) I was completely exhausted, B.) We had just gotten out of the mud pits and were covered in slick mud as was the Tsunami running surface & rope, C.) All the spectators were gathered there watching, D.) I’ve grown soft in my old running age. :-)  The penalty for wimping out? More bodybuilders. *sigh* No wonder I couldn’t walk for three days.

Anyway…here is my take on BattleFrog Pittsburgh:


The good

1. The weather. Race directors can’t control this (oh….if only I could!), but…the BF organizers and participants lucked out with a gorgeous weekend for racing — cool, but clear and dry. Halfway through the course I told Dan, we should be grateful it hadn’t rained at all last week or it might have been a whole different race because 80 percent of the course was packed dirt. The day started cold (50 degrees) and I wore a long-sleeve Under Armour top and capris and I was glad I did; I needed it.  Don’t underestimate the chill factor of constantly submerging yourself in cold water on a 50- to 60-degree day.

2. The venue. The Mines & Meadows ATV Park in Wampum, Pa., was about as perfect a setting for an obstacle mud run as you can get. There were miles & miles & miles of trails on all sorts of terrain — through mud pits and bogs, up and down mountains and hills, through the woods, over (and through) rocky streams and even an underground mine! A mine that included a lake of 55-degree water that we swam through …in the pitch black (they gave us headlamps)! Beat that T.M.!  There was also plenty of room for the “festival” (food vendors, beer tent, t-shirt table, merchandise, etc.) at the finish line — it was compact without being cramped.

The only downside to the venue was the lack of parking on site. They solved this with off-site parking & shuttle buses (5 minute ride to the site). Not ideal when you want to carry clothes to change, etc., but….they offered a bag drop for $5, so you could take whatever you wanted with you to the site.

3. The SEALS. BattleFrog is designed and run by Navy SEALS and they are crazy fit. Like most military folks, they can be a wee bit intense and shout-y, but also very encouraging and inspiring. (If you don’t know how to do an 8-count bodybuilder, The Navy SEAL at that obstacle will be more than happy to demonstrate it for you and you bet your butt he can do them all damn day, my friend.) We missed the opening activities (*cough* Dan’s fault *cough*), but I heard that SEALS parachuted in to the festival area and put on a display before the race got started. I’m sorry I missed it. I’m sure it was something to see.

4. Attention to details. BattleFrog is a fairly new race series, but it’s clear they put a lot of thought into it because there was attention to paid to details.

Four things I noticed:

* At the finish line and after exiting the mines (after leaving 50-degree water), they had bonfires burning so you could stop and warm up for a few minutes. I’d have given my left arm to have just one of these at the May TM that we did.

* There were large changing tents for both men and women. (Though, I have to note that we women were all laughing as we got naked & noticed the back “windows” of the tent were all exposed. Whatevs!)

* The showering area was a series of hoses hooked up to a water supply and — this is key — it was all set up on a large plastic platform. I can’t tell you how many mud races I’ve been to where they give they have hoses for rinsing off, but it’s useless because there are 5 hoses for 500 people or you’re standing in a muddy field. I don’t know how many hoses there were, but there were probably 25 people when Dan & I got there and we didn’t have to wait for a hose.

* There were patio heaters to huddle around in the tents in the morning. How awesome is that?!

5. Obstacles. There were 37 obstacles in the Pittsburgh BattleFrog– several of which took advantage of what the venue had to offer — steep inclines, rocky creek beds, mud pits, a rope climb in an old barn, water pits, etc.  There were also manufactured obstacles — plenty of walls, ladders, rope climbs, net crawls, etc. They had some unusual challenges not found elsewhere including — a paintball gallery, the Tsunami and, of course, the mine swim.

As a woman, I appreciated that many of the obstacles gave you an option of taking an “easier” route, i.e. on the rope climb walls, some of the ropes were longer or had more knots and/or had 2x4s that you could put your feet on to get up, etc. Some might say they shouldn’t make concessions, but without them, I’d have been completely unable to do several of the obstacles, so…

6. Shuttle buses. The shuttle buses were plentiful and frequent. We didn’t have to wait at all coming or going. It was less than a 5 minute ride to the venue.

7. Kids’ races. BattleFrog wants to get the whole family involved. They offer three shorter race options — a BullFrog 5K, a BullFrog Mile and a Tadpole Dash — that kids age 4 and up can participate in. (Must be at least 13 to do the 5K)

The bad

1. Running through a uneven terrain…including a long stretch through a rocky, slippery stream. I expected this, I’m just saying…it kinda sucked and, if you’re a runner doing an obstacle race for the first time, you should know that you do a lot of walking because of this (unless you’re not afraid to twist an ankle or break a leg and I’ve met few hardcore runners who are that fearless).

I will say that it occurred to me as we kept passing the same muscular guys on the flat running stretches (and there were 9 miles to cover) between obstacles that you really can’t underestimate the running involved in serious adventure/obstacle runs. I think runners can muddle through the obstacles, but it doesn’t necessarily work the other way around. If you’re not a runner and you haven’t trained to go the distance, you’re going to struggle no matter how physically fit you are.

2. No porta potties or food/energy on the course. When nature called, I eventually ended up using the woods. I also scooped up an unopen Gu packet someone dropped. Don’t judge. You do what you have to do — I think even the SEALS would be like…hells, yeah, honey. Hooyah!

The ugly

1. Snake Eater. Maybe it’s because we were only halfway through the course and I was already tired or because the 5K people had just split off from us (and I was jealous) or because I needed to eat that Gu packet I had squirreled away in my bra, but….running up and down a couple of rutted mountains that were so steep I had to crawl/claw my way to the top and “slide” down on my butt, made me swear…a lot.

2. Mine swim. I’m putting this in “ugly” only because it was so physically hard ….and I don’t mean in a pull-yourself-up-and-over-the-wall way, but a holy-sh#$-balls-my-entire-body-is-seizing-up way. It was cold…very, very cold. If you’ve done a TM — think the Arctic Enema but 10 times as long…and in complete darkness (but for the light of the headlamps they gave us).  I just held onto my innertube and frog kicked my way to the end.

3. Toe shoes. I’m still not sure if I should’ve worn my Vibram toe shoes or not. I had some residual pain in my toes for days (there was a lot of running), yet I felt like they were much more helpful on the obstacles (could get a better grip…toe shoes are more flexible, etc.)

4. DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). The race was Saturday. Sunday I worked in the yard and around the house all day with some soreness, but I knew the real pain would come on Monday and it did. Hit me like a truck and hobbled me for two days. Everything hurt or was sore, from my toes (dang toe shoes) to the top of my neck/shoulders. I couldn’t walk down stairs without wincing until Wednesday.

5. Battle scars. I had the bruised, scraped and battered knees/legs and elbows of an 8-year-old boy, but…I’m not gonna lie…made me kinda proud. You know I wore short sleeves and skirts to work just so I could show them off, right?

The verdict

BattleFrog is one toad-aly (sorry, had to do it) bad@#$ obstacle race series that is definitely on par — if not better than — some of the other more well known races and well worth checking out if you’re up for a true physical challenge.

I think it was harder than a marathon and I also think it was harder than the TM I did in May….but, then I was probably suffering from hypothermia there, so…I’m not sure it’s fair to compare the two.

The race is timed and results are here (You can race for money in the Elite category if you wish!)

Ready to battle the BattleFrog?

You’ll have to hop (I can’t stop) down to the sunshine state. The next three events are in Florida — Miami on Nov. 15 and Feb. 28 and in Central Florida on March 14.  Then, the BattleFrog heads to Texas and the Southern East coast.


Four of my friends volunteered at the Battlefrog so they could run for free with the SEALS in the last wave and two of them — Don Hoover & Jon Wolff — wore their GoPros and put together this awesome video:






Things I found — 10/2/14

By | October 1, 2014 1:09 am | 0 Comments

A random collection of blog posts, articles, videos and other stuff I found while surfing the ‘net.

Worth Reading

* Running shouldn’t be the be all and end all of your fitness routine. Check out these 7 ways to become a better runner without running.

* Q&A with Shalane Flanagan On Targeting American Marathon Record In Berlin

* 25 3-ingredient smoothy recipes.

* Exercise is ADHD medication.  Makes you wonder if all those kids on medication are really just in need of an extended gym class…or more regular breaks in which they could move around/burn off energy.

* The Runner’s Guide to Better Writing.…which reminds me of this Will Smith classic in which he reveals the keys to life – Running & Reading.

Tshirt of the Week