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I fell in love with running skirts nearly the minute they hit the fitness fashion scene. I like the additional, ahem, coverage (running shorts used to be super teeny tiny). Also, I’ll just go ahead & say it…I like the feminine look. Yeah, I’m a girl…so sue me.
The first running skirts (and, yep, I’ve been running long enough to remember when they first started cropping up) were expensive — like $50. But, then everyone started making them and they came down –way down — in price. Today, you can pick up nice running skirts at discount retailers (Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, etc.) for about $20.
This summer, I noticed some really sweet Fila skirts at Sam’s Club on upper Peach Street for $17 — they even have a zipper pocket in back for keys, gels, etc. I bought three and texted every running friend that I knew liked skirts and, so, you’d think those skirts would be long gone, but…a friend posted a message on Facebook last week that the skirts were marked down to $6.71! Life intervened and I didn’t get up there for days, but was still rewarded when I did get there on Monday night. There are lots of skirts left (mostly larger sizes now). I bought three more. If you, too, like skirts and wear a L or XL (or larger) or you may want to get yourself to Sam’s before I find occasion to be there again. (Cannot. Help. Myself).
Also….my favorite summer capris are now on the clearance rack at the Target on Peach Street.
$14 for these super lightweight C9 Power Core capris. They’re thin enough to wear under your running skirt (if you like even more coverage), but they’re solid enough to wear alone, too. I bought two more pairs, so I’m not going back (luck you!) and there are lots of sizes left — from Small to XL. They’re on the clearance rack in the workout clothes section. (Tip: Use your Target Credit card and you get another 5% off. I always go home & pay my bill online – you’ll get no interest from me Target!)
If there’s one photo among the hundreds (literally) taken of my team at Saturday’s Beast on the Bay that sums it all up, it’s this one:
With a team 70+ strong of different abilities, it was all but impossible to stay together for the entire 10+ mile obstacle race. We started together and then broke into smaller groups based on pace. Those who ran a similar pace ended up running together and helping each other over the obstacles and up to the crest of that last dam#$@ hill to Waldameer where we all stopped — every single one of us — to wait for the rest of our team members.
On Saturday, time meant nothing. Team meant everything.
I never played sports in school. It’s one of the few regrets I have in life. Though, I seriously doubt it would have been anything like this. Supportive. Inspirational. Fun. Encouraging.
We cheered for every person slogging up that hill, not just our teammates.
Some of us ran down to meet up with the last members of our group, which meant doing the Peninsula Road hill twice…and I seriously didn’t care. I’d have run it 10 times for them.
Then we finished together….just like we started.
About Just Write
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”
I said I’d never do another Beast on the Bay after last year’s race – 16 miles on sand. But, then, I also said I’d never give birth again, I’d never drink again (haven’t we ALL said that one) and I’d never do another marathon and I’ve got two kids, party photos, and marathon finisher medals that say otherwise. So there I was on Saturday…running the Beast on the Bay again — this time with a team TWICE the size of last year.
And, you guys, it was awesome.
Here’s what I am most impressed with: The Beast organizers listened. I’m a race director and I can tell you, that it’s not easy to do that. Your tendency is to get defensive immediately (do you know how much work I put into this!?!), but….props to the Barber folks & race organizers because they were nothing but gracious for the feedback (even negative) that they received. AND THEY FIXED IT. ALL OF IT. They fixed every single thing I — and others — complained about last year.
And, for that,the Beast has earned my love & loyalty. I’ll run the Beast as long as my body and shedule allows and I’ll recruit as many other runners as I can. So…with that full disclosure (read: I’m not impartial)…let me tell you, dear reader, why you should do the Beast next year:
Sister versus sister: Beast & Beauty’s team captain — Karen “Kenyan” Groshek, left, and her big sister (and my high school classmate) and Krazie’s co-captain, Eloise, right. Their hilarious, awesome, and colorful mom is in the middle.
1. It’s for a great cause. All fun, joking, and shenanigans aside…the benefactor of this race is one of the very best reasons to do it. True story: I work with a member of the Barber family and recently visited the Barber National Institute with her for a story I was doing. She said: “You know, a lot of people think this is a sad place, but, Heather, this is a happy place. It’s filled with joy and love and people who truly care about these children and their futures. Do you know what would happen to these kids if not for this place? They’d have a very different life.” I’ve never forgotten that. It makes me tear up every time I think about it. The fact that one of my team leaders & our rival team leader (they are sisters) both have children who have benefitted from the Barber Center, makes me all the more weepy. I’m glad they are here. I’m glad they have the love & patience for those children that few do. I’m glad my race entry fee helps them accomplish their mission.
That’s me…second from left…going Loco
2. It fun! The obstacles were much improved this year and were waaaaayyy more fun than last year. My fave: Go Loco — the G.E. sponsored & created obstacle. Leave it to the engineers to come up with one of the most unique obstacles I’ve seen at an adventure race. I was thankful I’d worn my hat, which shielded my eyes from the lake water cascading down at eye level for us shorty girls. There was a backlog at this obstacle…particularly in the later waves. I know some of our later team members skipped this one because the wait was reported to be an hour or more. Room for improvement for next year, I guess. Maybe have two “trains” going?
3. It’s cheap, compared to other adventure races. If you sign up early, the Beast is only $50…and it’s money well spent. You’d pay twice that (at the earliest bird pricing) for a Tough Mudder and you’d also have to pay for gas & a hotel, so…it’s worth $50 to do one in your own backyard. Hint: Friend the Beast on the Bay on Facebook and you’ll be alerted to “sales”. Also…I believe you get a discount if you’re on a team, which leads me to….
4. It’s a great team event. Teams are not required…and you could get through this event without them (the obstacles aren’t “impossible” without help), but…being a part of a team makes it that much more fun.
Don’t have a team? Join mine…Krauza’s Krazies welcome participants of any age or ability. There are pre-Beast training sessions led by Dr. Steve Krauza ($5 donation per workout…all money goes to the Barber Center!) and we finish as a team (small groups of participants ran at their own pace, but everyone waited at the top of Peninsula drive to cross the finish line together).
This year, one of our team members even got a SPONSOR for our team! Fireball Whiskey bought our shirts — for the ENTIRE team! How awesome is that?! Why? Well…let’s just say that some of us “stoke the fires” before we go beast slaying. (Oh….don’t worry…we’re not stupid — one shot only before fighting the Beast! After? Well…hey, now…you work up a thirst slaying beasts for 10+ miles…don’t judge.)
5. It’s a workout. Marathon schmarathon. Yeah, I’m going there. I’ve done the old 26.2 more than a few times and I truly think the Beast is more physically demanding. It’s also WAAAYYYY more fun. JMO, of course…take it for what it’s worth. (I will say I think the marathon is more mentally challenging, but..that could have to do with the marathon being a singular pursuit and the Beast being more of a group thing).
6. You can get all competitive, if you want. The Beast organizers offer a timing option. I’m not sure why anyone would want to be timed because you can’t control the backup at obstacles (and other variables), but if you’re into beating the clock (or your friends)…it’s an option for you.
If you want more information on the race…or on Krauza’s Krazies, feel free to email me at zipdang22 at aol dot com (spelled out to avoid those dang spammers!). I’d love you have you on the Krazie train!
* Here is a GoPro video one of my Krazie teammates (Jon Wolff) made of the event in which you can see many of the obstacles …and if you watch closely you’ll see the husband an I taking on the half pipe (2:54 mark). I basically ran like hell and threw my arms up and the guys on top yanked me up onto the platform (tip: Recruit some tough guys for your team). Yeah…you can find us where the party’s at.
* Here is a blog & slideshow that another teammate — Captain Eloise — put together -- she and her sister (Beauty & Beasts team captain) had rival teams. We had a lot of fun teasing each other in the months leading up to the event. Read all about it here and here.
* Here are XXX photos from GoErie’s kick@#$ Street View team.
And, finally, here are my photos from the event in a completely unorganized manner (sorry…you know I have no patience to put these all in order, right?):
5 Ways Running Makes us Better Parents. I know this (below) is true for me:
“Parenting can be lonely or challenging. The more you have people around to support you, teach you, challenge you, show you, talk with you, laugh with you, and love you, the easier things will be.”
If you can master the art of running negative splits, you’ll have a huge advantage over 90% of your competition in races. Here’s how to finish strong.
Like to go long…really long? Heed Hal Koerner’s ultrarunning commandments.
While it’s not really practical for long distance runners, I assure you it works: A Call For a Low-Carb Diet that Embraces Fat
T-shirt of the Week
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.
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!
A random collection of things I found while surfing the ‘net that I think are worth sharing:
* The key to eating healthy is planning ahead. This basic slow-cooker chicken will give you a good base for creating a quick dinner.
* Need that extra motivation to get your butt out of bed in the morning? How about that good old fashioned mom tool — shame. Pavlok Fitness Bands will give you “not just the carrot, but the stick,” too.
* Ever get a metallic taste in your mouth when you run? Here’s why.
* In Ferguson, running bridges the races.
* Kristen Armstrong shares 10 lessons learned in her 42nd year. “Sometimes we train to run far. Other times we train to run fast. If we train to run joyfully we find our pace for life.”
T-shirt of the Week
This one is eerily true for me this week:
With all due love & respect to Presque Isle State Park (we love you…we really do), there are many more places to run in the Erie area than the peninsula. In this occasional series, I’ll introduce you to some other really nice places to run in the tri-state area — some well-known & some off the beaten path. Today, we’re taking a drive down Route 430 to Findley Lake, N.Y.:
From Erie, Addie’s is a quick drive out Route 430 until you, literally, run into town. Take a right on Sunnyside Road in Findley Lake and Addie’s is maybe a mile down the road on the left.
There are four main reasons I <3 Addie’s (and, no, they are not paying me — in cash or frozen treats to say this):
1. The selection of flavors is incredible. And the taste is incredible — Addie’s is the Smith’s hot dog of local ice cream.
2. You can have more than one flavor in your cone. Just tell them you want “New York cheesecake” AND “praline’s ‘n cream and you get BOTH in your cone. (I’ve heard people ask for three flavors). Just try that at another ice cream place without getting a dirty look and “we don’t do that.”
3. It’s inexpensive. A “kiddie” waffle cone, which is the equivalent of a “large” at any other ice cream store, is like $3. And, yes, they take debit/credit cards. (I do believe there’s a minimum charge though.)
This is my friend, Cindy, with her “kiddie” cone:
4. I like running around Findley Lake. It’s just over 5 miles if you go all the way around, it’s mostly flat (some hills on the way to Shadyside Drive) and the scenery/views are beautiful in any season (even winter…though Addie’s isn’t open then). And…if you run around the lake you’ve kinda-sort “earned” the ice cream, right?
If you go running in Findley Lake, here are a few other things you should know:
1. There is free parking near the boat launch/swimming area, which is located to the right as soon as you come into the town of Findley Lake. It’s best if you park there, run, then drive down to Addie’s…or run down (but remember…then you gotta run back on a belly full of ice cream).
2. There are public restroom facilities directly across from the boat launch/public parking lot. The toilets are the eco-friendly, park-type toilets (the kind where there’s a note on top telling you to “keep the lid closed”), but there’s running water and space to change clothes/clean up.
3. There’s not much of a berm on the roads around the lake, but…drivers are friendly and used to people walking/biking — it’s is a recreation area.
4. If you’ve got a bit of daredevil in you, you may want to try the rope swing in the large tree near the parking lot. This is particularly refreshing after you run around the lake and before you head down to Addie’s. If you do jump in the lake and you take off your $200 Garmin watch, don’t forget to pick it up when you leave, like I did. *sigh*
Here’s Dan doing a backflip off the rope swing (not recommended!):
5. If you do go swimming, be aware that Findley Lake is very seaweed-y. My environmental friends tell me this is good — seaweed is the sign of a healthy lake, they say. But…it’s also pretty dang creepy when it’s curling around your arms and legs and neck.
More info about Findley Lake here.
*** Where should I run next? Got a suggestion on future run locations to cover? Want to submit your own? (I accept guest posts!) Comment or send me an email to zipdang22 at aol dot com (spelling out to avoid spammers).
* From Run the Edge: “She is 40. She has two children. And now she is the oldest woman to win a gold medal at the European championships 10,000-meters.” This video says it all..and it is pretty awesome.
* I’m not an energy bar fan, but…I know many of you are, so here are 6 of the best news ones, according to Outside Magazine.
* Is there such a thing as exercising too much? (uh..definitely and, for some, it’s an addiction).
* Running inventions we’d like to see. Mark Remy cracks me up again.
* Peyton Manning doesn’t want you to drink Gatorade: THIS is awesome.…and, seriously, they should do this. The number of people drinking Gatorade for no damn reason just blows my mind. It’s nothing something you should be drinking unless you’re running many, many miles.
T-shirt of the Week
I know a few people who need this shirt:
If you could do your next run anywhere in the world, where would you go? What’s your dream running destination?
Brazil!!!!! — Allison Jeric-Carroll
I want to run the National Mall. — Lisa Meyer
Base camp of Everest. No doubt. —Diana Leroux-Woolf
Pacific Coast Highway or Grand Canyon! — Bethany Kelley
Run Ireland with my boy Paul Breen. Followed by drinks, futbol, and celebration. — Eric Ellis
Australia…or the moon. — Jen Kelly
Italy’s wine country. — Barb Armour
Grand Canyon, rim to rim. — Karen Manganaro
Baaaaa Harbaaaa, Maine. — Mike Vieyra
I would love to run through the Andes to Machu Picchu in Peru! That would be a slowww, tough run! — Jessie Zahner
Chamomix, France where they run the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. Beautiful. — Sean Donachy
Wesleyville. — Dennis Albrewcyznski
Hawaii along the ocean. — Karen Beebe
Stockholm along the water. — Brian Swantek
San Francisco…again. — Ron Krystek
California Coast. Or the A1A in Daytona!!! — Teri Zalewski
The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® . Takes place in the Alps, goes through parts of France, Switzerland, and Italy. — Pat Krott
Europe! — Amy Cronk
Pikes Peak. — Virginia Sackett
Great Wall of China. — Lesley Cooksey
Sorry , I don’t have just one . Central Park , Ireland to kiss the Blarney Stone , Hawaii and Disney World around Halloween or Christmas time. — Erin Ryan
Australia is my bucket list destination. Running at Disney would be magical also!!! — Brenda Carr
Vermont in the fall (next year!) or New Mexico in winter or Montana anytime BUT winter. — Al Warner
Las Vegas half marathon. — Jameel Gavin
Athens, Greece. — Paul Bressan
Italy! — Stacey Hammer
Key West, Florida. — Susan Ellsworth
Down Under! — Debbie Humphreys
San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge. — LeAnne Morton
Whatever path makes this (below) my end point. — Eloise Hawking
Egypt — around the pyramids. — Joe Dobrich
Did a bucket list run on the Great Wall. That was very difficult. Too many people…very slippery. Stairs were very awkward, but beggars can’t be choosers. I ended up walking most of it but it was really awesome just to be there. Another bucket list run completed was Yosemite. I was aiming for a 10K, but bonked. Dehydrated and altitude cramps in my calves. Did lots of hiking though. And…Red Rock dessert was another dream run completed. Beautiful! I thought I would run from the Welcome center to the bottom of the mountains. An hour into my run, running directly at the mountains I seemed closer but not close enough to get there in the time I had left. It was so beautiful I went back to the mountain side and ran the mountains the following days.” — Stephen Haeseler
Stephen at Red Rock
Photo by Eloise
By Larry Kisielewski
Editor’s note: Hey….I know this guy….
“Behind every good man, there is a good woman.”
An old phrase, definitely dated. Maybe, in today’s equality-obsessed and politically correct world, outdated. In some cases, it would be “Alongside every good man…” or even “Behind every good woman…”
You know his wife. She is definitely “out there.” She has been featured in all the local major media – on TV and radio, and in the newspaper when she wrote a regular column for the Erie Times when she was employed there. She is the originator and driving force behind one of the more popular local periodicals and one of the most popular 5K races, both coincidentally called “Her Times.” She also authors not one but two popular blogs on the internet.
He, on the other hand, prefers to remain low-key, contributing in his own right, but certainly no less important or interesting. I would like you to meet Dan Cass.
Daniel Lee Cass is the third child of Greenfield Township residents Jim and Donna Cass. He is sandwiched between older siblings Jeff and Rhonda and younger siblings Steven and Jodie. While attending Greenfield Elementary, Dan played Little League until 8th grade and wrestled for a year. In lieu of participatory sports, however, he preferred hunting. He learned from his dad and his two uncles, and this will be his 30th consecutive year for the annual family deer camp in the mountains.
He graduated from Seneca High School in 1988. In 1989, Heather Bruce and Dan were introduced by their respective cousins and went on a “first date” to the North East Cherry Festival. Dan went on to earn his degree as an electrician at Vo-Tech, and would occasionally run into Heather at Loblaws, where she worked while getting her marketing degree from Edinboro. They started dating steady and were wed in 1994.
Heather interned for a while at the Erie Zoo before working at the Times, and is now public communications director at Penn State Behrend. Dan was snapped up by Griffith Electric where he completed his apprenticeship and became a full-time employee. He left Griffith for Bay Harbor Electric, where he was employed for 10 years, the last five as head foreman.
He has been the head foreman at Arrow Electric out of Greenville since 2003. In this position, he has supervised a number of major local electrical projects, including Lowe’s, Sam’s Club, Giant Eagle, and Gannon University’s new 5-story dorm. He has also taught Arrow’s apprenticeship program for the last eight years. This work is worlds away from Dan’s first jobs, where from age 12 through high school, he baled hay every summer and worked as a butcher, doing everything from slaughter to wrapping. His current rise in management responsibility came with a price, however. Dan bemoans the fact that less hands-on electrical work is making his hands soft, although his firm handshake suggests otherwise.
Dan is not just a master electrician. He has learned carpentry from his brother Jeff and is proficient enough to tackle any major home improvement. In 1997, Dan and Heather moved into a ranch home in Harborcreek. Dan, his dad, and jeff added a second story with 16-foot cathedral ceilings, plus six feet of frontage and a porch. He is now in the process of re-finishing the entire interior before he moves on to the garage/man-cave expansion. The Cass’s 18’ x 36’ in-ground pool is a neighborhood oasis, providing both socialization and relaxation. Dan is truly a handy guy to have around.
Somewhere around 1995, Heather got into an exercise kick and, never doing anything halfway, it wasn’t too long before she coerced Dan to join her. This was before the kids, and by 1999 they were full-fledged runners. The Hash House Harriers were in stride about that time, and Dan and Heather joined Chuck Orton, Dale Werner, and their cohorts on their merry jaunts. (Bad visual: Dan in a red dress!)
Although he prefers 10Ks, Dan’s most recent run, the Waterford 5K, was an impressive 21:11. He has run ten marathons, lowering his PR from 4:15 in Cleveland in 2008 to 3:22 in Pittsburgh last year. He is planning to run both the Erie Marathon at Presque Isle and the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY later this year.
When the kids came along, a new dimension was added. First daughter Kelly, now 13, is the runner, and Dan frequently accompanies her on her cross country jogs, especially Jim Lang’s weekly Tuesday night 3-milers. Lauren, 11, is the gymnast/swimmer of the family.
Although short family runs are immensely enjoyable, Dan is still a long distance runner. His 1:31 Presque Isle Half marathon last month is further proof of his progress. He finished his first endurance run last October, and hopes to one day complete a 50-miler. He participated in last year’s 18-mile Barber Beast on the Bay, although Heather topped that with her One Tough Mudder this past May. When not competing, Dan tries to volunteer for ERC events, particularly the Turkey Trot, the marathon, and Her Times.
As the working day wraps up, Heather arrives home and Chef Dan has supper ready. It may be a roast or meatloaf or even a specialty from his smoker – anything from turkey to baked beans. Husband, father, electrician, carpenter, outdoorsman, athlete, volunteer, and chief cook. Now you know Dan Cass.
Pets – Sam the dog, and cats Ollie and Bella
Last vacation – five days in Florida: Universal, Disney, water parks
Dream vacation – the Grand Canyon; running past giant sequoias
Hobbies – hunting, fishing, hiking, home carpentry projects, his smoker
Music – 70’s and 80’s, rock/country
TV – cop shows
Website – not a computer guy
Motto – Always finish what you start.
Admires – LK: Who do you admire?
DC: My wife, Heather.
LK: Hmmm, good answer.
DC: No, really. She loves to do things for other people. I really love her.
Fantasies – Boston Marathon, a 50-miler, retirement
Charities – United Way / Young Leaders Club
Blood donor – Yes
Cool vehicle – company truck
Sports teams – Steelers, some Penguins
Running regimen – three days a week: two 8-milers, one 12-20 miler with hills and stretches
Motivation – competes with self
Scouts – a bit. Currently “Den father” for the girls
Last words – Thank you, race volunteers!
** Getting To Know You is reprinted with permission from the August 2014 Erie Runners Club newsletter.