Posts in the category

Rave runs: 20+ reasons to run around Findley Lake (I scream, you scream…)

By | August 27, 2014 1:44 pm | 0 Comments

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.:

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I’m not usually a big fan of ice cream. I’m a cake (mostly frosting, please), girl. But there’s one ice cream place I can’t resist — Addie’s in 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:

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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).



Things I found — 8/21/14

By | August 24, 2014 1:35 am | 0 Comments

Worth Reading

* 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.

* Why stair-climbing is good for runners.

* 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).

Funny Stuff

* 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:


We asked: Dream running destination

By | August 22, 2014 1:15 am | 0 Comments

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 BreenFollowed 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

Guest Post: Gettting to know Dan Cass

By | August 20, 2014 1:15 am | 0 Comments


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.

Dan Data

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.

Things I found — 8/14/14

By | August 14, 2014 1:39 am | 0 Comments

Worth Reading

Why running –no matter the distance — makes you live longer.

Want to find new routes, ward off injury, or stay safe? There’s an app for that.

Robin Williams had deep running roots.

New to running? Don’t make these 9 mistakes.

Need to incorporate some cross training? (Trust me, you do) Try this 8-minute medicine ball workout.


Funny Stuff

Context is everything. Here are 22 words that have a totally different meaning when you’re a runner.

T-shirt of the Week


Color Run well run

By | August 11, 2014 11:08 am | 0 Comments


All I heard from the moment The Color Run in Erie sold out (in record time for an Erie event) was “Where are they going to put 10,000 people in the city of Erie,” and “It’s going to be a mess,” and “Better get there early…or you’ll have to park two miles away.”

I’m happy to say that it was none of those things. It was probably one of the most well organized fun runs I’ve ever been to.

I didn’t personally pick up our packets, but my niece who went with my daughters to pick them up at the Millcreek Mall reported that it was fast & easy (as did all my Facebook friends who commented on it). The Color Run “store” there had some fun, reasonably-priced things — socks, sunglasses, etc. The sunglasses proved to be a worthy $5 investment as they were practically a necessity on race day (otherwise you would get colored cornstarch in your eyes!).

We got to the race a little later than I wanted to (as always!) — about 7:45 a.m., but we had no problem parking as the garages and surface lots all around the event were open and free (FREE! Try that in a big city). Volunteers pointed us into a ramp and we walked two blocks to the event where we headed right through Perry Square to the start line in front of the Court House.

We didn’t make it into the first wave, but I actually think that might have been better because as we ran through the color stations, the streets were covered…so you could pick some up and throw it at your friends or make color angels:

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As our wave waited in the corral, there was (as is common at many major “for fun” events) a guy pumping the crowd up…playing great music, getting everyone excited…giving a countdown and tossing down free stuff into the crowd.

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At the start line

One they let us loose, we ran up and turned west. We encountered our first color station — blue — less than a 1/2 mile into the race.

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We learned very quickly to cover our mouths with our shirts when we ran through a station. Kelly is shown just above. After this station, she took off and ran the rest of the way. My niece, Lauren and I walked the rest of the course.

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I’d say that 70 percent of the participants in The Color Run walked the course. You could run…but why? It wasn’t timed and I’m sure it was kind gross to get shot with the colored cornstarch if you were sweaty. That said, my girl Kelly raced the thing like there were awards. There weren’t (awards) and, as I said, it wasn’t timed.

There were a total of 5 color stations — blue, yellow, pink, purple, pink — on the course. They were easily identified by the inflatable colored arches across the road and, oh…yeah….a gigantic cloud of colorful “dust.”

It was pretty cool.

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Fun signs also announced the upcoming color station.

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At the finish (below) every runner received a packet of color for the finish line party.

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The party was a blast with a DJ, a charismatic “host” (how do I get that gig?) pumping the crowd up, and race staff on stage tossing chalk and Color Run swag into the crowd. There were beach balls being bounced around and water guns being sprayed.

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The highlight of the post-race party though, was the color toss when the DJ/host counted down & encouraged everyone to toss their colors into the air.

Here’s what it looked like from the outside:




And, here, is what it looked like on the inside:

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Why do I feel like this is a future glimpse of my girl at 18 at some rock concert?

There were also lots of photo opportunities — photo booths, photo ops…like this cool kaleidoscope you could shoot through:


All in all, it was a great event and it was very cool to see 10,000 people in downtown Erie having a good time doing something related to fitness.

I heard a lot of grumbling from “real” runners (and, let me remind you that you all started somewhere) that this wasn’t a “real” race (well, no, it wasn’t) and that these types of runs are stupid, but…here’s the thing: if this inspires one person to start running or walking or take steps to get fit — if only so they can participate in “stupid” races like this — well, then that’s still an awesome thing.

I also heard some criticism about big races coming in & charging big money and taking participation away from other area events. But, A.) this wasn’t a real race…so “serious” runners who want a timed race wouldn’t opt for this over another, B.) I paid $25 each (early bird team pricing) which is what most local organizers are now charging for a regular 5K (which I think is absurd…as a 5K race director, I know what it costs to put on a race). And, we got a lot more than just a t-shirt for our $25.

Here’s our “after” photo:

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The only thing I can say I was a little bit disappointed about was that the color didn’t really stay in our shirts. I wish there were a way to keep the colorful shirts we earned (say, stick it in bag with vinegar for week or whatever…), but most of it washed out. On a related note, it also easily washed off my body and out of my hair…out of my ears, etc.   (Blowing your nose was kinda fun all day…like…ooh…wonder what color it will be this time! Gross? Oh…come on, we’re runners!).

I’d highly recommend the event to anyone. Just come with the mindset of having fun…and know that you are likely going to walk most or all of the 5K course.

I’m glad The Color Run came to Erie. I’m glad it sold out out quickly and that it helped with tourism this summer because that’s why the Erie Sports Commission brings these events, you know…it’s not really about us….but we get to join in the fun, too.

More than 500 photos from the GoErie Street View crew here.

Things I found while surfing around — 8/7/14

By | August 7, 2014 2:21 am | 0 Comments

Worth Reading

Sometimes these types of articles annoy me and I realize I’m preaching to the choir here, but there’s some thought-provoking info in Salon’s 10 reasons America is morbidly obese.

Are you new to running and just can’t seem to get your breathing right and/or keep getting side stitches? Runners World has some good advice for you. 

I love this woman for being true to herself: Maggie Vessey’s Racing Outfits Punch up Track Fashion. A true trendsetter.

Got a bumper zucchini crop this year? Here are 35 healthy things you can make with it.   I can’t wait to try this and this (I totally just bought a shredder thing so I can make it) BTW…if you are drowning in squash, I’m jealous because I’ve gotten, like, two zucchini and one yellow squash out of my garden this year. I don’t think the square foot gardening thing is working out for us.

Runner Claire Wyckoff elevates running route mapping to an art form — making drawing with Nike+ Map.

Worth watching

In no way related to health or fitness or running, but too awesome not to share. Also, she reminds me of my daughter when she was a baby. Enjoy!


T-shirt of the Week

You know who you are. LOL.


Just Write 49 ~ Freedom (child’s play)

By | August 5, 2014 3:35 pm | 0 Comments


A bead of lake water mixed with sweat rolls down and drips off the end of my nose into the sand below me as I settle down into the sand on my elbows (body lifted, butt down) for 50 partner plank claps. About 20 of us have gathered for an early Saturday morning Beast on the Bay training session at Presque Isle’s Beach No. 1.

John is lining up next to me with his partner for plank claps. “Hey,” I say. “Lisa said you guys might do some tri training at Findley Lake tomorrow. Let me know when you’re going. I might join you, if that’s OK.”

“Are you doing Presque Isle?” he asks.

“No, but I like tri training. It’s kinda fun.”

“OK,” he says with a laugh.

More sweat drips off my face. The sun is hiding behind morning clouds, but the humidity more than makes up for the heat. I want to wipe my face, but my hands are covered in sand.

I groan and whine and hang my tongue out in an effort to commiserate with the rest of the gang, but I’m actually really loving the whole thing. It’s fun. It’s fun to do something different. It’s fun to have no idea what the leader is going to tell you to do next. It’s fun to challenge yourself. It’s fun to jump into the lake and roll in the sand at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Who does that? Not most 42-year-old mothers.

This is how I play.

I get up at 5 a.m. on Saturday so I can meet my marathon-training friends for a quick 6 miles before the Beast training. Then I run another 5 miles with two other friends after the Beast training. Just because I want to. Just because I can.

I’m not really training for anything — just the Beast on the Bay and the PI half marathon in September (which I could — and often do — on any given weekend).

I’m enjoying the freedom of a nearly blank race schedule, untethered to any training plan or charts or mileage requirements. I can do whatever I want right now. No plan is the boss of me.

I can go to speedwork or I can skip it. I can run 12 on Saturday or I can run 5. I can go to a Team Adrenline workout on Tuesday or I can swim laps. I can go for a bike ride on Thursday or I can go hiking in the gorge with the dog.

Mile repeats at a 7:50 pace? OK.  Join friends for a 20-miler to North East? Sure, why not. Bike from Behrend to Sara’s? Hell, yeah. Swim, bike, then run around Findley Lake Sunday morning? Count me in.

I used to be so regimented, so adamant about what I did on which days and exactly how far I had to go on those days. I thought discipline and strict adherence to a plan was key to staying fit.

Now I know the real key — friends who make fitness fun and give me lots of opportunities to play.


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.

Things I Found — 7/31/14

By | July 31, 2014 1:31 am | 0 Comments

 Worth reading

* rom Runner’s World blogger, Kristen Armstrong:Like a Girl (Really insightful and well written. Wish I’d written it!)

* The post-run shivers explained! (Interesting info on our body’s internal heating & cooling system, i.e. thermoregulation).

* Thinking about running your first 26.2? Here are some of the best marathons for first-timers.

* How (and why) runners should flex their hips.

* Completely unrelated to running, but…fascinating: Alex Hannold’s Van Life

T-shirt of the Week


Know the lingo: Packet pickup

By | July 30, 2014 1:44 am | 0 Comments

When you’re just getting started in a sport, it’s hard to learn all 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.

Packet pickup

Where you go to get your race number and t-shirt (or other race premium) and, possibly, a  goody bag.

At many local races you can do this on race morning, but most races also offer an early packet pickup that gives you the option of picking up your stuff the day before the race. This is a convenience for you (less to do in the morning before the race) and also for the race directors (fewer people to get through the line before race start). Whenever possible, it pays to pick up your packet early (plus, when goody bags/giveaways/extras are available…the early birds get the worms).

At some races, especially marathons, there is no day-of-race packet pickup and you must pickup the day before.