Friday Question: What are you thankful for as a runner?

By | November 28, 2014 1:59 am | 0 Comments

This week’s question….in honor of yesterday’s Thanksgiving Day holiday: What are you thankful for as a runner?

Friendships. — Jen Kelly

I’m thankful for a great group of running friends! — Stacey Hammer

The ability to run. My brother has a hard time walking a mile due to a brain injury and my mom has M.S. — Trisha Schrieber

Friendships! And the freedom of being able to lace up and move. — Leslie Cooksey

Being able to run! So many things in life we take for granted! — Shana Krivonak

I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made running, and nipple sized bandaids… lifesavers. — Matt Kleck

Running buddies! — Betsey Haffely

Just grateful to be able to run. Wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to after injuring my knee. —Chris Farrell

I am thankful that I can run and for friends to talk to while running. I am also thankful for my friend Eloise that taught me that I don’t always have to run for time, instead I can go out and just have fun. — LeAnne Morton

My great group of running friends, a wonderful family who supports my running and the ability to run. — Bri Hodges

For my legs. — Eloise Hawking

That I CAN run! — Allison Jeric-Carroll

This one is easy – after an injury-filled year I’m extremely thankful for just being able to run! I’m also very thankful for all my running friends. — Sandie Sweet

The ability and desire to move; the friends can’t be beat! — Kristen Currier

My running buddies who will get up early on a Saturday morning to run 10-20 miles with me. I wouldn’t make it without them! — Jessie Zahner

That running lead me to my beautiful and awesome wife, Amber Christine Smith! — Dan Smith

That I’ve been mostly injury free and I’m often able to help others with their running and training. I’m also thankful that running allows me to explore places I otherwise would never see. — Pat Krott

The friends I’ve made along the way! — Karen Groshek

Meeting my adopted dad David Comi and then my husband Jim (aka the big scary bald man). Of course also the great feeling after an awesome run. — Jennifer Lang

Getting to add 2 notches to my belt, my first Marathon and first 50k Trail Race. A couple years ago I never would have even considered this. — Dennis Albrewczynski

My running friends! — Lisa Shade

Trails, roads that don’t slant, and feeling strong after recovering from an injury. — Karen Beebe

The amazing people who have come into my life through running.— Christine Vassen

My health so that I can run….and the many great running friends I have made along the way!!! — Brenda Carr

Running with my 9 year old son every Wednesday and enjoying his excitement. — Amy Cronk

The physical, mental, emotional and spiritual ability and capability to continue running. — Ginny Sackett

The running buddies! How strong, thankful, and free I feel when running! — Cindy Tickle

Friends to run with, ERC, running friends, Presque Isle state park. —Suzy Carstarter

Being able to run, running friends, supportive family, volunteers at races, my pillow at the end of the day. — Jennifer Bach

All the people whom I no longer consider running mates… but rather family!! — Carol Crandall

For all the wonderful people I’ve met! — Rachel Prozan

Many things!
The ability to run/ waddle
The drive to do so
The area to run roads easily and safely as well as access to trails paved and unpaved.
The ability and drive to host a race that benefits an awesome charity.
The ability to volunteer at other events and help other groups give based on running Events ie oc100.
To be associated with your awesome group of Wednesday night running group and be blessed enough to know I can never keep up with them for long.
To understand the camaraderie of group runs and long distance runners and the benefits if each.
To understand the affect that running has on my mind and the benefits of re prioritizing thoughts, clears clutter, allows time to study difficult tasks from a distance allowing solutions to become obvious.
It gives me the time to not think but just do.
Then there is the benefits of weight loss etc.

And…my wife says my temper is much less active when I run so I guess that is good too.

Stephen Haeseler

I’m thankful for the huge “family” I have met through running. I’m thankful for my good health. I’m thankful that I’ve been wearing the same size clothes for a decade (thanks to running). I’m thankful for the opportunity to see, witness and really experience was a limited few do: frigid, but stunning sunrises in March (they are most beautiful then), a whole new view of the cities and places I visit, the opportunity to have deep heart-to-hearts with friends on a weekly (or more) basis, and the serenity and peace to be found in a silent solo run (especially in winter). I could go on & on & on… but, then…I’m sure we all could.

Aren’t we lucky?

Area runners tell us about their first time going 26.2

By | September 12, 2014 1:01 am | 3 Comments

In honor of this weekend’s Erie Marathon at Presque Isle, I asked area runners to tell me about their first time running 26.2.

Here’s what I remember about my first marathon:

first marathon

My first was Erie in 1999 and, at that time, it was run all through the city. I couldn’t tell you where we went, but I think we did loop the peninsula. It finished in Perry Square.  I remember getting to the 25-mile mark, which was the final water stop when some guy said “you’re almost there” and I had an overwhelming urge to punch him because I thought…a MILE is not almost there. STOP LYING TO ME. When I got to the courthouse, I could see the finish line which was set up right across from the Erie Police Station on Perry Square & I was like…oh, thank God…there it is. Thank God I can stop running soon.

Then, the volunteer told me I had to go around the block. I was like…what? uh…ok…so I got to State street & tried to turn over and another marshal said…”No, no, no….you have to go all the way around…go to French Street up there!” I nearly cried. I think I did cry, actually. I felt so entirely sorry for myself.

When I finally got to the finish line, I was relieved and happy to see that that my time was, like, 4:15 or something (I’m probably the only runner on earth who doesn’t remember their race times or PRs). My whole family — my parents & all my brothers and sisters — had come down to surprise me.

I remember trying to sit down on the curb and my dad (a former runner/marathoner) told me I couldn’t…that I had to keep walking and…again…I wanted to punch someone. :0)  Apparently, I get mean when I’m in pain.


Here’s what everyone else had to say:

If I was going to run one it had to be big, so my first was in New York City in 2009. An unforgettable experience and the start of my obsession. Marathon/ultra #24 & #25 coming up in October!!  — Karen Manganaro


The Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2013 was my first marathon. It was an amazing experience. I’m registered to run it again this year. They do such a wonderful job of organizing it and the city is so supportive (I can think of very few stretches where there wasn’t anybody cheering us on). The neighbors vie for the best entertainment along the route, which makes for a wonderful race.

The experience was so positive that I registered for and ran the inaugural Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon in Canton, Ohio, half a year after Toronto. Despite being an inaugural run, this race, too, was extremely well organized.

Because of these great experiences, I’m a marathoner now until my body gives out. ;) The training program, I find, helps me organize the rest of my life. I have to get the running in, so I better be clear about how I’m getting everything else done! — Rob von Thaden


Sunday (Erie Marathon at Presque Isle) will be my first. I did all the training, but I’m still nervous as heck. — Dennis Albrewczynski


Pittsburgh, 2009! It was the first of two for me so far. Great course, a lot more hills than expected, but definitely enjoyable and I went back for a 2nd time in 2011. I would like to do more, but the training is so time consuming that it may be awhile before I can train for another one. — Amy Cronk


Pittsburgh in 2001. I had trained in San Francisco and was a nervous wreck. I had trained using the Galloway method. I remember how hard it was to walk in the early miles. I was afraid I would never catch up. Then, something really cool happened. Around mile 21, I realized I did not have to walk anymore. My 24th mile was my fastest and I had a kick at the finish line. I loved the fans and the cityscapes. — Paul Bressen


Dublin, Ireland, 2001.  Just 2 months after 9/11 and 6 months after losing my mom.  I was so nervous, but the race was full of folks from around the world wearing FDNY caps, and long-lost family members were at every water/Guinness stop.  It was an amazing atmosphere, and I made friends I still communicate with today. I had the time of my life! — Mary Connerty


Athens Marathon 2012. OK, Athens, Ohio but still…. It starts with a downhill first mile, more or less…I never got over that and it crippled me in later miles. Live and learn. — Al Warner


My first marathon was at Presque Isle in 1977. I had a 3:20. My last marathon was in New York City with Bruce Yount in November of 1997. Bruce died two months later in Mexico. I’ve run 103 marathons and am one of six runners who ran their 100th marathon at Boston! — Mike Filutze


My first marathon was the Walt Disney World Marathon in 2014. I was worried that I was going to be swept, but ended up with a time I was very proud of. I never had that “I will never do another marathon” thought. I was very surprised how sore I became around mile 22. I’ve signed up for the Dopey Challenge for 2015 at Walt Disney World. Jay Williams


Pittsburgh in 1991. Started at 9:45 a.m. and it was hot as hell. I walked A LOT. It was awful. I had no idea how to train. 17 was my longest long run. What a fool. I said I’d never do another one. Ha! I did 6 more. — Ginny Sackett


My first was in Pittsburgh this past May. My Garmin watch did not work so I just ran with no idea how I was doing. Thought the hills were easy after running in Erie. Wanted to finish in four hours, finished at 3:48. Was ready to sign up for another marathon on the car ride home. Running my second one in less than a month. — Susan Ellsworth


Baltimore Marathon in October 2013 with my mom, Cyndie Zahner, and her friends – Robin Smith, LeAnn Parmenter and Heather Cass. It was the best running experience I’ve had, although it was also the toughest. There is nothing like running your first marathon alongside your mom and some of her best friends who become some of yours. They really inspired me the entire way, kept me happy and laughing and brought me through the difficult miles. Although I wish it was my first and only, I am running the same marathon again this year! — Jessie Zahner


Chicago 2012 with Tracy Scotch, Tina Gruber, and Julie Watts. The whole experience was fantastic!! We had no idea what to expect, or if we trained well. The course was fun, people cheering with signs and bands the whole way, it was a great marathon try for the first time! — Kristen Currier


My first marathon was in Erie in October of 1984. It was a cold, gray day and the race was 2 loops around P.I. Survived pretty well with a 3:30. 14 miles had been my longest training run. I guess I didn’t know any better because I didn’t hurt too bad….until I got home and had to crawl up the steps to my second floor. — Ron Krystek


I’ll let you know mid-day on October 5th. — Jen Kelly (running her first 26.2 at the Wineglass Marathon)


Marine Corps in 1987. I was woefully undertrained. Collapsed at the finish line and spent time in the med tent. Walked downstairs backwards for days. Redeemed myself a couple years later in Erie. — Chris Borgia


Marine Corps in 1982, and I LOVED it. I was very nervous going into it, so I started really slowly, just jogging along with the huge crowd. I started feeling good and picked up the pace. The crowd was fantastic. When I finished, my first thought was “I can’t wait to do that again!” I ran nine more, and each of those times, I swore “never again!” — Fiona Branton


Presque Isle Endurance Run…don’t know the year. I finished and went to a wedding feeling very accomplished. First “real” marathon was the first Baltimore marathon in October of 2001. Security was very tight as it was just after 9/11. There were helicopters patrolling the course. — Jan Vieyra


Pittsburgh, 2002, I think. My marathon PR. There were only about 2,500 runners – enough that I never ran alone, but few enough that after the first mile I had open road ahead of me. — Jim Lang


Erie Marathon in 2005. It was warm out during the month of September, so I was struggling and my Uncle Mike jumped in and helped me finish. My 2nd one in 2012 was much worse. — Adam Rowe


I did my first marathon being undertrained (I thought running one day a week was enough – LOL) and with a lot of prayer. Often succumbing to despair, I continually had to remind God that he needed to “help me out a little down here.” I also panicked as I thought they might sweep us off the course for going too slow (no watch) until a really nice RATIONAL guy assured me we were doing great. We finished in 4:19. When I saw that finish line I was overjoyed with a sense of accomplishment! I felt even better when everyone was impressed that I was now a “marathon runner!” That was 8 years ago and I’ve been doing them ever since. — Carol Crandall


My first attempt was at Cleveland in 2012. It was a DNF. At mile 23, I had severe cramping due to lack of water/electrolytes. Following week I ran Buffalo, no troubles, nice race. — Pat Krott


Cleveland Marathon 2010! I loved it! I ran a 3:48:39. I ran Cleveland because that is where I was born and raised!!! — Allison Jeric-Carroll


Marine Corps marathon in 2013. Training went really well, stuck to the program decently. Didn’t miss any long runs. Race day mistake, knew I would need to stretch after we got started since it was 40 degrees in the corrals, but a mixture of adrenaline and the elbow-to-elbow course for the first 3-4 miles prevented me from making myself pull over to stretch. Finally stretched around mile 5-6 but it was too late. Felt tight and crampy at the halfway point, wondered how I would keep going, but knew quitting wasn’t an option. The spectators, my awesome family at various mile markers, and fantastic signs got me through. Finished much later than I wanted to or planned to, but I high-fived the Marines lining the hill to the finish and powered through to the finish line on my own two feet. Was also running in memory of my uncle who died from ALS and had collected donations from supporters….so that was a huge motivator! — Tracy Jenks


Erie marathon in 2002. First big item on the bucket list after my mom died. I’ve been chasing down the other bucket list items ever since. — Doug Oathout


My first is 10/4/2014. Going to learn a lot, I’m sure. It’s a trail run that is almost 6,000 feet of ups. I’m going to walk a lot, but that’s OK. — Stephen Haeseler


My first was the Pittsburgh Marathon this May. It was my first time running anything more than a 5k. I trained for six months and ended up tearing something in my foot at mile 18. I walked Miles 20-21 and ran the rest in severe pain. I’m looking to redeem myself at the Cleveland Marathon in 2015. — Jon Wolff


I wanted to run a marathon before I turned 40 and I ran my first marathon 3 days before my 40th birthday. It was the God’s Country Marathon in Coudersport, Pa. I was only there to run the half with my friend Jan, but when I finished the half, I decided to keep going! People say the course is extremely hilly, I would refer to it as mountainous! But, after crossing that finish line, I wanted more. I couldn’t wait to run my next marathon! — Cathi Mitchell

Friday question: Fav local running spots

By | August 29, 2014 1:28 am | 0 Comments

This week’s question: Where is your favorite place to run locally (in the tri-state area) other than the peninsula?

Asbury Woods and Frontier Park. — Amy Cronk

Only Asbury Woods. — Al Warner

Edinboro Lake, Ernst Trail in Meadville, and around Findley Lake. — Lisa Shade

Drake Well trails. — Terry Zalewski

Asbury Woods. — Heather Bedell

Behrend/the gorge. — Renee York

Asbury Woods. — Dennis Albrewczynski

Oil Creek in Titusville. —Christine Kalie

Findley Lake (with a stop at Addie’s after). — Lisa Meyer

Chautauqua Overland Trail. —Chris Borgia

Asbury Woods. — Julie Kaufman

Oil Creek in Titusville….worth the drive. —Christine Vassen

Erie Cemetery. — Marcy Hall

Any lightly-traveled back-country road. Any of the creek crossings promise a nice dip as well. — Jim Lang

The gorge and Harborcreek Community Park trails. — Karen Beebe

Oil Creek State Park. — Rob Kolodziejczak

I say Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The trail system is unbelievable. — Diana Leroux-Woolf

Bull’s Dam (Eaton Reservoir), Our Lady of Mercy Church, Point Gratiot Park. — Adam Rowe

No doubt frontier park to bayfront around all the docks and back! — Joe Dobrich

Depend on the definition of local. Bull dam/ Howard Eaton reservoir. Penn state Behrend. Vineyards in the fall. — Stephen Haeseler

I love the bayfront connector trail…can safely run from Behrend to Frontier with minimal interaction with traffic and a nice amount of scenery! — Tracy Jenks

Behrend/SW Harborcreek and the Gorge. — Dave Lesher

Asbury woods … Hill Repeats. I get a great workout even if I’d rather slug off. Hills don’t lie. — Cynthia Johnson

Findley Lake. Also, Logan House (Penn State Behrend’s property on Station Road in Harborcreek) to Brew Haha (Colony Plaza). — Jen Kelly

Findley Lake, especially when there is ice cream involved. — Bri Hodges

Penn State Behrend campus & trails.  — Leslie Cooksey

Anyplace But the peninsula! — Susan Ellsworth

Findley lake. — Renee Uht

HC Community Park…I love the option of pavement plus trail running for my low mileage style! — Brenda Carr

I have to agree with those who said findley lake. But fall in North East with the smell of the grapes and vineyards in full bloom is great. — Tina Gruber

Findley Lake. But truthfully, running anywhere with my friends is enjoyable! — Debbie Humphreys

From my house on Mooreheadville Road to Freeport beach. Also South Shore Frontier Area. — Amy Morrow

Really anywhere, but definitely Findley Lake and what Tina said. I like all the routes created in NE during all the seasons. — Kristen Currier




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

We asked: One word description

By | August 15, 2014 1:17 am | 0 Comments

We asked runners: Describe your running self in one word.

Turtle. — Linda Young

Hare. — Dan Young

Juggernaut. — Eric Ellis

Dedicated. — Stacey Hammer

Tough. — Susan Ellsworth

Mirror. — Paul Bressen

Injured :-( — Patrick Dwyer (We feel your pain, Patrick. We’ve all been there. You’ll be back. Rest & heal).

Commitment.  (Committed to myself, my health, and achieving what I set out to accomplish. I never ran more than 3 miles at a time and I signed up for my first race — The Pittsburgh Marathon — and accomplished it. Now looking forward to The Cleveland Marathon in May 2015.)  — Jon Wolff

Determined. — Karen Manganaro

Patient. — Allison Jeric-Carroll

Persistent. — Mike Vieyra

Social. — Lisa Shade

Strong.  — Carol Crandall

Gliding. — Joe Dobrich

Lost. — Tom Twohig

Determined. — Trisha Schrieber

Happy. — Cindy Tickle

Free.  — Leslie Cooksey (We think alike. :) )

Imaginary. — Jennie Hutchison

Stubborn. — Mary Kay Synder-Migdal

Passion. — Ron Krystek

Underachiever. — Pat Krott

Determined! — Dee

Happier. (I may not look it but I am.) — Stephen Haeseler

Disciplined. — Teri Zalewski

Finisher. — Diana Leroux-Woolf

Strong. — Laurie Thompson

Social. (Or my running mates would say Talkative.) — Jen Kelly (Me, too, Jen…Me, too)

Capable. — Erin Ryan

Focused. — Karen Groshek

Learning. — Lisa Meyer

Positive. — Renee Uht

Strong. — Karen Beebe

Creative. — Eloise Hawking

Turtle! — Susie Ann

Persistent. — Brenda Carr

Purposeful. — Debbie Humphreys

Me? I had a hard time deciding — leading contenders — social, happy, free, Zen…but ultimately I have to go with: Peaceful. Running is where I find peace, in many ways.


Rules are made to be broken

By | May 16, 2014 1:24 am | 0 Comments

I seem to have my best races when I break all the running “rules” and it would seem the same for my husband, Dan, who after drinking four beers the night before the Pittsburgh marathon and stopping for one DURING the marathon (handed out by spectators), had a P.R. of 3:22. So..I wondered, if he does better breaking the “no alcohol before a big race” rule, are there other running “rules” that area athletes routinely break without consequences?

I’ll confess to never stretching, foam rolling, or “warming up” of any kind (Don’t tell Dr. Dan Young!). I also refuse to pile on mileage these days (that’s more sage runners wisdom though).

I’m with you, Heather. I don’t stretch, foam roll, etc. I also don’t drink enough water (sad to say). I also talk the ENTIRE time I run. — Jen Kelly

Wait…there are running rules? — Debbie Humphreys (LOL)

I’m a rule follower. — Karen Beebe

Breaking rules seems to come easy, try not to dwell on it, I think I only use half of my brain, saving the other half for later. — Tom Twohig

Beer is good luck!!! I always drink a beer before race day. — Karen Groshek

Speaking for my husband, Dan Young, he never eats heavy carbs like pasta. — Linda Young

I don’t stretch or warm up! — Stacey Hammer

What’s warming up? — Lesley Cooksey (Editor’s note: in my opinion: It’s the first mile :-) )

Rest days…moms really don’t get rest days. — Christine Vassen

1. taper for races 2. rest after races 3. ramp up mileage no more than 10% per week 4. take in calories during runs that last more than 2-3 hours; 5. stretch before and after running. — Pat Krott (Editor’s note: You little rule breaker, you!)

I don’t warm up… I also take shots of fireball whiskey when the chances arise during said events… Typically tough mudders and and other mud runs. — Matt Kleck

What rules? I always ran what I felt like running and it worked well. And beer the night before. Every time. — Jim Lang

Running multiple marathons in a short period of time. I don’t believe in wasting all that training on only one marathon. — Karen Manganaro

I do the same thing as Dan Cass and that’s why I like him.  — Eric Ellis

Increasing my mileage more than 10% a week — Tom Toale

I think the beer the night before is perfect for this reason: he was relaxed, comfortable, and not “up in his head.” The beer is irrelevant, but rather it was his state of mind that helped him reach a new PR. Many competitors “get up in their own head” which affects their physical performance. — Steve Krauza

I don’t carbo-load before the race. Instead, I eat my good luck cheeseburger and french fries the night before the race. Terrible idea but every time I have broken my PR, that is what I have ate! It’s good luck!  — Jessie Zahner

I don’t follow written ideas and schedules to a tee. If I feel like I need to stretch, I do. If I want to run 5 days in a row, I will. If I fall a few miles short of a scheduled day, meh. If I want to run further than scheduled, that’s OK too. — Kristen Currier

Ode to moms of runners

By | May 9, 2014 1:56 am | 0 Comments

We asked: How does you mom inspire your running? Does she run? Is she a faithful fan? Does she bake you energy bars for your long runs?



My mom is very supportive of all the events I do. While I was doing my first Tough Mudder last year, she made a poster with my kids and helped them hang it with a balloon to welcome me home. My mom is not the kind of person to sit at home. She likes to get out and try new things. Her way of living inspires me to find new challenges. — Leann Morton




My mom is awesome! She has always supported me and cheered me on. When my kids were little, my mom babysat for me so I could go running. She buys me running gear for Christmas. She has come to races before, and last summer she followed me in her car for an entire half marathon and took pictures!  — Karen Beebe



No mom here. However…AS a mom, I think running & fitness has made me a better mom. Running with friends is the best therapy & stress reliever. Moreover, I hope CJ & I are setting a great example for our boys by being active and cognizant of our eating habits & overall health. — Jen Kelly
Jen Kelly and her sons, Jaret and Hunter

My mom is probably the first to admit that she doesn’t understand why I run. After having a knee replacement last year, she helped me realize just how lucky I am to be able to run like I do. Now that she has seen all the good that has come from my running, not only physically but mentally as well, she has started her own path towards wellness. She’ll never be a runner, but knows it is how I choose to improve myself and is behind me 100%. She may stay “behind the scenes” but supports me by offering to babysit or making special meals based on how I am eating at the time. — Bri Hodges

Anytime I tell my Mom about a run I am doing she always asks where it is and if she can come down to cheer for me.  She always has a bottle of water and snacks with her for the finish.  I even got her involved, she has done the Her Times 5k and is about to do the Mother’s Day race.  She came down to the Endurance Run to cheer for me last year and ended up walking five miles.  She inspires all of my family, at 70 she is going stronger than ever, love you Mom! —Dennis Albrewczynski

My mom ran when she was in high school and has supported me since I ran my first 5k in middle school. She doesn’t always understand why I have the determination to conquer a full marathon and is concerned when I enter physical therapy for running related injuries. She has never stopped being my biggest fan though. She has sat through multiple early mornings for half marathons, given me rides home when I need them, and has dropped off extra items when I was less than prepared on the road. She’s the greatest.  — Carolyn Michael

My mom doesn’t get the running thing. She worries about me, probably more than I know. But she always asks how the runs went, and listens. She gave me my “You Can Do It” running shoe token to get me through my marathon. She doesn’t get it, but she supports all of it.  — Kristen Currier


Our mom is our biggest cheerleader. She shows up at races and we can always hear her in the crowd because she has the loudest yell. It doesn’t matter if you are first or last–she yells the same encouragement for both, and everyone in between. — Karen Groshek & Eloise Hawking





My Mom doesn’t run at all, but she’s impressed with the amount of running that I do with all my crazy friends, especially coming from a guy who was a seriously overweight, pack-a-day smoker.  — Matt Kleck



Matt and his mom, Karen


My mom is my number one fan. She encourages and supports all the crazy stuff I get into. For instance, she happened to be in Boston on the anniversary of the marathon bombing, and she sent me a note that she lit a candle for all of us runners and I got this in the mail today…   — Leslie Cooksey

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My mom is awesome! She watches my boys so I can run with my Krazie runner friends! — Stacey Hammer





My mom was there for me during marathon training. On my longest training run, she jumped in on her bike and paced me when my first running buddy’s ‘shift’ was over or I’d have to do the last 12 miles alone. — Tracy Jenks




My mom, Cyndie Zahner, is the best inspiration! She is an amazing runner. She has inspired me to run 5ks, 10ks, half marathons and my first marathon, which she ran and finished the race with me. The entire marathon she pushed me. I would have never made it without her. Any time I have questions about racing, training, or injuries, she is there to give me advice, what she has done that worked. Knowing how fast she has run and the distances she has gone encourages me that I too can get better and I work everyday, every run to be half the runner and person she is! She is the best! — Jessie Zahner



Jessie Zahner (center) and her mom, Cyndie, to her immediate right at the 2013 Baltimore Marathon (Jessie’s first). Cyndie recruited friends, too, from left, Leann Parmenter, me (Heather Cass) and on the far left, Robin Smith, who is not Cydnie’s sister, but may as well be as they’ve been running together for like 30 years and are tighter than any sisters I’ve ever met.



As for me, my mom is not only inspiration for my running (she and my dad used to run when I was a teenager and she still goes to the gym every morning & walks 3 miles on the treadmill), but she’s the reason I could even go run half the time. She was always understanding and accommodating when I asked her to take (or keep) my daughters for an hour or two so I could get a run in. She’s been to more than a few finish lines (my first half, my first marathon, etc.) and she always asks about my races and watches the girls for us a few times a year when Dan & I go to marathons for a weekend.  I’ve been running for more than 15 years now, but I’d have quit — or given up — long ago if it weren’t for my mom’s support (in more ways than one). — Heather Cass

This photo is old — from 2000! — but it’s one of my favorites and we pretty much still look the same (just a few more wrinkles)



Friday Question: Spring race plans

By | March 21, 2014 1:36 am | 0 Comments

I asked: Are you training for any big spring races? What’s on your schedule?

Boston!!!! — Amy Cronk

I’m training for the women’s half in Niagara Falls on June 1st. Looking forward to running with a great group of friends! — Stacey Hammer

Tough Mudder, the Presque Isle half marathon and Beast on the Bay! — Lisa Meyer

Pittsburgh marathon relay and the Marine Corps historical half marathon. — Jameel Gavin

I’m excited to say I’m training for the Tough Mudder, a half marathon this summer and Beast on the Bay. Every time I see a 13.1 sticker I think ” I need to earn that ASAP!” And I will probably wear the orange headband from the Mudder to bed every night. — Erin Ryan

Nike Women’s Half Marathon in Washington, DC and the Hot Chocolate 15k in Philadelphia! — Jessie Zahner

What Stacey Hammer said….and I’m also training for Wineglass Marathon in Oct. — Jen Kelly

Wild Trail Half Marathon on April 19th, the zombie run in which I’ll be running the morning extreme race and converted into a zombie for the Black Ops event, and the Buffalo Marathon on May 25th. — Carolyn Michael

Tough Mudder, Niagara Falls Half, PI Half, Beast on the Bay, and the Wine Glass Marathon! — Bri Hodges

Tough mudder in May, Beast on the Bay in September, and that stupid Presque Isle full marathon in September. — Matt Kleck (who totally got talked into the marathon by a friend)

Pittsburgh Half Marathon… the first time I ran it in 2011, I was 30 pounds heavier and had just quit smoking. So, I figured I can’t run it any slower than I did in then–the pressure’s off! Plus, I’m running for a charity for the first time ever (a retired racing greyhound adoption group!) It’s been a fun opportunity to meet fellow the dog owners before I fill out the application to adopt one this summer. I told myself no dog before the 13.1, but… after meeting these great people and some great dogs … I might break my own rule. — Abby Badach

Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon! And Tough Mudder Ohio! — Leslie Cooksey

Citifield Spartan Sprint April 12th then More/Fitness Magazine Half Marathon through Central Park April 13th, TM Ohio with Run Hard Finish Wet… Tough Mudder Ohio 2014 group, Glow Run, and more through the summer! — Amy Fuchs

Tough Mudder Ohio! — Crystal Nicholson

I’m training for 3 – Boston in April, Pittsburgh Marathon in May and in June the Cayuga Trails 50! — Karen Manganaro

Mudder in May, 1/2 in Niagara Falls, Bay Swim, Tri in June. — Kristen Currier

I’m training for the Miller Mile Run at Christmas. Yep, just one mile. — Jeff Seevers (LOL)

Tough Mudder and the Presque Isle Half Marathon. — Brenda Carr

Well…my physical therapist just informed me that I’m out for the Wild Trail Half in April… :( But I’ll be back on track for Tough Mudder in May, Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon in June, then a triathlon in the summer and more throughout summer and fall. — Karen Beebe

Tough Mudder, Niagara Falls half, PI Tri, Beast on the Bay, & Wine Glass half. And, as a note, I’m doing all of it with an amazing group of friends! — Debbie Humphreys

A Q&A with two Dopey locals ;)

By | January 24, 2014 1:39 am | 0 Comments

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Two Erie runners, Mark Dombrowski and Jenny Turak, recently completed the Dopey Challenge — a 5K, 10K, 1/2 marathon and a marathon in four consecutive days — in Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

I had to find out more:

1. What made you want to do the Dopey Challenge? What appealed to you?

MARK: In 2013, I completed my 4th “Goofy Challenge,” which is a 1/2 marathon on Saturday and a full Marathon on Sunday. I remember telling my wife “that’s it for the Goofy; not much more to prove at Disney.” Soon after I heard about the Dopey and signed up almost immediately. It was a new challenge. I’ll never be an ultra-marathoner. But string almost 50 miles together in 4 days and I’m in.

JENNY: Ever since I started running it had been my dream to run the Walt Disney World Marathon. I’m in love with both running and Disney, and 2014 was the year! I had requested my time off of work and saved up my money, and was planning on running the Goofy Challenge until I found out about the Dopey Challenge. I love running races and race every chance I get, so it immediately appealed to me. Thank goodness Mark told me it was 90% sold out after 2 days. I got in just in time!

2. What special things did you get for doing the Dopey Challenge? (discount on the package, special medal, etc.)?

MARK: Six race shirts and six medals. One shirt and medal for running each of the races; a shirt and medal for running the 1/2 and full (Goofy) and a shirt and medal for running all 6 (Dopey).

3. Have you run at Disney before? If  yes, what keeps you coming back.  If no, would you go again?

MARK: This was my fifth trip to Disney World Marathon Weekend. It’s a first class event. Considering the number of runners—10,000 each for the 5K and 10K and 25,000 each for the half and full—the races are incredibly well organized. The entertainment along the course is great, typical Disney. Running through the parks is hard, but awesome. Mainstreet USA in the dark, 6:30 in the morning, and the street is lined with cheering spectators and “Cast Members” (Disney employees). For the full marathon, runners get to run through all four theme parks plus Wide World of Sports and Disney’s NASCAR track. Once again I told my wife I’ve had my fill of Disney races, but who knows!

JENNY: I ran the Disney Wine and Dine half marathon in 2011. I had the time of my life, and at the time I wasn’t as into running as I am today. It was just incredible—from the fireworks at the start, to the characters, concerts and entertainment on the streets, to running through the parks and the cheering crowds, to the medals and Disney swag available to purchase. I’m a kid at heart and love just being in Disney. There is something so magical about it. Disney really knows how to do races right, and I plan on signing up for the Wine and Dine half marathon in November 2014 as soon as registration opens.

4.How do Disney races compare (or stand out) from other marathons?

MARK: All races have unique characteristics that make them appealing. I’d say Disney races are more social and casual. In 2013, my goal to to get as many character picture as possible along the course while still getting a respectable finish time (result in the marathon was 31 photos with a 4:11 finish). While that was fun for me, many others at Disney seem to have even more fun. I have a friend who stopped for a beer and did some shopping at Epcot before finishing the marathon. At Disney, there are also a lot of “highway miles” between the parks. Disney works to make them entertaining with characters and music, but it’s a lot different that running through downtowns and neighborhoods that you’d find in the majority of races (PA Grand Canyon excluded). I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that you’ll never see as many port-a-potties as you see at Disney in the runner’s village at the start and along the course.

JENNY: At Disney they say Every Mile is Magic, and it really is. Like I said previously, there are just so many aspects that make Disney races so special. The course entertainment goes above and beyond any other marathon I’ve been to, and it’s more like a party than a race. They even have fun DJs and music to pump you up, and they make you feel like a true champion when you finish. They give you a treat box, take your picture, cheer for you when you pick up your bag, and they have character pictures after and you can get your picture with your medal. The Dopey Challenge was the best experience of all my life! I’d recommend Disney races to anyone… Even if they are not an avid runner, because it is just an incredible amazing experience and the miles fly by. Especially since you run through the parks and it keeps it so exciting! The most magical part for me was running through Magic Kingdom at the marathon. The castle looked like something out of a dream, and all the lights on mainstreet were mesmerizing. Plus cheering crowds like you wouldn’t believe! I felt like a superstar and was dressed up like Cinderella and everyone was yelling “go Cinderella” such a rush!!

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5.  Which was the hardest race for you?

MARK: Usually it’s the marathon, particularly the second half. This year, it was definitely the half marathon. Orlando had a record high temperature on the day of this year’s half marathon—86 degrees.. Even though I finished around 7:30 a.m., the temperature as already 80 degrees with 80 percent humidity. It was tough. Thankfully the next day the temps for the marathon were in the low 50s and the humidity was gone.

JENNY: The hardest race for me was actually the 10k. It was soooo humid that morning and hot and my body was in shock after the negative windshields I was used to training at in Erie. The half marathon was the same way, but I was saving myself for the marathon so ran slow and got my picture with every character and just made it a fun experience.

6. Was there ever a point at which you thought….what have I done? I can’t do this!

MARK: Nope. There’s way too much going on around you to keep you occupied.

JENNY: I loved every mile and was smiling the whole time!

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7. What is it like to run four progressively longer races in four days? Did you conserve energy in the first couple?

MARK: I’d say I moderated my pace for all four. With the shorter races, I tried to stick with 9 minute miles. Normally, I’d be about 30 seconds a mile faster. For the1/2 marathon, I started with 9:15 & 9:30 miles, but I knew the heat was going to take a lot our of me so I slowed down considerably. The full marathon was a crap shoot this year. I felt good for the first 18 miles and kept decent sub 10-minute pace. I slowed down the last 6 to 8 miles because I needed to walk away without injury since my next marathon is Boston.

JENNY: I knew I would complete the challenge no matter what, but I conserved on the half marathon because the marathon is such a long way to run and I was exhausted already after the 10k with the early morning wake up calls (3a.m.!) and the humidity. I’m the worst heat and humidity runner! I think I ran the 5k too hard also, and my legs were sore. It’s hard to know how to pace yourself for so many miles. Luckily the marathon was perfect ideal weather and it was the best I felt of all four races! I was on such a high and it was the best experience of all my life, and I even got my picture with all the characters.

8. If you don’t mind, would you provide times for each of your races?

MARK: 27:13 in the 5K; 55:38 in the 10K; 2:07 in the half marathon; 4:24 in the full marathon

JENNY: I did Disney solely for fun. I dressed up as a different princess every day and felt like I was back in my childhood. I started off trying to run the 5k for time, but it was so crowded and got stuck behind walkers from start so decided just to get pictures with characters and have fun with it. Lines for pictures at half marathon were insane! I was in corral F so people were running way slower than my half marathon pace… I usually run around a 1:45 half and they were running 9:45 pace. Again, got frustrated from start, so I decided to conserve energy and waited 5-10 min for each picture. The pathways were so skinny so it got pretty frustrating after stopping and getting stuck behind walkers. I learned a lot for next year, and will definitely do some things different because I’m pretty competitive and was not happy with my times. But anyways here are my times: 24:45 in the 5K; 56:23 in the 10K;  3:04.30 in the half; 4:17.37 in the full marathon.

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9.Parting thoughts?

MARK: Anyone planning to run a Disney race should consider it a chance to have some fun. Stop and take pictures with characters. Enjoy the parks. The second time I did the Goofy Challenge, I had a sub two-hour half and a sub four-hour full marathon. So, with the rest of them, I had little to prove. I still wanted to have respectable finish times but I also wanted to have a “magical” experience. Disney does it right.

JENNY: Disney is really such a wonderful experience! For how many runners are  involved, it is really well organized and it is so convenient staying at a Disney resort because they have buses to take you to start and back to the resort after you finish. I had the time of my life and am already planning on for sure running the Dopey again next year, and, like I said earlier, the Wine and Dine in November. I can’t get enough of Disney . Lived up the whole experience and went to 3 parks while I was there as well and just had such a blast! They also have the best running expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports — walking in there felt like Christmas morning. I didn’t want to come home and can’t wait to go back again!

Friday question: Where’s your bling?

By | November 8, 2013 3:26 am | 0 Comments

Question of the Week: Do you display your medals somewhere, or are they stashed in a drawer amongst your sports bras and compression socks?

Mine are packed in a box being shipped to Arizona. Not sure where my sports bras are. — Paul Bressen

In my bedroom. My motivation! — Amy Cronk


Mine hang from a nail in my exercise room, within sight of my treadmill (below). — Kim


My wife made a board for her accomplishments last month. She started running about 5 years ago, but really became more active when we moved back to Erie 3 years ago. Last year she did the Warrior Dash and this year did the Beast on the Bay. She set a goal of 4 half-marathons next year and is really proud of her accomplishments – as we all are! This is the board she made to display her numbers, times & medals. The photo is a souvenir from Warrior dash and the plaque is from this year’s Endurance where she did her first 14 mile run, in prep for the coming year.  — Terra’s husband, Kevin :)


All of my race bibs hang on my bathroom in my game room , and my medals and trophies are displayed down there as well. — Ramon Patron Jr.

This is my memory wall….of great trips. Or, perhaps it’s my “mid-life crisis shrine” :-)  (below).  — Leann Parmenter


In the garage, nailed to a wall. — Eloise

We used to hang them all on a coat rack. We put all but a couple in a box in the attic now. Now we have the kids’ medals hanging from the book case in the living room. — Jim Lang

Luigi displayed some of his medals on this deer rack (below) that he found on the railroad tracks a few years back. He found the rack, brought it home, cleaned it up, lacquered it, and hung it on the wall. It quickly became a rack for hanging some of his medals.  — Ginny Sackett


Well, they reside on 2 shelves of my curio cabinet—-I don’t own too many curio’s–hahaha!!  — Sarah Rose


They’re all in a box. I’ll display them eventually. I usually just have one hanging that I rotate now and then, and I have one of my 100-mile buckles on the wall. — Pat Krott

Just some of the race numbers I’ve saved over the years (below). I like to think of them as little trophies :) — Tom Toale

race numbers

I have thrown out 90% of my medals and plaques, need to work on trophies soon. I always kept them in boxes down the basement, after almost 40 years, it was time to get rid of most. I used to display a few trophies, etc., if it was for a big event and will probably keep those. — Rick A.

A reader’s response: May I suggest that instead of throwing away your medals and awards that you consider donating then to medals 4 mettle instead?  This non profit takes finishers medals and gives them to children and adults fighting debilitating diseases.  You can find out more at

Mine are just laying around the house (below).  — Mark Dombrowski


No idea where the heck they are…..  — Renee Uht

Some are displayed in my office at work. The rest are on a bookshelf at home along with marathon finisher pictures. — Karen Manganaro

With two runners in our house and two kids who participate in races, we’ve got a lot of bling around Casa Cass. Some of it is in boxes in the basement, some special things are on display (see below), and most of my medals are on my “Mom’s Race Bling” hanger Dan & the girls made for me last Christmas:


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