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ERC Winter Series prize revealed

By | January 29, 2013 1:27 am | 0 Comments

The St. Patrick’s Day race on Saturday, March 16 is the final event in the ERC Triple Crown Winter Series and the prize for this year’s 3-race series participants/volunteers is an ERC foldable armchair.

To Qualify:

* You must preregister for the St. Patrick’s Day race by Feb. 21 and be sure to complete the “Winter Series” info on your application. NOTE: If you don’t preregister by 2/12 or you don’t tell the organizer you qualify for the Winter Series premium, you will not get one. The ERC won’t be “checking” each participant to see who qualifies for a prize;  it’s on you to say you do and fill in your finish times when you apply for St. Pat’s.


* You must complete or volunteer at the St. Patrick’s Day race (5K, 10K, run or walk). Prizes won’t be handed out until after the race is over.


* You must have completed or volunteered at one of the ERC Turkey Trot events


* You must have completed or volunteered at the ERC New Year’s Day race.

What you get (for free, free, free!)

From ERC board member, Suzanne Carstarter:

The 2012-2013 Winter Series Premium this year will be a folding chair with arms and a cup holder and the Winter Series logo on the back.  We must have your race registration indicating that you did the first 2 races in the series or volunteered by February 21, 2013.  If you did volunteer or run the first two and you want to volunteer for St. Patrick’s Day on 3/16/2013 you must email me so that you can be included in the count for the premium.  Please indicate the size of shirt you would like for St. Patrick’s Day also at suzannec at


Things I found — 1/24/13

By | January 24, 2013 2:06 am | 0 Comments

Worth Reading

* 6 ways to get the abs you’ve always wanted

* Photo History of Women’s Running

* Here’s your chance to run with running legends, Bart Yasso, Frank Shorter, and Bill Rodgers

* Speaking of legends, check out Amby Burfoot’s taken on Lance Armstrong and leveling the playing field.

Video of the Week

This video about two guys who’ve been swimming together for 17 years is hilarious. Enjoy! (Stick with it, it’s worth it):

Two Laps from Passion Pictures on Vimeo.

T-Shirt of the Week

Available here in various styles.

And…now I have to post this song because it’s in my head now:

5 essential single-digit running tips

By | January 23, 2013 1:29 am | 0 Comments

We are so spoiled here in Erie where our winter temps are stay in the double digits and, usually,  in the high 20s/low 30s (Exhibit A above).  There’s nothing like a stretch of single-digit days to make us truly appreciate 28 degrees, right?

I’ve been running through Erie winters for more than a dozen years. Here are a few tips I’ve learned the hard way:

1. The thermostat can’t be trusted. Forget fahrenheit, pay attention to the wind chill (also known as the  “feels like”) temperature, and dress for that. A general rule of thumb when trying to decide how many layers? Dress like it’s 20 degrees warmer (that a rule that holds fast year-round).

2. Two words: Hot Hands. These little hot packs, which I wrote about back when I blogged at Life & Her Times, can be the difference between returning home from a run with five fully functional digits or two lobster claws.  Try turning a door knob or, say, unpinning your car key from your tights, with lobster claws.  (There was a time recently, I thought I was going to have to take off my pants in the parking lot of Penn State Behrend to go home after a cold evening run).  On the coldest of days, I sandwich a hot pack between a pair of gloves and an outside mitten layer.  Warm hands make all the difference.

3.  Run point A to B. Figure out which way the wind is blowing and have a friend/spouse/ex lover/old roomate…I don’t care…drive you out in the opposite direction however many miles you need to run and drop you off so you can do your whole run with the wind at your back.

But still…

4. Protect your face. Freezer burn isn’t just for leftovers.  The winter winds and bitter cold can do a number on your face. Put some Eucerin around your eyes, nose and lips to stave off the Keith Richards look.  You can also use Aquaphor or Vaseline, but don’t use it when it’s sunny because it has a baby oil effect.

5. Go for a gaiter.  Scarves are the shit these days (look at me…acting like I know anything about Haute couture, or even how to spell it…you know I just Googled “hot coature,” right?), but when it comes to running, scarves got nothing on neck gaiters, which are warmer, don’t unravel behind you when you run, and can be pulled up to just below your eyes if it’s lobster-claw cold, or pushed down below your chin if you’re overdressed.

Bonus Tip for the boys: 

Double up on tights or put a pair of shorts on over (or below) your winter tights. I hear that…um, er…”things” can get real cold.

Quotes to Run by: Wings

By | January 21, 2013 2:11 am | 0 Comments


Just Write 1 ~ Winter morn

By | January 8, 2013 1:57 am | 0 Comments

Originally posted at because I just couldn’t decide where to this fit better:

My alarm goes off at 5 a.m. I snooze it twice before finally waking long enough to listen for wind outside my window.


The only sound the jingling of the dog’s tags and tapping of his nails on the kitchen floor as he dances around my husband, hoping for a handout.

Dan’s  sitting at the breakfast bar with the newspaper. He’s been up for at least a half hour. Why he gets up so early to go to work, I’ll never know. If I were a guy, I’d sleep until 3 minutes before I had to leave. Wouldn’t that be one of the greatest benefits of being a guy? Roll out of bed, throw on any semi-clean shirt and jeans, and go.

“How is it?” I ask. He knows that I mean the weather. He’s a runner, too.

“Nice. No wind.”

Damn. No reason not to run then.

I go back to my closet and get dressed. My tights and Under Armour scream “RUN TIME!” to Sam who abandons Dan to start dancing around me.

I drag my feet getting out the door. Sam grows impatient and eventually tugs at my sleeve.

At least one of us wants to run.

I get his collars on and we set out. But to Sam’s great disappointment, I decide it’s too icy to take him. Last thing I need on an icy day is to be attached to a lead dog.

I turn around and leave him with Dan. I’m glad it’s dark so I can’t see his eyes. If dogs could give the finger, he’d have flipped me the bird for sure.

A mile into it, I’m still feeling guilty for not bringing him as I walk up the hill. If Sam were with me, I wouldn’t be walking.  I start whining to myself.

This sucks. This is stupid. I’m running in the freezing cold at 5 a.m. on icy roads that I can’t see because it’s still dark out. Not a light on in that house. They’re probably all still snug in their warm beds, while I’m out here doing this…

I hate this.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

The sun is starting to rise behind the pine trees to the left; a faint lavender glow. The other half of my brain chimes in.

No you don’t. You love this, and you know it. How lucky you are to have this. 

They’re missing out, all those people snug in their beds. They never see what I see. They never experience the serene beauty of a winter sunrise as sweat trickles down their back. They never notice how completely silent winter is (or realize how different it is from spring when the birds are near deafening).

Running is a gift.

A half-mile from my house, I realize there’s a woman standing on her porch yelling at something.  A dog. Standing in the driveway.


It’s too dark to see what kind of dog it is, but I know from hearing the barks coming from that house on previous runs that it’s a big dog.  I can make out his outline, he’s chesty – like a boxer or a pit bull.

Oh God.

I stop running and walk by, praying he won’t give chase. The owner is still yelling the dog’s name. He’s not moving.

Then, he must have because I hear the woman  yell,  “Don’t you do it! Get over here!”

Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God. 

I’m far enough away to start running again. A neighbor’s garage door is open, her car running, warming up. I make a plan to run for the garage if I hear the dog behind me.  I don’t. He must’ve listened.

First thought: Stupid, stupid owner.

Second thought: Thank God I didn’t bring Sam, or that dog would’ve come out for sure.

My heart rate is finally back to normal by the time I get home. I get no tail wag or happy greeting. Sam is sulking, oblivious to the fact that I probably just saved his butt.

Like me, he’s no good at holding a grudge. He waggles over to apologize.

6:08 a.m.

Time for a 10 second run.

“C’mon, Sam, let’s go get Kelly.”

I take off running for the stairs. He chases and beats me up every single time. He leaps on her bed, waking the slumbering beast preteen.

“Good boy, Sam. Good boy.”


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.”

Scenes from a winter run (and a question for you)

By | December 31, 2012 1:12 am | 0 Comments

It was like running in a winter wonderland at Presque Isle State Park this weekend:


This week’s question:

What are your running goals for 2013? Comment on this post or Email me at zipdang22 at aol.



Q&A (you provide the A, please)

By | January 25, 2012 4:52 am | 2 Comments

I received this question from a running friend that, frankly, I don’t know how to answer, so I’m turning to you my been-there-done-that, seen-it-all veteran running friends.

Here is L’s question (and she’s not planning to work out in the evening, so she doesn’t need to fuel up for an after-work workout):

I am a 40ish runner who is experiencing a big lack of energy. I run and workout in the mornings, usually at 5:30 a.m., and by the time late afternoon arrives I am ready for bed. I am wondering if there are any diet tricks to help boost my energy. Magic shake? Go-to snack? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Oh, and I should add that I’m trying to limit my caffeine intake past noon. — L.

My initial response is that everyone’s motivation is lacking right now. I think most of us want to hibernate under fleece blankets all winter. It’s a tough season to run through with all the darkness and cold. But, the truth is that we’ve been very, very lucky this winter to have enjoyed some fantastic winter running weather, so maybe her lack of motivation and flagging energy has nothing to do with the weather.

* What do you think? Any advice for L?

* What foods keep you going all day?

* How do you get over the 3 p.m. slump without mainlining caffeine?

Where runners go in winter

By | January 17, 2012 4:15 am | 0 Comments

I know where Erie runners go in winter: The Wilderness Lodge ski touring lodge in Wattsburg.

I’ve spent the last couple weekends skiing at the lodge while Kelly and Lauren participate in the Wilderness Wildcats kid’s ski program, and I can’t count the number of ERC and Erie Triathlon folks I’ve seen on the trails working up a sweat on skis instead of Saucony’s.

I’ve run into Larry Kisielewski, Mary Kay Pazder, Craig Nivens, Jan Comi, Mike Vieyra, Dan & Nicolina Peirce, Jennifer Martin, Larry Mroz, Chris Borgia, and Rhonda Berlin…and probably another 10 people from various fitness circles that I know by sight, but not name.

Why ski?

Cross-country skiing is a natural transition for runners as traditional cross-country skiing technique closely mimics running. You just kick and glide. It’s simple really.  A step up from traditional XC skiing is skate-skiing, which is what many of the folks I saw are now into because it’s faster and more sweat-inducing (i.e., it’s more of a fitness workout).

Runners can see many benefits from cross-country skiing, not the least of which being that it’s a lower-impact activity (giving your body a much-needed winter break from running).  I also found that it was a killer upper body workout, too—something you definitely don’t get from running!

Get schooled

You can find all kinds of cross-country videos on YouTube, but I’d highly suggest you just pony up a few bucks and take a personalized lesson at the Wilderness Lodge like Dan & I did last week. (Read all about it in the Feb. 5 issue of Her Times magazine in the Erie Times-News).

I didn’t take long for us to learn the basics—how to kick & glide, how to stop, how to go down a hill and how to turn—and then we were off and skiing. And, it was a lot of fun.

I liked it so much that I went back the next week and skied for a couple hours in the winter wonderland that Mother Nature provided. Here are a few photos:

It just takes your breath away—not because it’s cold (because, trust me, you won’t be cold if you keep moving), but because it’s so absurdly beautiful. These photos don’t even begin to do the landscape justice. It was amazing and silent and peaceful. A few times, I stopped just to watch the snow fall, take in the scenery and thank God for the show. (Yeah, you read that right…I was grateful for SNOW!!!).

So, if you’re struggling to maintain mileage this winter and have sore hip from slogging through slushy, slippery long runs…you might want to give  it a rest, strap on a pair and join the rest of the runners at the lodge.

I’ll post a link to my story—with all the info you need to know— when it publishes in Her Times on Feb. 5. In the meantime, check out the lodge’s website, like their page on Facebook, and feel free to shoot me any questions you might have.

* Have you ever tried cross-country skiing? Not thrilling enough for you? Um..consider the ride out there, which is nothing short of an adventure!

* Did I mention the lodge has a full bar, homemade food, and rooms for rent?

* Ever find yourself doing really crazy stuff in winter, like singing and skipping through the grocery store because it’s snowing and you’re actually happy about that?



5 Winter running tips

By | January 13, 2012 6:52 am | 0 Comments

Seems appropriate on this — our 2nd snowfall (!!!) of the season — to post a link to this article from Runner’s World magazine with 5 cold-weather running tips.

Me? I opted out of an outdoor run today. I was supposed to meet a friend at 5:30 a.m., and I knew the minute I heard that wind blowing outside my window, I wasn’t going.  I did some cross-training and then hit the ‘mill for a couple miles. I hate the treadmill, but I hate snow hitting my face at gale force more.

Wherever you chose to run today, stay warm.


Winter “tires” for your feet

By | January 4, 2012 4:12 am | 0 Comments

If you’re going to run or walk outside in Erie in winter, you are eventually going to have to deal with snow/ice/slush or some horrid combination of all three.

I almost always brave the elements because, in my book, freezing winds and feet of snow are preferable to the running on the “dreadmill” or running circles around all the gawkers on the machines at the gym.

Up until this week, we runners have had an ideal winter — cold (refreshing), but with solid footing and no precipitation or ice to deal with.

Then, we got what was coming to us. Couldn’t dodge that bullet forever.

But, you don’t have to let it stop you. You just need to get on solid footing.  Here are three good options:


1. Yaktrax Pro. Yaks are make of coil and rubber and they stretch over your running shoes for added traction on snow and ice. You may have seen them and wondered just how comfortable they are to run in? You’d be surprised. You don’t even notice them, unless you’re on pavement and, even then, it’s no more annoying than the scritch-scritch sound the coils make when hitting the pavement.

You can get Yaktrax at Achille’s Running Shop or the Erie Sports Store for $30 to $40. They usually sell two versions — “walkers” and “pro,” which are more expensive.  If you’re going to run with these, you want the Pro models. The difference is in how well they stay on your shoes; the “pro” version have extra straps to keep them secure.

Most people love them. Read a review by Mid West Running Mom and another good one by Predawn Runner.

I used to use Yaks, but got tired of wearing through two pairs every winter and, twice, they caused me to fall in mid-run when one of the rubber straps broke and a coil shimmied out and grabbed the lace of my other shoe (so…imagine running full out and someone ties your shoes together…bam…on ice. I’m still pissed). Plus, they are hard to get on & off.

So, I switched to ….


2. Stabilicers Sport. These winter cleats have hard rubber lugs and nine 1/8-inch steel cleats that provide a good grip on ice and hard-packed snow. They stretch to fit over your running shoes and they hold strong; I’ve never had them slip off.  They’re also easier to take on & off — a big plus in my book. They’re compact enough that if you wear them on a run and discover you don’t need them, you can take them off and carry them.

Since the entire bottom is rubber, they shouldn’t wear through as quickly as Yaktrax. I’m going on my third winter running in my Stabilicers.  You can get them for less than $40 at the Erie Sports Store.

Low on cash? Like to buck the system? Then….


3. Screw it…make your own. If you’re the do-it-yourself kind, you can make your own winter cleats with sheet metal screws and a cordless drill. Complete instructions here.

* What kind of “winter tires” do you prefer?

* How many Yaks have you killed? At least 8 for me.

* Would you ever consider drilling screws into your $100 running shoes?