Runners Notes
By Heather Cass Erie Times-News staff blogger
If you want to know anything about the local running scene, ask Heather Cass. A member of the Erie Runners Club for 10-plus years, she is immersed in the local fitness culture, and she's taking your questions.   Read more about this blog.
Archive for the ‘Her Times 5K’ category
Posted: January 10th, 2014

Random notes from/about the Erie Runners Club:

Spring 1/2?

Are you interested in a no-frills spring half marathon? Jim Lang from Big White Trailer timing is trying to gauge interest in an event.

On Sunday, March 23, 2014, I’m looking for interest in a revival of the TNRL Spring Half. Weekend after St. Pat’s on the multi-purpose trail at PI. Start & end at the cabins. I’ll need 25 people who WILL do it (not probably) and I’ll go through the effort of putting it on. $15 to register online, $20 to mail it in. Very low budget. Probably chipped & split.

On the trails. 3 road crossings that will probably NOT be manned – you’ll be responsible for crossings. (I’ll try to get marshals to cover them, but no promises.) Respond here or DM me ( Twitter @BigWhiteTrailer.

Time to renew

ERC membership renewals are due by February 28. The fastest, easiest and cheapest way to do so is online by you can also fill out a printable application and mail it in, too.  Remember to indicate whether you want paper or a emailed newsletter. (I think you can still choose both.)

Quad ski race postponed

The Quad Ski Race has been postponed to Sunday, January 19th. yes…on the very week of the polar vortex. Forecast for Saturday is rain and 45…not good for cross country skiing (or golf courses who don’t want 300 cross country skiers tearing up their greens!).

St. Pat’s Day -  online registration is cheaper

The ERC’s Saint Patrick’s Day Distance Festival is now online and ready to go. To encourage online registration, the price is discounted $2 from teh print application fee. Online registration also has later deadlines than the paper app. The paper app, when available, will be here.

ERC Winter Series notes

You need to know your bib numbers from the Turkey Trot & the New Year’s Day race to sign up for the Winter Series when you register for St. Pat’s. you can find the numbers in the results listings (Turkey Trot here, New Year’s Day here). The premium this year is a beach towel.

Her Times 5K Date set

The Erie Runners Club/Her Times women’s 5K date is now solid. Date is Saturday, Oct. 4 at the Rotary Pavilion. This year, we’ve also reserved the closest cabin for babysitting. This way, the caregivers can keep the kids more securely and the women can actually use the pavilion before & after the race. Yay!


Posted in: ERC, Her Times 5K, Quad
Posted: October 8th, 2013

In 2005,  shortly after developing and launching Her Times magazine at the Erie Times-News, I said to my boss:

“You know what we should do some day? A woman’s 5K. Just for women. Encourage them to get fit and run or walk it. We could run a story and a training schedule in the magazine. They used to do a woman’s race here and it was awesome. I really miss that race. It’s really empowering.”

Running had changed my life. I knew I could help others change theirs, too.

I don’t remember my boss saying much about it. I didn’t expect her to. I was just sort of tossing it out there as a “someday” idea.  But she must’ve mentioned it to her boss.

Later that week, the executive editor of the newsroom said, “I hear you’re putting on a women’s 5K.”

“Uh…uh…um…well, do you think I should?,” I stammered. “I mean, do you want me to? Uh, um…well, I mean, I guess I can. Let me make some calls.”

Nearly 400 women signed up for the inaugural Her Times 5K in October of 2006 and all but a handful of them finished the race despite freezing rain, sleet, and snow. Yes, snow…in October.


Eight years later, at the 8th annual Her Times women’s 5K on Saturday, we have perfect weather –sunny and warm with no chance of rain. I’m in the kitchen of the Rotary Pavilion, checking on the post-race refreshments when, out of the corner of my eye, I see a woman streak by the windows outside.

Oh, crap. I think I just missed the winner.  Dang it.

I finish up inside and jog out to the finish line, camera slung over my shoulder. Hopefully Greg, the Erie Times-News photographer, got the winner’s photo. By the time I get there, the fastest women are starting to stream in.

“Go Ange! Nice run!” I yell.  6th overall.

“Pam! Nice race, girl!” 8th overall.

And so it goes. I know many of the women by name. Maybe even most. Definitely the majority. They are my friends, my running partners, my family members, my coworkers, my former high school classmates, my loyal blog readers…and my daughters. They were just 2 and 4 when this race started. This year, at 10 and 12, they are running the 5K by themselves.

I see my friend Dave near the finish line and I ask, “Hey, who won?”

“There were two winners,” he said. “They came in holding hands.”

“What?” I ask. “Mother & daughter? Was it Pam McCormick and one of her daughters?”

“No,” he says. “I don’t think they knew each other, but I don’t know. I didn’t recognize them.”

Huh, that’s weird. Competitive women at that level don’t do that.

When I get the results from my timing guy a half hour or so later, I recognize the winner.  Jill Brugger, 34, of Erie, has won before. I look to see who is in 2nd place — Aimee DeYoung, 40, of Saegertown. David must’ve been mistaken. If she’s from Saegertown, it’s unlikely she and Jill knew each other. But, then, maybe they were friends…or family members.

They have the same finish time: 21:01 (a 6:47 per mile pace).


On Sunday morning, Dan and I are up early again. We’re off to another 5K, this time to run it, not direct it. I get the newspaper out of the box and pull out the sports section to look for the Her Times 5K coverage.

There’s a photo of Jill and Aimee (of course Greg got it) crossing the finish line. According to the story below the photo, the two women had never met until they were trading positions back and forth for the first two miles of the race. They started talking and, at some point, they decided to share the victory and cross the finish line hand-in-hand. Two winners.


My tears wet the newspaper.

It’s all so perfect. I can’t believe it happened. Compassionate competitors. Gracious winners. At my race. It’s everything I stand for. It is every reason I do the race. Every reason I started the race. Women supporting each other. Cheering each other.  Women growing stronger and more powerful by sticking together.

Sometimes nice guys girls do finish first.

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.”

Posted: October 7th, 2013

aimee and jill copy

Much more to come on this story, my friends.

Posted: October 6th, 2013


Me (in the green shirt in forefront) with an airhorn in hand…ready to start the race!

Oh, where to start?

There’s so much to say/cover/reflect on…. and, well, friends, it’s late Sunday night and it’s not looking good for me to put together a profound blog post, so let’s just go with a straight results & photos post for now:

Two inspirational winners

For the first time ever, the Her Times 5K had not one, but two winners.  Jill Brugger, 34, of Erie, and Aimee DeYoung, 40, of Saegertown, crossed the finish line hand-in-hand, in 21 minutes, 2 seconds to win the 8th annual Her Times 5K.  According to the Erie Times-News, “the two had never met before, but were batttling back and forth throughout the race. They decided to help each other finish strong and end the race in a tie.”  Read the story here.

I’m not sure I can put into words how much I love that. What a wonderful and visible demonstration of the spirit of this race, which has always been about women coming together to support each other and grow stronger together!

Kudos to Jill and Aimee for being not only awesome athletes (that’s a 6:47 mile pace!), but really awesome women, too.

Complete 5K race results can be found here

Note: We had some issues with the timing system and several runners times were not recorded. As we hear about them (please email jimlang at, results are being updated. This, of course, can mean some shuffling in the age group winners, as some runners that were not recorded may now be added and bump previous award winners down. I’ll do my best to make it right for everyone. I can make new awards (and, no, I won’t be asking for any back).

Got an award coming? Still want a shirt?

I’ll be at the Plymouth Tavern (State Street, Erie) on Monday night at 7 p.m (till about 8 or 8:30) to help with the Erie Runners Club’s newsletter stuffing. I will bring race awards & leftover shirts to sell ($5 each, mostly smalls & mediums left). First come, first serve on the shirts.

If you have an award coming and you plan to pick it up (anyone can pick up for you), please shoot me a quick email at hertimes5k at so I can be sure I still have an award to give you (see the “note” above). If I don’t, I will happily make one (but it’s likely I will then need to deliver/mail to you, so email first so your trip downtown isn’t wasted).

See 91 photos from the GoErie Street View crew here.

Here are the photos I took….steal whatever you like, ladies. My photos are your photos. (I soooo wish this version of blog software would let me do a slideshow, but it won’t…so I have to put them in here like this…which is highly annoying, I know.)







Posted: October 1st, 2013

My bad. I wasn’t thinking when I announced a $10 registration fee for late registrants for the Her Times 5K. I was thinking I’d give the discount because we’re out of shirts and, frankly, it’s easier to deal with nice round figures on race day morning. But, my timing guy pointed out to me that it’s unfair to those who registered early & opted out of the shirt and only got a $5 discount (So they paid $12).

While I hate to retract my words, I’m going to do that because it’s only fair to those 70+ who registered early & opted out of a shirt.

So…late registration fee is $15 with no shirt.  (Still a nice “round” number to deal with from a cash standpoint…and it covers my other race expenses — timing & food, etc.).




Posted in: Her Times 5K
Posted: October 1st, 2013

This week’s “Just Write” was preempted by Her Times race preparations:

race2 race3



Posted in: Her Times 5K
Posted: September 30th, 2013

Wow! We have over 800 women registered for the Her Times 5K! This is going to be our biggest race yet!!!

A few notes:

* The race is Saturday at 8 a.m. We WILL start on time, so plan accordingly (the park will be down to one-lane of slow moving traffic, so plan accordingly…I’d plan to get there early).

* The race starts & finishes in front of the Rotary Pavilion (between beaches 6 & 8).

* There will be NO parking at the Rotary Pavilion because we need the entire width of the road for the race. If you manage to sneak in…you’re stuck there until 11 a.m. There will be way you can get out before that (without taking out runners). Parking will be available at Beach 6 & Beach 8 (both are about .3 miles from the start).

* Whatever you do…do not park on the road. The rangers will ticket you, no matter how many others are doing it. (Trust me: I’ve seen it happen…just park at Beach 6 or 8 and save yourself some bucks.)

* We are out of shirts. There will be NO shirts for late or day-of-race registrants. As of 3 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 30, the race price was reduced to $15 and the T-shirt option removed. I have no extras. In years past, I have ordered shirts for late/day-of-race registrants and gotten stuck with a lot of shirts (because they don’t pick them up) or a lot of work and expense if I mail them.

*  The race goes on snow, shine, rain, or sleet. Trust me…we’ve done it all. Lightening is the only thing that will stop the race…and in that case, we’ll just have a delay until it passses.

* This is the course. (Here’s a written description). It is a loop. Stay on the inside lane at all time…until the road marshals direct you to cross (near the start & finish).

* There will be NO water stop on the course. Please plan accordingly.

* There will be water at the finish line and coffee & refreshments in the Rotary Pavilion after the race.

* Early packet pickup is at Best Fitness (W. 12th Street) on Friday, Oct. 4 from 4 to 7 p.m. These are the only times you can pick up your packets (they won’t be available there before 4 p.m.).

* I anticipate parking could be an issue at Best Fitness for the packet pickup party. Please be patient and kind and…plan to walk a bit, K? (Consider it a warm up!). Carpool if possible.

* You can pickup as many packets for as many friends as you want (all the less for me to lug there on race day morning!). Do me a favor…if you’re going to pick up for a whole bunch of people, email your list of names to me (alphabetical) to hertimes5K at and I’ll do my very best to try and get them pulled in advance & set aside so that your person only has to say: “I emailed my list & I’m picking up for packets for…”

* There will be no packet pickup at the Erie Times-News this year.   They will not have packets, bibs or tshirts.

* If you pick up your packet on Friday, you do not need to check in anywhere on Saturday morning. You just need to be at the start line at 8 a.m. when I say “Go!”  (Don’t forget your bib!)

* You MUST have your bib (race number) on and pinned to the front of you. The foamy thing on the bottom is the timing chip…do NOT remove it before the race. We’ll remove it when you’re done.

* You must have a bib number to get results and to be eligible for awards. Please, don’t forget your bib.

* There are restrooms at the Rotary, but not many. I am trying to get porta potties. Do what I do & make a quick stop at McDonald’s on Peninsula Drive or at the Ranger Station to avoid long lines.

* Babysitting is inside the Rotary Pavilion. Racers will not be permitted in there before the race, but you can enter to sign your kids in for babysitting. Babysitting starts at 7:30 a.m. and children must be picked up by 9:30 a.m. A troop of Girl Scouts and their leaders will be babysitting. They typically plan some activities (coloring sheets, etc.), but if your child loves to play games on their iPod or Gameboy…you may want to let them bring it. :)

* Kids races are informal and they will start about 9:15 or so.  This year we will start with the youngest kids first…then move up to the 1/4 mile, then the 1/2 mile, then the 1 mile. Kids can run whatever distance they want. Heck…they can run them all, but we ask that they take only one prize bag so we have enough for everyone (and bear with us if we run out of those, too…sigh…we’re trying!).

* Road marshals will help guide you. They are mostly my family members & friends & friends’ husbands. If you can thank them or smile..that would be great. They’re all volunteers.  (As are all the registration folks, finish line folks, kitchen folks).

* There are no separate divisions for run or walk. You can run, walk…or do a combination of both.

* If you are running, you should be COLD at the start.  If you are comfortable, you are overdressed.

* If you are walking, you should dress for the weather because you won’t get as heated as the runners.

* If you are going to stay for awards and/or kids races, bring a warm dry shirt/sweatshirt. You will get very chilled after the race when your sweat dries.

* When you finish, run into the “chute” next to the clock. Volunteers will tear the bottom portion of your bib number off.

* Do NOT go back through the finish line once you’ve finished (I.e. if you run in with a slower friend…don’t go through the chute again).

* Volunteers will have HT5K stickers (like OBX stickers) for those who want them. If you’re not really into it, you can pass on the sticker…we can use them next year, too.

* I’ll be honest…I don’t know when I’ll do awards…likely before the kids’ races, though.

* Results will be posted on the Big White Trailer at the finish line within a half hour after the first finishers. They will also be posted online at, on this blog and at

* There will NOT be an Ambulance on site.

* Race feedback is welcome at hertimes5K at

* Awards are given to the top three overall, the top master and the top three in 5-year age groups.  Here’s what you’re running for:


Age group winners age 20 & over will also get a Mason Jar with a pink Recap, created by Erie resident, Karen Rzepecki.




Posted in: Her Times 5K
Posted: August 13th, 2013

I’m driving down the Bayfront Connector at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. It’s a gorgeous summer day in the mid 70s—plenty warm, but not too hot. I’m admiring the bright blue skies and big, white puffy clouds, when I realize there’s a friend in the car behind me.

I’m certain it’s Carol. She’s hauled me down this same road in her car as we carpool from the east side to meet our Saturday morning group for long runs at Presque Isle.

We’re halfway to the Bayfront Convention Center when it dawns on me that we’re probably headed to the same place: The Girls Scouts of Western PA’s annual Awards of Distinction banquet.

Oh, she is so sweet. I’m so glad she’s coming.

I’m being honored as the 2013 Woman of Distinction, primarily for my work in starting and continuing to direct the Her Times women’s 5K. The race is worthy of recognition. I know has changed hundreds of lives, encouraging women to discover the power and strength they never knew they had inside. They develop self-confidence and make new friends. They learn to enjoy exercising and many don’t stop with the 5K — they go on to run 10Ks and half marathons and marathons and even ultra marathons.

The race is worthy of an award, but I’m not. Dozens of friends and volunteers help me pull the race off every year. So, while I’m flattered, I’m also sort of uncomfortable, and I’m glad Carol is coming.

A few miles later, it occurs to me they might all be coming. And, I smile.

Sure enough, Carol pulls into the conference center behind me.

“Carol! You are so sweet. Are any of the others coming?” I ask.

“Oh, I’m not ruining the surprise,” she says.  “You’ll have to wait.”

We walk in together, chatting. She successfully distracts me from worrying about what I’ll say or if I should have gotten a new shoes or if I should’ve worn a suit instead of a skirt and summer blouse.

Heather D. arrives next.

Oh, my gosh. She must’ve had to take a day off work to come.

Then, I see Mary Kaye and Cyndie and Robin and Carol and Leann and Dottie and Linda and Jan and Audrey.

Awwww….I love these women!

Of course they’d come. Even though it was in the middle of the work day. Even though it was$40 a plate. Even though I downplayed the whole event and didn’t even really tell them about it because I was too shy to ask them to take off work and spend $40 on me.


They were seated at the table right behind my family and I, which was appropriate since they’ve always got my back. They’re always there for me. And, I for them. We’ve supported each other through the years and miles and races and marriages and  careers and kids.

Running friends are the best kind of friends, solid relationships formed over many miles (and sometimes a few bottles of wine).

me and lisa

P.S. Yes, I do have male running friends, too, including at least two dozen who have supported the ladies for eight years now by helping me at the Her Times 5K with course setup, race prep, course layout, timing, finish line help, road marshaling, and more!

A few more pix from the Awards:

me and thegirls me and dan cookies award
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.”

Posted: July 17th, 2013


This is my circle of speed work running friends after a recent night of too many 400s to count (I totally lose track, so I need all of them to remind me what number we are on).

For many of us, running with other people gets us much faster and further than we ever would alone, but…how do you meet people to run with?

1. Join the club. A good place to start is by joining the Erie Runners Club and maybe attending a few membership meetings (2nd Monday of the month at 7 p.m., currently at Asbury Woods park…they move indoors in fall) and/or newsletter stuffings (1st Monday of the month at the Plymouth Tavern at 7 p.m.). The newsletter stuffing nights are actually a lot of fun, believe it or not, and the club provides free wings, pretzels & beer after! Admittedly, it tends to be the same people who show up at all the meetings and newsletter stuffings, but…trust me when I say, they know everyone in the area who runs. Ask around. Find out if they know anyone in your area who runs about your pace.

2. Friend the Erie Runners Club on Facebook. Then, request to join the Erie Runners Club Running Groups group (say that three times fast). This is where you can learn about some group runs in the area. Or post the time/distance/location you’re looking for someone to run with.

3. Chat up your competition. When you do a race (oh..and racing is a great way to meet other runners and make friends), make it a point to chat up the people in slightly in front of you (after the race, of course). Just simply say…hey, nice race…I was trying to catch you the whole time. They may just invite you to join them on training runs.  They are the ones you want to run with. You’ll get the most out of running with other people if you run with those just slightly better than you.

4. Attend a 5K training program. Harborcreek Township offers a great learn-to-run program every summer (it’s over now, but look for it next May!) and there’s one for women that started Saturday. It’s not too late to join.  Details here.

5. Ask me. I  know tons of people who run in the Erie area. There’s a pretty good chance I can find someone that runs your pace that you may be able to meet up with for weekend long runs (or whatever). You need to tell me a few things: gender, age, pace-per-mile, what kind of distance you want to do (if you’re training for a race…tell me the distance).  You can email me at zipdang22 at aol.



Posted: July 9th, 2013

In Sunday’s issue of Her Times magazine (in home delivered issues of the Erie Times-News), I  interviewed two women who have pledged to lose 50 lbs. each (a combined total of 100 lbs.) by this year’s Her Times 5K. They’re well on their way with each of them having lost 30 lbs. already!


Get Ready to Run the Her Times 5K

By Heather Cass

Cassy Frey and Lacey Ziegler, both 30, have 75 miles between them, but you’d never know it. Frey, who lives in Corry, and Ziegler, who lives in Jefferson, Ohio, talk four to five times a day. They met their freshman year at Thiel College and have been close friends — in heart, if not distance — ever since.

Right now, the two are working on common goals: Each wants to lose 50 pounds and jog the entire 3.1 miles of the Her Times 5K on Oct. 5. They are well on their way to the finish line of both. They have each lost 35 pounds and are running three days a week.

I first heard from Ziegler in February when she sent me an e-mail to ask if they could have their lucky numbers — 27 for Ziegler and 17 for Frey — on their race bibs if they achieved their weight-loss goal.

I agreed and asked if I could share their inspirational story with readers.

Q. What is your goal for the 2013 Her Times 5K?

Ziegler: To run the entire race. We missed the Her Times 5K in 2011, as we were both pregnant, and last year we mostly walked, so it would be an accomplishment to jog the whole 3.1 miles.

Frey: And, if we reach the 50-pound weight loss before this year’s race (and we will!), we’ll be rewarded with our lucky numbers on our race bibs.

Q. How do you keep each other accountable?

Ziegler: We chat every day and share our struggles and successes and encourage each other to stay active every day.

Frey: We remind each other daily of the Her Times 5K countdown. And once a month we try to send each other care packages with motivational phrases, healthy snacks and even smaller clothes! We also plan monthly fitness get-togethers in Erie, it’s a nice halfway point for us.

Q. What have you been doing to lose weight?

Ziegler: I go to the gym six days a week and do cardio machines and various classes. They have free baby-sitting for my 16-month-old daughter, so we have a routine of going every day. It’s become our lifestyle.

Frey: I load my kids in the double stroller,and we walk every day. On a good day we cover 4 miles. People don’t realize the power of walking. Then, later in the evening, I jog in my local church parking lot.

Q. How did you get started running?

Frey: I had just had my second child and was at my heaviest weight. My husband and I decided to invest in a treadmill to avoid my fear of working out in public. The first time I got on it, I could barely go two minutes. But I gradually worked my way up. I did my first 5K in the fall of 2009.

Ziegler: My first 5K was in Cleveland in 2008. Then I learned about the Her Times 5K for women. Cassy and I started doing it together every year. We just love it.

Q. You’re both busy moms. Why is it important for you to fit exercise into your life?

Ziegler: It gives me time to think. Also, I’ve been heavy since I was 12, and I know I have to make fitness a part of my life every day to stay healthy.

Frey: It’s my time. Being a mother of three, it’s sometimes the only time I can think and process my thoughts. My children deserve a healthy, happy mother. Investing this time in my own health teaches them good habits.

Q .Why do you enjoy running?

Frey: It’s an activity that grows with you — you can gradually increase your goals (time or distance) little by little. And anyone can do it.

Q. What is your ultimate goal?

Ziegler: I want to get down to 150 pounds, which would be a total loss of 105 pounds, and I want to develop the mindset of a healthy person.

Frey: To stay motivated and improve my quality of life by developing healthier habits. It’s easy to start losing weight, but it’s hard to maintain. So my goal is to stay motivated.

Q. What advice do you have for other women like you?

Frey: The Her Times 5K is a great race to do because there are both runners and walkers. There’s no better time to start than right now. Just take it one goal at a time. Accomplish one goal and move on to the next. You’d be surprised the things you can do.

Join us!

The Her Times 5K, a 3.1-mile run/walk for women, will take place at 8 a.m. in front of the Rotary Pavilion at Presque Isle State Park on Oct. 5. Cost is $17 if you register by Sept. 20. Register online at (case sensitive). Bring the kids. We’ll have free baby-sitting during the 5K and kids races after.

Free 5K training

Best Fitness has partnered with the Her Times 5K to offer a free couch-to-5K program for women. It kicks off on July 13 at 7:45 a.m. at Beach 1 at Presque Isle State Park. Runners will meet for an hour every Saturday for the 12 weeks leading up to the Her Times 5K on Oct. 5. Participants will receive a free T-shirt, instruction and special Her Times 5K insider perks. After the run training, Best Fitness will be offering a free yoga class (for men and women) at 9 a.m., also on Beach 1.


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