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 ‘Marathoning’ category
Posted: May 22nd, 2013

As seen along the streets of Cleveland on Sunday morning:

Funny T-shirt:


Happy calves:


(Yes, most of these are blurry….I was RUNNING!)


Simple works, too:


These people love the Indians:


Two oldies, but goodies:




Cute parent signs:


This woman was getting a LOT of laughs and high-fives from the women in the race:


Maybe not the most inspiring sign, but….damn was I glad to see this cardboard “GU” sign:


Beer stop (no, I didn’t stop):


This photo just about says it all. Note the “Runners rock” sign on the sign post near the mailbox:


For me… of the greatest signs in Cleveland are those lights from Jacob’s Field (or whatever the proper name is now) up ahead. Once I see that stadium, I know it’s almost over (the half is anyway):




I wonder if I could talk this girl into coming to the PA Grand Canyon Marathon for me:


Another classic…only his mileage was OFF:


And, the best signs on the course (in my biased opinion, of course):

girls with signs

I love his expression….that’s pretty much what it feels like after you run 26.2 miles in 80-degree weather.

girls with signs2

me and dan











Posted: May 21st, 2013

6: 25 a.m. Sunday morning Dan and I are walking toward the marathon start line in front of the Cleveland Browns stadium, though it reads “Cleveland Browns Sta” because the “dium” metal letters are missing. No matter, this isn’t our first rodeo. We’ve run this race for years now. We know where were going.

The runners and spectators become a streaming mass, clogging the sidewalks and stretching onto the now-closed road. There are something like 20,000 runners, I think.

We pass a group of law enforcement officers dressed in Army green pants and shirts, standing around  dark van. They’re wearing combat boots, baseball hats, black sunglasses and bullet proof vests. They have automatic weapons slung over their shoulder and bullets wrapped around their waist.

“Great, we’ve become Mexico with machine-gun wielding Federales everywhere,” I mutter to Dan as we walk by.

There are dozens of law enforcement officers inside and outside the stadium — bomb squad, Sheriff’s office, stadium security, Cleveland police officers, K-9. Some are gathered together, others are standing and watching the crowd from above, K-9 officers are weaving dogs through the crowd and the bushes around the stadium.


I know they are all there for us. To  protect us.  To reassure us. To watch over us. They are a very visible sign that the race directors are taking Boston seriously, but it’s frightening and it kinda depresses me.

Sons of a bitches ruined our marathons. Bastards.

I don’t know their names, and I don’t care. I’m not going to look it them up either because they are not worth it.  To me, they’re nameless cowards.

Spectators, three and four deep, line the road filled with runners. Hundreds more ring the outside platform of the stadium, looking down, pointing cameras, video cameras, and cell phones in our direction.


When we finally start, I look up at them as we jog toward the start mat.  I get a little choked up because I start thinking about the Jezebel post “The People Who Watch Marathons“.

I don’t know one of those people up there and they are absolutely not there to cheer me on, but…oh, my God do I appreciate their presence — this year, more than any other previous.

I appreciate their mass. Their cheers. Their pom-poms and home made signs. Their cowbells and thunder sticks. Their DIY beer stops. Their garden hoses set to mist. Their willingness to drag their butt out of bed at 5:30 a.m. and fight traffic and pay $10 to park…just to watch us run by.

For 13 miles, every time I see a group of spectators ahead, I rally. I run stronger and straighter, and I forget how crappy I feel. I turn my camera on and scan the sidewalk for funny signs. I look for kids offering high-fives with outstretched hands and move over so I can gently slap every one of those little hands.


I’m eternally grateful for every person standing along that route who distracts me from the task at hand.

The miles fly by because of them. These strangers. These noisy, boisterous, excited, awesome strangers who meant everything to me on Sunday morning.

Thank you. You make it all worth it:

(See :16 and 1:03).

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: May 19th, 2013

Wooden Shoe 5K

Wooden Shoe 5K in Clymer, N.Y. — Saturday, May 18.  178 finishers.  Complete results here.

Top males:

1. Peter Boyd, 38, Union City, 16:43

2. Shawn Wiler, 18, Columbus, 17:09

3. Adam Rowe, 32, Ripley, 17:50

Top females:

1. Katie Kuttenkuler, 29, Erie, 19:24

2. Kimberly Turner, 29, Corry, 20:09

3. Rebecca King, 15, Clymer, 20:58

Erin Carlisle Memorial 5K

Erin Carlisle Memorial 5K — Presque Isle State park — Sunday, May 19. 140 finishers. Complete results here.

Top Males:

1. Carter Denne, 23, North East, 16:30 (wow!)

2. Sean Cillessen, 27, Erie, 18:56

3. Zachary Miller, 24, Girard, 19:46

Top Females

1. Anna Kemper, 17, Erie, 24:04

2. Rachel Willis, 17, Erie, 24:05

3. Emily Scavella, 28, Erie, 24:28

Cleveland Marathon

Cleveland Marathon/Half Marathon/10K & 5K— Cleveland, Ohio — Sunday, May 19 (5K was Saturday).  25,000+ finishers, including quite a few Erie-area runners. Complete, searchable results here.



Posted: May 10th, 2013


Tracy Scotch, just after Chicago in 2012

I talked to four Erie-area running women this story about marathoning, which ran in the Erie Times-News’ Her Times women’s magazine.

Ange Eberlein and Karen Manganaro are well-known Erie runners and experienced marathoners, Tracy Scotch is a North East mom who started running just to have something for herself (and then ran her first marathon last fall!) and Tracy Jenks is an Erie woman who has just begun training for her first marathon.

Read more about these inspirational ladies here.

So you wanna run a marathon?

Step 1: Pick your marathon, preferably one eight to 18 months away. Big city marathons are often best for first-timers because they draw thousands of cheering spectators, many with hilarious signs, that will keep you going.

Step 2: Pick your marathon training plan. Visit for dozens of printable training plans for beginners, intermediate and advanced runners. There are even run/walk plans that offer walk breaks at every mile.

Step 3: Tell everyone. Post it on Facebook, tweet your friends, tell everyone who will listen because then you will be accountable.

Step 4: Invest in good gear. Essentials: Good running shoes (visit Achille’s Running Shop for a professional fitting), a good sports bra, a water bottle (for longer training runs), moisture-wicking running clothes. Under Armour and other running clothes are expensive, but they last forever and are worth every dollar.

Step 5: Recruit or make new friends. The best way to get through long training runs (and they’ll get up to 20 miles in most plans) is to recruit a friend or find a group to do your long runs with. Join the Erie Runners Club ( and “like” the Erie Runners Club Facebook page to find running partners.

Step 6: Learn from veteran marathoners. You’ll find area runners, even the hard-core fast ones, to be some the friendliest and most welcoming people you will ever meet. Veteran runners love newbies. Read the Runner’s Notes blog ( for advice, encouragement and support.

Step 7: Enjoy the process. Training for a marathon is long (most plans are 12 to 18 weeks), hard and exhausting, but it’s also an opportunity to spend time in nature, to appreciate what your body can do, and to accomplish something you’re just dreaming about now.

Posted: May 9th, 2013

Worth Reading

 * Ready for a new challenge? Try reverse running.

* Outside magazine puts Tough Mudder’s First Death Into Context.

* Beautiful with brains: Why the whole concept of a bikini body is bunk.

* The running racket: How big business wrecked the marathon. “The average entry fee for the top 25 U.S. marathons has gone up 35 percent since 2007, to $112—three and a half times faster than inflation—according to the industry association RunningUSA.”

Video of the Week

Friend and fellow runner, Rob Frank, and his crew — including runner Matt Kleck, filmed this awesome Beast on the Bay promo video during the 3-mile trial run:

HOWEVER…..there’s an even BETTER one of Matt Kleck doing a total face-plant in the lake. His “friend” Robb slowed down the video and added sound…it’s hilarious.  If you know Matt or Rob or work out with Steve Krauza and his Team Adrenaline gang, ask them about it, and I’m sure they’ll share it with you.

Here’s a screen grab:


Poster of the week



T-Shirt of the Week


Available here in various styles starting at $14.99




Posted: April 10th, 2013

Q. Now that I’ve run a half, and covered that distance in training runs with other people, or just when the mood strikes me, I know I can do it, which puts me into some sort of lazy disadvantage. I have no “training plan” printed. I keep thinking I’m good because I consistently run because it is part of my life now.

Could I plan on running 3 days (either solo or with a group)–one 3-4 miler, one 5-6 miler, and one 7-9 miler? As the race gets closer I will add in the 10-12 distances more regularly on that long day. I will still have those, plus three group workouts a week where we do strength and intervals. Sometimes I stack a run and an interval workout together so I can have an extra day off. I always take Sundays off, and have found I needed another rest day mid week. My legs and feet get tired and I am tired of running through soreness.

I could care less about time or pace. I just want the t-shirt. Finishing is my prize.

A. Yep, I think you can easily do that if you’re chasing a lofty P.R.  Your plan is about what I do year-round.  I run three to four days a week — a 3-4-mile on Mondays, a 5 to 6-miler on Wedneday nights with a group and a group long run on Saturdays (8 to 12). Sometimes I throw in another 3-miler on Fridays, if I feel like it. Plus, I weight train three days a week. Training this way means I’m ready to do a 1/2 marathon on any given weekend. All you really need (if your goal is simply to finish) is a long run at least twice a month.

Now I am following the 3-run-a-week marathon plan, but I’m not going to be strict about because I have a lot of other things (bay swim, quad events, etc.) and races I want to do. I don’t care if I miss a long run or a speed workout or two. I realize now that it just doesn’t matter all that much.

There’s being committed and there’s being obsessive. It’s a fine line and few runners know it when they’ve crossed it. It usually take a chronic, recurring injury to help them see the light.

I need at least two days off a week — sometimes 3. I don’t feel bad about that. I lead a generally active life. Even my “rest days” would be exhausting for some people and I know you’re the same (with a house and bunch of kiddos to take care of).

Forget those who insist piling on mileage is the “best” way to train. You know what’s best for you and your mind & body.

Posted: April 9th, 2013


Well, well, well…..Erie kicks arse! Our area is nicely represented at this year’s Boston Marathon coming up on Monday, April 15.

Here are the  hometown (and near enough for us to claim them as ours) runners who’ll be going the distance in Beantown:

  • Dan Collins
  • Frank Combopiano
  • Jan Comi
  • Jennifer Coyne
  • Karey Elliot
  • Jeanne Espey
  • Patty Henderson (Titusville)
  • Dan Kweder
  • Kelsey Markham
  • Jeff McVay (Oil City)
  • Dino Montagna
  • Shawn O’Brien
  • Kelly Proctor
  • Rachel Prozan
  • Wes Turner
  • Dave Vickey
  • Mike Vieyra

You can follow them. Here are instructions, per Mike Vieyra:

 The Boston Marathon, like a lot of big marathons, offers a runner alert function that sends either emails or texts regarding the progress of runners during the race.

If you go onto the BAA website you can look up runners very easily by name or city/state under Participant/Current Entry List and find their Bib #.  You will need the Bib # to enter when requesting to track a runner.
Go to the BAA site and click on Participant Info / AT&T Athlete Alert and follow the instructions to request the runners you want to follow.
By the way, you can watch the Boston Marathon streamed live here.
Know someone who is running that’s NOT on my list above? Post a comment or send me an email and I’ll be sure to add them.


Posted: April 3rd, 2013

Here’s a fun challenge for you marathon lovers! Run 25 marathons that take place along the 5 Great Lakes (including Erie) and qualify to get a free jacket from the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Yeah, I know, that’s one pricey jacket when you consider the race fees for 25 marathons, but….it’s not about the jacket, right? It’s about the challenge of doing 25 Great Lakes marathons.

Check it out:



The Great Lakes Marathon Series is a collaboration of 25 marathons that take place along the 5 Great Lakes. The goal of this series is to invite the running world to come and enjoy the unique beauty of each race, while simultaneously raising awareness of conservation and restoration efforts of the Great Lakes as well as focusing on the Great Lakes ecosystem and economies.


The Great Lakes Marathon Series is for runners who are interested in experiencing a variety of marathons along the Great Lakes, while at the same time making a positive impact on the eco-system of the Great Lakes Basin.

The series is for fast and slow runners alike with individual prizes being awarded based on the number of Great Lakes races you complete throughout your running career. We will award prizes at benchmarks along the way, with a grand prize for those runners dedicated enough to finish all 25 great lakes marathons in their lifetime.

The Great Lakes Marathon Series members invite you to sign up for free HERE. Through this site you will be able to upload each of your finishing times and track your progress.

In addition to the individual commitment from each member in the series, we have partnered with the Alliance for the Great Lakes, a 4-Star rated independent citizens’ organization devoted 100 percent to the Great Lakes in both the U.S. and Canada.


When a registered member has completed the 25 Great Lakes Marathon Series Races each one of their races will be verified by a Great Lakes Marathon Series administrator. Upon completion the member will be contacted and an official eco-friendly Great Lakes Marathon Series Finisher jacket will be mailed out.

The finisher award will be provided at no additional cost to all finishers who have completed all races in the series.

Please note that if you have run any of these races prior to signing up for the Great Lakes Marathon Series, they will not be allowed as fulfillment towards completion of the series. You will have to run the race again.

Posted: March 27th, 2013

training plan

So here it is…the piece of paper that will be the boss of me until the PA Grand Canyon Marathon on July 28.

You may notice there are only three runs a week on that calendar, not the usual piles-and-piles of miles most marathon training plans recommend.

I can’t handle a high-mileage marathon training plan because:

1.) I’m old and my body is breaking down,

2.) I don’t have time for that shit,

3.) I know from experience that I end up resenting running because it’s something I “have” to do.

So my friend, Rachel, who talked me into doing the marathon, is quite fast (she’s running Boston in a couple weeks) told me that she never runs more than three days a week.  “The only problem with a three-a-day plan is defending yourself to all your marathon running friends who think you’re not running enough,” she said.

I’m married to a high-mileage marathoner who believes that running lots and lots of long runs makes him a better marathoner.

I think it just wears a body out. Been there, done that.  Not going there again. So when I found this Less-Is-More article and training plan, I knew it was the right one for me.

It means I’ll have to do actual speed work, something I’ve never really done or cared to do or wanted to do, but I work at a college with a brand-spanking new track and I intend to make use of it in….OMG…. this plan starts in  just 13 days.





Posted: March 11th, 2013

All I’m saying is….those better be some SPECTACULAR views because I’m now doing that which I said I would never do again.


Care to join the Erie contingency? More info on this inaugural marathon here.

Posted in: Marathoning

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