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 ‘Things I found’ category
Posted: January 16th, 2014

Worth Reading

* 7 Habits of Highly Effective Runners and Eaters

* Don’t be fooled by the claims on the front of the package. Check the nutrition facts. Here are 16 supposedly healthy foods with more sugar than a Snickers bar

* Tight shoulders are common among runners, particularly among runners who have desk jobs. Here are some tips to help you loosen up.

* Completely unrelated to running, but Outside online wrote a fascinating piece on Iditerod racer Lance Mackey: The world’s toughest athlete.

* Again, not running related, but…cycling is good cross-training and I stumbled upon this offer for a free e-book from Vello Mom — Road Biking for Beginners. You have to join their mailing list to get a link to the book (a 22-page PDF). I haven’t read it all the way through, yet, but it looks worth reading.


Video of the Week

T-shirt of the Week

back to the gym

Available here for $12.



Posted: January 14th, 2014

It would be…um…dopey to do four races in four days — 5K, 10K, 1/2 marathon & marathon– but at least two local runners took the challenge and completed all four events at Walt Disney World last weekend.

Congrats to Mark Dombrowski and Jenny Turak who you can now officially call Dopey.

I’m planning a Q&A with both of them in a future blog post.  For now you just get photos, blatantly ripped off from their Facebook pages:

dombrowski1 dombrowski2


Mark Dombrowski, who clearly had nothing on Jenny when it came to outfits (You need to step up your wardrobe game, Mark! LOL).


jenny1 jenny2 jenny3 jenny4


Posted: January 9th, 2014

Worth Reading:

* No two people get the same results or pleasure from the same eating plan. Personalizing your diet and lifestyle is key to success.

*  Training for a race? You should do more than just run!

* The child that holds us back (“The trick is to notice that this 5-year-old child is telling you what to do. But don’t listen. Don’t obey. Don’t believe its rationalizations.”)

* 17 reasons to walk more this year (most are translatable to running, too…though, Mark Sisson and the paleo folks aren’t advocates of running).

* 3 popular myths about your metabolism (and why you should’ve believe the hype).

Video of the Week

Long, but pretty interesting (and you gotta love those accents):


T-shirt of the Week




Posted: January 2nd, 2014

Worth Reading:

* Hate squats and lunges, but hate your flat butt more? Try this No-Squat, No Lunge Butt Workout. Think you don’t need to do butt work because you’re a runner? Wrong. Not only will these exercise make you look better in jeans (yes, you want a bigger butt, a flat butt is a wimpy, muscle-free butt) but building your glutes will improve your running, too.

* Running with others (particularly those just slightly faster than you) is a good way to improve. Heed these tips on how to pick the right running partner.

*  Here’s a little slice of humble pie: Flap Jack, the running pancake can probably beat the pants off of you (and can definitely beat me).

*  Runners make ugly good ornaments: 18 rules to keep you from colliding with a car (like the vest the runner in the photo is wearing…that’s the one I wear and I love it).

* Elite runners reveal their New Year’s resolutions.

T-shirt of the Week

For the “reluctant” runner:


From Rumpus Running, $24

Posted: December 19th, 2013

Worth Reading

Shut up & Run: 6 Reasons You’re Not the Runner You Want to Be

Christian Century: Worship on the Run: A New Kind of Church

Runner’s World’s picks for the top running gear of 2013

Hill running made easy (Sure….I find this NOW, the week after the Hill Repeats Challenge).

Other stuff

Want to blog about Boston? NPR is looking for runners who are registered for the race and want to blog through their training. “We’re hoping the space becomes a running blog that gives a wider audience an understanding of the sublime and the menial, of the joys and frustrations and can, ultimately, help illustrate what this race means to the country.” Check it out here.



T-shirt of the Week


Available here for $20


Posted: December 12th, 2013

Worth reading

* Life advice from ultra happy ultrarunner Hal Koerner

* What’s for dinner? Need inspired?  11 athletes share their favorite meals.

* Car versus deer versus runner. (This is the kind of crap that would happen to me.)

* Did you know funny guy Will Ferrell is an avid runner & marathoner? Yep, Buddy Elf goes long.



Video of the Week

Next time you have to run on a treadmill, may you do so with the enthusiasm of Meatball, the Corgi on the playground carousel:

T-shirt of the Week

This is a DIY Santa shirt…perfect for Saturday morning’s ERC Snowflake 5K!


Instructions here.



Posted: December 5th, 2013

Worth Reading

* Does running leave you scratching? Why it might make you itchy.

* And the pendulum swings back again…Check out the Hoka One One — the anti minimalist shoe

* Are energy drinks messing with your heart? Some say you should can the Red Bulls.

* Mark Remy’s take on the Amazon octocoper thing: Amazon needs runners, not drones (hilarious!)

ERC Shelter

Decent weather has meant continued construction on the ERC pavilion at Beach no. 1 at Presque Isle. Runner & contractor, Joe Dobrich recently posted this photo of the project — now with a roof! — on Facebook:


Won’t be long before we’re warming our post-race bodies by the fireplace inside!

Your next challenge?

A hilarious take on the thousands of fitness “challenges” floating around Facebook right now (burpees, holiday streak, hills, planks):


T-shirt of the Week


Starting at $22.50 at




Posted: November 29th, 2013


Remember Bev DiCarlo? She’s the Harborcreek grandma I wrote about in Lake Erie Lifestyle who, after a harrowing and temporarily-paralyzing fall at her home, decided to do a half-marathon in all 50 states by her 70th birthday to raise money for the Gertrude Barber Center.

Well, she did it, completing her last half at the Des Moines Marathon on October 20!

Your goal was to do a half marathon in all 50 states before you turned 70 and you did it, right?

Yes.  My original goal was to have all 50 states finished in 5 years (by my 70th birthday) averaging about a race a month.  However, I found it was very doable to do several races a month, and many back-to-back races(one state on Saturday and a neighboring state on Sunday).  This cut the travel time and helped keep expenses down.

What & when was your final race?

My very last race was the Des Moines Marathon on October 20, 2013 in Iowa.   When I returned to the hotel after the race, I threw my running shoes and compression socks in the trash can.  My running days are over!

What were your top three races?

I really enjoyed every race; each one has special memories.  I met so many runners and friendly people along the way.   If I have to choose, I would pick these:

Rock n Roll series of races:  These races are always in great locations, big cities, smooth relatively flat courses, bands every mile or so along the way, impressive finisher’s medals and are easy to travel to.  I completed RnR races in Washington DC, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Texas, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, Rhode Island, Louisiana and Illinois.  Various family members joined me so we always had a great time.

Zombie Run, Anchorage Alaska:  My 12-year old grandson, Noah Dever, completed his first half-marathon with me.  We spent five days traveling around Alaska–great time.

Disney series:   The Donald Duck in Orlando Florida, and the Mickey Mouse in Anaheim, California.  When you run both races in the same year, you complete the Disney Coast-to-Coast Challenge.  The finisher’s medals are big, beautiful and flashy.  Bling is nice!!!   My son, David, completed the Goofy Challenge:  5k on Friday, 1/2 marathon on Saturday and full marathon on Sunday–all on the same weekend.

Name one you didn’t really enjoy:

The Bear Lake Back-to-Back Marathon and Half sounded so good, that I couldn’t pass it up.

I raced around the Idaho half of Bear Lake on a Friday morning and the Utah half of Bear Lake the following day.  However, there was road construction in Idaho and the road crew moved a race route direction arrow so those of us who were not familiar with the race route ran an extra eight miles!!!!!

Which are your worse miles in a 1/2 and how do you get through them?

I really believe you don’t “hit the wall” in a half-marathon as you may experience in a full-marathon.   I dedicated my miles to my family members and would think about them, in turn, as I completed the miles.  For example, Start to mile 1 is Justin, next mile is Hayley, up to mile 3 is Abby, next mile is Logan, up to mile 5 is Noah, next mile is Rob, up to mile 7 is Karen, next mile is Mikaele, up to mile 9 is Erin,  next mile is David (son), up to mille 11 is David (husband), next mile is for extended family and from mile 12 to the Finish Line is always for Aidan (grandson with autism).

How long, on average, does a 1/2 marathon take you to complete?

I run for 3 minutes, walk for 30 seconds and repeat the sequence throughout the race.  I use a Garmin watch that keeps track of my pace, measures the miles and vibrates when it’s time to change my gates.  I run at a comfortable pace and maintain 12 minute miles; this usually lets me place in my age category and keeps me from finishing last.

Are you glad it’s over…or are you sad it’s over? 

I’m glad its done!  After I completed 40 states, I just wanted to finish the challenge so I could move on to other projects.   However, the races, themselves, were fun and the people I met along the way were great.  I now have friends all over the United States.   And, of course, I got to brag about Erie everywhere.  Several new out-of-town friends completed the Presque Isle Marathon because they heard about it from me.

And Erie is known . . . while Noah and I were enjoying refreshments after the Anchorage race, a fellow runner asked where we came from.  When Noah told him Erie, Pa., another runner walked over and said, “Romolo Chocolates!”  Her favorite is Romolo sponge candy so Dave and I mailed some to her.

You did all this to raise money for the Barber Institute, which has helped your grandson, Aidan, and his entire family deal with autism. How much did you raise?

As of today, $39,650 has been received by the Barber Foundation.  However, I have received emails and notes from other autism support groups all over the United States thanking me for mentioning autism.  If my son or I were featured in a news release, radio or TV spot, many readers/listeners contributed to their local autism group.  We know about $50,000 was raised from our efforts but unless I was contacted by the agency or group, I couldn’t  track it.   We are just happy people were motivated to contribute to the cause!

You didn’t spend any donations on your race expenses, right?

Yes; contributions were sent directly to the Barber Foundation or the local autism agencies.  We never collected any monies directly.   I flew 79,869 miles; drove an additional 35,773 miles and stayed 170 nights in hotels.  The only figure I did not calculate was the total cost of this endeavor—my husband, Dave, doesn’t want to know!

Can people still donate?

Yes; the best way is to send a check, payable to The Dr. Gertrude A. Barber Foundation, to The Advancement Office, 100 Barber Place, Erie, PA 16507-1863.  Be sure to write “Race With Grammy” in the memo section.

Favorite running shoes?

I wore out 13 pairs of running shoes over the 3 years and 10 months, including the 668.1 race miles (1,336,200 steps) and the 4,850 training miles.  I prefer Brook shoes. Proper fit is vital.  I recommend getting shoes at a specialty store (such as Achilles Running Shop) because they make sure the shoes fit your feet and your running style.

Are you still vegan? How did that work with training? 

I now follow a moderate diet that includes all the major food groups.  I avoid all processed and prepared foods.  I prefer to eat at home so I know what and how the food is prepared.

What’s next? Any big plans on the horizon?

I am already preparing for my next adventure but cannot release the details at this time.  Needless to say, it will still be helping children and adults with autism and special needs.

What advice do you have for other trying to do the 50-state thing?

Visiting each state was awesome; our country is beautiful!   Just make up your mind to complete the challenge, put together a time frame, and schedule the races.   I found that races listed on were usually well-organized.  Other sites I found helpful were which has a “50 Stater” link (lists back-to-back races) and which lists smaller races.   Go for it!

By the numbers:

Here are some fun stats from Grammy’s adventure:

13 pairs of running shoes worn out

51 races (50 states, plus Washington D.C.)

170 nights spent in a hotel

668 total miles

1,336,200 steps

4,850 miles of training over three years & 10 months

35,773 miles traveled by car to races

79,869 miles traveled by air to races

$39,650 (so far) raised for the Dr. Getrude A. Barber Foundation


Posted: November 21st, 2013

Worth Reading

* Runners frequently suffer from back pain. Here are some useful tips to relieve it.

 * Cholesterol myth: What really causes heart disease (Interesting…and I think probably spot-on).

* Get your tissues. Jim’s Last Group Run. And…seriously…if I die young, you all better do this for me. ;-)

* Sad, but true: Our kids can’t keep up with us.



T-shirt of the Week


Available here for $23


Posted: November 18th, 2013

NOTE: I didn’t realize this never posted last week. I write most of these in advance and schedule them to post in the morning. For some reason, I keep finding they aren’t posting and when I check, WordPress just says “missed schedule.” Great. How about letting me know that, WordPress? Anyway….here is Thursday’s post, which I’m moving to today so it’s at the top of the blog roll.

Worth Reading

* Running for Amelia:Guiding a Blind Runner for 26.2 Miles of the NYC Marathon

* Best Winner Running Shoes (according to Outside magazine)

* The art of running shoe maintenance: Do this, not that.

* The 10 Biggest Fitness Myths.

* For the love of sprints: 8 great sprint workouts



T-shirt of the week


Hard to believe, but not all that long ago, “experts” told women not to race distances longer than 1,500 meters for fear their lady parts would fall out. Well, we’re still waiting for that to happen in any race we’re rippin’ up! Available for $35 here.


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