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Michigan Runner Girl

The Michigan Runner Girl podcast is where you'll find a passion for running crosses paths with a love of living healthy in the beautiful state of Michigan. Runner, mother, writer and lover of all things Michigan Heather Durocher, creator of the running and travel site MichiganRunnerGirl.com, hosts the show, along with regular appearances by fellow Michigan Runner Girls (and Guys). Expect to hear informative and entertaining conversations with runners, race directors and fitness experts throughout Michigan during this weekly show. You'll learn about new races to try and great places to explore on foot. The Michigan Runner Girl podcast is all about living in a state of motion.
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Now displaying: 2021
Jun 11, 2021

Five years ago this month—June 2016—Heather did something she'd never done before: she completed a triathlon. After a decade of running and adding distance to her races, up to the marathon distance, she'd decided it was time to try something new, to shake things up a bit. "I wanted to stretch myself, go outside my comfort zone … and also, honestly, give my body something of a break from strictly running road and trail races."

She'd gotten into road biking and was really beginning to enjoy it, "mostly because I felt more confident about my riding skills and knowledge (I understood the gears, the clipping in and out without falling over!)," she shares. "It also became something Joe and I liked doing together, especially on the weekends when we got up early on a Saturday or a Sunday morning, rode our bikes on the paved path from our hilly neighborhood and into downtown Traverse City, where we’d usually reward our efforts with brunch." 

Heather also started thinking about swimming as a form of exercise. "The idea of a triathlon entered my mind. I had friends who had become triathletes, I was talking with race directors about their events that included triathlons ... and I just couldn’t deny that I was intrigued. Why not try it? Why not see if I could do this?"

Heather's first triathlon was the all-women's Tri Goddess Tri, which takes place each June in southeast Michigan. Eva Solomon, co-founder of Epic Races (which is behind Tri Goddess Tri) joins Heather on the show to talk about this beginner-friendly triathlon.

Also joining the conversation is Chris Forte, of Why Bars, a great-tasting bar made right here in Michigan. WhyBars is the superfood snack bar sponsor of Tri Goddess Tri, which takes place at the end of this month. In fact, it’s a whole experience -- Tri Goddess Tri Multisport Festival is Saturday and Sunday, June 26-27 and includes a sprint tri, aquabike event, duathlon, mini sprint, relay, and new for 2021, a swimrun event option. 

Heather, Eva, and Chris cover all of the details of this in-person, super beginner-friendly event during this episode. They also talk about Why Bars, how this company got started, their commitment to plant-based, tasty, and all-natural ingredients, and so much more.

If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. A special thanks to the talented Jonny Tornga for producing the show.

FIND MRG and HEATHER:

@michiganrunnergirlshow on Instagram

@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram

@michigan-runner-girl on Facebook

Drop Heather a note at heather@michiganrunnergirl.com

 

Jun 4, 2021

Runner, mom, fan of craft beer, wine, and traveling — this is how blogger Emily White describes herself on her Instagram account, where she shares her love of movement, racing (23 Ragnar Relays and counting!), and staying connected with the many friends she’s made throughout her running journey. 

Emily, who grew up in Flint, Mich., has a deep love of northern Michigan, and now lives with her husband and their teenage son in Arizona, joins Heather on the podcast to talk about her evolving relationship with running, dealing with injuries and getting older, her passion for all things Ragnar, life during the pandemic (both she and her husband were furloughed), starting a new job at the beginning of this year, and what she’s most looking forward to in 2021.

“Over the last year, I have alternated back and forth between different injuries — and still have an IT band/hip injury that I'm dealing with. During the pandemic, I haven't felt like I have been missing out on much, since there weren't any races or racecations for me to attend. But now, as things are opening back up, I'm trying to fall back into my old routine of running a few half marathons a year (and lots of ragnars!), and honestly don't know if it is realistic … I fear that some of that may be behind me. I used to have a 50 state goal where I wanted to run a half (or full) in each state. I'm only at 16 states right now and see very little chance of ever achieving it, now that my body is reacting this way.”

“I've embraced walking, and really enjoy weight lifting, but I miss the camaraderie of racing. Things will definitely look different going forward, but as long as we are staying active, I guess that is all that truly matters.” 

Heather and Emily got to know each other through the Michigan Runner Girl community and Ragnar Michigan, the latter of which they did together as part of Team MRG a couple of years ago. During their conversation, they talk about the similarities in their evolving running journeys and talk about the hope they’re both feeling at this point of the pandemic and as life starts to return to some semblance of normalcy.

May 21, 2021

“It was absolutely the best day.”

This is how Tony Anderson, who began a journey of completing a marathon in all 50 states to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan, an organization near and dear to his heart, describes his final 26.2 mile race. It was the culmination of 17 years of running marathons -- he ultimately ran a total of 51, including Washington, D.C. -- to support Big Brothers Big Sisters and those final miles proved incredibly meaningful. 

“Marathon #1 was in Traverse City in 2003, and so for the last one to be in Traverse City -- pandemic aside, as bad and as awful as that has been -- there really was no better way to end it,” Tony says of running a 26.2-mile route that, because of COVID, wasn’t a traditional race but rather one that was mapped out in northern Michigan just for the occasion. Ultimately, it was an event equally if not more memorable. “There wasn’t a better day than that last one. I got to run a marathon in front of everybody I care about. 26 miles of family, co-workers and friends and community.” 

Tony is a proud husband, dad, and grandpa who serves as general manager of Cherryland Electric Cooperative. He’s been on the MRG show in the past to talk about his amazing journey (listen to this episode from 2017 and read more about Tony’s journey and its beginnings in this MRG blog post), and he joins Heather and fellow runner and Big Brothers Big Sisters supporter Chris Girrbach on this latest episode about tackling epic adventures and goals in the name of supporting children in need. 

Chris Girrbach, a dad and local business owner in Traverse City, was inspired by Tony and has decided to embark on a 15-20 year journey to help raise awareness and funding for Big Brothers Big Sisters. He is aiming to participate in 50 triathlons in 50 states, with a plan of 3-4 triathlons a year. 

“I’ve learned a lot about Big Brothers Big Sisters over the past several years, and the many challenges and heartaches the children in this program face. I wanted to do my part to help BIGS the best way I know how. Some kids get the short end of the stick, and Bigs makes a world of difference to those kids, so it’s the least I can do.”

If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. A special thanks to the talented Jonny Tornga for producing the show.

 

FIND MRG and HEATHER:

@michiganrunnergirlshow on Instagram

@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram

@michigan-runner-girl on Facebook

Drop Heather a note at heather@michiganrunnergirl.com

Apr 30, 2021

“I’ve been making healthier choices for me and feeling better about myself ... I feel like I have a lot more mental strength now than what I had in my 20s.” 

Petoskey, Mich. runner Spencer Tulk reflects on the past few years of her journey as a runner in this special listener running journey episode. 

Spencer, 31, is among the MRG podcast listeners and MRG blog readers who sent in stories of where they’re at with their running right now. Heather had put a call out for stories during the episode in which she shared her own evolving relationship with running. The MRG Show will be featuring these listener and reader stories in upcoming episodes, and we’re kicking off this series with Spencer’s story, which includes working toward the half marathon distance and experiencing a knee injury, embracing the run-walk method of exercise, changing jobs during the pandemic, and much more. 

“I’m moving and I’m happy and I think that’s the biggest thing we can do for ourselves this year.” 

Tune in to hear Spencer share her story -- and be sure to send in your story, if you’d like to do so. Heather and the MRG team would love to hear from you! Email heather@michiganrunnergirl.com with your written or recorded story.

If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. A special thanks to the talented Jonny Tornga for producing the show.

FIND MRG and HEATHER:

@michiganrunnergirlshow on Instagram

@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram

@michigan-runner-girl on Facebook

Drop Heather a note at heather@michiganrunnergirl.com 

Apr 22, 2021

“We just want to put on a safe event and get back to racing.” ~Andrew Buikema, west Michigan race director, marathoner, recent BQ-qualifer(!).

Andrew shares this sentiment — and many other heartfelt thoughts — during a candid conversation with two other experienced Michigan race directors, that touches on so much: the current state of racing, the ups and downs of planning events during the pandemic, how we’re coping and staying active during these challenging times, silver linings we’re experiencing, and what we all can expect with racing event in the months to come. Eva Solomon, co-founder and owner of Epic Races, a southeast Michigan race management company, and Eddie Kline, founder and race director of Holland Haven Marathon, Half Marathon and 8K, also are part of this honest conversation. 

If you’ve ever wondered how the pandemic and its many twists and turns have affected our beloved races and the talented people behind them, this episode reveals all. It sheds light on what it’s truly like behind the scenes, especially now. From working with fewer volunteers and re-imagining what a successful event can look like, Andrew, Eva, and Eddie offer an authentic, and ultimately hopeful, view of running and racing during and after COVID.

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If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so, so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. A special thanks to the talented Jonny Tornga for producing the show.

FIND MRG and HEATHER:

@michiganrunnergirlshow on Instagram

@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram

@michigan-runner-girl on Facebook

Drop Heather a note at heather@michiganrunnergirl.com 

Apr 13, 2021

"But I think there’s something else at play. I feel my running evolving. I’m not exactly sure what this means, what it’ll look like. Some days I feel sure my speedier and marathon days are behind me. Other days I think, 'What makes me think I don’t have more in me and will be conquering some amazing things yet?'"

Heather gets honest about her running journey these days and shares stories from members of the MRG community in this updates episode. Getting older, living through a pandemic, experiencing injuries and health issues — these are things that are causing us to reflect, change our perspectives, maybe look at life and our love of movement in different and unexpected ways. 

"I’ve been having many of the same thoughts as I age," says Lisa H. "I think for me the most important thing is to be the healthiest version of myself that I can be. I need to stay in balance and not compare myself to others. I thank God I can still run and enjoy movement! It’s more about my mental health now than proving how fast I am to myself as I get older."

"Maybe I shouldn’t be writing the rest of the book yet, as if I know exactly how it’ll end," Heather shares. "Maybe what I need to do is think about different chapters to add to my narrative—chapters that my younger self couldn’t have imagined but are essential parts of my story nonetheless."

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If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so, so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. A special thanks to the talented Jonny Tornga for producing the show.

FIND MRG and HEATHER:

@michiganrunnergirlshow on Instagram

@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram

@michigan-runner-girl on Facebook

Drop Heather a note at heather@michiganrunnergirl.com 

 
 
Mar 23, 2021

If you could spend your summer exploring rustic state forest campgrounds all across Michigan — traveling to these scenic spots in both the lower and upper peninsulas by RV, your best four-legged companion joining to keep you company — would you jump at the opportunity? Would you maybe even propose such a trip to your boss? 

Paige Lackey, a Huron Pines AmeriCorps service member serving with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, did just that — she came up with this travel idea and proposed it to her team at the DNR. Why? Paige is an outdoor lover and absolutely passionate about her community and the environment, but this adventure is rooted in something pretty significant and long-lasting for the DNR, too: it's a way to gather important information about rustic state forest campgrounds that ultimately will help make these experiences more accessible for future travelers. 

Paige talks about her upcoming trek around Michigan — she'll be traveling with her dog Willow in a 31-foot RV donated by General RV — and how this is a "woman-powered" adventure. Ami Van Antwerp, communications specialist with the Michigan DNR, also joins the conversation — she's been heavily involved in planning this epic adventure and will be assisting Paige virtually throughout the journey. 

Starting next month and throughout summer, Paige is scheduled to visit 77 rustic state forest campgrounds, collecting data along the way that will be managed and analyzed for use in the DNR's Recreation Search database. The Recreation Search allows visitors to learn more about Michigan state parks and recreation areas (and campgrounds), state forest campgrounds, overnight lodging facilities, nonmotorized trails, park events and much more. This search features filters to search for amenities and activities you are most interested in, such as beaches, equestrian trails, cabins, hiking, mountain biking and others. (More information can also be found at Michigan.gov/StateParks.)

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FIND MRG and HEATHER:

@michiganrunnergirlshow on Instagram

@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram

@michigan-runner-girl on Facebook

Drop Heather a note at heather@michiganrunnergirl.com 

If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so, so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. A special thanks to the talented Jonny Tornga for producing the show.

 

Mar 15, 2021

When we put the call out for questions — the burning questions, running and otherwise — that you wanted to ask Heather and Jonny, who knew you’d ask so many? And that Heather and Jonny’s conversation would go on for as long as it did?! Well, we kind of had a feeling there would be a bunch of questions (the MRG community is awesome like that) and as for Heather and Jonny talking for 2+ hours (yep, true story), that’s basically a given when you get two passionate runners together and time to talk about their favorite sport and all the ways they love staying healthy and active with friends and family here in the Great Lakes State. Truth be told, they probably could have chatted even longer. 

From staying motivated (during COVID times and also at any time, really), getting started as a runner, and finding creative ways to incorporate your favorite meals into your running routine, to searching for (and finding) your next best running friends, figuring out your ideal race training plan, and knowing what fuel is going to work well with you and your body, Jonny and Heather cover it all. They also share memorable running moments they’ll always treasure. Catch up with Heather, founder of MRG, and Jonny, MRG podcast producer, in this latest episode.

FIND MRG and HEATHER:

@michiganrunnergirlshow on Instagram

@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram

@michigan-runner-girl on Facebook

Drop Heather a note at heather@michiganrunnergirl.com 

If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so, so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. A special thanks to the talented Jonny Tornga for producing the show.

 

Mar 2, 2021

“I always like to think that when you have all the freedom in the world, creativity maybe doesn’t come so easily. But when you have constraints placed upon you, that’s when you have to get creative. And that’s what I think happened to the world, to much of the world, in 2020.” ~Joel Gaff, Jr., dad of two, triathlete, and race director, small business owner

Like everybody else this past year, Joel Gaff and his team at race management and timing services company Endurance Evolution were faced with tough decisions about keeping the business going strong. “We were wondering, what can we do? How can we pivot? The whole world was trying to pivot at the same time, which just spawned so many cool new things.”

For Joel, creativity went into overdrive. As tough as things were at times, opportunities began presenting themselves — and Joel decided the time was right to take some leaps. 

Within the past couple of months, he made big changes with Endurance Evolution: the company’s timing services and racing events, including the Traverse City Trail Running Festival, Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon and 5K, Traverse City Triathlon, and Sleeping Bear Marathon, were acquired Race Day Events, an event production company in Madison, Wis. “I’m more confident than ever in the long-term success that these events will have, as well as being able to continue to provide first-class timing services to our clients in northwest lower Michigan and beyond,” Joel says.

Joel also launched Traverse City Run Co. a running brand that “celebrates the sun, snow, hills, water, community, and all that makes running in Northern Michigan so special.” 

“I had been wanting to start Traverse City Run Co. for about five or six years, but the time was never ‘right’ to make it happen,” he says. “I was always putting it on the back burner, and never giving the idea the attention it needed.” 

Along with offering “fresh running goods,” Traverse City Run Co. is seeking content ambassadors and eventually will have a run team — Joel is excited to build a community of like-minded individuals. As the website shares, “We are runners of all shapes, sizes, speeds, and abilities. We love to run.  We love Traverse City. We love Michigan.” 

FIND MRG and HEATHER:

@michiganrunnergirlshow on Instagram

@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram

@michigan-runner-girl on Facebook

Drop Heather a note at heather@michiganrunnergirl.com 

If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so, so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. A special thanks to the talented Jonny Tornga for producing the show.

Feb 9, 2021

Upcoming virtual races and challenges, in-person events planned for this summer and fall, and special savings -- this short and sweet episode packs a punch!

Tune in to hear updates from Heather, including what you can expect on upcoming episodes of the podcast (all the details for this summer and fall Ragnar Michigan relays coming soon!). Also shared on this episode: show topics you may have missed, and discount codes — for both races and also a piece of clothing Heather is absolutely loving right now (hint: it's keeping her warm during these FRIGID February days). And, there's something very special for all you book lovers out there.

FIND MRG and HEATHER:

@michiganrunnergirlshow on Instagram

@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram

@michigan-runner-girl on Facebook

Drop Heather a note at heather@michiganrunnergirl.com 

If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so, so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. A special thanks to the talented Jonny Tornga for producing the show.

Jan 30, 2021

Maia Turek considers herself a positive person (those who know her undoubtedly would agree), but she recently realized something else about herself, thanks to working closely with a health coach: she has had a habit of talking negatively -- in a self-deprecating way -- to herself and to others, when it comes to how she views her relationship with food. 

It was an eye-opening discovery, she says, and one that has led to a complete mind shift for the 42-year-old runner, cyclist, and mom of one. “Do you know how much mental energy we put into focusing on being the shape we think we’re supposed to be, or the size we think we’re supposed to be?”

Maia, a regular MRG podcast guest, shares her experience working with Leah Doriot, a health coach, runner, and past MRG podcast guest (check out episode #108 with Kathrine Switzer). The timing felt right for Maia to work with someone who could help her understand the “why” behind some of her food and behavior decisions. 

One takeaway: “I’m not going on a diet. I am upgrading what I put in my body.”

“I was very frustrated. I have very bad habits. I know what I need to do to lose weight, I know what I am supposed to do, how I am supposed to do it … but I just don’t do it. I needed the tools -- what are the tools I need in my toolkit to be better at having either the willpower or to be a better advocate for myself? I went from this is going to be a three-month process, to this is going to take a couple of years. But I think I have to. I have made these habits over 42 years, so undoing them or reframing them is going to take a while.”

Maia, who is a resource development specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation division, also shares the latest Michigan Department of Natural Resources updates, including activities to enjoy at state parks this winter and how trail usage remains at record levels.

We also have a fun conversation about her newfound love of road biking, Michigan's thousands of lakes, and just how long it would take to bike around all of them. (Maia figured it out!)

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100 things to do this winter at Michigan state parks

FIND MRG and HEATHER:

@michiganrunnergirlshow on Instagram

@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram

@michigan-runner-girl on Facebook

If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so, so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. A special thanks to the talented Jonny Tornga for producing the show.

Jan 19, 2021

Life during a pandemic can lead us down paths we may not have gone down otherwise — some not so good, of course, but also some that ultimately change our lives in positive ways. 

For Janice Davidson, these past several months have been a time of big life changes, one of which was leaving her job at a northern Michigan ski resort after 20 years. Janice, who oversaw recreation programming at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, Mich. and helped start its North Mitten Half Marathon, 10K & 5K, determined the time was right to start a new chapter of her life. “I wanted to refocus my passion and give back and spend more time at home with my children,” says Janice, 45, and mom to a 14-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son. 

Janice is a runner, mother, passionate environmentalist, and new small business owner — she’s behind the company North Mitten, which is focused on “people and planet health.” Leaving Crystal was bittersweet — she loved her time there and the people with whom she worked — but she’ll stay connected with the popular up north destination. She bought the rights to the North Mitten races and plans to continue the Memorial Day weekend race tradition, at Crystal Mountain, with her own personal touches on the event.

Janice talks about plans for a hopefully in-person spring race, as well as ideas and dreams for other events and adventures as part of her new business. She also shares a race discount code for listeners — be sure to sign up if you’re looking for a great spring race in northern Michigan!

FIND NORTH MITTEN:

Check out the North Mitten Facebook page here.

Learn more about Crystal Mountain and register for the race here.

FIND MRG and HEATHER:

@michiganrunnergirlshow on Instagram

@michiganrunnergirl on Instagram

@michigan-runner-girl on Facebook

If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so, so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. A special thanks to the talented Jonny Tornga for producing the show.

 



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