In the past 2 ½ years, Lowell, Mich. runner Robert Woldhuis has competed in almost 90 running events, including 29 half marathons, three 25Ks, four full marathons, a 50K trail race and, this October, his first 50-miler, which took place in Door County, Wis. Runners throughout the state know Robert, or are at least probably familiar with who he is, given he’s the friendly, outgoing guy wearing a colorful tutu and carrying an American flag during races. “The tutu for me is a reminder to not take life too seriously. It inspires people to smile and laugh,” says Robert, 41, who created a Facebook page titled Adventures of Tutu Man.
Finding levity in life and sharing it with others is important to Robert, who spent a good chunk of his life struggling to maintain healthy relationships, remain sober and stay out of trouble with the law. He ultimately served a five-year prison sentence because of drug crimes he committed and scams he orchestrated. It was in prison, on a half-mile dirt track, that Robert discovered running and its transformative power.
Heather and Robert talk about this journey and how running opened up a new world to him as well as triggered a new life’s mission. He’s especially excited about being named to the 2018 Fifth Third Riverbank Run Road Warrior Team of Ambassadors. Whether on the road or trail, or behind a race expo booth table, Robert is passionate about connecting with others.
“My favorite memory of the 50-mile race was the fact that I probably got to share my testimony and listen to other people’s stories probably 10,12, 15 times … A big part of the healing part of the journey that I have been on — you know, I’ve been sober for a little over 7 years now — and a big part of that was just transparency and accountability with some people in my life. The transparency comes in with being more of an open book, instead of being reclusive and shoving issue down and not talking about them. It’s being open to talk about things.”
Find Robert on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/Theadventuresoftutuman/
Maia Turek, a.k.a. the Michigan state parks guru, is back on the Michigan Runner Girl Show, this time to talk about ways we can enjoy our 103 state parks all winter long. From lantern-lit snowshoe excursions and "owl prowls," to DIY events like make your own snowshoes and special hiking and cross country skiing opportunities at cool spots (even a lighthouse!), there are lots of ways to explore outdoors, embrace the snow and cold, and feel strong and happy throughout the season. Indoor events throughout Michigan also are mentioned. Maia, who is the statewide recreation programmer for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, also shares news of awesome merchandise partnerships the DNR now has with two Michigan-based companies (and what that means for state park visitors like us). Heather and Maia also talk about the #OptOutside movement this coming Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. For a second year, Michigan State Parks are following the lead of outdoor company REI in embracing this hashtag—and they're encouraging us to do the same. This Friday, Nov. 24, choose to #OptOutside with free admission to all Michigan State Parks.
Here's more about #OptOutside:
Residents and visitors are encouraged to put away leftovers and #OptOutside as part of their day-after-Thanksgiving traditions. To encourage folks to tap into Michigan's great outdoors and gather with friends and family, on Friday, Nov. 24, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will waive the regular Recreation Passport entry fee that enables vehicle access to Michigan state parks, trails and boating access sites.
Exploring some of Michigan's best outdoor destinations is a great way to recover from holiday shopping excursions, burn off some of those Thanksgiving calories and enjoy the many benefits of nature.
"In Michigan, you’re never more than a half-hour away from a state park, recreation area, state forest campground or state trail," said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief. "#OptOutside is an invitation to residents and those traveling to spend time outside during the holiday weekend and help continue or build new Thanksgiving traditions. The DNR hopes the free entry opportunity will encourage residents and visitors to explore new places and experience the outdoors' many physical, mental and social benefits."
There are plenty of ideas to incorporate into popular day-after-Thanksgiving traditions, including opportunities to:
"The holidays can get hectic with added obligations, no matter how happy or anticipated they may be," said Olson. "Our #OptOutside promotion is an opportunity for folks to take a deep breath of fresh air, share an experience with your favorite people and make some great holiday memories."
Although the Recreation Passport vehicle entry fee into 103 Michigan state parks, 138 state forest campgrounds and parking for hundreds of miles of trails and fee-based boat launches is waived Nov. 24, camping and other permit and license fees still apply.
Interested in learning more about things to do and places to visit? Visit the DNR website at michigan.gov/dnr to learn more about fishing, hunting, forest land, state parks and much more. To search for a list of Michigan state parks, rustic state forest campgrounds, state-designated trails and associated activities and amenities, visit www.michigan.gov/recsearch. Interested in the Recreation Passport and how it helps Michigan state parks, trails and waterways? Visit www.michigan.gov/RecreationPassport.
The #OptOutside movement was started by outdoor recreation cooperative REI Inc. in 2015 to encourage people to spend time outdoors on Black Friday. For the third year in a row, the Michigan DNR has encouraged people to utilize the outdoors as part of their Thanksgiving weekend celebrations.
"I feel a little tougher." Can you relate to this feeling, when you've laced up your running shoes and headed out the door for a run in the cold and snow? Finishing a run in the winter, especially when we've pushed ourselves to get outside, indeed can offer a certain kind of sweet satisfaction. This is what Heather and frequent guest Cassy Stone talk about during this episode that focuses on staying motivated once the temperatures dip, the days get shorter, and getting out of a warm bed to exercise can prove especially challenging. Cassy and Heather also share what Michigan Runner Girl readers and listeners think about winter running. (Thanks, everyone, for the great conversation about winter running on the MRG Facebook page last week!) From smart gear to wear—"there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices"—to the importance of having running friends to join you to the power of signing up for winter races, Cassy and Heather cover all aspects of staying inspired to keep moving over the next several months.
It's getting to be about that time...one of Heather's fall race traditions—the Great Beerd Run at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa—is set for Saturday, Nov. 11. Joining Heather on the show to talk about this fun northern Michigan run: Kelly Yauk, a fellow Michigan Runner Girl and race director of this annual race that celebrates all things Michigan beer AND beards. Longtime listeners will be happy to hear from Kelly, who has been on the show in the past (and happens to be quite hilarious). Kelly shares what she's been up to lately (she's known for traveling far and wide for races, and she also talks about a Michigan run she recently enjoyed with her 2-year-old daughter).
A few things to know about this year's Great Beerd Run:
- There's a race discount code just for Michigan Runner Girl readers and listeners: use MIRUNNERGIRL at checkout to save $5.
- Your registration fee includes race entrance, knitted beard beanie, bottle opener/race medal, 3 beer samples, one glass of beer during the post-race party and entrance into post-race party featuring live music.
- The craft beer is delicious. Thank you, Right Brain Brewery, Beards Brewery and Short's Brewing Company.
- NEW IN 2017: race organizers are offering a $30 registration fee with all of the great race perks, minus the beard beanie.
- The fastest male and female score epic Nordic inspired beard/hat sets.
- Don't care to go fast? You won't be alone. This is a fun, untimed race and plenty of runners enjoy the course, the beer samples, the scenery, the camaraderie. (Check out this blog post from Heather's Beerd Run a couple of years ago, when she came in, yep, dead last.
Get more details, including info on special room rates, here:
You couldn't miss Team MRG at this fall's Reebok Ragnar Relay Michigan, a 195.5-mile trek from Muskegon to Traverse City. And it wasn't simply because our team of 12 women wore matching blue Michigan Runner Girl shirts. Fellow Ragnarians grew to learn, over the 2-day race, that Team Michigan Runner Girl traveled in the two purple-and-pink-and-blue Muscle Milk vans—handing out Muscle Milk goodies along the way.
MRG's partnership with Muscle Milk was new this year, but logging the miles on country roads, through quaint coastal towns, and along the Lake Michigan shoreline was not. Team MRG was back again, after last fall's inaugural Ragnar Relay Michigan event, to tackle the distance (and lack of sleep) together. On this week's show: a rundown of race weekend with Heather Durocher and Ragnar teammates Pam Carrigan, Erin Henshaw and Ann Eshleman. While Pam, Heather and Erin were part of last year's Ragnar team, Ann was a Ragnar newbie and she shares how the experience exceeded her expectations in all of the right ways (she also talks about how she was apprehensive going into the experience and had plenty of questions for Pam in the days leading up to race day). The women break down how Ragnar relays work, how 12-person teams split into two "mini teams" with their own van, the challenges and rewards of running a total of three separate "legs," including through the night, and how each van found ways to fuel (at a few delicious restaurants) and rest (a little!) throughout the race. Heather and Ann were in van 1 while Erin and Pam were in van 2.
Whether you also participated in this year's Ragnar Michigan, or you're thinking about giving one a try, you're sure to be entertained during this informative and, at times hilarious, episode. (While "what happens at Ragnar stays at Ragnar," this episode definitely sheds some light on the silly and fun things that can happen when a dozen women team up to cover "200-ish miles" together.)
When Heather began her running journey about 10 years ago, she admittedly knew little about the sport, from what to wear and fuel with during a race, to an understanding of how women had only in recent history made strides in running and been recognized for their achievements. All she knew was that the more she ran, the better she felt about herself. Over time, as she ran with other women, created new friendships within the awesome running community, and ultimately realized logging miles and living healthy had become a lifestyle, she found she couldn’t get enough of learning anything and everything about running—especially distance running. She would eventually discover that 26.2 miles held a special place in her heart. Incredibly challenging and uniquely rewarding, both in training and in finishing, the marathon is a distance she keeps coming back to. For this reason, she devoured the book Marathon Woman by Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon in 1967. This decision infuriated one of the race directors, who tried to physically remove Kathrine from the race because she was a female running in what was then considered an all-male event. The images of her struggle to continue running, helped by male runners, have become iconic in the history of sports and women. First published in 2007, Marathon Woman is Kathrine’s personal story of how she overcame the odds—as well as prejudice and ridicule (not only from the male quarter)—to become one of the leading marathon runners of her time. Inspired by the incident, she went on to run thirty-nine marathons—winning the New York City Marathon in 1974—and helped secure the women’s marathon as an event in the Olympic Games.
Kathrine has gone on to accomplish so much on behalf of our sport and women everywhere. Kathrine joins Heather on this episode of the Michigan Runner Girl show. Heather also has another strong and amazing woman joining the conversation, to share her connection with Kathrine and Kathrine’s new non-profit 261 Fearless. Marathoner and Michigan runner Leah Doriot talks about her upcoming NYC Marathon and why it was important for her to join team 261 Fearless.
Kathrine is leading a group of 13 dedicated “261 Fearless” runners, including 11 from the USA (seven different States), and one each from Belgium and Switzerland at this fall's NYC Marathon. The women will all be raising $5,261 each to benefit the formation of 261 Fearless running clubs for women all over the world and their participation will be supported by adidas and Bose, global sponsors for 261 Fearless.
On April 17, 2017, 50 years after her historic run, Switzer pinned on her original bib number 261, and ran the Boston Marathon again, to pay tribute to the streets of the city where the place of women in the world of sports was redefined forever.
Kathrine Switzer will run the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon on November 5, posting another amazing milestone in her legendary long-distance running career by competing in both the upcoming TCS New York City Marathon and this past April’s 121st running of the Boston Marathon in her fifth decade of competitive running.
261 Fearless, Inc. is a global non-profit organization founded by pioneer runner, Kathrine Switzer. 261 Fearless uses running as a vehicle to empower and unite women globally through the creation of local clubs, education opportunities, communication platform, merchandising and events. Through these networking opportunities, 261 Fearless breaks down the barriers of geography and creates a global community for women runners of all abilities to support and talk to each other, encouraging healthy living and a positive sense of self and fearlessness.
Rahaf Khatib is a 7-time marathoner, training and living with her husband and three children in Farmington Hills, Mich. She’s also been in the national spotlight in the past couple of years—she was the first Muslim hijabi runner to be featured on the cover of Women’s Running magazine a year ago, and she also was selected as a top 10 finalist for Runner’s World cover running contest in 2015. Rahaf joins Heather on the show to talk about her start in running in 2012—her son’s gym teacher encouraged her to sign up for a 5K (she ended up running the 10K!)—and how she went on to tackle half marathons, sprint triathlons and marathons. Supporting and encouraging fellow Muslim and non-Muslim women is important to Rahaf, who co-organized a 5K for INSA (Islamic Society of North America) for more than 500 runners. “My goal is to represent the under-represented—that is, Hijabis in the fitness world.” She also strives to educate others about her faith and her decision, as part of her Muslim faith, to wear long sleeves, pants and the head scarf called hijab while running. “The question I’m always asked is ‘Aren’t you hot?’” she says. Rahaf, who was born in Damascus, Syria and grew up in Dearborn, Mich., is founder of the popular Instagram account Runlikeahijabi, where she posts running tips and advice for Muslim and non-Muslim women. While training for Boston 2017, she raised $16,000 for refugees in Michigan. Rahaf blogs at Run Like a Hijabi.
Fall race season is upon us, and Heather kicks off autumn (yay for cooler weather!) with a summer re-cap/fall preview show with special guest Emma Durocher, her 17-year-old daughter. Emma, who is in the midst of her final high school cross country season, shares how she got started in the sport, the reasons she gave it up for awhile, and why she later decided to pursue longer distances (she’s completed four half marathons in the past year and a half!) in addition to her year-round cross country training. Heather and Emma have an honest discussion about running as a family (and how, realistically, kids aren’t necessarily going to want to always run with mom and dad). Emma also talks about what running has come to mean to her— “In places in my life where I didn’t have a lot of friends or was sad, I would turn to running ... It’s just something where I just do it and feel so much better after, like something has been lifted off my shoulders. [That feeling] doesn’t always happen during the run … but I guess just using it as a tool to be a better person, that’s always how it’s helped me.” She also shares thoughts on those early miles of a run: “When I am out on a long run, it’s always around this mark, 2.66, when I think that’s enough for me. But once I get past that, for me, I feel super strong and I think, ‘Ok, I can do this.’ I think in every run, there’s a hump to get over.”
Also during this episode, Heather and Emma talk about their family trip to the Porcupine Mountains this summer and their upcoming mom-daughter tradition of attending the American Home Fitness Detroit Women’s Half Marathon, 10K & 5K on Belle Isle in Detroit. This year’s race weekend is Sept. 16-17. Heather and Emma have run the half marathon there together in the past and this year will take on the 10K. Speaking of race weekend, the Expotique is Saturday, Sept. 16 and MRG will again have a booth—stop by to say hello and check out all-new Michigan Runner Girl fall apparel. These items can be found at the online store, too. Shop here.
From an early age, Hunter Kemper dreamt of one day competing against the very best athletes in the world.
“Ever since I was a little kid—8 years old to be exact—I’ve wanted to be an Olympian. Growing up, I loved watching athletes from the USA compete against the best in the world on the biggest stage in the world. I had a hat that read ‘Goin For Gold’ which I wore everywhere. The Olympic flame, the American anthem, the Opening Ceremonies, the medals, the pageantry, the country flags, the world records—I loved it all.”
Hunter realized he had a talent for swimming, cycling—he competed in his first triathlon at age 10 and won his age division race—and would go on to run in high school as well as on the collegiate level before eventually going pro as a triathlete. While on the cross country team at Wake Forest University, Hunter took what had been his weakest discipline in triathlon and turned it into his strongest.
“It was my favorite—it still is—of the triathlon,” he says. “I had four years [in college] of great coaching and great workouts and great athletes and teammates who pushed me to be a better runner … I was surrounded by people who were way better runners than me. And I learned from them.”
He also learned the importance of training in what he calls “the black and white zone,” rather than a gray one. This is something he feels every athlete-in-training can and should try to do.
“On your hard days, really take them seriously, and then on your easy days, go really easy. That was one thing I really held onto.”
Hunter, a 4-time Olympian and 7-time U.S. Elite National Champion, is returning to the Boyne City Triathlon, which marks its 5th year this Labor Day weekend. He inspired last year’s participants with a pre-race talk and handed out race medals at the finish. A race discount code for this race is shared during the show. (There's still time to sign on for this Sunday, Sept. 3 race, which includes Olympic and sprint distances as well as relay and duathlon options.)
During this episode, Hunter talks about his Olympic dreams realized (along with the heartaches he has experienced throughout), and what he plans to do as a soon-to-be-retired professional triathlete. He’s not only incredibly talented as an athlete, he’s also kind and hilarious. He really gets Heather laughing during the show, as they talk about Heather's own triathlon experiences and also his impressive journey as an athlete and father of four young children with his wife Val (who also is a talented athlete).
Hunter is the most decorated U.S. triathlete in history. A four-time member of the USA Olympic triathlon team, he is one of only two men in the world to qualify for every Olympic triathlon (2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012).
Boyne City Triathlon: https://tritofinish.com/boyne-city-triathlon
When Heather met west Michigan runner Vicki Kavanaugh at this summer's Mercy Health Seaway Run and Lake Michigan Half Marathon—Vicki stopped by the Michigan Runner Girl booth at this Muskegon race's expo and introduced herself—Heather knew she had to have Vicki on the podcast. Vicki is involved with Total Trek Quest, a program that assists third-, fourth- and fifth-grade boys in learning to run a 5K. More than 100 volunteer coaches facilitate 36 practices with these boys to prepare them for the race. But this program is more than simply an after-school get-your-body moving-activity. The program focuses on goal-setting, physical activity, teamwork and building confidence in saying no to underage use of substances and yes to healthy life choices. Early prevention efforts are critical among this age group, Vicki shares. According to the 2015 Youth Assessment Survey (YAS) of Ottawa County, Michigan 8th, 10th and 12th grade students, a significant number tried smoking, inhalants, and/or alcohol before the age of 14. Among youth who have used alcohol, 25% had their first drink before age 13.
This fall, Total Trek Quest will be in four counties in the Grand Rapids area—Kent County is the latest addition—and the fall season (there are programs in the fall and in the spring) kicks off Sept. 11. It's now in its 12th season; it began in Ottawa County.
Vicki, whose children are ages 24 and 20, shares her own running journey with Heather as well; she started running with the encouragement of her college roommate. She's a former longtime Gazelle Sports employee who has worked with hundreds of runners in Gazelle's training programs. She now serves as youth development specialist with Pathways in Holland, which is the organization through which Total Trek Quest operates.
Heather catches up with two race directors of September events for this special Michigan fall race preview episode. First up: Kyle Cutler, race director of the 16th annual Lake Michigan Credit Union Bridge Run on Sunday, Sept. 17 in downtown Grand Rapids. This race features a 10 Mile and a 5K run/walk. Kyle is a marathoner and member of Run GR, the local running group that organizes the Bridge Run. Along with talking about why the Bridge Run is known as a "must-do race" in the Mitten State, Kyle shares a race discount code for MRG readers and listeners. In the second half of the show, Heather talks with Mary Culbertson, race director of the American Home Fitness Detroit Women's Half Marathon, 10K & 5K on Sunday, Sept. 17 on Belle Isle in Detroit. This is the fifth anniversary of this all-female race, and organizers are celebrating with a new Expotique location—in the Detroit Boathouse on Belle Isle—and a Saturday evening dinner cruise (which Heather will be a part of as well). Mary also shares details on this year's finisher medals, lodging specials during race weekend and the cool bling runners of both the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon and the Detroit Women's Half Marathon will receive. A race discount code also is mentioned during the show.
As Heather takes a self-imposed running break following a spring marathon and half marathon, to ensure a longtime comes-and-goes running injury heals, she welcomes physical therapist and board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist Jeff Samyn to the show. Jeff, a runner who also does CrossFit, works at Northern Michigan Sports Medicine Center in Petoskey, Mich. They talk about when to know you should take a break from running due to pain/discomfort (and why it's so tough to actually admit this to ourselves!), the best ways to handle running breaks (both mentally and physically), and how to ease back into a routine. Heather and Jeff also share reader comments from the Michigan Runner Girl Facebook page—many readers and listeners chimed in with their own stories of running injuries, running breaks, chronic pain, and cross-training ideas and lots more.
The Michigan Runner Girl podcast is back after a couple week break. The summer show release schedule will be a bit more sporadic as Heather and her production team enjoy summer in Michigan—and gear up for a full line-up of weekly shows this fall.
The Michigan Runner Girl Show is supported by the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa.
During this special 100th episode of the Michigan Runner Girl Show, Heather is joined by Maia Turek, statewide recreation programmer for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, a.k.a. the State Parks Guru. Who better than Maia to be on this anniversary show—she is, after all, just as passionate as Heather about getting outside and exploring (by foot, bike and paddle) all that our gorgeous Great Lakes State has to offer. Michigan is home to 103 state parks and 138 state forest campgrounds, and summer is of course the ultimate time to check them out. Heather shares her family’s plan to head north this summer to spend a week in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, in the western U.P. along the shores of Lake Superior. Maia in turn offers up some great ideas and tips for backpacking and enjoying this vast wilderness area to the fullest. From there, Maia and Heather talk about the numerous state park offerings this summer, taking place throughout Michigan. These include yoga and stand-up paddleboarding options (even yoga SUP’ing), “Fireworks Free Fourth,” at more than a dozen locations, a special meteor shower + s’mores event in August, and lots more. Maia also shares news of an upcoming pet-friendly lodging pilot program. And finally, Maia and Heather announce a special Summer State Park Challenge to inspire your warm-weather traveling and exploring and running throughout Michigan. (A big prize is included!) #runstateparks
Marathoner, ultra marathoner and Detroit native Dave Krupski likes "creating race courses that are my dream races." He's behind the Daytona 100 in Florida and this coming month he'll debut his Michigan ultra marathon courses: the Lighthouse 100-mile and 50-mile ultras on Saturday, June 10. Dave Krupski, along with northern Michigan runner Dan Oberski, are guests on this episode. They talk with Heather about this upcoming 100-miler that starts at the lighthouse in Petoskey and finishes at the lighthouse at the tip of Traverse City's Old Mission Peninsula. (There's also a 50-mile option; this course follows the second half of the 100-mile race course.) Dan Oberski, who was previously a guest on the podcast, talking about running extra long distances, has been training for next month's Lighthouse 100—his first 100-mile race. Dan and Dave talk about how they met earlier this spring (and ran about 30 miles together on the race course), the allure of ultra running, what runners can expect at this new road running event and more. The two race courses are on pavement, not trail where many ultras take place, but runners will be running almost exclusively on bicycle paths along Lake Michigan, on paved trails and little-used country roads, and through some of the most exclusive areas in Michigan. "All along the way you will enjoy countless unobstructed views of the water," Dave says. The terrain ranges from flat (miles 1-30) to rolling hills (miles 30-100). In addition, the race is near the summer equinox, ensuring runners will enjoy about 16 hours of daylight. "When the sun sets, a full moon will illuminate you throughout the night."
Way back in spring 2010, not too long before Heather started the Michigan Runner Girl blog, she wrote posts about running for a northern Michigan trails organization. She'd been running for a few years, had several races under her belt, and was really starting to ramp up her mileage and health and fitness writing. The sport definitely had become an essential part of her life. And when she wasn't out on the roads or trails, or writing about the mental and physical benefits of exercise, she was reading about running—magazines, web sites, books, whatever she could find. One of her absolute favorites to this day: Run Like a Mother by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea—two women she "knew" only through their bylines in Runner's World magazine. She made a request for a review copy—a perk of being a freelance journalist—and from the moment she received it in the mail, she couldn't put it down. Covering all aspects of running and how to find time for it amid family and work, it completely spoke to her and where she was at in her life. She's since shared it with friends, and has enjoyed watching Sarah and Dimity's success build as they've created an incredibly strong tribe through their web site AnotherMotherRunner.com, social media, weekly podcast, online training groups, as well as with a second and third book and by traveling across the country to connect with other mother runners at races and other special events. If you're a parent and a runner, you've likely heard of—and probably are a part of—the Another Mother Runner community.Sarah and Dimity join Heather on this episode to talk about how the mother runner movement began, the three books they've published, how their thriving community has evolved over the past several years (this year they've been celebrating their 7th AMR-versary), what it's meant for each of them to connect with so many women across the country (and beyond), and the exciting plans they have for further connections with mother runners in the coming months.