Who doesn't love a shiny, new race medal draped around their neck after crossing the finish line of a race? Yep, we runners and triathletes dig the bling that comes with pushing through the miles and into the finish chute, whether the race is a hard-won accomplishment after months of training or a super fun run with family or friends. But what do you do with all of those medals? Hang them in your home? Stash them in a box in your closet?
West Michigan runners Heather Dunbar and Eddie Kline share their involvement with Medals4Mettle, an organization that takes donated medals and awards them to children and adults who must run a much more difficult race as they struggle to save their lives. "These medals are awarded to honor the mettle and courage it takes to face the challenges of the race we all share together: the human race."
Heather Dunbar is coordinator of the Grand Rapids chapter of Medals4 Mettle, and Eddie Kline is the race director of the Holland Haven Marathon, Half Marathon and 8K as well as the Backward Mile, an event that takes place April 23 and benefits Medals 4 Mettle.
About the Backward Mile in Holland, which takes place Tuesday, April 23:
The Backward Mile is a fun family run for a great cause. Runners will start at the finish line and end at the start line. Runners will dress backward and run backward. Instead of receiving a finisher medal, runners turn in an old race medal. The Backward Mile will collect an old race medal from each participant, then donate those medals to Medals4Mettle. These medals are awarded to residents at Benjamin's Hope in Holland, Mich. to pay it forward to those who must run a much more difficult race than the medal donor’s race; a race they did not choose to run. (Not required to turn in a medal to participate, everyone is welcome)
Coming off three big endurance sport conferences, including the 2019 Running USA Industry Conference held Feb. 10-12 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Eva Solomon catches up with Heather and brings listeners up to speed on some of the latest happenings in the world of running and triathlon.
Eva, who is co-founder and owner of Epic Races, a race management company in southeast Michigan, also talks about the upcoming Ann Arbor Marathon, Marathon Relay, Half Marathon, 10K & 5K. And, all new this year, a 19-mile training run (a perfect long run for those in the final weeks of training for this year's Boston Marathon, Eva says.)
Eva shares what runners can expect at this year's Ann Arbor Marathon, which is set for Sunday, March 24. Midway through the show, Eva and Heather are joined by two runners and veterans who are part of Team Red White and Blue (Team RWB), an organization that Epic Races partners with for many of their racing events. Ryan Taylor, a U.S. Marine Corp veteran, is a cyclist and marathoner. Thomas Sumner, a U.S. Army veteran who has been involved with Team RWB for a few years, shares how he went from being "a couch potato" to walking many miles while carrying a heavy backpack.
Ann Arbor Marathon details: All events start and finish in view of one of Ann Arbor’s most memorable landmarks, The University of Michigan Stadium. Participants run through downtown Ann Arbor, then wind their way through the city’s streets and parks as well as the University of Michigan campus. The marathon and half marathon courses also encompass stretches along the Huron River and Gallup Park and through Nichols Arboretum before returning to campus and downtown. The full marathon is two loops.
The 10K is a true trail running going through Nichols Arboretum including the infamous “Arb Hill”!
The 5K is a beautiful run through The University of Michigan’s campus and the surrounding area with a fun finish line party with all four races hosted by 26.2 Brew (Eva gives us the low-down on this new Samuel Adams beer.)
When exactly did you take that first step that led you toward becoming a runner? Maybe a friend or family member inspired you to give it a try. Maybe it was a life experience of some kind that triggered self-reflection and ultimately the decision to do things differently, to try something you’d never tried before because you knew it could be good for you.
Each of us has our own reason for starting to run and move more—and going down the path that can lead to seriously amazing changes for our health and well-being. And before we know it, running somehow evolves from simply an activity to a way of living. Our lifestyles, and the people we find ourselves meeting and gravitating toward, are entirely different in the best possible ways compared to where we had been before.
Jennifer Lotterman, a runner from west Michigan, and Holly Visser, a runner, yoga teacher and race director of this spring’s Gazelle Girl Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K in Grand Rapids, share their stories of becoming runners and how their paths have intersected along the way.
This is a conversation we all can relate to: how we find ourselves becoming runners and how that changes our lives. If you’re thinking, I’m not sure I am a runner, or I want to become a runner but I’m not sure how this works exactly—or, you’ve been running and active for a long time and could use some inspiration and reminding about why this lifestyle is just so rewarding and wonderful (and who couldn’t use some of that?)—this episode is for you.
Holly also shares details of this spring's Gazelle Girl Half Marathon, 10K & 5K, set for Sunday, April 14 in Grand Rapids. Race weekend is going to be something special this year with a Friday event featuring speaker and inspiring runner Mirna Valerio.
Be sure to use the special MRG discount code to save $5 on your race entry. Code: GG19MRG5
Register here: http://gazellegirlhalfmarathon.com/
What happens when you get more than 35 fabulous, outdoor-loving, active women together for a winter weekend away in the woods? One memorable, epic adventure.
On this latest episode, you’ll hear all about the awesome activities that are part of the annual MRG Winter Weekend Getaway in Roscommon, Michigan, which this year took place Feb. 8-10. You’ll also hear from the women themselves, who participated in the event’s LIVE podcast recording that featured special guest Mike Swinger, a northern Michigan physical therapist who stopped by to share his expertise and answer all of our running injury and prevention questions—and oh, did we ever have some questions for him!
Heather and retreat co-host Pam Carrigan Swinger talk with Mike, a father of four who recently published a book, “Runner’s Fix,” which is for runners wanting to stay injury-free and run their best. It covers all the common areas where runners tend to have struggles and gives suggestions for how to address these areas on your own. (We gave away a couple of copies during the retreat weekend, and we’ve got a couple more to give away to listeners of this episode! Details are shared by Heather near the end of the conversation.)
Mike has worked closely with runners of all ages and abilities, ranging from first-time 5K runners to collegiate All-Americans, Boston qualifiers, and Ironman competitors, helping them stay injury-free. He started his website RunPhys.com in 2015 as a resource for runners with videos covering running form, exercise routines, and injury prevention.
The MRG Winter Weekend Getaway takes place each winter, usually in late January or early February, at the Ralph A. MacMullen Conference Center on Higgins Lake. This is a stunning Michigan Department of Natural Resources property – MRG is proud to partner with the DNR on this retreat and gives back a percentage of all merchandise proceeds each year to our beautiful state parks. The weekend includes snowshoeing, cross country skiing, running, yoga, great food and drink, rest & relaxation (chair massages, anyone?), special speakers, and a whole lot of laughter and connection with like-minded women from all across the state of Michigan (and sometimes beyond!). Learn more about MRG special events here.
“If you had told me four years ago I was going to be a triathlete, I would have laughed. It was nothing I had an inspiration to do, and quite frankly, it was something that seemed intimidating to me to do.”
This is how northern Michigan runner Deb Kimball described her thoughts about triathlon prior to deciding to go for it and give swimming-biking-running a try in the past couple of years. Being part of a team of new and experienced triathletes—Tri Again Fitness—has made all the difference for this Traverse City athlete. “So much of my love of triathlon is really a love of the people I'm training with. Our team is like a family.”
Deb Kimball and fellow Tri Again Fitness team member Kasha Martin join Heather on the show to talk about their evolution as runners-turned-triathletes. Both are training for IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City this Aug. 25. Deb prefers nighttime workouts in the pool, while Kasha is committed to early morning exercise so that she can focus the rest of her day on work and being mom to her four young children.
Both women talk about how they came to love triathlon and what it means to be part of a team. They also share what it’s like to be married to triathletes and how they fit training in their full lives. “Triathlon training is my part-time job...It’s a huge time commitment,” Deb says.
Both Deb and Kasha had to work hard to become swimmers. “I pretty much floundered in the water,” Deb said. “I was not a swimmer. I doggy paddled,” added Kasha.
Having team support is amazing, both women said. “When you go to these events, it’s not just you. It’s a group of people. You’re in it together and they’re cheering you on.”
“They’re waiting for you at the finish line,” Kasha said. Her advice for anyone looking to give triathlon a try? “Go find yourself a team or club or anything because it really makes the world of difference.”
After a couple of weeks away from the studio (thanks to the extreme weather and, well, life), Heather is back behind the mic to catch up with everyone. She talks about her latest race, the Big Foot Snowshoe 10K in Traverse City at the end of January, as well as how training is going in the pool so far.
We've definitely had our fair share of true winter weather lately (late January was a BEAST throughout Michigan and the Midwest) and Heather takes this opportunity to talk winter running tips—how to stay moving while staying safe and warm when heading outside for your workout. Thanks to the many awesome tips shared with the MRG community on the Facebook page—be sure to check out the updated MRG Winter Running Guide.
Finally, Heather is looking forward to this weekend's 2nd Annual MRG Winter Weekend Getaway in Roscommon. She shares details of this event—and how you can still join the fun.
Though he grew up playing sports and being an active kid, Dave Hester found himself “always achy and miserable” during the time following his college years. “I layed around a lot, I worked a lot and gained a lot of weight,” said Dave, who is 6’6” and during this period weighed 270 pounds. “That was the only time [in my life] I had been like that. It was four or five years, I sunk into a depressive state. One day I said, ‘Nope, not anymore.’ I needed to turn my life around. I ate right and started exercising. My motivation was not wanting to feel that way.”
Holly Olszewski also experienced a somewhat similar “a-ha” moment relating to her health and well-being. “After my third child was born, I weighed 237 pounds and my doctor said, ‘You’re going to die and you need to do something about it. You’re not on a good path.’ That really spoke to me and really motivated me to change. I had three children in two years, so there was a lot going on. I made up my mind that it was important to be there for them and help them learn a healthy lifestyle.” She started walking a mile every day. “Then it turned into running and the running turned into triathlon.” She lost 90 pounds and has maintained a healthy weight.
Holly and Dave, both music teachers for Traverse City Area Public Schools and teammates with Tri Again Fitness, share their inspiring journeys with Heather. Both are training for this summer’s IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City. They describe what it’s like to have found their tribe—Tri Again Fitness—of like-minded people. They also talk about the ups (making strong connections with others, accomplishing big goals) and downs (losing friends) that come with making a big lifestyle change.
Holly and Dave are candid about what they’ve learned as they became stronger athletes and some of the biggest hurdles—Holly had to overcome a great fear of deep water in order to learn how to swim and complete a triathlon and Dave says he’s learned so many lessons from his race mishaps early on in his journey.
On this very first show of 2019, Heather is joined by two frequent guests and friends Maia Turek and Pam Carrigan to talk all about the upcoming second annual MRG Winter Weekend Getaway in Roscommon, Mich.
But before diving into the details of this amazing event (we’ve still got spots available!), these three catch up on one another’s holidays, the snow that (finally) has arrived in northern Michigan, how they’ve been (attempting) to stay active, Maia’s discovery of how not to pour drinks into Solo cups, snowshoeing with dogs, and the power of January 7 (when the new year and resolutions really get underway, right?).
The MRG Winter Weekend Getaway is next month, Feb. 8-10, and is again taking place at the Ralph A. MacMullen Conference Center on Higgins Lake. This is a beautiful Department of Natural Resources property, located in the woods on the shores of the lake, and the all-inclusive, 2-day retreat features cross country skiing, snowshoeing, running, rest & relaxation, Sunday morning yoga, great food and drink, and lots more (including a “live” podcast recording with a special guest talking about ways we can prevent and treat common running injuries).
Maia, who works for the DNR and took part in last year’s event, and Pam, who is MRG’s event coordinator, reflect back on last year’s event, which included 30-some other women from around the state (and beyond – one participant traveled from the west coast to join us!). “There are two people from the retreat last year – one of them I keep in touch with on Facebook only and I love to see when she accomplishes things and gets in her miles and finishes her races,” Maia shares. “I get to cheer her on over Facebook…and then another woman, she came by herself and she immediately connected with me and my friend and became the three musketeers throughout the weekend and she’s one of our favorite people.”
There’s an amazing group of women signed on for this year’s event – women of all ages and at varying stages of life and health and wellness journeys. All are welcome, whether you’ve only begun to run, are thinking of starting to run and be more active, or you’ve finished many races and have been active for a long time. Get the inside scoop on this great gathering of like-minded women during this episode.
More details here, too: https://michiganrunnergirl.com/2019-mrg-winter-weekend-getaway/