Jen Casey, a northern Michigan runner, triathlete and mom of two young children, discovered a love of road biking and running in New York City. She was there on 9/11, a profound experience that years later would lead her to become a race director of a local charity race honoring first responders. “I needed to find a way to heal from that. And I think a lot of other people did, too,” Jen says of the 9/11 Honor Run 5K that is in its third year and will take place on Saturday, Sept. 7 in Traverse City. “My heart just goes out to the people who help us every day. I wanted to be able to put on a race that is dedicated to this and to honor the people that passed that day. I don’t want to ever forget that day.”
Jen talks about how she became a triathlete while living in Chicago – watching athletes swim in Lake Michigan along the Windy City’s lakefront inspired her to join a local triathlon club and start racing herself. After moving back to northern Michigan about five years ago and starting a family, she continued her athletic journey. “I never thought I’d say this, but I have turned into a morning person. It’s the only time. I always secretly wanted to be a morning person, but I never had a reason to until I had kids and a full time job. If I was going to do this, it was going to be the only time. I get up at 4:30 in the morning on the days that I train.”
“I know that it’s going to be tough, mentally and physically. It’s more than I have done in a really, really long time. But I know I have been educated enough and I trained enough. They have done an amazing job of preparing us for this race. I know I am going to get it done. I am going to cross the finish line with a smile on my face.
“The journey is hard … It’s that decision that you make. I can easily stay in the bed, or I can get up and not regret it all day. If I get up and do it, I am going to be feel better about myself … It’s a good journey.”
The countdown is on … IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City is just one month away. Heather talks about how her training is going and catches up with Joel Gaff, an endurance athlete and longtime northern Michigan race organizer who is serving as race director of IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City.
Some 2,500 athetes are signed on for the Aug. 25 event.
“It’s really been a totally different game, in a good way and in a lot of ways,” Joel says of taking on this new position. “There’s a large support team with me … It’s an exciting and challenging new opportunity. It’s been fun.”
Joel’s company Endurance Evolution is behind several northern Michigan road and trail races, as well as this weekend’s Traverse City Triathlon on Old Mission Peninsula. Heather is participating in the Olympic distance triathlon at this weekend’s event, and Joel shares how he’s seen a big uptick in the number of athletes signed on for the Olympic distance -- likely to help them prepare for IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City.
Joel goes into detail about each course -- the swim in West Bay, the bike in Leelanau County, and the run in downtown Traverse City and around Boardman Lake. He also shares the best spots for spectators to see their athletes, as well as the ideal locations for parking on race day.
Learn more about IRONMAN 70.3 by listening to these previous MRG podcast episodes:
In a little over two weeks(!), women from all across Michigan and beyond will take part in the first-ever Michigan Runner Girl Trail 10K & 5K. This Aug. 4 event, held at 45 North Winery & Vineyard in Lake Leelanau, features a loop 5K course – the 10K runners will do it twice – on the winery’s beautiful on-property recreational trail. And after crossing the finish line? Each runner and walker will receive a finisher’s medal and commemorative wine glass (for tasting some of 45 North’s delicious vintages!).
On this latest episode, Heather sits down with two special guests to talk about this inaugural race: her husband Joe, who has been busy doing tons of behind-the-scenes work on this race, and Eddie Kline, who is serving as co-race director of the MRG Trail 10K & 5K. You likely know Eddie as the race director of the Holland Haven Marathon, Half Marathon & 8K in Holland, Mich. This race, which has been frequently featured on the podcast and the MRG website in the past, takes place each September.
Heather, Eddie and Joe share details of the upcoming race and answer questions that have come up from readers and listeners. Can guys come to this all-women’s race? Absolutely! We welcome husbands, partners, brothers, dads, grandpas, uncles and sons to join the festivities and cheer on their runners! Another question answered: yes, walkers and runners alike are invited to participate! A special discount code also is shared. We hope to see you there!
MRG’s vision for this event:
Imagine a day filled with running, with encouragement and cheering from fellow women who embrace movement, friendships and going after big (and small) goals – and who love Michigan’s scenic landscape just as much as you. You’ll experience all of this – and more – when you take part in the inaugural Michigan Runner Girl Trail 10K & 5K on Sunday, August 4 in beautiful northern Michigan, near the shores of Lake Michigan on the picturesque Leelanau Peninsula. This all-women’s event takes place in Leelanau’s wine country, on the sprawling 45 North Vineyard & Winery property just outside the village of Suttons Bay and 20 miles north of Traverse City. You’ll experience the vineyard’s gorgeous trails (created just for running, cycling and hiking). You’ll receive a sweet finisher’s medal and commemorative wine glass (and a wine pour, if you’d like one; we’ll have non-alcoholic drinks available, too). Then sip, savor and celebrate your awesome accomplishment with so many other strong and amazing women!
Sign up here: runsignup.com/mrgtrailrace
Epic Races knows a thing or two (or a thousand) about putting on races and events. This Ann Arbor-based race management company, co-founded by endurance athlete Eva Solomon, is behind a slew of road running and cycling races and triathlons held throughout southeast Michigan each year. These range from the flagship event Tri Goddess Tri each June to the popular Battle of Waterloo, Swim to the Moon, Ugly Dog Triathlon, Hot Cocoa Classic, and many more, including virtual runs and races.
Eva, who has been on the show several times, returns with Pat Ball, Epic Races' community outreach director, to share what we can expect from summer and fall races coming up. She also talks about last month's Tri Goddess Tri (and Heather gives a shout-out to a couple of Michigan Runner Girls who took on their first triathlon at this June event near Chelsea, Mich.)
This fall is the Women Run the D Half Marathon, 10K & 5K on Belle Isle. Eva shares the updates to this event, which takes place on Sept. 15 this year. There's a discount code for this race -- and every other Epic Races taking place this year -- that is shared as well.
It's summertime in Michigan, so you know what that means: time to catch up with our state parks guru and all-around fun guest Maia Turek. And she's got loads of extra-great information to share, with our state parks celebrating its 100th anniversary.
Heather and Maia kick off the show with talk about a super cool activity and podcast project MRG is involved with -- the Centennial Campfire Storytelling Project, which combines state park stories with the engaging art form of storytelling. As part of the Michigan state parks centennial, the DNR is hosting storytelling events where you'll hear several vetted storytellers share their playful anecdotes and deeply personal memories. These storytelling events will feature up to five storytellers and attendees that want to share two-minute anecdotes. Each event will be recorded and distilled into a podcast shared on social media and on the DNR's website here. The first storytelling event took place in June, at Interlochen State Park and future events include Van Riper State Park in the U.P. on July 20, Belle Isle in Detroit on Aug. 17, and Yankee Springs on Sept. 21.
Maia also shares the allure of geocaching and how the state parks have a special geocaching tour underway (100 new caches are located around the state), special events that are happening around the state this summer (including family-friendly activities like a sand castle contest in Muskegon), and how we all can contribute to a state parks "memory map." There's also the Give 100 fundraising campaign, which encourages folks to support their favorite park for the next 100 years.
Learn more about the state parks centennial here.
Unforgettable scenery meets ultimate running challenge. Sounds intriguing (and fun and definitely worth doing), right? The 4th annual Ragnar Road Michigan is set for September 27-28. Have you signed up yet? We've got lots of great reasons for getting a group of friends together for this Michigan relay race.
Troy Wheeler, race director of this fall event, shares all the details -- including the awesome bling that runners of both this race and the inaugural Ragnar Trail Michigan, which took place earlier this month, will receive once they cross the finish line. This road relay starts in Muskegon, Mich. and ends in Traverse City.
Troy and Heather also talk about the allure of this road relay -- how it bonds runners and highlights so many beautiful places along the Lake Michigan shoreline -- and what runners can expect when they take part in this race weekend. (Be sure to listen for a really great race discount code -- $80 off your team entry!)
What do you get when you combine an overnight relay, sugar sand beaches, lighthouses and 12 adventurous friends? Reebok Ragnar Michigan Road. For two days and one star-filled night, run through the vibrant fall foliage, picturesque towns and along the sand dunes of Lake Michigan. And if that isn’t enough you’ll spend 9 legs with beautiful beach views.
Learn more and get signed up here.
June is well underway (note to Mother Nature: could you please warm it up a little more, and keep it that way?), and summer training and racing are full speed ahead for many of us. Heather is back in the studio after a short break -- anyone else find the month of May incredibly busy?! -- and is excited to welcome Kelly Yauk back as a guest on the show. Kelly, whom guests will remember is a hilarious northern Michigan runner, mother of two girls, and former badass collegiate rower for MSU, is the race director of Stars, Stripes & Splatter Color Run held each summer at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa near Traverse City.
Heather and Kelly catch up on latest running races and adventures, including how Kelly overdressed for this year's Bayshore 10K but made the most of it anyway, and some fun things coming up for her (she has big running plans for this fall, with her former rowing teammates). Kelly also shares all the details of this month's Stars, Stripes & Splatter, which is set for Saturday, June 29. The 9 a.m. race is super family-friendly and features, you guessed it, lots of Fourth of July-themed color and festivities. A race discount code for this event also is shared during the show.
Heather also provides an honest update on her training so far for this summer's IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City, set for Aug. 25. Finding the time to fit in so many workouts -- running, biking, swimming -- is proving to be challenging, but she's determined to get on track and keep going.
**Have you heard about the race discount code for the first-ever MRG Trail 10K & 5K in northern Michigan this Aug. 4? Use the code TRAILMRG to take $5 off your race entry. Learn more and get signed up here.
And team MRG hopes to see you at these upcoming events:
- Ragnar Trail Michigan, taking place this weekend near Grayling
- Seaway Run in Muskegon, set for the following weekend, June 21-22.
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 Mike Moran, Mike Youker and Jonny Tornga of Quarter After Productions in Traverse City, Mich. for producing the show.
You'll want to tune in to the latest Michigan Runner Girl podcast episode to hear some big announcements as well as learn about ways to save on your summer and fall races. This week's short-and-sweet show highlights race discount codes, Bayshore expo news, AND .... (drum roll, please....) details on this summer's First Annual Michigan Runner Girl Trail 10K & 5K on Aug. 4 at 45 North Vineyard & Winery.
Imagine a day filled with running, with encouragement and cheering from fellow women who embrace movement, friendships and going after big (and small) goals – and who love Michigan’s scenic landscape just as much as you.
You’ll experience all of this – and more – when you take part in the inaugural Michigan Runner Girl Trail 10K & 5K on Sunday, August 4 in beautiful northern Michigan, near the shores of Lake Michigan on the picturesque Leelanau Peninsula.
This all-women’s event takes place in Leelanau’s wine country, on the sprawling 45 North Vineyard & Winery property just outside the village of Suttons Bay and 20 miles north of Traverse City. You’ll experience the vineyard’s gorgeous trails (created just for running, cycling and hiking). You’ll receive a sweet finisher’s medal and commemorative wine glass (and a wine pour, if you’d like one; we’ll have non-alcoholic drinks available, too).
In just over a month, trail runners from all across Michigan, the Midwest and beyond will meet up at Hanson Hills Recreation Area in Grayling, Mich. for the inaugural Ragnar Michigan Trail. Organizers of this event expect more than 130 teams to participate in what’s being described as a two-day, one-night exploration of three smooth, single-track trails perfect for any runner experience level. The scenery is going to be amazing: lush forested pine and maple paths, rolling hills, scenic bluff vistas.
Ceara “CC” Pelletier, race director, joins Heather to talk all about this summer’s first-ever Ragnar Michigan Trail, set for June 15-16. With 8 people to a team (unlike Ragnar Road’s 12-person team set-up), the total number of miles covered throughout the weekend is 120. CC, who serves as race director of several other Ragnar Trail events throughout the U.S., is based in her home state of Maine. It was there, in the southern part of Maine, where she spent a lot of time in nature and on the trails. “I love the outdoors almost any activity that you can do outside. I have a type A personality, as most race directors do, but I would describe myself as a chill type A. I’m silly, goofy, and I love to make people laugh.”
CC talks about how she got into organizing races – she got started after graduating college and worked for a company out of South Portland, ME that put on three races each year. It wasn’t long before she got connected with Ragnar – she lived for two adventurous years in Salt Lake City, UT, where Ragnar is headquartered.
CC lets us know what we can expect at this year’s inaugural event (food trucks!) and why many Ragnarians absolutely love the “Glamping” option. And, there’s still time to sign up (just a little bit of time!) if you haven’t yet gotten your team registered. Use the code MRG2019 to take $80 off your team race entry at checkout. Registration closes Tuesday, May 7.
The popularity of the Bayshore Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K in Traverse City is undeniable. The event attracts thousands of runners, along with their families and friends, from all across the state and the U.S. to northern Michigan each Memorial Day weekend. And the race distances sell out -- the half marathon in particular is a sought-after race, filling up not long after race registration opens Dec. 1.
This year, the annual kick-off-to-summer race tradition features an all-new event: the Munson Healthcare Kids Marathon, a fun run that gets kids moving not only on race day (they run 1.2 miles at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 25), but in the days leading up to race day as well. Adding a kids event was a long-held dream of TC Track Club members, and Lisa talks about what it means to see this come to fruition. So far, more than 300 kids have signed up for the run -- there's still time to get registered (kids get race bling at the finish line!). More details here.
The Traverse City Track Club, northern Michigan’s largest and oldest running club, organizes the Bayshore Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K. Lisa Taylor, the club's executive director and a past guest on the MRG Show, talks about what runners can expect at this year's races. Also new this year is an expanded packet pickup. The Playmakers Runners Expo/Packet Pickup takes place at the Traverse City Central High School Gym from 5 to 9 p.m on Friday night May 24 and Saturday, race day, from 5 to 7:15 a.m.
********************************************************Are you running Bayshore this Memorial Day weekend? MRG will be there! Heather is running the 10K this year, along with Joe, Andrew and Alex, while Emma is taking on the half marathon.
AND...If you’ve signed up for the marathon, half marathon or 10K, be sure to stop by the Michigan Runner Girl booth at the all-new Runner’s Expo.
We'd love to meet up with fellow Michigan Runner Girls & Guys and hear your stories! Stop by, share your race excitement, tell us about your running plans, and check out the latest MRG styles (We'll also have tanks and hoodies and also the popular Run Traverse City poster for sale!) It’s also an awesome opportunity to have a great time connecting with fellow runners and outdoor enthusiasts. See you there!
Also on this week's show: a preview of an all-new 5K on Old Mission Peninsula later this month. The Jolly Pumpkin 5K and One Mile takes place Sunday, May 19. This 5K starts at the lighthouse at the tip of Old Mission and features views of Grand Traverse Bay and cherry orchards. A post-race party takes place at Jolly Pumpkin restaurant. A special race discount code for this race is shared during the episode. Learn more about the race and get registered here: http://jollypumpkinrun.com/registration-traverse-city-mi/
For breathtaking Lake Michigan views, lots of spectator support, race distances for everyone, and an energetic finish line vibe in the heart of downtown Muskegon, the Mercy Health Seaway Run is the early-summer event to check out.
Taking place on the 4th Saturday in June each year, the Mercy Health Seaway Run has been a tradition along the Lakeshore for more than three decades. For the past couple of years, Heather has taken part in the event, as a runner in the half marathon and 10K, and as a participant in the race expo that is held the Friday before the races. The event also features a 5K and Community Fun Walk course, winding through historic neighborhoods with views of Muskegon Lake.
Race Director and runner Andrew Buikema joins Heather to talk about this year’s races, set for June 22. They talk all about this year’s events, which includes a slightly altered half marathon course, the event’s 8 new race ambassadors, the special beer that’s being offered at the finish (made just for this race), and lots more -- including how Andrew is training for the Bayshore Marathon this spring and how he has a big goal in mind for this race. They also catch up about this spring’s memorable Gazelle Girl Half Marathon, 10K & 5K – Heather talks about her half marathon with Emma while Andrew, who was there throughout the weekend to help with the race and have a booth at the race expotique, shares what it was like to be at the finish line as the final runner crossed – as snow continued to fall. That’s April in Michigan for you!
Learn more about the Seaway Run and get registered here: https://seawayrun.com/
A special race discount code for MRG listeners and readers is mentioned during the show as well.
The Holland Haven Marathon, Half Marathon and 8K keeps on growing—last year the September races in west Michigan saw a 60% increase in registrations, with nearly 900 runners participating and 2,000 people taking part in the after-party. Eddie Kline, race founder and director, returns to the podcast to talk about this year’s event, now in its sixth year and set for Sunday, Sept. 8 in Holland, Mich. “The half marathon almost sold out last year, and it will for sure this year,” he says.
Eddie and Heather also talk about his “tale of two halves and a failed BQ” at last fall’s Columbus Marathon. Eddie gets candid about realizing during the race that things weren’t going the way he’d planned—and how he ultimately changed his mind-set and found a way to remain positive about the experience. “In the end, the people made the difference for me. Even with a failed BQ, I had an amazing marathon and loved every minute of it.” Eddie is tackling his first ultramarathon, a 50-miler at Dances with Dirt this September in Pinckney, Mich.
With his Holland Haven race, Eddie says he wanted to create a quality hometown race experience for runners, along with providing a final opportunity to snag a Boston-qualifying time in west Michigan. Unlike many races, the Holland Haven offers an expo on race day itself as part of the post-race party that features free beer, cider, and food—for runners as well as spectators. Eddie talks about this year’s new feature—a team runner series—and how the race gives back to local charities and organizations including Camp Geneva, Team Red, White and Blue, and Medals4Mettle.
Race details on the Holland Haven Marathon, Half Marathon and 8K website: https://www.hollandhavenmarathon.com/
He’s run 5Ks with his family, and remembers taking on the Bayshore 10K back in the day when he was young, but Trevor Tkach still doesn't exactly call himself a runner (Heather tells him otherwise). And yet, the 42-year-old father of three decided this winter to step it up and take on his longest distance to date: 13.1 miles. Trevor acknowledges he’s going outside his comfort zone by training for his first half marathon – the Bayshore Half Marathon that takes place over Memorial Day weekend in his hometown – and so far, the training he’s experience has exceeded his expectations.
"I hit the 6-mile mark this weekend and it felt good. The mistakes I’ve made in the past when I was younger, they were 'Oh, it’s a beautiful day, I just want to go run forever, but I’m not ready for it.' I would not train. I’d go run 6 or 9 miles and then I’d pay for it the rest of the week. But after running these 6 miles, the day after I felt great, because I have followed the training."
Trevor, who is the CEO and president of Traverse City Tourism, shares how he decided to take on the half marathon (his friend and training partner, Justin, played a big role), the food he is looking forward to eating after (and maybe during) his race, and what it feels like to slowly increase his distance and evolve from a “2- to 3-mile runner” to a distance runner.
Trevor also talks about his role in helping bring IRONMAN 70.3 to Traverse City this August, the positive impacts this event will have on northern Michigan, and what he says is his absolute perfect day in the Traverse City area. Finally, he gives the inside scoop on some great ways to celebrate Michigan Wine Month this May if you’re traveling north.
Looking for a great, beginner-friendly trail run this summer? The 13th annual Brainy Day Trail Run 10K & 5K on August 17 in Nunica, Michigan has all the makings of the perfect off-road race: a 5K that's scenic and comfortable for those of us just getting into trail running, and a 10K that provides plenty of challenging fun (yep, there are hills!). The race, which has grown considerably in the past couple of years and benefits the Brainy Day Fund, also boasts an incredible after-party—homemade banana bread, anyone? In addition, Michigan craft brewer Oddside Ales provides cold ones and there's local pizza, fruit and other goodies.
"I think as runners there are some races every year we run, and there are some races we do every year because it's a great experience," says race director Kevin Curley. "Our main goal is to create an experience."
An extra bonus—and at the heart of this race—is proceeds go to an important cause. The Brainy Day Trail Run supports and raises awareness for those who suffer from a neurological condition called hydrocephalus. All proceeds are donated to The Brainy Day Fund, which supports families through a scholarship program as well as provides research grants for medical professionals looking to end hydrocephalus.
A race discount code is shared during the episode, just for MRG listeners. Use it before early bird pricing ends March 31 for the best savings.
Also on this week's show...Jonny is back in northern Michigan!! Musician Jonny Tornga, who is part of the production team here at the MRG podcast, has spent the past couple of years in New York City, where he worked for Lululemon and truly found his, ahem, footing in the running community. Heather is super excited to have him on the show to give us a run-down (sorry, too many puns?) on life as a runner in the Big Apple and what it's like to return to his hometown after some time away. Jonny, who is training for this spring's Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City, started running because of his involvement in producing this show. He ran his first 5K at the Great Beerd Run and then jumped to the 25K at the Riverbank Run.
"I got to do a lot of growing up as a runner in New York City, which is an experience all on its own," he says. Winter running isn't the same in NYC, he found. "It's cold, but we get very little snow there. So that's been interesting coming back [to Traverse City] and training for the Bayshore this year. I had turned into a little bit of a wuss out there. We get a lot of rain, so I ran in a lot of rain. It's been interesting...and dealing with cars. In New York City, it's normal to run in the streets and you come here and it's a little bit frowned upon sometimes to run in the streets. So that's been another interesting thing."
Jonny is training for his second marathon, this spring's Bayshore Marathon. "It's a longer distance for me, but I'm excited to dig into it."
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/
Heather shares some special MRG announcements in this short and sweet episode—the final show of 2018.
* Special events where you can catch MRG (hint: the team will be traveling to a number of places across the state!)
* The upcoming MRG Winter Weekend Getaway, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, taking place Feb. 8-10, 2019.
* Race and training plans for 2019, including tackling IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City on Aug. 25.
Thanks for listening in 2018—we can't wait to see you in 2019! Lots of great guests to come!
Ann Arbor triathlete Nikki Derrick wore race bib #1184 at this fall's Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii—the same number worn by her close friend Karen Perzyk in the 2016 event.
Nikki, 47, requested this number as a way to honor Karen, a beloved friend and fellow Michigan triathlete, who died in January after a brief battle with stage IV esophageal cancer.
Karen's death at age 49 was a devastating loss for Nikki, and for many others in their close-knit group of endurance athlete friends. It was Karen who inspired Nikki to return to competing in triathlons again after several years away from the sport. Karen was the kind of person whose enthusiasm for life and love of movement were infectious, Nikki says. She loved watching her friends succeed and was their biggest cheerleader.
Nikki shares how she decided to turn her race in Hawaii into a tribute to Karen, a way to honor the friend who meant so much to her and to so many others.
Nikki gives a detailed account of the World Championship in Kona and what it felt like to be there without her friend ... and what it felt like to push through the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride, and a tough, hot 26.2 to reach the finish line.
Heather and Nikki also talk about her love of mountain biking (she finished strong at this November's Iceman Cometh Challenge in Traverse City) and what's next for her in the coming year (a marathon out west, in wine country, among other adventures). They also talk about where Nikki finds her motivation, and how she carves out time for staying active while also being committed to her job as a physician assistant at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor.