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.