Meet the LRC – August Member Spotlight 2016

JulieAnn cover pic

JulieAnn Villa with her punny signs for the LRC Dog Days of Summer 3K

You’re likely familiar with JulieAnn as a volunteer at LRC events: Dog Days of Summer 3K, Run of the Dead Elimination Run, Chicago Marathon Mile 23 Party Station. But that’s not to say she doesn’t run. In fact, she just finished her goal of competing in a race every weekend in June and she is participating in the LRC track workouts, making the drive from Glenview. Her willingness to help others is coupled with determination and spirit, and is the silver lining of losing someone to cancer and then facing her own struggle with cancer. Twice.

Long before her own cancer ever reared its ugly head, JulieAnn lost her best friend and boyfriend to Hodgkin’s lymphoma, in 1997. Sad and grief stricken, she followed her roommate’s encouragement to run. Having never been very athletic – she managed to elude gym class all throughout high school – 2 physically excruciating miles somehow left her feeling better emotionally. She would soon be inspired by others to become an endurance athlete, riding a century race and running her first marathon in 2003. It was the positivity she derived from running that would get her through the even tougher times which she had no idea were ahead.

JulieAnn was diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2010, and running became her way to train herself to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. “Doing it anyway, despite the diagnosis” became one of her mantras. She believed in thriving after that diagnosis, and she has. As a survivor, she is determined to be a beacon for other young cancer patients and survivors. One such recent example is her involvement with True North Treks, having just returned from a week in the remote wildness in Idaho on a retreat for young adults diagnosed with cancer. Positivity and giving back to others has been her way out.

So, she survived cancer! But then work began to consume her and she was neglecting her runs. Feeling out of shape and that running was no longer fun, she ordered a red tutu for the 3M Half Marathon in Austin, TX. She had been having complications with her jaw and was awaiting biopsy results. She needed to find some joy in life again and the cheers for her outfit from the spectators helped to lift her spirits a bit. The jaw pain proved to be a second cancer diagnosis in 2015, this time for Osteosarcoma of the left mandible (bone cancer in her jaw). It was at this point that she took to calling herself a unicorn because of the rarity of getting two different cancers within four years.

JulieAnn Michele unicorns

Unicorns Michele and JulieAnn spotted at the Run of the Dead Elimination Run

To be fast really isn’t the point of why so many of us run. There are any number of reasons that we’re drawn to running, the same as we’re each drawn to so many other things. Running allows JulieAnn to feel stronger physically, but also mentally and emotionally. She began running with TEAM in Training (TNT) – an endurance training program that fundraises for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, four years after losing her boyfriend and has been involved with them ever since. JulieAnn also runs with Fellow Flowers, which is a group that has allowed her to celebrate her moments of transformation with a tribe of women who understand her. You may have seen her and others wearing flowers in their hair; each flower has a unique meaning, and for JulieAnn, sporting that flower is her way of showing her committment to doing the work.

Her relationship with TNT connected her to her coach Andy Pekarske and later to her teammate Michele Kwok, both of who you surely know from their participation in, and photography of, all things LRC. The two of them have been with JulieAnn since her first diagnosis and she credits them for saving her life. As many of you can attest, it’s the friendships you acquire through running groups that will be cherished long after the miles have been accumulated.


JulieAnn, Andy, and Michele putting the fun in run

Right around that second diagnosis, Andy described to JulieAnn a run club that celebrated after runs with a maple bacon donut. The sparkle in Andy’s eyes when he described this donut club intrigued her. After finishing with her chemo treatments she joined her TNT friends at the LRC dance party / cheer station set up at mile 23 of the 2015 Chicago Marathon. She was impressed that long after the bulk of the runners came through, LRC and her TNT friends were still encouraging and celebrating every last runner and walker. The spirit of the LRC is something she wanted to be a part of. The energy and enthusiasm is contagious.

I can’t put into words what JulieAnn has endured and describes in her own words so eloquently and at times quite humorously. Rather than paraphrase her writings, I will include THIS LINK and THIS LINK describing the journey. Let her story inspire you to run with a purpose – to shed whatever trivial or seemingly insurmountable weight you carry. JulieAnn found strength in doing just that… One foot in front of the other. Now she’s looking forward to running the Portland Half Marathon in October with a goal of 2:15, and then the 17-mile option of our Run of the Dead Elimination Run later that month. That will be the longest run for her since her initial cancer diagnosis in 2010.

JulieAnn still has some reconstruction work to do on her jaw but she is now cancer free. She will have checkups every 3 months for the next few years and notes that she has received so much radiation throughout her bouts with cancer that she likely glows in the dark. She continues to mold and inspire young minds as a science research and chemistry high school teacher. She’s completing her Master’s Degree in Science Communication with a focus on medicine. She hopes to become a science communicator – an intermediary for patients and doctors.

Cheers to JulieAnn to being cancer free. Here’s to a lifetime of it!










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Meet the LRC – July Member Spotlight 2016

Ken WI Marathon Finisher (1)

Kenneth Sas – Resident of Vernon Hills, master of maintenance for the kids of Hawthorn Schools, and striker of impromptu superhero poses

Meet Ken – he likes photography and long walks on the beach and… Seriously though, he is an avid scuba diver; that’s kind of like walking on the beach. In the beach. And he was one of the photographers that provided us with some great shots for our Run of the Dead race.

Ken recently experienced the classic progression of a marathon runner through thoughts ranging from, “a marathon?” to “alright, I’ll do one” to “let’s do it again but faster!” This laissez-faire attitude was evident back in high school when on the first day of freshman orientation he decided to give cross country a shot simply because 90% of the class said they intended to participate in some sport. “Why not?” he thought.

About three years ago he picked up running again and did his first marathon in 2013. He started doing it more regularly and joined the Golden Legs Running group in Mundelein just as it was going defunct. They directed him to the LRC. And that’s where things got crazy…

After seeing some of the LRC folks doing multiple marathons, and setting and achieving big goals for 2016, he knew he could too and also have support along the way. He enjoys the enthusiasm, the experience, and all the activities the Club provides, so he decided he would go for not one but two marathons this year!

He received a free entry from the LRC for the Wisconsin Marathon in May and trained with us throughout the winter. Like the training, the race conditions were not pleasant – cold and windy. He found encouragement in the applause of family and Jenny, his girlfriend, and the few of us that ran along the course to cheer for him and other LRCers. 5 hours and 57 minutes later, he crossed the finish line.

One down, one to go.

For the Chicago Marathon, he would like to best his first marathon time of 5:30, in addition to taking his efforts one step further… Through Team One Step, a charity providing children’s oncology services, Ken will raise money to provide empowering, supportive, educational, and fun experiences (ski trips, whitewater rafting excursions, dude ranches) for children who have been diagnosed with cancer. You can help Ken reach his goal by kindly donating HERE.

Because of his go-with-the-flow demeanor, Ken is following the What-the-Hell-Does-Mike-Brunette-Know? training plan again (you know nothing Mike Brunette!). The summer plan incorporates our Libertyville High School track workouts which Ken credits for his ability to maintain a faster pace, for longer, which has helped him become a better long distance runner. That, and the chicken wings. Protein is good for you, right?

And so is chocolate milk, his go-to post-long-run indulgence. If you’re new to running, he recommends you try it. He also recommends leaning on the LRC for the wealth of knowledge and experience we possess. He was once one of those people that thought he couldn’t do a marathon. He has since learned to enjoy every step of the way. To have fun. To ask questions. The rewards achieved throughout training and once you cross that finish line are worth the efforts. So are the friends you pick up along the way.






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Meet the LRC – June Member Spotlight 2016

Christy_Spring_2016 (2)

The New Christy

Today is Global Running Day (A.K.A. –  National Running Day) – a global initiative aimed at encouraging people to live healthy, fitter lives. Since the beginning of the LRC, I’ve come across many inspiring stories of healthy transformations, from our very first Monthly Member Spotlight 16 months ago featuring Carrie Wagner, to Christy Bartolain, who was introduced to the LRC by Carrie. Christy’s story hits on all the things that Global Running Day is about: having fun and being active and healthy.

Christy lives in Round Lake Beach and started making the 25-minute drive to Libertyville to run with the LRC last summer for our track workouts. Christy had just started running more consistently, having run her first race a few weeks prior on Mother’s Day – the 2015 Barrington Mother’s Day 5K. The track workouts were a great introduction to the LRC in an unfamiliar town; she knew she wouldn’t be left behind. She began the 2015 11-week track program with an 11:22 mile time trial and finished the program with an 8:53 mile time trial and after running with us this winter, she ran yesterday’s time trial in 8:22! For those of you that did your first 1-mile time trial with us last night, you’ve got some improvement to get excited about.

As a bit of an introvert, she was comforted by how encouraging, welcoming, and helpful everyone was. She soon attended a Wednesday night fun run and met Erin Westphal – a leader in the LRC community that ensures no runner is left behind. The miles flew by while chatting with friends. She was encouraged by the people in the LRC to keep stretching her boundaries. A half marathon no longer seemed impossible. She ran with us throughout the winter to train for her first half marathon – the Wisconsin Half Marathon in May.

She began the year with a 10-mile New Year’s Day run with the LRC. This was her first long run without any blisters; she was off to a good start. She used the LRC training plan as a guideline and made some adjustments. For example, she likes to be over-prepared so she stretched her longest run to 15 miles. She was more than ready for her half marathon and it showed on race day. Christy was all smiles despite the cold and windy conditions. Michael Stehling jumped in to run with her around mile 10. She was thankful for the pick-me-up; that mile and the next were her fastest of the day!

I remember Christy from the track workouts last summer. And when Jill Baranowski and I saw her at the Wisconsin Half Marathon last month we noticed something different. She looked happier, healthier. Since the beginning of 2016, she has lost 25 lbs.! Running has played a huge role in her weight loss. She tracks her calories with My Fitness Pal. Though she doesn’t obsess about every entry, she finds that just logging some of her meals keeps her from overindulging. Running helps her burn the extra calories while continuing to enjoy meals and snacks without feeling deprived. Her advice is to find an activity you love and be cognizant of what you eat. Exercise isn’t painful if you’re having fun doing it. Hmm, sounds a lot like our If It Ain’t Fun, You’re Doing It Wrong! slogan.

She credits the workouts for teaching her how to train effectively and introducing her to interval training and tempo runs – something she now incorporates into her running. Her goal this year is to make a sub-10-minute-mile her new normal; she’s currently around 10:15 – 10:30/mile. For all the new participants this year, she recommends taking advantage of the before and after time at the track to socialize with the other runners. That’s what inspired her to participate in other LRC runs and as a result, push her limits.

And that’s what she’ll do again when she trains for and runs her first marathon this fall – the Chicago Marathon. She’s also running the Venus de Miles 5K and the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon (a group trip with Moms Run This Town – a Lake and McHenry County running club) this summer. She’s looking forward to training with the LRC again and completing her first marathon as a charity runner for Team Bright Pink.

And now my favorite thing you probably don’t know about Christy… She rides a motorcycle! Christy and her husband are avid riders and together they experience many of the things she also finds most enjoyable about running: sharing a passion with someone, being alone with time to think, and that indescribable feeling of being out in the open with the wind against your face. There’s a sensory awareness derived from riding a motorcycle and from running that you don’t get riding in a car.

Join us tonight for a fun run on Global Running Day. Like Christy, you’ll be amazed at how far you could go in just one year. No more excuses, just run.

Christy & Mike at Bill & Ted's Run

Christy and me, just because we happened to have this photo from our Bill & Ted’s scavenger run.


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Meet the LRC – May Member Spotlight 2016


Diana Run of the Dead

Diana Reyes at the Run of the Dead Elimination Run before the challenge warranted less smiling

Diana came to the U.S. in 1999 on vacation from her home in Bogotá, Columbia… And stayed here. She and her daughter, Natalia, moved to Libertyville almost 6 years ago. As Diana expressed to me, they nearly left Libertyville until the LRC made her feel at home. She recalls Facebook-stalking the LRC page since October of 2014 and seeing me run past her house often (we live a 1/4 mile apart). Though she’s unsure exactly when she decided to show up to a run, she’s glad she did and only wishes she had done it sooner.

She started running for fun with her dad about 30 years ago – amazing, since she’s 21 years old, right? They would get up early and take advantage of Ciclovía, a practice originating in Bogotá in which certain main streets are blocked off to cars for runners and bicyclists every Sunday from 7am – 2pm. During this time, stages are set up in city parks and various fitness instructors and musicians lead people through performances. She continued to run when the mood struck because she liked it and she knew it would keep her healthy.

Diana was what you would call a group-run virgin, having never run with a group before meeting the LRC. I sing the praises of running with a group so often that I sound like a broken record so I’ll let Diana sum it up here by saying it gets her out the door on those “blah” days, it holds her accountable which helps motivate her to run longer and faster, and it’s just more fun with friends. Considering that her pace went from about a 10:30 min/mile to a 8:50 min/mile in this past year, I would say the system works. I’m always amazed at how much she’s improving when I pick her up on our run over to the Breakfast Club run.

Being a single mom of a 10-year-old daughter can prove difficult when wanting to run with and participate in all the LRC social events. Luckily, we don’t bite and Natalia fits right in; we’re pro-kids! Occasionally, Natalia will ride along side mom on her bike, accompany us to an event (like volunteering with mom at our Poker Run 10K), or join us for post-run dinner and drinks. But as far as making time for herself? Diana just hides in the bathroom leaving Natalia to think mom takes too long to go. Whatever works!

Diana is going to complete her first half marathon on May 7th at the Wisconsin Marathon & Half Marathon in Kenosha after months of following LRC’s What-the-Hell-Does-Mike-Brunette-Know? training plan. She finds motivation on those long runs just knowing that running is something that many people are physically unable to do. She also enjoys getting faster and stronger, and setting a good example for her daughter. She looks forward to returning to spend time with her after the run… And after a good nap.

Libertyville certainly has no shortage of routes to run. Diana would choose to run the Des Plains River Trail for the rest of her life IF only it extended to a coastal city. But the real choice as of late is, when picking a “side” for track workouts: Church or Cult? Libertyville Running Club’s not-meant-to-be-offensive replacement of the traditional and boring “Club” with “Church” and “Cult” has left all of you in the same quandary. Diana is aligning with the Cult – dark, naughty, fun, and sweaty things come to mind for her. Whoa! Save it for Hook Up Wednesday Night Fun Runs, Girl.

Running with a group can be bad news for people that don’t want to push themselves. After her first half marathon, Diana is joining the LRC for our return trip to the Denver half marathon in June, signed up for the Chicago Marathon this fall, and is planning to do a 50K after that. She isn’t so intimidated by the challenges because she and the LRC share similar philosophies of keeping it fun and enjoying the run. Because of that, she tells people that haven’t taken the leap to show up to an LRC run or event yet to just do it. You’ll regret not doing it sooner like she does.

Join the LRC throughout May for a group run of varying kilometers. And if you’re looking for a fall marathon training plan, join Diana and the others when ours kicks off with a party on June 18th!
















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Meet the LRC – April Member Spotlight 2016

Nakanishi (1)

Matt Nakanishi – a man of many (s)miles

Matt has been on my list of people to write about for a long time. However, I thought it would be best to do so when we could join him in celebrating his achievement of not only completing 50 marathons before he turns 50 but by doing it at his first Boston Marathon in two weeks.

He only started running at 28 years old because a softball injury left him sidelined and gaining weight. While at first he did it to lose the weight, he found running to be enjoyable and within a year, he raced the 1999 Lake County Races from Zion to Highland Park then the 1999 Chicago Marathon. After one summer of marathon training, he was hooked. He soon added a spring marathon, then others when a thought occurred that if he kept this up, he could complete 50 marathons before he turned 50. He’s run the Chicago Marathon every year except one since then, the Fox River Marathon every year since its inception in 2010, and the Disney World Marathon (as part of the Goofy and Dopey Challenges, no less) since 2013 as a way to incorporate a family vacation. Or is it the other way around? With the Boston Marathon, he will finish this goal 4 and 1/2 years early.

But qualifying for the Boston Marathon was never really a thought, until…

Shortly after the LRC formed in the beginning of 2014, Matt heard about this new club that was going to have track workouts at Libertyville High School. Intrigued, he started following our Facebook group. When he saw us volunteering at an aid station at the North Shore Classic Half Marathon dressed in costumes and having a good ol’ time, he knew this was the club for him. The LRC played a huge role in Matt running PRs in every distance he raced in 2015 and ultimately in qualifying for Boston at his 40th marathon (2015 Illinois Marathon): the summer and winter speed workouts, various cross-training offerings the LRC sponsored, the group long runs, and field trips to Barrington with LRC & Fleet Feet Chicago all helped him earn that Runner Passport to Boston.

Prior to the Club, he ran indoors during winter and mostly alone year-round. With the LRC being active all year, he was motivated by others on those long, or cold, or fast runs. As a result, he pushed himself more, resulting in stronger and faster runs, than if he had done it alone. One of the best things about the LRC to Matt is that while someone is always there to push him, everyone enjoys running and no one seems to take it too seriously. He has found the LRC to be an amazing group of people who are fun to hang out with outside of running.

When Matt’s schedule gets too hectic, he likes that he can train with his running buddies virtually through the LRC Strava page and feel connected to the LRC. This virtual motivational tool has proven helpful for many, including all of us that bore witness to Matt’s impressive mileage total for 2015 and what he is currently doing as part of his Boston training. Hint: it’s a lot! If you use any type of GPS tracking, feel free to join us on Strava. Matt will surely motivate you. 

Take all this running and add to it that Matt plays ice hockey and you have to wonder how he finds time to get it all in. You also have to wonder why he’s mixing running with ice hockey! He claims that the ice hockey has actually helped his running: it’s a great workout using slightly different muscle groups which has helped with his recovery and kept him relatively injury free (cross training, people! Do it!). Of course, without such a supportive family, none of this would be possible. With the birth of his twins 8 years ago, then a daughter shortly after, his in-laws moved in to help out while he and his wife Akemi continued their careers. In addition, Akemi is extremely supportive of his running and 50 marathon goal. He tries to minimize the time away from his kids by completing many of his runs before they wake up; The Tuesday morning LRC Breakfast Club runs afford him one more opportunity to do that with friends.

As if all these marathons aren’t challenging enough, he twice completed the Ice Age 50-Miler and will run it again this year. He says that the 2014 Ice Age event was his biggest challenge to date. He had never run any race as technically challenging as Ice Age. It was also his first 50-miler so he was definitely intimidated going into the race. Convincing himself that he could finish the race was just as difficult, if not more difficult, than the physical aspect of actually running the race. But as Matt notes, in order to take yourself to new levels you have to get in over your head and out of your comfort zone.

And when it comes to getting in over your head, Matt gets by with a little help from his LRC friends. When the LRC jumped off the ultra-running deep end and submitted a team for the Leadville 100-mile trail race lottery, Matt couldn’t resist taking one of the eight spots. Ever since the threat of Leadville came and went, Matt has been intrigued by the distance and may one day register for a 100-miler… That one day likely being next year when we try for Leadville again!

Matt hasn’t set up any goals after Boston because he wants to truly enjoy the moment without having to worry about what’s next. His sister lives in the Boston area and he plans to celebrate the race with his wife, kids, father, and sister. Joining him in Boston will be a few other LRCers and friends: Kate Wichmann, Stephen Ryner, Ted Tharp, Michael Stehling, and Sam Stein. Matt is certain there will be some LRC shenanigans taking place with that contingent.

Here’s to wishing Matt a great Boston Marathon! Join the LRC after our fun run on Wednesday, April 20th to celebrate Matt and the others when they return from Boston. The Boston runners’ drinks are on us!





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Meet the LRC – April (Fools’ Day) Member Spotlight 2016

The end roadsign 2

Members of LRC, meet The End. We’ve come a long way in these two years but it’s time that we bid adieu with one last article paying homage to The End of the LRC.

“It’s just time to end on a note, any note will do” said Mike Brunette – founder and organizer of the Libertyville Running Church. “I see the future of running clubs evolving and I’m not an innovator. I’m tired and your membership dues just haven’t afforded me the lifestyle of similar church leaders like that Joel Olsteen guy. I’m happy to have been a part of this but it’s time for other clubs to take over from here.”

And take over they will. Age-old area clubs like the OTESD – Open Track Enthusiasts of Short Distance – are looking forward to getting their members back. All duties will be transferred over to these more fun running clubs because, and let’s be honest, the LRC only cherry-picked from the best ideas anyway. From Bill Bowerman’s famous chicken wing & watermelon track workouts, to Jimmy Kimmel’s aid station antics, to Lover’s Lanes’ Wednesday night hookup runs, the LRC was merely reinventing the wheel.

When asked about the demise of the LRC, Bee Hintson, 35-year resident of neighboring Lake Zurich,  simply questioned, “Who’s the LRC? If I haven’t heard of them, then they clearly weren’t that special.”

Pastor Zed Wardklay from the Des Plains River Community Church had this to say: “who do they think they are, calling themselves a church?! Meeting weekly and running among nature as they do is nothing like attending Mass in one of God’s beautiful indoor amphitheater creations, like He intended. And to call himself the head of a church is sacrilegious; Mike is only an ordained minister online. ANYONE CAN DO THAT; IT’S FREE AND TAKES TWO MINUTES!”

Ordination Certificate

Bill from Chili-U had kinder words when asked about the Club disbanding, “we’re really going to miss hosting the LRC on those Wednesday night hookup runs. Boy, those runners can eat and drink! We used to just put out a chili trough and let them go to town. What a great boost to our local economy they were.”

Finally, The Deacon – LRC’s second-in-command – was quoted as saying, “Meh, I figured he didn’t have it in him to keep this up. Times are changing and people only want to run on single track trails now. The LRC just couldn’t adapt. If only he would have followed the Deacon’s Way, The End would have never happened!”

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Meet the LRC – March Member Spotlight 2016

Ann Article Photo

Jim Moberg, Ann Rowley, and a pending little one I’m betting will be a boy named Miles

Spring is around the corner and about to bring us warmer weather and longer days, which always means the Club gets bigger. This year in addition to the new people who will find us for the first time and all the hibernators who will be back to join the fun, we’ll also welcome a firstborn from Ann Rowley and her husband Jim, who is expected to arrive on March 17th.

Ann relocated to Libertyville from Boston almost two years ago to take a job at Abbvie as a chemist while Jim completed his board exams to become a nurse here in town. She settled on Libertyville in a way that I’ve heard others do and is so typical of runners: she searched for running clubs throughout Lake and Cook counties. Ann and Jim met in their running club in Boston – Sommerville Road Runners – and it was important to them to find a replacement just as fun and social and in a location with plenty of places to run. Ann soon determined that in all of Lake and Cook counties, no other city seemed to have as cool of a running club; our reputation precedes us. Discovering that downtown Libertyville is so lively and has a great restaurant and bar scene sealed the deal.

Running was a means to an end for Ann. She didn’t enjoy it growing up but did see it as a way to stay healthy and in shape for other sports. As grad school later took its toll on her health and her ability to run waned, she re-committed to getting in shape after her thesis was written by signing up for her first marathon – the 2008 Vermont City Marathon.

Though she made every beginner mistake – camped the night before the race, ate a Dunkin Donuts breakfast sandwich on the way to the race, showed up late and overdressed – she finished and was determined to do another one. When Ann’s grandmother fell ill a few years later, Ann sent her the race medals she had earned, hoping she would find strength in these tokens of Ann’s accomplishments. When her grandmother revealed that these medals did in fact give her the will to pull through, Ann vowed to run a marathon in every state for her. A story was planned for her grandmother’s local paper but she passed just as Ann was about to deliver the 3rd medal. That medal now lies with her in her casket. Ann is 20 marathons in and still plans to fulfill that promise.

Discovering that anything is possible, Ann later completed an Ironman in 2014. However, Ann now knows that was not as challenging as completing two marathons while pregnant these past few months. For that, she found inspiration in training with Heidi Greco, who struggled with injury frequently while training for her first marathon (the 2015 Chicago Marathon), and Steve Lorey, who spent much of his last year in Libertyville battling cancer and struggling through chemotherapy treatments (Steve is now doing great and is living in San Antonio). For Ann, any movement was good movement so long as she got outside or to the gym. She has noted that whether training for an Ironman or a marathon while pregnant, her donut consumption peaks at three in one sitting. She thanks the LRC for turning her onto the maple bacon donut.

Ann and Jim did put an interesting spin on another LRC cliche by hosting a baby shower beer mile. They met in a running club, then married on 3/17 and hosted a 3.17-mile run before the wedding (complete with 3.17 stickers for their guests), and now their baby is due on 3/17; it was only fitting that they host a baby shower that involved running. Friends participated in costumes, like onesies, diapers, and baby carriers. The only bad time had was by Christine, Ann’s sister (and only while puking), and by my car which happened to get puked on. That’s what you get for parking near the start/finish, dummy!


Thanks Christine!

Ann isn’t planning to rest too long; she has the Jack & Jill Marathon in North Bend, WA on July 31st to celebrate her 39th birthday. Lucky for her it’s all downhill, right?

She is happy with her choice to move to Libertyville. She notes that the LRC is unique because, even with a plethora of talented, fast runners, no one is braggy or stuck up. Everyone is willing to run with some slower runners if need be and even the fastest runners are always super encouraging. No one seems to get hung up on their pace; everyone seems more focused on having fun.

I’ll leave you with this fun fact: Ann and I discovered one day that we both grew up loving these two somewhat obscure bands in the 90s, ergo, Ann is cool. Enjoy!

Superchunk – Hyper Enough Video

Jawbreaker – Fireman Video









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Meet the LRC – February Member Spotlight 2016



Jill “Nixon” Baranowski at LRC’s Run of the Dead race

You know what I love? Runners that don’t take themselves too seriously. There are myriad reasons why each of us run but ultimately, if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. Jill conveys that message in a very comical way in her Another Run of the Jill blog – a lighthearted narrative of her running thoughts and adventures as she trains for her first marathon, The Flying Pig Marathon, this May. With these monthly features, I usually ask a series of questions then edit and sculpt them into the article you read. However with Jill, her stream of consciousness is what makes her blog so enjoyable and accordingly, I’ll present to you her responses to my questions with very little editing. It’s longer than usual, but it’s good! Enjoy!

  1. When and why did you started running?

I began my running journey in October 2012. I was in the second year of grad school and finally realized how fat I really had gotten. 5+ years of school had put a lot of weight on me. The scale was nearing 200 lbs, and I had told myself growing up I would never let it hit that number. A girl in my grad program was running a bunch and the two of us signed up for the It’s A Wonderful Run 5K through Seneca Falls, NY. I got fitted and bought shoes at Fleet Feet and signed up for the Schaumburg Turkey Trot as well. I ran that with a friend from kindergarten and barely survived that 5K in 35 minutes. After the Seneca Falls 5K, a group of 4 of us decided we would sign up for the Flower City Half Marathon in Rochester that Spring. It was really a way for us to keep our sanity knowing we had Orals and final practicums coming up. I ran the Flower City Half Marathon in 2:12. Since I started running, I’ve lost approximately 30 lbs and have kept it off ever since!

Jills first 5k

Jill’s first 5K – the 2012 Schaumburg Turkey Trot

  1. How did you stumble into the LRC?

After moving back in with my parents in August 2013, I was running by myself through Mundelein and Long Grove. After being there almost a year and having few friends and no one to motivate me to run, I googled “running near me”. I went to The Runner’s Edge and they had a flyer for the LRC. They were meeting at Downing’s Tavern that evening and doing a Wednesday Night Fun Run. I awkwardly emailed you like 3 times as I was driving to the run trying to figure out where Downing’s was and how I would know who was a part of LRC. I’ll never forget that first run. We did 6 miles on the bike path and I ran with the amazing Laura Wood, trying to keep up with Derek O’Sullivan and Doug. Post run beers made me a repeat member.

  1. What brought you to decide to run a marathon this year?

I thought, “why the hell not?” Honestly, it was Halloween and Susan Geidner had signed up. I had a few drinks and Lauren Delfeld signed up right then. I figured I could survive it. I told myself in the past I’d never run a marathon, but here I am with 2, possibly 3 on my calendar for 2016. I thought I should do it once. Peer pressure usually works pretty easily on me. It would also give me something to do and plan for. Plus, I might have a shot at running the Revel Rockies full marathon in Colorado for the LRC return trip this year if I get on the marathon buses instead of the half marathon buses… Too soon?

  1. Give us your reason for starting a running blog and tell us what to expect in it.

I need ways to keep me accountable. If I don’t have external rewards, I’m 100% less likely to do things I don’t want to do. I struggle with intrinsic motivation. If I had to write about the fact I was training or people expected things from me, I knew I would be more likely to do it. Runners are notorious for talking about running. I also talk a lot, but I know my family and my roommates get tired of me complaining and talking about the same couple things. If I’m writing it and don’t care so much about who is reading it, it’s a way to get things off my chest without pissing anyone off.

You should expect A LOT of stream of consciousness writing. I don’t really edit it. I kind of just go with what I’m thinking and hope it turns out semi-coherent. I plan on not only documenting my training, but also things going on in my life. I want to get back to the part of my life that wasn’t all about running. I want to try new things and do more and be more active, so what a great way to document those things and share. I like shopping so if I get running gear and tell people it’s awesome and then they get it and love it, I’ve done some good and boosted the local economy.

So what to expect: pictures of Stella (my dog), questions I have about running/exercise, LOTS of talk about poop, food/nutrition questions, my family life, hilarious anecdotes of my school life/students. And recaps of what I’m Netflixing.

  1. One of your recent blog entries talks about the dinosaur tattoo you got for your brother (to go along with the tattoos you have for your mom and dad). Share with us the meaning behind those tattoos. Now which LRC “family member” would you get a tattoo for and what would it be?

Oh the dinosaur. He is on my arm for my brosef. I have the most wonderful older brother who used to be my sister. Brandon used to be Jenna and he is transgender and came out almost 3 years ago. He actually came out not long after I got my wrist tattoos. I got the t-rex because he is a freak for T-Rex Tuesday…. It’s a meme thing. Also, there is a quote I stumbled on once saying “LGBT: The T isn’t silent, it is loud like a dinosaur.” And I find that so true. Just not for individuals who are transgender and their allies, but for everyone. Be loud and proud! Stand up tall and find your voice.

I’m not the best at finding my voice and my confidence. My self confidence is pretty low (this surprises so many people), but I just want to finally take a stand and be opinionated. So I enjoyed that. The stripes are for the transgender part of the story. They are from the transgender flag. I think they look like cotton candy. I know a lot of people who have gotten the stripes as part of a star or heart or ribbon, but I thought a t-rex fit Brandon perfectly.

Jill Dino


My wrist tattoos are my mom and dad’s handwriting. Again in grad school (so many poor choices by me), I wasn’t sure where I was going to move when I graduated. Moving back to the suburbs was not even a little bit on my radar. I was so determined (and still am) to move out West and try it on my own out there. My mom and dad might be the most supportive people I’ve ever met on the planet. I know everyone says that but it’s true with The Mary and The Dave. Every choice I’ve made, they’ve backed, even if they thought it was dumb as hell (which they do a lot). I just wanted a piece of them with me wherever I went. I wanted them and their support physically with me no matter where I ended up and what I ended up doing. So I cut up some old birthday cards from them (I hoard them) and picked some of the “I love you” crap from the bottom of the cards and ended up with these bad boys.

Which LRC family member? Maybe the margarita glass on the logo? I think he is so adorable! I like his salted rim. It shows his sweet and salty personality, like me! If I got a human, I already promised your wife I’d get her portrait on my neck. So there’s that. I might actually get some paw prints for all of our puppy LRC members. That LRC dog run in December was seriously the most fun, even though I stepped in dog poop and Stella was a crazy dog. Dogs are so important!!! So, paw prints. My final answer is paw prints.

  1. You met your roommates in the LRC. Give us a story about each of them – good, bad, or ugly. 

No one wants/needs stories about Lauren Delfeld. I will say that she has climbed into bed with both Stacie and myself randomly in the night. I woke up to her once after an evening out snuggled next to me in my bed. I then went back to sleep and didn’t think anything of it. Everyone knows probably everything else about that girl 🙂

Lauren and I also eat about a dozen eggs a week and watch Family Feud almost every night. We try to not miss it, even though we have actual cable now. Oh and I went as her for Halloween to the LRC Halloween run/party. That was one of the weirdest costumes I’ve ever had.

Stacie Otto – So Stacie is pretty much the nicest person ever. For the holidays, she got me all this Star Wars paraphernalia and it was awesome, especially since she hadn’t even seen VII yet! Let’s not talk about that. She is also super fun to watch reality TV with. The three of us got sucked into The Voice this season – even though none of us had ever watched it before – and she had some great commentary.

  1. What do you think about on a long run?

I think a lot about what else I have to do that day, or how much longer it will be until I’m finished. I also think a lot about food. It drives most of everything I do. Hopefully I’ll be talking to someone on my long run and I’ll be focused on not tripping and falling. There is also “why the hell did I sign up for this?!” but when I get past the halfway point, I think of how close I am to being finished and how much better and happier I’ll be all day!

  1. Yes or no to music while running?

Running by myself definitely, or else I think too much. I try to use running as my time to not think. If I’m meeting others to run, then no music. I also do music/TV while on the treadmill. If I’m running along in a forest preserve or on the trail, I only ever put in one ear bud though to be safe. I do a lot of rap and hip hop when I run. Eminem, Beastie Boys, and Kanye West get played a lot but so do Britney Spears and Beyonce.

  1. What’s one thing you love or must have after a long run?

So lame, but a banana. I have extremely horrible GERD, and I suck at fueling on long runs. After Run of the Dead, my acid was all up in my throat and chest; it was kind of agony. I really must have a giant bottle of Mylanta. Also flip flops in the summer and a change of clothes. I love having bare feet after a long run. The Stick is quickly becoming my new best friend after long runs. Sticking my butt and hammies feels so great.

  1. Finally, what is your favorite LRC shenanigan?

I really enjoyed whitewater rafting in Colorado and that whole LRC Revel Rockies marathon/half marathon trip. It was awesome to get to know LRC people better. Whitewater rafting just brought out everyone’s personalities and I learned and saw way more of people than I ever expected to.

Spectating races this past fall (Twilight Shuffle 5K and Chicago Marathon) became another one of my favorite LRC shenanigans. Such camaraderie and enthusiasm for everyone, no matter how fast or slow their paces were. It is wonderful to see everyone have so much fun and focus their energies on others instead of themselves. At Chicago, the music war with the music school was on point and I’m sure will be even bigger and badder in 2016.

Jill rafting.jpg

Whitewater rafting (clockwise from top left): Sarah Molsen, Raven Newberry, The Deacon, Joe Szatmary, and Jill Baranowski (oh, then the rafting guide)

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Meet the LRC – January Member(s) Spotlight 2016


Cheers and hoppy new beers from some of the LRC shenanigators

Here we are, the beginning of a new year and the start of the second year of these Member Spotlight articles. These articles are meant to give the reader a better sense of who the LRC is and show how a group sharing so much camaraderie is also made up of an amazingly diverse collection of individuals.

This month’s article puts the focus on the large group of you who submitted 2015 accomplishments and New Year’s resolutions – 72, to be exact. It pleases me to see what we’ve achieved while participating in the LRC and just how grand our visions have become as a result of the supportive and inspirational club we’ve built.

With so many of you responding to my call, there’s no way I can repeat back all of the great accomplishments and plans for 2016, so I figured the most readable way to do this this year is in highlight format (I actually have a spreadsheet working behind all of this, but only about four of you would prefer to read it that way).

So what’s in a resolution and how far can we push ourselves? 2015 was a year of big achievement for many of you:

  • 5ks – Completing their first were Christy Bartolain and Diana Reyes; thanks to LRC speed workouts their fastest, big improvements and a win were accomplished by Rachel Shoemaker, Sue Behringer and Lee Dunbar, respectively, while Bonny Thomas was proud to get her two children out to complete two 5ks as a family.
  • 10ks – Tackling not one, but two within one week of each other and for the first time in 30 years was Greg Anderson who credits the track workouts for building the strength and confidence he needed to get back in it.
  • Half Marathons – Chris Brown knocked off six states toward his 50 state half marathons goal, Molly Ellis and David Christensen completed four, accomplishing their first were Chris Ankeny and Eric Miller, and Sinee Feld worked her way back from knee surgery with races building up to and including a half marathon.
  • Marathons – 2015 was a year of first marathons for Derek Romeo (who also BQd!), Jenni Horst, Michelle Smith, Heidi Greco, and Carrie Wagner, a year of BQs for Michael Stehling, Kate Wichmann, Stephen Ryner, Ted Tharp and Matt Nakanishi, and finishers abound including Emily Jones, Heather Pietschmann, Jodi Majewski, Alicia Waters, Selina Carpenter, Ryan & Kristy Dietz, and Rae Goodman, among others.
  • Ultras – A lot of firsts here: The Deacon, Josh Hogan, Adrianne Warren, and Bob Lenning tackled their first 100-milers, the LRC peer pressure machine saw several newbie and seasoned runners at this distance enter and complete the Ice Age Trail 50-Miler including Amy Perrin, Josh Hogan, Patrick Morris, Matt Nakanishi, The Deacon, and myself, and various 50ks and our Run of the Dead race created first time ultra runners out of Jeremy Bartusch, Jacki Whitney, Maryam Zakariya, and Trisha Zubert.
  • Triathlons & Cycling – Rae Goodman (after purchasing her first bike), Diana Reyes, and Carrie Wagner accomplished their first triathlons while Sinee Feld continued her post-knee surgery comeback with a sprint, olympic, and 1/2 Ironman distance. Molly Ellis completed the epic RAGBRAI ride across Iowa.
  • PRs – Wow! And this is just a sampling. Marathon PRs for: Rae Goodman – 55 minutes; Nate Rugg – 29 minutes; Kristy Dietz – 28 minutes; and Kate Wichmann – 19 minutes. Other PRs include: Nicole Quigley in an olympic distance triathlon; Amy Lauren and Maritza Pozo ran their furthest runs ever – 18 & 17 miles, respectively, with the LRC; Stephanie Nickolsen – half marathon & 2nd in her age group for a 5k; and Stephanie Hunsberger achieving a 7:50 minute mile at the LRC track workout 1-mile time trial – a huge improvement for her. Amazingly, Matt Nakanishi PRd in just about every race he ran including a half, full, 50k, and 50-miler!
  • Annual Mileage – Eric Miller came back from back surgery with 200 miles (the most he’s had in a long time), all while rediscovering his love for running with the help of LRC; Derek Romeo – 750; Derek O’Sullivan – 900; Erin Westphal & Ryan Dietz – 1,000; Alicia Walters – 1,200; Rebecca Atkinson – 1,300; Nate Rugg – 1,500; Maryam Zakariya – 1,600; Jeremy Bartusch – 2,200; and Matt Nakanishi & myself – 3,000. These were record years for all but Eric. Susan Geidner reached the highest ranking Volt status on Nike+ – a badge given to those who have run 9,320 miles (she did this in 6 years).
  • Other – Several of you lost weight, including Jeff Klein, Georgia & Josh Hogan, and Chris Ankeny. You volunteered at races and ran with your kids and dogs. Joanna Lee became a certified personal trainer. Chris Brown just ran 40 miles for his 40th birthday on New Year’s Eve with several of you joining him for some miles. Many made it a goal to take that leap from lurking the Facebook page to participating in the LRC which I suspect may have something to do with all our progress in 2015 and the lofty goals we’re setting up for 2016.

And now for our 2016 New Year’s resolutions:

  • 5ks – Alex Ander hopes to reduce his 5k pace from 10 minutes per mile to 8 minutes per mile.
  • Half marathons – Georgia Hogan, Greg Anderson, Diana Reyes, and Christy Bartolain plan to accomplish their first half marathons, while several plan to build on their resume including Chris Brown and Heidi Greco knocking off many more states toward their 50 state goal.
  • Marathons – Throwing their hats in the ring for their first at this distance include: Katie Hinrichs, Nicole Quigley, Jill Baranowski, Adrianne Warren, Rachel Shoemaker, and Diana Reyes. Kate Wichmann, Ted Tharp, Michael Stehling, Matt Nakanishi, and Stephen Ryner head to Boston for their first time. Ann Rowley is planning to come back to marathons four months after giving birth to her first child while Carrie Medina would like to attempt her first after a tough year of recovering from being hit by a car. Attempting what is consistently ranked as the 1st or 2nd toughest trail marathon in the world, Bob Lenning plans to run the Pikes Peak Marathon – starting at almost 6,400ft above sea level and climbing 7,800ft to summit Pikes Peak at 14,200ft then going back down!
  • Ultras – Here we go; the year of the ultra will see Kevin Hoffmann, Tom Sheehan, Michelle Perez, Carrie Wagner, and Diana Reyes earn that belt buckle with their first 50k; Susan Geidner with a 50-miler; and Christine Borgerding with a 100-miler. Also, several of you didn’t heed my warning NOT to sign up for the Ice Age Trail 50-miler including: David Christensen, Ted Tharp, and Jacki Whitney for their first. Seasoned ultra runners such as Maryam Zakariya and Patrick Morris are sprinkling their calendars with a few 50ks and 50-milers, with Patrick going for an ultra slam – a series of four area 100-mile races in a calendar year. As if that’s not enough, Brad Gorski is eyeing a 200-mile race! And I successfully goaded seven of you to enter the lottery with me for arguably the dumbest of all feats: the Leadville 100-mile trail race. Here’s to hoping we don’t get selected Jeremy Bartusch, The Deacon, Sarah Molsen, Ian Nichols, Matt Nakanishi, Josh Hogan, and Amy Perrin!
  • Triathlons & Cycling – Nicole Quigley, Bonny Thomas, and Rae Goodman are all planning on their first 1/2 Ironman, while Lisa McCauley and Selina Carpenter return for their 5th and 6th Ironman, respectively. Also adding triathlons next year include: Maritza Pozo, Kevin Hoffmann, Heidi Greco, Carrie Medina, and Diana Reyes, while Lee Dunbar is taking his goals a step further, looking for a sprint distance age group win.
  • PRs – Kurt Krieghbaum, Stacy Speer, Eric Miller, and Jenni Horst hope to PR in a half marathon while Lisa McCauley, Rae Goodman, Nate Rugg, Josh Hogan, Ryan Dietz, Tom Sheehan, Kevin Hoffman, Jacki Whitney, Alicia Walters, Jill Baranowski, Heather Pietschmann, Zack Wolk, and Pat Emmons have set their sights on marathon PRs including sub-5 hour, sub-4 hour , sub-3 hour, and BQs. Stephanie Hunsberger and Bonny Thomas are among many of you looking forward to improving their mile pace with the help of our LRC track workouts this summer.
  • Annual Mileage – Some of your mileage goals include: Eric Miller – 300+; Christy Bartolain – 1,000; Derek O’Sullivan – 1,500; Nate Rugg – 1,800; and Maryam Zakariya & Erin Westphal – 2,016.
  • Other – Many of you are planning to incorporate more cross training and healthy eating to achieve the above goals and to assist in weight loss or keeping the weight off, staying injury free, and enjoying running more. Ryan Dietz is planning to run an event a month, Howie Kaske will get out of bed for LRC Saturday runs, and Stephanie Schaefer is willing herself to make running more of a habit and run a strong 3 miles. Again I see a trend of vows to participate in more LRC runs and events and volunteering opportunities.

So what are you waiting for? It’s never going to get better than it is today! Together we’re setting great examples for our friends, children, and community. I think you’ll soon discover just how big your accomplishments will become with a little help from the LRC; just ask these folks.

Happy New Year, LRC!

– Mike Brunette


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LRC Second Year in Review

Track year 2

Has it been two years already? When I started the LRC I didn’t realize how all-consuming it would become. But that’s always been my personality. If I can’t give it 100%, I won’t do it. I didn’t want this to be a club that just offered a weekend long run that catered to marathon runners. Sure, that’s my race of choice but this was never about me; there are so many different types of runners for whom I want the LRC to be a resource. This is about building a community of like-minds, whether you’re capable of running a 16-minute mile, a sub-three-hour marathon, or a 100-mile ultra race – we are all runners. Fast, slow, in between – it doesn’t matter. Following the age-old formula of segregating our runners into pace groups would prevent them from getting to know and be inspired by all our runners and ultimately inhibit improvement. We start together and we finish together, often over food and drink. You’ll often find a “fast” runner slowing it down just to run with others, whether old friends or new, or a “turtle” kicking it way up in the heat of a fun moment. We pride ourselves in not being cliquey. Our camaraderie transcends everything, including age – nowhere else have I seen such a diverse group of runners have such a great time together. We run roads, we run trails, sometimes we bike or swim. We run in beautiful weather, we run in inclement weather. I find inspiration in all types of runners as most of you do and that’s why you won’t find the LRC catering to one particular niche.

In Year Two, we implemented free spring and fall marathon and half marathon training programs (teaming up with Fleet Feet Chicago’s Boston365 Program for the spring training in Barrington). We had more than twice as many runners at the track this year than in our first year with 230 participants! So many of you achieved PRs this year that I almost don’t mind when someone calls me Coach now. Many of you contributed chicken wings and watermelon to our track workouts. DJs showed up to the occasional hill workout to keep us motivated. Long runs were stocked with Gatorade… And wine. Well, the wine bottle always seemed to be empty by the time we got to it. We staged awesomely fun group half and full marathon trips to St. Louis, Denver, and Las Vegas. The LRC has 400+ shirts being worn around town, at the gym, and at races all around the world, and now we’re moving into hats and jackets. Our at-the-drive-in style logo stirs up many a conversation, doesn’t it? I’ve even overheard strangers – people who I know for a fact have not run with us yet – talk about needing to get their hands on a singlet.

Speaking of races, we entered the race management arena this year. This is something I’ve always wanted to do but it had to be done right and it had to be distinctive. Many of you know that upon moving here, I became the co-race director of Libertyville’s Twilight Shuffle 5K. I love the spirit of both that race and this town. With two years of growing the LRC network, the time was right for us to host our own similarly unique and well-organized race. With your help, Run of the Dead was a success and even more fun! This event will continue with the addition of other events planned for next year.

As a club, we offered our assistance and brand of enthusiasm at local races. From hosting the Run of the Dead race, co-hosting the Lamb’s Farm Fit & Fun Family event, assisting with all aspects of the Twilight Shuffle 5K, and manning aid stations and cheer sections at multiple races, you gave back to our community. We painted a better picture of who the LRC is with the Monthly Member Spotlight articles. We staged the first brewery pub run early this year as a fundraiser for The Water Project and saved Christmas by delivering 164 toys at our Toys for Tots Run. We will host similar and new charitable events in the future as the Club broadens its focus on charity.

Looking back on these two years, I’m impressed with our growth and what we provide for the community. I’m encouraged when I see other running clubs now similarly stimulating their runners. Clubs and stores are utilizing social media (and the promise of beer and donuts) more effectively as a result of seeing how powerful a tool it has been for the LRC to engage an audience. As a result, running communities are becoming more focused on being fun, supportive, and interactive. Isn’t that what running should be all about?

With an accountant and a lawyer at the helm, we structured the LRC legally as a corporation this year and we are considering applying for 501(c)(3) status. I’m actually longing to achieve that tax-preferred status given to churches and religious organizations (running is our religion, right?), but my lawyer is much more cautious. What does this legal stuff mean? It means that we will continue to do as I set out to do when I founded the LRC: encourage and promote a fun and active lifestyle and enhance our running and greater community-at-large through educational, programming, charitable, and various other efforts. No one, including none of the directors (myself, Melissa Brunette, and Nick Molsen) will profit from the Club’s activities, including our new venture into race management. All proceeds are therefore set to enhance our community through the Club’s offerings. Makes you feel good about your membership dues doesn’t it? Oh, wait. LRC doesn’t have dues, never mind.

As we enter our third year as the little-running-club-that-could, I sincerely want to thank you. Your continued participation and support fan the flames of the endless passion and enthusiasm I expel toward fostering our commitment to build and strengthen a unique running community. Thank you for taking that leap and showing up to a run or event. I’m confident that you’re glad you did and if you haven’t yet, that you will be.



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