Thursday, April 14, 2011

An interview with the reigning Charlottesville Ten Miler Champion and a 2:20 Marathoner


---Seth Hutchinson of Ragged Mountain Racing---

Humility is the last thing I would expect in an elite marathoner but the first thing I experienced when learning about Seth Hutchinson the runner and the person. See, if I were on the cusp of qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the marathon, I would have a hard time with humility. Talking to non-running friends, one common criticism is that runners are too self-centered, egotistical, or selfish. Running is a sport that is not conducive to socialization, unless it is shared with other runners. It’s easy to get caught up in an obsessive world of running. One wakes up in the morning to run, but that is just the beginning. From there the runner thinks about nutrition, stretching, napping, and the next run. At least that is what has happened in the past with my running. After interviewing Seth, I have a deeper appreciation for how running should fit into the bigger picture. Furthermore, I am awestruck by the humility Seth displays, despite how revered he is by the running community. He dispels myths about the egotistical runner and is quick to redirect the conversation to your running goals and not his.

Myth One: Runners are obsessive and don’t live life.
Truth:  Seth eats all sorts of foods that wouldn’t be on the list of a nutritionally obsessed runner. From jamocha shakes at Arby’s to white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, Seth isn’t afraid to indulge in something sweet. In addition to these snacks, Seth enjoys chicken quesadillas, mangoes, his mom’s buffalo burgers, and much more. The next time you sit down and wonder whether or not to let your palate live a little, take a deep breath and dig in.

Myth Two: Runners spend their free time only thinking about running.
Truth: Seth is an elite marathoner who lives in the Charlottesville area. He ran a 2:20 marathon at Boston in 2010. Day and night he is logging miles in order to train his feet for such a feat. Outside of running, Seth studies exercise physiology (towards a Master’s degree), works at Ragged Mountain Running Shop, and frequents the Aquatic Fitness Center at University of Virginia. Those are the places one would most likely find Seth on a given day. What one cannot see, from the outside looking in, is what goes on inside the head of a 2:20 marathoner. If you guessed running, you’re wrong. When he isn’t on the road, studying, or working in a running store, Seth is focusing on art and music. Some of his favorite genres are folk and rock. You’ll catch Seth jamming out to Arcade Fire, Avett Brothers, or Iron & Wine while he is drawing or hanging out with friends. Other activities he enjoys are playing piano, hanging out with his friends at the South Street Tavern or McGrady’s Pub, and reading.

Myth Three: Elite Runners have always been runners.
Truth: Seth, the youngest of three, watched his older brothers run cross country and track. Their school, Field High School in Brimfield, Ohio, won multiple state championships. Also inspired by his high school science teacher, Mr. Conroy, he gave cross country a shot. Seth admits, though, that basketball was still more of a passion than running at the time. Struggling through his first season, he quickly learned the sport, and excelled as the fastest runner on his team by the season’s conclusion. To think that one of Charlottesville’s top runners used to run to stay in shape for basketball. In describing his high school and college path to the marathon, Seth says that the most important thing for him is and has been self-improvement.


Running can be a microcosm for many other things in life. Many runners are very driven to accomplish faster times and run smarter races. When encountered with a tough goal, runners often push themselves to persevere. They learn how to overcome failure through patience, persistence, and experience. They set goals that take work ethic to achieve. They try to be better people each day they go out and train. A mistake made yesterday is a lesson implemented to become a better runner. When a runner takes these lessons and translates them into other areas in his or her life, the outcome is often the one desired. Seth’s positive attitude and focus on self-improvement is clearly evident in his character. Equally as impressive is his focus on succeeding in other areas of his life.

Seth sums up his mindset for training for the marathon by saying, “With the marathon, you can’t always focus on time, but also on having a positive experience and taking positive lessons out of it.” Last year he nailed a 2:20:56, which is less than two minutes off of the Olympic Trial standard of 2:19:00. Sticking with his mantra of self-improvement, he says that he will be happy as long as he runs a competitive race. A self-proclaimed newcomer to the distance, he hopes to stay healthy and compete for as long as his body allows. Last fall was one of the harder hurdles he had to clear.

While training for the Chicago marathon, Seth developed symptoms that affected his training. He was extremely fatigued, having trouble sleeping, and fighting off sore muscles and headaches. Dr. Wilder, the sports medicine expert in pain management and rehabilitation at UVa, ran a battery of tests with Seth, unable to find, conclusively, the cause of his symptoms. Nearly dropping out of the Virginia Beach Half Marathon was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Seth wanted to find out what was causing his inability to recover from these symptoms. Halfway to Chicago, he decided that the longevity of his running career was more important than that one marathon.


After heading home for the holidays and moving into a new apartment, his symptoms went away. Dr. Wilder and the Lorenzoni family were very supportive during the time Seth was fighting through the mystery illness. Mark and Cynthia let Seth stay at their place for some time, and Seth noticed a small difference. Seth was able to rebound this year, and he has trained hard in preparation for the 2011 Boston Marathon.

Myth Four: Elite Marathoners must run at least 120 miles per week.
Truth: Seth isn’t running 120-150 miles per week, but instead he is typically between 90 and 105. His recommendation is to do what feels right for yourself and not what those around you are doing. Seth again puts to rest the notion that marathon runners have to be obsessed. He says, “The mileage is what you have time for, but also what your body can handle.” Be it 50 to 150 miles each week, marathoning has many sizes and shapes for training. Seth’s typical week breaks down into three quality runs and many more for recovery. He will complete two workouts during the week, usually on Tuesday and Friday. Over the weekend, on Sunday, he will have a long run. The rest of the days he runs for recovery in the morning and up to three times in the evening.

Seth supplements the road miles with yoga, strides, and lifting. Once a week, Seth will take a yoga class for deeper stretching. During training he only lightly stretches, doing so when he feels tight and not on any structured schedule. Again keep in mind that each person is different. Some runners feel comfortable only if they stretch daily and receive deep tissue massages. Others refuse to stretch or subject their legs to any masseuse work. For Seth, stretching is done when needed and yoga for relaxation.

Strides are incorporated at the end of some of Seth’s runs. He will do this a few times each week. Like stretching, different strokes for different folks. You might need to stride before and after each run. Seth appears to be a bit more religious about his total body workouts. The workouts center around core strength, but he has a routine that allows him to complete a total body workout in as fast as 45 minutes. This sums Seth’s workout regimen: 90 to 105 miles per week with multiple double days and three quality runs, light stretching and yoga, strides, and total body workouts.


Drawing by Seth's Mother

Myth Five: Sleep is the second most popular activity for an elite marathoner.
Truth: School and priorities come before sleep on many occasions. Seth is back in school, studying for a Master’s degree in exercise physiology at UVa. Some nights he may get as little as five hours of rest. He will try to get an hour or two of shut eye the following day if he misses a lot of sleep one night. Many think of the elite marathoner as a person that naps each afternoon and puts in nine hours each night. Seth is able to accomplish what he does while distributing his energies between work, school, and his social life.

In terms of nutrition, he admits, “My diet is pretty good, though far from perfect.” One thing I found interesting is the size of his portions. For breakfast he will have a normal portion, but during the day he eats light to avoid drowsiness and fatigue. At dinner he will take in most of his calories for training, eating lots of chicken, rice, and fruit throughout the week. He also admits that he could use more vegetables in his diet. He does not like to eat his larger dinner right before bed, otherwise he feels groggy in the morning.

For the detail-oriented runner, here is what Seth has to say about morning nutrition:

“On most of my easy morning runs I actually don't eat anything before and afterwards I'll have something like cereal, toast with peanut butter, and yogurt. If I've got a workout or a race that morning, I'll eat a little bit of a banana or some oatmeal and raisins. I like to run on a fairly empty stomach for the most part, but eat beforehand depending on the workload.”

I asked Seth what he does to recover from a taxing workout, and his response echoed one that is widespread throughout Charlottesville’s running community, “I drink mass quantities of chocolate milk.” He also downs quite a few pb & j sandwiches, but he did not say whether or not he likes his crust cut off. The pace of his recover runs can be as slow as a slug on a dry day, but he values the recovery needed for the three quality runs each day. Lastly, he says that he likes to wear his compression socks through the course of the day. For those in need of Seth-like compression socks, seek him out at Ragged Mountain Running Shop. (This week we may see a record high in compression sock sales).


Myth Six: Elite Marathoners are extremely motivated all day every day.
Truth: “My motivation shifts throughout a season,” regards Seth. He will contemplate his goals, how he will approach his races, and what is needed to get into shape, but his motivation goes through various phases during a season of running. A piece of advice from Seth – don’t train too hard early in the season because you are pumped for the season to begin. Seth will keep himself busy with his other interests: drawing, reading, and socializing. When racing season begins, Seth says, “That is when running becomes a bigger part of my life. I put the blinders on and focus on my goals.” Anyone that has seen Seth in the midst of a workout knows exactly what those blinders look like. He wears a big smile while working, but when he is in the zone, one can see the look of determination.

Myth Seven: Runners have a hard time adapting to changing circumstances
Truth: Seth is open to all sorts of workouts and really appreciates what his coach, Dana Thiele, does during the season. He believes that each of her workouts serves a purpose, be it hills, fartleks, intervals, or tempo runs. Seth’s strongest area is the tempo run, but he enjoys varying up his training through his coach and Ragged Mountain Racing teammates.

He doesn’t mind varying the terrain, either. Some mornings Seth will hit the soft surface out at Green Springs in Louisa. Other days he will run hillier courses at Dick Woods Road or Ridge Road. Then there are long runs out at Keene and recovery runs at Camp Holiday Trails. He doesn’t hold himself to a particular course or terrain. He is flexible with when he runs and where he runs. His favorite time of day to run is in the morning. If he is running at night, he will do so right before dinner.

Seth trains with his “fantastic teammates” (I’ve met some and agree) during workouts, but he prefers to do his recovery runs solo. He pays attention to how his body feels and lets that dictate the pace of his recovery. Without any outside influence he is able to cruise at a pace that makes him feel physically and mentally rested for the next workout. He is consistently varying many aspects of his training, breaking the mold of the ritualized runner. While there is consistency in his training, he is not so rigid that every ‘t’ must be crossed and every ‘i’ dotted.


Seth’s mindset changes based on what distance he is racing. In marathon training workouts, he will focus on pacing and remaining relaxed. If one were to get inside Seth’s mind, they wouldn’t hear much. He argues, that when in the zone, “I’m thinking about nothing in particular.” When he is racing he will keep in mind when he wants to make a move, maintaining pace, positioning himself in a group of runners, or his form. A very talented runner, Seth’s look of determination grows from a positive mentality and strong focus.

Returning to myth one, Seth makes sure to live his life when he isn’t running and when he isn’t training for a particular race. He is not obsessed to the point of no return. “You need some downtime to recuperate. I like to go hiking, play basketball, draw, spend time reading, or just chill out and play video games,” remarks Seth. It is refreshing to see that Charlottesville’s fastest male marathoner is humble, enjoys his life outside of running, and is a well-liked and revered member of the community.


Concluding Remarks

Seth will be gunning for his main goal, “self-improvement”, in the 2011 Boston Marathon. The rest of the community will watch and hope for him to achieve that goal, as well as the 2:19:00 standard for the Olympic Trials. Either way, whatever the outcome, he will come home a champion in the eyes of his peers in Charlottesville. Representing Ragged Mountain Running Shop, Ragged Mountain Racing, and Charlottesville as a whole, there is no better person than Seth Hutchinson.

Myth Eight: There is a better community of runners other than that in Charlottesville
Truth: Take it away, Seth:

“Training under Mark and Dana has been fantastic. They are both extremely intelligent, with a ton of experience and sometimes differing viewpoints. I am enjoying running now more than ever. Charlottesville is a great place to live. I love how active and community-oriented this town is and I feel blessed to know so many amazing people thanks to my connection to the sport. Training here helps me sustain a positive outlook, because even if my training isn’t going particularly well at a given moment, someone I know and care about is probably running well and I can cheer them on.  Not only that, but everyone is so upbeat that if you are down, you get the impression that you won’t be down for long. I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to live and train here. I know so many remarkable people in Charlottesville, many of which will run along with me in Boston this year. My training has ups and downs like everyone else and being part of such a tight-knit group makes it so much easier to get through the downs. I wish everyone luck who is racing in Boston and I look forward to a fun trip! Thank you to Mark and Cynthia Lorenzoni, Dana and Bob Thiele, Heidi Johnson, Dr. Bob Wilder, and all of my RMR teammates for making running such a great and enjoyable part of my life!”

Seth, good luck in the 2011 Boston Marathon!


written by,
steven kozusko

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ultra - Running with Sophie Speidel

Charlottesville the Place


This week’s runner is Sophie Speidel, an ultra-marathon runner who lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. Sophie and her husband, Rusty, went to University of Virginia, left, and returned in 1995. Now with three children, Chapin, Carter, and Virginia, the Speidels are active in many niches in Charlottesville. Carter and Virginia both attend St. Anne’s-Belfield School, where Sophie is in her sixteenth year as a health educator and girl’s lacrosse coach. Their children are dedicated fans of the University of Virginia’s sports teams and prefer the small town feel of Charlottesville over larger, urban cities. Rusty is active in the music community, performing with various bands. With all of the Speidel family’s involvement, and Sophie’s running network, Charlottesville is home. From an outside perspective, it is always impressing to see a family of highly active, involved, and driven individuals.


Elaborating on Sophie and Rusty’s journey away and back to Charlottesville, Sophie shared information about their history with the University and the time spent away. Rusty obtained an English degree and now is the VP of Marketing at Encell Technology. Encell is a company that works with renewable energy. Rusty has had diversity with his work in publishing, software design, and a fast growing field: social media. With an undergraduate degree and a Master’s degree in counseling, both from UVA, Sophie has deep-rooted connections with the academic community. After living and working in Baltimore and District of Columbia, the Speidels felt that Charlottesville was where they wanted to live.




What is one thing that separates Charlottesville from other cities? Sophie says that she enjoys the connections and relationships with “adventure-seeking, like-minded people”. The Speidels engage in active recovery on their weekends. While Sophie is out on the AT (Appalachian Trail) near Sugar Hollow (Whitehall) putting in high mileage with other Charlottesville runners (Potts, Hallie, Eliza), Rusty will be on a long bike ride with his friends and training partners. Happy in their respective outdoor activities, Rusty and Sophie spend time together at Mas (tapas) in Belmont, Crozet Pizza, Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, or on the Rivanna Trail. When they are out hiking, they may frequent Old Rag, Humpback Rock, or Spy Rock. Sophie isn’t shy, and she is emphatic that a good hike deserves a good lunch and coffee. Greenberry’s is a social center for the running community, and the Speidels often spend an hour conversing over coffee after their outdoor adventures.


Running


Sophie’s running journey began with only 2 to 3 miles per day when she was playing lacrosse at UVA. This progressed to the Women’s 4-miler race at a time when less than 100 women ran it. Now, hundreds, if not thousands of women run and support a great race put on for an even greater cause. During graduate school, as her education progressed, so did her running goals. The 10-miler race in 1988 was Sophie’s first mid-distance race. The floodgates opened, and she began competing in triathlons, marathons, and now ultra-running. Since 2002, Sophie has been racing ultras and leaving her mark throughout central Virginia and beyond. Well respected in her sport, Sophie has a blog where she writes about what she has learned while succeeding at ultra-racing. Her blog is accessible at the following address. Also, her running club, Virginia Happy Trails Running Club has a website listed below. Lastly, Sophie recommends trying out her sponsor’s inov-8 trail shoes at Ragged Mountain Running Shop.


http://shiningsultra.blogspot.com/
http://www.vhtrc.org/
http://www.inov-8.com/Home.asp?L=27




Sophie has had strong ties with The Boston Group since 1984, when she first met Mark and Cynthia Lorenzoni, owners of Ragged Mountain Running Shop. Advised for the 1990 Marine Corps Marathon and coached through the 2007 Mountain Masochist 50 mile ultra, Sophie has had many positive interactions with The Boston Group. One of her recent positive experiences was from the 2010 Three Bridges Marathon in Sugar Hollow. This race, put on by Mark Lorenzoni, is heavily supported by The Boston Group. Sophie has in turn had a positive influence on The Boston Group. She was consistent in her support for Harry Landers and Mark Hampton as they trained and successfully ran the Holiday Lake 50K ultra race. Despite differences in distances covered, Sophie points out what ties together the running community in Charlottesville when she says, “we all seem to enjoy the same end result – the fellowship and community that develops during and after a shared endurance experience. There’s nothing like it!”


The distance of a particular race often dictates the distance of her training. When she races 100-mile ultras, Sophie pushes her mileage into the lower-end spectrum of weekly mileage (for ultra training) with 80 to 85 miles per week. She trains at a level that allows her to feel mentally rested. Preferring 40 mile to 100 kilometer distances, Sophie will train at 55 to 70 miles per week. Here is one of her weeks of training from the Mountain Masochist 50 mile ultra that she ran last November:


Monday: 6 miles easy on trails/lift (core strength mostly)
Tuesday: 8 miles with 6 x 1:00 pick-ups on dirt roads
Wednesday: 8-10 miles with 4-5 miles at tempo pace (7:20) on a hilly course/lift
Thursday: OFF (I would swim, water run, or take completely off)
Friday: 6 miles very easy on trails/lift
Saturday: 25 miles at very easy pace on mountain trails, hiking the uphills
Sunday: 8 mile recovery run on trails




In addition to the distance of the race, and in her opinion more important, the terrain of the race determines where she trains. If she is running a hilly course, she will train on hilly dirt roads and singletrack trails. In this training she will incorporate hill repeats, including downhills. This helps her build her quads, in preparation for long downhill portions of the course. The Holiday Lakes 50K course is flatter, so in training, she ran faster miles on flatter dirt roads. This simulation approach lets her legs prepare for what she will experience over the course of 30 to 100 miles of running.


In town, Sophie will train with Bill Potts on two tranquil trails, the O-hill network and the Secluded Farm trails. The former includes UVA’s observation center and the latter is near Monticello. Both of these trails are great places for them to run tempo paces while incorporating hill training. Outside of Charlottesville, Sophie recommends the following places for training:




“In the Shenandoah National Park (20 minutes west of town), I am currently loving the Doyles River/Jones Falls loop off the AT above White Hall and Brown’s Gap. The waterfalls are spectacular and the trails are gorgeous. I also LOVE the Wild Oak Trail west of Harrisonburg, and the Priest/Three Bridges/Mauhar Loop near Montebello is another favorite.”



Nutrition and Fitness

Dynamic strength and core training are important in Sophie’s training. Both are very important in all distances. These types of training styles help runners stabilize adductors, abductors, gluteus muscles, hip flexors, ankles, and other parts of the body that are not naturally strengthened by a lateral running motion. When she isn’t on the trails, Sophie will be swimming and water running (she would be at yoga or Pilates if time permitted).




If you are in need of physical therapy, Sophie recommends Eric Magrum. He helped her recover from IT band syndrome in 2004 using a strength and core regimen that she has stuck with ever since.


Mark and Cynthia Lorenzoni pioneered pool running when Cynthia was training for the Olympic Trials. Currently many of Lorenzoni’s athletes train in the pool. Sophie, coached by someone in the ultra community, but with a longstanding relationship with Lorenzoni, is another runner (with a longer distance goal) that promotes pool running. When she needs to clear lactic acid, overcome sore legs, and train, she will water run at the Smith Pool. In addition to this, she will run trails at a slower, conversational pace or hike the fields near her house while walking her dog (her modus operandi after a race).




Lastly, in terms of recovery, Sophie drinks Ultragen (Cappuccino flavor) after every hard run or race. Day to day, Sophie says focus on complex carbs, plenty of water, and some dark chocolate. Jokingly, she says, “margaritas at Continental Divide, and the bacon-wrapped dates at Mas” enhance her nutrition. Some (maybe many) will argue that there is no joke there – margaritas at Continental Divide are good for the soul. Here is what she does when she races and trains:


“When I race and train, I don’t typically eat solids. I use Hammer products that I buy at Ragged Mountain: Hammergel and Perpetuem Caffe Latte. I also use Nuun for my electrolytes. These are the fuels of choice for all my races. It took me a long time to figure out my nutrition needs but I think I have it dialed in (for now). In ultras, what sometimes works in one race doesn’t in another, but for the past few years I have been very happy with these products. I try to take in about 250 calories an hour during my races and this comes in the form of Hammergel, Perpetuem, and Nuun with water, with perhaps a burger or eggs later in a 100K for the protein.”


Race


Please access Sophie’s blog link below to hear about her race experience at Three Bridged Marathon in December 2010.


http://shiningsultra.blogspot.com/2010/12/theres-nothing-like-nothing-to-lose.html


Ultra


I asked Sophie to give five or six pointers for someone entering the ultra scene. Here is what she had to say:




“1. Leave your watch or GPS at home and run by feel. This means power-hiking the uphills and keeping your heart rate in the aerobic range. Don’t worry about splits. David Horton, RD for Holiday Lake, is famous for his “Horton” miles which are always longer than advertised, and this tends to frustrate first-timers who come from triathlon or marathon backgrounds. The nice thing about ultras is that you can run the entire race chatting away with friends and not have to stress about splits unless, of course, you want to.


2. It is totally OK—and encouraged, even by the elite runners—that you walk the uphills in ultras, even for a few steps. This aids in recovery, gets the heart rate down to the aerobic range, allows time for fueling, and breaks up the monotony of running after four or five hours. Look forward to the hills and enjoy the scenery around you!


3. Your feet will get wet. Prepare for it by lubing your feet with Vaseline and wear wicking socks like Smartwool or Drymax.


4. During an ultra, try to get in between 230-250 calories an hour through food and fuel that your body tolerates. That is all the calories a body can deal with during a race and if you eat too much, you will most likely deal with stomach distress and nausea down the trail. Best to practice in training what you will be eating during the race.


5. Be flexible. Inevitably something will go wrong during an ultra (blisters, stomach, bonk, bad attitude) but, as they say in ultrarunning, “It never always gets worse”. In fact, I look forward to the “bad patches” because they are inevitable and also mean the “second wind” is coming. My most memorable ultras were the ones where I came back from the dead, (so to speak) to finish.”




Racing an ultra is an experience that I have not had, and I’m not sure it can be put into words. Sophie talks of the opening of one’s soul to a fellow runner, confronting vulnerability and growing from it, and learning something new about oneself and an intimate training partner. At the same time, ultra races can be low-key, easy-going, and inclusive. One thing I gathered is that the ultra scene wants nothing to do with egos, bombastic personalities, and pretentious attitudes. There is a feeling of camaraderie and caring competition – ultra runners look out for each other and that takes precedence over placing in a race.


Sophie and Bill Potts both have run a double crossing of the Grand Canyon. At 48, she is competitive and hopes to do well in her Masters age group (as well as the Grand Masters group for ages over 50). With six to eight races per year, she shows no signs of slowing down. Her first stage run this season will be at Shenandoah National Park on the AT. With a sense of adventure in her heart, Sophie will continue to shine.


written by steven kozusko

Friday, March 4, 2011

Harry Landers of "The Boston Group (Boston Bound)"


Charlottesville

This week I was able to interview a veteran of The Boston Group, and a good friend (even if he claims otherwise), Harry Landers. From his days chugging along in a marathon and being passed by runners decades his elder (I know you told me not to tell anyone under penalty of broken shins), Harry has come farther than most, and is a talented Boston Qualifier and Boston Marathoner. Always willing to put his collar bone on the line (first broken running the Discovery Dash with his granddaughter), Harry empties the tank when he cruises to sound marathon results.

In need of insurance for something unique, unusual, and hard to cover? If you’ve ever run, driven, or walked in the downtown area, you probably passed Landers Underwriting, Harry’s insurance brokerage firm located on Water Street. Working with insurance agents in Virginia and beyond, Harry’s career is similar to his cardiovascular passion, in that both require commitment and expertise. In addition to his work at his firm, Harry is involved in the Charlottesville community in many other areas.

When he isn’t contributing to Greenberry’s shareholders’ contentment with post-workout coffee trips, Landers is feeling his oats as a member of the Charlottesville Friends Meeting, a Quaker organization. Landers draws inspiration from one of his “Friend Friends” (think about it for a moment), Jay Worrall:

“He inspired me to get involved with Offender Aid and Restoration, an organization that he founded. I volunteered as a mentor to prisoners at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Jail and remain in regular contact with a former prisoner, who is now married and working hard to raise his children.”


Humility is one of Harry’s many positive traits. For almost two years I have been on the road with him, and he has not once mentioned the work he did at the Regional Jail – and that he remains in touch with one of the individuals he mentored (who happens to be doing quite well). It is a sign of the type of person he is and the character that he possesses. These are the types of people that make The Boston Group so special. Yes, it is so important that everyone remains committed to training at 5:30am. What takes the aura to another level is that everyone on the road is doing something special when they take off their running shoes and assimilate into society for the day: raising families, volunteering, working in the community, etc.

About twenty years ago, Harry and his wife, Janis Jaquith, were enjoying a vacation free from their three children. While I have no personal experience with this matter yet, I imagine a weekend free from the energy of raising multiple children is something just short of a miracle. Harry describes the beginning of his trip:

“We came to Charlottesville and stayed at the Boar’s Head Inn. We got up for a pre-dawn hot air balloon ride and were just blown away by the beauty of the place. You see things from that vantage point that you would never see by driving on the roads. All those gravel driveways? They often lead to beautiful, secluded homes.”

Little did he know at the time, but Harry would, years later, be waking up in Charlottesville for pre-dawn marathon training. Most are figuratively blown away be the serenity of Charlottesville. Harry was literally blown away as his balloon took flight over a wonderful city. Never one to be outdone, Harry now resides in one those abodes in a peaceful part of time with a scenic gravel driveway.

“The Blue Ridge mountains, the size of the city, and the culture provided by a community built alongside a university are three of the appeals of living in Charlottesville,” argues Harry. With a bit of humor, he adds, “I like how most people that you meet assume that they like you and treat you accordingly.”


Most of Harry’s extended family resides in or near Albemarle County, after his daughter, Jill, returned to Richmond from NYC. One of his sons, Jackson, lives in the area with his wife and children. Furthermore, Jackson’s twin brother, Waldo, and his family, also live in the county. One of Harry’s joys is spending time with his grandchildren. From puppet shows at the Old Michie Theatre to the Discovery Dash, a race put on by the Discovery Museum (and with help from Coach Lorenzoni), Harry is thankful he is a regular part of his grandchildren’s lives. Having met Jackson, a talented author, and Jill, who is very successful within her field, I have had the pleasure of sharing time with a great family.

Harry, an expert with humor, provides us with a glimpse into his ideal weekend:

“You know, I’m pretty fond of weekend naps. Not exciting, but pretty sweet. I also enjoy tending my mini fruit orchards. A Saturday date with Janis works, provided I’ve had my nap. For special occasions, Fleurie is our favorite restaurant. You know they’ve worked hard to come up with whatever we order. Hamilton’s is another favorite. I almost always have the vegetarian blue plate special.”

We’ve all seen Harry without his weekend nap, and it is not a pretty sight. ;-)

Running

Harry’s running journey began with baby steps. With occasional three miles runs, Harry maintained fitness, but he did not train as diligently as he does now. When he hit the half-century mark, he bought himself a special birthday present, Hal Higdon’s training book. Following the advice in the book, he marked out 16 weeks and began training for the Austin Marathon (now a green marathon – environmentally friendly). In addition to being on his “bucket list”, marathons were celebrated slightly in Boston, and Harry grew up just outside of the city. With various factors coming together, Harry made the leap of faith, registered for the marathon on his 50th birthday, and began training a day later. The bliss he felt after the race was a joyous feeling he wanted to experience again:

“It was one of the great accomplishments of my life when I finished that race, and I wanted to continue to repeat the joy that I felt. So, I kept at it.”


The perks of The Boston Group are well known to its members. Harry, and others, have benefited in many ways from the group. For Harry, the camaraderie, training, and coaching are all very important to his continued marathon success. He shared a little known fact that he has shed over 50 minutes from his original race time. He acknowledges that Coach Lorenzoni offers “top-notch training”. One idiosyncratic phenomenon within The Boston Group is the lack of technology on training runs (save for Garmin watches, of course). With so many talented and interesting training partners willing to push their bodies at 5:30am, there is no need to bring a phone or iPod. Harry has enjoyed the transition from “a solitary runner to a social one.”

Being part of The Boston Group means passing on lessons to others and learning from them at the same time. While everyone has a unique style and different plans work for different people, the communication within the group prevents others from making the same mistakes and lets them benefit from the knowledge of their peers. Here are a few remarks from Harry about his team:

“I’ve learned something from all of my training partners. To mention just a few: Kenny Ball has been a great example of running discipline. He’s shown me that full “buy-in” to the program leads to the best results and that’s helped me to get the maximum benefit of the coaching that’s offered. Bev Wispelwey is another example of a smart approach to running. She quietly goes about her business of knowing just what needs to be done and doing it with an admirable determination. Even her approach to injury and recovery inspires me. Heidi Johnson shows me how to enjoy the fun of training and combine it with a disciplined work ethic. She also knows just how to “listen to her body” and adjust training plans as needed. Cynthia Lorenzoni is a great inspiration. She’s been there as an elite runner and her experience and willingness to share it is invaluable. Cynthia is particularly generous in the way that she knows just what sub-group of runners needs her to show the way in pacing a workout. She’s constantly “paying it forward”. I could go on…”

Harry’s Monday morning run occurs out in Free Union. The range in mileage is determined by the week of training. If it is a recovery week, or early in the training season, the mileage will be lower, around six miles. As he enters his peak weeks of training he may run as far as 10 miles. These Monday runs involve short hill pickups (or sprint – depending on the week). Tuesday mornings begin at the Ragged Mountain Running Shop at 5:45am. The easy five to six mile run allows for recovery, and the run is followed by Mike Inge’s yoga class. The Boston Group meets at the UVa track at 5:30am every Wednesday, and it is the morning that brings the group together. Wednesday is also the day that Harry and his teammates will air out their legs with a hill workout, tempo run, or intervals on the track. On Thursday he will again run similar to what he did on Tuesday, but he will meet the group at Greenberry’s. The most important aspect of any morning run is the coffee that follows! Thursdays are his double run days during peak mileage weeks. Harry brought up an interesting note about morning training. The group only experiences the temperature low of the day. By doing double runs in the afternoon, he is able to train in the hottest part of the afternoon. On Fridays he will take a day off and stretch with Inge’s yoga class at 7am. The weekend is predictable for Harry and others – Saturday long run, Sunday recovery run.


The big five is a term in the marathon world that stands for the five largest marathons in participant size and popularity. These marathons are NYC, Chicago, Berlin, London, and Boston. Harry is down to Berlin and London. He is contemplating racing each one in the coming two years. Until then, he will continue to pick places that not only host a marathon, but offer a place where his wife, Janis, can enjoy a mini-vacation. Always thoughtful and never selfish, Harry is wise in his process.

Nutrition

Balance. Any Boston Bound runner knows that balance is essential to staying healthy and fit. Strong workouts are more important than maintaining pace on a recovery run. Harry’s fitness plan incorporates a healthy balance of strong Wed/Sat workouts and proper recovery runs on the other days. In addition to this, he has improved at post-run stretching. Harry devotes at least ten minutes to stretching after his runs. Also, he attends Inge’s yoga class for a deeper stretch in the leg muscles. During the evenings he will focus on push-ups and core/balance exercises. The thing that Harry addressed so well was how he approaches sleep:

“During the week, I need seven hours of sleep each night. I might get away with less for one night, but one night only. On the weekends, I’ll either get an extra hour of sleep at night, or catch a sweet afternoon nap.”

Sleep is so important for marathon runners. With consistent micro-tears in the leg muscles, the body needs ample time to recover from stressful workouts. When a runner is putting 50+ miles a week on his or her legs and not sleeping, a stress fracture is often the outcome. One of the reasons Harry stays so healthy is the amount of consistent sleep he gets each week. This might be one of the hardest things to maintain with busy work/family schedules.

Lastly, Harry is consistent with his nutrition. The fuel for marathon training is another thing that may be hard to maintain with a busy schedule. Harry has listed a few things that are easy to eat when you’re on the run; pardon the pun:


“I maintain a pretty healthy diet. Typically, I’ll have a piece of toast with peanut butter or almond butter and some orange juice before I run. Then, post-run, I’ll have a bowl of steel-cut oats, with dried cherries, pecans, honey and almond-milk, along with a cup of pomegranate green tea. A mid-morning snack might be a handful of nuts or a Larabar. Lunch might be a bowl of soup and some bread and cheese. Dinners are varied. Here’s the menu for the next few days: Sunday – Fish Chowder. Monday – Sicilian Corkscrew Pasta with white beans. Tuesday – Curried Cauliflower Cream Soup. Wednesday – Pork Tenderloin with Black Olives and Orange. Pretty much always with a salad. Evening treat is often a square or two of 70% dark chocolate. Maybe a glass of wine one or two evenings a week.”

His favorite places to shop are Whole Foods and the Farmer’s Market. Also, if you are looking for fresh meat or eggs, he recommends Free Union Grass Farm. Harry supports his neighbor there because they raise well cared for livestock.

Racing

Harry did what any good athlete does when he attempts something difficult during a marathon season – he consulted his coach. Harry and Mark Hampton ran the Holiday Lakes 50-kilometer ultra-marathon this February, despite being in the middle of training for the Boston Marathon. He earned kudos from his coach, Lorenzoni, for consulting him for a plan to stay healthy for Boston. Here is Harry’s account of that experience:

“I just finished my first ultra-marathon, the Holiday Lakes 50K (actually, 32 miles) and had a blast. It was particularly rewarding to run it with my training partner, Mark Hampton. We went down two weeks earlier to run the course (we did a loop of the double-loop course) and came back with a good assessment of just what pace we could expect to hold, while looking at the experience as a long training run that would support, rather than, detract from, our Boston training. We had a great sherpa in our ultra-marathon wonder and friend, Sophie Speidel. Our coach, Mark Lorenzoni, was generous enough to put together custom training programs for us (like he doesn’t have enough on his plate already) to get us through this event. It was a rewarding experience to break through that 26.2 mile barrier and feel good about it and have a strong finish. I think it will bode well for us as we work through the final push in Boston.”


At 58, Harry continues to do extremely well in marathons, in general – no age caveat needed; he is well-trained and works hard. His ultimate time goal would be under 3:20 before he finishes marathoning. During the coming years he hopes to complete his goal of running the big five marathons as well as racing Comrades in South Africa. The biggest goal he has is to stay healthy during this time. For the 2011 year, one can catch Harry in the following races: Charlottesville Ten-Miler (late March), Boston Marathon (April 18th), Patrick Henry Half Marathon, Reach the Beach (200+ mile team relay in New Hampshire), and Chicago Marathon (October).

Harry, thank you for sharing ideas about your training program and life in Charlottesville. The Boston Group is thrilled to have such a humorous yet hard-working teammate with great leadership qualities.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The New Boston Athletic Association Standards and an Interview with Coach Mark Lorenzoni


Outside of the marathon world, the new Boston Marathon standards mean little, if anything. Life goes on; the clock keeps ticking. Speaking with a friend recently, it dawned on me how little this means to most individuals, especially those disinterested in cardiovascular activity. In the words of the female friend, “only you endurance athletes [parentheses denote sarcasm] care”. Driving along that afternoon, I thought to myself ‘she’s right; within the endurance athlete community this is like the second coming of Jesus Christ, but for most it is another announcement that falls on deaf ears’. Yet the news, which is garnering both positive and negative reception, is a change that keeps the elite tradition of the Boston Marathon alive. Ask any marathoner that has qualified by at least ten minutes, and he or she will be sure to agree with the new standards. The negative feedback comes from those that have yet to qualify or just barely did so only to now hear it may not be enough. Their collective frustration is fair, but at the end of the day, Boston is about being elite.

Catching up with Coach Mark Lorenzoni, the owner of the Ragged Mountain Running Shop, shed some light onto how it came to this, what it means, and where the marathon proceeds from this point. Running can be very trendy, with ever-evolving and newly originating philosophies. The latest buzz surrounds the minimalist movement. Ever since the publication of a book promoting barefoot running, a large cohort of people are promoting the minimalist shoe approach. Leaving the marketing, advertising, and financial gain argument for another day, many runners are making an unsafe jump into minimalist footwear without proper understanding.

The risks behind minimalism include stress fractures, deadened muscles, and other injuries that can end a season. The benefits of minimalist running are stronger calves, Achilles, and arches. Furthermore, “It is a great way to correct biomechanics”, argues Lorenzoni. He goes on to explain that minimalism is effective at lower mileage, on softer surface, and when done infrequently. The problem is that many marathoners attempt 80+ miles a week in minimalist shoes and quickly schedule MRIs with the local Orthopaedic physician. Now why is this diversion into minimalism related to the Boston Marathon?


Running is ever-evolving in many of its characteristics, trends, anecdotal forum topics, but it is consistent when talking about the Boston Marathon. This, in my opinion, is a good thing, because the Boston Marathon represents the pinnacle of the sport for marathoners. Lorenzoni characterizes the Boston Marathon’s tradition by saying, “The race is about ability and time. This is not a democratic process. This race has a mystique, an allure, and a reputation”. He goes on to correctly argue that a lottery would be pure disaster. Imagine a scenario where one qualifies three years in a row but fails to hit the lottery each year. Animated, Lorenzoni exclaims:

“This is not the NYC Marathon. The idea is the chase. This is the last race where we can feel like tremendous athletes. There are no Olympics. There are no Melrose Games. We have Boston. It is not that it is on Patriots’ Day in Boston. It is not the point-to-point course. It is special because you have to earn it. It is so cool to say that you qualified. The new caveat is great. It is an extra bonus for doing even better”.

The caveat to which Coach Lorenzoni speaks is the new +20, +10, and +5 rule that will be in effect. Essentially, if you qualify 20 minutes ahead of your listed time you get to register on the first registration day. Two days later you register if you are at least 10 minutes ahead. A few days after that, the 5 minute ahead group can register. After one week of ‘plus time’ registration, the marathon opens to regular qualifiers. Most likely, the marathon will close the first day it opens to regular qualifiers. Lorenzoni says that this is due to the backlog of qualifications from the NYC, Marine Corps, and winter marathons. There are thousands of runners waiting to register under the normal qualifying standards. There are plenty of articles that break down the new Boston standards, but at the end of the day it means that if you want to run, get faster.


The Boston Bound team that Lorenzoni coaches has mixed reactions to the new standards. He is not worried, and says, “We will rise to the new bar. We are wired to move to the next level”. Panic is a normal human reaction, but Coach argues that something had to be done. If they had not changed the standards, there would be no guarantee one would be lucky enough to register next year. Boston is staying elite, and this requires raising the bar. This is the tradition of the Boston Marathon. One can no longer by a minimalist when qualifying; it requires maximum effort to enter this elite field.

“My job is to get my athletes to embrace and accomplish realistic goals. I’m not going to tell you that it’s ok to train for a 2:20 marathon because that isn’t realistic”. How does Coach overcome the jitters that accompany a new set of qualifying standards? First he says, “It’s time to put on the Big Boy and Big Girl pants”. He wants his Charlottesville-based athletes to work hard, be patient, and stay positive. The next two years are the hardest because the dust must settle from the storm that shook up the running community. Lorenzoni wants his athletes to trust their training, talent, and coach. In the worst of scenarios, many athletes will age up and the new standards are moot. Lorenzoni understands the fear, frustration, and disappointment felt by runners that now have to rework goals, train harder, and wait longer. Nonetheless, this writer believes there is a tradition in the marathon that is greater than any single runner.

Summarizing his argument, Coach remarked,

“It is a harder goal but it is a better reward. You will feel more athletic. What is the alternative? Hopefully it will return to the trend of a few years ago when you can qualify in the fall and run in the spring. Give it a chance, don’t panic, and stay mentally positive. It took forever for a person to break the 4 minute mile. One guy did it. Then it opened the flood gates. Humans are goal-oriented. It will put people out of their comfort zones. The race needed to change with the landscape. The new system might be slightly painful, but being elite requires training. It is Boston”.


Winslow Ballew, a talented runner from the Crozet area of Albemarle County, shared that he felt an initial emotion of discouragement. He does say that his inner drive will kick into gear, and he will continue to work for a spot in Hopkinton. He tips his cap to those who have earned the right. Kristen Keller, a runner in Charlottesville who has qualified by over 15 minutes, is not in disagreement with the new standards. She sees the predicament, but she argues that the location cannot be changed and the charity runners not cut out. This leaves the Boston Marathon with only one realistic option – to change the standards. Kathryn Laughon assumed that this was the path that would be taken, and she too is bummed that she may not get another opportunity to race Boston. With knee issues preventing consistent training, she has felt a double dose of frustration this season.

I empathize with the Boston Bound runners, and acknowledge the frustration felt. When attempting to qualify for Boston in February of 2009, I fell short, running a 3:19. After this my motivation dropped until I met the Boston Bound runners and Coach Lorenzoni months later. With his motivation, knowledge, and running philosophy, I followed Coach’s training to a 2:58 in Richmond. Unable to believe in my own ability I could not and did not qualify for Boston. Once I was pushed to my limit I realized that qualifying was only the beginning. When I qualified in the fall of 2009, the Boston Marathon had just closed days before so I was shut out of the 2010 race. Now I find myself in the midst of training for the 2011 Boston Marathon. The stakes are so much higher; I am fueled by the new standards and want the +20 qualifying time with a fervent desire.


Human nature is such, in my opinion, that one either lets fear or will power win. One reaction, the easy one, is to shy away from something hard. It is easy to walk away from a task that may ultimately lead to failure, rejection, or frustration. It takes a certain disposition to face an arduous ascent and take a risk. To feel accomplished only requires trying. I’d much rather come up short than regret never trying to get the things I love most in life. The Boston Marathon is one of those ambitions.

written by steven kozusko

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Rick and Lisa Kwiatkowski of The Boston Group and Ultra-Marathon-Community


Photograph contributed by Rick and Lisa

Charlottesville the Place

Charlottesville was given a great gift when Rick and Lisa moved here in 1990. At the time, Rick had begun graduate school at the University of Virginia, where he studied electrical engineering (Control Systems). Immediately, Rick and Lisa fell in love with the city; it was the elegant and opening outdoor beauty that drew this couple to Charlottesville. Parents of three lovely children, Rick and Lisa are doing the city a blessing by raising their family and setting up roots in this Central Virginian area. Aside from their familial duties, Rick and Lisa make great contributions in their respective professional endeavors.

In this culturally diverse city, the school system will educate many ESL students (English as a second language). Lisa is an ESL teacher for the Albemarle County Public School system, one of the strongest in Virginia. Working with children that are both learning the language and learning subjects in a second language to their own, Lisa is raising not only her own children, but also shaping future citizens of this city. Rick shares his admiration for his wife, “I am a husband to a wonderful woman.” He too contributes to the community as a Boy Scout leader.

The Kwiatkowski couple’s moral scope is one to emulate. From the education of the city’s students to the hands-on knowledge and value system of the Boy Scouts, Charlottesville has two people who live the values that make Charlottesville the community it is. When Rick isn’t volunteering, raising a family, or training for an ultramarathon, he works as an Engineer at the Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine. On Valentine’s Day, the marriage shared by Lisa and Rick Kwiatkowski is a good example of one to celebrate. Rick and Lisa’s anniversary falls within a week’s time of Valentine’s Day, so they often celebrate the two together:

“This year, those special occasions were closely preceded by our trip to Texas for the Rocky Raccoon 100. We celebrated Rick’s race, Valentine’s Day and our 23rd Anniversary about 10 yards from the Rocky finish line this year. Just before crossing, Rick stopped, kneeled, and presented me with a very special anniversary ring that he’d been carrying during the 100 miler, he then stood back up (I was impressed!) and then we crossed the finish line together”.

One of the main reasons the Kwiatkowski family stayed in Charlottesville, aside from the peaceful beauty of the mountains and autumn foliage, is because it is a wonderful place to raise a family. With a strong school system, a home base for running at the Ragged Mountain Running Shop, and plenty of caring community members, everywhere else paled in comparison. Furthermore, it is close enough to their extended family, that they are able to head down to Virginia Beach for visits on the weekends (which can’t be that bad of a trip when the summer sun heats up the air).

Social Charlottesville

Rick and Lisa like to work hard and rest hard! Their idea of a perfect Saturday begins with a long morning run out in the country – Free Union, Buck Mountain, or on another quiet route. After this, they are perfectly content in lounging around the house in their pajamas. After all they do during the week; they have earned an afternoon of relaxation. That’s not even taking into the account the hundreds of miles they are running each month. When they are out and about, they have many places they like to visit:

“Charlottesville has a number of interesting places: UVA, McIntire Skateboard Park, Panorama Farms (cross country meets), Carter’s Mountain (apple picking and donut eating), the Thomas Jefferson Trail, and the Rivanna Trail. It is too hard to pick just one".

Knowing their collective drive, they probably don’t pick just one! The Rivanna Trail is perfect for Rick’s ultramarathon training. A talented runner, Rick has completed multiple races of at least 50 miles, and two of the 100 mile distance (yes, that says 100 miles). Carter Mountain is a beautiful little apple orchard overlooking the Belmont area and the University Hospital. If you don’t want to pick your own apples, you can enjoy a cup of cider and apple donuts at their cozy food stand overlooking the city.

Lisa and Rick don’t share everything in common. They both have their favorite restaurant in Charlottesville, and it isn’t the same place. Lisa’s top choice is the Ivy Inn. Rick and Lisa have celebrated some special occasions here:

“Rick and I have celebrated several anniversaries at The Ivy Inn. I love the intimate setting, incredible food and the personalized experience. They print out a special version of their menu with your name and the occasion at the top followed by a complimentary champagne toast and end with a special dessert. The presentation of dessert is my favorite part! The plate is decorated with a personalized greeting like “Happy Anniversary Rick and Lisa!” I highly recommend it for special occasions".

Rick’s favorite restaurant, like any true man, is one that serves delicious pizza, the Italian Villa near UVA. Rick is a self-proclaimed “pizza-holic”; he bleeds tomato sauce. Combining their favorite restaurants, one has everything needed for pre-long run meals and a romantic evening the following night. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, the Ivy Inn might be the better call for a romantic night. Save Rick’s pizza place for Tuesday afternoon.

Running

As stated before, lovers and good friends are the two most common causes for the running addiction. There is no known cure out there. Lisa began training for the women’s four miler in 2003, due to the persuasion of some of her close friends. This race is put on by Cynthia Lorenzoni, the co-owner of the Ragged Mountain Running Shop, to benefit Breast Cancer Research. Lorenzoni’s races are not-for-profit, with a good cause always behind the miles. Lisa ran in high school and recreationally in college, but she put the sport on hold while she raised her and Rick’s children. Out of shape at the beginning of the journey, and needing months of proper training, Lisa accomplished her goal and never looked back. Rick’s story, in juxtaposition to Lisa’s, is one of succinct humor:

“In 2003 I realized I was gaining weight and didn’t want to eat less pizza…plus, Lisa started running so I thought I would, too”.

That is just one of many examples of Rick Kwiatkowski‘s character; sticking by his wife and his favorite slice of life. Rick and Lisa are two of The Boston Group’s favorite runners. They have contributed so much to the group, and they have found motivation in those around them.

Rick and Lisa have made many friends in the running community. Lisa has found a group of women that she enjoys training with, as they all share a common marathon goal time. Of the same age, with children, and sharing in many common character traits, Lisa and her friends have plenty to share during their running conversations. Rick, on the other hand, is usually at the front of the pack pushing his training partners on Wednesday morning workouts, so he has less breath with which to converse. All things considered, both Rick and Lisa are part of the fabric that makes this group special.

Rick and Lisa share at least 26.2 miles in common when it comes to their respective running goals. Lisa’s training regimen incorporates a long run, a tempo run, two easy runs, and a speed workout. Her distance will range depending on where she is in her marathon season. Rick trains six days a week, with distances as low as 30 miles per week and as high as 100 miles per week. The latter usually occurs when he is training for an ultramarathon. His day off is Friday, but he is out there the other six days of the week. His approach is to take three quality days and mix those with three easy/recovery days. His quality workouts include a fast track workout, one tempo run, and a long run on the weekend. Somehow, through all of these miles, Lisa and Rick are always smiling on their runs.

Lisa, like many, follows Mark’s plan when she prepares for a marathon. Mark, the coach of The Boston Group, Ragged Mountain Racing, and Charlottesville Track Club, is a legendary coach in Charlottesville. With thirty years of experience, his training programs are respected by the community, and Lisa is one who follows the plan closely. When she isn’t in season, she runs for pleasure – letting her mood dictate her distance and pace. Rick also follows Mark’s plan when he is training for a marathon. For ultramarathons, Rick follows the coaching in two running books: Daniels Running Formula and Noakes Lore of Running.

Pick of the city run: When he in an ‘ultra state of mind’, Rick will hit the Rivanna Trail loop for his long run. When he has work, he will get up early for a morning run on his treadmill while playing online Texas Hold ‘Em. Rick isn’t joking around; another unknown talent is his ability to juggle while running. Lisa loves that she can walk out her front door and hit the road on many different rural routes. She says, “If I want to drive somewhere, my favorite places to run are in Free Union”. Rick, a past winner of the Buck Mountain Half Marathon, also has that special connection to Free Union.

Nutrition and Fitness

Rick stays healthy and fit by mixing up the type of workout he does. Alternating between quality and recovery runs, Rick is able to maximize the results he gets out of each of his runs. Lorenzoni’s athletes know not to run back-to-back hard workouts. The legs need rest time, and Rick, an ultramarathoner, knows how to accomplish just that. Even when he has to travel for work, he finds a way to sneak in his miles without overdoing the workouts. Also, he “varies the runs so not to do the same thing too often”.

Rick and Lisa are a great duo. When asked what they do to recover from their runs, they had two very different responses. Lisa said that she takes a day off and hangs out with her foam roller. Rick, in contrast, said that he stops running and starts eating. Chances are Rick is filling his veins with tomato sauce, yet again.

The two of them eat well to maintain their cardiovascular lifestyles. Rick claims that he tries not to stuff his face too often. You, the reader, can be the judge of that. Rick explains his diet:

“I try not to pig out, but I do like to eat. Oatmeal in the morning. Pizza, burgers, spaghetti, Indian cuisine, or burritos for lunch. Homecooking for dinner".

Lisa, slightly more honest, explains how she maintains her nutrition:

“Rick has converted me to oatmeal with fruits and nuts for breakfast…almost every day. It’s downhill from there for the rest of the day, though. Lunch is often elementary school cafeteria fare and then whatever I feel like cooking for dinner. I try to minimize fast food and junk food, but now that you’ve asked, I really need to work on this".

Did I mention that Lisa is also daring? Anyone that will chance cafeteria lunch food has a brave soul. If Rick has his way, ‘whatever Lisa feels like cooking’ probably contains the following ingredients: tomato sauce, cheese, and flour/bread.

Their humor pervades throughout this interview, and when asked what else they wanted to share about their nutrition plans, here is what Lisa and Rick had to say:

Lisa: “I’m going to make a nutrition plan, now that you’ve put me on the spot.”
Rick: “I am an omnivore, but I do believe in moderation".

The list of places that Rick and Lisa recommend for nutrition or palate-pleasure: Italian Villa, Maharaja, Chipotle (hence, the inclusion of the palate-pleasure caveat), Guadalajara, Ragazzis, Schzechaun, Lord Hardwicke’s, The Berry Patch, and the Afton Mountain Farm-Orchard-Greenhouse Strawberry Farm.

Racing

With so many races in their lives, I was moved by the fact that both Rick and Lisa share the 2010 Boston Marathon as their favorite experience. Rick paced Lisa from beginning to end, their first race run together, every mile along the way. Sharing in love both on and off the road, Rick and Lisa show what a caring and committed couple can accomplish when they support and believe in one another. They also give a special thanks to Jerri Emm, a good friend that also supported Lisa through the race.

Lisa shared a unique experience running an ultramarathon. Writer’s advice – be sure to read between the lines:

“I ran in the dark, late at night, on technical trails for the first time at the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile ultramarathon. I learned to respect the roots and have new appreciation for my headlamp. Since Rick had already done 95 miles at that point, I had no trouble keeping up with him, for once".

Ultra Running

Rick offered many pointers on how to approach an ultra marathon. In an upcoming interview, Sophie will give an in-depth analysis of racing ultras. Rick says that a new runner should find an EASY PACE and stay in that comfort zone. “Speed is not nearly as critical as regular distance running”, argues Rick. He adds:

“Work up weekly distance slowly, but steadily. Practice eating while running. Experiment with many different types of food and drinks while running, since you may get tired (or nauseas) from eating the same thing on very long runs".

To experience the culture of the running community, there is only one way to do it – break into the scene with Rick’s aforementioned advice. This is a community of runners that look out for each other, run hard but with smiling faces, and love to climb hills and dance through trails.

Thanks

I want to give my sincere thanks to Rick and Lisa Kwiatkowski for taking the time to interview on this special Valentine’s Day edition of The Charlottesville Runner. I am in awe at what they have accomplished and give to this community. Rick recently completed the Rocky Raccoon 100, placing 14th in an elite field. Congratulations on your accomplishment, Rick. All the best this spring, Rick and Lisa. This year Lisa and Rick will be staying home during the Boston Marathon so that their daughter, Laura, can attend the Albemarle High School Prom (which Laura missed her junior year to accompany Lisa, Rick, and Jerri Emm’s family to Boston for their 2010 race). Despite having qualified for Boston in 2011, Lisa and Rick will return the favor to their daughter, Laura. Lisa will work on hitting a personal best of 3:58:00 in her next marathon. When asked about his next goal, only a week after the 100 miler, Rick was contemplating working towards a 5K PR in the summer.

written by steven kozusko

Friday, February 11, 2011

Jenny Jorvig of The Boston Group (Boston Bound)


Photograph taken after a 16 mile tempo training run in 14 degree weather (notice the frosting in her hair)!

Charlottesville the Place

The Albemarle County Public School system produces competitive, intelligent, and well-prepared students. These students owe their success to teachers like Jenny Jorvig. Working as the Gifted Resource Teacher for Murray Elementary, Jenny directs math and environmental (science-based) projects with students in grades kindergarten through fifth-grade. When she isn’t molding the minds of Murray’s bright students, Jenny is working as an educational consultant and curriculum developer for a joint program created by NASA and Columbia University.

Yes, she is developing NYC Public School System curriculum through a program created by the organization that sends people into space and the Ivy League university in New York City. Not many people know that about Jenny, because she demonstrates admirable humility for what she does in Charlottesville and beyond. In regards to her jobs, Jenny says, “I love the balance between working hands-on with children part of the time, and working on a different side of education at other times”.

Jenny moved to Charlottesville in the fall of 2009 when her boyfriend, Aashish, began business school at Darden. For those that are not familiar with Darden, it is a nationally ranked and renowned business school at the University of Virginia. If you’re reading, Aashish, Jenny says that she would love to raise a family here someday. “The supportive community, outdoor beauty, strong school system, and historical depth of Charlottesville” are what make this place attractive in Jenny’s eyes. Since moving here in 2009, Jenny says that she has really enjoyed her time making the most of everything the city has to offer to her and Aashish.

When asked what she loved most about Charlottesville, Jenny pinpointed her answer and exclaimed, “Everything”! Charlottesville has the small-town scene and the urban vibe. The restaurants, concerts, and outdoor events on the Downtown Mall or out in Crozet make for an urban vibe, while a quick fifteen minutes in any direction leads one into the small-town-feel parts of the city. The combination of urban-like restaurants and “natural beauty” that has existed long before Charlottesville was founded is what impresses Jenny about Charlottesville.

Social Charlottesville

The fantastic four – “a long run with the running crew at Whitehall or Keene, a trip to the Farmer’s Market, a relaxing afternoon at Greenberry’s, and a long dinner with Aashish at Tavola”. Jenny’s Saturday mornings begin at 6am, as she prepares to run 16 to 23 miles in the cold, wind, rain, heat, sun, or whatever weather welcomes her that particular morning. Sometime between hour one and two of running, Jenny’s mind may wander to what she needs to pick up at the Farmer’s Market. Every weekend one can find wonderful produce, meat, and other organic/local food at the Farmer’s Market in Charlottesville. After supporting her local farmers, Jenny will head over to Greenberry’s for some well-deserved afternoon relaxation. When she is finished enjoying a caffeine boost, she will finish her Saturday with a long dinner at Tavola with Aashish. If the mood is right, Jenny and Aashish will explore the nightlife on the Downtown Mall or at The Corner.

Being big foodies isn’t easy, but Aashish and Jenny do pretty well exploring the large restaurant selection offered in Charlottesville. If you live in the Belmont area, like Italian, support local food, and enjoy homemade pasta – then Tavola is the place to dine. It is, as Jenny says, “hands down” her favorite restaurant in Charlottesville. When she isn’t enjoying Tavola’s seasonal menu, Jenny is at Greenberry’s, chatting after a run, working on a NASA/Columbia job-related project, and bumping into one of her many good friends in the area. She enjoys their “delicious drinks, cozy environment, and social atmosphere”. If you are in need of any recommendations for a good place to dine over Valentine’s Day weekend, Jenny is the person to contact.

Running

Cut from the tennis team in 9th grade (cue readers’ sympathy), Jenny decided to join the cross-country team. Unable to run a full mile without taking walking breaks, Jenny was really starting from scratch. From that moment to now, Jenny has become a talented runner in The Boston Group. Recently running a 3:06 in Chicago, Jenny has her eyes set on another personal best in Boston this year. She is energized to take her talents to Boston, as she dealt with injury last year. Her story about how she stumbled upon the running community in Charlottesville begins at Mark Lorenzoni’s store (doesn’t it always):

“When I moved to Charlottesville almost two years ago, I found the Ragged Mountain Running Shop on the corner and walked in, looking for a new pair of shoes. I met Mark and Cynthia and was immediately welcomed into Charlottesville and the running community with open arms. Mark set me up with The Boston Group, and I cannot thank him enough for creating and supporting this amazing group. As Mark has said, if they had a match.com for running partners, you wouldn’t be able to find and put together a better group”.

The Boston Group meets officially on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. On Wednesday the entire team meets at the track for a workout with Coach. On Saturday mornings the group splits into various “zip codes” or pace groups. The groups will usually run in two or three different locations, depending on personal schedules and marathon goal times. Jenny and a few other runners have become very close since they are similar in their goals and training styles. The special bonds that her group has built are important to Jenny – “My teammates push me to excel in workouts, and I really look up to them.” In 2010 her zip code group traveled to Chicago to run the Chicago Marathon. This experience tightened the connections between her and her running group.

“We had a whole weekend to spend together, exploring the city (and running some, too). Each of my teammate’s performance struck a chord with me that weekend. Everyone put it all on the line, and I have so much respect for my teammates. They had to push through a lot to get where they did that day.”

Jenny and her teammates trained through some brutal summer heat, with some 20+ mile runs occurring in 90+ degree weather.

Her typical training regimen is based on Coach Lorenzoni’s high mileage program. Jenny’s zip code group runs a rigorous program, peaking in the high 70s or 80s, depending upon the particular goal time. She commits to Coach’s program and places her trust in his plan. Her goals are his goals – “stay healthy, have a strong race, and enjoy the training”. The program has three high mileage weeks followed by a recovery week with less mileage but intense training (repeat this monthly approach through the season). Her weekly mileage will peak in the mid-70s once she works her way through base building and hill-repeat-strength-training. Here is her typical week of training:

Monday: 10 miles with strides at the end

Tuesday: 6 miles recovery, possible aqua running, possible double run

Wednesday: 11 mile interval workout

Thursday: Recovery double or off day

Friday: Recovery 6-8

Saturday: Long run with a workout

Sunday: Recovery single or double, possible aqua running

Her favorite places to run are Keene or the streets of Charlottesville. Keene offers varying terrain, tranquility, and a nice environment for a Saturday training run. Running through the streets of Charlottesville, she is guaranteed to bump into another runner she knows.

Nutrition and Fitness

After she finishes a marathon, Jenny continues to follow Lorenzoni’s advice – she recovers and remembers not to push it too hard. Being from Minnesota, she is a big fan of cross country skiing and Fargo…well at least the skiing (this writer happens to be a huge fan of Fargo). Staying in shape is easy for Jenny. She will ski, bike, run, and swim during the off-season. If anyone has seen Jenny, her physique is a testament to her commitment to staying fit whether or not she is in the midst of a marathon training season.

While the rest of her running group has been consuming low-fat chocolate milk (Horizon) after runs, Jenny has secretly been enjoying chocolate peppermint soymilk from Whole Foods. Now that the cat is out of the bag, she may have some competition for that last choco-peppermint soymilk on Whole Food’s shelf.

Jenny eats every two to three hours throughout the day. She’ll eat light before a run – banana or toast. To continue her recovery, she will consume a breakfast with oatmeal or cereal. Her mid-morning snack consists of varying types of fruit. This trend continues through the day:

Lunch: wheat bagel turkey sandwich, soy crisps, veggies, and a little dark chocolate

Late afternoon snack: yogurt

Dinner: lots of veggies, protein, carbs

Jenny adds, “I never go to bed without dessert. It’s my favorite ‘meal’ of the day, and it usually consists of a bowl of ice cream”. You earned that ice cream, Jenny.

The scope of her nutrition takes her all over Charlottesville. The first stop is at Whole Foods or Sam’s Club, where a sizeable portion of her paycheck is spent. In addition to these groceries, Jenny will spend a good amount of time cooking (one of many things she loves to do). Lastly, Aashish and Jenny will explore and experiment with the many meals available in Charlottesville’s restaurant scene.

Racing

If you have spent some time around Jenny, you experience a caring, charismatic, and genuine person with an infectious laugh. Always ready to offer an arm of support, a listening ear, or a good story during a long run, Jenny is one of the most respected young runners in the group. Hidden beneath this is an edgy and exciting layer to Jenny’s personality. In Chicago her training partners were able to see an energetic side (figuratively and literally) of Jenny. Let’s just say what happens on the starting line stays on the starting line. The bonding experiences made the weekend a special one to remember.

“I would have to say the Chicago Marathon is one of the most memorable races that I’ve had with The Boston Group. It was so fun to travel and spend the weekend with the crew. We had many ‘bonding experiences’ over the weekend, specifically right before the race started…”

Jenny, The Boston Group wishes you all the best in your training this spring. I look forward to toeing the line with you in Hopkinton. You have been a great inspiration and positive source of energy in the group. Thank you for taking the time to take part in this interview.

written by steven kozusko