RSS Feed

The Real Illinois – Entry 8

We are back. It is the eighth week of the Real Illinois and one of the last posts before school starts, at least for a few of us. As I mentioned at the beginning, The Real Illinois will be maintained throughout the semester. The only thing that is up in the air is whether posts will be updated every week or every two weeks, with you hearing from a particular contributor according to the schedule now, or once a month.

Anyways, the vibe will be a little bit different to this post. Andrew and Zach will be giving their perspectives from the last two weeks as well as another contributor. Unlike in previous posts where a contributor shares their thoughts on being in the real world and balancing it with running, this individual will be detailing his thoughts on the official move to college the first time. A new face for NIRCA this upcoming season, he is very excited to be “flying the coup” for the first time and getting on with the college experience. But before that, let’s hear from Andrew.


Andrew Gazdziak

Just a lil’ somethin’ somethin.

This week was the final week of my internship. It was busy, with 2 large presentations, but once they were done I realized that summer is basically over. It has really flown by, and I’ve had a fantastic summer in San Dieg

What Andrew really does at work

On the running side of things I haven’t been doing so hot these past few weeks. It seems that I have hit a plateau of around 50 mpw, which is lower than what I would like to be at right now. This past week will be a lot lower – I had my big end of the summer presentation to prepare for, so my priorities changed. I’m looking forward to getting back on track with my training this next week and I’m also really looking forward to running with my friends – I can’t wait to be back at swallow cliff and then on campus.

Before that I have a road trip back to IL! It will just be Brendan and I this time.  I’m looking forward to running in some awesome places and to eating some great food (found with the help of Yelp).  Catch the live Twitter updates at @agaz623!

Remember: @agaz623!!!

This summer has definitely been one to remember. I made a lot of new friends, both interns and other engineers. I will miss living in and exploring San Diego, but I am excited to be back in IL. I’m ready to finish off my last year of school strong, but I also am going to take time to enjoy and appreciate it. I know that I will miss U o f I A LOT, but luckily I have the next 9 moths to enjoy it.

Also, just as a heads up: If I end up living in San Diego I will be trying my hardest to convince you all to move out here and live with me. I’ve got a plan in the works and I’m not going to give up easily, so you might as well accept it and start thinking about it now.

One last view — courtesy of Michael Laccabue


Zach Boehmke

Wow, another two weeks have gone by, which means that there are two weeks to go before school starts. Unlike all the other interns at Takeda, I will still be there, in my cubicle, counting down until school begins. But, before I delve into Takeda, I will discuss the highlights and lowlights of the last two weeks.

First-off, after having my head “shaved” by Henry Wolf back before the Real Illinois even began, I am proud to announce that the flow is back — not quite John Brassea status, but it is looking fine.

One day…

Also, Lollapalooza happened as Jackie pointed out last week. While that weekend did not do wonders for my running, I have to admit that it was a spectacular time. I saw a lot of bands I did and did not want to see, and enjoyed every moment of it (besides early Sunday, but that’s another story…). I got a nice front row seat for the Black Keys to see them put on a much much much better show than when I saw them in the United Center. The whole weekend blew my mind and I am very excited to go back next year. However, outside of the Olympics and seeing all the madness on the track in the last week, that is where the positives really end.

Pretty similar vantage point to my location from the stage.

The last two weeks have probably been the hardest part of the summer for me training-wise. Last week I was so focused on passing Organic Chemistry that running took a step backwards. I took two days off in preparation for the exam (Thursday/Friday) and it still was rough. However, I did pass with a B in the class, which is “above average”, but not “excellent.” I am just happy it is over. Then, I missed my long run on Sunday because my body was, let’s just say, under the weather. However, if I can go back to school saying I only missed four days of running this summer, I will be very happy. Last summer I missed 17 and 30 the summer before, so I think it is definitely apparent that my mentality has shifted in terms of my commitment to consistency.

This week, when I started back up after missing the 3 out of 4 days, I felt truly awful. I am not sure why, but I was struggling to get through a half hour. I thought it was something deeper than just fatigue. It felt like my lower back and my hamstrings were connected by a rubber band and just pulling towards each other. When I was running, I assumed that I looked pretty funny to the outside eye because I personally thought like I was running like either a gorilla or Igor (no trunk rotation, favoring one side, no arm swing, just general mayhem). However, I believed that I could stick it out and the last couple days have been much better. We had a long run today with a good group of people and it was just splendid.

Outside of running, there have been a lot of things happening at work as of late. I should say, just this week because last week I was irate at what I was doing at work. That is, I was doing nothing; I did not even receive an e-mail last week and was so frustrated and full of mixed feelings because I was not sure if I had done something wrong and people were not trusting my work. Although it gave me opportunities to study for Orgo, I knew that that was not what I was supposed to be doing at work. However, that all changed this week.

This past week was the last week of work for the majority of the interns at Takeda. I started late, so I end a few weeks later than everyone. One thing I have not really been able to do was network myself to other supervisors or see what else was out there at Takeda. I was so locked up in my cubicle that talking to even the other interns was not really taking place. But, we had our intern send-off dinner this past Wednesday. It was a lavish affair at Pete Miller’s in Wheeling. We received free food, drinks — even a picture frame!! As the night rolled onwards, many people came and went, but I finally got to talk to some of the higher-uppers. It was interesting hearing some of their perspectives as well as being able to contribute some of my own insight on what it has been like working at Takeda. I learned of other opportunities, one even in San Diego (ANDREW) that I will have to look into in research and development.

Distinguished guests at our swinging mixer at Pete Miller’s.

It was a little sad to see the people leave that I did make friends with over the course of the internship, but I know that in this day and age, talking to other individuals at other schools is just one call away

Reminded of this gem last night


Anyways, this last bit allows me to segue into the next person commentating. As we know, everyone is going back to school again. Jackie and I had to get our goodbyes in which was pretty sad, but at least now we have a plan for staying in touch and an easy way to provide quick updates with the Real Illinois. One other individual that I had to say goodbye to this past weekend was my training partner for the summer. It’s been interesting because we were not able to accomplish what we wanted to do this summer in terms of FSU’ing, instead we accomplished much much more. We both go into our upcoming cross-country season full of confidence that the training we have put in will pay off. Unlike me however, Michael Jordan Brassea will be going to the big show for his first time. The University of Missouri has a lot in store for them as he makes his grand entrance and he talks in this post about what the last few years have been like being at home and what is exciting about the coming semester at school.

Michael Jordan Brassea

I’m BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK, (or so I’d like to say). I am Michael Brassea, many of you may not know me, but I, like many runners have a common goal to be someone who is decent at running, or, as John Brassea would say, “breaking from mediocrity.” I will be leaving home for the first time in my life at the ripe age of twenty to attend the University of Missouri. There, unknown to the Mizzou club cross-country team, I will attempt to do my best to help them improve as a club. Unlike many of the other bloggers, I cannot say I’ve ever worked a forty-hour workweek. But, I did work for the JEWEL-OSCO, for the past four years; something I can say was an enjoyable experience overall. Pushing carts, and bagging groceries isn’t where I’d like to be in twenty years, but for a 16 year-old boy, my first and only job was an easy one.  Why did I work there for so long many may ask? The answer is I didn’t really have an idea of what school or what I wanted to do with my life.

But enough of my work experience, and on to my running endeavors. My running career started my sophomore year of high school, just like our dear Zachary Warren Boehmke. Following in my twin brothers’ footsteps, I thought running would be a great time. The first year was a rough one, as expected, with very little base mileage or effort put into my running. Junior year rolled around and I began to see improvements with my times, mostly because of my summer running efforts. Finally my senior year rolled around, and with a great summer of running with people such as John Brassea, and Zachary Warren Boehmke, the year was a great success, finally breaking the 17:00 minute mark and feeling really good about the season. But some stories don’t always end happy. With a host of injuries, and sickness running rampant through our top seven, we sadly missed state by five points. With that I lost a lot of my drive to run, and didn’t do track my senior year. That was one of my bigger regrets -oh well-  as they say, YOLO.

Fast forward about three years later, a broken ankle, and no running and we are back on the comeback trail. Many thought it was all an elaborate hoax, but a few friends helped me along the way.  The summer started off slow and easy, but now I’ve got my mileage up to about 45-50 miles a week, a big step up from barely running twenty mpw in April. Throw in a few threshold workouts, and I’m feeling at the top of my game again. And that’s all I’ve got (hope this didn’t suck too bad).  A big shout-out to all who helped me along the warpath, such as Zachary Warren Boehmke, Jackie Newell, Andrew Gadz (Remember: @agaz623) for keeping the internet interesting with all of his cool pictures, and last but not least John Brassea for doing his thing in the Chuck. See everybody in HERSHEY, PA. Look our for Mizzou XC, the dark horse.


I just wanted to say really quick that people have a lot of opinions about MJB, but all I know is that I would not have gotten through this summer of training without him. Although he did not have to, he woke up and met me at Swallow Cliff every single day at 6 AM regardless of conditions. I am proud of the work that he has put in this summer and am really happy for the opportunity that he is getting at Mizzou. I am excited to see him at Loyola and at Nationals and look forward to see the summer of YOLO paying off for him, not to mention seeing him leave home. Keep it up, Mike!

That wraps up the 8th entry of The Real Illinois. Stay tuned next week for Jackie’s first entry back from the home base of Trinity U and Henry’s summary and wrap-up of his time at HDR. And hopefully, another guest commentator. Until next time…

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: