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The Real Illinois – Entry 12

Hi there. It has been quite awhile. You may not remember us, but we are back. It’s The Real Illinois, the 12th entry in this series. Sorry for the delay in postings, but life caught up to us. Classes got busier and time was not as free to hand out. However, with the month that has gone by, there have been a lot of changes. It is getting colder, the leaves are changing, and cross-country season has been kicked into full gear.

To make up for the lack of postings, this edition is going to be a mega-post, where readers will hear from everyone involved in the Real Illinois. Make no mistake, this will be a BIG post as you will shortly see. First up is the Wolf:

Henry Wolf

Well, I’m still hurt. We have no idea what it is or how to fix it. I am defeated. The last time I’ve run and felt decent was September 2. I have lost every 5:20 AM mile that I ran this summer. It’s really disappointing to see all of that work go down the drain.

I’ve done some cross training, but my routine got messed up by EXPO. Since then, I’ve fallen out of it and for the most part I’ve stopped all physical activity. I tried running but it feels awful. I limp like crazy and do more damage than good. I just can’t seem to get into cross training. That’s the problem with getting used to running every day, nothing else satisfies the way running does.

Not running has also completely changed my schedule. My coursework, especially my lab classes, have consumed a great deal of my time. I wind up spending between 12 and 16 hours a week in Microsoft Word and Excel analyzing data and writing lab reports. This results in some really late nights.

The Fall 2012 Engineering Employment EXPO went from September 17th to 19th. As I said earlier, I was one of the people in charge of the event. On the whole, it was pretty successful. It consumed my life for about a week and I was zombie when it finally ended. We saw a 40% increase in company attendance from last year, which led to some increased profits. Now that the fall fair is completed, my term is over and I am now longer involved with EXPO. I owe my committee (which includes Andrew), big time for making it a success. It was nice to see my summer work pay off.

I went to the Civil Engineering Career Fair a few weeks ago and talked to some great companies. Among them were: HDR, CH2MHill and T.Y. Lin. All three do cool projects and I would be happy to work for any of them next summer and full-time. I would really like to get involved with HDR’s Oregon Bridge Project or St. Croix River Crossing Bridge or anything with T.Y. Lin. They are the designers of some of the most impressive and revolutionary bridges in the world. The project of theirs that really captivates me is the Self-Anchoring Suspension portion of the Bay Bridge. I keep updated on the project at:

Some new developments:

  • My brother William ran 16:12 yesterday. He is a 15-year-old sophomore in high school. He has now run 8 seconds faster than I did as a senior. He also broke 5 minutes in the mile. We are the first brother team to make it into our team’s sub 5-minute mile club.
  • I saw Real Illinois guests and good friends Ben and Declan at the Loyola Lakefront Invite a few weeks ago. They are both still working very hard and doing excellent work.
  • Lately I’ve been obsessed with Grizzly Bear, especially While You Wait for the Others. Beware, it gets big.
  • I got a Mac. Expect to hear some crappy guitar songs recorded by me sometime soon.

And on a final note: although Dianna Agron can never be replaced, there is a new girl at McKinley High, and man-oh-man, is she good-looking.

Til’ next time


Jackie Newell

Hey everyone! Greetings from San Antonio! I’ve just returned from a fun filled weekend in Terre Haute, Indiana. This was a huge weekend for my team for a couple of reasons. First of all it was our first big Division III meet with 384 runners competing and many nationally ranked teams. Also it was our first time racing our biggest regional competition Emory and Centre. Finally, it signaled the start of our Championship season.

Pre-Race Shenanigans

Before the meet we talked about beating our Regional rivals Emory and Centre.  Beating them was important because only the top 2 finishing teams at Regional proceed onto Nationals unless an “At Large” bid is granted. Beating Emory could lock up an At Large bid even if we do not beat them at Regionals. We knew that beating Centre was an achievable goal, but Trinity hasn’t defeated Emory since 2006 and that seemed a little lofty. Emory has a 15 second 1-5 gap, meaning they have a really strong pack but no front runners, and on paper they look very strong.

When we got out of the bus at Terre Haute I had a really good feeling about the race. I was so excited that my family and Zach were there! My family very rarely gets to see me race so I wanted to run well for them. Also Zach and I trained a lot together over the summer; I wanted to show him all that we worked for was paying off. I couldn’t have asked for better cross country weather or a better course. Since it was the Nationals course it was perfect, rolling hills, wide turns, and 2 big loops. The guys ran first, and while they ran well they didn’t beat Emory. Our coaches told us “the guys just missed beating them, so let’s finish on the other side of that.”

My teammates and I all took it out really hard; I came through the 1k at 3:30. From there I settled into a pack for the first 3k of the race. When I passed through the 3k mark, though, I realized that I wasn’t tired and needed to start passing. From there I just moved up through packs, on a mission to get as close to Emory as possible. Then came the final turn and the last straight away, 400 meters of pain. My male teammates were waiting at the turn screaming “Emory is right there!! Go get them!!” That was the longest finish of my life, it was truly terrifying. That “15 second pack” was just in front of me. I went after them because I knew exactly what beating Emory could mean for our National ranking.

I ended up catching four Emory girls in that 400m stretch and placing 54th. The whole time I was thinking about my team and the victory pumpkin spice lattes our coaches promised us if we defeated Emory.

Spoils of Victory

My teammates finished 13th, 14th, 27th, and 72nd. We ended up getting 5th place and beating Emory by 80 points but I think we may have celebrated more than the team that actually won the meet. We all did the Gangham style dance and were basically the annoying screaming girls at the results stand. It was so exciting. I couldn’t be prouder to be apart of such an awesome team. Now more than ever I know I made the right decision to keep running in college.

So overall my return to the Midwest was a success and I am ready to take on the rest of the season including the Conference Championships in 3 weeks! Go TUXC!


Andrew Gazdziak

School is in full swing, the leaves are starting to change, and the mornings are cool. It’s cross country season! Fall is my favorite season and the cool mornings will always remind me of cross country races. This season I’ve been able to run at Swallow Cliff and Allerton, both places that are even more beautiful in the fall.

This season has been going all right so far. I had a few pretty rough workouts right when we got back to school, however I think things are starting to come around. Even though my races haven’t gone as well as I would have liked them to, I have run a faster time at 3 of the 4 courses when compared to last year. In addition, I think I competed in most of them better this year (I have a distinct memory of dying hard the last 1k at Loyola last year). There is definitely a lot of room for improvement, especially in my time management department – it seems my school work is starting to take up even more of my time.  I don’t mind doing (most of) it though – I really enjoy my classes this semester. This summer also helped put things in perspective – my hard work will eventually pay off and I’ll have a job making some real money.

One of the things I’m looking forward to is going to Toronto this weekend. I’ll be going with Brendan, Zach, and Adam for a weekend. Adam is running a marathon and the rest of us are tagging along. I’ve never been to Toronto (or to Canada at all), so it will be awesome to check out someplace new. I’m already looking at Yelp to see what is good in our area.

Toronto + Porter Airlines

This is my last XC season, and while I haven’t been trying to think about it too much, the end is nearing quickly. Regionals is in two weeks and I’m excited to race and see what I can do with a proper week of preparation. If I can run a pretty good workout and then also race pretty well on <= 3.5hrs of sleep, I should be able to do even better with plenty of rest. As a side note, the body is a pretty amazing thing, however after my race this past Friday, I’ve decided that I never want to race on that little sleep again – I was so drained after it. Now that I know how long my assignments really take though, I don’t plan on it being an issue in the future.

That’s about it. To sum it up – fall is my favorite season, I’m excited to go to Toronto this weekend, and I can’t wait for our Nationals trip


Zach Boehmke

Oh, where to begin. Let’s start with the exciting news. Next weekend, as Andrew mentioned, our friends Brendan, Adam, and us will be traveling to Toronto to watch Adam run the marathon next weekend. While I am excited for the race itself, I am also thrilled in the manner we will be traveling there. We are traveling on Porter Airlines, which flies into Toronto and puts us a short ferry ride away from the heart of downtown. The flight is meant to be a comfortable, Pan-Am style flight and the lounge when we arrive has complementary food and drinks (self-serve latte as well) for a much cheaper price than we would have paid on another airline.

One can only hope this is our future flight attendant

Where’s Don Draper?

100 foot ferry ride

So, that should be very exciting. What else is happening? Oh, the club is running very well. We have had a handful of meets now: Eastern, Loyola, IWU, and there have been some good races by members of the club. One thing that brings me a lot of happiness is that we have found a great, consistent way to bring in money for the club. We are now working at the football games as “hawkers.” That is, we are the people walking up and down the aisles yelling witty sayings, and trying to get people to buy our product. Although it is difficult to fill the stands for a 2-4 football team that is looking worse by the week, our loyal fans are still buying concessions in droves, which makes us happy. Our most successful game was the home night game against Louisiana Tech where we were drubbed. However, even with the drubbing we made $1000 at the game and then $200 from the girls team selling puppy chow. Finding a successful way to bring in money was one of the big worries coming into the season and it is a relief to see it going well, especially to see everyone on the team so excited for it.

Anyways, I suppose I can talk about how my training is going. Long story short: not well. I have not had a good workout in quite some time. Going along with that, my races have gone from bad to worse. The only race I am happy with is my race at Eastern where I had no warm-up and the last race I felt like my feet were being run through a cheese grater because of all the blisters forming and tearing throughout. I guess that says a lot about how the season has been going if that is what I am most proud of. I did not really understand where Henry was coming from at first, but now I really sympathize with him. You put in so much work during the summer to be the best you can be, and then it all starts going downhill from something you cannot quite pinpoint or explain. The most disappointing part is not being there for my group. They (Andrew, Chris Valicka, Joe Zeller, Ryan Kelch, and more) are all running fantastic and I wanted to be right there along side them and be a key to pushing us all to good races, but that has not panned out thus far. I started going to a chiropractor again last week, so I could get my back looked at and that was a good experience. However, every run since that appointment has not been.

At this point, I still think I can salvage what is left of the season. There are 5 weeks left from yesterday to our national meet. I know I am in the best shape that I have been in in my life, so that is the hope I am hanging on to. If I can get my back/pelvic issues sorted out soon and string together a couple good workouts, and possibly a quality regional race (fingers crossed), I think I can still be the runner I wanted to be at the start of this summer when I started to put in all the work. It’s just a matter of looking at the long-term picture and not getting caught up in the current missteps.

Last point I wanted to mention: I drove out to Terre Haute this past weekend with a couple friends to watch Jackie and her teammates race. We watched the men’s and women’s races (the course is much better suited to watch the women’s race from a spectator’s standpoint). Trinity ran very well, and it was especially awesome watching Jackie run a great race. After all the work that we put in this summer together, I am glad that it is paying big dividends for her and her now, nationally-ranked team.


And now, the moment we have been waiting for. Our special contributor today is The Big Guy. The many of many names: Alex (Harrington) Harrison. Alex is a year older than me and I got to know him pretty well right off the bat my freshman year. His presence at practice was something you could rely upon as much as his eccentric behavior. Even with all his eccentricities, one cannot deny his passion for the sport. He puts in all the work and although he does not always get the results he wants, he has shown steady improvement throughout his four years here and that is very motivating. He always keeps people on track and makes sure that the primary focus is on running first and foremost. It has been nice training with him the last couple years, and there will be a noticeable absence when he is no longer a member of IXC. Anyways, here is Big Guy:

Alex Harrison

Hey TRI readers, I am Alex Harrison, a senior teammate of Zach’s on the Illinois XC Club! I have loved reading these updates since Zach started them over the summer and I finally got the chance to write one myself. A little background about myself: I started running in sixth grade, beginning with the sprints in track before I found a much better fit with the distance crew. Once I got to the long distance side of running (a mile seemed so much longer in middle school, the tracks must have been redone since then) I never looked back, joining cross-country the next year and then running all four years in high school (Go Bison!). In high school, I was perhaps a decent runner, running 4:49/10:08/16:59 for one, two and three miles (cross-country) respectively, and with running in college seeming like an unlikely possibility, I began planning my last summer of high school before going to the University of Illinois.

                  Then, the night of my worst race, I caught a break. Getting Jake Englander’s email address from a then-team member (Talbot), he and I began to talk about me running for the Illinois Cross-Country Club. So ecstatic to have the opportunity to continue my running career in college, I signed on right away. The first thing I did after moving into my dorm was to run with the team for the first time. Over the last few years on the team, I have continued to run and improve, met many close friends (all of my roommates have been teammates) and made countless great memories.

Moving on with the story, this summer it hit me that I was a senior, staring down the barrel of my last cross-country season. With that in mind, I began training diligently, trying to maximize my potential without burning out as I have in most of my cross seasons to date. I was helped greatly by the fact that my best friend and training partner since high school was in town the entire summer, something that had not happened since we were both in high school together. He and I ran together practically every day, except for the workouts. More importantly, he designed an arduous, thrice-weekly strength program that we did almost without fail the entire summer. My mileage was a little bit lower this summer than in the past, but I am hoping that the emphasis on strength work will pay off large dividends come championship season and we race several tough courses to end the year.

                  The other notable thing that I did this summer was that I interned with Parson Brinckerhoff, an international engineering consulting and project management firm, on the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP). The OMP is a long-term project by the City of Chicago and the airlines to construct several new runways and their supporting taxiways and facilities to increase the traffic capacity (allow more planes to simultaneously land and take off) of the airport. Personally, I was out overseeing the general contractors, ensuring all of the work was up to specifications and plans, and that we could pay the contractors for it. It was the best summer of my life; being able to work out on the airfield barely 100 meters from planes landing was incredible, and my coworkers and the crews I oversaw were fantastic. This job cemented the fact that I want to go into construction after I graduate, and I hope I can come back and work there later. Not wanting to bore you with the technical details, I will keep the story rolling, and if you want to ask a question, just shoot away.

                  Once I got back to school, my training continued, getting more intense as the weeks to nationals slowly began to melt away. Seeing everyone again after a long summer and getting to know the new freshmen was exciting, but it is now time to get to brass tacks. Taking only 12 hours this semester, I thought it would be a great year for my training (and my racing in turn), being able to sleep in and continue to do more of the little things that matter so much in this sport. Both fortunately and unfortunately, that appears to be not the case. Several of these classes appear to be much more work than I was anticipating, and I will continue to be swamped with work the way I have been all throughout my academic career. On the bright side, through talking to my pavement professor, I am now working in his lab in Rantoul. Having worked on paving a lot this summer, I am very interested in learning more about it, and this is a fantastic opportunity for that. It is 10 hours per week, with me driving out to Rantoul twice a week, but it does pay (and pay well) and I am enjoying greatly so far.

So far, however, these new developments have not hindered in the least my training, and my season has started on the right foot so far. My training has progressed more or less to plan at this point, and it looks like we are going to be going eight or nine deep this year in terms of top runners, which is much better than what we have had in the past. We have been rolling in our workouts, with group two sticking tight every time we get going. I am really looking forward to Loyola (editor’s note: this was written two weeks before this post) and seeing how we perform under hopefully ideal race conditions. Ideal racing conditions are not something we have seen yet this season, the rust-buster notwithstanding. Our first real race, at Eastern Illinois, we had no time to warm up after a thunderstorm came through town, with more threatening behind it, and so it became a race to see who could hold on the longest, with times across the board being slow. With that behind us, we need to keep training well and keep focused on Nationals.

All right, I need to get back to working on real schoolwork now, but this was a lot of fun, and if Zach asks, I would be more than happy to write another. Happy trails and good luck on your training!



Like always, I want to thank all my contributors, especially my guest contributor, Alex Harrison. There was a lot of good stuff in this week’s post and I hope all the readers enjoyed that The Real Illinois is back. Hopefully there will be a post in two weeks with a regionals update, but if not there will be one shortly after.

End-of-post quote note: This poem I am posting was given to us by our assistant coach, Brian Glaza (Team GOC) back in senior year. It’s not the most eloquent piece of literature, but it was always a motivating force for me. I used to read it before every race and with the recent struggles, I have been keeping it in the back of my mind to remind myself of the main focus, but here it is:

The Man Who Thinks He Can

If you think you’re beaten, you are. 
If you think you dare not, you don’t. 
If you’d like to win, but think you can’t, 
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost. 
For out in the world we find, 
Success begins with a fellow’s will, 
It’s all a state of mind.

If you think you’re out-classed, you are; 
You’ve got to think high to rise. 
You’ve got to be sure of yourself, 
If you ever want to obtain a prize.

Life’s battles does not always go, 
To the stronger or faster man. 
But, soon or late, the man who wins, 

-Napolean Hill


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