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Year II, Entry VII



Hello everybody, welcome back to another edition of The Real Illinois. In this edition, Eric sums up his trip to Costa Rica and what he will be venturing into the rest of the summer in Champaign. Beth blogs about how her stay in Colorado is going and the coach of the Illinois Cross Country Club (Mark Hayes) writes about what he has been up to. Enjoy!



Eric De Guevara

Hey Guys!

Well I’m back in the States and back to a routined lifestyle; work, run, and soon school. I’ve been here for two weeks now and everyday I have missed CR, but now after this weekend in Michigan I am happy to be back. This weekend, some friends (XC Club) and I went to our friend’s (Andrew Gazdziak) cabin in the woods to just hang out; I personally had a great time seeing everyone again. I had the opportunity to listen more about the Clubs history, met graduates of ITC, and witnessed an experience I thought I would never see but just hear stories about. What am I talking about? A man I really admire, our host for the weekend, relived his early college years — that is not something to talk about, but know that he survived and contributed to ITCs story book. To conclude this past weekend, I’m excited to be back and I love my ITC friends.


The man

So I left you reading about how I slacked off on my running due to not being motivated, but since that post I have been running everyday and I am back on that “Get Fit” plan. Being back home, I have finally been running with some friends of mine and just talking about CR and catching up with some stories which makes the runs a lot better. What I also left you off with was the 8K race that I ran, I’m going to talk a bit about that. The race was at 7:00am so I had to wake up at 5:00 so I can go for a shake out. The sun was already out but wasn’t that hot as usual. Getting ready for the race, I stood with everyone else on the start line but I was not in the front. It was7 o’clock and the horn sounded; the leaders were off. I started with a jog and it took a while to pass the starting line so I can actually run. Once I passed the line, I was already a little frustrated because that was the first time ever that I had to walk at the start of a race. To cut things short, the course were on the roads of the volcano where my town is located, so it was up the volcano and back down. Spectacular views! The downhill did not help till the end, but I passed many runners after being around the 100th person and finished 6th place with a time of 27:56, this was out of 406 runners. As you read, I wasn’t training as I usually do for races, I only ran 3 days before this race. So with this time I was completely satisfied and I broke what I wanted, the 28 barrier. dawg

Other than that, I said goodbye to Costa Rica, stayed with my family for Independence Day and the week. I really enjoyed the time back home and back to the usual food I love. Now I am back in Champaign and working in my lab as a Research Assistant in the Microbiology Department at U of I. One week over with lab and it was basically a refresher with lab materials and techniques, because this is the third summer of research I have done. Starting this week, I will begin on my own project which will be working with Archea from a Volcano in Russia and a hot spring from Yellowstone National Park, understanding how they are similar in genomes by extracting their DNA. I’m excited! Also workouts begin for my club next week so I’m also excited for that, especially the part where I wake up at 6:15am to run (*sarcasm*). I can’t complaint thought because afterwards I have the rest of the day to work and relax which really pays off, so it’s okay. Overall, I’m excited to be back working and running with friends. I can’t wait for school to begin, live in my apartment with Kevin Jorg, Kevin Lapp, and Ryan Kelch (3 awesome guys from the Illinois XC+TF Club) and well for Cross to officially begin. Ready to break some PRs as well. Woo! Thank you for reading and I will be back to tell you more about how running is going and how I am doing on my project in the lab. Ciao!




Beth McGreal

Hi hi hiya! Well these past three weeks have probably been the quickest and happiest three weeks of summer so far. There has been such good news and many changes at camp that has made time fly. Some news that made my past three weeks was the news of my brothers engagement and being recognized as counselor of the week for the third week of camp. I was happy to know that my handiwork wasn’t going unnoticed and it was reassuring to know that I was doing a good job. So, I have been working for six weeks, which seems crazy because that means day camp is just over halfway done. But since working with the Scrabbit kids, who are the local kids of Estes Park, for a month, I have been rotated to work with the Leggett Kids, or the guest kids of the YMCA. These are two VERY different programs since we are able to do a few more activities with the guest kids, so I was very excited to be rotated to change things up. So   for the past two weeks I have been able to work with the same group of kids for a week long until the next week where new campers would come in. That means from week to week, I work with a new counselor and have the ability to jump around age groups. Since I haven’t had much experience with all ages, I was excited to be able to work with first graders one day and then seventh and eighth graders the next day. Working with the guest kids has been very enjoyable since we get to do things like mini golf, the climbing wall, and probably the most exciting for me are the all day hikes. I was definitely looking forward to all day hikes because this meant I was able to lead kids on hikes and go on new trails that I haven’t been on yet in the national park. However, the all day hikes are probably my most exhausting day since I have had to really motivate kids on the hike to keep going while staying positive.


            Now onto training… I have been able to keep up on my running goals, which means running consistently and making sure to do core and mobility. One exciting running adventure that I was able to go on during the last weekend of June was attending a race in Leadville, CO. I went with a group of nine from the YMCA because some had signed up to do the heavy half, which was 15.5 miles or the full marathon. However, I did not sign up to do the race because I knew I wasn’t ready to run that many miles up a mountain and back. But I knew I wanted to run part of the race so I decided to help my friend out and jump in the race for the last five miles to finish it off. So, I was able to run, for the most part, on pretty steep downhills, which you may think sounds easy… but I haven’t been that sore from running in awhile. This race was probably one of the coolest I have ever been too. I wish I had my camera to show you the trails that we ran through because it was easily one of the prettiest sights seen with mountains all around while being on a really smooth trail. I really enjoyed being in the racing atmosphere because it gave me an extra kick of motivation afterwards, which was much needed.



Our guest contributor this week is Mark Hayes. Mark is one of the guys on the team who after a lot of our senior leadership left, he stepped up and became the guy, meaning he became the new coach of the Illinois Cross Country Club, while still taking a full slate of classes for his Chemical Engineering degree. I have a lot of respect for the amount of work Mark puts in academically as well as athletically. The job he took over was not easy, but he did a pretty fine job with it. Anyways, I’ll let Mark talk now about what he has been up to.


Mark Hayes

Hi everyone! For those of you who may not know me I’m Mark Hayes. So for some quick background, I’ve been running competitively since the 8th grade and I’m currently the head coach of IXC and the distance coach for ITC. Throughout high school I had 3 different coaches for cross country and track and even an outdoor track season where there was no coach for the men’s team. My first two years on the club team were a very different experience from high school because for the first time in my running career I was surrounded by people who were just as devoted to running as I was and I had a stable coach in Jake Englander. In Jake’s last semester at Illinois I became his understudy where I learned as much as I could about coaching and training philosophy. Now I’m entering my final year at UIUC where I’m pursuing a degree in chemical engineering with a minor in food science.

This summer I’ve been working in Barrington, IL at the PepsiCo Research and Development facility which houses Quaker, Tropicana, and Gatorade (QTG as it is known). I’m working in the Quaker division and my official title is Process Engineer Intern. I’ll do my best to give you an idea of what I’ve been working on this summer, but my work is of a proprietary nature so I can’t give any details without getting into legal trouble. At the QTG R&D facility we develop all the new products that you see on the shelves for the three major brands and also for smaller ones that you may not know are owned by PepsiCo such as Aunt Jemima.


As a Process Engineer I work mainly on developing and improving the way products are made in the factories. We have a pilot plant in Barrington which is essentially a small scale production facility that contains the equipment needed to produce any of the QTG products. Using the equipment we can make small batches of the product and then test them for quality. The process I have been working on requires some parameters to be set so that I can facilitate a particular reaction. I can then vary the other parameters to see the impact they have on the product. Parameters that we can control in the pilot plant are feed rates for ingredients, temperature control through mechanical energy input and the temperature of incoming ingredients and also the control of various moving parts in the machinery itself. Again, I’m sorry if this is vague, but it has to be out of necessity. I’m pretty excited about the work I’m doing and I’ve been able to work with a lot of other engineers. As Quaker is focused on oats and other grains, the milling of these grains plays a pivotal role in the development of new products. A couple weeks ago I had the chance to travel to Manhattan, Kansas (not NY) to learn how to mill flours myself. Through the past 8 weeks of the internship I’ve learned a lot about my process and I’m excited to see the products on store shelves in the coming year or two.


As the coach of the club team I’ve been pretty busy this summer. The first few weeks before my internship started were spent tweaking and refining the training plan for the Fall 2013 season. I had a lot of emails going back and forth between the coaching staff including Jake Englander and Mike Brothers. A lot of the training schedule had to be tailored around the meet schedule which has stayed relatively the same in the past few years. As some of you may know already, the Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational at Loyola has been cancelled and I am now in search of a new meet to replace it in our schedule. Hopefully we can secure a spot in one of several meets that look to be good substitutes. Along with finding new meets for the team I’ve also been talking to a lot of recruits this summer. I’ve had multiple incoming freshmen contact me about joining the club, and they’re split fairly evenly between men and women which is a great sign for the future of our club!


My summer training has been going pretty well so far too. After ending my track season prematurely I was eager to get fit quickly. I decided my goal for the summer months would be to run every single day and to run 1000 miles before classes start in August. I’ve had quite a bit of success so far. After my long run this morning I just completed a 70+ mile week for the first time this summer which puts me at 640 miles for the past 70 days (I have 42 days to complete the last 360). The “Goal Widget” on RunningAhead has allowed me to keep track of things pretty easily and at my current pace it is projecting 1023.5 miles for the summer. With such a high mileage load I have had to take some precautions to stay healthy, but without taking any days off this sets limits on what I can do. When I’m feeling really beat up I’ve been slowing my pace to around 7:45-8:00 min/mile for my runs instead of lowering my mileage. If any of you have been keeping up with my log you may be wondering why I’m not following my own training plan with the 3 week cycle for mileage build-up. The answer is really quite simple: I have no intentions of running at NIRCA Nationals. I found out last year that I can contribute much more to IXC/ITC by focusing my efforts on coaching than I can as a runner. Without my own races to worry about at the end of the season I can devote more time to focusing on my athletes and giving them the coach they deserve. With my academic career coming to a close I will soon be entering the workforce for good and I also wanted to see if I could handle the challenge of running high mileage and working a full time job. After college the plan was always to switch to running marathons, but I wanted to make sure I could make a serious attempt at fast times. This summer has shown me that I can at least run high mileage even while alone. Workouts will be something different but it’s a challenge I look forward to and I know that I won’t be just another weekend warrior; that running will be a big part of my life post-collegiately.



That’s all for this week! Stay tuned next week for another update from Henry and Monica and guest contributor TBD. Until then…

“In football, you might get your bell rung, but you go in with the expectation that you might get hurt, and you hope to win and come out unscathed.  As a distance runner, you know you’re going to get your bell rung.  Distance runners are experts at pain, discomfort, and fear.  You’re not coming away feeling good.  It’s a matter of how much pain you can deal with on those days.  It’s not a strategy.  It’s just a callusing of the mind and body to deal with discomfort.  Any serious runner bounces back.  That’s the nature of their game.  Taking pain.” – Mark Wetmore

Love that quote