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Year II, Entry IV


Welcome back to The Real Illinois. This is the fourth post of this summer and I hope that everyone reading this has settled into their own summer routines whether it is holding down a steady job, traveling the world, or just bumming around at home. We can now actually say now that “el derecho” is over that summer is finally here. The heat has not been as bad as last year just yet, but there is still time. Anywho, in this edition, Jackie writes her first post about concerning how she has settled into her summer schedule. I fill you on what I have been up to. Also, a special appearance by someone who has such a passion for running that they have made a career as a coach out of it.

Now… Heeeeeeere’s Jackie



Jackie Newell

Hey everyone! So much has happened in 3 weeks! First of all I finally moved into my house. It is so big and spacious and I love having a room all to myself. The weekend after that a couple of my gals came into town and we explored San Antonio and all that it has to offer. It was awesome! We went to the pub run (more like pub walk) and then hosted a housewarming party at the new place. We had a blast BUT I think its safe to say we will never be on good terms with our neighbors again. Now, this weekend, one of my graduated teammates is getting married! She is marrying a guy that she met her freshman year on the cross-country team. See! Sometimes team-love really does workout!


Now, onto my job. I love doing research. My professor lets me take control of my own experiments and really cares about me developing as a chemist. I’ve learned so much about catalysis and experimental design from this. Currently I am working on a hydrogenation experiments at mild temperature and pressure (I will spare all of you the rest of the details). Also, the work environment is amazing. I get to work with people my own age and I still am getting such valuable experience. Working 5 days a week full-time is exhausting at times but I love how it keeps me busy. In summary, everything is going really well at work and I look forward to it everyday so much more than I did working at the food science lab last year.

Every weekday morning I get up at the crack of dawn to go running. My gals and I take off at 5:45am from Trinity. It’s early but one of them has work at 8:00am; so ya do what ya gotta do for your friends. It hasn’t been too bad so far, I enjoy having a lot of the time in the morning to do core and then hang around with my teammates while drinking coffee. After work I walk over to the athletic center and ride the exercise bike for 30-45 minutes. I try to get this done every weekday but I usually end up getting busy and have to take 1 day off cross training. I really like the routine of it though; its very convenient that I work at the same place that I workout at both in the morning and the afternoon. Despite all of the social activities that have been going on, I’ve remained very motivated. I’ve been trying to stay on track with my diet and just be super consistent with my training. I know that is the best way to reach my goals.


So what’s next for me? Well for starters I’m returning to Illinois for the Fourth of July. I’m excited to see the old running gang again (Michael and Zach), as well as my gals and family. Also I plan on signing up for a race! So maybe I’ll celebrate America’s independence with a nice little 5k. After that its just more work and running for me. I’m loving every minute of this summer but I also look forward to competing in cross country this fall.. Bring it on TUXC 2013!


Zach Boehmke


Wow. It is hard to believe that we have already been on summer break for over a month. I have been staying very busy the last few weeks and am already a third of the way through my internship this year (where is the time going?!). I just got back from North Carolina a week ago, so things have been all over the place, but I will try to touch on everything.

Two Fridays ago I went on my first family vacation with my dad since I was 12. Well, that is not necessarily true. My dad and I went golfing in Arizona for a few days after I graduated from high school. Anyways, so we went to North Carolina and stayed in Cullowhee (close to Western Carolina) in the middle of the Smoky Mountains. The main theme of the trip was relaxation. While there, we did a lot of boating, jet-skiing, sitting by the pool, golfing and paddle boarding. We had a really nice house that we rented in a neighborhood up in one of the mountains. The one thing that I did not get to do was hike, which i was very surprised about. Unfortunately, where we were staying, there were no trails on our mountain. There were trails on the other mountain (where our club house was located) and at Western Carolina, but I just stuck to the treadmill and the dangerous, blind mountain roads.

Carolina 3

The Lake


View from our house

When I was in North Carolina, I got in a great routine for running and lifting. At the end of the road by my house, down a very steep hill was a fitness center where I spent a lot of my time. Core was my main emphasis while out there and will be for the rest of this training season as I try to strengthen my back to keep up with the training. I had a great hill for strength training and plyometrics, so I utilized that to my advantage a few times. I also realized that I don’t hating running on a treadmill as much as I thought I did out there. While it obviously did not compare to what could have been a great outdoor running experience in the Smokies, it served as an adequate substitute to keep me consistently running.

As a whole, my training is going very well right now. As I mentioned, I am not running as much mileage this summer. I actually just looked and last year at this time I did 52 this week and that is where I will be at the end of the summer. I am doing a lot of strength training at the gym that is conveniently located across the street from me in Vernon Hills (it is also complementary!). The only facet that is lacking where I live is hills. Where I live, there are no hills whatsoever, just flat, crushed limestone. Because of this, I have to start taking advantage of Swallow Cliff and Big Bertha.


I will begin my segue to work now. One thing I did want to mention because it relates to the previous paragraph is just a quick shout-out to how much my company cares about their employees. It has taken me a year to realize, but the opportunities provided are wonderful. There is a complementary fitness center on campus with fitness and wellbeing classes that take place during the work day. These facilitate their “Biggest Loser” competitions. The cafeteria is loaded with options and while the healthy ones are  not necessarily pushed, they are more than advertised. There are other things available that I am not going to go into , but it is really cool to see what is provided, so that employees have as much of a stress-free environment as possible to do their best work.


Home for the summer

Outside of a little hiccup this week when I woke up at 11 (3.5 hours after normal start time, stupid Blackhawks), my internship experience has been going great. Unlike last year, it is a rare occasion when I am not doing anything. I get a lot of encouragement and positive feedback every day and it is nice to see that I have earned some trust from the work I put in last year. There are a couple different projects that I am working on as well as a follow-up on our submission from last year.

I suppose I can describe a little better what I do now that I am more familiar with it. So, I am in the Medical Writing Department, which is one of the components of the super-ceding Clinical Sciences Department. Because of where I am located, I am able to see everything that is going on in the drug study process. Everything the other departments do feeds into us and all the information must be consolidated and broken down down into easily understandable components. This year, I have become part of the actual writing process, whether it is putting together many page appendices for the end of clinical study reports, or writing the actual shell that will be filled out and completed once more data comes in. I still do a lot of data entry, which is easy, but time-consuming. Where it comes in very handy is coming across new medical terminology that I am unfamiliar with. If there is something I do not know, I spend some brief time wikipedia-ing it and that has greatly broadened my understanding of  the human body and disease. I have noticed that this has been a better use of my time than other things I could be looking up online. There are other projects I will be starting and finishing throughout my time, so as they come up I can elaborate further.

One thing that was unfortunate because of my vacation was that I missed the intern meet-and-greet. This was more than meeting just the interns (which I have been able to do much more so this year since I am not locked in my cubicle studying organic chemistry during lunch); it was also an opportunity to meet a lot of the leadership in Takeda, a great chance for networking, one of my goals for the summer. While I missed that, I have gotten to get to know some of the interns pretty well since they live with me at the Extended Stay in Vernon Hills. I also had a luncheon on Thursday with the leadership team in Clinical Sciences along with the five other interns, so that was another good opportunity. I am looking forward to the next eight weeks and the opportunities that will become available.

That is all I have for now. I tried to touch on a little of everything, and hope that it was interesting. It’s been a great ride for me so far!



Next up is our guest contributor. Her name is Emily Daum and she is an assistant coach at Trinity University (where Jackie goes to school). Jackie recommended that she write for this blog and so she has. I hope the readers enjoy her story as much as I did.


Emily Daum

Well first of all, a little background on who I am – I’m the assistant cross country and track and field coach at Trinity University. I graduated from Trinity myself in 2009 after four wonderful years there. During that time, I slowly increased mileage from the mid 40’s to low 80’s, and went from being an 18:33 5000m runner my freshman year to a 17:09 by senior year. In my main event, the 3,000m steeplechase, I ran 10:59 at my best freshman year and worked my way down to 10:28. Needless to say, upon graduating I had a desire to keep improving.

I’ve been out of college for four years now and have definitely improved, in at least one event, every year. I’ve got my 5000m time down to 16:33 and knocked my open 3000m time down to 9:41. I’m moving more towards the longer races now and they’re starting to grow on me a little. I’ve never had a serious injury and I think that’s in large part due to taking easy days easy (~7:40-8:00 pace), getting consistent sleep (~7.5-8hrs night), and making sure I eat a lot! (I try to tell my athletes I’d rather have them be a little over than under, because the consequences far outweigh the benefits if you’re not giving your body the proper nutrients).


Running post-collegiately is definitely a bit more challenging compared to college, but I’ve cheated the system a little bit that respect. I married someone who is just as dedicated to running, if not more so, than me. His name is Jeremy and we met my freshman year, on the cross country team, at Trinity. He’s been such an amazing role model for me. He trains more for the longer races now, half marathon/marathon and has gotten his times down to 1:08:35 for the half and 2:27:38 for the marathon. He also has some speed in him too! He went sub 15:00 in the 5000m just earlier this year. I could go on and on about Jer, but I don’t want to take up too much space. He writes training plans for both of us and it’s been a wonderful last four years. We stay on somewhat of the same schedule as we did in college, as far as breaking up the year into different seasons. This allows us to train and peak for certain races each year as well as gives us the mental and physical breaks we need to sustain training at a high level. I didn’t ever think I’d be a professional runner after graduating, but I wanted to see how much I could improve and I’ve loved the journey thus far. We’ve gotten really connected with the local running community as well. We’ve got a little sponsorship from Asics and Soler’s Sports, a local running store here in San Antonio, so they definitely help to alleviate the cost of running as much as we do. Lots of miles equals lots of shoes!


As far as being in the grown up world and working, I just started finished up my first year as the assistant cross country and track and field coach at Trinity University. I’ve wanted to get into coaching since I started running in college and now that I’m here…I absolutely love my job! I really lucked out that I’m able to coach at my alma mater. My goal is to instill a love and respect for running to every athlete on the team. I left high school thinking I really enjoyed running, but it wasn’t until college that I really developed a passion for it. I

In a nutshell I’ve surrounded myself with running and I couldn’t be happier. Jeremy and I still find time to do non-running things and hold down a relatively normal life (as normal as you can get for running 90+ miles a week). We hang out with family and friends, love our dogs to pieces, love cooking and bowling, and go on vacations when we can. I’m definitely excited to see where the next four years will take me!

Emily Winning RnR Dallas2013


That is all for this week. I want to extend a thanks to our guest contributor, Emily Daum. I hope readers enjoyed this week’s version of The Real Illinois. Next week, we will check back in with Eric and Beth and see what they have been up to. Until next time…

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” – Beverly Sills


The Real Illinois – Entry 14



Welcome back to The Real Illinois: good news edition. In the last post, readers were able to see how seasons ended for Andrew, Henry, and I. You were also able to see how Jackie was able to achieve her own personal goals for the season, but that was not the ending to her story. Two weeks ago, Jackie and her Trinity University team went to DIII Nationals in Terre Haute, Indiana. I was there and it was a beautiful day for running, but I’ll let Jackie tell what actually happened.

Jackie Newell


Hey everyone! Thank you for hangin’ in there and for keeping up with me all season. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Now who wants to hear about the Division III National Championships?!

The Thursday before Thanksgiving, my team and I made our final trip of the season to the National Championships. I was really unprepared for the whole event and I could not figure out why I wasn’t nervous. I actually wanted to be nervous but I could not muster it up. I was excited to race in such a large competitive field, but I had no expectations for myself. It’s a really weird feeling to achieve your goals because then it seems like there’s nowhere to go from there. The general sentiment on the team was “Yay we’re here! ..Now what?”


By the time Saturday rolled around though I gained a greater sense of purpose and my competitive edge was back. The attitudes of my teammates however were all over the place. We had girls cracking joke and dancing at the line, while others were too nervous to really talk at all. I tried my best to just stay focused on doing well in this one last race.

I was also really excited to see my mom, grandma, and coach from high school. It was cool that they were all able to make it out and see me. ALSO got to see Zach, Michelle, and Evan, which was awesome! It was so nice to have support from friends and family. Especially ZACH because this is what we talked about all summer (on our weekend and post-work runs) and then all the sudden it was here in real life!

Anyways, back to the race.. When the gun went off there was a stampede of girls in front of me. I was warned that there would be no “bad” runners to beat, but still I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the sinking feeling I experienced when I realized my whole team was in the back ¼ of the field. I panicked, we had such a great season and I didn’t want it to end in disappointment.

According to the results my team was in 18th place at the 3k mark. That must have been the time that we all really started to move up while other teams fell back. Our 2 front runners worked their way to the top 50 and ended up about 5 seconds apart for 43rd and 51stplace. Rosemary, a girl who battle a stress fracture all season, finished 80th. I worked the entire race to get closer and closer to my teammate, Jessica, who was only 50 meters ahead of me. I decided that if girls were going to pass me then they were going to have to work for it.


Going into the final straight away there were people 3 deep on either side screaming their heads off. I sprinted as fast as I could because I was not going to lose 20-30 points for my team by getting passed in the final straight away. I finished a couple seconds behind my teammate Jessica to round out the top 5. My coach told us we were 11th and we all started cheering and going crazy inside the gated chute. We really could not believe it. Even though there was a scoring error and the team was really 12th we are all still really happy with how we placed because we were only 10 points outside of the top 10. None of the girls on my team expected a finish like that. I guess the biggest factor was that on that day, at that race, we all showed up and ran our very best.


I am really proud of the way my team competed this season. I already can’t wait for next year. We graduate no one out of the top 7, and 5 of us will be seniors. I plan on training even harder from here. I know that with the right amount of work and dedication we can achieve anything… and by anything I mean a top 3 team finish next year. But for now I guess there’s just track to think about… BRING ON THE STEEPLE!



When I came up with the idea of The Real Illinois, I was not too sure what was going to come of it. My original intentions were to have an additional way to keep track of the activities of my summer outside of my running log. It was a way to keep my thoughts straight and find a way to maintain some balance in the most hectic summer of my life. From there, the idea evolved to include a few of my friends. I was not able to keep in contact with them as much as I wanted to, so I thought it would be interesting to see what they were doing in print. While I knew for the most part all about Jackie’s summer from consistently training with her, it was great to see how Henry was doing in his new environment and how Andrew was doing in a foreign city.

Over the course of the summer and eventually when school began, I was unable to maintain my original consistency that I wanted. I knew going in that that was going to happen, so I wanted to make sure I at least provided monthly updates and a way to see how the seasons culminated. As one can see, for the majority of us (Andrew, Henry, and I), we did not obtain the direct results that we wanted. Between injuries, lack of sleep, and just leading the lifestyle of a typical college undergrad, the training that was built up and worked on so hard over the summer went down the drain. Luckily, Jackie was there to keep providing updates on her fantastic season. And that is what I wanted to see. Ideally, Henry, Andrew, and I would have had the seasons we trained for and been contributing members to our running groups, and team in general. But, that is how it is with running; it is not always ideal, however failure one season can allow lessons to be learned, and hopefully success the next season. Jackie has found her niche. She has found what works and what it takes to be successful and be an integral member of her team. That helped push Trinity University to a 12th place finish in the country. The remaining three of us… we will find that niche and keep trying to get to that next level.

My hope for this project, this blog-ography as I kept calling it over the summer, was that someone would find it interesting, relatable, and a little bit comforting. I am not sure if any of the four of us knew what we were getting ourselves into this summer. As 20-year olds, we were preparing ourselves for a future of running and working and this was just the first taste. Once many people get into the real world, running and other forms of exercise fall to the bottom of their totem poles of priorities. Regardless of the reason, they become sedentary. That represents over 50% of our country now. I know this was just a brief 3 month sample of trying to maintain a steady routine of running and working, but what the four of us showed is that it can be done. Also, the guys that I worked with and ran with at Takeda (Rodney and Rob) slammed that point home, as did all of the other former alum and contributors to The Real Illinois over the past few months.  Running is not something that has to be an activity that you participate in high school and college, and then that’s that. Running is a lifelong outlet that brings balance to people’s lives. I think it brings the balance necessary to relax and get away from that cubicle and put that 40+ hour work week behind you; the tv sure does not do that. Not only that, running does not require fancy facilities, scholarships, and the best resources for success. What matters is the enthusiasm, and the work effort that a runner brings to the table, as well as the environment one finds themselves in. As a captain on her team, Jackie and other members promised dry seasons to their teammates. They accomplished that and look what happened. It’s little things like that that made the difference and I hope over the course of the last few months that we were able to demonstrate that.

As for the future of The Real Illinois, it is up in the air. There may be occasional updates, but there are no promises for what is in store. It was a summer project, and maybe it will be a summer project again next year. I hope that all the readers enjoyed reading it as much as the rest of the contributors and I enjoyed writing. Until next time…

“Success isn’t how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.”

– Steve Prefontaine

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

The Real Illinois – Entry 11

After the longest break in The Real Illinois History, we are now back. This will be the 11th entry and the first in-semester updates from two of our correspondents. Today, Henry and Jackie provide quick up-to-dates of their scholastic and athletic journeys of the last few weeks. Unfortunately, there will be no additional contributor after them today, but hopefully readers will still find interest from other columns and editorials. But first up is Henry Wolf.

Henry Wolf

It has been a while since I’ve last written. There is a lot to update on. Coming back to school, I kind of wish I was still working at HDR.

            I guess I’ll start with school. This semester I am taking only 14 hours, but there are two lab sections that are extra time consuming. My courses are CEE 300 and 380 (Behavior of Materials and Geotechnical Engineering), TAM 335 (Fluid Dynamics) and CLCV 231 (Development of Ancient Cities). So far I like them all pretty well and they have all thrust a heavy workload on me from the start. My favorite so far is probably Geotechnical Engineering, soil classification and mechanics is pretty cool stuff, plus there are no labs. I expect to learn a lot about writing lab reports and to finish up my core Civil coursework this semester.

Running has sort of been a disaster since I came back. My first two weeks I did around 60 miles and had some pretty good workouts. I felt fast, strong and fit. Then the Illini Challenge, our season rust-buster happened. I ran 6k in 21:50, which was roughly at my threshold workout pace and slower than my freshman year time. The field went out fast and even though I was several seconds fast through the first mile I was in DFL. I tried to pick it up around 2k, but after a decent move I hit the wall and started struggling to even maintain pace.

If a bad race wasn’t enough, I had dead legs and a nagging quad/groin injury bothering me as well. As I normally do, I ran through the discomfort, but unfortunately this didn’t go away, instead getting worse. After trudging through 2.5 at 8:10 pace last Wednesday I decided to take some time off and try to heal up. This meant that I had to skip last Friday’s race at Eastern Illinois, which is normally a fast race. I really think that I could have run around 28:00 if I was able to run, but talk is cheap.

I’ve been cross-training the past few days, swimming a mile then aqua-jogging for easy days and stationary biking for long runs. Zach’s been a bit banged up too, so I had some company on my long bike ride Sunday. Fortunately, I went to our campus free physical therapy and had one of the best experiences with a trainer ever. He seemed to find the source of my problem and gave me a list of things that will fix me up quick. Normally people just tell me to take time off and rest. I’ll do what he says and I’m seeing him again Thursday where he’ll hopefully give me the go-ahead to run.

The Engineering Employment EXPO is coming up rapidly. It is next week from Monday to Wednesday and I have been doing a lot of work making sure that everything is good to go at the fair. We have 259 companies registered to attend, which is about a 40% growth from last year. We got a Daily Illini article, our campus newspaper, so check it out here if you want. Hopefully everything runs smoothly for us next week and all our hard work and preparation pays off.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. Just so you know, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have released some new B-sides from their album I’m With You. Even though Josh Klinghoffer is playing guitar they are pretty good. John (Frusciante) also released an avant garde electro-snyth-pop EP called Letur-Lefr. I promise you’ve never heard anything like it.


Jackie Newell

I am now a week and a half into my Junior of college. I honestly cannot believe how fast time goes by, sometimes I still feel like a Freshmen. My class schedule is proving to be a challenge but nothing that I can’t handle.. yet. I am taking a lot more science classes including Physical Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, and Integrative Biology, but I am finding the material really interesting! As nerdy as this sounds, I really enjoy figuring out why things happen the way that they do. I am also enrolled in Country Western Dance, so to my Illinois comrades, prepare for some Texas Two-Step!

Jackie and friends

In my last entry I mentioned that being a captain forced me to make some tough decisions concerning things like goals and alcohol. We decided as a team to focus on becoming the best TUXC ever and gain a really positive reputation on campus. To do this we are going to win meets, NOT get in trouble for stupid pranks, and refrain from breaking the ice baths again. Last year we had a dry season and I absolutely despised it. This year we are just preaching self-responsibility, and hoping that as the season winds down the team will take their training seriously on the weekends. I don’t think that drinking a couple beers effects performance anymore than eating a piece of cheesecake does, but getting blacked out can definitely set an athlete off course. I personally decided to have my own dry season because I want to give this season everything that I have… its only 11 weeks of saying “no.” It also helps that my friends are very supportive of my decision and some are in a dry season of their own for soccer. I don’t think I could make such a tough commitment without them.

Balancing school and running this year has also proved to be a challenge. My team has practice at 6:30am and 5:30pm. In the mornings we run and in the afternoon we aqua jog or run and then do light core-work. I like the routine, but it is all time consuming. However, every minute spent pounding the pavement or in the pool will be worth it when we win Regionals. While it is still two months away, the thought of a Regional Championship is always in the back of my mind. Our main competition is Emory University, Rhodes, and Centre College. My teammates and I are just trying to keep our focus and determination until that meet. I know we can win, we just need to close our 1-5 gap. While these teams have defeated us in the past, my team is older and has more depth than ever before.

This past Friday Trinity had its first meet. Two of our top girls were injured so I finished 3rd on the team, and 7th overall. It was a really great first race though, I managed to stay competitive and keep my eyes up the whole time! I know I’m having a good race when I am “racing” instead of just running to finish. My team also competed really well and one of our girl’s got 1st. The meet was a really great preview for the rest of the season, our next meet is in two weeks in Houston Texas at Rice University. Bring it on!


It is good to see that Jackie is doing well and her commitment to the team and its wellbeing is very impressive. As for Henry, finding a trainer who knows his stuff seems like it should be a good omen for him. He has worked too hard this summer (as everyone has read) for this to hold him back for too long. In two weeks, Andrew and I will provide our updates which will include our escapades from the first two meets (including quite a barnburner at Eastern Illinois).

But for now, enjoy some interesting articles:

If you are into politics, you have probably heard about Paul Ryan’s miss-step about his marathon time. This miscue is getting a ton of airplay and here is an abcnews article about it:

If you are lacking sleep, here could be a reason why:

If you have the time available or you are Adam Sukienniek, you will probably get a kick out of this video talking about the leading causes of death in today’s society:


That’s all for now. I am hoping for a contributor to come out of the woodwork for next week, but until then:

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier

The Real Illinois – Entry 5

Another week has gone by which means its time for the next installment of The Real Illinois. This is the first week where it seems like summer is starting to fly by. There is one more week until August and a couple more weeks of work. This week we are checking back in with Henry and Jackie. Unfortunately, we do not have another blurb from someone else like last week, but hopefully you will still enjoy the tales of this week and then look forward to what the future will bring.

Henry Wolf

Hello again. Where to start? I’m doing the same things that I was doing in my last writing. I have been very busy between running, working, commuting and managing EXPO. This week I worked 50 hours. I will work 50 next week too and probably until schools starts. We are getting started on our big project; the design for the reconstruction of a seven-mile stretch of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90). Our contract for this project is about $20 million and we’re pushing to get through it as quickly as possible to keep up with an ambitious construction start set by the tollway.

Although I was expecting to do mostly tollway work this week I wound up spending about half of my week on our Fairfield Road project. This work involved working on the temporary traffic signals used during the various stages of construction. In this system there are cameras that are posted on top of traffic lights that are focused on these detection zones (red boxes in picture below). “As your vehicle enters … (these zones) … within the camera’s field of view, the camera’s processor detects a change in the ‘zone’. An output is sent to the traffic signal’s controller (the computerized ‘brain’ housed in a nearby metallic cabinet controlling the intersection’s timing) that says a vehicle is requesting green time for its direction.”  I arranged the detection zones according to past plans and standards defined by the client. It was very interesting and I learned a lot. I had learned about this method of traffic control in CEE 310 (Transportation Engineering) last semester and it was really cool to have things learned in class carry over to real work. I also love the feeling that I had an important role in making plans that will eventually be constructed (pending approval). Who knows, maybe my placement of these detection zones ends up saving lives (or at least time).

 Running is better than last time. I checked my log and over the past two weeks I only said I felt bad in about half of my entries. We had our first workout of the season this past Tuesday. It went better than anticipated. Mark, our new coach and longtime training group partner, lives in the area so we get to do workouts together. I use the term “together” as loosely as possible because I spent the whole workout trying to keep up with him. I am very fortunate to have him living nearby and Ben upstairs, they both have helped keep me motivated through the summer doldrums. My legs are feeling better and don’t bother me as much during runs any more. Hopefully I continue to stay healthy. Now that I’ve got my legs under me a bit I hope to increase my mileage a bit and continue to build from there to my original goal of 60-65 miles a week.

I’ve definitely been sleeping less lately and am very tired. This week we worked from 8:30 am to 7 pm, which meant that we would leave home around 7:30 am and return around 8 pm. When I get back home I eat dinner and check the EXPO e-mail account. After that I try to play guitar and read a little bit before I go to sleep. It has been difficult to feel like I’m doing much. I had a list of things I wanted to do this summer and I haven’t been able to do many of them. I hope that this doesn’t become the norm for my life; I don’t want to find that the real world is where dreams are squelched.

That’s it from me for a fortnight . Please watch this video. It is quite good.

Jackie Newell

Since the last update things have definitely turned around for me both in running and at my internship. I think I was just really stressed about keeping up with mileage and work was overwhelming. Now though, I am back in control. These past two weeks I logged 65 miles and 64 miles, and honestly it was surprisingly easy. Once I accepted the fact that I was going to be doubling 5 days a week… I just did it.  My workouts have also been going much better. I always do them at 5:00am on Tuesday mornings and the routineness of that has made me much more mentally prepared for the hard effort.  What I look foreward to most though is long runs. The meat and potatoes of a solid summer of training.  I’ve been running them at “medium” pace and its been going so well! Last weekend Zach and I conquered some hills and ran about 10 miles of our 12 miler at 7:30 pace. Then this weekend we ran in the Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon. It was so awesome to see all of the people who are so enthusiastic about running. We sang One Direction, fist pumped to Avicii, and Zach kept yelling out random Nicholas Cage quotes. The race itself though proves how far I’ve come over the past year. Last year I ran 1:39:40, this year 1:35:19 on the same course. I can’t wait to start racing in the fall, I’m looking to do big things and the hard work I’ve put in the past few months is going to help me get there.

Early in the race: still all smiles

It’s so nice to be optimistic about my running again. I also read a book called, Racing Weight (definitely recommend it for anyone interested in the science behind peak performance). I didn’t agree with some of the eating philosophies that the author preached but I think that in order to figure out what is best for me personally I need to listen what other people have to say, and then evaluate what I want to do with that information. Likewise, I adjusted my Monday, Wednesday, Friday lifting routine accordingly. The author claims that power lifting is better than endurance lifting because it works the muscles in a different way. I was very intruiged by this so now I lift heavier for less reps. Goal for the end of summer: 1 pull up. Sidenote: My 16 year old brother and I decided to do them the other day… he did 17 and I did 0.5.


“Rock N’ Rollin”

My internship is also going a lot better. This is mostly because I’m done in 2 weeks! The challenges I face at work are making me much better at it, and I can appreciate that. Furthermore the internship isn’t so bad now because they are starting to trust me to actually do my own work. I’ve also learned to trouble shoot the questions they ask me that I normally wouldn’t know the answer to by referring my supervisor to my careful notes. Some days I even get let out early! On those days I always come home and watch a little How I Met Your Mother before I venture onto the roads for an easy 3 mile double.

Well that’s about all that’s going on right now for me. I hope everyone has a great week of training; remember to stay tough and reach those goals.

Post Race- The Trial of Miles


Because there is nobody giving their own personal testimony this week, I figured I would hop on my soapbox momentarily. For a couple years, I volunteered at the Chicago Marathon and while I thought it was interesting, I did not necessarily fine it attracting. The marathon experience was something that I figured I would do at some point to try it out — maybe as a post-collegiate option for motivation to stay in shape. Today I ran the Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon with Jackie. It was an experience unlike any other that I have had in running. While I did not race it, I still found myself riding the Runner’s High literally the entire time until I crossed the finish line. The set-up, the support, the camaraderie- its all spectacular and I really encourage people to try if not a marathon, then at least a half marathon. I will probably write more about it in my next post.

A couple extra things:

Jackie mentioned Racing Weight, here is the link to the site: There are a lot of articles on there with a good amount of information that I am sure someone will find interesting.

I have been hearing a lot as of late about the “Paleo Diet.” Otherwise known as the caveman diet, it is a nutritional plan based on the foods that the early hominids we came from chose to eat… you know, the ones that were all supplanted by Homo sapiens. Anyway, here is a link belittling the diet:

That is all I have for this week. It is not necessarily as dense as last week, but I hope that readers were able to gain something from it. Next week, look forward to the perspectives of Andrew and Zach and, perhaps, somebody new. Stay tuned.

“I don’t think about the miles that are coming down the road, I don’t think about the mile I’m on right now, I don’t think about the miles I’ve already covered. I think about what I’m doing right now, just being lost in the moment.” – Ryan Hall

The Real Illinois- Entry 1


Four individuals all striving to reach a common goal: get into the best shape that they possibly can for their upcoming cross-country seasons. Sound familiar? How about adding a twist to it? Four individuals all striving to reach a common goal: getting into the best shape possible while working 40 hours a week to prepare for a future outside of running. Let’s get this straight – there will be no Olympics in our future, no American records or Collegiate records in the 1500, no scholarships or fancy, sponsored facilities, and finally, no cabin in the woods to focus on one thing and one thing only: running. Running is our hobby, not our future. It is an activity that we participate in to give our minds release and our bodies freedom from our claustrophobic lab stations or cubicles.

But is that all? That sounds like a pretty bleak way to look at the situation. However, work is only temporary, as the four individuals being profiled will be back to school in the fall to focus on grades, but also, their own championship seasons. And that is the real reason why we are putting our efforts into this extra-curricular activity outside of our jobs. We all have the chance to be competitive and be leaders for our respective teams. For one of us, that team represents DIII Trinity University. For the rest of us, the team is the University of Illinois Cross Country Club. All of the miles and extra efforts that are currently being put in will hopefully yield trips to Nationals and possibly a national championship.

So, here is what is going to happen. We are going to follow along in the lives of these four individuals as they go through their daily lives. There will be weekly updates to keep track of current fitness and emotional states. This project will go through the course of the season and hopefully will provide some eventual insight into the lives of the worker by trade and runner by past-time.

Now, here are the individuals:


Andrew Gazdziak

PRs: 400- 58.3 3000- 9:10 3K Steeple- 10:14 5000- 15:57 8000- 26:47

I’m Andrew and this summer I’m working and living in San Diego, CA. I’m 21.

This summer is the get fit plan 2.0. Let me tell you a little bit about the get fit plan. It all started last summer. I had taken a season off of running to focus on school and by the time summer rolled around I was working on getting back in shape. There were some obstacles at first, like a badly rolled ankle, but I wasn’t fully committed until one night. To make a long story short let’s just say after a night out I bought a pizza on the way home, consumed it, and then proceeded to buy ANOTHER pizza at a store closer to home (I didn’t eat it). The next day I decided enough was enough and I was going to take this thing seriously.

 I’m on the get fit plan: summer 2012 edition. This summer I’m up against snakes, hills, and moms running with kids in their strollers (seriously, they are everywhere). Highlights of this plan are: Core / mobility 3x a week, leg strength, lunges, and the all-important phase 12. So far it’s been going great and I hope to keep it up. My goal is to train hard this summer and to be a contributing member to the team this fall, through both my leadership and as a member in workouts and races.

One of my favorite memories of cross country last fall was the Nationals weekend in North Carolina. The weather absolutely beautiful – late fall but still a little warm, the perfect racing weather. Race day was the perfect fall day. That time between the men’s race and the awards were some of the most anxious minutes (hours?) of that season. I wasn’t sure how the men or the women were going to place. When I found out the girls had taken first I was SO excited – maybe even more excited than when the men’s team won – it was such a surprise. I hope to never forget that feeling. That whole trip was a fantastic one and I really ended the season on a high note.  I’m excited for XC this fall and I’m looking forward to being back on campus for my last year with the Cross Country and Track clubs.




Henry Wolf

PRs: 400- 58.2 1500- 4:14 3000- 9:24 5000- 16:29 8000- 27:47

Hey Gang, I’m Henry. I am a Civil Engineer studying at the University of Illinois. This summer I will be working in downtown Chicago at HDR Inc. At work so far I’ve been doing a lot of CAD (Computer Aided Drawing) in MicroStation, specifically labeling striping, signage, stations, and temporary pavement for MOT (Maintenance of Traffic) plans. This applies to my future by giving me valuable experience on transportation engineering. I hope to eventually use this experience to help me decide between structural and transportation engineering, and to assist me with my goal of designing bridges. Ultimately, I would like to earn a Master’s Degree and be a Structural Engineer; focusing on bridge design, retrofitting, and structural health monitoring.


I run for the Illinois Cross Country Club which is currently the reigning National Cross-Country Champions on the men’s and women’s side for NIRCA (National Intercollegiate Running Club Association). I am the Home Meet Coordinator for the Club team while also being Co-Director of the Engineering Employment Expo, the largest career fair on campus. For the summer, my plans are to stay healthy, improve my form, become stronger and sustainably run 60/65 miles a week. This will help me to achieve my goals for the upcoming semester which include staying healthy, being a good upperclassman leader, running 26:30 8k, winning Nationals, be in Group 3, and beating Zach Boehmke.

Outside of running, I play the guitar and banjo and listen to way too much Red Hot Chili Peppers and my heart is set on one day meeting and courting Dianna Agron.


What a beaut.



Jackie Newell

PRs: 6k- 23:51, 3k steeple chase- 12:04, 1500m- 5:04

My name is Jackie Newell and I am from Frankfort IL. My main goal this summer is to get into really good shape for cross-country season in the fall. I am a rising Junior at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX and I will be one of the captains this fall. In track, I am very devoted to the art of steepling.


Jackie doing it big

When it comes to running, I’ve always been very disciplined. I trust coaches and I do everything in my training plans. I had a rough Sophomore year despite having a really strong summer of training. That is why I decided to add supplemental training to my summer program. I lift weights 3 days a week and am on a high protein, low fat “runner diet.” I hope that adding these two new elements will help me achieve my goals and bring me to the next level in competition. That next level is of course qualifying for Nationals with my teammates.


While I wish I could just devote this entire summer to training, I also have other things to do. I have an internship at Silliker Food Science Laboratory in Chicago Heights. I basically prepare various food samples to be tested for Vitamin content or other nutrition labeling. Since I am a chemistry major, this job will prepare me for the career I hope to one day have in nutrition and food science. Working full-time and training can be pretty tiring at times, but I think it ultimately helps me. I like being on a schedule, and by working everyday I am forced to schedule my runs and lifting times around my 8-hour work day.
If you’re interested in reading my training log here is the link-



Zach Boehmke

PRs: 400- 53.8 800- 2:01 1500- 4:17 8000- 27:52

Hi all, my name is Zach. This is my blog and to tell the truth, I was definitely inspired by The Real Maine to do this. What those guys (Erik Van Ingen, Riley Masters, Mark Feigen, and Kyle Merber) did was awesome to witness, but I think what we can accomplish with this project is to show another view inside the runner’s world. For the 99.9% of us who do not have a future in running, most of us are lucky to have a future elsewhere, but first we need to put in the work inside the classroom and the office.

Currently, I am working for Takeda Pharmaceuticals as a Medical Writer in the Clinical Sciences department. While I do not play on having a future in pharmacy, I think this internship will provide me with essential insight and experience in the medical field.


Also, this summer I am taking an Organic Chemistry class to catch up to the rest of my class. I am a Molecular and Cellular Biology Major with aspirations to go to Medical School in a couple of years. I really have big plans for the future and I hope these are the stepping stones I can take to help me reach them.

I am also President of the Illinois Cross Country Club which Henry and Andrew are also a part of. As mentioned, we are reigning national cross-country champions and we have never lost a race on the track as a team. Going into college, I definitely had a skewed vision of what club running was. I thought it was a group of people who just showed up to keep in shape, but it is so much more than that. We are a unified force who are also a family, which is a really unique quality to our team. Because of my status on the team, I want to be a leader more than in just a vocal sense. Our last president, Aaron Silver, was 5th overall in 24:41 at NIRCA nationals and also holds a 3:52 1500 to his name. He was a leader in all senses of the word and that is what I strive to be. I hope that the work that I put in this summer will allow me to lead by example on the course and off. Currently, I have modest personal bests that which I hope through consistent training this summer I will be able to improve on and help out my team.


There is more to this story. It will be a constantly evolving process, focusing primarily on these four individuals, but with plenty of cameos from the friends who are helping us support us on our journeys and their own journeys. I hope that anyone who reads this, runner or non-runner, will be able to take something away from this when the project ends. Until next time…

“Methinks that the moment my legs began to move, my thoughts began to flow.”
– Henry David Thoreau

**If necessary, I can rename this project. I am not sure about copyright or  if that would even apply in this situation. If anybody knows, let me know and I can make up a new moniker.