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Year II, Entry VI


Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Real Illinois. I apologize for missing last week’s entry. To make it up for everybody, we are double dipping on our post this week and having four of our correspondents write: Monica, Henry, Jackie, and I. Also, one of the most distinguished Lincoln-Way East running alums, who also just wrapped up a great collegiate career, Nate Troester stops by to write a guest post. There is a lot of material in this one, but it sure is good, so buckle up and enjoy.



Monica O’Connor

Hey all! Hope all of your summers are going fantastic!

The past three weeks have been absolutely insane, I do not think I will be able to fit it all in one post but I’ll do my best…

For one week I stayed in the West Village in Manhattan with my Aunt and younger sister. We wandered throughout the Village, saw Pippen, went to a taping of the Colbert Report and the NPR show Ask Me Another and visited the MET and MoMA. Basically it was an amazing trip.


I was lucky enough to be less than a block from the riverfront pathway where tons of tourists and New Yorkers run, rollerblade, bike and just hang out. The riverfront is a really cool place because many of the piers have been converted for other uses. On one run I came across a park filled with painted pianos. It was really easy to keep myself motivated because there were a lot of other runners out and my days were pretty laid back so I could always find time to fit a run in.

Following the amazing week in the city I headed out to Southampton to begin my summer work. To be honest I was insanely nervous, but also extremely excited. However after being at camp for only a couple of days it was clear that there was nothing to worry about. Surprisingly the majority of the counselors are from the UK, most from England but a smattering from Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. It was really fun hearing their accents and trying to imitate them, and have them imitate an American accent. The first week consisted of learning all about the camp I am working at, Southampton Fresh Air Home. Because the campers have physical disabilities there was a lot to learn. We had to practice showering, brushing teeth, feeding, diapering, and lifting the campers.


Although the days were really full I was lucky enough to find a couple of people to run with everyday. Another counselor, who just graduated, ran in college so we went on a bunch of runs together. We are conveniently located less than a mile from a bay and the Shinnecock and Nationals Links Golf courses. Basically the runs were gorgeous. The first week I was very optimistic about my training for the summer, it seemed as though having time to run would not be a problem. However I hit a road bump when the campers arrived…


I knew that it was going to be hard to get running in but I had no idea how tired I would be at the end of every day. To give you an idea of the schedule here at camp I wanted to give you a run through of the day but realized you would probably be bored.

Basically each day starts at 7:00 AM and ends around 9:00 PM when we put the girls down for bed. It is a really challenging day, and to be honest I think this has been one of the hardest weeks of my life. My back is sore from lifting girls and taking care of thirteen girls, although the other counselors are fabulous, it is quite mentally draining. But do not think I am not having a great time. I have learned so much about myself and various physical disabilities. This camp is seriously one of the most amazing places I have ever been. It is really cool to see kids, who at school may be ostracized or treated differently because of their disability, just get to be totally normal kids.


As much as I love being at camp it has really taken a toll on my summer training. I tried to run every morning but found that I was not able to put my 100% into my job here. I can already tell that this experience is one that I am going to learn a lot from and I want to do it to the best of my ability. I feel that in running everyday I would be acting selfishly, preventing the campers from having the absolutely amazing experience that they deserve here at camp.

more camp

After talking with Mark, the other counselors, and thinking about it for a long time I decided that for my health I would have to cut back on my running. This means that I will not be able to compete in the beginning of the season, as I wanted to, but will instead shoot for regionals and nationals. Although this is less than ideal, as I really wanted to be ready to race at the beginning of season, I know it is the right decision. I do not want to look back on this summer and think I gave any less than my best for the campers here. I am going to try to run whenever I can but I know I have to be realistic about my body’s capabilities.

I hope all of your summers are going amazing and that your running is going smoothly!




Henry Wolf

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve already been working for 6 weeks. I have 6 more to go

Since last time, I’ve been working more and running less.

I have had the misfortune of some pretty serious shin splints for the past 2.5 weeks. They’ve been pretty debilitating and I’ve only run about 46 miles in the last 14 days. I’ve been icing, but since I don’t have any of my rollers from home, I’ve been improvising with a can of Manwich, which is a pretty poor substitute. I really don’t know what to do, but I need to either commit to taking time off or pushing through, because these crappy 20 mile weeks are worthless.  That said, Nationals isn’t until November, so I’m not too worried about how this setback will affect my season yet.


This past week at work we’ve been trying to finish up our plans for a 95% submittal due on July 3rd. I’ve been in charge of all of the quantities for our Higgins Road bridge (the one with the big skew I talked about last time), so I’ve been very busy updating the quantities and finalizing them. Definitely the most consuming and challenging calc I had to do was Structure Excavation. This involved quantifying every cubic yard of earth that needed to be excavated in order to build the bridge. It was a real challenge trying to keep the different phases of construction and the varying elevations in order so that I didn’t overcount – or worse, undercount the excavation required. All in all, these quantities were pretty crazy and I wound up working 60 hours last week.

I’ve also been doing some work on a railroad bridge on the Illinois River. There is a structure (called a protective dolphin) that serves to protect the bridge from impacts with the barges passing under. This dolphin was hit by barge and damaged and I’ve been working with the structures section manager to design the replacement. It has been a lot of CAD work mostly, but I’ve been told that I can design the steel plates that will hold the structure onto the piles (the element that anchors the dolphin in place under the river floor). This is a long way from the billion dollar cable-stayed bridges that I hope to model and design in the future, but it’s a start. I will be using things I learned in my Design of Steel Structures course and this is the first bridge I’ve worked on that actually spans water. It also makes me think of this song.

That’s all I have for now. I’ve been enjoying city life too. Last night I participated in the Late Ride, a bike ride that goes all around the city in the dead of night. There were thousands of others and I got to see parts of the city that I’d never seen before. All I could think of on the ride was how beautiful infrastructure can be (even in the bad shape most of it is in). I hope I can make as lasting a contribution to a city as some of the ones I saw last night.




Jackie Newell

This summer has really gotten away from me. I feel like June was stolen from me! I think it’s because I really only think of it in terms of weekends. It’s not really what I expected, but I don’t mind. Before the summer started my friends and I had loads of plans to watch movies, go to happy hours, and other fun activities to do during the week. Waking up at 5:15am to run, working all day, and then working out again is not really conducive to fun weekday activities. This is a sad reality of being a real human with a job, but it’s all worth it on the weekends. I work so hard during the week to stay on schedule, so I can experience the pay off on the weekend.


Does anyone even remember what my job is? I am a chemistry researcher at my school in San Antonio. I am currently probing a gold on titania-oxide catalyst using the hydrogenation of nitroarenes. The topic is really interesting and there is a wealth of information being published every month on new gold catalysis mechanisms. My reaction can be really frustrating at times. I won’t get into the gory details, but basically I can’t get my products to remain stable over time. It is seriously driving me crazy. As if that is not bad enough, I also have to present my research at a symposium in 2 weeks! AHHH! I feel like I have little to show for the hard work I’ve put in this summer. The comforting thing, though, is I will continue this research into the school year. So I have time to keep working and developing my reaction. I also have a helper (minion) who helps to collect data. We’re a good pair because she reminds me a lot of myself. She’s anxious to learn about lab work and offers good ideas for the chemistry behind our reaction.


Some Quality Chem

In other news, running is going great. My teammates and I have been tearing it up. For starters, we excel in the workouts our coach gives us. I feel like this alone made staying here completely worth it. I would not have achieved the quality effort that comes from being pushed by other people on a solo-mission. Then there’s the long runs. Our long run’s usually have a 1-3 mile hard effort thrown in either the middle or the end. I think this will show at the end of races when we’re forced to push through being tired. Also, lately, we’ve been doing pancakes after our weekend long runs. They are a great incentive to get through 13 miles.. I love pancakes. Easy runs are still at5:45am and waking up never got easier. It’s ok though, only a few more weeks and I’ll be back home running on my own time and real people hours.


Speaking of back home, I went home for the fourth of July. It was great! I saw my friends, sewed a quilt, and won a 5k. Ask me later about how a 17 year old boy almost swiped my plaque! Surprisingly I won the race in 19:16. This time is faster than any 5k I ran during track season freshman and sophomore year of college; more proof of what a solid year of hard training can do to you. Leaving home was bittersweet because I love my friends and working at my school but I also really do enjoy being home.

So just to conclude, here are my goals for July: Collect some sort of reproducible data for my reaction, don’t die of my 21st birthday, hit 70 miles 3 weeks in a row, do core 5 days a week and restrict alcohol consumption to once a weekend.

Well everyone- enjoy your July and remember the new month offers new opportunities to be better!



Zach Boehmke

Hi all. Last time I wrote, I was amazed that we were a month into summer. Now, I am amazed that there is only one month left in my internship, which means July is here and Cross-country is coming.

julius meme

Training is going pretty well for me. My mileage is slowly inching its way up without any hitches. There are no aches and pains to speak of. Everything is going as I want it to… except for the heat being here now. I have a fairly tough time running well in the heat and that part of me reared its ugly head during a long run this past Sunday. I am happy though because the trails that I run on are very shaded and do a good job of keeping out the sun from beating down. Although that keeps me cool, I do have to find a way to train it direct sunlight without mentally breaking down. That always is my crutch at the beginning of the cross-country season and I would like to not repeat that this year. But, outside of that and the overbearing humidity and swarms of mosquitos (and possible future westnile in my future), running is everything I could ask for right now. It could only be better if I had a training parter like last year. Although this past weekend Jackie was in town and I was able to run with her a few days which was nice. We ran a 5k on the 4th. I did not do very well; she won as she mentioned above. It was pretty fun all around.

Work is going pretty well too. I am being kept very busy — not 60 hours a week busy like Henry, but my assigned tasks can pretty easily fill up a 10 hour day. I have several projects right now that I am working on right now that I am pretty excited about. I am being assigned fairly large portions of documents to have free range with putting together (from sources) (with review done my co-workers obviously), so it is exciting actually being able to do the position I was hired for since there is more trust. I do not want to write too much about it because it will probably come off as boring what I am doing, so I will spare everyone. This Thursday, all the interns get to meet with one of the VP’s over lattes, so it will be cool to pick his brain, although his area does not exactly pertain to what I want to do in the future. We also go to a Sox game in the sky boxes pretty soon, so I am very much looking forward to that.

I really do not have too much to write about this week. I am looking forward to the month ahead as there are many fun things planned. We have a guys weekend at Andrew’s lakehouse this weekend, so it will be good seeing everyone after I missed our old coach, Jake Englander’s wedding (congrats again, Jake!). The half marathon is in a couple weeks and the Big 10 10k is the week after that, so there will be some good opportunities to work on getting faster. Aaaand after that is Lollapalooza. So for the next few weeks, I am going to focus on being the best I can at work and having as much fun as possible on the weekends. Hopefully I will have some good stories for next time.



Our next contributor is Nate Troester.I have known Nate since I joined cross-country my sophomore year of high school. At that time, I was so out of touch (and slow) with the sport that I was unable to appreciate his performances throughout his senior year during cross-country and track and field. He was 7th in state in XC and 2nd in state in the 2 mile. To this day, he still holds the 2 mile record at our school of 9:07 and is part of our school record Indoor 4×8 squad that my crew of knuckleheads could not take down. After graduating, I was happy to see that I be happy to see more of Nate outside high school since I was accepted into the University of Illinois, where Nate just graduated and finished up his time on the varsity squad. I’ll let him tell his story, but I just wanted to say that Nate was one of the big reasons I got into this sport. Watching him and Ron Revord and Myles Scott-Stirn put in the miles (and being astounded that they could run for that long) was one of the things that motivated me and the rest of my graduating class to reach our goals of getting to state, ourselves. He is one of the nicest guys I know and always has time to have a conversation with anyone and I know that his character and work ethic are the primary reasons that he is going to have a very successful future. Anyways, without further ado, here is Nate:


Nate Troester

Hello everyone!  For those of you who do not know me, my name is Nathan Troester and first I want to say thanks to Zach Boehmke for inviting me to be a part of this awesome blog!  Alright, so a little about myself.  I graduated the University of Illinois with my Master’s degree in accountancy this past May and am now currently studying (and hopefully passing!) the CPA exam before I start work in September.  The studying has been consuming my life for the past 4-5 months so writing this post should be a nice break.  Anyways, I ran on the men’s varsity XC and Track & Field squad all 5 years at U of I, mainly focusing on the longer distances.  I had most of my collegiate success on the cross country course and put together a few solid 5Ks and 10Ks on the track.  My cross country 8K and 10K bests are 24:35 and 30:57, respectively, and 5K and 10K on the track are 14:35 and 30:41, respectively.


I started my running career in the Spring of 2004 when I went out for the track team in 8th grade.  I had never run competitively before, but always ran pretty well in those annoying gym class miles they make you do for fitness tests in grade school, so I figured I’d give it a try.  We only practiced a few times a week and I never ran more than a mile or two in practice, but I managed to run a 5:24 for 1600m the first time I tried the event.  So I knew I had some talent for the sport, but my first love was basketball so I knew I wanted to pursue that in high school.  Fortunately, my Dad convinced me to go out for XC in Fall (which I rationalized as getting into shape for basketball) where I ended up making the varsity squad and the state meet at the end of the season.  After XC, I squeaked onto the basketball team and spent most of the year on the bench / getting shit on in practice by all the guys that continued to grow taller and stronger, while I still stayed at 5′ 8′ and barely weighed a buck 20.  So to much of my surprise, I spent most of that season wishing I was still running with all the awesome dudes I met on the XC team last Fall.  As I’m sure all of you guys reading already know, what makes running awesome is the team comradery.  An XC/Track team is always made up of a group of stand up guys/gals that have level heads, stay out of trouble (for the most part), and are genuinely great people that are working toward a common goal.  And it is amazing to me that I have witnessed the same attributes in every XC team that I have been on or been around.  So anyway, I was very happy when basketball came to an end and I was able to run the outdoor track season with my teammates again.  Needless to say, I did not try out for basketball again the following season and then went on to have a pretty successful high school career which landed me a spot on the team at U of I.


My collegiate running career was a bit of a roller coaster in terms of my personal progression and success in the sport, but the one thing that was always a constant was the quality of young men and women that I was surrounded with in my teammates.  I came to Illinois because the guys on the team and Coach McRaven were committed to turning the program around and establishing a place on the national scene.  My five year experience may not have gone exactly how I had envisioned it, but from my freshman year until this past Spring, our XC program / distance squad has improved leaps and bounds.  We are still fighting for our first national appearance in over 25 years, but we have come oh so close the past three seasons, sending two individuals each of the past two years.  That is something that our program has not done since the 80s.  Additionally, the class of guys I came in with had to overcome a lot of adversity as we ran under three different coaches in five years.  Each coach had extremely different training philosophies and personalities and it took a decent amount of effort and time to adapt to each one.  Our current coach, Jake Stewart, has been unbelievable in both his training philosophy and his vision for our program.  He has helped me rejuvenate my career after coming off some overtraining issues in 2011/2012 that really got me down, and almost every guy on the team has improved significantly under his guidance.  I have 100% confidence in him and the group of guys on his team right now and know they will get over the hump this season and put Illinois back on the national scene in both XC and Track.

past and future

My biggest takeaway from my collegiate running experience is to take nothing for granted and to enjoy the journey as well as the destination.  Running is tough and it’s a mental battle as much as physical.  For example, one day you may be on top of the world, running new PR’s every meet and feeling great, but then all of a sudden you get injured, or your times aren’t getting faster anymore.  Then it becomes a mental battle that is fought on a daily basis and tests our perseverance and love for the sport.  That is why you can’t take anything for granted, and you have to enjoy the journey that leads to that opportunity to go run at a big meet, or set a new PR, or qualify for a national meet, or whatever the goal may be.

one more

So now to what I am doing now.  Like I said before, I am taking the Summer to study for the CPA exam before I begin working for the public accounting firm, Ernst & Young, in September.  But I still have some unfinished business I want to take care of in running as well.  I have signed up to compete in the Chicago Rock’n’Roll half marathon in July and also the full Chicago marathon in October, which will be my debuts in both events.  Since this is my last “work free” Summer I feel like this is my best opportunity to train hard, get good sleep, and run under 2:30 for a marathon before my competitive running days come to an end.  It has been a great Summer so far as my running has been going really well.  I’ve been increasing the mileage and intensity now for the past 6 weeks or so.  Additionally, I have passed 2 of the 4 CPA sections and am currently studying to take the third section at the end of July.  As I’m sure you all know, running has made us all pretty darn good at managing our time, so I’ve been able to balance the rigorous study schedule and get in 70-80 miles a week as well.


I am really excited to start this next chapter in my life, even though it will be weird not having a distinct XC and track season for the first time in a decade.  The good news is that running helps us build those great attributes that lead to becoming successful in life such as dedication, leadership, time management, working well with others, etc. so it will be interesting to see how my running lifestyle translates into my work lifestyle.  Lastly, I definitely will continue to run while I work.  I’m not sure how competitive/intense it will be, but I surely intend to at least get my butt out of bed every morning and get some mileage in before work.  Because once you become a runner and begin to live the lifestyle it’s an extremely hard habit to break!  Thanks for reading!



Well, that is another post in the books. I want to extend a big thanks to all the contributors, especially Nate for writing this week. I will try to get back on schedule and have next week’s post ready by Sunday. Stay tuned to see how Eric is doing back in America and how things are going for Beth. Until next time…

“Thus I urge you to go onto your greatness if you believe it is in you.  Think deeply and separate what you wish from what you are prepared to do.” – Percy Cerutty


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

Year II, Entry III

theHello and welcome back to another edition of The Real Illinois. This week, Monica talks about her move to the Empire State, New York and what is to come, Henry elaborates on some of the new projects he has started to assist with, and a special guest, Michelle Turner, describes her past month in Europe and what her summer is all about. So, since Monica is going first it is only appropriate to listen to this song as you read:


Monica O’Connor

Hey all Monica again. Currently I am sitting in Manhattan on a rooftop looking at the empire state building… so I would say my summer is off to a pretty good start. Today my real summer plans finally began, this morning I left Chicago and arrived at La Guardia airport where I was greeted by my aunt and sister who I will be exploring New York City with for the next week. Tomorrow I will go on my first run in the city (most likely along the river front path) and within a week I leave the city for Southampton where I will begin working at Southampton Fresh Air Home.


The past few weeks have been extremely relaxing, almost too relaxing. Other than a high school and 8th grade graduation my days were empty. Often times running was the only thing on my agenda for the day. However this gave me the opportunity to be very active. I was lucky enough to enjoy a 35-mile bike ride around Chicago and day longs wanderings throughout the various neighborhoods of the city. Topped off with amazing food and good friends my last few weeks in Chicago were awesome.


I am really proud of my dedication to running in the summer thus far. Easy days are finally really becoming easy days and I can feel myself getting back into running shape. One of my biggest worries was that I would arrive in New York not yet in running shape, making it harder to continue my running routine. However, I know this will not be a problem as I have already put in a good amount of miles, building up my summer base. I am also really excited that my health overall is much better. I have been eating healthier and sleeping more and I think this is the result. No longer do my legs or knees ache after or during runs. Hopefully this trend will continue.

In the coming weeks I will meet the people I am spending the rest of the summer with and explore the city more. I am looking forward to hopefully finding new people and places to run and continuing putting in miles for the coming cross season.




Henry Wolf

Well hello. I’ve been working at HDR and living in Chicago for three weeks now. The time sure has gone fast.

My first foray into the structures group has been very enjoyable, but I have not done anything radically new. This is sort of a good thing because it means that I was able to be a productive employee right off the bat. The retaining and noise walls that I was expecting to be working mainly on are being done by a sub-consultant so I’ve been working on a bridge! There are three bridges in our corridor, all of which are for cross roads that go over I-90.

The bridge that I’ve been working most on is Higgins Road (IL 72). Maybe you’ve driven over or under it before. It is a very unusual looking overpass bridge, with enormous steel support systems. While most overpasses run perpendicular to the road they are crossing, Higgins is at nearly a 70 degree skew. Long story short, the skew causes many challenges in the analysis and design of the structure because of the uncommonly high torsional and lateral loads that it creates.



Existing Bridge

My role in this bridge so far has been mainly to quantify the materials that will be used in our new construction. The purpose for doing this is to give the contractors an idea of how much money constructing this bridge will cost. It is very important that these calculations are correct because we could be charged to cover any miscalculations. Some of these calculations are very easy, like counting the number of name plates that will be on the bridge. Others are trickier, like calculating the volume of concrete that will make up the substructure. All in all, these quantities have taught me a lot about all the components that make up a bridge.

I’ve also done some work coming up with a preliminary cost estimate for aesthetic details on the Meacham Road bridge. This estimate will be used by the Village of Schaumburg and will eventually influence the final details of the bridge. This is one of the first times I really feel that my work is truly making an impact on future construction.

I have also done some work on updating drawings of details on a structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridge that our group has been inspecting the past few years. It is alarming to see the state of degradation of some of our nation’s infrastructure. I’m beginning to feel that structural health monitoring work would be too stressful for me.


Sturdy Structure

My co-workers are great! They are very trusting in my abilities and have been very supportive in my development as a structural engineer. Several of them run, and they ask me for advice in racing, shoes, and training. It feels good to be able to help them (even in a small way) back.

My running has been going well so far. At first I was worried about having trouble finding a time and place to do a good run. My first few city runs took a lot of research and planning. I owe a big thank you to my friends Max and Ben for guiding me in this. I had to consider things I’ve never had to consider before, like traffic and the neighborhood safety. I was given the rundown on which streets are notoriously busy or dangerous and told to avoid them.

Fortunately, I barely have to run in the city. There is an awesome trail system that is about a kilometer from the office and I’ve gotten into the habit of running there after work everyday. The trails are nicely shaded with either grass or dirt paths and it runs along the Des Plaines River. Also, my friend Mark just loaned me his bike, so now I can ride to the Lakefront course and get in a good run along Lake Michigan on the weekends.


Another really nice thing about my summer running is some of my co-workers have been joining me. Despite running infrequently due to crazy work schedules this winter and spring, Ben has run with me almost every day after work this summer. As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of interest in running in the office and I always invite people to run with us after work. Some of them have joined Ben and I for runs and I keep pestering others to come. Hopefully by the end of the summer I’ll have run at least once with many of my co-workers.

All in all, my mileage has been in the mid to low 40’s and I feel like I’m doing a good job staying patient in my summer training while also developing as a distance runner. I’ve been hitting core and mobility pretty hard too. I’ve been feeling pretty healthy lately and I think that my core and mobility routine is working.

Anyways, I think that’s all I have for now. I hope I didn’t bore you too much with the bridge info, I’m told people don’t care about it as much as I do…


The next person to write will be our first guest contributor of this session. The contributor is Michelle Turner and she is the Gender Minority Captain for the Illinois Cross Country Club next fall. The past month she has been in Europe for a class as well as some exploring. I thought it would be interesting reading about what she has been up to and she obliged. Anyways, I hope everyone enjoys reading what she has to say.


Michelle Turner

Hi all!! Happy to be a contributor on this great blog J

After two cross country seasons, a first track season and a second one nearing its end, I finally felt proud of the times I was racing.  I had been told when I started competitively running that you see your biggest improvement your second year of racing, and after not seeing it happen in cross, I was getting quite antsy.  Well, not only did I finally break 20 in the 5k, my ultimate goal, I got five seconds away from breaking 19.  To say the least, it was a great season.  My track PRs are now 19:05 5k, 5:49 mile and 11:10 3k.  Cross country PRs are 20:38 5k and 24:36 6k.


I started running my freshman year in college.  To be honest, I did it because I had gained the freshman 15 and I was not about to become a chubster.   Having been an athlete my whole life, coming to college without a sport was pretty hard for me.  I had been a competitive volleyball player year round for 8 years before college, and I had thought a lot about trying out for the U of I club team, but my heart just wasn’t in it anymore.  For some reason, my senior year of high school I befriended a lot of runners from my high schools cross country and track team.  I remember saying to them “I really don’t understand how you enjoy running.  I just don’t get it.  I absolutely hate running, and you’re crazy”.   My good friend John Burch, who runs at Augastana now, likes to remind me of that now. Anyways, I gained the freshman 15, needed a sport, had a lot of friends who were runners, and decided that I should give it a try.  I ran everyday on a treadmill for about 25 minutes, and that was it.  One very nice day I took my run outside and ran into a girl from my high schools cross team, Amanda Zamora.  That moment right there changed the path of my entire life; it’s crazy when you can pinpoint moments like that in your life.  Amanda had told me about this running club that races cross and track, is serious but not too serious, and that I should consider joining.  I’m not sure if she knew how serious I would take her, but the next week I emailed the head coach Jake for training plans, and the rest is history.


After telling that story, it just blows my mind being able to say that I am now the Women’s captain of this years cross season.  I am the only girl on the team, that I know of, who did not race competitively in high school.  But that just goes to show it takes more than knowledge or running to be a captain.  My first year on the team, Jess Mulcrone was girls captain, and Jake was head coach.  Jess showed me the ropes on training and racing.  Jake instilled pride in me for being on a team that meant so much.  He made me want to race fast not only for myself but for representing our team.  Whether or not I was in the top seven meant absolutely nothing, running for this team was about so much more than that.  My second season on this team, I feel as though all of that was lost.  We got a new captain, and a new coach, and adjusting to that was a bit difficult.  The way I thought about racing completely changed, and I was racing my team mates instead of racing for the team. Clearly, racing to be top seven is no way to see results.  I was disappointed in myself at the end of last season, as well as my team, and I wanted to do something about it.  That is why I ran for gender minority captain.  This team needs to get its heart back.  We need to remember what it is we’re running for.  What it is to be on this team.  Where we came from.  Who we are.  It’s so much more than a running club, I think everyone can agree with that.  Somewhere along the way we all just sort of stopped focusing on what the goal is.  I plan to instill that pride and want to succeed in the minds of every girl on my team, starting from day one.  That is why we won nationals my first year, because every single person on this team had a role, whether they were scoring or not, and everyone felt like they deserved to be on this team and say they were part of a national championship win.  That’s what it takes to win, and I can only hope I can instill that in everyone this season.


This summer, I started my training in a foreign country, Italy.  I lived there for just about a month, traveling in Rome, Florence, Sienna and Sorrento.  I was nervous about running in Italy, getting lost, losing motivation, wanting to enjoy my vacation and traveling without worrying about running.  As it turns out, my favorite parts of the entire trip came from my daily runs.  I got to explore so much more than all of my classmates.  I stumbled upon history, statues, paths and culture.  I ended up bringing my camera every time I ran a new path, which was quite often, just because I knew I would discover something.  The weather was absolutely perfect for running: high fifties and sunny every morning. I got to run up a few mountains, and my routes were definitely hillier than back at home, where I’ll be doing the rest of my summer training.  My absolute favorite run was in Sienna.  It was up a mountain, along the Amalfi Coast.  Every where you turned your head was a sight of beauty.  On one side you had the coast, the other you had the rolling hills of Italy.  Running there was truly a wonderful experience, and gave me an hour a day to myself to embrace being in the country and really appreciate where I was and what I was doing.





Now that I’m back at home, get fit plan starts.  It’s time to get serious about this years cross season.  It is my senior year, and I plan to do big things.  I’ll be back in Champaign tomorrow, and am hoping to have a few running buddies to train with for the rest of summer.  As great as running solo was in Italy, running solo in Champaign for anything more than a week sounds like misery.  Hopefully, I’ll get great summer training in and be ready to kill it at the Illini Challenge.  I have a really good feeling about this year, and it’s time to start making that happen.  I can’t wait to get all my girls pumped for this year. We’re going back to Hersey Pennsylvania for nats, and NIRCA better be ready for us. WOO!



Well, that’s it for this week. I hope readers enjoyed what they came across today and if you have any comments, please leave them at the bottom. Next week, Jackie will talk about how she is keeping busy in San Antonio, and I will mention how my stay in Deerfield and job at Takeda are going. Until next time…

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”
–Booker T. Washington

The Real Illinois: Year II- Entry I



Welcome back to the Real Illinois. This is a project a couple friends and I started last summer. The purpose is to try to capture the essence of maintaining a full work schedule while also trying to get in a proper training season during the summer. Outside of one of us who is a DIII varsity athlete, the rest of us are club runners for the running club at the University of Illinois. Running will not be our career; it will not be the way we make money in the future. The passion that we all share is to try to maximize the talent that we do have to help our friends and teammates try to win a national championship, be it DIII or through club running. This summer marks most of our first forays into the real world. You will notice that we have three returning contributors and three new writers. All of us will be all over the country doing the things that will hopefully propel us to a better future. Hopefully, by the end of the cross-country season, you, the reader will be able to gain something through this. Maybe you have lost the itch to run recently because you have recently joined the workforce and find that you no longer have the time to lace up your shoes and hit the trails. We are here to show you that it can be done and that we all can excel in our training for the future season, but more importantly, the jobs we are doing that are launching us towards the future.



Eric DeGuevara

Hello folks, I first want to start off by thanking Zach Boehmke for letting me be part of The Real Illinois this summer.  My name is Eric De Guevara and I will be a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign majoring in MCB (Molecular Cell Biology). Here is my back-story. Running was never a sport I was interested in. I didn’t even know running was a sport. I was a baseball kid until I broke my ankle playing on my middle school’s softball team. My freshman year I ran cross-country because I really wanted to do a sport in the fall and my sister who ran cross told me to try it out. 15 minutes was my first practice and I was dead finishing in the last stretch. Like I said, I never ran before and I was not fit for this sport but it worked out alright for the rest of the season. Since the majority of cross-country runners go on to do track, I did the same but track season was different. I was a follower back then, typical freshman, but one day my coach gave my team a speech that inspired me to stick to running. I am from a very Hispanic neighborhood and his story was like any other who came in as an immigrant and worked hard in school and outside of it. He quoted in his speech “Hard work pays off” and that has stuck to me till this day. Ever since his speech, I have stuck to running and have broken the goals I had set for myself every running season. My goal setting has not ended as I continue to run in college and represent part of a well-know running club, Illinois Cross Country and Track Club.

track club

Now that you know a little about me now, let me go on saying what I have to talk about: this summer, which I am really excited about. The first half of my summer I will be studying abroad in Costa Rica taking Spanish courses, and the second half I will be an undergraduate research assistant in the microbiology department at U of I. So why am I taking Spanish courses? Well I am taking them because even though I know Spanish already, I want to practice it more and specialize in it. My career goal is to work at a hospital as a Doctor and being fluent in both Spanish and English will benefit me largely. I love my mother tongue and studying at Costa Rica will help me remember and learn new words. My research background is as follows: I started doing research as a junior in high school. I worked in the physiology department at Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, IL. My time there was great. I worked under Dr. Seth Robia who had me doing a lot of hands on work with his Graduate students, who were awesome. My positive experience there for two summers made me want to continue doing research and now I will be doing research at U of I. I am excited to work there and I hope my experience at Loyola is the same as at U of I. Research is not only fun and interesting, but I also want to set myself apart from other applicants when applying to medical schools.


Being in Costa Rica will not be a reason for me to stop running. If Costa Rica is similar to Guatemala then the roads will not be flat or safe. Roads will be winding up and down and busy, but being aware of everything going on I will be fine. My goal for this summer is to stay healthy and be fit. Coming in as a freshman last year I was not confident with the running plan that was given to me, but having a year with it and seeing how it has helped others I’m ready to actually do it. To prevent injuries and help my knees, I will be stretching everyday. I need to be flexible and actually be able to touch my toes! Also I will do abs daily with planks afterwards to strengthen my upper body and torso. This is just talk, but I promise myself that this plan of mine will happen. I have set myself a goal for this upcoming cross season and I will go for it. As my old coach said “Hard work pays off”. Well that is it. I’ll be back to update you on how my summer is going. Adios amigos!



Beth McGreal

This summer I will be in Estes Park, CO working as a day camp counselor. This means I will be a camp counselor for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders planning activities while working along with other counselors. I am excited for this new experience not only because it will be in a new environment, but I know that this will help me in my future. For those of you that don’t know, I am working to become an elementary teacher. Some people may know exactly what grade they want to teach, but I am still deciding which grade I would be best in. That is why this experience will be a special opportunity to work with kids in three different grade levels where I will be able to learn not only about myself, but also about children.

estes park

 Being in Estes Park will provide me with many new running trails. This is a nice opportunity to escape the boring routes of the “great” Oak Lawn, IL. While in Colorado I will definitely be able to work on my hills or rather mountains. One of my goals is to avoid getting eaten by bears (oh my!), but actually I would like to become better at running hills which will hopefully prepare me for our upcoming season and specifically the Hershey, PA course. In addition, I want to be able to keep up on doing running drills along with abs to keep myself from becoming injured. This can be difficult with limited room space and really no access to equipment, but I know I can make the best of it as long as I stay on top of the drills. I will be in Colorado in less than a week and I know that starting off my summer running in a new elevation and coming off of a two week break may be challenging, but I hope to run along with my fellow counselors to keep me motivated.




Monica O’Connor

I will be spending this summer in New York. For the first week following her 8 grade graduation, my younger sister Marie and I are visiting my aunt in Manhattan. After that I will be working at Southampton Fresh Air Home, an overnight summer camp for children who are physically challenged. Although my parents are not really excited about me being gone all summer, I cannot wait for the opportunity to meet new people and gain experience working with individuals that are physically challenged.


I am currently a MCB major at the University of Illinois and hope to go to medical school upon graduation. At first glance my summer plans do not exactly fit with my professional goals but to me they are intricately linked. Without going into too much detail, as a doctor my dream is to work with various special populations this includes individuals with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, or Down syndrome.

My goals for this summer in terms of running really revolve around nationals. Once again we will be running at Hershey, Pennsylvania for nationals. This is a really hilly, but in my opinion super fun course. Knowing what to expect at nationals, I plan on adapting my summer training accordingly. Although it is a little less than six months away, I realize that this summer is the time I have to put in the work to get the results I want. Last crosscountry season our girl’s team didn’t end up where we wanted or should have. I’m not really sure why this was the case but I want to do my best to make sure we do not see a repeat of last season’s nationals. Individually I hope to do better than I did last season (which should not be too hard if I keep my shoes on).

shoeless mon

Shoes still on

My goals for this summer are to put in the best base work I have ever done. This may sound daunting but since I usually do a pretty poor job of running consistently over the summer I think I should be able to complete this goal just fine. My plan is to run 6 days a week and swim the seventh day. I also want to do be more consistent with core, mobility and strength training. I will be lifting campers all day long so I am not too worried about the strength training but following a disappointing track season I want to make sure to do all the little things in terms of mobility to prevent any potential injuries.


For the first week in Manhattan I know places to run from previous trips and I am really excited about getting to explore the city once again. For the rest of the summer I am in the dark. I have never been to Southampton before and know almost nothing about running trails. However the camp director assures me there are places to “jog,” so I am really looking forward to running in a totally new environment. Another challenge is that I have never met any of the counselors I am working with since most of them are from England, Ireland or Scotland. My hope right now is that I will find some willing running partners or perhaps convert some of my co-counselors to runners.

On a run the other day I was thinking about my motivation for this summer. My past track season was to say the least, disappointing. I had to end it early meaning I never got to peak and never really had a great outdoor race. This forced time off made me realize how much I loved running. It makes me angry when people say they “have to run” as if it is a chore. One of my goals this summer is to remember that I love to run and that is why I am training. I think this mind set is especially relevant to my plans this summer as I will be working with individuals that will never be able to run. I know this is super cheesy but thinking in this way makes me realize just how lucky I am to be able to run and makes me want to work just that much harder this coming summer.



Henry Wolf

Hi, my name is Henry. I study Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, with a primary focus in Structures and a secondary focus in Transportation. I have one more undergraduate semester left. You may remember me from the Real Illinois last year.

 I will be doing design work for HDR Engineering in Chicago again, but instead of being a part of the transportation group, I will be in the structures group. HDR is a global engineering firm. Last year they were ranked 11th on ENR’s (Engineering News-Record) Top 500 Design Firms and 7th in Transportation. The Chicago office I’ll be working at has been hard at work on the big project from last year, a 7.5 mile reconstruction of Interstate 90 and I’m sure I’ll hit the ground running (woo running blog) when I start on May 20th.


 Since I’ll be new to the structures group this summer, I’m a bit unsure of what exactly I’ll be doing. That being said, I’ve been told to expect a lot of work on retaining walls and noise barriers. I also am hopeful that I’ll be able to do some work on one of the several replacement bridges that we will be designing. I expect to spend most of my time in the office working on CAD drawings of structural elements. I also hope to get to use finite element software like LARSA to run calculations on models of the structures we are designing. I’m sorry if this sounds boring to you, but it gets me really excited! Really though, this is my first structures internship and although I’ve had a lot of structures coursework at school, I assume I am really very naïve on the actual structural design process. I can’t wait to take what I’ve learned and see how it is truly applied to build real structures.

golden gate

The real Project

 This internship relates directly with what I want do full-time after graduation: structural design. Specifically, I’d like to focus on design for signature bridges, namely cable-stayed and suspension bridges. There are a dozen or so firms that do this type of work, and fortunately for me, HDR is one of them. I would love to continue to work for them.

 On to running.

 I am coming off the best track season of my life. After an injured cross country season and slow start indoors, I dropped my 5k PR 43 seconds, going from 16:29 to 15:46 from last track season. Breaking 16 has always been a big (and terrifying) barrier, so surpassing that mark was a true blessing.


 I hope to be able to build off of this excellent season and have a great cross country season. My training plans for this summer are pretty conservative. I want to build a good a solid aerobic base, get stronger and stay healthy. For the base, I plan to gradually build into 50-60 miles a week. This is what I did in track with 6 day weeks, and I’m happy with how it worked out. Last year, I had a pretty good upper body plan going along with my normal core routine, but this year I really want to hit core harder. I also want to continue with the leg strength and quickness drills I did in track. I’m a pretty fragile runner, so staying healthy is always at the front of my mind. I think the 6 day weeks help a lot, but the leg strength and mobility drills are absolutely crucial. I plan to stay on top them and maybe add a few new ones I saw my buddies Mo and Galen doing.


 Setting time goals for a season is always a scary thing for me, but I hope to run low 27’s on normal courses and high 27’s on slow courses like the Nationals course.

 Thanks for reading.



Jackie Newell

I can’t believe it’s been a year since Zach started this! Here is a brief intro in case you didn’t read last summer. My name is Jackie and I am from Frankfort, IL. I am going to be a senior at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX. Trinity is a D3 school in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. This year will be the second year that I am the captain of the cross-country team. I also run the steeplechase and the 5k during track season.

Running-wise, this has been the best year of my life. I decided to dedicate myself to my training last year in May and the pay offs were amazing. First of all, my team and I qualified for Nationals and placed 12th. We also perfect scored at Conference and won Regionals. It was a big year for us and I am so proud to be apart of such a strong team. As for my own personal achievements over the past year, the proof is in the times. I ran a 1:24 second PR in the 5K, 18:21; a 50 second PR in the steeple, 11:14; and a 2 second PR in the 1500m, 5:02. I know that these improvements wouldn’t have happened without all of the hard work I put in last summer. My training over the summer was motivated by the fact that my team was going to be better in 2012 and I desperately wanted to be apart of the top 7.


This summer, I have a different motivation, to win Nationals. We have no graduating seniors out of the top 7. Of the top 7 girls on my team, 6 of us are staying San Antonio to train. With the help of my teammates, I know I will start cross-country in the best shape of my life. To do this, I plan on doing core 5 days a week and doubling or cross training 6 days out of the week. During June I will be slowly building up my mileage Then, my mileage should consistently be between 70-80 miles for the majority of the July and August. I also plan on keeping up with my diet consisting of no dairy, no red meat, and just overall healthy eating habits. I’ve found that at times this is challenging to maintain, but the payoff makes it all worth it. Plus these goals will be easier to achieve with my girls motivating me every step of the way. We’re taking a sort of “The Real Maine” approach in that we will be waking up and working out together every day. The difference, though, is that we are also working in San Antonio. My teammates and I are taking summer classes, interning, or researching for professors in their majors, including biomathematics, biology, and computer science.

I will be doing chemistry research with one of my professors, Dr. Chandler. I will be working with him and a small group of students to develop kinetic studies on gold nanoparticle catalysis. Without boring you with the details I will just go ahead and stay I am pretty excited. Last summer working at the Food Science lab was really great. I learned so much about the field I eventually want to work in, but I was also very out of place. As an intern I was the youngest person there, and my jobs were often tedious and stressful. I am so excited about this summer because I am going to learn so much and it will be with my peers. No more awkward conversations in the lunchroom with a bunch of 30-somethings. I am hoping that the research I do this summer and during the fall will end up published in a journal. Also I hope that a job well done will be rewarded with a nice recommendation letter for grad school from my professor.


Dr. Chandler

…just kidding

I am so excited to get back to San Antonio, move into my house, and start working. My teammates and I are going to kill it this summer, and I will keep you updated every step of the way. Also, since all of my roommates will be living with me for the summer, expect lots of tales of drunken debauchery around the ever-exciting city of San Antonio! Cheers!


San Antonio debauchery



Zach Boehmke

Gang, it’s been awhile. As soon as I finished writing this last fall, I knew I wanted to bring it back for this summer, but hopefully this time I can end with a success story. That is why I started this last summer. I wanted to see four people writing about their goals at the beginning of the summer and then realize those goals by the end of the fall. For me, I did not come close. Jackie exceeded her goals. Henry and Andrew both had to wait a little while, but they both had tremendous track seasons as Henry mentioned. That is the way these things go. I was able to accomplish things professionally and that was the other goal I had going in for the summer.

Anyways, this summer I will be returning to Takeda Pharmaceuticals! However, the circumstances are different from last year. I have a different boss this year and I am hoping for an increased work load to stay busier. Also, I hope that I can really prove myself this year and work hard throughout the summer, in work and in running. This is the attitude I need to bring back to school in the fall. I let that attitude slip through the cracks this past year and it cost me. This year will be different though.

I am going about things differently this summer. Mileage is going to take a back seat to the smaller things: strength training, core, hills, etc. Last year I wanted to see how many miles I could run and this led to me breaking down. I also was trying to do too much in general. Commuting to work from home put a lot of unneeded stress on me and ultimately cost me around three hours of freedom a day (not to mention three hours of being jammed in my car- good for my back, eh?) I am staying in Deerfield at an Extended Stay America for the next 12 weeks and am very excited. While I will definitely miss waking up early with Mike every day and driving to Swallow Cliff, this is the more logical way to live this summer. Not only is there a 40 mile long limestone trail right outside my window, there is a group of runners at Takeda (conveniently located 10 minutes away). I also have free access to the Lifetime Fitness right across the street and on my days when I have no one to hang out with, I will be there doing all the necessary weight training.


Gotta get rid of this flubber

So here is what I want to accomplish with this summer running: I want to build up to running 40-50 miles a week and ultimately train between 50-55 once cross-country starts. Core is going to be a mainstay in my routine and I will manage to work that in as often as possible. Strengthening my back is the highest priority right now. I am going to work up to lifting 2-3 times a week, but not worry about lifting as much weight. I will focus on form and high repetition. Hills will be hard to find around here, but I am going home on the weekends, so I will have my dosage of Swallow Cliff 2-3 days a week.

At my job, my focus is to do the best I possibly can at whatever is assigned to me. Last year, I thought getting things done quickly would give a good impression. While it did for the most part, it also made my mistakes that much more noticeable. I am going to work efficiently and hopefully my work will speak for itself. In the future, medical school is still where I want to be in a few years, and from there, who knows what can happen. Unlike last year, I am going to use this opportunity I have at Takeda to meet people. Last year, I was pretty sheltered because I was the youngest person there and was surprised I even had the opportunity. This year, I know what to expect. I already have friendships that I am returning to, and I look to build new ones and hopefully make a name for myself.

There are a couple other fun things I am doing this summer. In two weeks, I am going to North Carolina with my dad, brother and stepmom. I am very excited because we will be in the Appalachians and I am looking forward to the great trails that will be available to traverse. I am also looking forward to Lollapalooza and hope to build on the great time last summer. More than anything, I want to work hard, but enjoy my last summer before graduating.



So that is it for this post. I hope readers are excited for a new batch of The Real Illinois. The rest of the summer there will be two contributors each week, with either a guest contributor following or just other interesting things going on. This will probably be the longest post, so if you made it this long, congratulations!

Anyways, look forward to next week’s post. But for now:

“The greatest pleasure in life, is doing the things people say we cannot do.”

-Walter Bagehot

The Real Illinois – Entry 13

And with that, we’re back. This is the 13th and second to last entry of The Real Illinois. 3 of our 4 writers have their seasons in the books. They were seasons of highs and lows and unexpected results. There is also a guest contribution in this post, coming from the one and only GOC (Brian Glaza) my assistant coach during senior of high school. So, prepare yourself for the penultimate edition of The Real Illinois.

Henry Wolf

Things are better than they were last time. Much better. I ran in our Nationals meet yesterday. It was fun. I had taken a lot of time off due to injury, but one day a few weeks ago I woke up and running made sense again. I ran that day and have been running 25-30 miles over 5 days a week since then. It’s not ideal but I’m really glad that I’ve been able to run lately.

On to the race. Zach and I were both very out of shape and just getting back into running, so we wanted to go out very relaxed. We did. After about a mile, the dead started falling back and the passing began. Zach and I worked together and talked until about 3k. saw an opening and took off, but Zach didn’t go with me. I moved up well, passed a lot of people, and kicked everyone close. The time wasn’t good, but the course was very hard and I’m happy with my effort and the way I competed. It wasn’t bad considering how out of shape I was. My pre-season goal of beating Zach Boehmke was one of the only ones that was met.

School has been going pretty well. I have three tests this week; one Monday, one Wednesday, and one Thursday. We did a lab on creep and notch failure in my materials class. This was cool because it was a brief introduction into Fracture Mechanics, which is important to structural health monitoring. I really like it when I can see how things I’m learning will apply to my work in the future.

Lately I’ve been playing guitar in Zach’s and my church band. It’s been pretty fun. I like the songs for the most part. I’ve recorded a couple of songs with my new computer but I don’t really feel too proud of them. Maybe next time around I’ll put
something on this.

My main goal for the upcoming track season is to stay healthy. To do this I’m going to have to train easier and more conservatively. I’m going to take more days off, run slower and workout with slower groups. I’m also going to make a better effort to do core, mobility and leg strength at least once a week. I’d like to run some really tough races and compete really well. If things go well I think that I can go under 16:00 in a 5k, 4:10 in a 1500, and 9:15 in a 3k.


Jackie Newell

This year the South/Southwest Regional Championships were in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted by Emory University. Trinity was ranked number one in the region followed by Emory second and Washington and Lee third. I personally was feeling a lot of pressure because we’d had such a great season so far and I was just really scared that we wouldn’t be able to close it out. What if we put in all of that hard work for nothing? It’s weird to think that I started training for this race back in May. Since that day in May I lost a total of 11 pounds, increased my weekly mileage on average by 15 miles a week, and remained completely dedicated to my goals. After my first meeting with my coach this fall I made the decision to have a dry season for myself. I wasn’t going to make any of my teammates suffer through it with me; I just wanted to finish this season knowing I did everything that I could.

I reflected on all of these things as I watched the start of the Men’s race on Saturday. The weather was beautiful and the course consisted of 3 very hilly 2k loops. Despite the nerves, I knew it was going to be a good day. Then my teammates and I took off on our warm-up, I gave the Emory coach a nod as I ran by. Emory was my number one choice, but I got waitlisted and I am definitely still a little sour about it.

Just before the start of the race I saw the Trinity Men’s team screaming and jumping up and down, they just found out that they finished in 2nd, earning their own trip to Nationals. While I was really happy for them, this just made me feel even more pressure because we wanted to do equally well. Now for the start of the race, gun goes off. I am in about 30th place after 800m of a slight incline uphill. My teammate, Rosemary, and I were working together, passing the girls that went out too fast and died out just as quickly. Our first mile was 5:57, which is pretty fast considering the hills. Then we finished our first 2k loop and just as I expected she took off. I maintained for that whole second lap, while my competitors kept falling back to me, but I didn’t really care about them. My main focus was the pack of 2 Emory girls up ahead.

I made a huge move with 1k to go in the last lap. I wanted to catch those 2 girls so bad. When I finally got them (800m to go), I said to my teammate “C’mon Jessica” and we left them. It really was that easy. In the final 400m I caught 3 more girls for a 13th place finish, 4th on the team. Jessica finished 17th close behind me to round out our 5 scorers. My time was 23:20, a PR and All- Regional. (sidenote last year I finished Regionals in the 50th place)

My teammates and I went 2, 3, 6, 13, 17, 23, 27, we were all All-Regional, the best finish in school history. Emory’s first finisher was behind Jessica in 19th place. We completely swept them and won the meet by 100 points. I still can’t believe it. That was one of the best races of my life and I really couldn’t ask for a better team to celebrate that with. Crossing the line a Regionals knowing I was going to Nationals made every single 5:00am morning in the summer and every single day I forced myself to double completely worth it. There truly is no better feeling than knowing that all of your hard work toward one tangible goal has paid off.

This weekend we are racing NATIONALS in Terre Haute, IN. My team could actually do really well, we have 3 girls very capable of All-American status and Jessica and I plan on doing everything we can help keep our score low. The main goal, though, is to enjoy the entire experience. For most of this is our first trip to Nats and with the men’s team by our side, there’s no way it won’t be a awesome time!


Andrew Gazdziak

Hello everyone, I’m back for my final update of the real Illinois for the cross country season. This weekend we had our Nationals trip to Hershey, PA. As always the whole trip was a blast. While my race didn’t exactly go how I would have liked it to, I’m not going to let my last XC race spoil all of the other ones I’ve had over the years. This was my 10th cross season. It is crazy to think that I have been racing cross country for almost half of my life. I started running in 6th grade, when the races were only one mile. In 7th grade, the distance increased to two miles and I thought that was pretty bad. When I started high school I didn’t run my freshman year because I thought 3 miles was way too far. However I missed running so much that I joined back up the summer before my sophomore year and I haven’t stopped.

5th from the right, bottom row

Pretty much all of my closest friends have been on a cross or track team with me at some point. Even when I look back at race results or photos from high school, I discover that I’ve ran against many of my best friends in high school.

Beating Brendan, nothing new

I just thought I would include some photos from a few of the past XC seasons. It’s a nice way to sum up my different cross country seasons.

Cool Runnings

Rub a Dub Dub

Packing up

Me and my nips

Gadz racing Cardboard Declan

So what’s next? I’ve got one track season left but after that I’m not sure. I’ll be moving to San Diego, CA next year to begin working full time. I still plan on running, but I know that it will begin to play a less prominent role in my life. I’m not too worried about it though, I’ll figure it out when I get to that point. I’m so glad that I continued running club in college, I can’t even imagine how different things would be if I had stopped.


Zach Boehmke

Well, the 2012 Cross Country season for the University of Illinois Cross Country Club is officially over. I wish I could say that I ended the season running the best races of my life and that my team took home the national titles like last year, but unfortunately that did not come to fruition. I’ll start with the team. As I have mentioned in the past, all season was spent preparing for our national meet in Hershey, Pennsylvania. We arrived there on Friday with the smell of chocolate and sewage treatment permeating the air. The grasp of the Hershey Company on this community was enormous, especially where the race was held. The course itself lived up to the billing Mark gave it at the beginning of the season. Hill upon hill loomed before us, but it was not as intimidating as much as it was inviting

Going into this season, the men’s team thought their primary competition was Iowa State. However, as the season progressed, we learned that other teams across the country were making notable progress and repeating as champions would not be as easy as we thought. Teams like Indiana, Oregon, Delaware, and others were all improving just like us. By the time the national championship rolled around, we were ranked fifth in the country and we thought we were being slighted as we had won last year. It turns out that that was not so much a slight as it was a compliment to the other teams who had improved much more than we thought.

As for the men’s race, Oregon dominated the race placing 5 people in the top 16 (ridiculous) and then Indiana followed up (whaaaat?!) in second place followed by Iowa State and then us. Our guys ran their hearts out, but on this day it was not enough. While it was disappointing, it also reaffirmed the fact that we are going through a transition year and we have much to learn from and build on, which we will.

As for the girl’s race, while we thought going in that we had the premier team in the nation, we turned out to be incorrect as well. That is not to say we did not run well, but like the men’s race, the competition was just that much better this year. Cheers to Virginia for dominating the women’s race, but next year our girls will be back and give them and the other teams a great fight for the title.

My thoughts on our team’s season are this: we worked really hard in all aspects. The runners worked their tails off all season, pushing themselves to new levels. Some new faces emerged while will be the face of our club in the future, which is exciting. From an executive standpoint, I could not be prouder. The executive board  worked hard with very little hiccups to establish this team in a transition year as a force to be reckoned with. From there, the runners took over, ran for the repeat, but unfortunately fell short. But, there are lessons to be learned which we will apply to next year and we will be back to compete on the national stage in the men’s and women’s team.

I will cover what happened to me briefly. Unfortunately, my season turned out to not be what I expected after all the work I put in over the summer. I struggled with back issues for the majority of the season, which made running on hills hell. It would have been fine had we run on flat courses (actually, that may not be the case), but each course we ran from Loyola to Iowa State to Nationals, got progressively hillier. I think I have figured out the issues though. After a month at the chiropractor, my back is finally starting to feel better. Because of my back though, I ended up taking 9 consecutive days off a few weeks back. I thought it would end up with my back feeling better and stronger, but that was not necessarily the case. I started training for track thinking my cross-country season was over. I began a lifting routine with Ryan Jorgenson a few weeks ago, which should have my back stronger than ever by the time track season starts. The goals are the same: I will build off the fitness gained during the summer and cross-country season, learn the lessons I need to and be a better runner when it comes time to lace up the spikes again.

I did run Nationals, by the way. I figured that if I was making the trip out, I might as well run. It was fun; it was not the race I envisioned for myself when I was out on the trails racking up the miles over the summer, but I managed to enjoy the moment and the atmosphere more than any other moment this season.


Our guest contributor for this post is Brian Glaza. When I was a Senior on the Varsity team at Lincoln-Way East, he joined our team as an assistant coach to the actual coach Ross Widinski. I owe a lot to the both of them because they both helped me develop as a runner and as a person throughout my senior of high school. That paved the way for who I am now. Coach Glaza brought with him a swagger to our team. That swagger eventually helped our 4×800 meter relay make the state meet after taking 17 seconds off of our relay time in two weeks for our sectional meet. His story is interesting and I hope our readers are entertained. So here he is:

GOC (Brian Glaza)

Last weekend, as I stepped onto Detweiler Park, home of the IHSA state cross country championships, a rush of emotions flooded my brain. The scene in front of me took me back to my days as a runner. I reminisced about long runs in the dead of summer, tempo runs that taxed my body to the fullest, fun times with teammates, and the feeling that accompany a satisfactory race.

The sport of endurance running has left me with so many positive memories that will be with me for the rest of my life. Through the sport, I strengthened my mental and physical capacities beyond measures I ever deemed possible. Even though I can no longer call myself a runner, I was once a runner, and because of that, my life has been changed in numerous fantastic and wondrous ways.

I first started running in junior high school with relatively minor success. I made excuses for myself during 8th grade and decided to not go out for any team at all. This continued well into high school as I bypassed my freshmen year of cross country; however, after some persuasion from a former teammate, I decided to come out for track. At the time, I thought I had made a major mistake. I could not run a mile without stopping, and seeing as I hated being second to anyone, the fact that I was the 4th fastest freshmen miler on the team definitely was unsettling. I decided to stick with it, and am obviously glad I did. After purchasing my first pair of racing spikes, I went on to run a 5:21 mile during my last race of the season, ascending to the 2nd fastest freshmen, just two seconds behind our best runner.

From there, things didn’t get easier. I realized that becoming a good runner was something that took extreme dedication. As a tall, lanky individual, my body took some severe punishment, with tendinitis  shin splints, and various other injuries constantly slowing me down. Regardless, by the time I reached my senior year, I was starting to get it all together, and with a new enthusiastic coach, I felt I could finally reach my full potential. During my senior year of high school, after logging just over 900 miles during the summer months leading up to the cross country season, I got the worst news of all: I had a stress fracture in my middle metatarsal of my right foot. When the doctor told me I would miss the first 4 weeks of the season, if not more, I was crushed to say the least. Seeing my teammate’s dedication and strong work ethic was encouraging and helpful, but I was envious of their position; they could run and improve while I could not and would subsequently regress.

After four weeks, I was cleared to run, and man, was I ever ecstatic. Although I was mentally prepared to get back after it, my body was nowhere near ready to compete. During my first practice back, I slammed the mile warm-up to test myself. Needless to say, I went out hard and was near jogging pace the last half mile. All I could think was to be patient and keep working hard, and that was exactly what I did. My first few races yielded some sub-par results; but, at our regional meet, I showed some evidence of a turnaround, taking 3rd place. The next week, in a tough sectional, I took 4th behind the eventual winner of the state meet, and two individuals who ended up in the top 10. I was ready for state.

Seeing as this was my first time running at a state meet, I was feeling all sorts of emotions. As the day of the meet commenced, the only emotion I felt was insane amounts of nervousness. Walking on to the course only increased that emotion. All I knew was no matter what happened, I wanted to take home some hardware, something no one at my school had done in a long time. As I stepped to the line, that was all I could think of. I knew if I couldn’t accomplish a top 25 finish, I couldn’t help myself in deeming the season a failure. The gun sounded and off I went, out in a 4:47, not where I wanted to be. After a 5:12 second mile, I was in 26th place. I felt stupid going out so fast, but I knew I only had one crack at this. I dug deep, running a 4:58 last mile, making a mad rush to the line, to move up and finish in 23rd place; what an awesome feeling. Although I wanted more, I left the state meet happy and content, something many people never do. I was definitely one of the lucky ones.

As I look back now, even though I eventually took 6th place in the mile in the state track finals, was an all-conference performer in college, and racked up other various accolades, none was more meaningful and momentous as the state cross country meet. It was a moment that I had worked for since that freshmen track season. Sure, I didn’t win the state meet. Only one lucky person is able to do that each year, but what I did do was put forth my best possible effort, not for just one day, but for years throughout high school and eventually college. After that meet, I eventually was recruited to run in college, which was a fun experience, but nothing comparable to high school.

No matter what, after 7 stress fractures, various setbacks, and numerous negative issues with running, I still am immensely happy I decided to give the sport a try. For me, running provided a way out, a way to express myself, a way to forge my mental and physical capabilities, a way to meet friends, a way to relax, a way to think deep, and has since provided me with a way to teach, a way to help others, and a way to do what my coaches did for me. I may not run much anymore, but running will always be a part of me as well as something I am grateful for. It made me a better, smarter, tougher person.

Every issue in life can be related to running. As a runner, we push past our pain barriers, we reach new goals, break previous limits, and find out who we really are. Through running, I became what I am today. I know, in the face of adversity of any kind, I can succeed. Running has instilled this mentality in me, because to be honest, nothing in my life has been tougher. Those hot summer days, those tempo runs, those 20×400 workouts, those 18 mile runs, they have all taught me that whatever happens in my life, I can and will thrive if I put forth my best effort. No task in life is insurmountable. Each and every day, like in running, we can break previously unattainable barriers, we can achieve the unthinkable, and we can come out on top.

Nevertheless, don’t get caught up in results, numbers, or the frustrations that life brings. All of this is part of the journey, and the best part of any fantastic, memorable result is the journey that accompanied it. Think about all the memorable things that have happened to you in life. All of them may not carry a journey, but the most meaningful will always have a tale to go along with it. So I guess what I’m saying is appreciate the moment, appreciate the pain that those journeys bring, appreciate the small almost imperceptible progress, and appreciate all those little nuances in-between. We’re so caught up on those goals that we forget to appreciate what is in front of us, and the moment staring you in the face is the greatest of all.

I want to take a minute to thank Zach for allowing me to throw in this little blurb. It is much appreciated. I’d also like to throw a shout out to Zach’s former teammates – those who I believe are on facebook and can read this –  John Brassea, Michael Brassea, Joe Paviolonis, Tom Rotondi, Kevin Hearne, and all the other LWE squad who helped me in my first year of coaching. You brought running back into my life and helped me rediscover a passion for the sport. Many thanks, you were the best and I owe any future success in coaching to all of you!


Our next entry will be the last entry. We will be following up with Jackie’s run at Nationals as well as posting some final thoughts. Stay tuned:

“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”  ~Walt Disney

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 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