Saturday, December 31, 2011

Road to Houston: 5 Questions with Olympic Trials competitor, Meagan Nedlo

Today, we were lucky enough to have 5 Questions with someone who works in the running shoe industry, and competes in it as well, on her "Road to Houston." We'll have a few more of these features as we lead up to the big day on January 14, 2012.

Meagan Nedlo has had an interesting journey to the Olympic Trials. From decent high school roots to a career in the running industry to running collegiately while in grad school, Nedlo just keeps getting better. Earlier this year, she ran 2:45:00 on a whim to get her to Houston, where she'll be competing two weeks from today. Check out her blog here.

5 Questions with Meagn Nedlo

1. Writing About Running: You ran at TCU and Queens in college. Can you explain how that worked?

Meagan Nedlo: Actually I never ran at TCU. I was a solidly mediocre 12-minute two-miler in high school, so needless to say, my phone wasn't ringing off the hook with scholarship offers. I ran frequently and exercised consistently while in college, but never did any structured training. Then, after graduation, I began working in the running industry, first for Mizuno and then for Brooks, and found myself surrounded by other people who were involved in the sport. I slowly began to get more serious and started competing in local races, where I improved to basically an 18:45, 39:00 runner. When I began to entertain the idea of training for a marathon, my boyfriend, Jordan (Kinley), recommended his friend and former college teammate, Jeff Gaudette, as a coach. Jeff was also the assistant coach at Queens, and I guess at some point during my training (even though he coached me remotely and never once saw me work out), he concluded that I wasn't terrible and that I still had collegiate eligibility. He called me one afternoon and literally said, "How would you like to quit your job, move to Charlotte and run for Queens while getting your master's degree?" It was such an incredible, incredulous offer that I had no choice but to say yes! And so that's how I began my first collegiate track season at the ripe old age of 26.

2. Writing About Running: You qualified for the trials at the Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham this year. How'd it feel to hit the time and what have been some other races you've been proud of in the past few years?

Meagan Nedlo: Hitting the qualifying time at Mercedes was unbelievably satisfying, because two weeks prior, I'd dropped out of the Houston Marathon, which had been my targeted goal race for several months. I had to attend Mercedes to work the race expo on behalf of Karhu, but secretly it was in the back of my mind that I might jump in and run the race if my legs weren't feeling too beat up. I only told a few people prior to the race and went into it with very relaxed expectations. Fortunately, I had a good day where everything came together, and I was able to redeem myself! If you're interested in reading more details about my Birmingham performance, check out my blog entry.

I was also extremely proud of earning three All-American honors during my second track season at Queens in 2010 (5k indoors, 5k and 10k outdoors). My teammate, Tanya Zeferjahn, and I placed 6th as a team at outdoor Nationals, which was the highest NCAA finish of any sports team in school history. I also improved my 5k and 10k PRs to 16:35 and 34:35, respectively, which was leaps and bounds above what I ever believed I'd be capable of doing.

Caitlin Chrisman and Nedlo at 2010 Club Cross
2. Writing About Running: You were one of four women that qualified for the trials out of Charlotte this year, with Caitlin Chrisman, Megan Hepp Hovis and Stephanie Pezzullo (who is skipping the Marathon trials to prepare for the steeple at the track trials). What's it like having that may fast women in one town?

Meagan Nedlo: Training with Caitlin, Megan and Pezz has been amazing! Charlotte is a relatively small town and the Charlotte running community is very close-knit, so the four of us have been active participants in and cheerleaders for each others' success stories. Leaving those girls and so many other training buddies behind was probably the saddest part about moving.

3. Writing About Running: You recently moved up north. How's the training going up there?

Meagan Nedlo: Jordan and I moved to Marblehead, a northern suburb of Boston, about three months ago. Marblehead is a beautiful, quaint New England town with lots of active runners and walkers, but for the most part, Jordan and I train with each other. He has dragged me through countless early morning workouts and late evening doubles, and I can say without a doubt that any success I have at the Trials will be due to him. (From a training perspective, it helps when your boyfriend is also your coach and your workout partner and your roommate.) I've also started hooking up with some BAA girls for weekend runs and workouts in the city, in particular Teresa McWalters and Emily Kroshus. They both had very successful high school and collegiate careers and have been involved in the sport at a high level for many years, so it's been fun to learn from their stories and experiences.

Nedlo recently won the Indie 5k
at The Running Event
4. Writing About Running: Being a competitor and working for Karhu would seem to allow you to see every angle of the sport. How do you like working in the sport that you also compete in?

Meagan Nedlo: What a blessing! I'm grateful every day to work in an industry that also doubles as my hobby and passion, not to mention it's extremely rewarding to travel to stores and events around the country and witness the positive impact that running has on so many other people's lives. With the exception of a two-year break for grad school, I've worked in the running industry ever since graduating college in 2005, and in that time I've been able to travel (and run!) literally all over the country with so many amazing people. At this point in my life, I can't imagine doing anything else.

5. Writing About Running: What is your goal for the trials?

Meagan Nedlo: First and foremost, to soak up the entire experience and appreciate the fact that it could very well be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That said, my training and racing has been so much more consistent and higher quality than prior to my qualifier at Mercedes. Everything indicates that I'm ready to run under 2:40, even under 2:39 if I have a great day. Honestly though, even if I have an amazing performance by own standards and clock a 2:37, what will that get me--38th place? It's not as though I'm a podium contender and have the weight of the Olympic rings on my shoulders. All the pressure and expectations come from me alone. However, it would be nice if I didn't finish last, since my parents will be there.

Stay tuned for more articles this weekend and continued coverage leading up to the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, TX on January 14, 2012.

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Road to Houston: 5 Questions with Olympic Trials competitor, Tyler McCandless

Tyler McCandless, Mizuno Runner
Today, we were lucky enough to have 5 Questions with one of the youngest marathoners in the trials, on his "Road to Houston." We'll have a few more of these features as we lead up to the big day on January 14, 2012.

Tyler McCandless has come right out of college and into the Marathon full force. The 2010 graduate, and All-American in the 10,000, has moved from the track and didn't waste any time after graduation, debuting at the marathon at the 2010 California International Marathon. At CIM, he attained the qualifying standard in his first try and then went on to win (and set the course record) at the 2011 Kauai Marathon. He currently lives and trains in Boulder, CO. Follow him on Twitter here and check out his excellent website here.

5 Questions with Tyler McCandless

1. Writing About Running: You ran 29:15 in the 10,000 as a senior at Penn State, but the longer distances seem to suit you better. Was jumping to the marathon right out of college always the goal?

Tyler McCandless: My goal was always long term focused and believed I always was better as the distance became longer.  I also really enjoyed the long runs and tempos, so I wanted to try the marathon soon after college.  Coach Sullivan at Penn State was an incredibly positive influence and believed in me.  When I chatted with her after the NCAA Championships and said I believed I could place top 10-20 at the Olympic Marathon Trials in 2012 and become an Olympian in 2016/2020 - she 100% agreed and made me believe even more.  We both felt that if I focused on the track I would be fairly limited.

2. Writing About Running: You first qualified for the trials running a 2:17:22 at the California International Marathon in 2010. What was your biggest takeaway from your debut at the distance?

Tyler McCandless: Nutrition is vital in the marathon.  I felt that if I would have not missed two of my bottles, that would have been a big difference. It was also a huge confidence boost, because I only decided to run in the event 6 weeks before the race, after a lackluster half-marathon, where I felt I was very strong, so why not take a chance at CIM.  Looking back on the race since then, I have a more important takeaway from the race. I was in so much better shape at Grandma's Marathon this spring, yet I only ran a 13 second personal best.  I was tired going into Grandma's and pushed the last few weeks a little too much, trying to nail the training perfectly.  However, when I got to the line, I wasn't fully recovered and still a bit fatigued from training.  At CIM, I was definitely undertrained, but when you are fresh on the day, you can compete very well.  You can be the fittest person in the world, but if your legs are tired, you're not going to be able to run well.

McCandless wins and sets the course record in Kauai
3. Writing About Running: The Kauai Marathon was a big win and payday for you. How big was that for you at that particular point of your career?

Tyler McCandless: Wow.  How big was Kauai for me?  It was really a game-changer.  Financially, it was important because I was able to use that money for a down-payment on a house.  Now, with roommates, I'm more financially secure than depending on prize money to pay my roommates mortgage.  But honestly, the biggest thing I took away from the race was the Aloha spirit Kauai had to offer.  I cannot thank Jeff Sacchini (race founder) and Bob Craver (race director) enough for their hospitality.  They are two of the nicest people I've ever met.  I'll go back to that race every year because that race changed my outlook.  Honestly, I put everything into preparing for running a 2:29:59 in the heat, humidity, and hills.  I trained all summer in full sweats, which my high school athletes loved to make fun of me for.  In the race I ended up winning and breaking the course record by 7 minutes, yet it never felt hard!  I was 100% in the moment and focused like never before.  Nothing was going to stop me that day.  I really believe that it is a race every runner should do that is struggling with expensive races like the Las Vegas Half-Marathon/Marathon that several people became ill.  I have nothing against Rock 'n' Roll events, but they took away prize money from many of the races and are focused on making money.  The Kauai Marathon is about competing well and tackling a challenging marathon in tough conditions, with the Aloha spirit pushing you all the way.  When you learn to relax, enjoy the moment, you'll find yourself 'centered' and in the zone. You do not need to seek out the fastest, flattest course, with the best weather to have your best race, you need to be internally focused and determined.  Mahalo Kauai Marathon!!

Coaching Centaurus High to a state championship
4. Writing About Running: Along with running 100+ mile weeks, you find time to coach high schoolers (and others through Hudson Training Systems). What led you to coaching and what have your learned from coaching others?

Tyler McCandless: What led me to coaching?  Simple: Coach Beth-Alford Sullivan at Penn State and my high school coach Megan Duerring.  They made running fun and running became less about end results, but enjoying the journey.  When I put in the hard work and it paid off with some better-than-expected results, it was the best feeling to share it with Coach Sullivan/Duerring. Coaching at Centaurus High School has been a dream-come-true.  After taking out the cost of gas to drive to-from practice, I probably didn't make more than a few dollars from coaching, but the experience was something I'll never forget.  This year, the boy's team won the State Championships, in a huge upset.  Their commitment, dedication, fun attitude, and tenacity was inspiring. Jumping up and down and hugging them after the results were announced is the reason I coach.  Another great example is, for my birthday, I received a gift in the mail from one of the athletes I coach, Seth Hasty in Maine.  He sent me his half-marathon bib number with a signature, his time, and a thank you for the big PR.  Helping people achieve their goals is maybe the best feeling in the world.  How can you not want to coach?

5. Writing About Running: What is your goal for the trials?

Tyler McCandless: Everyone is talking about making the team and how top three is it.  I have improved in this sport by consistency and patience.  Right now, I know my fitness, and it's better than ever before.  Much better than before Grandma's Marathon and Chicago Marathon (where I was sick and DNF'd). I want to execute a negative split and run 2:14.  That should be top ten, to at worst, top 15.  If I can run a 2:14:00 this year, I can focus on taking off one minute per year for the next four years.  That would make me a 2:10:00 marathoner in 2016.  Did you know a 2:11 at the Olympic Trials has always qualified to make the team?  I'm 25 now and will be 29 at the 2016 Trials and 33 at the 2020 Trials. For those races, I am definitely looking to place in the top 3!  The book, "Power of One" by Bryce Courtenay, is the best book I've ever read.  In it, the main character says "First with the head, then with the heart, that's how you stay ahead from the start."  I've always taken that approach to training and racing - the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials will not be different.

Stay tuned for more articles this week and continued coverage leading up to the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, TX on January 14, 2012.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Road to Houston: 5 Questions with Olympic Trials competitor, Danny Mercado

Danny Mercado traded Oregon green for Adidas green
Today, we were lucky enough to have 5 Questions with one of the fledgling male stars on the road circuit on his "Road to Houston." We'll have a few more of these features over the holidays as we lead up to the big day on January 14, 2012.

Danny Mercado has been a standout ever since high school. From duels with his brother and AJ Acosta at Mt. Sac, to winning the 2007 Cross Country Team Championship with Oregon, Mercado has been running well for almost a decade. Recently, he moved from Eugene to Flagstaff, to train with McMillan Elite, and his first points of order were to qualifying for the Olympic Trials and winning a USATF Club Cross Country Team Championship. Follow him on Twitter here.

5 Questions with Danny Mercado

1. Writing About Running: How'd you hook up with McMillan Elite?

Danny Mercado: In it's simplest explanation (because the story is kind of long), I didn't really know what I wanted to do after college, although I definitely still wanted to run.  I knew it was a long shot, but I contacted Nick Arciniaga and Jordan Horn to see if Greg was willing to add another member to the team.  Initially, Greg didn't want to add any more people; he was good with what he had.  But after tireless nagging from the guys, Greg decided to give me a shot.  From there, everything just clicked.

Diego and Danny Mercado at Oregon
2. Writing About Running: Coming from a strong program like Oregon, how's the transition been to your "new team?" and what's it like being away from your brother, Diego, for the first time?

Danny Mercado: The transition has been really good.  I didn't know how my body was going to react to 7000 ft. altitude, but so far it's been just fine.  I would say this team's different from my Oregon team in that people are just a bit more relaxed, which is actually expected when all of them have graduated and the running is what they're focusing on.  I feel that here, there isn't as much pressure to perform under a time constraint, which helps me a lot.  Being away from Diego, as well as the rest of my former Oregon teammates, was a bit tough the first couple weeks; I was definitely feeling really lonely.  But it went away over time when the training started to feel really exciting for me.  I'll talk to Diego from time to time on the phone and tell him what's going on, or to get some advice.  He really helped me those first two to three weeks.

3. Writing About Running: How do you like training in Flagstaff?

Danny Mercado: Training in Flagstaff is amazing.  You really could have everything you want out there, from the nice weather to the altitude.  There are seemingly endless amounts of trails by where I live, and the whole atmosphere of it just seems incredibly relaxed.  There isn't much to do, but that's alright with me.  I didn't come out here to see the nightlife.  That's really helped me with my running.  I'm too easily distracted, so I knew this was the place for me.  If I was going to make running my focus, I needed it to be a place where I would run and not do much else.  Flagstaff fits the bill perfectly.

Hitting the qualifier
4. Writing About Running: When you ran 1:04:02 at the Woodrow Wilson Half to qualify (for the trials), was the goal to make the trials your Marathon debut?

Danny Mercado: With that half marathon, I think we had that idea in the back of our minds (Greg and I), but we weren't too sure whether I'd be able to do it.  After around 3 weeks of training, period, it started to creep a little more in there.  The week before we left for Virginia, it was definitely a goal, although it was more about the $1300 bonus for me.  Once the race started, I felt surprisingly comfortable, like I had been doing half marathon races for years.  Once I hit ten miles, I knew I had it, so from that point on, I was really enjoying myself.  It was really satisfying to come across the finish line and see the time you were looking for.

5. Writing About Running: What is your goal for the trials?

Danny Mercado: Right now, my goal for the Trials is to have a solid race and see who I can beat.  The more I thought about training for this, the more it made sense.  I don't know how many Olympic Marathon Trials I have in my body, so I might as well take advantage of one I could sneak in early.  My training is going well, but right now I don't have any idea of what I could do at the distance, which is a bit alarming, but also really exciting.

Stay tuned for more articles this week and continued coverage leading up to the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, TX on January 14, 2012.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Road to Houston: 5 Questions with Olympic Trials competitor, Addie Bracy

Winning the Mag Mile
Today, we were lucky enough to have 5 Questions with one of the fledgling stars on the road circuit on her "Road to Houston." We'll have a few more of these features over the holidays as we lead up to the big day on January 14, 2012.

Addie Bracy has had a busy year. She's PR'd on the track in the 5000 and 10,000 and has PR'd on the road in the Half. Unfortunately, she'll have to miss the Marathon Trials due to injury, but expect her back on the track in 2012 as she takes aim at the 2012 Olympic Track Trials in Eugene (this June). Follow her on Twitter here.

5 Questions with Addie Bracy

1. Writing About Running: You've had a few strong performances in the past year. What were your PR's in college and what has been your progression been since graduating from UNC in 2009?

Addie Bracy: In college, I focused primarily on the 5k and the steeplechase.  My college PRs in those events were 16:20 in the indoor 5000 and 10:16 in the steeplechase.  Since graduating, my coach (Ryan Vanhoy) and I have shifted our focus to the longer distances.  It took me a year or two to adjust to the difference in training, as well as my training environment, and while I did have PR performances during my first two years out of college, they were minimal and didn't reflect where we believed my fitness was.  It wasn't until the last 8 months that I really felt that I had a breakthrough.  Last spring, I had significant PR's on the track, running 33:08 in the 10,000 and 15:49 in the 5000.  I also recently had a big PR in the half marathon (1:14:09).

2. Writing About Running: You were a Volunteer Assistant Cross Country coach this fall with the UNC Cross Country team and now you're training for the trials in Colorado. How's that going?

Addie Bracy: This Fall actually marked the beginning of my third year as a Volunteer Coach and it's something I really enjoy doing.  It gives me a chance to play a different role in the sport and give back, in a way, to the school that started my running career.  Training for this sport can sometimes force you to live a very self-centered lifestyle because of the sacrifices that you have to make, and being involved at UNC gives me a chance each day to take my focus away from my own training and to help others with what they are trying to achieve.

I am currently back in Chapel Hill training.  I recently finished up a 5-week altitude stint in Nederland, Colorado during October and November.  I went out there with my good friend and former teammate, Brie Felnagle, my twin brother, Ian Bracy, and a recent Appalachian State graduate, Brandon Hudgins.  The trip went really well and we got in some great training.  While in Chapel Hill, I do most of my training alone, so it was great to have a small group to train with for a few weeks.  This was my second time doing a "training camp," and I find them very beneficial and a necessary part of a big buildup, because they take you away from any kind of distractions that you might find at home and really allow you to get in several weeks of intense and quality training.

Steepling for Carolina
3. Writing About Running: Your one of four former Tar Heels that I've counted in the trials, with Shalane Flanagan, Blake Russell and Heather Tanner. What's it like having a group of girls from your alma mater that have similar goals as you do?

Addie Bracy: I've always been very proud to be a Tar Heel, because of the rich athletic tradition that exists at UNC.  You always feel a certain bond with someone from your alma mater and I feel a sense of pride when I see them doing well.  Women like Shalane and Blake are the people that I looked up to in college, in addition to other former teammates in other event groups like Alice Schmidt and Erin Donohue.  It's definitely a special feeling to be competing at some of the same events as them.  Even though we are no longer wearing UNC jerseys, it's something that kind of always sticks with you.

4. Writing About Running: . Most recently, you ran a big PR of 1:14:09 for 4th at the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon. What'd you takeaway from that race just a month out from the trials?

Addie Bracy: The Las Vegas half was a big confidence booster for me.  We didn't cut back in training much at all for the race and it was something we were basically using as a glorified workout, so I really wasn't sure of how it was going to go. But, I felt great throughout the entire race and was surprised at how comfortable the pace felt.  My goal on a good day was to be in the top 5, so I was very happy to achieve that.  It was also a pretty cool experience to race down the Las Vegas strip at night.  It was definitely unlike any other race I have ever run.

Writing About Running:  What's one of your favorite workouts that you've done during the past year to prime you for your recent PR's?

Addie Bracy: One of my favorite workouts that we do several times throughout a season is 400 or 500 meter repeats.  We do 20-25 of them straight through, and the rest is a 100m quick jog between each, so there is no actual rest.  This workout most simulates a race to me, because there is not real rest and the pace is still pretty quick, so it takes a lot of mental focus.  It is one of those workouts that is a long grind and gets progressively more difficult to where you are really digging deep during the last several intervals, much like a race.  When I can complete this workout, feeling pretty good, I always know that I am ready to run fast.

Running the 10,000 at the 2011 USA Champships
5. Writing About Running: After the trials, what are your racing plans? You ran the 10k at USA's last year. Is a return trip to Eugene in the plans?

Addie Bracy: I was recently diagnosed with a femoral stress reaction and have since decided to pull out of the marathon trials.  My coach and I decided that running through the injury wasn't worth the risk of potentially losing my spring track season.  So, the Olympic Trials in June are now my new focus and are definitely in the plans.  I have hit the B standard for both the 10,000 and the 5000.  Assuming that I have a speedy recovery, I would hope to be competing in some of the early track meets, focusing primarily on the 10,000, and trying to hit a time that will secure my spot at the trials in June.  Racing the 10,000 last spring was my first time competing at Hayward Field and it was an amazing experience.  I can only imagine the excitement that surrounds an Olympic Trials event, and I hope to be a part of that.

Stay tuned for more articles this week and continued coverage leading up to the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, TX on January 14, 2012.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Road to Houston: 5 Questions with Olympic Trials competitor, Molly Pritz

Today, we were lucky enough to have 5 Questions with one of the Women's Contenders on her "Road to Houston." We'll have a few more of these features over the holidays as we lead up to the big day on January 14, 2012.

Molly Pritz is coming off a strong debut Marathon, finishing as the top American this November at New York City, and has had an excellent 2011. Strong Half Marathons in New Orleans and San Antonio, as well as a USATF Road Championship at 25k have vaulted her to the top tier of American road runners. She will have a quick turnaround for the Trials, but looks to be up for the challenge! Follow her on Twitter here and check out her blog here.

5 Questions with Molly Pritz

1. Writing About Running: You recently ran your debut at NYC, how's the recovery and training for the Trials going?

Molly Pritz: My recovery from NYC went really well. My quads were certainly beat up from the hills and bridges for about three days afterwards, but I spent a week in Hawaii with my mom and took full advantage of swimming in the ocean to help loosen everything up.

I took about 10 days off after NYC and felt ready to dive into training again after a few visits to the chiropractor. Unfortunately, I suffered a nasty fall while out on an easy run about 3 days after I started training again. Needless to say my knee did not like smacking against concrete. Luckily no serious damage was done, but unfortunately I had to miss even more training to allow the soft tissue to recover. I guess I need to work on my ability to not fall flat on my face!

2. Writing About Running: What were your biggest takeaways from racing that distance?
Molly Pritz: I would have to say I learned a lot about myself, not only from the race, but from training for it too. My build up was certainly less than ideal, but I was just so thankful to have the opportunity to be on the starting line of the best marathon in the world and wanted to do my best because so many people had helped make it possible for me to toe that line. In a way, I wanted to perform well as a thank you to them, in addition to the satisfaction of running my heart out.

Pritz and Lauren Fleshman going
stride for stride early in NYC
The biggest takeaway I had from the race experience itself is how important it is to truly enjoy what you are doing. I can honestly say I loved every mile of the marathon, including the miles I felt invincible and the final few miles where the wheels were falling off at an exponential rate. Both in training and the race I found an inner strength I never knew I had and I'd like to think that my NYC experience has not only made me a stronger runner, but a stronger person in every aspect of life. I don't think I could ask for a better takeaway from a race.

3. Writing About Running: You're now being coached by Mark Hadley, who many of us in NC know, but the rest of the country may not. What led you to him?

Molly Pritz: There are so many coaches in our sport that I found it rather difficult to figure out who would coach me post-Hansons. I never really thought I would have to think about it either, so I certainly wasn't prepared for the decision. I didn't know much about Mark's training philosophies, but David Monti, from the NYRR, recommended Mark based on my running strengths and my personality. I completely trust David, so after a few conversations with Mark about his training philosophy and my long term goals in the sport, I knew David's recommendation was a perfect match.

Fighting for it in NOLA
4. Writing About Running: Aside from NYC, you've had some excellent performances in 2011, from the 1:11 Half at New Orleans to the 1:12 Half win at San Antonio, to the 25k National Championship, that you won by a convincing 3 minutes. Which performance have you been most proud of thus far?

Molly Pritz: I would definitely say that my performance last year I was most proud of would be my 1:11 half in New Orleans. I had a very short build up leading up to Mardi Gras and was really  suffering in a lot of workouts. Even on the day of the race I was feeling horrible, but every time I felt like I was faltering I would surge and push harder. Some of my friends asked me afterwards if I was disappointed about being only seconds away from breaking 1:11, and I could honestly say I wasn't, because I can't think of a single moment in that race where I could have made up those 6 seconds. That's the most I can ask for out of any race performance.

5. Writing About Running: What is your goal for the Trials?

Molly Pritz: Since my short build up to the Trials was made even shorter by my fall, my main goal for the Trials is to gain experience by running with the best women in the nation. I have less racing experience than most people my age, so I can only hope that I can learn something by the whole Trials experience that will not only help me with my spring racing plans, but for the rest of my running career.

Stay tuned for more articles this week and continued coverage leading up to the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, TX on January 14, 2012.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Road to Houston: 5 Questions with Olympic Trials competitor, Joe Moore

Over the past few days, I've covered some of the early Men's contenders and Women's contenders. Over the next few, we'll take a more in depth look at some of the competitors on their "Road to Houston."

First up is 5 Questions with former local standout, Joe Moore. I first saw Joe running in Raleigh when he won the 2010 Old Reliable Run. Joe spent his last few years living, training and racing in Raleigh, NC and recently moved north to Minneapolis. A few of his highlights over the past year include winning the 2011 USATF 10k Trail National Championship and recently ducking under the 1:05:00 standard in the half marathon (with a 1:04:58); qualifying him for the trials. Check out his blog here and his Twitter feed here.

5 Questions with Joe Moore

1. Writing About Running: Where did you run in college and what were your PR's coming out?

Joe Moore: I ran at Kansas State University from 2002-2007.  I was a late bloomer and ran all of my PR's in the last few months of eligibility.  My big name drop from college is that I used to live with 2008 Olympian Christian Smith.  It was really exciting to be rooting for someone running at that level.  It really encouraged me to keep after it.

My PRs from college were:
Mile (indoors) - 4:09
3000m - 8:19
3000m steeple - 9:08
5000m - 14:08

2. Writing About Running: I counted 3 times where you ran 1:05 before hitting the 1:04:58.

Joe Moore: Yeah, I ran 1:05:27 in August, then 1:05:14 in November in Raleigh, 1:05:19 in Vegas, and finally got under it.  I also ran the Chicago Marathon in 2:21:50, in which I bonked hard after running 2:19 pace for 23 miles.  So I had a lot of chances.

Writing About Running: How'd it feel to hit that standard?

Joe Moore: It was really cool.  It was a small race, and I don't think a lot of people were paying attention.  There was a tight turn at the finish, and I saw the clock tick over 1:04:50, and I knew I had it.  It was more just a huge relief that I had finally gotten it.

Winning the USATF 10k Trail
Championships this Summer
3. Writing About Running: You won the national championship in the trail 10k this summer. What'd you take from that?

Joe Moore: Trail running is fun.  Despite the dangerous nature of the race (especially the Continental Divide race), the atmosphere is really laid back.  Road and track racers can get a little uptight, so i had a great time. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and was able to jump (Ryan) Woods at the finish.  It was pretty exciting to win a national championship though.  I can't imagine that happening again.  I think I'll hit the trails some more in the future to keep things exciting.

4. Writing About Running: You've recently moved to Minnesota from Raleigh, how'd you enjoy your time in Raleigh and how's the running going in Minneapolis?

Joe Moore: When I first came to Raleigh, I had kind of given up on running.  I didn't know the area well, and didn't have the group I was used to training with.  After a while I decided to run a marathon and in the process, I learned how to train alone.  I also started to run really high mileage, mostly because that was easier to do alone than a lot of hard workouts.  I started to get my longer distance PRs down, and then I got to know Bobby Mack and started to run with him and occasionally with the NCSU team.  I still wasn't really part of a group, but I gleaned a lot of motivation from being around athletes of that caliber again.  Bobby and I were pretty much the TAF elite team, and watching his progress over the last year really encouraged me to keep working my way up.  Right now I'm back to training on my own, but I've been racing all over the place, so I haven't had to do a ton of serious stuff yet.  Hopefully I can get hooked up with some good folks here too.

Running in Raleigh with Bobby Mack
"Will wear anything a potential sponsor will give me in the Olympic Trials Marathon (within USATF guidelines of course) #noshame" 
-recent tweet (sponsors take heed)

5. Writing About Running: What is your goal for the trials?

Joe Moore: I'd like to be in a good spot to finish high.  I don't know what that will be, but since I've bonked in almost every marathon I've run, I'd just like to be able to close hard instead of melt down.  My plan is to go out in a little under 1:11, and then throw down in the second half in 1:08. I might change the plan, but this way might work. It's kind of a dangerous proposition, since nobody will probably go out that slow, and since I usually don't finish well.  I don't have much to lose though, and there isn't any real pressure, since I don't need to hit a time. I don't think a lot of people are banking on me making the olympic team, so I can just go for broke. Running is much more fun that way.

Stay tuned for more articles this week and continued coverage leading up to the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, TX on January 14, 2012.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Road to Houston: An early look at the Women's Olympic Marathon Trials contenders

On Sunday, I covered the early contenders for the Men's race. Today, we'll look to the Women's Contenders for the "Road to Houston." These are what I think are the top ten contenders, but it wouldn't surprise me if someone like Jen Rhines showed up big on race day and made the squad. Another darkhorse is the always tough, Tera Moody, who came out of nowhere to finish fifth at the 2008 trials. But that's the beauty of it, someone will show up race day and make a run at it that we didn't expect!

Shalane Flanagan. So hot right now.
1. Shalane Flanagan
Resume: 2nd at NYC Marathon (2:28:40 in 2010). Bronze at 2011 World Cross. Top Half mark (68:36 at Philly 2010). American Record Holder at 10,000 (30:34.39 in 2009). Bronze Medalist at Olympic 10,000 (2008 in Beijing).
Why she'll make the team: Flanagan appears to be in peak shape and has made a strong commitment to the marathon with her coach, Jerry Schumacher. Davila will be the only one that could take the US title from her at Houston.
Why she may not: The only way Flanagan doesn't make this team is if she goes out very hard and bonks. This won't be likely as she'll likely have a race plan that involves negative splitting.

2. Desi Davila
Resume: 2nd at Boston in 2011 with top mark in the marathon (2:22:38). PR'd over 5,000 (15:08) and 10,000 (31:37) on the track in the 2011 season.
Why she'll make the team: Her gutsy performance at Boston, followed by huge PR's during the track season show Desi is ready to roll. Expect her to challenge for the win, with little chance she'll fall out of the top three.
Why she may not: Davila's fitness appears to be at a higher level than ever and it would take an injury or a mistimed move to keep her off the London squad.

Davila waited patiently in Boston
3. Kara Goucher
Resume: 2nd best mark in the half (1:09:11 at NYC in 2011). 2nd at 2011 US Championships at 10,000 (31:16). 3rd at Boston Marathon (2009). Bronze Medalist at 2007 World Championships at 10,000.
Why she'll make the team: A seasoned veteran and a bulldog of a racer, Goucher will throw every effort at qualifying for this team and has proven, when needed, to rise to the occasion.
Why she may not: Since giving birth to her son, Colt, Goucher has faced the injury bug. While she appears to be rounding into fitness, her 1:12:59 at Miami Beach shows she's no shoe in.

4. Janet Cherobon-Bawcom
Resume: 2011 USA Running Circuit Champion. Has run 1:11 in the half four times.
Why she'll make the team: Cherobon-Bawcom has been excellent as of late, winning the USA Running Circuit in impressive fashion and winning the 2011 BAA Half Marathon.
Why she may not: She's yet to run a great marathon. Can she keep up with the big three? It will take a big effort to make the team, but something that she's capable of.

5. Amy Hastings
Resume: 2nd at 2011 LA Marathon in her debut (2:27:03). Ran a PR of 15:14 at 5000 this summer.
Why she'll make the team: Hastings 2:27 was run in her debut. After that, she improved her track times. She has the speed to hang with the best. Also, trains with Deena and Angela Bizzarri in Mammoth.
Why she may not: She only has one marathon under her belt and is more of a track specialist. She'll have to have another great race, with some luck, to make the team.

The 2008 team of Magda, Deena and Blake will contend
6. Magdalena Lewy Boulet
Resume: 2008 Olympian, 2:26:22 at Rotterdam (2010) and 2:28:44 at Chicago (2010). PR'd at 10,000 at 2011 USA Championships (31:48.6).
Why she'll make the team: Magda's two marathons at 2:28 and under (during the qualifying period) show great consistency. If she can run in that range, she'll have a shot. Also, being a former Olympian, she knows how to get on the podium.
Why she may not: The field is deep, and Magda will have to beat Flanagan, Davila or Goucher, which will require a strong effort.

7. Deena Kastor
American Record Holder for the marathon (2:19:36 at London, 2006). Bronze Medalist at 2004 Olympics (Athens). American Record Holder in the Half Marathon (67:34 at Berlin, 2006). 2008 Olympian.
Why she'll make the team: Deena is the veteran of the bunch and has been here before. If she's fit, she's a threat.
Why she may may not: Deena ran 69:43 for the half twice in 2010, but hasn't run a decent marathon in a few years, so she'll be a big wild card on 1/14/12.

8. Stephanie Rothstein
Resume: 3rd at Houston 2010 in 2:29:35.
Why she'll make the team: Has run well on the Houston course and is capable of the time needed to make the team.
Why she may not: Rothstein doesn't have the resume that the others here do, so will have to run strong and unintimidated for a shot at the podium.

9. Blake Russell
Resume: 2008 Olympian. 3rd at 2011 USATF 10k Road Championships (54:44).
Why she'll make the team: Russell's been there before and is a strong cross country runner as well, showing the strength she'll need to fight for a spot.
Why she may not: Has run 1:11 in the half during the qualifying period, but hasn't run a qualifying marathon. Will take an A+ effort against this tough field.

Pritz will look to build on NYC success
10. Molly Pritz
Resume: 2:31:52 at NYC (2011). 1st at 2011 USATF 25k Road Championship (1:25:38). 1:11:05 half at New Orleans (2011).
Why she'll make the team: Pritz is coming off a strong debut on the tough NYC course. Has run some races that show she has the talent to compete for a podium spot.
Why she may not: Like Meb, Pritz only has two months to recover, and being that she's recovering from her first marathon, it will take a strong effort, and a quick turnaround, to make the top three.

Stay tuned for continued coverage leading up to the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, TX on January 14, 2012.

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Road to Houston: An early look at the Men's Olympic Marathon Trials contenders

On Saturday, January 14th, less than four weeks away, the best American marathoners will take to the roads of Houston in hopes of a podium finish, and more importantly, a trip to London. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting a series of articles entitled, "Road to Houston," to preview the big day. First up, the early Men's Contenders.

Hall's 2007 Houston magic
1. Ryan Hall
Resume: Defending Olympic Trials champion (10th in Beijing). Owns the top three qualifying marks with his 2:04:58 at Boston (2011), 2:08:04 at Chicago (2011) and 2:08:44 at Boston (2010). American Record Holder in Half Marathon (59:43 from Houston 2007).
Why he'll make the team: Has been the most consistent American Marathoner over the past 5 years. Has run very fast in Houston (2007 Half AR). Will have to have a very bad day to finish outside of the top three.
Why he may not: Hall raced Chicago in October, so it will be a fairly quick turnaround. Three months should be ample time, but recover is tricky when it comes to the marathon.

2. Meb Keflezighi
Resume: 2004 Olympic Marathon Silver Medalist (Athens). 2009 New York City Marathon Champion. Owns marks 4-7 going into trials (best 2:09:13 at NYC 2011).
Why he'll make the team: Is coming off a PR at NYC and seems to be in the best marathon shape of his career, despite being 36 years old. Has the most experience and has proven to be a champion.
Why he may not: Meb will be only two months removed from NYC and he's not getting any younger. Will he be fully recovered and race-ready when he toes the line?

Ritz will want another day like this
3. Dathan Ritzenhein
Resume: Former American Record Holder at 5000 (12:56.27 from 2009). World Half Marathon Championship Bronze Medalist (2009). 2008 Olympian in the Marathon (9th in Beijing). Owns 9th best mark (2:10:00 at London 2009).
Why he'll make the team: Ritz is a fierce competitor and nothing would announce his comeback more than making the London team.
Why he may not: Has been injured a ton over the past two years, so his race fitness and durability is a big question mark.

4. Galen Rupp
Resume: American Record Holder at 10,000 (26:48 in 2011). 60:30 in debut Half Marathon (NYC 2011).
Why he'll make the team: Rupp's half time converts to about 2:07 or 2:08, depending on what you use to calculate and there aren't many guys running in that range. If he can hang through 20 miles, he's got a shot.
Why he may not: Has to be on the starting line to make the time. He is entered, but it's all speculation until declarations are made. Has never run the marathon. Breaking up Hall, Meb and Ritz will be tough.

5. Jason Hartmann
Resume: 1st American at Chicago 2010 (2:11:06). Won Twin Cities in 2009 (2:12:06).
Why he'll make the team: Has run excellent marathons in back to back years and can run with the best when healthy. Has proven to do well on flat courses and warm conditions.
Why he may not: Has to break up the big three (and possibly Rupp), which will be no easy task.

Saucony's big gun, Jason Lehmkuhle
6. Jason Lehmkuhle
Resume: 5th at 2008 Olympic Trials. Ran 1:02:49 at Houston Half in 2011. Ran 2:12:34 at Boston (2010).
Why he'll make the team: Lehmkuhle is incredibly consistent and will be in the hunt. He came close in '08 and will run his race. Whether or not that will be fast enough will be the question.
Why he may not: His PR is 2:12 and it will take every bit of that to make the team. Lehmkuhle will have to have an A+ day to have a shot.

7. Brett Gotcher
Resume: 2:10:36 for 2nd at Houston (2010). 46:51 for 10 miles in October (Twin Cities).
Why he'll make the team: Gotcher's excellent debut came on the Houston course (although it's a little different) and he boasts the best qualifying time outside of Hall, Meb and Ritz.
Why he may not: His second trip to Houston wasn't as successful. This will only be his third marathon.

The McMillan men look at the field with deep focus
8. Nick Arciniaga
Resume: 2nd at Houston in 2011 (2:11:36) while pacing Gotcher and then choosing to continue. 3rd at San Diego in 2010 (2:11:48).
Why he'll make the team: Arciniaga's success at Houston last year will certainly give him confidence. Trains with Gotcher (for McMillan Elite), so the two of them will be able to help each other.
Why he may not: Has been injured of late and it's hard to say what kind of marathon shape he'll be in. Making the team will demand an A effort, but certainly something he's capable of.

Trafeh will take aim at Hall over 26.2
9. Mo Trafeh
Resume: 2011 USATF Half Marathon Champion (in Houston with a time of 1:02:17). 2011 USATF 10 Mile Champion (Twin Cities, 46:46). 60:39 at NYC Half (2011).
Why he'll make the team: Trafeh's very good over the half marathon and below distances. He out kicked Hall in the USATF Half Championship in Houston last year and has dominated the Gate River Run 15k two years in a row. Like Rupp, if he can get to 20 miles with the leaders, he's a threat.
Why he may not: Has never raced a full marathon. The trials will be a pressure packed place to debut!

10. Tim Nelson
Resume: 27:28 PR in the 10,000. 1:02:11 Half at Houston 2010
Why he'll make the team: Nelson has an excellent training group with Team Schumacher in Portland (Solinsky, Tegenkamp, Bairu, Jager, Vaughn) and has a great kick. If he can hang on, he'll be tough over the last few miles.
Why he may not: His first go at the marathon wasn't the best (2:15:06 at NYC 2010). He'll need to have a much better day to be considered a threat.

Stay tuned for the Women's Contenders article this week and continued coverage leading up to the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, TX on January 14, 2012.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Things I Like: Runner's High coffee from

I'm a big podcast guy. In terms of running podcasts, my favorite is the House of Run podcast, and on the comedy front, I love Sklarbro Country, featuring the Sklar Brothers, Mohr Stories, featuring Jay Mohr, and the WTF podcast, featuring Marc Maron. WTF is where I found out about Thanks Maron! (aka Just Coffee) is a 100% fair trade coffee roaster out of Madison, WI that has some of the best coffee I've ever tasted (and at excellent prices for the quality of bean). Shockingly, my favorite blend is the "Runner's High" blend, which is a medium roasted blend of beans from Mexico, Columbia and Ethiopia. A 12 ounce bag of this excellent coffee is only $11.05 (and the nice folks at Just Coffee gave me a promo code below that will get you another 10% off).

You can get the coffee in whole bean form or ground course, medium, or fine. Personally, I like the whole bean, so I can grind them myself for optimal freshness (and it makes my house smell awesome). Here's a link to a great $20 coffee grinder on if you don't have one already. The coffee comes shipped via UPS and are in vacuum-sealed bags to lock in the flavor.

Vacuum-sealed beans are the way to go!

Aside from the "Runner's High" blend, Just Coffee has plenty of other great blends and even offers their customers the opportunity to go on international trips to meet with other coops. I highly suggest checking out their site as it's very informative about the coffee trade in general.

And use the coupon code: writingaboutrunning (sorry folks, the code has expired) when checking out to get 10% off your next order at! An excellent holiday gift for running friends and family alike!

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Run Down: Brie Felnagle and Jon Grey win USATF National Club Cross Country Championships

Former Tar Heel (and current Adidas runner), Brie Felnagle, ran a very strong last 2k yesterday to win the 2011 USATF National Club Cross Country Women's Championship in Seattle, Washington. Felnagle, who now trains with her former high school coach, Matt Ellis, in nearby Tacoma, WA, broke away from a strong group that contained runner-up and Division II national champion, Neely Spence, Brooks' Katie Follett and NYAC's Julie Culley. Her time for the 6k course was 19:54, 4 seconds ahead of Spence. Team Rogue Elite, out of Austin, TX, won the Women's club championship.

On the Men's side, former William and Mary standout (and now Team USA Minnesota member), Jon Grey, ran away from the field early to take the 10k title in 29:38. Last year's winner, Aaron Braun, was the runner-up in 29:48, and led McMillan Elite, out of Flagstaff, AZ, to a repeat club championship. A surprise late entry was new pro, Matt Centrowitz, who ran a very strong fourth. In his post-race interview, Centro said he'll be transitioning out of base training to getting ready for the indoor season soon. Also somewhat of a surprise was Trevor Dunbar, who recently transferred to the University of Oregon (from Portland). He finished fifth, just behind Centro, but didn't mention anything about his transfer in his post-race interview. Touchy subject? He ran with his former state championship team from his sophomore year of high school. Pretty cool.

Full men's results are here and watch the men's race by clicking here.

Full women's results are here and watch the women's race by clicking here.

More information (including Masters results) is located at the USATF page here

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Run Down: Edward Cheserek and Molly Seidel win epic battles at Foot Locker, while controversy keeps Mark Blackmon from starting line

Seidel take the W
It wasn't easy for either victor, but the Midwest's Molly Seidel and the Northeast's Edward Cheserek came away with victories at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championship finals in San Diego, CA today. Seidel finished two seconds ahead of fellow Midwesterner in 17:22, while Cheserek finished one second ahead of Midwesterner, Futsum Zeinasellassie, in 14:52.

In the girls race, Erin Finn took it out hard very early and was not passed until about 2.5 miles in. Even after Seidel passed her going up the hill the second time, Finn fought back and took the lead going down the final hill with 600 meters to go. Seidel's kick was too strong over the last 300 meters, but Finn will have a shot at the title next year, as she is only a junior.

The boys race was one of the best ever, with Edward Cheserek and Futsum Zeinasellassie playing cat and mouse the whole way. Many surges were dropped and there was a fight for every tangent. Cheserek didn't pull away until the last 100 meters, and even then it seemed like Zeinasellassie may come back. It was the first race of the year where Cheserek didn't get a course record, but being that he's only a junior, he has already said that he's taking a shot at it next year.

On the local (North Carolina) front, on the girls side, Millbrook senior, Sammy George, finished 29th in 18:19 and freshman wunderkind Alana Hadley finished 34th, but will have a few more years to better today's performance. On the boys side, Cary Academy's Thomas Graham ran an excellent race and was in third for much of the way, until getting out-kicked down the stretch, but still finishing an excellent ninth (3 seconds separated 3-9). His finish was good enough for second team All American. Graham was also part of the boys South team that won their first team title in, well forever? I can't recall the last time the South boys won, or if they ever have for that matter. One South team member that wasn't in attendance was West Charlotte's Mark Blackmon. Blackmon's sister, and former NC State standout and Foot Locker national qualifier, Angelina Blackmon, stated over at that "his basketball coach (was) threatening to keep him from starting on his championship team and his father (was) in his ear about not going." It should be known that Blackmon is a very good basketball player, playing for the team the won the state championship last year, but Angelina had "never heard him more excited about an actual race, and he was honored to have achieved such high distinction in the cross country world." It's a real shame he couldn't make it, as he earned it and had an excellent year, winning the state 4A championship and qualifed for the event with a 15:01 at McAlpine Park. Blackmon also won the state Cross Country championship in South Carolina previously, a feat that has never been done before.

Full boys results are here and watch the boys race by clicking here.

Full girls results are here and watch the girls race by clicking here.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Running with Mother Earth Brewing

Post-run beer, anyone?

About six months ago, I was visiting my family in Charlotte, NC and happened to stop into the Earth Fare at South Park to pick up some food and drinks for a party. I was very surprised to see what I did in the beer aisle. The beer that caught my eye was Second Wind Pale Ale from Mother Earth Brewing. Of course, as a runner and beer enthusiast, I had to check it out.

Luckily, the beer was excellent and I started picking it up around Raleigh and Winston-Salem. I started introducing fellow runners to this great can of "runner beer" and wanted to know a little bit more about the brewery.

Turns out Mother Earth was founded in 2008 and resides about 30 miles from where I attended grad school, in the eastern North Carolina town of Kinston. I was lucky enough to catch up with co-founder, Trent Mooring, and get some information about the inspiration for the cool can in the craft beer section and about his life, living about everyone's dream job!

5 Questions with Mother Earth Brewing's Trent Mooring
(the first interview in the 5 Questions with series)

1. Writing About Running: Can you give us a little background about Mother Earth?

Trent Mooring: All Mother Earth names and labels come from the minds of my father in law, Stephen Hill, and myself. We both founded the brewery together and we have created the brand around our lifestyle and things that are important to us. All our art is done by a local artist named Dinah Sylivant from Snow Hill, NC. Usually we decide on a beer style we like and want to release, then we come up with the name, and then we meet with Dinah and she pulls painting from the head of Stephen and I. She is really good at capturing what is in our head!

2. Writing About Running: What led to putting the runner on the can?

Trent Mooring: For Second Wind, Stephen and I are both avid runners. We normally run every day at lunch to give us a break from the brewery and to keep our endorphins going. So, we actually came up with this name one day when we were running. Actually, I am getting ready to run as soon as I finish this!

3. Writing About Running: What effect has running had on your life?

Trent Mooring: Running has had a huge effect on my life because it is the time when I really get some peace and quiet and can really think and drift off. Like I said, a lot of the beer names have come to us from running. We call it our therapy!

"All I want to do is drink beer and train like
 an animal" - Rod Dixon, 1983 New York
City Marathon Champion

4. Writing About Running: Why is it that most runners love beer?

Trent Mooring: I am really not sure why runners like beer! I guess beer gives you a sense of relaxation as running does? I don’t really know the answer to that. Hopefully, everyone loves beer!

5. Writing About Running: Where are your favorite places to run?

Trent Mooring: One of my favorite places to run are the trails beside the brewery along the Neuse River. The Second Wind painting was painted of Stephen, I, and one of my best friends running on the trails beside the brewery. One of my best childhood friends comes and runs with us at lunch as well and the painting is an image of the three of us running. My friend actually owns the local Piggly Wiggly in Kinston, which just so happens to be one of the first Mother Earth accounts. That is usually where we run 80% of the time. Another favorite place was, about 4 years ago, we took a family trip through the country side of England and Stephen and I spent a great amount of time running trails in different small towns through Europe! Now, that was awesome!

You can find Second Wind Pale Ale and many other Mother Earth beers throughout grocery stores, restaurants and bars, all over North Carolina. Check out their website here: If you're lucky, you may get your hands on their very popular winter seasonal, Silent Night Imperial Stout, which is as good as they come!

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