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Runner of the Month

Runner of the Month

Runner of the Month is a series of short interviews with various athletes from Focus-N-Fly to highlight their success and the motivation they use to keep running.

BurellSteve Burrell lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where he owns a ReMax real estate company, and comes home to a wife who works as a professional photographer, three kids (freshman in college, senior in high school, and 6th grade), and two dogs.  Originally born in Iowa, Steve returned for what he thought was a limited time after some stretches living in different spots, including Atlanta for high school and a period running a restaurant in Crested Butte in Colorado.   Almost two decades later, he’s still there!

This Sunday, Steve is running his third marathon at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

Coach: How did you start running?

SB: I got into running when I was getting disgusted with how I felt, low energy levels, everything.  I started running with a guy I knew who ran 1000 miles a year for 30 years, but only 850 last year (ankle injury). Pretty soon, I got into some local racing, hooked up with some guys who organize races, ran Grandma’s [Marathon in Duluth, MN].  I’m doing my third marathon this weekend, and have dragged my brother in law from California to do it with me.


Coach: Who is your running role model?

SB: My running role model just changed this year.  KJ [the 1000 mile per year guy] was it for years. We used to have these tough guy contests - we would run until it got into the 10s and teens with no shirt, until about December, when we’d have to put a shirt on.

This summer, I met Luis Escobar, who lives in Santa Maria, California.  He is the guy who did the cover artwork for the book Born to Run.  My wife was speaking at this event, and dragged me along.  Luis took me out on a 2.5-hour run, and really energized me.  Got me turned on to a whole new part of running. He is just an example to me of what running should be.  We’d be out there, not have any idea where we were at, and came across a place we just could not have gotten to if we weren’t running.

I love that part of running.  Watching the world resolve itself in the morning.  Sometimes I run through campus [University of Northern Iowa is located in the Cedar Falls / Waterloo area] and I can still see the debris from the night before, see the world the way it is going to be the next day.  One time I did a ReMax 5K at a convention in Las Vegas.  I came across a guy I knew from home coming out of the casino when we turned around at Bally’s.  Here we are running early in morning, and he was still finishing up from the night before.

Coach: What has been your most memorable running / racing experience?

SB: It was several years ago, when one day it all came together.  I was still running 5-6-7 miles at a time. I run from the YMCA in town 90% of my day runs from there, so coming off the trail one day, I hit an uphill and I realized I still had energy and just kind of went.  We [his midday running group] have a rule that we never let anyone die behind us, but if you feel good you can let it out.  That was when I finally got it.  I finally passed the “needing to do it for health reasons,” and broke through to the “freedom” side of it.

The other one was coming over that ridge with Luis, running up sand dunes, and around that corner.  That was what reinvigorated me this year.

Coach: What have you enjoyed about working with Focus-N-Fly?

SB:  The coolest part is how adaptive it is to your schedule.  There are other programs that allow you to plug in what you are doing, but I enjoy having the ability to easily go in and put in runs [non goal races], and how it incorporates them right into the schedule.  It wasn’t complicated to do; it was very straightforward.  I found you guys when I signed up for Phoenix [P.F. Chang's Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona].  I had run for 8 years before that, and had trained for Grandma’s and blew up - limped in.  And then afterwards, Kate came on and talked me through things.   It was a really nice personal touch to have the combination of computer and an actual person following up.

Coach: What is one part of your racing routine you can’t do without (sleep, pre race meal, tie shoes certain way, other ritual)?

SB:  If I had my choice I wouldn’t run with stuff on me, like 15 water bottles, lots of gear, etc.  To me, I have a certain pair of socks I wear for races; a shirt I know doesn’t chafe, that I’ll wear.   I guess for me it is all about the stripping away, a reverse ritual, to get rid of everything else.  On long run mornings and race mornings, I’ll eat an English muffin with peanut butter, fruit, gel, two cups of coffee, and an hour before the race, I’ll eat more fruit and eat some Chomps.

Coach: What is your favorite place to go for a run?

SB:  I would have to be out in Santa Maria, but actually, my favorite place to go is someplace I haven’t been.  I‘ll set up my runs to go down streets I haven’t been down before, and when I travel, I use running to recon new places, find out where everything is. I love being able to go out of your driveway and go a new place, some people say I took the road less traveled.  For me the whole point is that I got out and just took the road.

Coach: In the next year, what goals do you hope to accomplish?

SB:  I jinx myself when I do this!  This weekend, sub 3:30, hopefully qualify for Boston now that I am “old.”  Next year, Leadville 50.  If I qualify for Boston, I probably should do it, but the Leadville 50 is my next big goal, to take it to the next level.


Terri Wojtalewicz

Terri is married to an Army Colonel who has been stationed at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas for the past three years.  While he is on the road many times, taking various units through pre-deployment exercises, Terri takes care of things at home, including their three children, 18 (beginning college this fall), 10, and 8.   Terri grew up as the daughter of an Air Force officer, so is no stranger to the itinerant lifestyle of military families, living in England, Germany, Virginia, California, Alabama, and Nebraska along the way.  With all that moving as a young person, she got used to meeting new people, but is glad that with new technology, these moves no longer necessarily mean losing touch.

Terri is training for her first Army Ten-Miler, which will be the longest race she has ever attempted.


Coach: How did you start running?

TW: Many of my friends have been running.  I had always wanted to run, but never pursued it because I thought it was too hard, couldn’t run that distance, couldn’t keep up, etc.  My New Year’s resolution was to get back in shape, but figured, I’m 42 years old and need to do something that I can do even when I was 60 or 70 (which left out kickboxing and things like that).

I began with stationary bike and walking, and once I started doing that, I decided in March to try running on a treadmill.  Everybody said, “Go get fitted for a good pair of shoes,” but I didn’t listen,  and got shin splints and had all sorts of problems.  Finally, I went and got new shoes and that was the end of all the pain.

I decided to sign up for Army Ten-Miler.  I figured could do it one mile at a time, water station to water station.  You know, just go as fast as you can, doing my personal best each time.  If I cross the finish line under my own power, then I accomplished my own goal.  A lot of army spouses are running it, and we’re all meeting up in DC to run the Ten-Miler.  They have all gone to different (stations) since then, so it is nice to be meeting up with them.  I’ve run two 5ks and my first 10k [August 28].  Ft. Leavenworth is very hilly, right by the Missouri river.  There were a lot of really big hills in there.  I ran a pace of 13:11, and it was really fun.  My children were there at the end, and ran the last 100m with me.  I was like there was no way I can do this, but I saw them and next thing I knew I was jogging across the finish line.



Coach: Who is your running role model?

TW:  A few close friends of mine who are regular women, Army spouses who also have decided to pick up running and have seen that it is possible to just go out and do it, have fun, and not take it too seriously.

Also, one of those days where is was going to be 103-105 degrees, I was making excuses about going out to run that morning, and then came a woman running up the street in a full leg prosthesis, and I was like, I have no right to make any excuses at all!


Coach: What has been your most memorable running / racing experience?

TW: the 10k I just did, the fact that I was absolutely terrified to run it, that I was doubling my distance.  I know because I did that that I can do the Ten-Miler. It was kind of the roadblock that has been shattered.


Coach: What have you enjoyed about working with Focus-N-Fly?

TW: The schedule, and the blogs - being able to go in and see what other people are doing. For instance, there was something about taking a day of rest. Just taking that rest day seriously…I was like it can’t just be that simple!  I like how the system has the flexibility to work around your schedule. I’m going to keep it up after the Ten-Miler!


Coach: What is one part of your racing routine you can’t do without (sleep, pre race meal, tie shoes certain way, other ritual)?

TW:  I can’t think of anything other than saying a prayer about reaching the finish line.  Ok, well, I know I don’t wear cotton shirts.  I make sure that I am wearing my orange or my pink tech shirt.


Coach: What is your favorite place to go for a run?

TW:  Outside, around the golf course, in the shade of the trees.  I love running here on post.  There are all these trees, all this historical stuff. It keeps my mind off the running - looking around at all the beautiful scenery.  I don’t like going into the gym, it’s boring!


Coach: In the next year, what goals do you hope to accomplish?

TW:  The biggest goal would be to increase my pace and just be able to run a 10k or a half marathon, run it the whole way without walking at any point during the race.  I’m not ashamed to stop and walk, though.  I sing that Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer kids’ song about putting one foot in front of the other!  So my goal is just to complete it running.

Jonathan Penn Ironman Vineman

Jonathan Penn

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957, Jon attended Long Island’s Massapequa High before graduating from SUNY Albany and University of Michigan’s law school.  After a sojourn to Boulder during the mid-eighties, Jon returned to New York, and eventually came to California in 1989 at which point he immediately decided he would never want to live anywhere else.  A self –described “patent geek,” Jon has been practicing intellectual property law for 25 years.

A veteran of many marathons and a long time FNF’er (read on below), Jon is competing in the Full Vineman Triathlon (his first Ironman) on Saturday, July 31, in an effort to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society.  Jon has definitely brought a unique element of creativity to the familiar endurance event fundraising efforts (in which many FNF’ers have participated through the years), and with a week out, is $600 shy of his ultimate goal of $10,000 raised.   His Team in Training page is found here. 

Robin Roberts

Robin Roberts calls Colorado Springs, Colorado home, where she works as the President of Pikes Peak National Bank.  Robin has three kids, and grew up in California, before serving in the military as an Army Staff Sergeant E6, specializing in military intelligence and espionage during the Cold War, during which time she traveled the world.  After the wall fell, she was stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington State, where unfortunately, she  reports, she spent a lot of time in the motor pool.  Robin joined Focus-N-Fly just a couple of months ago, and is celebrating a recent personal best of 29:31 in the Sailin’ Shoes 5k in Colorado’s thin air. 

Coach: How did you start running?

RR:  I started running when I was teenager.  When I decided to join the military, I  knew I was going to have to run in basic training.  The recruiter told us that we would have to be able to run two miles, so start now.  And when I was in the military, we ran, and ran, and ran.  When it was cold, we ran in the snow, no matter what.  When I got out of the military [after the final stretch in rainy Tacoma, Washington, where Fort Lewis is located], I said I would never run in the rain again!  But, I continued to run, and although there have been periods where I was more focused on fitness (muscle building), things like that, I have always returned to running.

Michael GalbusA Middletown, Delaware resident for over a decade, Michael has been married since 1993 to his wife Crystal, and has three kids: Connor, Carter, and Madelyn. Michael is Vice President of Operations at Zodiac Aerospace, where his division makes concrete placed at the end of runways in order to stop airplanes which have failed to slow. Michael grew up in Salisbury, Maryland about 90 miles away, before attending college at the University of Delaware.

A lymphoma survivor, Michael ran his first marathon with Team in Training at the PF Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona. At the recent Delaware Marathon after training with FNF, he finished in 3:19:54 to earn himself a spot in next year’s Boston Marathon. Michael has also enjoyed the tremendous support of the Middletown Athletic Club, of which five members hit the Boston mark that day.

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