Posts Tagged ‘Jackie Joyner Kersee’

heartland road runners club

The Heartland Roadrunners at Bridge the Gap 2013

You know, I owe my readers a race report for the Bridge the Gap Half Marathon that I ran with my training partner Doug this spring, and I’ve been thinking a little about it.  My summary of the race would go:


Jackie Joyner Kersee and I after Bridge the Gap 2013

– Jackie Joyner Kersee (who gave out the medals) was AWESOME.  If there’s something better than getting a half marathon medal from an 8 time Olympic Gold Medalist, I can’t think of it.

– Crossing the bridges over the Mississippi in the beginning of the race is BEAUTIFUL.

– The support was pretty good, though they were out of water at the first 2 stops and I don’t drink Gatorade because the sweetness gives me a tummy ache during races (And that’s why I love Nuun…!)

… and that’s about it.  Oh, I would probably mention that it was the warmest day Doug and I had run so far for the year and that was a little tough on us.  Despite the heat, I cut 9 minutes off my time from the Allerton Trails Half Marathon a few weeks before.

Now readers, don’t get the wrong idea when I tell you my feedback about this race, because I don’t want you to think it was a negative experience!  The entire staff of Bridge the Gap does a terrific job of putting together a solid run and should be congratulated for raising a lot of money for MedAssist and for growing the sport of running in Quincy each and every year.  The beef I’ve got with BtG as compared to any of the other half marathons I’ve run in the past 2 years is:

Where were all of the spectators?!

I’m not going to lie, when we were hot and exhausted in the endless bottoms of mile 9, I could have really gone for a, “Your feet must hurt from kicking this much butt!” sign.  Or how about a poster reading, “Run Faster! Zombies Don’t Like Fast Food!”  Or my training partner’s favorite sign, “Worst. Parade. Ever.

occupy finish line

“Occupy Finish Line” at the Occupy Little Rock Protests.

You see, I love the crazy spectators.  It’s my favorite thing about a large race.  Without the spectators, it’s just another training run out a long and lonesome road.  I hit low spots. I want to give up.  I want to walk the next 4 miles or perhaps steal a car.  I need the energy of a crowd and the encouragement of an electric race environment to keep my mind off my sore knees and to keep me moving forward.

When I was in Little Rock, AR doing my first half marathon, a random person in mile 11 yelled, “Yeah Laura! Doing Great!” when they read my name off my bib.

the course is strong

My husband can draw Darth Vader. It is the only thing he draws.

When I was in Lexington, KY for Run the Bluegrass half marathon there were bands around every corner and crowds of people chanting, “Go, Stranger, Go!”

For the half marathon in Illinois, there was a spectator with a table full of Dixie cups with a sign that said, “Free Tiny Beer for You and Steve!” (I don’t know who Steve is, but I bet he enjoyed his mid-race tiny beer as much as I did.)

photo 1

Bike rides can use signs too! My friend Jen at the RAIL (Ride Across Illinois) ride

At the Allerton Trail Half Marathon (Decatur, IL) – even on a decidedly quieter trail course – there was a section late in the race where a line of 15 people were lined up giving a row of high-fives to the runners who went past.

I love you, crazy fans. I really, really do.

photo 2

My stick zombies could use some work, but rider Gary Clay still got a smile out of this one!

Here’s my suggestion for BtG 2013: We need to get more spectators and awesome signs on the half marathon course!  I’m not talking about fans at the start/finish (there were a good number of people in that area) but I’m talking about some hard core, awesome, “Pain is temporary, finishing is forever” sign holders sitting out on lonely mile 8.  If at all possible, I’d suggest that said sign holders also dress like 80’s hair bands or perhaps Batman.

Yes. That’s it.  I would like 15 people dressed as Batman at mile 8. 

whoop azz sign

Quincy Sketch Club Members Jamie Green and Charlie Martin helped me make signs for an Ultra Marathon in Vermont.

So next Spring when you’re asking a friend if they want to run Bridge the Gap with you and despite your pleading they turn you down, tell them they can still help with the race. As a matter of fact… don’t wait.  Tell them now.  Maybe they can pick up their Batman costumes at an after Halloween sale! Hook them up with a pack of those huge, smelly magic markers and a pile of neon poster board.  Get them a cowbell and a tambourine and tell them to go nuts.

This one goes out to you, Crazy Marathon Sign Holder Person.  Thank you for all that you do!

And if there comes a day that I’m not running in the race, I’ll still be down there.  Look for me at mile 11.  I’ll be holding the, “I Think Chaffed Nipples are HOT!” sign.  🙂

Also check out this Buzzfeed article of more fun signs!

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This is what spring looks like to me!

This is what spring looks like to me!

Hey there, Adventurers!

Can you feel it?  Spring is in the air and it’s time to ramp up the activity level!   I’m just so excited I can’t hardly take it!

Personally, I’m gearing up for TWO half marathons in the next 3 weeks.   I’m going to Run The Bluegrass in Lexington, Kentucky on Easter weekend and then the Allerton Trails Half Marathon on April 6th in Monticello, IL (near Decatur, IL).  If you’re looking for some last minute running plans, you can still get in on either of these events.  The Allerton event is especially nice because, even at this late date, sign up is only $40 for the half marathon or $30 for the 10K.



How am I going to get through 2 half marathons on back-to-back weekends, you ask?  With help from my Adventure Foot Sponsors, of course!  You have probably heard the news by now that I’m an ambassador for Nuun Hydration, but I’m also adding a second sponsor to the blog roll this week!  I’m pleased to bring you the very best energy gel on the market:  V-Fuel Endurance Gel!



V-Fuel is a Colorado based company, and they’re flipping the script on regular old Gu and have created a true endurance fuel that tastes good and keeps my tummy feeling good too (regular users of Gu will catch my meaning).  I’m going to write a full product review on both Nuun and V-Fuel in the near future- so stay tuned.  Even better: I’m planning a CONTEST for April where you could win product or gear from my sponsors! Woo hoo!

Heartland Road Runners Club is in full swing right now, but there’s still plenty of time to start running for Spring.   Come check out “Road Runners After Dark” if you want a taste of how lovely running with the club can be.  RRAD meets at a restaurant every Tuesday night for a fun, social run.  No runner left behind, we promise!  For the month of March, we will be meeting at Kelly’s Restaurant in Quincy.  Running starts promptly at 6:15.

I simply do not get tired of this photo of Jackie Joyner Kersee  handing me a medal at Bridge The Gap.

I simply do not get tired of this photo of Jackie Joyner Kersee handing me a medal at Bridge The Gap.

And as long as you’re running, you should plan on signing up for Quincy’s biggest running event, Bridge the Gap to Health Race!  This race, now in its 13th year, supports the MedAssist program.  MedAssist helps low income patients afford prescription medications.  The race will once again be marshaled by Olympic Gold Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee.  If you’ve never been handed a medal by an Olympian, now is your chance!  There are a ton of options for this race including a walking or running half marathon, walking or running 10K and a running 5K.  There will also be a 5K Leisure Walk which starts an hour after the other races start.

Best day ever?!! Greg Davis of Madison Davis Bicycles and I pose by my brand new Trek Madone!

Best day ever?!! Greg Davis of Madison Davis Bicycles and I pose by my brand new Trek Madone!

And, saving perhaps the best for last: It’s BIKE SEASON!  I’m so darned excited about starting to really rack up the miles on my bike, I can’t even contain myself.  If you’re new to cycling, I suggest you try out the Quincy Bike Club’s Thursday night group.  This group will start meeting on April 4th.  The park which it meets at is TBD- I’ll keep you posted.   Once again this year I’ll be leading “Wednesday Night B Group.”  B-Group for 2013 will B a medium to medium/fast paced ride and I’m going to work in some training exercises  for all of us.  Maybe one week we’ll work out on some hill repeats. Maybe one week  we’ll do some flat sprints.  I don’t know. We’re going to be better cyclists for our work on Wednesday B Group!   Wednesday A and B group (A Group= really fast and experienced riders) will both leave from Madison Park Shelter House at 6 pm.  The first B group will meet April 3.  I will bring Easter candy as a bribe.

OH! And don’t forget to attend the Grand Opening celebration at Madison Davis Bicycles.  It’s April 11th at 6 pm.  The new shop is absolutely gorgeous and Greg is planning some great sales to kick it off.  You won’t want to miss it.

And Adventure Foot Readers- don’t miss this great spring sale from my blog sponsor, Nuun Hydration! $18 for a 4 pack of Nuun plus a water bottle (most of the 4 packs are normally $24 without a water bottle, so yeah. Stock up now.). It’s a great deal!

Click here for an awesome sale on Nuun!

Click here for an awesome sale on Nuun!

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Back Where I Started

Bridge the Gap to Health, now in its 12th year, has become a Quincy tradition.  The event features 5K, 10K and Half Marathon distances, and all courses cross both the Bayview and Memorial Bridges over the Mississippi. The proceeds benefit the Med Assist program, which helps needy families afford their prescription medication.

6 Time Olympic Medalist Jackie Joyner Kersee hands me my medal at the BTG2011.

Bridge the Gap holds a special significance for me.  It was the turning point in my approach towards fitness and the beginning of a whole new lifestyle.  I set the goal of completing my first 5K race for Bridge the Gap 2011.  You can (and should!) read all about my run here, but here’s the important take away:  you can do it!  I was 30 pounds heavier at Bridge the Gap than I am now.  I was out of shape, tired all the time and not very happy with my body image.  Crossing the finish line and being handed a medal by a personal hero, Olympian Jackie Joyner Kersee, was pure inspiration.

From that moment on, I literally couldn’t be stopped.  Following the race, I ran, biked, swam and played my way to a healthier me.  I’ve set bigger goals and I’ve believed that I could accomplish them.  Looking back, it wasn’t even a bunch of work to do it; it was a bunch of fun.  This change in attitude has had an immeasurable positive impact on all facets of my life.

This year I won’t be able to attend Bridge the Gap.  I’m going to be in Vermont that weekend, running with a friend in the Green Mountains.  A year ago though, I never would have dreamed of going to Vermont or running anywhere- especially not for fun- and that’s what Bridge the Gap started for me.

If you’re considering running your first 5 or 10K, or you’re wondering about what it might take to complete the Half Marathon course, I highly recommend you attend the Bridge the Gap meeting this Saturday at 1118 Hampshire Street at 9 am.  I’ll always look back on BTG 2011 as a pivotal moment in my life, and I hope that you will look back the same way on BTG 2012.

Click here to read more about the meeting and the 14 week half-marathon program.

Click here for Bridge the Gap’s Facebook Page.

Click here for my original recap of Bridge the Gap 2011.

Click here for another inspiring story of how Bridge the Gap changed another person’s life.

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Angie Frese, left, completes the 5K with her hands held high. Laura Sievert and her husband Justin at the finish line.

It was probably the combination of the cannon blast that started the race, the QHS Marching Band’s drumline beating a cadence, the bagpiper playing along the side of the route, and the cold, steady rain falling from the gray sky, but as I charged up the Hampshire Street Hill with a battalion of nearly 3000 other runners of the Bridge the Gap to Health Race, I felt as if we were going to war.

Completing my first 5K at Bridge the Gap was a challenge that I’d set for myself six short weeks ago. For many runners, 5K (3.2 miles) isn’t very far, but for me, it would be a mental test as much as a physical one.  I never liked to run, and the many years of not liking to run had cemented themselves into a mental barrier that told me that I couldn’t run.  So that was my battle: knock down the “Great Wall of Can’t.”

I wouldn’t say that I got off to an amazing start. Once the dreamy feeling of charging the hill was past me, I turned the corner and promptly stuck my left shoe in a deep puddle of water. Fantastic. Then, not 100 yards onto the Memorial Bridge, a faster runner tripped someone who, in turn, tripped me, and I sort of bounced into the side barrier in an ungainly manner. I was embarrassed, red-faced, wet-socked, and already winded. Quitting didn’t seem far behind.

I credit the British Invasion with saving my run.

Just as I was asking myself why I’d come out in this awful weather to do something I didn’t enjoy, my iPod brought up the song, “I Can See for Miles,” by The Who. The song made me look up and I realized that I could see for miles and miles and miles, and it was really cool to be where I was. I was running across the Mighty Mississippi River, and I wasn’t the only one in this group who thought it was tough. Things that are worth doing are always tough. The wind was whipping and the rain was falling, but I could finish this. I just knew it.

The Who and then Queen carried me across the first bridge in no time. (The Queen song, if you’re curious, was “Bicycle Race.” A friend thought it would be ironic if I put songs on my playlist about driving or biking.  I also included “Drive My Car” by the Beatles.) The wind really picked up when I turned the corner in West Quincy.  I was slowing down considerably on the Bayview Bridge, so I picked points out in front of myself that I knew I could make it to, and broke the run into pieces.  If I had to walk, I only walked to the next lamppost, then I ran to the next.  The course volunteers clapped as we ran past, and their support really made me smile and put a spring in my step.

Sievert and Freese pose before the race with Olympian Jackie Joyner Kersee.

It wasn’t long before I was back on Illinois soil headed down the hill to Bonasinga Drive with the finish line in sight. The song “Sweet Inspiration” by the Derek Trucks Band, propelled me toward the end of the race.  I was smiling ear-to-ear and raising a fist in the air as I crossed the line. Jackie Joyner Kersee, eight-time Olympic Medalist and Sports Illustrated’s Greatest Female Athlete of the Century, placed a medal around my neck, and I jumped up and down, giddy with the thrill of crossing the line. My husband, who also ran the race, was waiting at the line and we shared a victory hug.  My friends Angie and Sara crossed the finish not far behind me, and the atmosphere was just electric.

My finishing time was 37:44. The time put me a little more than half-way down the list of finishers, but I wasn’t really trying to beat anyone or anything except my own expectations. My friend Jeremy talks about “a runner’s high.”  It’s when you forget about how hard it was to get to the finish line, and just enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.  I don’t think I’ve turned into a great lover of running from this experience, but I did feel wonderful about accomplishing something I didn’t know I could do, and I got a small taste of that runner’s high. I’d encourage everyone to give Bridge the Gap or another run a try.  It was something I’ll certainly never forget.  I’m already looking forward to next year, where I’ll be charging along with my fellow warriors past the ruins of the Great Wall of Can’t.

Original Post May 17, 2011

Here’s the post that proceeded this one- when I decided to run for the first time.

Deep Breath… Ok, I’ll Do It.

People who know me know I love to be active. I don’t blink twice when someone suggests we go hike 10 miles, bike all over town, or climb an active volcano.  But running? Running is a different story.  I’ve never been quick, and I’ve never found my “groove” enough to keep a good pace up over long distances.  However, in the spirit of setting goals and achieving something I can be proud of, I’ve decided to run the 5k in this year’s Bridge the Gap to Health Race on May 14th.  Once I made the decision, I put out the word, and quickly a half dozen friends and my husband were on board too.

And we’ve all got good reason to be excited! The event itself is beautiful. The courses cross both bridges over the mighty Mississippi, and it’s not every day you have the chance to take a jog with a view like that.  It’s a great opportunity to get in shape, achieve a goal, and help people all at once.

Bridge the Gap to Health is now in its 11th year in Quincy.  The event consists of 5K (3.1 miles), 10K (6.2 miles), and half marathon (13.1 miles) certified courses, a 5K walk (with competitive or leisure categories) and a walking half marathon. The event draws over 2,500 participants, making it one of the premiere runs in Illinois.

The best part of Bridge the Gap is how much it helps our community.  All of the registration fees and proceeds from the event benefit the Quincy Catholic Charities MedAssist Program.  According to their website, MedAssist has helped over 3000 patients obtain around 30,000 prescription medications at a value of over $8 million in the last eleven years.   That money all stays local and helps Quincy area families (regardless of their religion).

If you’re not ready to commit to the run but still would like to experience the event, there are ample opportunities to volunteer. The race requires course guides, people to distribute water to runners, safety volunteers and much more.  If you’re interested in volunteering for the race, email btg@quincymedgroup.com for more information.So here’s my challenge to you, Quincy. Get out and run (or walk) with me.  We’ve got a month and a half to get ready, and the pride we’ll have from completing a challenge, helping needy folks get assistance to afford their prescription medication, and from our healthier hearts is immeasurable. I know we can do this!

To register for the Bridge The Gap to Health Race or for more information, visit http://www.bridgethegaptohealth.com They’re also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BridgeTheGapToHealth All donations to the QCC MedAssist program are tax-deductible.  Visit the Quincy Medical Group website to find sponsor information, past winners, training tips, photos and much more: http://www.quincymedgroup.com/bridgethegap/index.html

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