Winter’s Last Stand, pt. 2 (2014 American Birkenbeier)

We pick up where we left off – with Mike Schaefer bringing the winter race season to it’s climactic conclusion at the Birkie!

For those of you new to the sport of cross country skiiing, there’s a great backgroun article on the race online:–frigid-conditions-004929691.html

Here’s Mike:

I picked a good year to just “tour” the Birkie instead of racing it. We welcomed newbies Ray Huang (Spin Road Team) and Drs Matt and Cristal Schaeffer (Oberlin, OH) and the camaraderie was the highlight of my weekend. We spent our first night at my sister’s home. We waxed skis and told old stories so Ray would know what to expect.

Little did we know, the weather would make this the toughest Birkie ever! The course got over 12 inches of new snow on the day before the race, and our drive across Wisconsin took twice as long as usual. We got word during the drive that our rental cabin was inaccessible (downed trees and a stuck snowplow)! So, in the middle of the blizzard we had scramble for a place to stay! After a few dozen phone calls we were able to squeeze into the home/cabins of other skier friends from both Ohio and Wisconsin. (With 10,000 skiers and even more spectators there was NO vacancy anywhere!). Meanwhile the temps dropped to -2F and the winds kept blowing HARD!

In the morning we learned that the huge warming tent at the race start area had collapsed under the snow, so we just trudged out onto the wind-blown tundra that serves as the start venue. I changed boots in a port-a-john and then kept skiing for 30min just to stay warm. But things got better!

The sun came out, and my wax job proved to be perfect. My dad’s old skis were running as well as ever, and the course was incredibly scenic: heavy snow on the evergreens against a bright blue sky! And as it turned out, we would have plenty of time to enjoy it!

I started in the middle of my assigned wave, and the first few climbs got congested as people were already getting bogged down in the soft tracks. Instead of trying to charge ahead, though, I just relaxed and joked around with the nearby skiers trying to ease everyone’s nerves. I knew it would be a long day, so I stopped for some cookies and an extra cup of warm energy drink at each aid station. When the largest climbs got really tough, I rewarded myself with a brief pause at each scenic vista. I still skied pretty well, just hard enough to cramp-up a little by about 40k. But then I slowed a bit and kept them at bay over the infamous “Bitch Hill” at 44k (and I learned that it doesn’t hurt nearly as much if you just walk up it instead of run!).

With 10k left, I decided to ski faster, just to get the race over with. I knew there was beer and bratwurst waiting at the finish (after all) and nothing was gonna stand between me and that bratwurst! Unfortunately there was a brisk headwind blowing, and the lake-crossing before the finish was arguably the most difficult 3k I have ever skied! But it wouldn’t be “The Birkie” without just a little suffering!

Mike crossing the line at the 2014 Birkie!

Mike crossing the line at the 2014 Birkie!

As usual, our whole crew skied courageously! The beer tasted great, and the party in Hayward was just getting started when my sister collected her special “ten-year finisher” award (Congrats Bethany!) However, with no good place to stay and a long snowy drive in front of us, we decided to head south and we closed another Birkie chapter… But then, there’s always next year! Maybe I’ll actually do some real training for the next one, but this “touring thing” was an awful lot of fun!

Way to go guys!!

Winter’s Last Stand, Pt. 1

xc graphicSince mother nature has quelled ambitions of being outdoors (and relatively comfortable), we’re publishing the first part of our own Dr. Mike Shaefer’s cross country skiing exploits over the last month or so.

His first entry comes from Cote Dame Marie Loppet, a rolling 26km course:


First XC ski race of the year! I started very slowly as I was worried about my lack of preseason training. Had a great mid-race surge and caught a group of guys I often race with,so my slow start did seem to hurt me much. I was just settling in to a nice draft when someone stepped on my pole and yanked the shaft right out of the handle! It took me 30 sec or so to ski back and slam it together, but unfortunately lost my pace group during the flattest and fastest pat of the course. I reeled them in slowly over the next 2k, but then we hit the one HUGE climb of the day – literally right up and over the local downhill ski area! Fortunately I was able to stay with all but one guy and recovered nicely on the downhill on the back side. With 10k still to go, I made up my mind to catch the guys who escaped the group, as he is an old rival who often beat me handily when we were in our 20s. Fortunately my slow start must have paid off, as I caught him 4ks later and then caught 2 more guys after him!

It was SO nice to ski in excellent conditions again, and I really enjoyed the “easier” race strategy, even though it probably cost me a few places. The best part of the day though, was the 5Ks I got to ski with Jill and the girls after the race!

Next up was the Ohio State Cross Country Skiing Championships, on Cleveland’s east side at Lake Metroparks’ Girdled Road Reservation:

Petty good skiing with all of the new snow, but the races were challenging as usual. It was 4 deg, snowing like crazy and windy — Some of the most difficult conditions I’ve ever raced in. I won both races, so earned the combined “pursuit” title. I’m really psyched about this, as it’s my first ever (overall) state championship!! (I had won the classical style event three times and the skating event once, but never both in the same year!). Cornwell had solid races and showed some real toughness, finishing with a strong skate race. We both decided that it was a good thing that no other teammates attempted this as their first ski race, though. The weather was really nasty!

Next up was the back to back Vasa Loppet and Grand Traverse XC races back up in the state up north:

Day 1: After missing the PA championships due to bronchitis, I was excited to race, but apparently NOT recovered! I’ve been close to podium OA here, so I decided to go out hard. I settled in with the lead pack and felt great for 8k then somehow the wheels fell off! I got dropped HARD on a series of steep climbs. Barely recovered when the 2nd pack caught me, and it was all I could do to stay with them. I hung on for 15 more Ks. Finally got dropped again with 3k to go so I just cruised in. All in all still not too bad – 10th overall, and about what I should expect given my lack of preseason training ( and it was only -2 deg at the start and -12 deg in the valley on the course!). At least I’ll be used to the suffering for the Birkie in two weeks!

Day 2: I rebounded from yesterday’s suffer-fest to have my best OA finish ever in this longstanding classical-style event. I was 14th OA but 1st in AG, and beat some guys who usually beat me. The cold and new snow made it much slower than previous years. At 14deg with no wind, it still felt significantly warmer than yesterday! I paced it well and found some motivation late in the race as I dropped a guy that I skied with from 5-14k.

I’m still not in great physical shape, but my mental focus was strong and my technique continues to improve! And technique means so much in this sport!! If you take the time to look up results, you’ll see an amazing number of top-twenty skiers in their 50s (and even some in their 60s!!). This is a testimony to the complexity of this sport – it takes a LONG time to master, especially with such a short season. But it is also exceptional for competitive longevity and very forgiving for aging joints. Also, I’ve never met a more supportive nor collegial group of competitors! ( no offense to our excellent team and the multisport community). Similar to multisport racing, adversity breeds alliances and misery loves company!!
Next stop: the “Birkie” to re-unite with over 10,000 of my “brethren!” It will just be a “tour” for me this year, but it will be an up-tempo tour!

Awesome job Mike!

Tune in tomorrow as Mike tells the tale of this year’s Grande Vitrine, American Birkebeiner!

Run for Regis

Game on!  Lori, Jen and Murphy recently slogged some miles in some of winter’s finest down in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park at the Run for Regis 50K and Half Marathon!

That can't help with the VO2 max!!???

That can’t help with the VO2 max!!???


This is the third year in a row I have done Run for Regis. Initially signed up for the 50k after having a great race in the half marathon distance last year but when the time came I was not prepared for that but did have 18 on the Boston marathon training schedule. Perfect. This race you can pretty much do whatever you want! There are two loops-4.7 mile green loop and 8.4 mile orange loop. Mark only had 13.1 on his training plan but sucked it up and was kind enough to say he’d do whatever I was doing. The other thing with this race is you just never know what kind of weather you will get. Last year it was nearly 60 degrees and just a little wet/muddy but today would prove to have quite challenging conditions being about 15 degrees at the start and significant snow on the ground. Starting from the Ledges shelter you run out depending on the loop, which we started with the green and it was like running in sand. Whew. It was going to be a tough day. Fortunately footing improved some, but as we returned to the green loop the second time somehow rather than the snow getting more packed down from all the runners it was even harder! My whole lower body just hurt. Slow going it was but I figured I was building some strength and endurance on this long day. Garmin said time was 3:30 with official race time 3:54 (including pit stops at aid stations-which was worth it cause the grilled cheese was the bomb!). After finishing first order was to get into warm, dry clothes and then pick up schwag which is also always good at this race. This year it was a Brooks running jacket with the Run for Regis snowflake on the back. Then we all enjoyed some hot chocolate and yummy chili. Fun day with many friends on the trails and a few tails to tell!

Gettin' warm, post race!

Gettin’ warm, post race!

Jen P:

I can’t think of a better way to spend a winter weekend near Cleveland then trail running in CVNP with friends, hot grilled cheese and veggie chili! This was my first Run for Regis and I had a blast. At race start the temp was a frosty 18 degrees, but the soft snow falling and beautiful setting of the park kept my mind off of the chill. The aid stations and volunteers were fantastic – I’ll definitely be back!!






Great job everyone!!

Turning it back on in 2014!!

OK kids, little hiatus is over.   Sorry for the lateness in getting this thing back up and running (pardon the pun), but here we go!

Peanuts for PNET

Peanuts for PNET

January 1, 2014 we had an overwhelming response to a call to arms as it were.  The inagural Resolution Run 5K Run/Walk to benefit Peanuts for PNET, a charity for children with PNET brain cancer.  An issue that has hit fairly close to home within our ranks.

Over 150 people came to race and support the cause, including just about the entire SSSMST squad!  Lets hear what some of the team thought:

Jen P:

While this is a race report this really was not a race in my book…it was a wonderful way to start 2014 with many teammates and friends in support of Kellen Kolozvary who is enduring a much tougher “race” than any of us can imagine. Keep running Kellen!

Brian Kostura:

It was a nice snowy run to start off the new year. Great seeing all the Blue and Green out there in support of the PK Family! Big shout out to Pat’s brother Jon on his first 5k in many years!


As Rood said earlier, this is a race close to the team’s heart. It was great to see so many teammates, friends and others come out to support such a great cause. Besides, what a wonderful way to start 2014! Doing a 5K on New Years Day with a whole bunch of people I really like and taking home some hardware, not sure it can get any better… well the only way it can get better is when Kellen beats this and is healthy!
Kudos to Jeff Day for pulling off a great first race, to the City of Berea and Middleburg Heights for the police support and all the others who made the race possible.
A bonus for me though was getting to catch up with my buddy from Lake Placid, Patrick’s mom, Karen and getting to meet his dad, Jack/John. Seeing Patrick’s brother, John was OK too ; ). I missed my opportunity to meet Erin’s folks and sister though : (. Hopefully in the future.

An incredible amount of money was raised, and fun was had by all!  Too many pics to post, but quite a few can be seen at the following link:

Special kudos goes out to long time Second Sole runner Jeff Day, who organized this event and pulled it off in style!!  Great job everyone!

The “Pre-Gorge Thanksgiving Day Race” Post

Some of us left town.  Some of us ran on our own.  And some of us downed dozens of Krispy Kreme Donuts.  And others….well they hung around town to do one of the two more well known Turkey Day running events – The Cleveland Turkey Trot Road Race, and the Penton Memorial XC Turkey Trot.  With abysmal temps and some snow still on the ground, made for a good hard day. One that was likely eclipsed by about 5pm.

Brian Kostura headed downtown for the road race:

Fun, traditional event as always! (hmm…maybe he wasn’t affected by the weather?)

And Scott Zubricky, Mike Schaefer, Aaron Henely and Team Spin’s Ray Huang put some hurt on the cross country course at Lorain County Community College in the 45th Annual Penton Memorial!

I had a great Turkey Trot –Henely, Zubricky and I all won our age groups again and I ran a course PR by 1 minute despite the snow and mud (44:02). I really do seem to thrive in that stuff!!. I was feeling so good that I tried to keep up with Henely for a while –This worked pretty well, but he dropped me after 3miles and I AM SO SORE NOW!! Gotta do some speed work occasionally I guess..

Also great to see Ray Huang from The Spin Road Team running – 2nd in AG!

l to r: Schaefer (with bird), Henely, Zobricky and Huang showing off the victor's spoils

l to r: Schaefer (with bird), Henely, Zobricky and Huang showing off the victor’s spoils



The Condensed ‘Dre Chic Season Post

Andrea and SSSMST Alum hubby Jim at Kona 2007

Andrea and SSSMST Alum hubby Jim at Kona 2007

Since post-Kona depression has set in for everyone, we’ll take this opportunity to hear about Andrea Lamastra’s 2013 season.  It was really intended to build up to her Ironman at Louisville, but ended up much more about how life has evolved for her (and probably parallels a lot of us in the “masters” category)…..with a few races thrown in:

I haven’t written any race reports this year so now that I’m finally sitting down to do it, I decided to combine all of my reports into one. My triathlon season has come to a close but I now realize it has been more about the journey then the actual races themselves. This year I completed Ironman Louisville on August 25. My first Ironman was 10 years ago, my second 8 years ago. I’m not sure if there will be another so I wanted to remember everything involved with this journey so someday when I’m really old and gray and lost most of my memory, I will be able to live it again through my words. For anyone that’s already bored, you can stop reading now…I’ll never know This is for me and maybe for Luca…to someday understand a little bit more about why his mother is so crazy!
I haven’t raced much in the last few years. Life gets crazy! I didn’t realize how much I missed triathlons and being involved with a team until last year when I completed the Rev 3 Cedar Point ½ ironman. I had only trained since June for the early Sept race so I wasn’t sure how it would go but I ended up having a great day. I had fun, felt alive and knew at the end I had more in me. I ran the Chicago Marathon in October with my sister, Jocelyn Rood, Kara Lade and another friend from Columbus and had a blast. I don’t really like marathons but doing it with friends and having a girls weekend away, further sparked my push for more. I took a break through the holidays, got lazy and a little fat, and started thinking about what was next. By the time January rolled around, I started thinking about doing an ironman. I didn’t tell anyone…I pondered and pondered and pondered. I was turning 40 in July and wanted something to remember. Now most people would be pondering…should I have a party, should I plan a trip away, should I just get really drunk! For some reason, that darn ironman bug must never fully go away. I didn’t just want something big, I NEEDED something big.

Two years ago while on vacation with my family, my sister and I went for a run that ended on the beach. We were talking about life and the struggles that Jim and I have had with fertility over the years. Jim and I had struggled to get pregnant with Luca, but at the time, didn’t realize what a miracle he was. We knew we wanted more children if possible but had no idea what a struggle it would be. We tried everything medicine had to offer without success. The years of emotional and physical torment had added up but as we were running on the beach that day, I said to my sister “how will I ever stop hoping?” I couldn’t control the tears. As hopeless as it was, I still always had hope. I realized I had to set an end date to save my sanity. A time when I had to stop hoping. I decided it would be when I turned 40.

When I finally mentioned to Jim that I was thinking about doing an ironman, he was all in. I still wasn’t sure myself so I pondered some more. I knew I was going to need something to occupy my brain and help me to have a positive goal to work toward as my birthday approached. I mentioned it to Jim again and before I knew it, he was filling out my race registration. He finished, made eye contact with me, and I didn’t object. He hit return and it was done. It’s a strange feeling once that button is pressed. Excitement which quickly turns to “what did I just do”. And so it began.

I decided that if I was going to do this race, I wanted to be all in. Jim had been working with Chris Martino and he graciously offered me his services. We met, I told him my goals, and the plan was set. “What did I just do?” My goals were simple. After years of fertility treatment, my body and mind felt out of whack. That’s the only way to describe it. I also had some other odd things that were off in my body that I wanted to figure out. So my first goal was to achieve improved health. My second goal was to finish an ironman with a smile on my face. Sounds simple…right?

The training began. I was excited and motivated but that only usually lasts for a few months before I’m ready for a break. This was going to be more training that I had ever done so I was really worried I would get burnt out long before Aug. I quickly realized my reasons for signing up would get me through.

By mid February, I started to have a problem with my right hip. I thought it was just from jump starting training but after sitting in a continuing education course for work, I was starting to have trouble walking. I thought my journey was going to be over before it ever really began. Instead of finishing an ironman for my 40th birthday, I was going to need a hip replacement and a cane. Panic set in. I saw the doctor, got an MRI and realized I had a small tear in my labrum. UUUUGH! I was planning to make an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon but thought I would give it some time. I started to do some very specific stretches to open up my hip joint space, took some meds and hoped for the best. I stopped running, barely swam and did some very easy spinning. After a couple of weeks, I started some gradual running and it felt ok. I had no idea if I would be able to race at all but decided to keep trying. I slowly increased my training time and had no major flare ups. I had qualified for the Boston Marathon in Chicago and my same crew, along with Jim and his dad were all planning on running. I knew it wouldn’t be smart to try to run a marathon but I didn’t want to be left out either. I was already signed up so I decided to start the run, and just go as far as I could. I studied the train schedule/map so I knew where the mile markers were and could stop when needed. We loaded the buses in downtown Boston and headed out to the race start. Along the way, I looked at Jim and tears started to form. I realized it was just about the 1 year anniversary of our last failed in-vitro attempt. I couldn’t believe it had been another year already but at that moment, I knew my hope was gone. We hugged each other, and sat peacefully for a few minutes. I was on my way back to health and headed toward my new goals.

The gun went off and I was smiling as the race started. I felt alive. I made it 17 miles. I had no hip pain but a lot of muscle soreness from the lack of training and didn’t want to cause any other injuries trying to push my limits. I hopped on the train and headed to the finish line. I sent a text to Jim because I knew I couldn’t get there in time to see him finish. We planned to meet and wait for everyone else. I found my sister, our friend Missy and Liz Vega. I found Jim. While waiting for Liz in the changing tent, we heard the first explosion. And then the second. We found a police officer who confirmed they were bombs and told us to evacuate immediately. Thanks to Jim’s crazy loud whistle, we found the rest of our group and quickly left the area. Once several miles away, we stopped in a small bar and the news reports and video footage had already started. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing and how close we were. Suddenly, turning 40 and thinking about my own struggles seemed unimportant. After seeing the devastation so close to where we had been…life that we so often take for granted became very precious. All I could think about was getting home to hold Luca. My return to training had already become very emotional but confirmed my desire to live life to the best of my abilities and shoot for new and exciting goals along the way.

I had a new sense of motivation after returning from Boston. There are so many things in life we can’t control but striving for improved health was my first goal. I hope to have a long and healthy life with Jim, Luca and the rest of our family and friends. I knew I had the control to make some very important changes. I made an appointment with an Integrative Specialist at Ohio State that a friend of my sister recommended. He specialized in Celiac disease and uses diet and vitamin supplementation to treat his patients. This is what I wanted. Not a doctor who’s first order of business is handing me a script for medicine to treat an unknown diagnosis. After ordering a ton of lab work, he confirmed that I had a gluten sensitivity which was affecting my absorption of key nutrients. He explained how this contributed to all of my seemingly unrelated complaints. Infertility problems, chronic fatigue, lost enamel, low blood counts (hemoglobin/hematocrit and HDL). No other doctor could correlate my complaints that I had for years. I continued to change my diet, started taking the vitamins that he recommended and quickly felt better than I had in years. Even with my increased hours of training, I was less tired than I had been for most of my life. I again had a new sense of motivation and finally knew I was on the right track to improved health.

The summer started to fly by as Jim and I were constantly orchestrating workout schedules while trying not to leave Luca in the dust. He was a trooper and our family and friends helped out tremendously. The grandparents got some extra one on one time with Luca, while Jim and I got to enjoy a few bike rides together. I completed the Huntington Sprint Triathlon in July and felt encouraged. It’s always nice to support a local race and compete with a ton of team members. It was hard to get the legs to turn over after training long but it was really fun to actually be done with a race in a little over an hour! The longer miles started to pile on but I truly felt great through most of the training. I had a few workouts that were mentally tough but for the most part, I was enjoying the ride so to speak!

As I finished my last few weeks of hard training, the realization that the race was coming started to hit. I turned 40 without too much stress. The surprise party that Jim somehow pulled off was a blast and set the stage for a great start to my 40th year!! I was healthy, happy and ready to race.

On the way to Louisville, I of course started to do the usual worrying. Why were my legs so heavy, did I train enough, would I make it to the finish line. I slowly settled the worries and finally started to feel the vibe!!! I knew I was ready and was so excited to start the race. Everyone has their own reasons for doing an ironman, their own journeys. Getting to the starting line is the glory! The rest is bonus! Of course everyone is hoping for the perfect race but just like in life, nothing is perfect. You just learn to roll with what you are dealt. That is what I have learned through this journey. I had a great day! The swim was as smooth as I could’ve hoped for. It was a little crowded at the start but as soon as I made the turn around the island, I had open water and just did my thing. I knew the current was in our favor so it was easy to pick up the pace without exerting too much effort. I got out of the water, hit my watch and couldn’t believe what I saw. So far, so good. I got to see my family as I headed into and out of T1 and felt great starting the bike. I had no major events through the ride. Jim rode the course the day before and told me to start easy and be patient. I followed his words. I stuck with my nutrition plan and with 30 miles to go I was able to pick up my pace for the home stretch. I was having fun and ready to start the run! I smiled, I got tears every time I saw my family and friends cheering me on (thank you Rood family for making the trek, and to Chris Martino for cheering us on even though he wasn’t able to race himself), I waved to the police officers stopping traffic, I thanked as many volunteers as I could and I just tried to smile. It got a little tough toward the end. Of course I had a pie in the sky goal of under 11 hours. With about 5 miles to go I was trying to figure out what pace I needed to hold and still make it under 11. I messed my watch up at some point during the race so I couldn’t figure it out…my brain had lost some higher (for anyone over the age of 6) math functioning. About 3 miles out, I tried to reach for a cup of water at the aid station and realized my balance was a little off. I knew I was dehydrated so I chugged some chicken broth and hoped it would hold me off to the finish. The adrenaline started to pump the last mile as I realized I would make it under 11 hours and I heard the race announcer calling out names. I knew he would be calling my name soon. I saw Jim first because he was jumping up and down like a lunatic!! I know this is terribly cheesy, but I wanted to make him proud! I knew he would be no matter how the day ended, but having the day I had hoped for made it extra special. Of note, there are no sports accolades that could ever compare to the triumph of a husband surviving a wife going through fertility treatment. It is like PMS x infinity. I’m sure at times over the last few years he wondered if he was married to a human or a werewolf! He had to protect his jugulars on more than one occasion and knowing that part of our life had come to an end was comforting on more levels than one! Thank you for surviving this journey with me!

I gave high fives to anyone willing along the last stretch of the race. My family, Luca and Jim’s parents were waiting near the finish line. There is nothing that compares to seeing their faces and feeling the gratitude for the support they have given me. Thank you for supporting my crazy dreams, always!

I crossed the finish line smiling!

This has been quite the journey…one that I will carry with me forever. I guess turning 40 isn’t so bad!

This past weekend Rock’d!

Another batch of race reports brings us into fall, although conditions this weekend were more like mid-June.  First up we see how Adam fared in his quest for cyclocross glory.  He raced at the Hill Yea! NEOCX cross race in Willoughby:

And another CX race on the mtn bike for me. I never expected that redlining for half an hour would be fun. I really enjoy racing but racing offroad is a cool new experience that I will probably continue to do. I keep thinking of things that I can do to get faster and better at cyclocross on my mountain bike. I suppose the best thing I could do is buy a cross bike, but that’s not in the cards. I guess I’ll have to keep racing on super wide/knobby tires and kick butt!

Leah Halloran slapped on the racing flats for a second place overall the Roc the Croc 5k at Crocker Park!!!

Ran Roc the Croc this weekend and it was a blast! The proceeds went to families who have children with cancer. The day started with a 5k. The race went well and I ended up second overall. After the race they had tons of things for kids to see and do. The most notable…stilt walkers. The event ended with a parade to celebrate the true heroes…the kids battling cancer. Definitely headed back next year!

And Zubricky and Rood ran arm in arm (for a while, at least) at the inagural Cleveland Rock & Roll Half Marathon which took in a good bit of downtown as well as the Tremont, Ohio City and Detroit Shoreway neighborhoods.


This was the inaugural race. The course started at the Rock hall and finished at the Casino. Hot and humid and a tough course made for a hard day. I liked the course because you have to race it, not just run hard. I was very happy with my results and I would like to thank everyone who came out to support.  (Ed: Scott, what could possibly be considered tough after American Zofingen??)


Was a great race on brutal course and tough weather conditions. Hot and Humid on October 6. I never expected that.
I am grateful for the Anne riding me in the 2 miles. I was a hurting kid. I It is always fun to battle it out with Scotty.
Not much to say about my race. But of the venue- if you didn’t race you should have.

Awesome jobs everyone!!!


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