Wicked Running LLC

Coaching you through hell and back

Running is an idea. You try it out, work with the results, and keep moving. Wicked Running LLC takes you through the paces with individualized training, race strategy, and never-ending pursuit of your goals.

Any surface, any distance to build ultra fitness

The Wicked Running crew spent the last weekend in September getting in some PRs in fast road races on tired legs. Ann Wehener, Katrina Burns & Jen Duncan raced in a technical, tough trail race the weekend before taking on the Akron Marathon and Half Marathon. The results? Ann PR’d her marathon by 31 minutes; Katrina PR’d her Akron Half by 18 minutes; and Jen is quickly headed toward a BQ marathon with her 1:46 Akron Half Marathon performance.

And then there’s “Nothing-Phases-Me” Adrienna Frazier, who ran a strong relay leg in the Akron Marathon on Saturday then turned around and raced a fine pace at The Great Race 10k in hilly Pittsburgh the next day. After a quick visit to Wigle Whiskey in the Burgh, Connie and Emily joined her at the Great Race to try for fast turnover on tired legs, a tried and true method that leads to successful results in ultras. Just a week after her fast 100 and 2nd place 24-hour at Northcoast 24-Hour, Emily managed a decent 43:18 10k on trashed legs.

We take on short road races to test our fitness and toughness. Running roads after pounding it out on a different surface or distance the week before is hellishly difficult. The Wicked Running team proved as tough as nails through a no-rest-for-the-weary kind of weekend. Next up: a third level of hell as the team takes on soft surface marathons, half marathons, and 50 milers this coming weekend. Congrats on the inferno navigation, team!

The Doan Report: Jen Duncan, Ann Wehener and Katrina Burns take on the Doan

A Richard Schlenk special in The Land, Wicked Running took to the mysterious gorge of Doan Creek and braved rooty, rocky, post-apocalyptic ruins for 800 feet of elevation gain every 12.5k to give back to the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership and Girls with Sole.

How do you tackle such a grueling course? Out of the three Wicked Runners who took it on, we really like Katrina’s approach: run the fun run & develop your graffiti skills.

For Ann, who did the less reasonable 25k, she took 2nd in her age group after an attack by an angry group of yellow jackets. She knew of the horror stories of a very challenging, technical course, but wanted to run it at a race effort instead of just treating it like a training run. Ann says that she was able to meet that goal: “I was able to run all but the very technical parts and the longer, steeper hills at a consistent tempo pace effort, and met my goal time of a sub-5 hour with a 4:37 finish. I credit the many track workouts and tempo runs with Wicked Running in giving me both the stamina and confidence to know that I could actually ‘race’ this course!”

For Jen, she used the 50k to set her on her way to a nice upcoming Javelina Hundred. Since achieving local running legend status with her need for organic mediterranean sea salted baked kale chips, Race Director Richard Schlenk made sure she entered the most difficult of his distances. Having a lot to prove about her kale chip preferences, she brought along her sister and carefully watched her every move at the aid station (we didn’t teach her that, Michelle - so sorry!). “The kale chips worked at Moebius,” she was heard exclaiming on her way down the Pennywise path.

RD Schlenk’s awkward fascination with skulls and Pennywise in an already horrific race haunted Jen for a good two laps of the 4 loop course. Luckily, she has a good coach. Here’s what she had to say about the race:

“Connie helped me to plan my race strategy, and reminded me wisely that this was a training run for a big race coming up—this would come back to help me finish the race.  However, I also came in with the strategy to learn the course on the first loop, and try to keep it consistent, starting the race in the 3rd and 4th loop.  Learning that the race doesn’t “start” at the “start” has been such a valuable lesson. I tend to be pretty cerebral and deliberate, so applying this to running has helped me to run, race and train smarter. The results truly pay off. Going in to the race on the 1st and 2nd loop, I had a huge distraction and knew I needed to step it back and treat it as a training run, and appreciate the challenge.  I still applied Connie’s recommendation to save my legs on the very technical sections and run on the runnable sections, in essence, run my own race. Track sessions certainly helped me to pick it up to 8:45 and 9:00 minute miles, while the long slow training runs on tired legs gave me the confidence to continue even though I felt like I had nothing left.  Despite the race not going quite as planned, I recalled all of the training sessions and remembered to have fun with such a great running community.”

A big thanks to Richard Schlenk for putting on such a great race and for fundraising for local hero, Liz Ferro at Girls With Sole.

Olander Park 24-Hour: A Classic

Olander Park, once the location of the American 100-mile and 24-hour USATF National Championships, packed a punch this year. A 97 degree heat index and only slight relief in the evening & morning hours meant that mental fortitude and focus would determine the day's miles. Wicked Running team members met that challenge with a 1st and 2nd place in the women's division.

Back in 2002, an epic year at Olander Park, reports on the race were similar for a mid-80s forecast: "Conditions were difficult for the runners, as Saturday daytime temperatures in the mid-80's with oppressive humidity gave way to a night of sporadic showers and thunderstorms. Many of the pre-race favorites faltered in the physiologically taxing conditions." That's the year when Yiannis Kouros ran 172.368 miles at Olander Park. Kouros, largely known as the best ultrarunner of all-time for his stunning breakout performance at the Spartathlon in the early 1980s and non-stop sub-8:00/mile pace in races since that time, has remarked that "We have ups and downs in life and the same is true in ultramarathons. I need those ups and downs to go back to my childhood, memories, and past experiences. Mental experience is much more important than physical speed." Connie Gardner emphasized the same ultra racing principle in a quick, mid-race interview this year during her Olander 24-hour win over the holiday weekend.

We picked the Olander 24-Hour race intentionally. The 24-hour race removes the candy-like distractions that most ultra trail races offer and drives a runner completely inward to debate with oneself how far to go and how to pace each moment. The challenge is like no other. Instead of adventuring on a trail through the woods, you navigate your own mind. Sometimes, you start to lose your mind in the early morning hours to sleep walking and hallucinations, but you never experience a dull moment. In fact, you learn from your competition and from being able to see how other people handle difficulty throughout the day.

Beyond the course, the legends who have run the course, and the extreme challenge of the 24-hour event, Olander 24-Hour includes one of ultrarunning's most passionate and encouraging race directors: Tom Falvey. He takes care of the back of pack to the front of the pack all day long. Wicked Running was lucky to have a day in Olander Park with Tom and all the runners at this year's Olander 24-hour Ultra Run.