Archive | September, 2010

Dana Casanave Running the Seattle Marathon

Running It Fast with Dana Casanave (Q&A)

I recently met marathoner Dana Casanave at the Tupelo Marathon back in September.  She is an extremely impressive woman, mother of three; who transformed her life by losing 70 lbs by running.

Now she is helping transform the lives of South African orphans.  Dana is in the process of running 52 marathons in 52 weekends for 52 different South African AIDS orphans (read more here).

Dana is our first runner profile on Run It Fast.  We are thankful for her taking the time to sit down and answer our questions about running and her 52 Beginnings.  Her story will inspire you.

Have you always been a runner?

Absolutely not! I used to despise running with almost the same intensity that I now love it. I never would have imagined I’d become a runner! I started having weight issues at age 7.  I was never involved in sports in school. I was overweight until I was in my early 20’s and it wasn’t until after I gave birth to my second child that I finally decided to get my act together. I’ve lost about 70 pounds and running has totally transformed my life

So what got you into running?

I honestly just wanted to get in shape and lose weight. As the weight came off, I gradually found that I enjoyed running, especially as I built more endurance and could run for longer periods. It was a great outlet, especially for a mom of 3 little kids.

What made you decide to run your first marathon?

After a year of doing half marathons, I did my first marathon in 2007 because I thought it would be really cool to do my first 26.2 while I was 26 years old. Plus I was completely amazed that people could run that far! I wanted to prove to myself that I could too.

What is the toughest challenge of running a marathon every weekend?

I have to say that traveling is honestly the hardest part and trying to keep everything organized with my schedule. I know that if I make it to the start line, I will finish the race, so the real challenge is just getting there.

Do you run or train any during the week between marathons?

I do and the amount of running varies from week to week, but I find that active recovery allows my body to perform better. I keep my runs short (usually 3-4 miles a day) and also do upper body weight training to keep my core and back strong.

What is your favorite marathon to date?

I’ve had so many people ask me this question and I honestly don’t know that I could pick just one marathon. For small marathons, I love the Garden Spot Village Marathon in New Holland, PA. It’s through rolling hills in Amish countryside and it’s challenging, beautiful and peaceful. Leading Ladies in Spearfish, SD offered some of the most beautiful views for a woman’s only marathon event and Mesa Falls in Idaho was breathtaking as well. For you guys (or football fans) you must do the Sunburst Marathon in South Bend, IN. You get to start at the College football Hall of Fame and finish on the 50 yard line of the Notre Dame Stadium! The San Francisco Marathon has been one of my favorite big races this year and of course I love the Marine Corps Marathon, that I’ll be running for a 3rd time this year. Sorry, I didn’t do too well with picking just one did I?!

What marathon would you recommend to a fellow runner as a ‘must-do’ marathon?

I would highly suggest the Vermont City Marathon, Akron Marathon and Richmond Marathon along with the one’s listed above. They are all top notch events, with great support.

What is the toughest marathon you’ve done?

As far as physically challenging, I’d have to rank the Enviro-Sports Golden Gate Headlands Marathon up there. It’s 2 loops with some intense hills on trails near San Francisco. I’m not a trail runner by nature, and it was quite a challenge!

What is your hydration and nutrition like before, during, and after a marathon?

I don’t have a set standard for my nutrition habits. I try to eat as healthy as possible, but I don’t always eat pasta the night before a race, or have the same foods for my pre-race breakfast every time. I usually go with what sounds good and try to make sure I get a decent amount of carbs and salt. I drink whatever is offered on the course and will bring either a couple gels or a bag of candies in case I need it. I don’t have a system or plan for my eating, but I am careful to hydrate at every aid station regardless of how I feel. I will say that I’m a big fan of chocolate milk for pre-and post race recovery. I am a firm believer in getting protein as soon as possible once you cross the finish line and I find that’s a easy and quick way to do so.

So what made you decide to run 52 marathons in 52 weekends?

I wanted to be able to use my running to do something positive for others because running has changed my life in so many positive ways. I wanted to challenge myself to a physical height that very few people have accomplished, especially women. I also hoped it would inspire people to do what they are called to do, whatever that may be, to help others through something that they love. We all have something to give, we just need to go out there and do it!

Tell us more about your charity and where we can donate to it?

I’m running these marathons for the Virginia based charity 25:40. Their mission is to help orphans in South Africa, many of whom are orphaned because of the AIDS epidemic. I am trying to raise $26,000 for these children who live in severe poverty. All the money raised goes straight to help these children and will benefit over 1,500 orphans. You can go to my website at to donate and follow along on my journey.

Will you still run marathons after completing your 52 in 52 weeks?   If so, how often do you plan to run them?

Most definitely! I’ve already been struggling with the fact that next year I will have to cut down. It will be very bitter sweet to end this year of marathons. I look forward to not having to travel and have all the insanity that this year has been, but I know I’m also going to be doing a lot less. I’m still trying to decide what type of goals I want to set with running next year, and it may lead me in different directions (ultras or even trying to BQ) but I can’t see myself running much less than 12-20 next year.

What advice would you give to someone that is wanting to run their first marathon or half-marathon?

Train for your distance,  and listen to your body. Go out and have a good time. If you enjoy it, you will most likely come back to do it again, and regardless of what the clock says you will get a PR! For the first 10 miles of the half, or 20 of the full, run at a pace that you feel like you could do all day. You will finish strong and pass people on your way to the finish line.

Favorite Running Shoes: Asics 20150’s

Click HERE to Check Out Dana’s Website 52 Beginnings

Photos of Marathon Maniac Dana Casanave

List of Dana’s Marathons on Marathon Maniacs (#2774)

Posted in Marathon0 Comments

Race Report: Hinson Lake 24 Hour

Hinson Lake took place just one week after the NC24, the National 24 Hour Championship.   Boy do I wish there was just a little more time between these too events.  It seems that most people prepared to run substantial mileage would have chosen to do so at Nationals.   Therefore, seeing any impressive performances at Hinson would really be a wonderful surprise.

Tom Gabell is the RD of Hinson. The course is a 1.52 loop around a lake with one well-stocked aid station at the start finish area.  This year there were over 200 participants, making this race (what I was told by my friend Ray,who is likely the most reliable source on all thinks ultrarunning) the largest 24 hour event in the country.

It is obvious that Tom and his wife put on this race because they love the sport.  For a $24 fee he provides everything that a race costing 3-4 times that amount would provide, except chip timing.  As for timing, Tom recruited his family and they tracked us by tallying up our laps on a board.  The same person is your lap counter all day and with each crossing of the start/finish, you are greeted with a “I got you Shannon (or No. 7), that was lap #___ for you”.  I like this system 100 times better than chip timing.  Not only do you begin every lap knowing just what you have done, you also get your own personal cheerleader.  🙂  The volunteers were so fantastic that at one point, I changed my clothes, forget to pin on my bib, and STILL my countered called me out by name to tell me lap number.  Chip timing has nothing on the old school way.

As for my race, I am still recovering from the 75 mile run I completed last week.  I had low expectations, but that will not stop me from showing up.  I was hoping the soft clay surface would be forgiving on my knee.  I stopped last week when I felt pain building in my ACL.  There was just not enough time for my ACL to fully recover and I felt it early in the run.

This course is quietly sneaky in that it is much more challenging than it sounds.  Although generally flat on a non-technical trail with some short boardwalk bridges, the course seems like it would be rather fast.  However, there was one incline of significant length that was comprised of deep sand and some other shorter sand traps along the way.  In the addition to the sand, the temperatures, reaching as high as 96-97 as per some reports, added to the challenge of the day.

The unstable footing of the deeper sand immediately aggravated my ACL.  By laps 2, I began to experiment with some taping.  I did find that the tape helped enough to get me through half a loop, but increased pain would occur on the way in.  I would RICE for a few minutes, start to feel better, readjust the tape and then try another loop.  Eventually, it became painful to bend my knee at all and I figured that was enough messing around.  I believe I logged about 25 miles.  At that point I reverted to my original plan and purpose for going to Hinson, to crew for Jim.  It was great to see him reach the 100k mark in what turned out to be a tougher than expected race.

In consideration of the sandy trail and the 90 degree temperatures, Mike Morton’s performance is mind-boggling. Steady and strong, he strided along appearing quite focused all day.  Early on many people were not sure who he was and just what he thought he was doing putting about 15 laps on the second place guy in the first 12 hours of the race.  I tend to not get too excited about leaders since the 24 hour is about survival (and as I personally know, a great 12 hour run does not often make for a great 24 race).

However, as Mike approached his 66th lap, it was truly exciting to see him complete over 100 miles at just under13:15.  I feel lucky to have been present to witness such an amazing preformance!  The only question left was whether he could keep on going for the 40 more miles more he would need to make one of the three remaining spots on Team USA!

Mike was clearly in this for the duration and eventually went on to log about 154 miles!   This would have been good enough for 2nd place and an auto-entry into Worlds had he been present at NC24.   I would even guess that had he raced last week, in much cooler temperatures and on a flatter and faster surface, he would have logged well over 154 and the race between Serge (last weeks winner at 156) and Mike would have been incredibly fantastic to watch (since Serge was slow and steady and Mike faded hard in his last 4 hours).

As for me, Hinson is keeper and I look forward  to returning next year.

Thanks for reading,


Posted in Race Reports, Ultra Marathon3 Comments

Shannon McGinn – North Coast 24 Hour

Race Report: The North Coast 24 Hour Endurance Run

On September 18, I ran the North Coast 24 Hour Endurance Run.  This race was the National Championship, which means the top 3 men and women who run at least the national standard (135 miles for men and 120 miles for women) earn the right to compete on Team USA in the World Championship.  Dan Horvath, the RD, did a great job putting on a fantastic race under what I assume was a tremendous amount of pressure.  Thank you Dan!

The race was held on a 0.9 mile asphalt loop in Edgewater Park in Cleveland, Ohio.  To most people, and even some runners, the idea of running all day on a short loop seems incredibly inhumane.  However, I find the short, flat, traffic free path ideal for a 24 hour.  I appreciate that it permits access to aid more often than needed.  The flat, fast course has tremendous record setting potential.  The short loop also makes for an extremely spectator friendly event, allowing even those participating the chance to watch the excitement as it unfolds.


It was not until mid-July, that I discovered my foot pain, which had shut me down at almost every ultra in 2010, was from an actual treatable condition.  I had two plantar fibromas; two marble sized masses of scar tissue on my plantar fascias.  These little lumps made walking uncomfortable and running ultimately painful.  About 2.5 weeks ago, I finally had the fibromas injected with cortisone.  A few days later, I was suddenly able to move without the foot pain I had been living with for most of 2010.

Unfortunately, two weeks of pain free running would do little to make up for my lack of higher mileage training.  Intellectually, I understood that I was insufficiently trained for a great 24 hour run.  However, I tend to believe that anything is possible.  Accordingly, I devised my pace plan for 120 miles.  My goal for this race was NOT to run as far as I could in 24 hours.  Rather, I wanted to run as far as I could on pace for 120 miles in order to collect data about my pain, fatigue, hydration, and fueling.


Crews at races on short loops are seem unnecessary unless you are trying to set some type of record, even if it’s a personal record.  I enjoy the company and my crew consisted of Sidney and two wonderful friends, Tony and Jim.  They put up with a lot from me, like me yelling stuff at them each lap.  (“I need my shirt, mashed potatoes, two Endurolytes and a bottle of water on the next lap!”)  At one point, I overheard a guy say, “Wow, she’s demanding!”  I am sure I am while racing.  After all, it’s a race and if I am going to have a crew, I am going to tell them what I need.  Crewing is hard work and I can’t thank Sid, Jim and Tony enough for helping me have a great race!


When it comes to pacing, everyone has their own plan.  I can’t resist my urge to run just a little too fast for a few loops before I settle down into my pattern.  The fast loops help me burn off some nervous energy, get a lay of the land and decide where I want to walk.  It may not be wise or efficient, but it is what I do for now.

After a few laps of running too fast, I started to focus hard on slowing down.  It is incredibly ironic how I fight to slow down while knowing at some point it will become too hard to run fast enough.  I planned for 6 loops per hour for the first 12 hours and then a fade.  Several hours in, I had already banked about 30 minutes.  It was getting hot and I was feeling dizzy, so I decided to cash in on some of that time.  I took a seat to eat, drink, and assess my needs.  Once I stopped moving, I discovered just how dehydrated I was.  In one swig, I drank a 16 oz bottle of water and then whatever Sid, Jim and Tony handed me.  I believe there was some iced-tea, OJ, a gel, and two Endurolytes.

Suddenly, among the gels, bottles, and candy all spread out on my little table, I noticed the pop tart.  I am sure Sid was eating this before I came though, however it looked good so I took half with me and walked about a 15 minute loop since I was just too full to run.

That break was the best thing I could have done for myself.  Once I started to run again, my pace had gotten back down to the low 9’s per loop.  It was at that moment, a new plan was born: Five loops at 9 then one loop to eat, drink, and walk it off with a pop-tart.  If I kept that pace, my walk breaks would tap into my banked time and by 12 hours I should be just even with my pace plan.

This pattern kept me extremely happy.  In fact I found myself smiling the entire time.  After 8 hours, I could see people starting to suffer.  Still, I was feeling like I was flying on a combination of a pop-tart sugar rush and a runner’s high.  At 9 hours in, I hit my 50 mile split.   At 10:54, I saw that I surpassed the 60 mile mark.  I already did much better than I expected I would do.


It was at about 10 hours in that I started to feel an odd twisting sensation in my right knee.  The twisting was causing pain which led me to plant my foot in an unusual way.   By 11 hours in, pain was shooting up to my lower back.  After12 hours, I stopped to fix a blister and my crew urged me to see the medical staff.

The medical guys were amazing.  My stinging blister was repaired with some diaper rash cream.  My back pain was stretched out of me completely.  I eventually met Dr. Lovy, who stretched me out, assessed my situation and determined that I was exhibiting signs of low potassium.   He suspected that the low potassium was creating the weakened knee, so I was given some potassium, a pep talk, and then some test were done on my knee.  Unfortunately, it was found that my ACL was overstretched due to a combination of low potassium and pressure from the small loop we ran only in clockwise turns.

After a few slow loops, the doctor gave me an insert to adjust my gait.  A few more loops with the insert and it was too late.  By this point, any pressure from walking or running created sharp relentless growing knee pain.  After spending so much time with the medical staff, I knew I had to run 4 loops per hour to reach 100 miles.  I was walking just slower than that pace and still had pain.  The pain was slowly increasing with each step.  So I stopped at just under 75 miles.


In the morning, as I watched the last of the survivors incredibly pushing themselves into the World Championships and personal bests, I became inspired.  I saw there was about 15 minutes left of the clock.  I decided go out for just one more lap to see how much damage I did to my knee.  I tried to run a little and it was still quite painful.  This confirmed that stopping was a good decision.


In these races, there is nothing better than being on course at the sound of the horn.  It is as if the entire park collectively breathes a huge sigh of relief as all the little blocks of wood are dropped to the pavement marking the final place each runner stopped.  The tortured grimaces that were worn by those fighting for every last step twist into painful smiles. Runners, no longer in competition, turn to give out sweaty hugs and pats on the back to each other.  Everyone then hobbles like zombies to some chair somewhere in order to feel the sweet reward of finally removing their shoes.

At breakfast, only minutes past the horn, runners reminisce about the race, which now seems like it started forever ago.  Just when you think people are going to swear off racing forever, conversations turn to “So what’s next for you?”…“Oh, you’re racing that one too!”… “See you next weekend!”

For me, I plan to meet many of those I raced with last weekend at The Hinson Lakes 24 Hour this weekend.  Depending on the knee, I may run a few laps or try to beat 75 miles.  If I can’t run, then I will crew for Jim who will get to repay me with his own ultra demands, most likely for Nuun tablets, his homemade ice bandana, and possibly bacon.

Results from the NC24 can be found here:

Congratulations to all those who made team USA!

[photo by James Plant]

Posted in Ultra Marathon1 Comment

Runners Jill White and Margie Stoll

Two Women, Two Stories, One Goal

Two women of different generations, different backgrounds, will join in common cause next Sunday when the Upper Cumberland’s second annual Komen Race for the Cure 5K kicks off. Hundreds of runners will join them. The 5K starts at Tucker Stadium at 2:00 p.m., September 26. Race village opens at noon.

Local runner Jill White is half the age of Nashville’s Margie Stoll. Mrs. White was reared in rural Smith County and has always lived in Tennessee, while Mrs. Stoll lists the urban locations of St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. as her past homes. Both women are seasoned athletes. Their paths converge next Sunday.

Mrs. White attended the Komen 5K last year. Her blond hair was just then growing back out, and she wore a baseball cap for cover. Despite her recent bout with breast cancer, she may have won that race. She thought she was the first cancer veteran across the finish line. Then she realized she’d failed to put the timing chip on her shoe. “No chip, no time,” is the warning all racers know. “I was so mad!” she says.

Don’t count on her making that mistake this year.

She learned competition early, when she was growing up on the family farm near Gordonsville. Her father put up a basketball goal. He showed her how to shoot a hook shot. The hook shot didn’t take, but other shots did……

Read the Rest on Dallas Smith’s Running Blog HERE

Posted in 5K0 Comments

Ben Davis Running 120 Pound Journey

You Say You Can’t Run, He Says Anyone Can! (Video)

Millions of Americans love to run for a host of many reasons. There are many more that would love to run but claim they just can’t. That it is too hard.

The video below shows the inspirational story of Ben Davis and his transformation from a 358-lb lazy sofa ornament into a marathon and ultra-athlete one step at a time. He lost over 130-lbs in the process.

Davis started running, very slowly at first, and he kept at it until he did his first 5K, then his first marathon, then his first Ironman.

Watch the video and pass the link along to one of your friends or family members that needs just a little push to get them out there running and on there way to a more healthy lifestyle.

Running is something anyone can do from anywhere. It all starts with a single step.

Watch Ben’s Transformation Below:

Be sure to share with fellow runners and those you want to see running as well!

Ben’s Tumblr Website

Posted in 5K, Marathon, Ultra Marathon, Video0 Comments

Dallas Smith Caribbean Marathon Story

The King of Caribbean Marathons and a Boy Who Wanted a Watch

(Below is an excerpt from a short story by elite runner Dallas Smith. Click the link at the bottom of this post to read the rest full story.)

The King of Caribbean Marathons and a Boy Who Wanted a Watch by Dallas Smith

It seemed likely I’d never find Jason. A couple months after I’d sent an e-mail inquire to the race director, I quit thinking about it. Then a message suddenly arrived from Gail Jackson. “I know that kid,” she said.

Gail owned the hotel in Negril where I’d stayed and she’d worked on the marathon’s registration committee. “I was at his school yesterday…and asked if after the race did he go for a swim and talk to a white man?” she wrote. The boy’s answer had been yes. He was the one. His real name was Oraine.

I promptly mailed one of my 100-lap Ironman watches to Gail to give to the boy. It was a watch I’d actually used in an Ironman triathlon. Sending him a watch I’d used seemed more personal than buying a new one. I put it in the original box with it’s instructions along with a note of good wishes from me.

A month later, Oraine sent a letter thanking me. He liked to draw, and he included a pencil-drawn portrait on green paper. In his letter he said, “If there is anything you want me to do for you in drawing don’t be afraid to ask.”

Read the Full Story by Dallas Smith on his website by Clicking HERE

Posted in Marathon0 Comments

Rock n’ Roll Mardi Gras 2010 Marathon Medal

2010 Mardi Gras (New Orleans) Marathon Medal

Here is the beautiful finisher’s medal from the 2010 Mardi Gras Marathon in historic New Orleans, Louisiana.

The course for the race is one of the most beautiful, flat, and enjoyable in the United States.

The 2011 Rock n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon and Half Marathon is on February 13, 2011 (event website).

Posted in Bling, Featured, Marathon, Medals0 Comments

Couch to 5K Running Program Logo

The ‘Couch-to-5K Running Plan’ Actually Works

Anyone can run a 5K if they are willing to get off their sofa and work towards that goal.  Cool Running ( has come up with a widely popular training plan called the ‘Couch-to-5K Running Plan’ to help people get in shape and run their first 5k (3.11 mile) race.

The program starts off with workouts that are easy for first-time runners.  ‘Couch-to-5K’ workouts are three times a week for 25-35 minutes per workout and mixes walking and jogging. There is a lot of walking early on in the program and more jogging mixed in as the weeks unfold.  The program will have you, after 9 weeks of training, in good enough shape to complete your first 5K race.

Here is a sample of the first week of workouts from the ‘Couch-to-5K Running Plan’:

Week Workout 1 Workout 2 Workout 3
1 Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

I usually run a dozen or so 5K races during the year to help work on my speed work. Over the course of the past year, I’ve seen more and more people running 5K’s.  I have talked to several people, at these races, who give credit to the ‘Couch-to-5K Running Plan’ for getting their butt off the sofa and helping them to run their first 5K.

A lot of people are scared to run a 5K.  At a 5K, like most running races, you see people of all running (and walking) levels. If you just get out there and do it, then you’ve accomplished something. You don’t have to set a world record to finish your first 5K. For the most part, runners are often just competing against themselves and their own prior personal records (PR).

Even if you have to walk the entire distance, you’ve still accomplished something really cool. You’ve also improved your health and also likely helped a worthwhile cause or charity with your entry fee for the race.

View the Entire ‘Couch-to-5K Running Plan’ HERE at Cool Running

Have you had success with this program? Leave us a comment below if you have. We’d love to hear your thoughts about it, both positive and negative.

Posted in 5K0 Comments

Paula Radcliffe World Marathon Record Holder

The Top 10 Fastest Female Marathon Times of All-Time

The Top 10 Female Marathon Times of all-time.  

Women seem to run fastest at London, Chicago, Berlin, and Dubai.

No one has come close to Paula Radcliffe’s 2:15:25 that she set in London back in 2003..

Runner (Country) Time Date Location
1. Paula Radcliffe (Great Britain) 2:15:25 Apr 13, 2003 London
2. Liliya Shobukhova (Russia) 2:18:20 Oct 9, 2011 Chicago
3. Mary Keitany (Kenya) 2:18:37 Apr 22, 2012 London
4. Catherine Ndereba (Kenya) 2:18:47 Oct 7, 2001 Chicago
5. Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) 2:18:58 Apr 15, 2012 Rotterdam
6. Mizuki Noguchi (Japan) 2:19:12 Sept 25, 2005 Berlin
7. Irinia Mikitenko (Germany) 2:19:19 Sept 28, 2008 Berlin
8. Aselefech Mergia (Ethiopia) 2:19:31 Jan 27, 2012 Dubai
9. Lucy Kabuu (Kenya) 2:19:34 Jan 27, 2012 Dubai
10. Deena Kastor (United States) 2:19:36 Apr 23, 2006 London

Related: The Top 10 Fastest Male Marathon Times of All-Time

Posted in Featured, Marathon1 Comment

Running Nightmare Poop on Self

Every Runners Worst Nightmare (Video)

Any runner that has run enough long distance races has been challenged by his or her bowels at some point. For most the urge will pass, be tolerable, or for this poor runner in the video, become explosive.  diarrhea

Watch the Video Below (It might scare you from running again though!) Continue Reading

Posted in Featured1 Comment

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