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President’s Corner: Spotlight on our Summer, Andi Robik, and Paul Kartanowicz, by Paul Maloney

Before we get to our profile of Andi and PK, I want to thank all of you for your work in making this club work and “shout out” the many different club events and activities this club provided this past summer.  Remember, you can always find a spot for yourself!  “Consider yourself one of us, consider yourself one of the family!”.

– Thanks to Tom Eaton and his family for promoting and producing the second series of the “Youth Track Program”.

– Thanks to our many volunteers at the Youth Track Series, including members who put in heavy Sunday mileage early in the day and came back to offer services later.

– Thank you to our many summer run hosts:  George and Christa, Laura and Paul, Geno, Meri, and the Iron PT Staff, Troy and Katie, Paul and Felicia, John and Faye, Tracy and Mike, and Mick and Catherine.  Thanks for the watermelon Wayne!  Thanks again to John and Faye for the Wine and Cheese.  We hope you can come to our Attendance Awards at the Yanticaw Park Run on August 28th.

– Hooray to Mick and Catherine Close, John Fabbro, Paul Giuliano, Gail Komm, and the crew at Fleet Feet for the Sunday Hill Challenges and Half Marathon and Marathon Training Runs!

– Special thanks to John Fabbro, Paul Giuliano, Gail Komm, and FF for their support of many club activities including the Youth Track Series, the Hill Challenges, Training Runs, and especially the support and generosity towards the Fleet Feet/Essex USATF team.

– 2, 4, 6, 8, We appreciate…..Our Club Board for all they do with clothing, membership, newsletter/website, USATF, finances, social, and a hundred other items.

– 2, 4, 6, 8, We appreciate…..Desmond Duncker, his committee, and our “sister clubs” for the organization of the Interclub Challenge.  There’s a lot of behind the scenes planning to make it work.  It was a great morning!  Congratulations to our ERC Runners!

– Again, thanks to Mick for his work with the Doug Williams Memorial Scholarship Fund.

– Congratulations to our “River to Sea” teams and runners!  Your pictures showed a lot of fun, camaraderie,  and accomplishment!

– Thanks in advance to George and Christa and the crew at Smoke Rise for the Annual Biathlon.

– Thanks in advance to Mick and Catherine Close, Tom and Martta Kelly, and our many volunteers for the organization of the upcoming Labor Day 5K.

– We appreciate the generosity of many members for our “2620 Fund” for “One Fund Boston”.  We’ll continue collecting for the fund for the rest of the summer and year.

– Most of all, we appreciate the many different club “sub groups”:  Grove, Fleet Feet, Team Bacon, Tri Athletes and Racers, Trail Runners (including our Saturday Morning group), speedwork runners, Yanticaw Park Runners, and many more.

Yikees…what a summer!  Good luck with your fall running and racing.  We are looking forward to our 30th Anniversary Party on December 1st!

“Consider yourself at home….one of the family….one of us!”.


Andi Robik is one of many Glen Ridge residents who are members and very active runners.  We always love reading about her race experiences.  She has a wide range of past involvement and future plans with marathon running, participating in “Tri’s”, and training with a heart monitor.  Thanks for sharing Andi!

1.What is your favorite Essex Running Club experience?

Definitely being part of Air Jamaica and participating in River to Sea. Truly a bonding experience, and lots of fun running!

2. What is your favorite running experience?

Favorite running experience; so many! I love the NYC 1/2 marathon that lets you run down 7th Avenue! Also love to travel and run; I have done 1/2 marathons in Arizona and San Francisco, and a marathon in Disney.

3. What training methods have worked for you? What advice would you give to a new runner?

For me, “cross training” is key. So I have become very involved in triathlons. I think speed work, tempo runs, and the weekly long run have long been part of my training, and most recently I have been doing heart rate training; trying to run longer without increasing my heart rate. It works! For new runners, have fun with this sport and increase your mileage slowly.

4. What are your current running goals?

My current goal is to complete a half ironman in Sept in less than 6:34 (my time from last year on the same course), and to PR in a marathon in October. My best marathon time was a 4:19 in Philly in 2008. But I have been training hard, and hope to run strong and beat that time!


Like Andi, Paul Kartanowicz is an important figure in our club.  A regular “Grover” and Board Member, PK is very dedicated to our USATF Fleet Feet/Essex Team.  Paul discusses his experiences with training and racing. He also gives great advice for the beginner.

1.  What is your favorite Essex Running Club experience?

That’s a hard one, as I’ve had so many great ERC experiences-most of which took place on Sunday mornings with the Grove street crew. Here are two: I fondly remember my first Grove run ever. It was the 2007 September 11 Memorial Run, and I think it was a 14 Miler. I had never run close to that distance, got separated from the pack, and ended up walking back to Grove. I also remember my first time ever running up Bradford Ave as part of our Sunday morning run. It was a cold snowy winter day, and the road was covered with ice. There were huge icicles hanging off the rocky walls on both sides of the road. We were slipping the whole way up the hill, and Glen Trimboli mentioned how funny we must look to passing cars with their windows rolled up and the heat on. It was excruciating getting up that hill, but it was such a sense of accomplishment as we crested the top. Now I run that hill as part of my Wednesday runs, and still on most Sundays. I like how it transitioned from the impossible to the ordinary, but I still remember the snow and ice every time, (and it’s still a hard hill to run!)

2.  What is your favorite running experience?

Another hard question with multiple answers. I really can’t choose just one, but some of my favorite experiences were beating my old high school PR in the 5K for the first time. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to be faster than I was in high school so it was a great feeling when I finally was able to keep lowering my 5K PR.

Training for and running my first marathon was also a favorite experience of mine. I made a lot of mistakes that first season, but it was really a period of transformation in my life where I realized how much I love running and looked forward to training every day. I went from just training haphazardly to having a serious commitment to my running.

My first (and only) NYC marathon was another highlight. I had qualified for “local competitive status” which meant that along with about two hundred other runners I had my own little staging area with our own toilets (no lines!) and tents with fluids and nutrition. When we had to start going into our corrals we were less than 400 meters away from the starting line. We started right at the line on the lower deck of the Verrazano.  When the race finally did start it was a pack of me and about 50 other runners, and a whole line of police vehicles escorting us. At one point I turned around and realized there were 40,000+ runners behind us. It was a pretty cool feeling, and I was just hoping I didn’t fall down!

Training for and racing the 2013 Boston marathon was another favorite running experience. All the miles through the dark in the snow, freezing rain, in the cold after a full day of teaching at a school then my private students. Waking up at 5 am on Christmas morning to run around a retirement community, and all the other sacrifices were all worth it when I ran my sub 3 hour marathon in Boston. When I passed the giant Citgo sign that marks one mile to go, and I realized I was going to run my goal with plenty of time to spare was a great feeling.

Very recently I had another great running experience that ties for all time favorite. My wife and I were in Paris this July and we stayed about 2 blocks off the Champs Elysees. The morning of the arrival of the Tour de France I woke up early put on my own “Yellow Jersey” (an Essex Running Club “Grumpy Grovers” River to Sea singlet) and headed down to the Champs Elysees with the hope that I could at least run on the sidewalk for a few minutes before I would inevitably be asked to run somewhere else. To my surprise the street was completely transformed overnight into the final stage of the Tour De France and was completely closed to all motor vehicles, The only people on the street were dozens of amateur cyclists and runners, most in yellow, running and riding the most famous street in the world on one of sporting’s most important days. I entered the street and saw a runner who happened to speak English and we ran down to the Arc de Triumph, circling it twice then all the way back down to the Louvre and up to Bastille where his hotel was. I continued to run around the Notre Dame cathedral, back to the Louvre, twice around the I.M. Pei pyramid then on to the left bank East all the way out to Austerlitz before heading back over the river and my final way back down the Champs Elysees to my hotel. I got home showered, and changed into different clothes then cycled the final sprint stage around town in an organized “Randonee du Tour”, then finally back to the hotel for another shower another change of clothes then watched the Tour De France right up against the barrier separating spectators from the cyclists.

3.  What training methods have worked for you?  What advice would you give to a new runner?

I’ve been very lucky in that I have never had a serious running injury that has forced me to stop training for more than a day or two. I chalk it up to listening to my body and not overdoing it. I always pay close attention to my heart rate to make sure I am in the proper zone for the day’s workout whether it is VO2 max or recovery pace. I try to do a good portion of my running on grass or packed cinder “trails” as to minimize the shock to my body. I also pay very close attention to my diet to make sure I am properly fueled and hydrated at all times. Being consistent and sticking to a prescribed training plan has worked for me. Within the last year I have become a fan of big mileage. I know it is not for everyone, but so far big mileage weeks have been a key factor in helping me run my best.

For a new runner I always say to get a good pair of running shoes. A place like Fleet Feet is going to help you get the shoe that is right for you, and that can mean the difference between a long healthy running career or a very short one filled with injuries. If you are reading this, then you probably already made a smart move and joined a running club. If it wasn’t for ERC, and the friends I made in this club I would have never stuck with running. Another word of advice is to build mileage gradually over time. Marathons and half Marathons seem to be very popular right now, but I don’t think that should be your goal if you are just starting to run. Have fun in the 5K’s and 5 Milers and then slowly build to 10K’s. After about a year of healthy running you can then assess whether you think you are ready to take on the challenge of a half marathon. Another word of advice which I learned the hard way is that, contrary to what many non-runners think, you can’t just eat whatever you want and expect to burn it off. Make healthy smart choices with nutrition, and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. You are what you eat. Lastly, if you are a very new runner it is easy to get discouraged. Running can be hard. So if you have to walk, walk. It’s a lot better for you than sitting on the couch!

4.  What are your current running goals?

My #1 goal is always to stay healthy and to keep running. I’d like to be a runner for the rest of my life, but there are so many factors in life that can change at any minute. Right now I’m training for the Mohawk-Hudson Marathon in October. I think if I am consistent with my training and the weather agrees I will have a new PR. Right now my PR is 2:56 so I’d be happy breaking that. After the Marathon I’d like to race well at the Ashenfelter 8K. That is one of my favorite races of the year, and is always a highly competitive race. After that, it is basically right back into training for the 2014 Boston Marathon.




Photo Highlights

Photos on flickr

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