Tammy Lifka of Glen Ellyn grew up playing tennis and only ran as a way to condition, she ran high school track, but was, admittedly, not very good.
“I really got into running after I had kids. I started trying to get into shape after my third one [child] and started running two or three miles on the treadmill,” says Lifka. “In ’06 my friend up in Madison asked me to come up and do a 20-mile run/walk. I ended up running the whole thing and that’s how I got hooked.”
After that race, Lifka joined the Glen Ellyn Runners organization and started training in May of •07. “I decided to sign up for the Chicago Marathon and started training on my own,” she says. “I would do six miles a day and didn’t follow a program. I didn’t know much about running, but I ran and found the 3:40 pace group and followed them to the finish. I finished in 3:42 and qualified for Boston.”
After a surprising finish in her first marathon, Lifka got serious about training. Since then, she’s made dramatic improvements both in the marathon distance and shorter, faster races. Lifka has notched victories at the Rockford Half Marathon (1:23) and 50 Hecto Run 5K (18:22) as well as dropping her marathon from a 3:42 to a 3:20 and then to a 2:58 at the 2009 California International Marathon.
After battling a few injuries throughout 2010, Lifka started 2011 off with a second place finish at the New Year’s Day 5K in Chicago and plans to return to the marathon distance at this year’s Cellcom Green Bay Marathon.
Lou Kuhn is probably most recognizable as the owner of Evanston’s “the Pony Shop,” a highly successful bike store that was recently voted Chicago’s number one bike shop by Fox News Chicago.
In addition to running his bike store, Kuhn is also a successful cyclist in his own right. In fact, Kuhn recently claimed both the 2010 Illinois State Cyclocross Championship (Masters 30+) title as well as the Masters 30+ 2010 Chicago Cross Cup Overall Series Championship.
“I had a lot of good fortune in 2010. I met one of my bigger goals which was winning the state championship. To win the overall series and the state championship was something very special to me,” says Kuhn. “Cross is a combination of a lot of things, it is a lot of hard work and I definitely put the work in, but it is also takes luck. There’s luck involved in every race. There’s different challenges in every race, being able to deal with weather, different course conditions, and a lot of great competitors and getting all of those things to click together is a challenge, but when you do, you’re able to have a great race.”
Kuhn also credits his team (Pony Shop) for his success. “We really support each other and that is important to me. Just being able to have someone to rely on if you have a problem in a race or a mechanical issue is great. The community is also a really big factor [to a successful season]. I think Chicago has the best cycling community bar none. It makes everybody, every year elevate their game a little bit”