FOOT NOTES: Running out(side) of the comfort zone


As she scanned over my treadmill data, my wife made quite the observation: I completed exactly zero outdoor runs in July.

I was a little surprised, sure, but I can’t say I was shocked. This machine has become somewhat of a security blanket for me. I can watch TV and listen to music, all in an air-conditioned room with a fan pointed directly at me. Controlling the pace is easy, water is just a reach away, and if I do run into trouble, there’s an off switch. 

Too hot outside? Too cold? Too dark, too rainy? The treadmill is right there.

But as comfortable as I’ve become in my workout routine, there’s a big part of me that yearns once again for the adventure of running outdoors. As the weeks of August ticked by, I made a conscious effort to take myself outside for at least a day or two each week, and I’m glad I did. 

My first run back out was on a humid night after putting the kids to bed. I felt a feeling of nostalgia sweep over me as I ran under the street lights, but was also weighed down with the challenge of generating my own speed on solid ground. By the end of that 2.5-mile run, though, I felt so confident and excited about running that it was difficult to get myself to bed. 

I took myself out again several days later, this time to a park with my kids in the dead summer heat. As I ran my loops and encouraged the kids on the playground, I was dealing with another issue that I hadn’t experienced in some time: Adversity. The heat was tearing me apart and forced me to make adjustments, like slowing down the pace and taking extra fluids. This three-mile run was a far cry from my ultra-running days when it seemed like death was just one wrong step away, but it felt good to get that taste back in my mouth, and find a way to overcome.

My latest outdoor run came during a time crunch. There wasn’t enough time to run on the treadmill before picking up the kids from school, so I just ran directly there. Sure, the other parents look at you funny when you show up sucking wind with your hands on your hips, but it’s worth the embarrassment when I can take a cool down walk back home with my kids and get them some time in the sun before they inevitably stalk back to their TVs and tablets.

In the grand scheme of things, these are all baby steps toward rediscovering my outdoor running potential, but everyone has to start somewhere. Even if it’s just a gentle, humid jog under the glow of the streetlights where it all began so many years ago.


A pair of Waynesboro runners shined brightly at the Gary Brown 5-Miler in Williamsport, Md., with Waynesboro’s Jonah Smith and Kyle Phillips each landing in the Top 3.

Smith was the race runner-up in 27:07, while Phillips was just behind in 27:24 for third. Greencastle’s Hayden Parks (28:03), Dalton Noblit (28:40), and Kyle Baker (29:24) all finished in the Top 10, while Claire Paci, also of Greencastle, finished as the third female in 30:37. Other top locals include Greencastle’s Joel Amstutz (29:30) and Isaac Boyer (33:34), Smithsburg’s Rob Hovermale (34:35), Chambersburg’s David Dymond (37:12) and Neal Hospelhorn (48:13), and Mont Alto’s Angie Fuss (41:24).

In Davis, W.Va., Greencastle runner Rachel Scheitrum brought the headlamp along to compete in the Moonlight Falls Marathon, a race that begins in the night and runs into the next morning. Scheitrum’s late-night run was completed in 5:24:19, for third place in the 40-49 AG.

Mary Ann Miller of Chambersburg put forth a big effort at the Yinzer 4.12K in Pittsburgh, as she took first in the 70+ AG with a 25:30.

A number of other Local.News runners were involved in races across the region, including Chambersburg’s Jennifer Wright (48:24 at Believe in Tomorrow 5K) and Deanna Quintana (1:26:00 at Run Wild for Wildwood 10K), and Fayetteville’s Nicholas Signorella (2:35:27 at Cook Forest 25K) and Amanda Kaiser-Jones (2:29:32 at Hellbender Half Marathon).

And now, a look ahead:

Highmark Wholecare Labor Day Free 5K: Monday, 8 a.m., in Gettysburg. Challenge yourself physically, and not financially, with this free race. Look up the event on

Troegs Rugged Trail Run 5K: Saturday, Sept. 10, 5 p.m., in Millersburg. Take on the HopBack Trail for beginners or the more challenging Rugged Trail in this event, which promises all adult finishers a beer after the race, and root beers for the kids. Find the race on

Harrisburg Half Marathon: Sunday, Sept. 11, 8 a.m., in Harrisburg. Just over 100 spots are still available for this popular and scenic race, which drew more than 560 runners last year. Register for the race on

Also: Lighthouse 5K (Saturday, in Lykens); Roof Park 5K/10K (Saturday, in New Cumberland); Steelers 5K (Saturday, in Pittsburgh); Bucks County Duathlon (Sunday, in Washington Crossing); Bull Dam Trail Run Half Marathon (Sunday, in North East); Labor Pain 12 Hour Endurance Trail Run (Sunday, in Reading); Labor Day 5K (Monday, in Big Cove Tannery); Run for Autism Labor Day Half Marathon (Monday, in Youngwood); Bird-In-Hand Half Marathon (Saturday, Sept. 10, in Bird-In-Hand); The Creamery Hustle 5K/10K (Saturday, Sept. 10, in Reading); Race Back to School 5K (Saturday, Sept. 10, in York); Boulder Field Ultra 100K (Saturday, Sept. 10, in Jim Thorpe); Cameron County Galactic Festival Half Marathon (Saturday, Sept. 10, in Emporium); Cousler Park 5K/10K (Saturday, Sept. 10, in York); Creamery Hustle 5K/10K (Saturday, Sept. 10, in Reading); KTA Trail Challenge 50K (Saturday, Sept. 10, in Lancaster); Not One More Run for Recovery 5K (Saturday, Sept. 10, in York); Perry 5000 (Saturday, Sept. 10, in New Bloomfield); Pine Creek Challenge 100 Miler (Saturday, Sept. 10, in Wellsboro); Race Back to School 10K (Saturday, Sept. 10, in York); Sasquatch Preservation Trail Run 5K/10K (Saturday, Sept. 10, in Seven Valleys); York YMCA Kids Triathlon (Saturday, Sept. 10, in York); Hear Our Voices: Team Holly 5K (Sunday, Sept. 11, in Reading); Chasing the Unicorn Marathon (Sunday, Sept. 11, in Washington Crossing); Erie Marathon (Sunday, Sept. 11, in Erie); Harrisburg JCC 5K (Sunday, Sept. 11, in Harrisburg); Thirsty Thursday 5K (Thursday, Sept. 15, in Reading). 

Foot Notes is a self-syndicated column by Central Pa. sportswriter Andy Sandrik that has been “running” since 2016. Andy always follows back on Strava and can be reached by email at [email protected].

Are you enjoying local news?

First Month 99¢

Already a subscriber? Login here.