Thursday, November 23, 2017 Elyria 26°


Dad sets the pace, she tries to keep up: Elyria Catholic grad Jennifer Sirken piling up the marathons


Like father, like daughter.

Jennifer Sirken is following in her dad`s big footsteps in the marathon and she couldn`t have a better role model.

Bruce Schmidt has 58 marathons under his belt, but Jennifer`s five marathons aren`t exactly chopped liver. All five of Sirken`s marathons have been in Chicago, which is has had hot, uncomfortable conditions the last few years.

Today`s 32nd annual Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon will be her first at the marquee event.

Sirken`s goal? Qualifying for the 2010 Boston Marathon, the granddaddy of all marathons. If she make sit, she`ll join her dad, who has already qualified.

Schmidt has raced Boston seven times, most recently in 2005.

To qualify for Boston, Sirken must crack the 3:40 qualifying standard for women 25-29 years old. To date, her fastest effort is 3:58:43, which came at last year in Chicago.

Sirken, a 1999 Elyria Catholic graduate, debuted in the marathon at the 2002 Chicago Marathon with a time 4:35:17, completing the event with her dad and a friend.

"This is the first time I`ve ever trained for a spring marathon," said Sirken, 28. "Training conditions along Lake Front State Park (along Lake Michigan in Chicago) are similar to things in Northeast Ohio with the snow and ice. It`s always a challenge, but you have to make sure that you get the long runs in."

Sirkens lives just a mile-and-a-half from Lake Front Park. She typically trains with co-worker Joanna Garfield, a New Jersey native who also runs marathons.

"Jennifer has learned how to pace herself much better during the race now than when she first started running marathons," Schmidt said. "Her pace might fall off slightly, but she`s done a nice job keeping a consistent tempo, especially in the latter stages of the race."

Sirken was Elyria Catholic`s fourth or fifth runner during her high school cross country days. The Panthers qualified to regionals as a team during Sirken`s freshman year of 1995-96 on the strength of two-time state qualifier Jessica Patton.

Sirken`s fastest 5K in high school cross country was 22:25. Knee tendinitis plagued her during her sophomore and junior years.

"I think it was the result of overtraining back in high school," said Sirken, a trust adviser for J.P. Morgan. "I did too many hard days and didn`t take enough easy days."

Sirken manages her training more efficiently these days, averaging 50-55 miles while running six days per week. She also mixes in yoga to help improve her flexibility and strength.

Sirken has a Plan B ready in case she doesn`t make the Boston Marathon qualifying standard today. She`s also planning to compete in the Columbus Marathon on Oct. 18.

"It`s important to stay motivated," said Sirken, who graduated from Loyola Law School in 2006. "You learn that you have to listen to your body. You need to learn that there`s a time to push your body harder than you think you can. On race day, there`s always something more you can tap into if you really set your mind to it."


WHAT: 32nd annual Rite Aid Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K

WHERE: Downtown Cleveland. The starting line for all races is at the Galleria on St. Clair Avenue and East 9th Street. All three races finish at Lakeside and East 6th Street.

START TIMES: Marathon and half marathon at 7 a.m.; 10K at 7:15 a.m.

Former Elyrian Yetman sets record in triathlon

Elyria native Peggy (Fortune) Yetman had a record-breaking performance May 2 at the St. Croix International Triathlon in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The 1986 Elyria High graduate clocked 4 hours, 59 minutes and 40 seconds for the half-Ironman event, which is the first time an age-grouper has broken the five-hour mark since the event changed to a half-Ironman distance in 2001.

The event consisted of a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and a 13.1-mile run. Yetman won the 40-44 women`s age group by about two-and-half minutes and set a masters age-group course record by about 121/2 minutes. The previous mark was 5:12:16 set in 2008 by Cassie McWilliam.

Yetman finished 11th overall in a field which included 20 professional triathletes. She was the top-placing amateur in the women`s division.

On Oct. 11, Yetman won her age group at the 30th annual Hawaii Ironman World Triathlon Championship, the granddaddy of all Ironman events.

She won the 40-44 age category with a time of 10 hours, 20 minutes and 36 seconds. Although there was no official masters award, she was the top finisher among those 40 and older.

A mother of two, the 40-year-old Yetman plans to defend her Hawaii Ironman title in the fall.

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