December's Runner: Ben Thiem
Job: Director of Member Services at the League of Chicago Theatres
Why do you run? I run mostly to do something active and stay healthy but I also like the feeling of accomplishment after finishing a long run or a big race.
How long have you been running? About six years. What makes someone a runner? If you enjoy running then I think you’re a runner.
Miles per week: 15-20 miles on average but more if I’m training for a race. Mile time: I’ve never actually been timed to see how fast I can run a mile, but on longer distances a 9 - 9:30 minute/mile pace is average.
Races you’ve competed in: The Chicago Marathon (2x), Twin Cities Marathon (2x), Grandma’s Marathon, Grand Rapids Marathon, Austin Marathon, Wisconsin Marathon, Illinois Marathon, Oakland Marathon, Arizona Marathon, Outer Banks Marathon.
Favorite running route(s): The North Shore Channel Trail along the Chicago River. It’s scenic and quiet and not crowded like the Lakeshore Path.
Best run: The 2009 Grand Rapids Marathon was probably the only time that I’ve felt like running a marathon was easy. I ran it with a friend two weeks after I had done another marathon and I didn’t have big expectations other than finishing. It was a perfect, cool fall morning and I ended up running my marathon PR. I’ve never had another race like it.
Worst run: The 2010 Chicago Marathon. It was really hot and I hadn’t trained very well that summer. I finished the race, but it was a tough day. 26.2 miles has never felt longer.
Do you run with music? No. I like to be aware of my surroundings when I run alone.
Favorite Running Gadget: I’m not really into running gadgets, but a Garmin watch is helpful for training and racing if you have a time goal.
The Treadmill-- Discuss. Ugh. I hate treadmills and avoid them as much as possible, but sometimes there’s no other options on really cold or icy Chicago winter days.
Favorite time to run: In the evening especially during the fall.
Best pre-run meal: Peanut butter toast.
Tips on running through a Chicago winter: Sign up for a race so you have a reason to get out there and convince a friend to do the same so you aren’t training alone. It’s also helpful to be prepared with several layers of warm running clothes, hats and gloves for different temperatures and conditions.
What running gear do you love? I love my Brooks Adrenaline shoes. I’ve worn several versions of them and they are the most comfortable running shoes I’ve ever had. I’ve never had a blister or lost a toenail from wearing them.
Biggest accomplishment: My first marathon (Arizona) wasn’t my fastest race, but it is probably still my biggest accomplishment.
Brief Bio: Since 2004 Ben has worked as the Director of Member Services for the League of Chicago Theatres. In his position he serves as a resource for more than 200 member theaters and manages many of the League’s audience and professional development programs and services. Ben is also a company member at TimeLine Theatre, a company dedicated to producing plays inspired by history that connect with today's social and political issues. Ben hails from the state of Minnesota and is a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University. He lives in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood with his wife Cassandra.