Sunday, October 23, 2016

Some Runs Will Suck

And today was the day of the sucky run.

The conditions were right today for the perfect long, slow distance.  I met with Shelby at Hunt Farm, and we found Renee, Carrie, Kirstie, and Kevin getting ready for a run.  Plus, my friend Caroline showed up to run with us! The temps were a tiny bit chilly, but the sun was out, so I had worn a short-sleeved shirt under my long sleeved shirt.  We started the Covered Bridge Loop.

After a few miles Caroline turned back because she wanted fewer miles and she wanted to stick to the Towpath.  We continued, and I felt fabulous.  I peeled off my outer layer after running up a set of hills, and then I felt even better.  At the Covered Bridge we took the required selfie:

Carrie, Kevin, Kirstie, Shelby, Renee, Me
During mile five, Kevin and I ran a bit ahead until we decided it was dumb to run faster when we had at least five more miles to go.  I decided to fuel at mile six, and all of a sudden I didn't feel well.  My heart started racing, and I had trouble breathing.  I kept running, but I was in distress.  I could feel my chest tightening up.  I tried to relax and breathe through it, and at least I didn't get dizzy, but it was not a pleasant feeling.  I had to walk through it a few times during that mile until I could get my breath back.  I still felt pretty awful right up until we finished (earlier than we thought) a bit after eight miles.

I have been going over everything that I did during that run, and I can't think of why I felt so awful.  It's true that I ran a little faster just before that, but I was still doing slower than a ten minute mile.  Was it the GU?  Was it just a fluke?  Do I have a problem?  I don't know.

I'm going to chalk it up to a sucky run and stop thinking about it.

In the meantime, I have succumbed to pressure and signed up for the Second Sole Made in America Half Marathon in Massillon, which is in two weeks.  Wanna join me, Peeps?  You can laugh at me when I cry on the hills.

Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Race Recap: Bath Steeplechase 8k

What kind of a moron signs up for a race three weeks after her first marathon?  What kind of a moron decides that a STEEPLECHASE is a good idea three weeks after her first marathon?  Well, you are looking at just the moron who would do that.

This Saturday I ran the Bath Steeplechase 8k.

How did I train for it?  Ummmm. . .well, I did run, so technically that is training, right?  Ok, to be honest, I have managed to do a mini tempo run ( 5 miles) at half marathon pace and a set of 400s at faster-than-5k-pace since the Akron marathon.  I thought this would be a nice, relaxing race.

As if such a thing exists.

One of the reasons I like the Bath Steeplechase is that it is about three miles from my house, so I was able to sleep in.  Plus, it started at 10:00 am, a time that screwed with my head, I must say.  It was a very inexpensive race, and I liked the long-sleeved tech shirt that came with it.

I showed up at Bath Community Park about half an hour before the race, timing that is unthinkable to me for any other race.  Usually I am worried about parking and bathrooms, but this time I kept telling myself, "Relax.  It's five miles.  You can do five miles in your sleep. Just run in the sun."

To my delight, I saw my friend Vicky, who was there to cheer on her grandson Gabe:

I can't describe how happy I was to see Vicky there.
I had plenty of time to screw around and even visit the bathroom, and then it was time to start.  This is an extremely small race, only 109 participants in the 8k.  When I looked around the field, I realized that I would not be placing on that day.  My age group (45-49) is full of badass women who have been training for years, and many of them were there, so I knew my chances were slim.  That's ok; I wasn't planning on placing anyway.  I'm still recovering from the marathon, right?

The gun went off when we started at the bottom of a tiny but steep hill, and I managed to slip in the grass for that first hill.  Nice.

The course had a little bit of everything: trails, pavement, stream crossings, crushed limestone, and large rocks.  In addition, we had to jump over hay bales and horse jumps.  Around mile 2 I felt like trail running and marathon training had ruined my racing drive because honestly I had no desire to run up the hills.  I ran what I could and walked at least three hills.

Here I pretend that everything is just fine.  See my sweet Bondi Compression Socks?
Anyway, my time was nowhere near what I could have done.  I stalked the times of the top three women in my age group, and I should have been able to run that. . . but I guess I'm not ready yet.  More yoga and strength training; less running.  That should be my routine right now until I feel recovered.

Fun should also be my focus.  For now, I will only do workouts that I consider to be fun.  I have tons of dance DVDs and Tae Bo DVDs, and I intend to use them between runs.  I want to be excited about feeling strong and capable; I don't want to dread exercise.

How do you feel after your recent races, Peeps?  Still trying to recover?

Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Wash the Workout Clothes

Today's post comes from SLS3.  After the fall races are done, we will have some stinky clothing, Peeps.  Here are some tips for washing our running gear.  Need some more running gear?  Check out their page and use the code BLOG40 to get a 40% discount! 

Handle with Care

You’ve spent your hard earned money on your exercise gear like Running Shorts or Compression Socks and now it’s time to put it to the test. After a grueling workout, you and your Lycra® containing gear are ready for a bath. By the way, Spandex is the generic Lycra® version. Lycra® is a brand name trademarked by DuPont.

After Your Workout

As much as we hate it, we’re all drenched in sweat after a good workout, which means our clothes are, too. If you don’t have time to wash your clothes right after your workout, or you’re too tired like me, then hang dry your workout clothes, making sure there are no wrinkle or overlaps. This prevents your gear from turning into a mildew breeding ground. Gross! It also helps prevent weird stenches from staying trapped inside your clothes.

Getting the Stink Out

The best method for remedying smelly gym clothes is to give them a prewash. Soak your Lycra® outfits in one part vinegar, and four parts water for at least 30 minutes before hand washing, or throwing them into the washing machine. Rinse your clothes thoroughly before washing them to get rid of any vinegar.

Some Dont’s to Remember

Do not mix vinegar and bleach ever! If your detergent contains bleach rinse out your vinegar soaked clothes before throwing them in the washer. Do not use vinegar in the rinse cycle of your washer if your detergent contains bleach.

Do not use heat for any of your Lycra® garments. Heat will destroy the elastic properties aka the Lycra® fibers of your outfits. Avoid the dryer, ironing and the sun. Remember: Heat is bad.

Do not use chlorine or bleach. This will destroy the fibers of the fabric and you will get “bag and sag” syndrome.

Do not use Fabric Softener. These are used to soften clothes and will make sure your expensive garment will never retain its shape. Avoid the fabric softener.

Do not let your laundry dominate your room.

In the Wash They Go 

Although it is said that hand washing is always the way to go, most of us don’t have time for that. Don’t fret though! It is safe for your Lycra® garments to go into the washing machine following these steps. First, make sure that all of your zippered garments are zipped all the way up to prevent the zipper track from snagging onto other fabric during the washing cycle. Turn your clothes inside out. Put delicate items into a mesh laundry bag, lingerie bag, or pillowcase to protect them (Definitely do this for Bib Shorts). 


The Set-Up

If you are worried that a pre-soak just won’t cut it for getting all the smells out, you can put some vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser of your washer. This will make sure your washer will dispense vinegar in the rinse cycle. Always use cold water when washing your Lycra® garments. Heat will destroy them. Set your washer on the “Delicates” setting to prevent damage of your clothes. 

Less is More?

Use less detergent than you normally would for your Lycra® clothes. While detergent cleans your clothes, you definitely don’t want a build up of it on your workout clothes. A build up of detergent will trap in dead skin cells and trap bacteria into the fabric. If you want to make sure your clothes last, try a detergent designed for washing workout clothes.  

Finishing Touches

After the washing cycle has been finished, hang your clothes up, or lay them down flat to dry. Never put them in the dryer. Remember heat is not friendly to Lycra® clothes. Lycra® is a fast drying fiber so your clothes should not take too long to air dry. 

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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Mud Helps You Recover

I dropped the ball on two awesome photo-ops today.  I'll regret both of them forever.

First, today was the day I went back to running.  I was a bit nervous about it.  Would it hurt?  Would my legs give out?  Would I hate it?  Shelby and I decided to do a trail run together so we could rehash the marathon (so we don't drive everyone else crazy). I distinctly remember Shelby messaging me, saying, "Do you think we'll be ok on the trails with all this rain?"

My reply, "Pssshh.  We'll be fine."  Remember that.

On the way to Pine Hollow, I saw a gigantic, beautiful bald eagle light on a tree branch right next to the road.  I pulled over and got out of the car to take the picture, and a car came speeding by in the opposite direction and scared him away.  He was gorgeous.

This is EXACTLY how it looked, except there were no mountains, and no snow.
Shelby and I ran the Wetmore Trail; we had only run it once when it was very hot.  Today felt just right, in the high 50s, but it was definitely muddy and wet.  We found out just how wet it was when it came time to ford the first stream.  There was a flat rock in the middle with water swirling over it, and we figured we'd just get the bottoms of our shoes wet, so we sucked it up and stepped in.  No biggie.

At another crossing, we used some rocks and logs; my right foot slipped and I went in up to my knee.  Funny; no biggie.

At the next crossing, there was really not much help.  We saw two potential places to wade; one looked relatively shallow and had a log crossing.  I told Shelby, "Just cross on that log or walk through.  It's not deep; you can see the bottom. You go first."  She carefully put her foot on the log, slipped, and fell right in the stream.  I managed to ask her if she was ok before I started laughing, and the two of us were laughing so much I forgot to take a picture, dammit.

This is EXACTLY how Shelby looked falling into the stream.  We always run trails while wearing string bikinis.
After that crossing, we ran through a large puddle, and I lost a shoe.  I had to walk back through the puddle and pull the shoe out of the sucking mud, and it wasn't easy.

All in all, we both had our share of mud today. Mud heals, right?

We did four miles on the Wetmore Loop and called it a day, but I wasn't ready to call it a day just yet. I think part of the reason why the run felt good to me was that I was running in my Bondi Band compression socks.  I've worn compression calf sleeves on the trail before, but today I decided to go for the whole shebang, and I really liked it.  I should have taken a picture (so I guess that's THREE shots I missed) because they were the pink argyle socks, and I looked super-cute, if I do say so myself.  Remember, Peeps, that I am a Bondi Band Ambassador, so if you want to order some compression wear (or headbands) of your own, you can use my code (TroubleRun) for a 10% discount.  Click here to check out the possibilities. Anyway, I felt really good, so on the way home I stopped at Hampton Hills and added another mile and a half. THIS time I remembered to take a picture:

You know what else heals (besides mud, compression socks, and trail running)?  Massages.  Today I'm going for a massage so I can recover from the marathon.  I've been foam rolling and doing yoga and strength training all week, and now I'm ready for a little muscle love.  Based on previous experience, as I am a very tightly-wound person, I suspect that the massage itself will NOT be relaxing, but I will be very glad in a few days that I got it done.

How did you recover from your fall race, Peeps?  Are you back at the running thing?  Have you taken any mud baths?

Speaking of mud baths, next week I'll be posting from a guest blogger on how to treat your running clothes.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Monday, September 26, 2016

My First Marathon

To give you an idea of my luck, here is my Facebook post from the morning of the Akron Marathon:

Just like before the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon, I watched my carefully laid plans blow up one by one.  This is my life.

I was surprisingly calm during taper and just before the race, but my stomach was churning.  I took lots of pre-race selfies with The Ohio Runner's Network and with my running partners, Shelby and Megan.

Shelby and I are at the expo.

TORN in the morn
Megan, me, and Shelby pre-race

The corral line up was very smooth, and though we were worried we were going to have to dodge walkers, there were enough corrals that we had nothing to worry about. Corral C is for me!

The first twelve miles were fine.  Megan, Shelby, and I had great conversation while trying to slow down our pace.  We met some interesting people.  When the split off came for the half and the full, I thought I would be upset, but I really wasn't.  At that point I made up a game: I planned to stop at any restaurant that was open rather than finish the race, but since it was early, I had to keep going until I hit the next restaurant. This kept me going for quite a while, and Shelby and Megan were happy to play along.

I had the best surprise around mile 16.  My friend and colleague, Rob,  lives on the blue line, and he threw a party in which he invited our mutual friends and colleagues for the race.  I passed them at mile 16, and I screamed, "I f----king got this!!!!" while I high-fived all of my friends.  I felt awesome.

Fabulous signs!

I came pretty close to my house around mile 18, and I contemplated just running to my house to nap and eat, but Shelby told me I would never forgive myself and that I would have to run this marathon again, so I forged on.  At mile 19 I saw my fellow Cleveland Ambassador Melissa, who, even though I was sweaty and salty and disgusting, gave me a huge hug.  I really needed her then, and that hug kept me going.

Running through Stan Hywet Gardens

Smiling in West Akron

At mile 22 I was ready to call it a day.  It didn't matter that I "only" had 4.2 miles to go; I didn't care.  I hated my life, and I hated the race.  That was when Jess and Erin showed up to "run me to the party" as I was passing Rob's house again.  As we ran together, I said, "This is so f--king hard, guys.  I don't know if I can do this." Erin and Jess told me I was strong and I was going to finish and if it was hard it was because it was worth it.  I kept going to the party where I saw everyone cheering for me.  As I ran away from my friends, I was crying.

I know this is sappy, but I have rarely counted on anyone to ever know or care what is going on in my life.  My training for the marathon was barely a blip on my family's radar because I made sure it didn't inconvenience them in the slightest.  People don't watch me finish races. I am usually the person who takes the pictures of others when they finish. I try not to talk too much about training on social media; I save it for this blog so people can choose to know or not know.  I realize that I am often a pain in the ass at work and in my basically-nonexistent social life, and people tend to tune me out.  You can understand then why this was a big deal to me.  I NEVER in my life thought I would ever have someone travel any distance at all to see me.  I cried because this was a moment where I felt someone cared about me.  It's a big deal, Peeps.

I have the best friends ever. Jess, Katie, Sharon, Erin, and Sherri

Anyway, I have to tell you about someone else who cared enough to keep me going.  Sheila, the head of The Ohio Runner's Network (and Shelby's sister) came out on her bike around mile 16 and followed us for a few miles, ringing a cowbell, blowing a bird whistle, and cheering.  She was a great bright spot.  I especially enjoyed watching Megan's reaction, as she had never met Sheila before, and she didn't know what it meant to cheer as a T0RN SUPERFAN.  Megan told me she thought Sheila was amazing, and I agree with her.

Sheila reappeared at the "party block" and followed us to the end.  There were hills.  Lots of hills.  There were many times between mile 22 and the end where I felt like I would just walk the rest. . . but I didn't.  As soon as we hit route 18, Shelby was "smelling the barn," and she wanted in the worst way to pull ahead.  I told her to go, but she held back.  Sheila knows me, and she shouted at me as she rode next to me, telling me to get out of my head and just concentrate on my legs.

This may be my favorite photo of the race:
I'm going to finish this race.  I got this.
See Sheila in the pink?  I couldn't have continued without her. I love this photo because I think it accurately depicts the struggle I had to finish.  You can see that I'm battling demons, both physical and psychological, and you can see Sheila is helping me.  I also like my legs in this pic.  By the way, the pink is my FlipBelt. My husband pointed out that it looks like I was wearing saggy shorts.  I wasn't.

I made it to the finish, and I managed to smile for the cameras when I saw that my friend and fellow Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Andrew was waiting for me at the chute. . .holding out a beer.

Andrew is in the blue and the sunglasses. Notice I did NOT take the beer.

Andrew has been giving me a lot of flack about refusing the beer, saying it would have been the best finish line pic ever.  I still think it's pretty damned awesome.  Andrew ran the half, so he was waiting a LONG time for me to come in, and I really appreciate it.  When I crossed the finish, I felt awful; I didn't know if I wanted to vomit or cry or walk or collapse.  I hugged Shelby and Megan, and I followed Andrew away from the finish, where he walked with me to the food tent and got me settled on the lawn so I could stretch.  I am not a fast runner, and this was my first marathon, so I really appreciate Andrew waiting for me.  It must have been super difficult drinking tons of cheap beer in the sunshine.

Shelby and Megan caught up to me after getting their food, and we sat together for a while.  I thought  I would feel victorious and euphoric and giddy, but I really just felt drained and sweaty and stinky.  Running a marathon was the most difficult thing I have ever done.  It was more difficult (and took more time!) than birthing both of my kids.  It took physical effort, but it took a whole lot more mental/psychological effort.  I am glad I did it, but I really didn't feel that way right after the race.  I ate lunch with TORN, but I wasn't really feeling that either, so I went home in time to help my daughter with her Homecoming preparations.

I learned a lot during these four months of training.  I learned that I like marathon training--more than I like marathon running.  I learned that I am physically very strong, and I learned that mentally I am much stronger than I often believe.  I learned that I have people who care about me, and sometimes I can relax and rely on friends.  Old friends are awesome (Shelby, I love you, man; you rock), but it's always possible to make new friends (Thank you, Megan, for running this race with us), even when you don't like people in general.  Hey, you had to know that I wasn't going to keep this sappy.  I gotta be me.

Will I run another marathon?  Hmmmm. . .

This is EXACTLY how I look after running a marathon.

That is something I'll have to decide later when the race amnesia sets in a little more.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Recap: Race with Grace 5k

Sunday was the annual Race with Grace 5k in Medina. Last year I ran it with the Kabyle Chef, but I knew that with his crazy hours he wouldn't be getting up early to run or walk 3.1 miles with me on his only day off, so this year I asked my friend Katie if I could run with her.  It was Katie's first race, and well, that's always a special moment.

I got there early so I could put in a few extra miles.  I only had time for two miles because our team had to meet for pictures, but hey--two miles is better than nothing, right?  After all this is taper week.

Did I mention this is taper week?

This is EXACTLY how I look during taper week.
I guess some of my team members saw me running before the race, and somehow a rumor went around that I ran to the race.  From Akron.  Yeah.  I guess there are worse rumors.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I run 13 miles from my house to a race.
Our team consists of high school staff members and their families.  We are called Team Brenda because we run to support Brenda Hufford's fight against cancer.  The race is in honor of Mary Grace, who was an active Medina Community member.  You can read about her struggle with breast cancer and the race's mission here.

Team Brenda 
We had a good showing this year; team Brenda raised over $1,200 for the Mary Grace Foundation.  I am so proud of my colleagues.

The best part of the day was running with Katie for her first race.  I remember my first race; it was the Mother's Day 5k in Munroe Falls. I remember how nervous I was the night before, and I remember how keyed up I was during the race, so I asked Katie if she would like me to run it with her, and she said yes.

To seal the deal, I gave her a running tattoo.  I'm not a tattoo person, but I do believe in war paint, so my tradition is to wear temporary tattoos when I'm racing.

I got this tat from Bondi.  Order yours as well as some headbands (see mine below?).  Make sure to use my code (TroubleRun) for a 10% discount.

Another team member, Jess, joined us, and the three of us chatted while we ran in the sun.  Katie was tough, and she managed to save enough in the tank for a kick to the end, which is always exciting.  I am so proud of her; it's not easy to train for any race, and it's not always fun, but Katie did it with class.  I hope this is just the beginning of her running journey.

Look at this Badass!  She ran a 5k!
After the race, I got a FREE chili cheese dog with my former principal, Paul.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm standing in line for a free chili cheese dog in the morning.  I'm on the right, by the way.

All in all, I can say that this race is such a fun experience for me.  The course is nice with just enough incline to make it interesting.  The food and entertainment are amazing for a small-town 5k.  The opportunity to run with my colleagues is even better.  The best part was that Katie allowed me to share the experience of her first race.  Katie, you are amazing.  I hope you had fun, and I hope this is something we can do again in the future.

Next year I want to find someone else who has never run a race.  Who will it be, Peeps?  I'm betting on one of my kids.

This Saturday is the big day: The Akron Marathon.  I am in taper mode, and it is UGLY.  If you want to find me before the race, look in a dark corner where I'll be rocking in the fetal position and crying. Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Snapping Turtle Meaner than Me

Megan and I ran 13 miles on the Towpath last Sunday.  The weather was perfect, but the run seemed difficult because we were both wondering how we were going to DOUBLE that mileage and then add .2 FREAKING miles in a few weeks.  Shelby tells me not to think about it, but it's hard to turn off the crazy, you know what I'm saying?

The monster snapping turtle helped distract us from our angst:

Seriously, he was YUGE!
He was blocking half of the Towpath, and we were afraid to cross in front of him because snapping turtles have those long, snakelike necks AND we thought he might lunge for us.  It was an existential problem, too: Can I really run faster than a turtle?

I was too afraid to find out.

Then, a man ran past us, totally in the zone with his earbuds, didn't even look at the turtle, and ran right in front of him.  Nada.  He left with all his toes intact.  So, after some nervous squealing, we ran as fast as we could past the turtle.  He looked pissed, but he didn't try to bite us.

Stephani and Megan: 1, Turtle: 0

We began our run with members of TORN (The Ohio Runners Network), and I caught up with them at Szalay's later when I bought some corn.

Notice that I am the blogger, but I am the ONLY ONE who never knows where the camera is.

Other fun surprises:

My Ragnar belt buckle arrived!  It is so heavy!

Also, I know you never see me without a Bondi Band (Click here to order from them and use my code, TroubleRun, for a discount), so here is a recent picture when the Kabyle Chef actually took a night off and we had dinner out:

My hair is purplish-pink now!  I love it!

Speaking of dinner, I really need to regain control of my eating.  I've stopped my nightly glass of wine with dinner (since the Chef isn't there to enjoy it with me), but I've replaced it with ice cream.


I fear the taper will not help this situation.

How is your taper going, Peeps?  Ready to kill anyone yet?  Have you eaten all your kids' candy bars?  No? Just me, huh?

Well, I hope you do better than I traditionally do.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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