Monday, January 8, 2018

Pay Day 2017

It is once again my Running Pay Day, Peeps. This means that I need to do a bunch of math to figure out how much money I can put into my special running savings account.



The background to Running Pay Day is this:

I once read of a running blogger who pays herself for each mile she runs. Needing some motivation that doesn't involve food, I thought this was a wonderful idea. Of course, because I am complicated, I must have many rules about how to pay myself. So, here is how it works:

First, I calculate the number of miles total I have run in 2017. This is easy because I log my miles into DailyMile.com. This year I ran 1,694 miles. Not bad considering my goal was 1,500!

30 more miles would have taken me to Salt Lake City, UT!


Next, I subtract the number of racing miles I ran because I pay myself $1.00 for each racing mile. I love going over the races I ran this year because it brings back ALL THE FEELS for each race. Here are the races I ran this year (Click on the links to revisit my recaps):

Pro-Football Hall of Fame Half Marathon: 13.1
Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon: 26.2
Medina Half Marathon: 13.1
Green Jewel 2-person relay: 14
Burning River 8-person relay: 16.5
Leave No Trace Half Marathon: 13.1
Medina Race with Grace 5k: 3.1
Akron Marathon: 26.2
Run with Scissors Half Marathon: 13.1 (I actually ran 16.5 miles for this, but that is another story.)
Home Run for the Homeless: 4

I have a total of 142.4 racing miles. I'll round that down to 142. That means I've earned $142 in racing miles--but wait! There is more!

I subtract my racing miles from my total miles, and I pay myself $.50 per training mile:

1,694-142= 1,552 miles x $.50= $776 dollars.

Then I add that to the racing miles:
$776 + $142 = $918 dollars

Wow. That is a chunk of change! Unfortunately, that is not how much I get paid.



Now I have to deduct the amount of race fees I paid this year. Booooo. I didn't keep EXACT track of the racing fees (because it is painful), but I do have a good idea. One note: for two of these races, I paid more in order to donate to a race-affiliated charity, but I will not count that as a racing fee since it was voluntary.

The total for these races comes to about $446.  Honestly, not bad for ten running events that gave me hours of pleasure (WHAT????).

Ok, 918-446 = $472.   BUT WAIT!!!!

I award myself a $5.00 bonus for every PR, and I had two this year, soooooo. . .

$472 + $10 = $482

This is the most I've earned in a year. I am super-pleased with myself, particularly since the 300+ extra miles I've run this year have clearly made a difference in my paycheck.


Here is the thing:

I realize that I'm paying myself in my own money, but I am going to put that money into a savings account that I've had for years, and it will go toward my dream race: the Paris marathon. Normally, I wouldn't dream of spending any of that money on myself.  Too often women, especially mothers, refuse to reward themselves or put themselves first in any situation. I will not be a part of that. I worked damned hard this year, and I will reward myself with the promise of something that will be just for me.

Not only that, but the hard cash that I earned actually benefits me twice: All of those training miles helped me to build my endurance and (rarely) speed. I learned so much about what I'm capable of doing by training and racing, and even though there was some pain involved, I wouldn't change any of it. . . even getting lost in the woods during a trail race. I deserve to celebrate me.


How can you celebrate yourself, Peeps? What goals have you set for 2018? How can you reward them? It doesn't have to be as complicated as my system (Lord knows there are easier ways!), but you should find a way to fete your accomplishments and reward your work. It can make the difference between getting outside in the snow. . . or staying in bed and regretting that decision.


As for me, I have goals for 2018, and I am already getting started on them! This will be the best year. . . and the best ME yet!

This is clearly not the best me. . .but I'm working on it!


Whatever your goals and rewards are, I hope you run happy, Peeps!


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Sunday, December 31, 2017

End of Year Running Review

I am typing this on the last day of 2017.  This is the moment where I review my running goals for the year. Let's get to it, shall we?

Goal #1: Run the Cleveland Marathon all by myself without freaking out.

Melissa, Rachel, and me at the Expo

The Ambassadors at the starting line





















Mission Accomplished! I definitely had moments of insecurity at the VIP Dinner, but I ran that sucker all by myself like a boss. From this race, I learned that I don't necessarily need to rely on anything (like music) or anyone to run a marathon.

Goal #2: Run more trail races.

Me, Candice, Kristin. Burning River, Leg 5

Goddesses + Mother Runners. Leave No Trace Half Marathon

Marta, Me, Nicole, Spooky Ghost. Run with Scissors Half Marathon
Mission Accomplished! I had counted on running Burning River, but the other two trail half-marathons were kind of spur of the moment decisions.  I'm really glad that I ran them. From these races, I learned that I don't have to kill myself just to run a race. I can just enjoy it.

Goal #3: PR at the Akron Marathon.  This was a stretch goal, I admit. The weather on the day of the race was incredibly hot and humid, and I was tempted to drop to the half. I really freaked myself out. . .and then I got my shit together and got the job done. I told myself that I would just run easy because it was silly to believe that I could PR in that kind of weather. . .but I still wanted to meet that goal.

Still freaked out at Expo

PR, Baby!

Mission Accomplished! I PR'd by about 90 seconds, and I consider that an incredible accomplishment. I learned that I am much stronger than I think, and I think I'm pretty badass.

Goal #4: Run at least 1,500 miles.


Mission Accomplished! I learned that the best way for me to train is to put in lots of longer miles, one of which must be a midweek long run of 7-10 miles. This was the best way for me to run two marathons without getting injured. 

I finished my running year with eight miles on the Towpath with Marta. It was bitter cold, and the snow wasn't packed, so we got a great glute workout.

We look like we are about to rob a bank, but really we are gearing up for the run.
I have had a successful running year, and now I'm thinking about my new goals for 2018. I've got some ideas, but I will leave that for another post. For now, I'm going to bid you a Happy New Year. I hope you met your goals for the year, and I hope you have some challenging goals for next year. Whatever your goals, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

So Much Fun at Night!

When I approach the end of the semester, my stress heightens, and I find myself looking for ways to blow off steam so I don't punch someone in the throat. This is where the night runs came in this week.

On Tuesday I ran the annual Christmas Lights Run. It's a 4-mile run to Stan Hywet Hall from Lock 3, a walk through the lit up gardens with lots of photo-opps, and then a 4-mile run back to Lock 3, where we finished with holiday cheer. There were at least three big clubs joining this run, and I belong to all of them: Phillips Phlyers, the Canal Rats, and the Crooked River Trail Runners. Over 100 runners showed up, decked out in Christmas Lights and elf and Santa running gear.


Lock 3 before we left. I'm standing on a chair in the back, but of course I turned my head to the side at the wrong time.

The weather was perfect--in the 40's--and the traffic wasn't too bad, so we had a safe and fun run to Stan Hywet Hall following the Blue Line. I had a great time talking to everyone on the way there (when I wasn't sucking wind).

When we got there, we took lots of photos. The grounds at Stan Hywet were all sparkly with holiday lights. So beautiful!

Crooked River Trail Runners. I am wearing the Santa outfit on the right.

Phillips Phlyers in front of the mansion
Katrina and I passed the time by taking selfies, and of course, Doc Craino had to get in on the action:

Before shot: The Pretty Picture of Katrina and me

I feel like someone is behind us. CRAIN????
 We ran back to Lock 3, with Katrina and Crew trying to kill me by running 9-minute miles (which, for them, is like a stroll in the park). All three clubs were meeting in different bars for our holiday cheer, so I was a bit torn on what to do. I went to 69 Taps to see the Crooked River Trail Runners, but without my glasses, I couldn't see anyone I knew with my quick peek, so I headed to Barley House and ate burgers with Phillips Phlyers.

Post-Run Shenanigans with Joey Phillips
This was an incredible night; 8 miles is exactly what I needed to relieve some end-of-semester stress, and it was so fun to hang with such kind and fun-loving people.

But!

The week's celebrations were not over!

Thursday night was the Crooked River Trail Runners group run and White Elephant Gift Exchange. I knew I would show up for the run, but I didn't intend to participate in the celebration after because it was for 2017 members, and I only just joined for 2018.  I ran 3 miles through the woods and then through Lock 29 with the elves and Santas for the Polar Express. It was a bit surreal to pass about 20 Santas cheering us on.

We arrived at the clubhouse, and I ordered a beer and sat back to watch the exchange around the table. Right away, my new friends encouraged me to join them at the table, even if I didn't participate. This meant that I got some great pics:

Cari got the hot-ticket item of the night. There was a lot of fighting over the onesie.

Kelleigh seems to be VERY SERIOUS about the rules of the game. Was she negotiating for the onesie? Marta seems ready to step in if necessary, and Ken is too busy looking at his own gifts to care if there might be a cage-match going down.

Highlight of the Night: As I'm drinking a Christmas Ale and waiting for everyone to set up the exchange, a young man approaches me. No, it's not what you might think:

Young Man: Mrs. Itibrout? Are you still teaching at Medina?

Me: sigh. Hi, Darian! It's good to see you! Wow--you are an adult now!

I'm like a gazillion years old.

Today, Christmas Eve, I ran 7 miles of Boston Run with Marta. We decided to do our photo opp with a little help from a friend:

Can you guess where we are?
Marta and I focus on the important parts of the statue.

This week was all that I could want in de-stress running. I look forward to running what I like, when I like for the next week or so. In the meantime, I will be calculating my running paycheck next week. What's that? You don't know what a running paycheck is? Check me out next week, and I'll explain it.

Have a wonderful holiday, Peeps, and don't forget to run happy!

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Night Running Again

I've had some great runs in the past few weeks:

10 miles at the Vertical Runner Tryptophan Run.  The first 4 miles were with Joy; then I did 2 miles with Joy and Rob:





We aren't sweating; we are glowing.

The last 4 miles were with Ken, who kept me going at a 9:30 or under clip:
In other words, he tried to kill me. 
The next week I ran with Kristin on the Towpath. It was a bit chilly, but other than that, it was just like old times!


You can't tell because she is wearing sunglasses, but her eyes are googly-wide, just like mine.

On Thursday evening, I decided to try something different: I ran with the Crooked River Trail Runners. They are a crazy bunch who meet at the Brandy Wine Clubhouse in Peninsula to run trails at night. Kelleigh promised me she would guide me, so I gave it a go. Luckily for us, there was Mark on the trails to help us when we got confused and basically started bushwhacking our own trail. I loved that run! Running at night jazzes me; I feel so full of energy running in the dark, even after a full, exhausting day of work. After that run, I went home and signed up officially for club membership. I'm telling you this now because if you never hear from me again, it's because I got lost on a Thursday night run.

Kelleigh and I are a bit rosy-cheeked after our run/trailblazing.
Today I decided to do something seriously crazy: I ran two loops of the Bills Badass course with Marta. Holy Shmoly! It was really hilly.  I can't imagine what it would be like to do all six loops AND run up Candy Ass Mountain at the end. Plus, the wind was making my eyes tear up, and my nose wouldn't stop running (even when I stopped running).

Here is Marta at one of the stream crossings. We were lucky that it wasn't thigh-deep, like it was during the race!

And here we are at the finish. This is EXACTLY how I look when I am more than relieved to be done.
I've been looking for a new challenge before I start race training, and I think these Thursday night runs will be perfect. My goal is to attend every Thursday night run, unless it rains. I hate rain.

Are you looking for new challenges? What are you doing to enjoy your workouts? Whatever it is, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Race Recap: Home Run for the Homeless

This four-miler has become my Thanksgiving tradition. It starts and ends at Gennesaret, which is the  charity it benefits. Everyone associated with the race is a volunteer. Local businesses donate gift cards and door prizes worth hundreds of dollars. It's just a super-fun time for a great cause.

Gennesaret is an organization that helps homeless people to move into housing. Sometimes they donate furniture and kitchen supplies; sometimes they help financially. The Home Run for the Homeless is their only fundraiser. The race costs 20 bucks to register online--25 on the day of the race--for a four-mile jaunt through West Akron and the Glendale Cemetery. There is also a 1 mile Fun Run/Walk which is completely in the cemetery.

I picked up my packet on Wednesday afternoon. There was a tshirt option with online registration, but I don't have much luck in getting tshirts that fit me, so I took the gloves that come with the bib. I love those gloves.

On Thursday, I was able to roll out of bed at 6:30, eat breakfast, hang out, and then leisurely make my way to the start by 8:30. I used the bathroom before the crowds and then ran a mile warmup. I missed every group photo opportunity available to me: Phillips Phlyers, Canal Rats, Crooked River Trail Runners (I'm not really part of that group, but as a Burning River Goddess, I feel like I could have joined in). No biggie. There were soooooo many people there; the mayor said that there were about 4,000 people registered for both the Fun Run and the Four Miler.  What a testament to our community!

The countdown began, and then it was time to start. It took me about 2-3 minutes to get to the starting line, which normally is no big deal, but this morning on my group run someone told me that it was a gun start, not a chip start. What this means to me is that MAYBE I ran 2-3 minutes faster than I thought I did. I'm not upset about it because I had no intention of trying to beat my PR, which is 33:48.

The cemetery is hilly--super hilly. This is the run I did on Wednesday with Phillips Phlyers, and it is a toughie for sure. The first mile is through the streets of Akron, just outside downtown, and the rest of the course is basically inside the cemetery. I was feeling pretty good, but I decided to run the race conservatively based on what happened to me last year. I kept things at an even effort (rather than an even pace), which is important when running hills if you don't want to lose gas climbing all the time. I saw quite a few friends blow by me, and it made me happy. A woman dressed as a turkey, flapping wings and all, passed me going uphill, and that did not make me happy. At mile 3, we were about a half mile from getting out of Glendale, so I tried to push my pace as much as I could, until I popped out back on Exchange Street running toward Gennesaret for the finish.

The race was a bit short, so I jogged it out until I hit four miles, which means I had a nice cool down. My official time was 35:46, which I will take. I was 15/85 females in my age group, which I will also take. What I REALLY enjoyed taking was the gigantic piece of coffee cake that was waiting for me at the finish. I shoved that baby in my mouth while I stretched and talked to Pam and Steve.

Pam and I are horrified: Those hills are tough!

Pam won third in her age group, and Steve won first in his, which means they got a turkey, two mugs, and a huge jar of Smuckers jelly.  This is quite an accomplishment because the finish times at the top are incredibly fast. This race is a tough field of fast and experienced runners.

The Canal Rats CLEANED UP in the finishing categories; there should really be a Rat Party with the turkeys and pies they won. I was happy to congratulate them when we ran Sand Run the day after the race. It is important to note that the ONLY WAY I could run with the Rats was by choosing hills to run on a day that I knew they were tired from leaving it all out in the Glendale Cemetery. Even then, they were slowing down their pace to accommodate me, so THANK YOU, CANAL RATS!

I also found Joey Phillips and John Adams and took a post-race selfie with them:

By this time I've recovered and eaten my coffeecake, so I'm happy.

There were plenty of amazing door prizes and raffle prizes donated by local sponsors. I didn't win anything again this year, but I'm holding out hope for next year. It is a sure bet that I will be there next year. . .maybe with a shiny, new PR.

How was your Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving? I hope you pre-emptively burned ALL the calories you consumed, and I hope that you continue to run happy, Peeps!

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cold November Rain

There are two sides to the song "November Rain" by Guns N Roses. On one hand, Axl sings, "Everybody needs some time all alone," and I definitely believe that this applies to me.  I like to be alone. As a teacher, I feel that I give of myself physically and psychologically 24/7, and it really drains me. "Sometimes I need some time on my own," and I get that on the majority of my 4:30 AM runs.

On the other hand, Axl also sings, "Don't you think that you need somebody? Don't you think that you need someone? Everybody needs somebody; you're not the only one," and this is also me. I get tired of the Voices in my head. Sometimes they scream at me. Sometimes they tell me that I'm not enough. Sometimes I need perspective, and sometimes I just need levity.

And cemeteries.

And donuts.

Joey Phillips put out a call to the Phlyers for a Wednesday morning run, a preview of the Homerun for the Homeless, which takes place on Thanksgiving morning. I hesitated, then typed, "Any slower Phlyers planning on running?" Right away Joey responded that I would not jack up their run if I came, and several very fast people (I'm talking about you, Jim Chaney) indicated that we would be a group. I decided to go, and as I often do, I put it in my head that I can always start with the group and catch up later.

We met at Krispy Kreme Donuts.

Phlyers prepare to phly. Notice that the Blogger (me) has her eyes closed. SMH.


And we took off toward the Glendale Cemetery. I love this cemetery with its mausoleums and hills, but I will describe that in further detail tomorrow with the race recap. I was unsure of how I would hold up since a run with the Phlyers (even at a relaxed pace for them) is a tempo run for me, and I haven't done speedwork since the Akron Marathon in September. Luckily, Jennifer and Lyndsey both ran at my pace (because Jennifer kicked tail at the Bills' Badass 50k last Saturday and Lyndsey is injured), and even Jim slowed down to make sure we were all together. (Poor guy, I caught him doing butt-kickers for about a mile because we were running at least two minutes slower than he was used to running). I still averaged a 9:30 pace, which is very good for me at this time.

We had a few photo opps along the way:
John, Ron, and Joey goofing off

RIP. If you look at the bottom right, you will see that this is the resting place of Joey Phillips. Uh oh.

When we got back, the shenanigans started.

Joey is CLEARLY not deceased here. He seems to be making the donuts.

We all ate donuts. Some ate more than others. I'm looking at you, Bryan.

Post Run high. Just as the sugar hit me.

This isn't creepy at all.
I normally avoid donuts at all costs--I consider them poison--but I got sucked into the comraderie of the moment, and I ate an apple fritter and drank some good coffee. (Full disclosure here: I just edited the post because I originally typed "I HATE an apple fritter." That isn't Freudian at all.)

I'm so glad I got out for this run. Phillips Phlyers are really good people, and I sometimes forget that running can be communal as well as solitary.

Thank you, Phillips Phlyers, for including me.

Where are you Turkey Trotting, Peeps? I'll be at the Homerun for the Homeless.  I hope wherever you run, you run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

I Witnessed the BBA50K!

The Bills' Badass 50K is a legendary race that takes place in Peninsula starting from the Covered Bridge. Ever since I started trail running, I have heard people talk about its epic-ness: the weather, the stream crossings, the mud, the yelling of the RD.  I decided to volunteer at the aid station for this event, and I'm here to tell you that it is all true.

Here are the details of the race as I understand them:

It's free, but the racing community expects you to either donate your time to environmental cleanup or money to the cause. The causes this year were Edwin's Restaurant and Leadership Institute and the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership.

The race consists of 6 loops of hills, single track, and stream crossings. Runners check in after each loop. After the 6th loop, runners must ascend Candy Mountain where they will take a piece of candy out of the basket and bring it back to the finish line.

The goal is to finish the race, especially when the weather fights back. Those who do not finish the race are considered "candy-ass." They tend to take this label in stride and promise to complete the next year.

The race director, Wild Bill Wagner, carries a megaphone and likes to yell at people.

I showed up at 7:30 AM in horrible weather (cold, sleet, pouring rain, wind) to work the aid station. Thankfully, Wild Bill had set up a tent for the station, so I was protected from the elements. There was already a plentiful amount of food set out for the runners, and many participants brought in homemade and store bought food to share. We had tons of bacon (a trail runner staple), Subway sandwiches, pb and j sandwiches, pretzels, Pringles, M and Ms, salted potatoes, chicken soup. . . you name it; we served it up.

Do we have enough food? No?  There is lots more behind me in the tent!

I met my fellow volunteers, who were very kind.

Here we are in the red tent!
I had quite a few friends who ran this race, and I am amazed by their badassery. Here is a shot of the Burning River Goddesses (Nicole, Marta, and Jennifer) coming through after the first loop.


I stayed until 10:30 because I had to go home and wake up my kids. Wild Bill offered to yell at them over the phone, and in retrospect, I should have taken him up on it.

The weather got increasingly worse all day, so I am even more in awe of all runners of this race, even those who were "candy-ass," considering I didn't run a single mile that day, and I CERTAINLY didn't cross any swollen streams. Instead, I threw on every layer of clothing I had and tried to get warm for the rest of the day.

Will I run the BBA 50K one day? I don't know. The weather is a deal-breaker for me. Someday I intend to run a 50k, but I don't know if I want it to be this difficult. I do want to say that you will never find a more supportive community than these trail runners. Everyone was positive and encouraging and happy to be out there. I am honored to be a part of that family.  Even if I get yelled at.

Where did you run this week? Wherever it is, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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