Sunday, January 15, 2017

Training for What?

Welcome back to the blog, Peeps!  Before I get started, I'd like to announce the winner of the giveaway for Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Jill's book:

Rafflecopter chose Jen R. to receive Jill's awesome book!  Congratulations, Jen; I know you will love it. For those of you who are interested in purchasing Jill's book, and I HIGHLY recommend that you do, click here to buy it from Amazon, or check out Jill's signing at Mahall's (13200 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, Ohio 44107) on January 21, 2017 from 1:30-3:30.  Come meet Jill and have her sign your book; you'll have a great time, a fun new book, and a new friend.

We are halfway through January, and it's time I got my act together and started thinking about goals.  I had a nice little break when I was recovering from surgery (I'll write about that next week), but now I have to get my butt in gear.  And OH BOY HOWDY do I have a butt now.  I have gained ten pounds since I finished running the Akron Marathon, and eight of those pounds are absolutely non-negotiable. I know how I did it, too; I stuffed ALL THE FOOD into my pie hole.  Shame on me.

Luckily, I know what to do about that; get back on the horse (or on the road or trail). I've got to start watching my calories again and making some hard choices about what I put into my mouth.  I'm a stress-eater, and I'm a non-stress-eater; really, I just like food.  I need to remember what it feels like to have some discipline.  To start, I'm looking at my calendar.

One thing that helps me with discipline is my racing goals.  To that end, I have signed up for five races already this year. I'm betting you can guess one of them:

I'm so pleased and honored to be an Ambassador for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon this year. I love this race, and I love my fellow ambassadors. Check out their social media accounts here. I haven't decided what I'm running for this race series, but I promise I will let you know when I figure it out.

I'm also running the Pro Football Hall of Fame Half Marathon, the Medina Half Marathon, a sixteen-mile leg of the Burning River 100-mile Relay, and the Akron Marathon.

Do you think this will be the motivation I need? Of course, I also have some of the best motivation in the world: my friends.

Joy, Shelby, and I made a pact to do our long runs together. We started today.
What are your goals this year, Peeps?  Until then, run happy!

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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Giveaway: Running with Police Escort

My friend Jill is all that, Peeps.  She has a fascinating life: former prison librarian, current Overdrive librarian, podcast host, blogger at Year of the Phoenix, and Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador. She is also a recently-published author!

This is a book you want to read, Peeps!
I've read and enjoyed Jill's book; let me tell you why:

1. Jill loves Cleveland, and she lives in Cleveland. I love her anecdotes about neighborhoods and the races there.

2. I am a middle-of-the-pack runner on my best day, but I know what it's like to finish at the back of the pack. . .or at least I thought I did.  Jill has great perspective on what it's like to finish with the "sweep car." Many races have a police car following the last runner, and that is the origin of the title of the book.  Because Jill is such a positive person, she chooses to call finishing in the back "running with a police escort."  What a great attitude! I have a lot to learn about finishing with a great attitude.

3. Dr. Who references.  'Nuff said.

4. Even if you have never run in your life, Jill has something to teach you. We all have moments of doubt. We all have moments of struggle. As someone who has Impostor's Syndrome (Click on the link since I know you're too busy to research it yourself), I found Jill's stories about her self-image very inspiring.

In short, I can't say enough good things about this book, Peeps. Do you want to identify with struggle? Do you want to feel good? Do you want to laugh?  This book is for you.

This is proof that I am friends with Jill. 2016 VIP reception for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. Melissa, Me, Jill.

Let's get to it, Peeps.  I want you to read this book, so much that I am willing to give one away to a lucky reader.  Who will it be? Enter the rafflecopter, where I will randomly choose a winner to receive a free copy of Jill's book. Don't feel lucky in lotteries? You can click here to buy Jill's book on Amazon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, December 30, 2016

Payday 2016

It's payday, Peeps!

Not my work-payday (although it is actually my work payday), what I mean is that today is the day I pay myself for all the miles and races I ran. I started this about three years ago when I got the idea from another blogger, and I think it's a big motivation for me.  How does it work?

First, I take the total number of miles run this year (tracked on Daily Mile): 1379. Not too shabby, huh? My goal was 1500, but I had to stop running early this year due to some minor surgery last week.  Nevertheless, I'll take it.

Next, I subtract the number of racing miles I ran this year: 122.

1379-122= 1157

Ok, I decided this year to pay myself $.50/mile for non racing miles and $1.00 per mile for racing miles.  I also award myself $5.00 for each PR, and this year I had four of them.

Here is what I have so far:

Non-racing miles: 1157 x .50 = $578.50

Racing miles = $122

PRs: $20


$578.50 + $122 + $20 = $720.50

Seems like lot, right?  But wait!  I have to SUBTRACT racing fees.  Uh oh.

Racing fees: $475 (This is an estimate.  I should have kept a spreadsheet, but I AM AN ENGLISH TEACHER, NOT A MATH PERSON. STOP JUDGING ME!)

$720.50 - $475 = $245.50


What will I do with this money?  I have a special savings account that I keep for this purpose.  That money will fund my eventual running of the Paris Marathon!  Oui, oui, bebe!

This is EXACTLY how I will look in Paris!
If you are like me, and you need a boost that goes beyond kicking your own ass all the time, you might try paying yourself for your fitness.  Yes, I realize that you are paying yourself WITH YOUR OWN MONEY (as my brother helpfully pointed out to me as if I am an idiot-child), but again, if you are like me, you probably wouldn't put aside that amount of money for yourself without a good reason. Parents give their time, their money, and their energies to their families, but they rarely give to themselves without some prodding.  Consider me your cattle prod, Peeps (ummm. . .that doesn't sound right).

YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN: you have my permission to reward yourself for taking care of you.  Find something you like: clothing, an outing with a friend, a luxury item, and work towards that goal. It helps on the days you don't want to get out of bed at 4:30 AM to do a tempo run. Well, usually it does.

Well, it has been a hell of a year.  I've accomplished so many running goals: Ragnar Trail Ultra, Burning River Relay, MY FIRST MARATHON (Akron Marathon).

I've run in hail, rain, sleet, snow, sunshine, and waterspouts, all in the same race (Cleveland Half Marathon). I've made new friends and kept the old (Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors).

It has been a great running year for me, and I am setting my sights high for 2017.  Stay in touch to read about my future goals (as soon as I can figure them out).  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @itibrout!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Hinckley Trails

Sometimes you just gotta shake up the ol' routine, Peeps.  That is why this Sunday I tried something different: I ran a trail I didn't know with a group of people I didn't know.

I thought I was joining a Mother Runners trail run, but it turned out to be a mishmash of Medina runners (say that five times fast), most of whom I recognized from lurking on various running sites.  I was a bit intimidated at first because Medina Road Runners are super-speedy, but the leaders of the pack were very kind about slowing down and waiting for the rest of us to catch up.

The trails were beautiful, especially with the snow coming down.  They were difficult in some places, too.  One mile of very technical climbing, which included my choice to scoot down an incline on my ass.

This was steeper than it looks.

Runners waiting at the bottom.

I got a lot of bang for my buck here.  In 7.71 miles I experienced the following fun: a stream crossing (nothing like getting your feet wet in feels-like-10-degree weather), a huge hill that I made my bitch, climbing down from Whipp's Ledges, scooting on my butt for part of it, nice running companions, beautiful scenery around Hinckley lake, and this suprise bonus:

I found a decorated Christmas tree on the trail!

It's always good to step outside your comfort zone, Peeps.  It's important to me to try new things, but mostly it's important to me to expand my world a little bit.  I tend to get grouchier and more set in my ways as I get older. What?  STOP LAUGHING.   It's good to listen to others and try to be nice once in a while.  I hope I can run with my new friends sometime soon!

How will you step outside your comfort zone, Peeps?

Whatever you do, I hope you run happy!

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Tryptophan Run

Last Sunday I ran off some Thanksgiving weekend irresponsible eating.  The Tryptophan Run, sponsored by Vertical Runner Hudson, is held the Sunday after Thanksgiving every year in Hudson.  The weather was perfect--not too cold and a bit sunny.

The Tryptophan works like this: There are three routes you can run in any combination during the two-hour run.  You drop a ticket with your name in a bucket for each mile of your run.  At the end of the run there is a drawing for cool prizes--t shirts, shoes, and race entries.  I didn't win anything, but I sure had fun.

My first fun surprise was my reunion with Joy, with whom I haven't run since our Ragnar Trail Appalachians race.  She messaged me the night before and said she was coming with me.  Yay! Here are some pictures of our running history in case you've forgotten:

We ran with Jen, and I was so happy because I haven't run with her in forever either.

Jen and I are at the Natatorium 5k here.

My second fun surprise was a playground on one of the routes.  We climbed up a cool rock wall and went down the slides:

Joy didn't get the memo that you aren't supposed to land on your dupa.

It was great to run nine miles with my peeps:

And I really appreciate the generosity of the businesses and race directors in our running community:

This is Jim Chaney, Race Director for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon, Half-Marathon, and Relay.  He was offering STEEP discounts plus giveaway entries at the Tryptophan.  Check out this race, Peeps!  The swag is amazing and the event is a good time.

Seriously, Peeps, think about the local business owners when you do your holiday shopping this year.  Our money goes to people who in return support our community. I can't think of a better way to make a direct difference in our local economy.

I'll leave you with one last picture from my run this Sunday with Shelby and Mandy.  We ran on the Towpath, and we had a great conversation.

Post-run.  10 miles for me

The weather is starting to get cold, and I figure I have maybe one good long run left before I have to take a short hiatus for some minor surgery.  I'm sure you are eagerly anticipating how crabby I will be when I'm not running, since you remember how gracefully I waited out my broken foot a few years ago.   Get those runs in now while we aren't freezing our butts off.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Friday, November 25, 2016

2016 Home Run for the Homeless

This post is subtitled "I've Got Issues."

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, Peeps!  I'm thankful for all of you who have followed my misadventures in running and fitness.  Stay tuned for more of my foolishness:

Thanksgiving morning is always the traditional Home Run for the Homeless. This is a 4-mile race that benefits Gennesaret, an organization that helps homeless people get into apartments and homes.  They have one fundraiser a year, and this is it.  For only 20 dollars, you run a cool-looking course that goes partially through West Akron and then through the Glendale Cemetery. Plus, you get gloves.  And muffins.  And donuts. The cemetery is awesome because it is very hilly and has lots of old mausoleums, which reminds me of Pere-Lachaise Cimetiere in Paris (burial place of Jim Morrison, among other legends).

I didn't intend to really race the Home Run.  I have a problem with my Achilles Tendon on my left foot.  It has been pretty painful for a few weeks, and though I can tell it's getting better (the exercises are working), it still hurts in the first 1/2 mile of any run, and I don't want to permanently jack it up.  This is why when my son asked me how long I'd be running, I said, "About 36 minutes."  I figured 9:00/mile would be respectable but easy to maintain, even on the hills. After all, my tempo runs are faster than that, and last year I ran the Home Run in 33:48.  No sweat, I thought.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm thinking about the blueberry muffin that awaits me at the finish.

This is a pretty big race, so the start was packed.  I managed to squeeze into the corral on the street.  I had spent a good half an hour rotating my ankle and stretching it, but I didn't run a warmup, which I absolutely should have done.  No matter, I thought.  I'll take it easy in the first mile; after all, I'm not here to PR.

The first mile was 9:00, and then all hell broke loose.  My chest tightened up, and my arms got incredibly weak. I could feel the weakness/looseness pass down my body to my legs, which got very wobbly.  Then I started to gasp.  These are the same symptoms I've had several times before, twice during races and at least four times on various runs.  I knew what I had to do: switch to walk/run.  I did this for the next two miles, walking 1/4 mile and then running 1/4-1/2 mile, depending on the terrain and how I felt.  I felt awful until I didn't, which was at 3.5 miles, and by then it was too late as the finish line came up at 3.85.

I have lots of theories about why this happens to me once in a while:

1.  I am doing something stupid regarding fuel or warmups (or lack of warmups). I just wish I could figure that out because each time it has happened, it has been under different circumstances.

2.  I am under a lot of stress, and stress can really jack you up.  Now, to be fair, I am VERY high-strung and Type-A.  Stress is my middle name.  These past two years though have been incredibly difficult for me, and these past four months have arguably been the most stressful of my life. Look at the proof:

This is EXACTLY how I looked the day after the elections.  I was trying to get my act together to teach my first period class. Instead I burst into tears and then took a selfie to see the humor in the situation.  Somehow it doesn't look funny, even today.

This is EXACTLY how I looked on Halloween.  I was dressed as Carrie's crazy mom, but I think I was too convincing.

These are the flowers I bought for my grandfather's funeral.  Yes, ANOTHER family member just died.  I'm starting to suspect that I am the problem.

Anyway, these are just small glimpses into my life. I have had a few more personal challenges in the past month, and it has become very difficult to pretend that I have no worries, which is usually my MO.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I try to stay positive.

I'm starting to think that running away from trouble isn't as much of a solution for me as it used to be. 

Back to theories:

3.  This is the one that worries my mom the most: 

My father had two heart attacks, a quadruple bypass, and a heart transplant before he died a year and a half ago.  Most of these problems were due to a heart murmur and an enlarged aortic valve.  His lifestyle (diet, lack of exercise, etc.) exacerbated the problems in a major way.  I think that the stress in my life has possibly triggered an underlying heart problem that I may have inherited from my father.  I don't even know if this is possible, and I've never had a doctor detect a problem with my heart, but I never specifically asked about it either.  I guess it's about time that I did.

Anyway, I intend to follow up on all of this by this spring, when I will have recovered from some minor surgery in December.  

Back to the race: 

The Home Run for the Homeless is really such an excellent race.  I love the course.  I love the muffins.  I love the gloves.  I love the volunteers who gave up their Thanksgiving morning to shiver in the cold. Most of all I love that I was able to do something for someone else and still have fun.  Thank you, Gennesaret.

Sunday is the Tryptophan Run in Hudson, and I intend to be there, and I DON'T intend to collapse that day.  Until then, Run Happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Race Recap: Second Sole Made in America Half Marathon

I learned something about myself today.  I learned that I am full of crap.  Literally and figuratively.

Ready to hear about this?

Andrew (Andrew Runs A Lot), my friend and fellow Cleveland Marathon Ambassador, has been bugging his friends to sign up for the Second Sole Made in America Half Marathon.  I usually ignore Andrew because: dumb kid, but I had three other friends (Kirstie, Kevin, and Mandy) who were running that race.  I believe that I need to always try new things, and the race was cheap, so I signed up.

If you read last week's post, you know that I was going to decide during the race if I'd be running it or racing it.  Everyone said that the first four miles (the road part of the race) would be very hilly, but then the rest of the race would be on the Towpath, so flat. I thought that I'd decide how to attack the race after I left the road, where I'd be running conservatively.  This is a new tactic for me; I am not usually a negative split runner.  More on this later.

If you read my blog, you will recognize that I often brag write that I have a very strong stomach; I take pride in the fact that I can fuel on anything.  I often say that I'd love to find a way to fuel on burritos.  Whatever.

Who wouldn't want to fuel for a marathon on this???
Because I was ambivalent about today's race, I didn't really prepare for it the night before as I normally would.  Now, I've eaten (and drunk) some weird things before a race, and it has never been a problem for me.  I once fueled the Perfect 10 Miler on fried cheese and beer for dinner the night before.  No joke.  I PR'd, too.  So, when I ordered pizza the night before and ate it with salad and some red wine, I didn't think twice.

This morning I ate my usual bagel with cream cheese, but I did something different (a NO NO, as every runner knows): I used Pumpkin Spice creamer in my coffee instead of my regular Peppermint Mocha.  It was made by the same company, though, and let's not kid ourselves; all creamer is just harmful chemicals designed to give us cancer or turn us into zombies.  So, I didn't think about the number 1 racing rule: NEVER do something different for a race.  Another bad thing: when I opened the bottle (brand new, bought yesterday), there was no seal.  For some reason I shrugged this off and poured the creamer anyway.

I spent some quality time, more than usual, in the bathroom this morning, and that should have been my first warning, but it wasn't.   Why?  Because I'm not that smart.

I arrived in Massillon at 7:30, half an hour before the race.  Peeps, there were only FOUR port o potties there.  That is it.  There was a line a mile long just to get there.  I had driven half an hour to the race, so of course I had to use the bathroom.  It was nerve-wracking to wait in line up until the last second before the race.  I didn't get to meet up with any of my friends, and I was nervous the whole time.  Parking and bathroom issues are two deal breakers for me in a race, and this race had already failed with the bathroom. This automatically means that I won't run it again.  Sorry, Second Sole.  I love you dearly, but you failed.

The race started, and I took off,  making sure to hold back.  I know that I always get carried away in the first few miles of a race, so I made myself start in the back of the pack and run more slowly.  I was just over a 2-hour half marathon pace, and I knew that I could make that up later on flat ground.  The hills weren't really hills; b*tch, I'm from Akron.  They were gentle, rolling inclines, and I liked them a lot.

At 4.5 miles, I started thinking that I could PR this bad boy.  I popped a GU, and then all hell broke loose.  My legs immediately got weak, I started feeling cold, and I couldn't catch my breath.  "Son of a bitch," I thought, "it's the stupid heart palpitations again." I knew what to do, and I switched to run/walking.  I ran for a 1/4 mile and then walked for a minute.  Normally this does the trick, but this time it didn't.  I started worrying after a mile.  "What is wrong with me?" I thought.  Walking always gets me out of this, and it usually only takes a few minutes. I started thinking of a way to get out of the race because I couldn't see walking for the rest of the race. The problem is that this is a VERY small race; there were no volunteers or sweepers or medics to help me, so, I had to keep going.

At mile 7.5, I saw a lone port o potty by the side of the Towpath, and all of a sudden I KNEW what my problem was. The pain, weakness, shortness of breath?  It was stomach cramps, dammit.   I had to stand in line to use the potty, and while I did, I texted Andrew:

Me: Don't wait for me.  I may not finish.

I didn't want to sound dramatic, but I honestly was looking for a way to DNF.  The port o potty was absolutely disgusting, so while I was losing my sh*t (literally) in there, I was trying not to throw up, too.  Meanwhile, my stomach had incredible cramps.  And there was no sanitizer, so I looked forward to trying not to touch my face for the rest of the race.  You try not touching your face for over an hour.

I immediately felt better after the port o potty, and I was relieved that the problem was not heart-related, so I started reflecting on my eating/drinking choices during the past two days.  I spent a good two miles wondering if someone tampered with the creamer and I was going to die in the next copycat Tylenol scandal.  Then I remembered the pizza. Of course.  That was it.

I managed to pass most of the people who had passed me while I was walking or at the port o potty, and for this I'm thankful; however, I never did recover my half marathon pace.  I still had twitches of stomach cramps for the rest of the race.

As I approached the chute, I was disgusted with myself.  I saw Andrew, and he said, "Hurry up; I need a beer," so I managed to sprint to the end.  At least I did that.  Andrew had PR'd, which is awesome, so we had a beer and some rice chips together.

Budweiser: Made in America
After Andrew left, I talked to Kevin, Kirstie, and Mandy.
 Here we are in the corral before the race.

  I told Kevin about my stomach issues and that I attributed it to pizza I had ordered.  It turns out that Kevin and Kirstie had also ordered pizza from the same place, and he was having stomach issues, too.  And there you go.  It was the damned pizza.  And my stomach is not as strong as I claim it to be.

I've learned that I need to think more carefully about how I fuel before a race.  I've learned that I can make last minute decisions on racing ONLY if I treat my routine as if I will race.  I've learned that I'm old and I can't "gut" out everything, especially greasy pizza.

As for the race, here are my thoughts:

Parking: Great
Support: Almost nonexistent.  You'd better be ok with running for yourself.
Food: Meh.  Rice chips and beer.  Coupon for 6 inch sub at Subway (which I didn't use) is a bonus.
Band at end: Awesome.
Bathroom access: Terrible

Will I run this race again?  Hard to say.  There are so many races out there; I don't know if I want to repeat this one.  I liked the course a lot; the finish is super-strong. As I wrote before, though, lack of bathrooms is a non starter for me, and I heard a lot of people saying the same thing while waiting in line.

My last race of the year is the Gennesaret Home Run for the Homeless on Thanksgiving Day.  Will you join me? Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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