Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Getting Over It

The Sunday of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon I ran in this:

This is EXACTLY how the race looked.
This past Sunday I ran in beautiful weather.  The sun was shining, but it wasn't too hot.  I even saw these guys who wanted to know what the heck Shelby and I were doing:

I couldn't get the shot I wanted, while both deer were less than 2 feet away.  Still, pretty cool!

I'm not bitter, though.  I'm not.

I am getting over my bronchitis, but I am still not 100%.  I've had a few runs, but I haven't pushed myself in running or lifting.  Tomorrow that may change.  Believe it or not, I miss my intervals and my tempo run.  I don't miss lifting.  Blech.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm not bitter and I don't miss lifting.

Also, because I'm old and stupid, I've forgotten which marathon book I had decided to buy, so I had to order them all at the library again so I can figure it out.  Marathon training starts soon, Peeps!

I have some more to write, but I need to process a little bit before I get to what I really want to write about this year.  May is a crazy month, what with the Cleveland race and the end of the school year.  I'm trying to get out of my head, but life isn't making it easy for me.

Is May this crazy for you?

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Race Recap: Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon

Subtitles: Hailmageddon!


I Am Cursed!

I have looked forward to the weekend of the Rite Aid Challenge Series for a year now.  Originally I signed up for the 8k/Half Marathon Challenge because I thought since I normally don't train well over the winter I wouldn't be trying for a speed goal in the half marathon.  Well. . . for the first time, I trained all through the winter.  Yep, 400s, 800s, tempo runs, long runs, easy runs; you name it--I did it. I started thinking, "Damn.  I could PR this race.  This might be the sub-two hour half I've been pursuing for two years."  Then I realized that I had signed up for the 8k also, and it started messing with my head.  Because nothing can ever be simple for me.

I had carefully planned the whole weekend to revolve around the race activities, and I watched all of those plans fall apart, one by one: My babysitter became unavailable.  My daughter had a music competition at the same time as the reception on Friday night.  My husband told me he would stay home to watch my son Friday night, but he is a chef of two restaurants, so seriously?  I knew that wasn't going to happen.

And then the weather.

I ended up taking my son to the expo and the VIP reception.  He had a fun time at the expo, and then he parked himself with a plate of food (consisting mostly of chocolate cake bigger than my head) and his DS while I took selfies with the other Ambassadors.

There I am!  Official Ambassador!

Ben and I are framed at the Expo.

It was a Care Bear Chair.  Why?  I dunno.

Melissa was spreading goodwill everywhere.

My date.  So dreamy.

What is wrong with this picture?  Andrew has a beer in his hand, and I have. . . nothing.

The following photo may be the best one of the VIP Reception:

This happened while I was taking selfies.
 Of course, we did have to take our Ambassador group picture:

Damn--we are a fine-looking bunch!

Now, I look happy and everything here, but I was really a bundle of nerves.  That 8k on Saturday was really working me, and I was toying with the idea of dumping it so I could save myself for a sub-2 half.  The weather predictions weren't helping much either.

As I drove home, I felt a tickle in my throat that quickly turned to a tightening in my chest, and I knew I wasn't running the 8k on Saturday.  Yep.  Bronchitis.  Geez o Pete.  I haven't had bronchitis in about 20 freaking years.  Why now?  BECAUSE IT'S ME!!!  DON'T YOU GET IT????

It was full blown by Saturday morning, but I wasn't going to let bronchitis stop me.  As I drove to the race on Sunday morning (in a rainstorm), I could only laugh.  That's all you got, Mother Nature?  I can PR in this.  (I should have NEVER mocked Mother Nature, by the way.  Such a rookie move.)  When I pulled in the parking deck, it took everything I had in me to get out of the car and walk to the starting line.  This is the pre-race selfie I posted on Instagram, complete with the original caption:
Must get out of the car.  Get out of the car.  GET OUT OF THE FREAKING CAR!!!

 I walked to the starting line with Andrew, who asked me if I felt ok.  "No," I responded, "but I'm going to make this race my bitch anyway."  We took a starting line picture:

I am smiling, but I am not happy.
Normally my biggest problem in a race is hubris. I shoot out of the gate, and I go too fast in the first six miles, when I feel awesome.  This time I wore a wristband with my paces on it, and I was determined to stick with it.  Since my beginning pace was about 15 seconds per mile slower than what I'm usually comfortable with, I thought I would really enjoy the race.  When I realized I couldn't catch my breath enough to stick even at that pace comfortably, I knew I had problems.

Somewhere around the second hailstorm (there were four when I was out there), as pea-sized bits of ice pocked my cheeks (Jesus!  Am I bleeding?), I realized that I would NEVER enjoy this race.  At mile 6 my goal became survival.  Keep going, Stephani, (I thought)because you are going to freaking DIE out here, and nobody will find you because you will be covered in snow. SNOW.  20+ mph gusts of wind.  Rain.  Lightning. Hail.  WTF.

The two big hills I dreaded starting at mile 10 never came, and that's how I realized the course was a lot different. I was so relieved not to climb in the last three miles, but the real relief came when I finished.  I looked for fellow-Ambassador Andrew's wife, who was giving out medals, and I managed to make her drop her medals.  Sorry about that.  I took my stuff and walked directly to the parking garage where I stripped down in front of God and everybody and put on some warm, dry clothes.  No beer.  No pictures.  I didn't look for anyone I knew; I just wanted to get some feeling back into my body.

I walked to the VIP brunch where I wrapped my shaking hands around a cup of coffee until I could stop shaking enough to get some food. Luckily for me, Mr. Jack Staph (Executive Race Director), and Mr. Ralph Staph (Race Director) sat at my table with their group, so I had the privilege of eavesdropping.  I have to say that I am so impressed with how calm they were while constantly evaluating the situation through walkie talkies and telephones.  Where is the last runner?  Who is it?  Is she ok?  What is her predicted time?  Who is injured?  Hypothermia?  Fluids ok on the course?

At one point I choked on my coffee when Jack casually said, "Hey Ralph, how are those waterspouts doing?  Are they breaking up yet?"

Seriously, Cleveland?  WATERSPOUTS????  Buffy the Vampire Slayer always said that there was a Hellmouth in Cleveland, and it looked like it opened up on race day.

When I got home, I drained all the hot water during my shower and crawled into bed.  As I closed the door to the bedroom, my son said, "Hey, what about lunch?"

"Good luck with that," I replied and locked the door.

My husband can be very intuitive sometimes, and somehow he figured out that I wouldn't be cooking dinner that night, so he took us all out for steak and wine.  Lots of wine.
I am finally warm here.
Notice how I didn't tell you whether I met my goal?  I DIDN'T.  I did 2:07:29, which is very far from my goal. In my initial Facebook post, I blamed myself and I said I just didn't have it in me, but a trip to the Urgent Care (complete with antibiotics) later showed me that I really was sick, and I am allowed to blame it on that.  When you spend all your energy trying to breathe, it's difficult to focus on pace.

So, I didn't make my goal, but it was a course PR for me.  I'm proud that I was badass enough to run in the weathersuck that was the 2016 Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon.  As my fellow-Ambassador Andrew said, this is the #mostclevelandraceever.

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Sunday, May 8, 2016

I'm Handling It (The Taper). I Am.

As many of you know, "tapering" is when an athlete cuts down on workouts in both length and intensity to recover and prepare for an event.  Usually I pretend to taper before a race, but I don't really do it.  This year, because I have been actually training for the 8k/Half Marathon Challenge, I thought I should do it up right.  I decided to cut down the mileage by about 1/3 and replace my intervals with a slow and easy run.

It figures that the week in which I cut down on mileage and intensity is an incredibly stressful week.  Of course.

This is EXACTLY how I look on the outside when I am stressed out. 

I often joke that there is no problem that food and booze can't cure, but runners know this isn't true.  I NEED running.  I NEED intensity.  When I get restless, I want to hurt people.

This is EXACTLY how I look on the inside when I'm stressed out.

  It's difficult to take part in a two-hour meeting knowing that there will be no run to shake off the negative vibes.  It's difficult to shelter students from an irate parent in the parking lot who has just pulled a gun (true story--my Friday) and then come home to. . .no run.

Yoga just doesn't take care of that.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm de-stressing after school.  I look great with blonde hair, eh?
One thing I have done to take off some of the pressure is to stop logging my calories in My Fitness Pal.  I am a wee bit obsessive about it, and because I live to eat, it would be too difficult for me to think about those calories that I'm just not taking care of as efficiently as I could with running.  I'm still trying to make good food choices, and I'm still counting in my head, but I am also telling myself that there is only so much I can handle during this time.  I weighed myself once, and I've dropped two pounds, but that could be water weight.  I'll probably start logging calories again after the half marathon.

Today I ran with Shelby; we did nine miles in the sun on the Towpath.  Running with a friend is the BEST way to handle a taper.  I am able to bitch and moan to Shelby about everything going on, and she knows the best way to pretend to listen to me.  I love you, Shelby.

I'm going to end today with my traditional Mother's Day video.  A word of warning: If you are offended by Mike Polk or the word MILF, well, why are you reading my blog?  Anyway, DON'T click on this if you are sensitive.  It's hilarious and you might not be able to handle it.

Happy Mother's Day to all my Mother Peeps.  We are all MILFS to somebody.

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Join me at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, Peeps!  Click here to register or volunteer.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Taper Begins. . .NOW!

This Sunday I ran my 12 miles before taper.  It was incredibly humid, like running though a jungle, but Heather and I got through it just fine.  We even kicked it up a notch in the last mile, mostly because I was so sick of running by then, and I just wanted to be done.

There were plenty of geese on the Towpath, and they were defending their goslings, so they were mean and scary.  I hate when geese hiss at you.  Freaking snakes with wings.

This is EXACTLY how those geese looked.
We saw plenty of turtles sunning themselves on logs in the river:

Look!  It's the Towpath Turtles! (See what I did there?)
I've been feeling a little soreness around the knees lately, so I pulled out the foam roller and HOLY GOD ALMIGHTY did that hurt like the bejesus!  I felt so much better afterward, though. I've got to bring that foam roller back into play more often.

This starts two weeks of tapering for me.  For those of you who don't know what tapering is, basically you cut down on your mileage in order to rest and recover before a race.  Most runners don't handle tapering very well; they feel antsy, and they want to hurt people.  Not me, though.  I'm cool as a cucumber. Really.  I'll be fine.  I will.

Wanna find out if the taper works out for me?  Join me in running (or volunteering) at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon in two weeks. I'd love to see you there!  I promise I won't bite.  Much.

Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Short and Sweet

We've got three weeks until the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, Peeps!  How is your training?

I've had a busy, busy weekend, and with two essays in the bag and one to go for grad school (due by Wednesday--gulp!), I'm gonna make this short and sweet.

1.  Friday I taught for a half day and then spent the afternoon as part of the entourage for Becky Higgins, President of the Ohio Education Association.  I took pictures and tweeted and Facebooked all afternoon.  If I were capable of using my thumbs on my phone, they would have been quite sore.  Luckily, I use my index finger for everything.  That's right: one. character. at. a. time.  What?

2.  Saturday was my daughter's confirmation.  It is the first time in a long time that she wore a dress and makeup instead of a Supernatural hoodie and combat boots.  I hardly recognized her.  PLUS, the heavens didn't rain down fire upon us as she received the bishop's blessing.  Maybe she isn't possessed after all.  hmmm.

3.  Sunday was my son's birthday.  He is nine, and he is still a stinker.  We spoiled him rotten, and in return, he spiked a fever.  Now he's home from school.  sigh.

4.  Sunday morning I ran 12 miles with Shelby.  The weather was gorgeous.  My company was fabulous.  What happens on the long run stays on the long run, but I will share this: my last mile was at a 9:03.  I owe it all to this fabulous woman:

Shelby and I took a selfie in Giant Eagle while looking for protein shakes.  We got a few looks. Of envy.
I've got one more long run next Sunday, and then I'm going to attempt to taper.  Hmmm. . .The taper is something I'm not good at, but I intend to run my best at the 8k on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday, so recovery is very important.

Will you join me either by registering to run or to volunteer?  Tell me I'll see you there.

Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Medina Half Marathon Test Run

Today I ran 10 miles of the Medina Half Marathon course.  The sun was shining; the temps were perfect.  Heather and I had time for a pre-run selfie:

While we are still happy and refreshed.

 We also took a picture with the whole group:

The dark side of the gazebo.  Can you see me?  NOOO???

Heather and I both share the same problem: we go out too fast.  I told her that I am trying to mend my ways, and I'm trying to keep a deliberately slow pace on the long runs. She listened and totally agreed with me. . .and we still ran the first three miles at a 9:30 pace and under.  It's difficult to see a bunch of people pass you and let them go, especially when you know you CAN HANG WITH THESE RUNNERS.  Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD.

In mile 4, we caught up with a gentleman named Dick who said he'd like to stick with our pace.  As we ran, he told us his story: Dick started running when he was 69 because his wife thought it would be a nice thing to do with their kids and grandkids.  They all raced together for Dick and his wife's fiftieth (!!!!) wedding anniversary, and then she decided she didn't need to run anymore.  Dick isn't finished.  He is 73, and he is going strong! When I grow up, I want to be like Dick.

Heather and Dick post-run stretch at the Square

Dick is a great example of how running can keep you strong physically and mentally.  That man looks so much younger than his years, and he kept right with us the whole time.  Thanks for talking to us today, Dick.  You inspire us.

All in all, this was a great run.  Heather and I had great conversation, and it was easy to run with her.  All long runs should be so easy!

Pretty soon I'll be tapering for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Race Series.  I'm running the 8k on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday.  Will you join me by clicking here to register or volunteer?  I'm looking forward to seeing you!

Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Monday, April 11, 2016

And the Winner Is. . .

Thanks so much for your comments on the blog and on Twitter this week, Peeps!  I'm so grateful to you for reading my posts each week and following me on my journey, and I'm so grateful to the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon for allowing me to be a Cleveland Marathon Ambassador.  Check further in the post for the winner of this week's giveaway.

After a lot of thought about what happened to me at the race last week, I decided that I was just going to monitor my situation. . . literally.  I poured through pages of data from my heart monitor to find the last time I had a similar episode, and I realized that it was in the middle of a trail run and I was lacking fuel. I think that this time I went out way too fast, and that is what triggered my reaction.  I am going to wear the heart rate monitor for my next race, which is probably going to be the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 8k.  If all goes well, I'm good to go for the half marathon the next day.

Looking forward to that 13.1!

Today I went running with Mandy.  We did the Covered Bridge Loop in the Valley.  It was soooo cold, but I really enjoyed the run.  Mandy is coming back from shin splints, so we took it nice and easy.  The route has a few hills in the middle miles, and then it is nice and flat.  In the middle of it, we encountered the Mother Runners, who were doing 40k or something crazy like that.

I call this shot "Oh, Mandy." 

Mandy finished after eight miles, and I kept going for two more.  Ten miles really makes it a good day for me.

Tonight my family is taking me out for dinner for my birthday (which is on Tuesday), and they are being extra nice to me.  I figure I can milk this for about a week since we can't actually celebrate on my birthday.  What did my husband get me?  Stay tuned to find out.

Well, here it is, the great reveal.  The winner of one race entry for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon is

Nina D!

Congratulations, Nina!  I will contact you through email, and when you respond I will send you the entry code.

Didn't get lucky this week?  No worry, there is still one more week left in Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Giveaway.  Check here for the list of Ambassadors.  Of course, you still have plenty of time to register for your favorite race, OR you can click here to share in the fun by volunteering.

Join me, Peeps!  I'm looking to have tons of fun!  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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