Sunday, December 21, 2014

Running while Sick, but not Sick of Running

I should have known it would not work out for me when I spent the night tossing my cookies; however, I thought that if I got rid of all the nastiness, I would be fine in the morning.  I had to be; I had three exams to proctor and grade that day.  Just one hour of sleep would set me right. . . What a joke.

When I collapsed in the shower, pulled a bathrobe over my aching, shivering body, and dragged myself (combat style, elbows and knees) into my closet to lay there until the house stopped spinning, it was THEN I realized that it would not be a good day.

Meanwhile, my husband snoozed soundly in the next room, oblivious to my zombie-like moans.

This is EXACTLY how I administered my three exams.  No, I did not drive myself to and from school.  I infected my friends' cars, thank you very much.


Moral of the story:  Get your flu shot, Peeps.  I took care of everyone in my family EXCEPT MYSELF.  Isn't that always the case?  Also, wash your hands.  And don't touch anything I touched.

This morning I was a little nervous about running, as I hadn't quite sorted out the stomach part of the flu, although the fever, headaches, and shakes are gone.  I had scheduled in a 20k for a virtual race, called She Believed She Could.  Great idea, right?  Only if you aren't worshipping the porcelain god.

I didn't order a bib or medal, but I ran with women who did, and WOW--What a medal!



Jennifer models the medal.

Heather models the medal--which is almost as big as she is!
I ate my usual pre-run breakfast:  Panera bagel (French toast) with cream cheese, coffee with Thin Mint creamer, lots of water.  I drove to the start of the race, wondering if I would make it more than a few miles.

The good news is that I did one 10k loop with minimal discomfort.  I took it very easy, and I spent the time looking at the houses in Cuyahoga Falls, thinking about my breathing, and reflecting on my first semester.  It was very peaceful.

Speaking of houses, you HAVE to check out the row of haciendas on Chestnut Avenue.  Who decides to plunk down a bunch of adobe houses in the middle of Cuyahoga Falls?   I LOVE THEM!


I couldn't find any pictures that looked like the houses, so here is a picture of Zorro.  What?
I decided to go out strong, so even though I REALLY WANTED to run the 20k, I quit after 10k.  I think since my injury, I've learned that I have to take care of my body if I want to be strong and healthy.  Sometimes this means that I have to back off instead of pushing myself.  Recovery time is important, and I'm glad I didn't try for more.

Here are the lovely women who ran with me today.  They were fabulous!

She Believed She Could Run. . .

Myrna did the 20k.  What a badass!
Thanks to the women for a fun morning, and thanks to Craig and Kevin, who supported the run with water stops and marking times.

One last thing:  today I hit my yearly mileage goal!  1,000 miles!  I'm so happy!

Last Run

6.17 mi
01:08 /10:57 pace
Ran with a virtual race (no bib--I didn't sign up). I took it easy because I didn't know if my stomach could handle running after the fl... posted 7 hours ago
Week Miles
10 mi
2014 Miles
1000 mi
Total Miles
1645 mi

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

What Got Me Started

On Thursday morning I did 45 minutes of  a Tae Bo DVD I had bought about eight years ago.  I was amazed at how good it made me feel--especially in the core area.  As I punched, kicked, and jumped, I asked myself why I haven't been doing more Tae Bo lately. . .and I didn't have an answer.

Oh, Billy, I can't quit you.

I remember clearly the day I called the number from the Tae Bo infomercial.  I had decided that enough was enough.  I was tired of being fat and inactive, and I was tired of fooling myself into believing that I "wasn't that big."  The day my new tapes arrived (yes, they were VHS), I sat down with the first video and a bag of fat-free potato chips and watched it.  On the couch.  No movement, except to put the chip to my mouth.  That's how pathetic I was.

But.

I had paid for these tapes, so I intended to use them, and I did.  Everyday.  At first I thought I would die during thirty minutes of exercise, but gradually I was able to increase my fitness and my skills.  Eventually, through exercise and tracking my food choices, I lost about forty pounds.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I do Tae Bo after losing about forty pounds.
Tae Bo was a gateway drug for me.  I moved on to other challenges:  biking, walking, Bhangra dancing.  I loved all of it, but what I really wanted to do was run.

For nine years, I watched runners on the Blue Line run by my house for the Akron Marathon.  Eventually I had two children, and together we would cheer on the runners going by our house.  Each time a runner passed, and there were SO MANY runners, I was envious.  I wanted to be that strong person who was running so far, so fast.

On the tenth year I decided to do something about my jealousy; I joined the Towpath Turtles.  My original goal was to run a three mile leg of the Akron Marathon, but my newfound running club buddies convinced me that I had what it takes to run the half marathon.  And they were right.

I intend to write about the powerful influence of a running club later; today I want to take it back to what got me started, or more precisely, WHO got me started.

It was you, Billy.  If I hadn't ordered those tapes, if I hadn't stopped eating chips so I could try a jump-kick, I would never have been able to run 8.5 miles for FUN this morning.  I would never have run five half marathons and a gazillion other distances since 2011.  I wouldn't be blogging for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, an opportunity that excites me since it combines three of my loves: running, Cleveland's funky neighborhoods, and writing.

I look forward to sharing my journey with you.  I promise you that while I may take a few stutter steps now and then, I will NEVER go back to being that person sitting on the couch eating chips and watching exercise videos.  I have gained so much; I intend to continue forward.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I vow to continue to move forward.




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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Off-Season Fitness

Today I ran on sunny Sand Run with my friend Debi.  Normally Debi and I run at five in the morning, so it was rather refreshing to see each other in daylight.  We decided to run the path, which is six miles, and tack on two neighborhood miles in the middle.  This way the last three miles were downhill, which is GENIUS when mapping out the long run.

This is EXACTLY how Sand Run looks in the sunshine. . .in pixel world.

Normally I would never run fewer than ten miles on a Sunday run. . .and I feel a bit sad that MyFitnessPal tells me I burned fewer than a thousand calories. . .but honestly, why do I need to run at least ten miles today?  Sand Run has plenty of hills, which increases my effort and consequently my fitness (tell it to MyFitnessPal, though), so it was a fantastic run.

I don't have any races planned until April, when I'll be running in with a relay team for the Canton Hall of Fame Marathon.  I might do a five-miler before then, and it's a teensy bit possible that I will run the Shamrock 15k, if I feel like torturing myself.  Click here if you want the details about that particular hellish race where I battle the Voices in my head.  Anyway, since I don't have any goal races until April, I had better think about what I'm going to do in the off-season, especially withYou-Know-What on the way.


My goals (so far):

1.  Finish my goal of 1,000 miles for 2014.  I'm pretty close.

2.  Do at least two short runs and one long run a week.  If it's too cold, I'm going to either use a Leslie Sansone DVD, or I'm going to bring up Dr. Who on Netflix and run in place to it.  Shhhhh. . .Don't tell my husband, but I'm planning to buy him a treadmill for Christmas.  I'm looking through Craigslist as I write this post.  Do you think he'll let me use it?

3.  Strength training.  I need heavier weights, and I think I'm going to try some Kettleball DVDs.

4.  Do yoga at least once a week.

The most important goal is to give myself a break.  I'm not going to set any time goals until my half marathons come up.  Our bodies need rest and relaxation, and so do our minds.  I am going to refrain from beating myself up mentally for just RUNNING instead of running with a specific purpose.  I'm going to run to enjoy.  What do you do during the off season?

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Celebrating the Running Community

If you know me, you know that I really don't like people.  I used to really enjoy being in a crowd, but being a teacher has taken its toll on my enjoyment of social interaction.  Plus, I'm grumpy.


This is EXACTLY how I look when I am a loner, a rebel.

You would think that I would avoid group runs like the plague, but I happen to like them very much.  I also really like the group atmosphere at races.  There is nothing quite like being crowded into a starting corral with a bunch of like-minded people, all intent on accomplishing a personal best.  The running community is awesome.  For the most part, runners are supportive, kind, and sometimes crazy as hell (the part I to which I can relate).  I love the fact that I can show up at any running event in NorthEast Ohio, and I will recognize somebody there, and that person will actually BE NICE TO ME.  Remember; I'm a teacher, and I'm not always used to that.

Thanksgiving Day I participated in my first Turkey Trot, Home Run for the Homeless, a four-miler in downtown Akron.  It was a benefit for Gennesaret, an organization that provides housing for homeless families.  Gennesaret doesn't take any government funding, and the Home Run is their only fundraiser for the year.  This year 3,000 runners and walkers participated, and many more people donated time, money, prizes, and food.

I had heard of the Home Run for the Homeless, but I had never run it before. . . and I really don't know why.  Yes, it was cold; yes, it was hilly (VERY hilly), and yes, it was FABULOUS!  To see that many runners gathered together to benefit the homeless. . .it was very moving.  Plus, the giant piece of coffee cake I stuffed in my head after the race wasn't too shabby either.

Today I ran the Tryptophan Two Hour FREE Group Run sponsored by Vertical Runner in Hudson, an event I have been eagerly anticipating since I last ran it in 2012.  In the Tryptophan, runners and walkers can run/walk a two-mile and three-mile loop in any combination for two hours.  For every loop, the runner drops one or two tickets into a bucket for a drawing after the event.  The drawing had super prizes, such as fleeced-lined shirts from Vertical Runner and race entries.  Additionally, Saucony had a booth there, and they allowed runners to try their shoes for the run.  Jen, Shelby, and I got our picture taken at the Saucony booth, and I sent it to my email, but I never got it. : (

About three hundred runners showed up for the run, and I recognized many of them.  It was so nice to spend the morning running and chatting with my peeps.  Vertical Runner even supplied coffee, donut holes (which I DIDN'T eat), chocolate, and protein bars!

The Ohio Runners Network represents at the Tryptophan.
Vince Rucci, owner of Vertical Runner Hudson, is one of the reasons why we have such a strong, supportive running community.  I've seen him (and the Vertical Runner truck) out and about at different running events, and I know that he realizes the importance of giving back to the community.  Small Business Saturday is over for 2014, but I believe that every day we decide to consume, we should consider any local businesses first.  That goes double for the running community.  Let's thank Vince with our spending dollars.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Deer, Turkey, and Goats OR Run While You Can.

In my first year of teaching, I was in the middle of a lesson on Comparison/Contrast with my sophomores.  They were very giggly, unusually giggly for 8:00 in the morning.  As I taught, I cautiously checked my fly, my hair, my nose, anything that I thought might be the reason for the mirth.  Finally, I couldn't take it anymore.  "What?  WHAT?!  What are you laughing at?" I demanded.

"We thought you did it on purpose," they said.

"WHAT DID I DO ON PURPOSE?"

"Look down," they said, and then the whole classroom lost their minds.

I was wearing two different shoes.  One was brown; one was black.  One had a buckle; the other didn't.  They had two different heel heights.  I had been wearing them since 6:30 that morning, and the only way I noticed was after the class told me.

I would like to say that I have grown since then, but this morning, as I got out of the car to meet my running peeps, Shelby took one look at me and said, "Are those two different shoes?"

Jen said, "I wasn't going to say anything.  I thought there might be a reason."

I looked down, and this is what I saw:

I meant to do that.
At least they are the same kind of shoe this time.  Sigh.

This did not stop me from having a fantastic morning run with Shelby and Jen.  We started on the Bike and Hike and quickly changed our minds when we saw the ice coating the path.  The roads in Peninsula were perfect for an eight mile run in 40-something degree weather.  We all agreed to take our time, and we were rewarded with plenty of sights, starting with some deer on the Bike and Hike.

Our next stop was to look at these turkeys:

I wanted to tell them, "Fly!  Fly for your feathery lives!"  Then I remembered that turkeys can't fly.

It was really cool to make gobbling sounds at the turkeys until we noticed that they were pecking at a downed turkey, and then it turned really creepy when we realized that turkeys are cannibals.

Then we saw some adorable goats:

After owning goats as a child, you would think I'd be immune to them because, really, they are nasty, but just look at them! LOOK AT THESE GOATS!
We spent the time talking about future races and catching up with our lives.  I loved my run with Jen and Shelby.  It's so good to be out with other runners during the long run.  I often convince myself that I'm better off by myself, but when I can find a group where I feel I belong, well, that is incredible.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I feel I belong.  Also, we look like we just finished an 80's Jazzercise video.  I promise we aren't wearing leg warmers.
Up next week:  The Home Run for the Homeless on Thanksgiving Day and Vertical Runner's Tryptophan Run on Sunday.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Best Hot Chocolate Ever!

Saturday I made my kids clean the house, and then I packed them off to the sitter so I could go to the packet pick-up and expo for the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k in Columbus.  I met Deidre, one of my running besties, at the Expo, and we crammed chocolate tabs in our mouths right away.  Then we scoped out any other food items there and crammed those in our mouths, too.  There were marshmallows dipped in chocolate fondue, mini Larabars, and sweet potato tortilla chips.

Then we took some silly pictures:

This is EXACTLY how I look when I am dreaming about Hot Chocolate!
We dressed up for the occasion.
I also spotted some Turtles there.  Fear them!

The expo was well-run.  I didn't have to stand in line for anything.   There were more vendors there than when I ran in 2012; I think the race is at least twice as big now.  Also, there were inflatable slides and things for the kids, but since I run to get AWAY from my kids, I didn't care about the inflatables.

After the expo, Deidre and I laid out our gear.  I agonized over my running outfit because I wasn't sure about the temperature, and I had packed several possibilities.  I went with this:
Flat Stephani appears to like blue this year!

Per our tradition, Deidre and I had dinner at Marcella's, a great Italian restaurant in the Short North, where I continued my personal pre-race tradition of stuffing my face with pasta carbonara.  YUM!!  It is also possible that someone consumed some wine.  Maybe.  We had a wonderful dinner, and we enjoyed catching up with each other, so much so that we didn't get back to the hotel until around midnight after walking several miles around the city.  In high heeled boots.  DOH!

The morning of the race was a little rough because of my lack of sleep and the cold.  I went down to eat a bagel for breakfast, but the breakfast bar wasn't open yet--GRRRRR.  Luckily, I am ALWAYS prepared when it comes to food.  I had brought a Cliff Bar, so I ate that and downed some coffee on the way to the corral for a 7:30 start time.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm freezing my dupa off in the corral at 7 AM.

As soon as the race started, I felt GREAT!!!!  The cold air woke me up, and running warmed me up quickly.  There was music in some parts of the course and plenty of water and sports drink.  At the beginning of Mile 2, I received some dark chocolate chips (a whole handful!), which I munched on for a bit.  In other stations, volunteers gave out Tootsie Rolls and marshmallows.  I took a Tootsie Roll for later, but I was afraid to try eating a marshmallow as I am clumsy, so I can just visualize choking to death on the marshmallow.

This year, after the trauma of running REALLY HARD for both the Perfect 10-Miler and the Akron Half Marathon, I decided to just enjoy myself in this race, and I really did.  I loved looking at the course.  The first few miles were a run up High Street and through the Short North.  Then we moved to the University and along the Olentangy River for the middle miles.  My favorite miles were the last two, the residential neighborhoods.  I LOVED looking at the old houses, especially the Painted Ladies.  I'm so glad I allowed myself to slow down and enjoy this race because it could have easily gone another way if I had given in to my inner slave-driver.

I finished strong because the last .3 miles were downhill, and I was smelling the chocolate.  I was surprised and happy to see Deidre waiting for me, and we got our fondue together. I ate a little bit of it, but my hands started freezing up, and I couldn't hold the food, so I knew we had to get back to the hotel as soon as possible, which we did.  Unfortunately, that meant I had to skip the after party, which I remember from 2012 as being really fun with a great band.

All in all, this race was worth the 2 hour drive and the run in the cold.  I really enjoyed the course and the chocolate, and what I liked best was being with my friends (even though I couldn't find most of the Turtles--sorry, Peeps!).  Oh, and the swag was FABULOUS!
I LOVE my warm jacket, swag bag, and hat!
And check out my medal--SWEET! (See what I did there?)

I plan to make this a tradition, so I will be back next year--hopefully as an ambassador again so I can get hats for everyone and a free entry to a lucky winner.  Thanks for running with me and following the blog, Peeps!

Keep following me--I'll soon be blogging for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

I'm Ok/ You're OK.

Today I ran ten miles on the Towpath in Merriman Valley.  It was just me, the leaves that are stubbornly sticking to the trees, the geese migrating overhead, and lots of good music.


This is my favorite song by Adam and the Ants.  Look at him:  he's so beautiful, and he's the Dandy Highwayman!


I ran most of my short runs of five or fewer miles by myself when I was visiting my father in Florida, and that was fine.  Lately I have grown accustomed to running the lsd without music and with at least one other person, if not with a group.  When I didn't get my act together to post a run in The Ohio Runners Network group page, I was a little bit grumpy about going out by myself for ten miles.  Don't get me wrong; I'm sure I could have posted and someone would have joined me, but I was worried that nobody would respond, and I don't handle rejection well.

It was after my typical, soul-sucking, hateful first two miles that I started to relax and enjoy my music and being inside my head.  I remembered what it is like to enjoy ME.

This is EXACTLY what it looks like when I start to feel good after two miles on a long run.
It was a perfect Fall morning, and I'm so glad I got out there to enjoy it.  It made up for the crappy food choices I made this weekend.  (Just a hint:  You should NEVER eat a chocolate-peanut butter bar AND a chocolate chip cookie within five minutes of each other.  Never.  Especially when you have no intention of cutting back for the rest of the day.)

Speaking of chocolate. . .

Have you registered for the Hot Chocolate 5k/15k?  If not, remember to use my code, TroubleRunHat, to score a free hat.  I'm so excited for this race, especially since I just found out that my friend Deidre is driving up from West Virginia to run with me!  We are going to have a nice dinner together (and some wine, no doubt), and then we will stuff our faces with chocolate.  Will you be there?

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