Sunday, January 31, 2016

Training is Confusing

I am a bookworm and a geek.  I love learning stuff, and the first place I go when I want to learn is a book.  It makes sense, then, that when I decided to register for

My first marathon (!!!)

I borrowed a bunch of books from the library.

I'm a bit crazy driven and these books are confusing!

That's right, Peeps, I pulled the trigger and registered for the Akron Marathon.  Ever since the running bug bit me in the ankles after my first half marathon, I've always known that one day I would run a full marathon.  Although there was much pressure from my fellow Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors to make the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon my first, I know that I won't be able to handle the training at this time of year.  It breaks my heart that I can't do it then because I love Cleveland's course and support, but there is some poetic justice in making Akron my first since it was my first half marathon and I live on the Blue Line of the old course.

Before I move on, I just need to get something out of my system.  For years I have seen runners around my neighborhood sporting the snazzy jacket given for running the Akron full.  When I started running, I craved that jacket.  It is an object of envy; it tells everyone that you were able to go the distance.  

Look at the jackets.  I WANT THE JACKET, AKRON MARATHON!

Unfortunately, those of us who are making the leap to the full marathon will not have a jacket to show for it this year.  The organizers decided to give a long-sleeve tech tee this year.  Just like the half marathoners get every year.  When some friends and I questioned a rep on the Akron Marathon Facebook page, the answer was that in post-race surveys most runners said they prefer a long sleeve shirt to the jacket.  Really?  I call shenanigans.  Akron, get your act together.  We want the freakin' jacket as our swag.  I have enough shirts.

Ok, back to the books.
Don't they look cute on my UAkron blankie?

After reading and comparing them, I've decided that I'm DEFINITELY not doing the Hanson's Method.  That is some crazy stuff right there.  Just. No.

Beyond that, I'm not really certain which training program I'll use.  I found one online that I like, too. What I'm grateful for is that at least three of these books gave me consistent training and racing paces, so I suppose I can cobble together a plan for myself using pieces of the programs I like.  

My most important takeaway from all the books together (combined with my new heart rate monitor): I've got to stop running like a bat outta hell for every single run.  There is a time and a place, and recovery is just as important as speed.  I've applied this lesson using my heart rate monitor since Christmas, and I think it's going to do me some good.  If I don't smash the stupid thing first.

Anyway, my first main training goal will be for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Series.  I'm running the 8k and the Half, and I'm going to train smart to do it.  Will you join me, Peeps?  Check out the #CLEMarathon Ambassadors for giveaways (mine will be in a month or so) or sign up now.  We'll have a beer together after the race.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

What's on the Table?

It is January 24, 2016, and I haven't finished figuring out my racing goals.  This is what I've got so far in actual registrations:

May 14: Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 8k

May 15: Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Half

I'm really excited about these two races for several reasons.  The first reason:

I'm a #RunCLE Ambassador!  Yay!
The second reason is because I've never run two big races on consecutive days.  The closest I've come is running two trail races, a 5 miler on a Saturday and an 8 miler on a Sunday.  This race series excites me because it gives me a new kind of mental and physical challenge.  How will I race them?  Will I treat the half marathon as my weekly long run?  My gut tells me that I am not capable of running a race without trying to PR, and the Cleveland course has a special place in my heart.  It is much more runner-friendly than the Akron course.  The only reason I haven't done so well in Cleveland is because of the weather (last year) and the time of year, since I don't train well during the winter months.  This year I have a treadmill, so things may be different.

May 28: Medina Half Marathon

I signed up for this half on the day that I ran it last year.  It has been a tradition for me since it started three years ago.  I haven't PR'd on this race either for pretty much the same reasons as with Cleveland.  I enjoy this race, though, because I work in Medina and I love to see my colleagues, my students, and my former students on and around the course.

The medal is pretty sweet, too.
August 6: Burning River 100 Mile Relay

I will be leg 7 in an 8-person relay team for the Mother Runners.  My leg is about 15 miles, and it will happen in the wee hours of the night.  I'm really excited about this because I've volunteered for Burning River twice, and it was fascinating to see the runners.  This distance will be the longest racing distance I've ever done at one time.

August 12-13: Ragnar Trail Appalachians WV Ultra Relay

Ok, I know that in my review I said I'd never run this again, but This. Is. Different.  I have got to get this one done right, and these are different circumstances:

1. It is in August, not June, so hopefully it will be warmer with no monsoons.  Thank you, Ragnar, for changing the date after years of Tent City devastation.

2.  My father won't be in a coma in the hospital, so I won't be frantically trying to get cell phone reception in the middle of a forest in the mountains so I can find out if he is alive.  I'm putting the rest of my family on notice: You all had better take care of yourself during this weekend.  I have to take the whammy off this race, and I can't deal with your problems, too, while I'm doing it.

3.  This time I will be part of a 4-woman ultra team with Jennifer, Leigh, and Joy.  I enjoy running with these ladies, and based on last year's race, I enjoy camping with Jennifer and Leigh.  I'm anticipating a more relaxed experience this year, while pushing myself physically.  This time I will be running a total of 30 miles in 24 hours, about 10 miles at a time.

4.  This time I will bring more hoodies, more towels, and lots more food.  I will enjoy myself.  I will eat lots of Smores, and I will drink beer and take naps, and do yoga, when and if I feel like it.

I will run through this arch with flaming torches again.  Oh yes, I will.

You can see that my calendar is concentrated in May and August.  Yes, I am still stupid, but this time I will be smarter about being stupid.

I'm not finished with races.  There will be 5Ks and 10Ks and maybe a 15K sprinkled in there, but the race I haven't registered for yet, well, you know what that is.  And if you don't?  Wait until I write about it next week.

Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

My Heart Goes on. . .

My husband went all-out for Christmas and bought me a Garmin Forerunner 610 with a heart monitor!

Isn't it adorable?
For about a year now, my brain has been toying with the idea of training with a heart rate monitor. I know that one of my biggest problems is that I run too fast when I'm not really doing speedwork.  The heart rate monitor might be a good way for me to properly run so that I can tack on more miles for marathon training.

The directions tell me to wet down the little electrode thingies (sorry for the technical jargon) before I  strap the device to my chest, and that was a little bit intimidating, but I did it.  So far I have used the monitor while walking and running outside and on the treadmill, doing Tae Bo PT24/7, and kettle bell  workouts.  Everything seems ok except for the outdoor runs.  The data from my first run, in which I just ran normally--no speedwork or purpose than to run four miles, told me that I was running way too hard; I was in Zone 5 most of the time. The training level was not sustainable, according to Garmin.  Ok, I get it.  It was telling me to slow down; I can do that.

My first long run with the monitor had me going at a 12 minute mile.  From my research (which I probably screwed up), I learned that my long run should be mostly in Zone 3, an aerobic level.  Let me say that it was very difficult to run a 12 minute mile; I felt like I was barely moving. Regardless, the monitor kept beeping me and telling me I was going TOO FAST.  There was no way I was going to slow down, so I dealt with it.

Today I ran ten miles with Sheila, Shelby, and Jen.  I told them I wanted to keep it between an 11 and 12 minute mile, and that is what we did.  I turned off the alarms and just ran.  Eager to see the heart rate data and evaluation of my training levels, I synced the device and checked Garmin to find. . . nothing.  It had erased all the data from my run.  GRRRRR.

I'm on the fence about this one, Peeps.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I am on the fence.  Bet you didn't know that I was a rooster, huh?
I know that I have to run more slowly on my long, slow distance runs.  I can do that.  The problem is that if the monitor is telling me that my 12-minute run is too fast, how am I going to improve?  What will it say when I do speed work?  Maybe I should not wear it for tempo runs?  Also, I know that I am basically out of touch with my body, but if the monitor is telling me that my current runs are tempo runs, and I feel that they are easy, are they really tempo runs?

I've tried asking people for information about this, and I've read every journal/magazine/blog post I could find, but I'm very puzzled.

What do you think, Peeps?  Anyone out there train with a heart rate monitor?

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

New Year, New Me?

Happy 2016, Peeps!  This is the moment where, ten days into the new year, we are all deciding whether making those goals while under the influence of bad champagne and pork and sauerkraut was a stupid idea or just freaking brilliant.  I dunno.  I tend to make goals all the time, so I'm not going to say that the new year was vastly different for me.  Let's review last year's goals:

1.  Run at least 1,100 miles.  Result: Yes!  I think it was 1156.

2.  Run a sub-2-hour half marathon.  Result: No.  I did worse at the Akron Half Marathon this year than I did last year.  Ok, it was worse by about 20 seconds, AND the course was way tougher, but still.  Fail.

3. Race Blogging: I was shooting for Akron, Cleveland, and Hot Chocolate.  Akron never contacted me, and I decided not to do Hot Chocolate this year, but I did have some great bonuses.

Bonus #1: I blogged for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Race Series, and it was a fun experience.  Jim Chaney, race director of the series, is an incredible guy (read my post about him here), and I thank him for the opportunity to pick his brain about what goes on behind the scenes of a race.

Bonus #2: I was so happy to be a #RunCLE Ambassador this year.  I met some amazing people (who are also amazing runners), and I learned a lot from them.

PR shot at the VIP Reception for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.  We clean up!

Our first meeting.  In a bar, of course.

Before the race.  We were already wilting in the heat.
This year, I am proud and excited to announce that I will again be #RunCLE Ambassador for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, AND I am lucky enough to be a part of their new race series.  As of right now, I have decided to run the 8k/Half Marathon series.  I would love for Cleveland to be the site of my first full marathon, but the training season for a spring race doesn't work out for me.  Stay tuned to my blog because every week one of the Ambassadors (including me) will be offering a race entry giveaway.  I will post links to each giveaway.  Better yet, follow them on their blogs or social media sites:

Official Ambassadors

4. Extending the long run to 15 miles.  Result:  I didn't do this, but I will have to this year because--Peeps:

2016 is the year of the marathon for Stephani!  

Yep.  I will be running away from trouble and running towards 26.2.  

I have plenty of ideas on how to get there, and I have lots of plans for improving my running and strength.  I won't share all of my plans with you now, but be prepared for some experimentation with doses of runner's high, sweat, and possibly some swear words.  Nothing you haven't seen/heard from me already, right?

My mom sent me this hat.  It lit up until I broke it.  I'm adorable, right?

Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Friday, January 1, 2016

PayDay 2015

Once again, it's that time of year, Peeps-- Running Payday!

Umm. . .No.  Not this kind of Payday.

This kind.  Where I get cash money.

This is the time where I tally up my miles, my racing miles, and my PRs and I PAY MYSELF FOR THEM!!!  This is how it works:

I pay myself $.50/running mile, $1.00/racing mile, and $5.00/PR.  The catch is that I deduct all racing fees and babysitting fees for racing.  The good news is that I didn't need a babysitter this year because my kids are finally old enough to watch themselves.  Envy me, mothers of young kids.

Here are the numbers:

105.3 racing miles

1158 overall miles

6 PRs

I subtract the racing miles from the overall miles:

1158-105.3= 1052.7 non-racing miles

I multiply the money amounts by each mile.  In this case, I just needed to divide the running miles by two (since it's 50 cents/mile).  Then I add the dollar amounts together:

1052.7/2=  $526.35 + $105.3= $631.65

Looks awesome, right?  Except now I need to calculate my racing fees:

racing fees= $585  OUCH.

I subtract the racing fees from the overall pay:

631.65-585=  $46.65

Then I add my PR bonus:

6 PRs x $5.00 = 30.00 + $46.65 =  $76.65

This is about half of what I earned last year, even though I ran more miles, because I also ran more races, and some of them (I'm looking at YOU, Ragnar Trail WV) were expensive.  That's ok, though, because any year that I break even is a good year.

What do I do with the money?  I have a special running savings account where I stash the money, and I plan to use it someday for the Paris Marathon.

Someday this will be me, running down the Champs-Elysées.

My annual payday is a nice little incentive I use to get through those days when running isn't my favorite thing to do.  Also, it is a great way to invest in my health, physical and mental.  I am worth the time and effort I spend to run, and finishing in the black at the end of the year proves it to me.

How do you reward your fitness?

Happy New Year, Peeps!  Run happy!

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Dang--It's Cold!

This post is going to be short and not-sweet.

1.  I am battling the crud, so I shouldn't be around anyone.  Except my family.  They will get it no matter what.  Then they will give it back to me.
     A.  Of course this is my Winter Break.  I hope I'll be able to breathe through both nostrils on Christmas Day.
     B.  I kicked up my anti-crud fight with my regular Emergen C Super Orange Immune Booster, NyQuil, and Zicam (after the Cold Eez ran out).  Zicam is awesome.
     C.  The Neti Pot is back--oh yes.  Neti Pot, why can't I quit you?  This time I'm boiling water to avoid brain amoebas.

2.  I wonder if Emergen C Super Orange Immune Booster would be a good mixer with Grey Goose?  Hypothetical question.

3.  I ran ten miles this morning on the Towpath.  I saw a mink running on the thin layer of ice at the Beaver Marsh.  I have no picture of that particular mink, but here is a picture of a mink:

Sorta cute.  Maybe not.

4.  It was super-duper cold, and I was irritated almost the whole time.  I bought a Fila jacket from Woot.  It was very cheap, and I thought it would be good for running in cold temps.  I still love the jacket, but I hated running in it; I felt like my shoulders were too constricted.

5.  This time, instead of listening to music or my own Voices, I listened to two podcasts: Wait, Wait! Don't Tell Me! and Car Talk.  I liked this because it made me slow down (combined with a too-tight jacket), and I felt like I was running the pace I should run for long, slow distances.  This will be important when I start training for my first marathon.

I'm looking forward to relaxing, reading, and running during my break.  I've got nothing to train for (officially) until May, although I'm certain I'll talk myself into running the Shamrock in March, so really, if I can maintain a minimum of ten miles on the long-run days, I'll be happy.

I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Race Recap: 2015 NERC Interclub Relay

Today I ran 10 miles on the Towpath. . . in capris and a t shirt.  Last week at this time, I wore tights, shorts, a long-sleeved shirt lining, a t shirt, a jacket, a hat, and gloves--and I was still freezing my tuckus off. Welcome to Ohio, Peeps.

Last week was the Northeast Running Club (NERC) Interclub Relay and Fun Run at The West Woods Park.  I'd tell you where that is, but I haven't a clue; Sheila drove me so I didn't pay attention.  She could have just dropped me somewhere by the side of the road, and I would have died of hunger there after I ate my one GU.  It's a good thing she didn't, or she and Shelby would have had to run the eight mile leg of the relay.

I knew nothing about this race when I signed up for it.  I thought, "Yeah, trails, a relay, I'll do eight miles.  No biggie.  No pressure."  Then I looked at the list of runners: Snakebite Racing Team with my fellow Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Pam and her husband.  Crap.  They are serious badasses, often taking first place in their AG or even overall in races.  My only consolation was that Pam finished her second Iron Man not so long ago, so I thought maybe she'd back off today.  Yeah, right.  Also I saw Nate and Giovanna, who are ultra runners (and Nate is a tri-athlete).  They both ran the Ragnar Appalachians Trail Relay this summer as part of an ultra team, and I see Nate zipping by in the neighborhoods when I run in the mornings sometimes.  Lucky for me, Giovanna told me she was taking it easy that day, so I was able to relax a little bit when we started.

The routes had been posted a few days before the race, but I am not at all familiar with this neck of the woods (see what I did there?), so it meant nothing to me.  Guy Gadomski, the race director, explained our eight-mile leg to us, but that meant nothing to me either.  I just hoped the course was clearly marked and I wouldn't be completely alone for eight miles.  I didn't need to worry; there were volunteers pointing us in the right direction, and I was able to run with and/or near a group of nice ladies for most of the race.
I'm smiling here because A) it's in the first few miles and B) I'm relieved that I'm not lost and alone.
The course was ALL HILLS.  If it had been snowing or icy, I wouldn't have run this race because there were also stairs.  My music died in the first 200 feet, so it was me counting my breaths and trying to make conversation with the runners around me.  Then I realized that they didn't want to talk to me, so I went back to counting my breaths.  It wasn't so bad running without music, even with the brutal hills and tired legs from my trail race the previous day.  I walked some of the hills, more at the end, but I feel like I finished strong and made a decent showing for my team.
At least I mustered up the energy for a thumbs-up towards the end of the race.

Those aren't fat rolls you see on me.  I put my gloves and phone in my pockets.

After the race there was a chili cook-off.  I didn't eat any chili, but I did shove a cookie in my head, as well as a homemade energy bar that was the bomb-diggity.  Then I did my selfies:

Team TORN: Shelby, Sheila, me.  Shelby is REALLY happy to be there.

Look!  I found CleMarathon Ambassador @pam_mcgowan!

All in all, this was a very nice day in the woods with some very nice people.  I've told you before that trail runners are good people, right?  Plus, you can't beat a free race, which this was. It was good to know that I can do eight miles of up and down, up and down because guess what?  I just signed up for Leg #7 in the Burning River 100-Mile Relay.  It's fifteen miles and change, and I'll be running at night, Peeps.  Crazy, ammirite?

I'll start panicking in a few months.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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