Sunday, January 25, 2015

When You're a Turtle. . .

It is that time of year, Peeps, time to think about training for the upcoming racing seasons.  No matter your goal, there is no better way to meet it than by joining a running club.

Four years ago, I couldn't run farther than two miles without becoming incredibly winded and exhausted.  It was ridiculous.  I was convinced that I would never become a runner. . .

And then I joined the Towpath Turtles.

Not this turtle
 The Towpath Turtles is a structured training program in which the end goal of the runners is to run either the Akron Half Marathon or the relay for the Akron Marathon.  The group runs together on Sunday mornings (Saturdays for the relay training group) for the long, slow distance run.

THESE Turtles

Sheila Avsec, the coach of the Turtles, describes the program in this way:

I believe that to be a runner, one does more than run, namely a Towpath Turtle is defined as:
• A runner who runs on a regular basis, regardless of distance or speed;
• A runner who participates in the running community: as a volunteer, a member of local running club, and as a spectator/support crew member for other racers;
• A runner who knows about his/her sport – about proper fueling and nutrition, injury prevention and recovery, race etiquette, and the running community in general;
• A runner who is supportive of his/her peers and other runners.

Through the Turtles, I was able to go from not being able to run more than two miles to running the Akron Half Marathon in seven months, but that isn't all I got from the group.  Through Sheila and the Turtles I learned about proper cross-training, fueling, and racing strategy.  Most importantly I learned that the Turtles embrace true sportsmanship: We cheer on every runner in a race, right down to the very last one.  We support everyone, regardless of ability.  We have fun.

I am no longer technically a Turtle, since I am not a beginning runner (Wow!  When did that happen?), but I run with the Turtles during their long runs, and I attend other events with them when I can.  This year the alumni Turtles are planning to run the various races for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon.  I proudly wear my Turtle shirts at races, and I loudly chant my Turtle call whenever I see a Turtle.  Ask me to do it for you sometime--it's awesome!

Once a Turtle, always a Turtle.

The Turtle season starts in February, and the information session is February 1:

An Information Session about the 2015 Season will be held on Sunday, Feb 1st 2015 at 1:30pm at the Main Akron Library (in the meeting rooms). This session will give prospective clients an overview of the different training programs that I offer through OneLife Fitness Coaching, including the 31-week, large group "Towpath Turtles" running program. Immediately following the general meeting, I will be meeting with Alumni who are interested in signing up to run with the large group in 2015. If you have any desire to sign up, please put this on your calendar now as only one info session will be offered.

If you are looking for a group, or you need an extra push to achieve your running goals, there is no better group than the Turtles, Peeps.  I look forward to every new season because I know I will meet some fabulous friends--will you be one of them?

Run happy, my friends!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Trail Running away from Trouble?

First, before I tell you about anything, you have to watch this.  Seriously.  If it doesn't motivate you, ask someone to get at you with a defibrillator.

Favorite tagline:  I kick balls. (I wish I played soccer so I could actually use this.)

I love that this video shows women of all ages, shapes, and abilities doing what we do: working hard and sweating a LOT.  Women who work out are all beautiful--'nuff said.

Speaking of working out. . .I have been taking advantage of my off-season running to try new things; specifically, I've been doing some trail running.  If you know me, you probably fell off your chair (or whatever you're sitting on) because you know that I gripe about trail running.  As a matter of fact, check out this post, which addresses what I hate about trail running.  Winter is a good time for me to shake up my routine, so when Jennifer and Renee invited me to go trail running during my last two long-run Sundays, I thought, "What the heck?"

Trail running is an excellent way to strenghten your ankles, feet, legs, and core.  It is also great for practicing mindfulness, which is definitely something I need to develop.  I like to put in the earbuds and zone out, and if I forgo my music, it's because I plan to have lots of conversation with my peeps.  Trail running doesn't rule out conversation, but you can't zone out while you're doing it, or it's a good way to fall and hurt yourself.

The first trail run I'll write about is from two weeks ago.  Jen and Renee invited me to do parts of the Buckeye Trail combined with the Towpath in Peninsula.  We planned to do at least five miles and then see how we felt afterwards.  I really enjoyed this trail because the weather was gorgeous, and the trail offered a little bit of everything.  Renee and Carrie left us at the five mile mark, and then Jen took me on another part of the trail (I have no idea where I was--seriously, she could have left me there, and I would have starved to death.) for three more miles.  During this run, I told myself to relax and enjoy.  I have not yet started any speed work for the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon, so I don't have to "expect" anything out of my run.  I also made sure to reward myself for trying something new:

3 kinds of mussels.  Yummy!

I don't know the name of the actual trail for the second trail run; it starts from the Covered Bridge on Everett Rd., and it is the course for the Bills' Badass 50k.  The plan was to do two loops of five miles each.  During mile two (about 40 minutes into our "run") I decided that I was NOT going to do two loops.  Geez.  I don't know how runners do six loops of this!  We actually followed deer tracks because nobody had been around there for days.  I was grateful that the stream we had to cross was frozen.  There were some pops and cracks when I crossed, but I made it without falling in.

The Covered Bridge on Everett Rd.

This is where we start getting into uncharted territory.

Jen and Renee were very nice about it, complimenting me on getting through one loop without my normal bitching and moaning.  I'm sure they were grateful that I didn't go on with them.  Instead of another loop in the woods, I finished out my long run by doing three speedy miles on the roads with Shelby and Elizabeth.  It was an excellent way for me to get two different kinds of workouts in on the same day.  And the company for both runs was fabulous, of course.

Reward for trail run #2:

Apple Tart-Fine with Sea-Salt Caramel Gelato
Are you sensing I have food issues?

Today I ran the lake loop in Munroe Falls Park.  I chose the park because I thought it would be best to be off the roads when there is ice around.  Loops are good because I don't have to carry anything.

This is the lake I circled eight times.

One nice surprise was that I saw Bob at the lake as I was leaving.  Do you remember Bob?  I ran with him one hot day in Sand Run Park.

I'm not going to show you my food-reward today because we are going OUT to get it!  I'm so excited; we are going to Bar Cento tonight for dinner.  I love eating out in Cleveland, and Ohio City is such a great neighborhood.

I'll leave you with this:
This is the new, trail-running Stephani.  I'm not going to claim she is improved.

Happy Trails, Peeps!  Keep up your training, and let me know if we are running together at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Run Cleveland

In the last two posts I've shared the evaluation of my 2014 running goals, my 2015 running goals, and my running payday.  Today I'd like to elaborate on one of my running goals for 2015, and so I need a fanfare for this one. . .

Hear ye, hear ye!

This year I will be an ambassador for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!  I'm so excited to be a part of a team of talented runners and bloggers.  Here is the list of the other ambassadors; you should follow them on Twitter, like I do.

Official Ambassadors

For me, races aren't just about the actual event on that day.  They are a chance to explore the cities and people involved.  Last year I ran the half marathon in Cleveland, and I really loved the way the neighborhoods came out and partied in support of the race.  You can read my post about it here.  This year the course has changed again, and I'm eager to see what that means.  Yes, I know I can read the map on the webpage, but I still can't picture it in my mind.  Last year's half marathon course was super- interesting and fun, so I'm sure that this year will be, too.

Come on; you know you want a piece of this!

When I talk about the people involved in the event, sure, I mean the other ambassadors, but I also mean the people who go through the training experience with me.  I mean you, Peeps!  When I was training for Cleveland last year, I remember talking to runners and walkers who were just as excited as I was to #runCLE.  This year I know that some of my running friends will be making the leap from the half marathon to the full (Amanda, Cassie, Beth).  I'm so happy for them, and I can't wait to learn from their training experiences as we run together. What about you?  I hope to hear from more of you, through the blog and social media and also on the roads and trails.  Share your training with me--let's party together for this one!  Click here to register for the marathon, half marathon, 10k, or 5k.

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

It's Pay Day!

Today is the day, Peeps, when I figure out how much money I will pay myself for running.  What?

I got this idea from a blogger several years ago (I wish I had remembered her name so I could credit her!), and I like it for two reasons:

1.  It helps me justify the money I spend on running.

2.  It's a great incentive for putting in more miles.

How does Payday work?  Let me show you.

First, keep track of your yearly miles using any tracker tool you like.  I like because I can embed the widget in my blog that shows my weekly, yearly, and total miles.

Next, keep track of your racing miles and PRs. is a good source for this information.

Then, decide how much money you think your activities are worth.  I decided that for each mile I run, I will pay myself $.50.  For each racing mile, I'll pay $1.00.  Every PR gets me a $5.00 bonus.  To keep it fair, I have to subtract racing fees, including babysitting.  I don't add up my racing gear, but I know some people do.  Let's try it, shall we?  Oh, before we do, you need to know that I am not a math whiz.

Let me know if I made any mistakes:

2014 miles:   1,039
-race miles:         84  (rounded from 83.8)
2014 miles:      955 x $.50 =  $477.50
+race miles                                 84.00
+ PR bonuses ($5 each)             40.00
subtotal                                  $601.50

Looks good so far, right?  Now I have to deduct racing fees and babysitting.  Ugh.

2014 racing fees:   $235
+ babysitting          $200

Last bit of math, Peeps.  Stay with me here.

2014 miles:     $601.50
-fees          :     $435.00
Total:               $166.50

Whew!  We made it!  You get an A+ for seeing me through all of these numbers!

Any year that I can break even, or even make money, is a good year for me!  But wait, Stephani (you say), aren't you paying yourself with your own money?!  How is that even worth it?  Good question!  The way I see it, I don't often credit myself with things I do successfully; more often, I dwell on areas where I fall short.  This system forces me to see my successes and reward myself for them.  It's the equivalent of putting a penny in a jar every time you say something nice or do a good deed.  At the end of a year, you look at the pennies (even though they ultimately came from your pocket), and you see the progress.

You don't even really have to pay yourself; you could use gold stars, or you could just do the math as a point system.  I put the money in a tiny savings account I have set aside for this purpose.  When there is "enough" money there, I will use it to splurge on a vacation, maybe.  A race-cation.  Paris Marathon, I'm looking at you.

This is EXACTLY how I will look running along the Seine!

The point is this:  reward yourself for what you have accomplished.  Find a way to recognize and celebrate your success.  You have worked hard, and you deserve it, Peeps.

Here's to earning more in 2015!

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Year-End Goal Review

I've been doing a lot of reflecting lately, Peeps.  The weather has been so nice that I've been able to run in the sunshine most days during my Christmas break from school.  One day I even ran in a t-shirt and capris!  During those runs, I've had lots of time to think about what I've been able to accomplish this year and where I fell short.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I am reflecting on my goals.
Let me first say that I feel very, very lucky that I was able to run this year, considering my foot never really healed from the Horrible Nut Incident.  I still have an attitude of gratitude, so don't get mad at me if I gripe a little, too.

2014 Goals:

1.  Run 1,000 miles.  I did it!!!!!  Yay for me!

2.  Run a sub-2 hour half marathon.  Nope.  2:00:52, darn it.  Read about that experience here.

3.  Blog for races.  Nailed it!  I'm so happy about this goal.  This year I was part of Team Panera for the Akron Marathon, I was a guest blogger for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, and I was a Hot Chocolate Ambassador.  These were fabulous experiences--thank you to my sponsors!

Team Panera, Baby!

4.  Destination race.  Hot Chocolate 15k--Columbus.  Sooo much fun!  Click here to read about it.

Awesome Hot Chocolate swag!

Other than those four goals, I have one more little year-end wrap up to do: pay myself.  I will write about this next week.

Here are my goals for next year:

1.  Run at least 1,100 miles.

2.  Sub-2 hour half marathon:  Akron, I'm looking at you!

3.  Race blogging:  I'm hoping to be back for Akron and the C-bus Hot Chocolate.  I'd like to thank Cleveland Rite Aid Marathon for choosing me as a race ambassador for 2015!  My efforts to arrange an official blogging position with the Medina Half Marathon and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon were not successful last year, but I'm not giving up!  Hey, guys, guys, LOOK AT ME!!!

4.  Extend my longest run to at least 15 miles.  I know this sounds kind of dumb considering I can race 13.1 miles, but we all know that the mental blocks are the hardest to overcome.  I am thinking about signing up for a 30k trail race, but I would have to do the hard training in winter, and honestly, I'm not up for wading streams in the winter, especially if the Polar Vortex kicks in again this year.  So, I'm going to try to increase my mileage on the long run, and I'm going to SLOW DOWN to get there. I'm not ready to put in the time and hard work to run a full marathon until I can run the half in the time I want, so this will be a nice side goal for me.

Peeps, it has been a fabulous year.  Thank you so much for accompanying me on this journey; you make the hard runs easier and the gloomy days brighter.  I am a lucky runner.

I love you, Man.
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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.


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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