Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Race Recap: Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon

I wasn't feeling the excitement and the love for running the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon until the Friday night before the race at the VIP dinner. Up until then, I was grumpy and unsure of myself, wondering why the heck I had once again signed up for 4+ hours of pain and suffering. Then I saw my fellow Ambassadors, and I regained some of that excitement.

Ambassadors lined up for the picture, on our best behavior. Or are we? Check out the shenanigans in the middle row.

Our traditional picture of a selfie in action
Pam and I are glamming it up.
The general consensus among my friends was that I should try for a 4:30 marathon, but I wasn't convinced. They basically kept reminding me that I had put in the training, and I needed to believe in it.  I told everyone that anything under a 4:50 would be awesome, but secretly I hoped for a 4:45.

The next day I visited the Expo very briefly before reporting to work at the Information Booth. The Expo was full of cool stuff, but I only had time for a quick picture with Marta.

I look like I want to throw up here.
Then I manned the Information Desk for three hours without ONE SINGLE FRAPPUCCINO, despite pleas to my fellow Ambassadors to hook me up with some caffeine.

I'm not happy here.
I counseled everyone who asked to arrive at a parking spot before 6 AM, and I had intended to get there at 5:45 AM, as parking is one of my worries in races. I got there at 6:00 on the dot, and there were no problems whatsoever in driving through the city and finding a parking space.  Whew. One worry down.

I dropped my gear bag and headed to the bathrooms, picking up Marta along the way. Bathrooms are my second worry in races, and I already knew that this was a non-issue with the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. Portapotties everywhere, plus Quicken Loans Arena was open to runners.

The Ambassadors took some pictures at the starting line.
We are the Ambassadors!

This is the best one for obvious reasons.
Photographer: You.  Come out front and hold this medal.
Me: Really? I must be the most important.
Photographer: No, you're short and wearing fluorescent yellow.

Ok, here is what I remember about the race. I'm going to try to distance myself from the emotional part because that will be another post. This time I want to talk about the fabulousness that is the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.

The course was mostly as I remembered it. I loved the bridges, although they were slippery. I even loved the hills because what goes up must come down, and I really enjoy exerting myself on a hill when I know that I can relax on the downside.

Marta (I will write about Marta next time; she deserves her own post) and I discussed the possibility of taking the beer miles. I was hesitant because I feel like I'm not that good of a marathoner, but when I saw the sign saying Beer and Bacon, I said, "Hell, YES, we are doing this!" It was the best piece of bacon and the best shot of beer EVER, and I really think it helped my race that day.  I definitely said NO to the Fireball Shot Mile.

I loved running on Lake Ave. with the beautiful houses. Many people don't like out-and-backs on a race course, but I do because I can look for my friends. I saw Pam and Eric, fellow Ambassadors, and I saw Steve and Ryan, badass Pacers.  They were all super encouraging as we crossed each other.

Battery Park was an interesting part of the course; I don't remember if it was part of the course last year, but I enjoyed it.

The course had plenty of water and fuel stops. New this year was the Honey Stinger Waffle, which I ate at Mile 17, and I LOVED it.

I tried hard not to focus on my time. I spent most of the time talking with Marta or looking at the scenery. When things got overwhelming, I would scan my body and count my breaths.

Seeing the flags at the end of the race, I got very excited, and Marta and I kicked it up for the end. And we finished together.

We finished! I don't know what the heck I'm doing with my swollen hand.

I got my medal and grabbed some food, and I met Marta in the Beer Garden. I was in some pain, and I was emotionally spent (more about this in next post). Pam and Steve had waited for me at the finish line, and it was nice to see them, although I could barely speak to them.

I love them all, but I was faking happiness here.

I drank half a chocolate milk, but I couldn't eat any food. I drank my beer, and all of a sudden I just wanted to go home.  Normally I was supposed to go out and celebrate with Pam and Steve, and I JUST COULDN'T EVEN.

Why am I so numb? Well, some of it is shock. Remember when I told you that I was secretly hoping for 4:45?  Here is my result:

Holy Shmoly! A 7 minute PR!

I have a lot to say about this accomplishment, of which I am very proud, but that will be for another post. For now, I would like to say that I will DEFINITELY run the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon next year. I loved the volunteers, the bands on the course, the support, the accessibility of bathrooms and fuel, and mostly the beautiful city course.

This is my third year as a Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador, and it has been a privilege for me to represent this race every year.

Next post will be about my experience running this marathon. Today I wanted to honor the race and the wonderful people who work so hard to make it happen. Thank you.

And thank you for following my posts! What races are you prepping for? Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, May 6, 2018

20 Miles!

My students took a practice Advanced Placement test on their Friday afternoon off. It took 3 hours. I told them, "I would never run a marathon without running a 20 miler first to prove that I have the endurance. You need to do the same thing." And so I must take my own advice, and today was the day of the 20 miler before the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.

Marta and I met at 8:00 AM at Station Road Trailhead. The weather was a perfect day: overcast and 50 degrees. We had the genius idea to break the run up into segments of 5 miles: out 2.5 and back in one direction, again in another direction, and twice in yet a different direction. It really helps me to take on the elephant one bite at a time.

Marta and I are ready and eager to get started. 
The first ten were easy. It was nice to run and chat, and the time passed pretty quickly.  The third set of five miles was still fun, but I could feel that it was becoming more difficult to maintain focus. By the last set I was pretty grumpy.  I tried to use every trick I could; for example, I scanned my body to see what felt good and what didn't. I tried to think about my form and using my glutes and my core. I concentrated on pushing off with my big toes. After a while none of this really worked, so I started swearing, something that I find stress-relieving. Poor Marta had to put up with quite a few times that I said, "I don't f--ing want to do this anymore!" She remained calm and cheerful. Marta, you are a rock. You had better think long and hard about whether you actually want to run with me at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon because today I was holding back.

We finished strong.

I am alive, and we still like each other.  I'm pretty sure.
As we were recovering in the shade of the depot, I heard someone call my name, and lo and behold, it was Pam and Steve! I'm sure you remember that Pam is also a Cleveland Marathon Ambassador, and Steve is a pacer. I invited them to the party at my car that definitely involved Muscle Milk and POSSIBLY involved some Fat Tire to celebrate.

Pam always looks fresh as a daisy. I really hate her. I look like I'm having a gas attack.
I don't feel terrible. I was still able to come home to the mountain of laundry at my house AND scrub my son's room (which was disgusting--you don't even want to know). Am I ready for the marathon? I hope so. I think I did a good job, even though I was slower than I would have liked. Hopefully I'll do a better job of maintaining my pace during the race. I'm trying not to think about race day; I'm just going to put my trust in my training.

Want to join me? You still have time to sign up: online registration is back! You can use my code, SICLE10, to get a 10% discount on any of the races. You can even use it if you sign up at the expo! Speaking of the expo, I'll be there on Saturday from 3-6 at the information booth. Come talk to me!

Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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

Sunday, April 22, 2018

19 miles to Prep for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!

I did 19 miles and change in the sun!  I was a little bit worried about going it alone, but luckily, I didn't do it alone. I had a wild turkey, a coyote, a herd of deer, a bunch of turtles, and a bunch of goats to keep me company!

Goats are more fun to watch (especially online) than they are to own. I know this from experience.
I was lucky enough to have human company, too. I knew that there were some groups starting from Hunt Farm on each half hour starting at 7:30, but all of the groups have faster runners than me, and I knew I had to go slow and steady today to reach 19 miles, so I wasn't planning on running with any of them. I pulled into the parking lot at 8:06 (late enough that I was sure there wouldn't be a group hanging out there), and I saw my friend Jennifer, who kindly suggested that I run with them. I told her that there was no way I could hang with that group since I needed 19 miles, but she is training for a 100-miler, so she said that she'd run slowly with me.

Always pick ultra-marathoners as your running partners when you have to do the long, slow distance run. That is my useful tip for you today, Peeps.

We ran seven miles in a group, and two of those miles consisted of a big-ass hill. I walked half of that hill, but I felt really good, and I wanted to run it, but I was afraid that I would tire out later as a result of too much effort in the beginning.

I peeled away from the group at the end of the seven miles, and I started my journey of twelve more miles alone (and with various animals along the way). I ran when I could, and I walked when I fueled, and overall, although it was slow for me, I felt awesome all throughout the run. I tried not to dwell on the fact that I will have to add on seven more miles in less than a month because I know I can do this. I've done it before, and I will do it again. It's a mental game, and I will win it!

Last week I ran Hampton Hills with the Crooked River Trail Runners: Outer loop + inner loop = 5 miles. Angie and I ran together, and it was a gorgeous night.

Crooked River Trail Runners: Tony, Marta, Laura, me, Angie

This gave me a total of 40 miles this week. Although none of it was actual speed work, I did make sure to run a few fast miles here and there, and I kept up with my yoga and strength training. I think I'm doing a good job of balancing the right amount of training and rest.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I smugly say that I'm doing a good job of balancing training and rest.

As for speed, next week I am running the Pro Football Hall of Fame Half Marathon, so I would like to see if I can run a smart race and maybe, just maybe come close to a PR.

How is your training going for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon? You did sign up, right?  If not, use my code, SICLE10, for 10% off registration price. I really want to see you there!

Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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

Sunday, April 15, 2018

So Sick of Running in Bad Weather

It is April, Peeps. I should NOT be running on a treadmill!


This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm throwing a tantrum because: Ohio weather.

Last week I had 18 miles on my to-do list for Sunday's long run. To shake things up, I decided to join a training run in the Bedford Reservation for Burning River. It was 15 miles, and I figured I could add on 3 miles pretty easily.  To make it even better, Felicia and Angela (from the Mother Runners) agreed to run with me because they also needed 18.

The weather was a problem. It was 27 degrees at the start time, but the prediction was that we would go up to the 40s or higher, so I couldn't figure out what to wear.  To make matters worse, the weather was NOT what was predicted at all. It probably didn't help that I looked up the weather WHERE I LIVE, not in the Bedford Reservation. Duh. So, we did start at about 27 degrees, and then it got colder. And colder. And then it started snowing. That was our weather for about four hours of trail running. It wasn't until about mile 16 that the sun came out, and that was glorious.

The only moment when the sun came out. These ladies are amazing!
Trail running can be challenging. Trail running in the snow (in April) for 18 miles is exceptionally challenging. I am giving us a pat on the back for being so badass.

Today I had 18 miles again, and of course it was freaking POURING outside. I decided to run the treadmill, so I made a plan, just as I would for an outside long run. I listened to  Wait, Wait! Don't Tell Me! for five miles, and then I peeked outside, where it appeared to me to be just drizzling. I changed into dry running clothes and went outside to finish the rest.


As soon as I was about a mile in, it started pouring again. I was wearing a rain jacket, but damn! I decided that I was going to power through it, so I kept going. I ran 11.3 more miles in the cold, pouring rain before I decided to call it quits. I want to thank Peter Sagal and Mo Rocca (my crush) from Wait, Wait! Don't Tell Me! for getting me through this. I didn't run 18; I ran 16.3 total, and that is just fine.

Next week I need about 19 to feel respectable. Will I do it? Stay tuned to find out!

Whatever horrible weather Ohio is throwing at you, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

Psst! Hey! Are you going to run with me for any of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon races? Use my code, SICLE10, for 10% off any registration!  I hope to see you there!

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Race Recap: Fools 25K

Happy April Fools Day! Happy Easter, if you celebrate it!

It is only fitting that today I write about the Fools 25K, which I ran yesterday. This is no joke, Peeps.

See what I did there?
Many of my friends have run the Fools in past years, and until this year, I had no desire to do the same. I changed my mind because the race was moved to Camp Manatoc, and I really enjoyed running the Leave No Trace Half Marathon there. Of course, I was still trepidatious because it is a spring race, and we all know how unpredictable the weather can be for a spring race. My main concern was cold mud. I don't mind the cold, and I don't mind mud, but I don't like the two together.

The weather was chilly with a feels-like of 27 at the starting time of 8:45, but temperatures were supposed to go up to 50 degrees within a few hours. It was difficult to decide on what to wear, but because it didn't get as warm as I thought it would, I did a pretty good job with a long-sleeved tech under a winter shell with attached mitten sleeves.

The course leaves from Camp Manatoc, a Boy Scout camp that only opens its trails twice a year to runners. Runners could do two almost-8 mile loops for the 25K or four loops for the 50K (if you are a masochist). I've run the trails around Manatoc before, so I knew I was in for a treat because they are beautiful and challenging.

I got there at 8:00 and had no problems parking (which is one of my anxieties about races). There were also plenty of bathrooms (my other anxiety). Even better, runners got to wait in the heated lodge until the start. I found the Goddesses there, and we took pictures.

This is Steve, our photographer. He couldn't resist a selfie so we would give him credit.

Carrie, me, Kelleigh, Renee, Jen, Marta

We look even better close up!

The first loop was pretty busy for me. I get really nervous when I'm running on a single-track trail, and I know that there are faster people who want to pass me. I want them to pass, but I can't stop and step aside for every single runner. I try to place myself towards the back of the pack at the start, but I still sometimes get caught. This causes me to try to hang at a pace that I have no business running. I felt pretty good until Mile 4, when my tachycardia set in. My heart rate jumped to a 245, and I know this because I was wearing my heart monitor, so I walked it off until I felt better.  After that, I worked out a sustainable pace. The mud was still semi-frozen, so the first loop finished pretty well with a time of 1:50. Not bad. 

The second loop was much different. By now over 300 runners had hit those same mudspots and hills that I did, so there was lots of slipping and sliding. The frozen puddles had melted, and we were now wading through shoe-sucking goop. For two hills, I chose to slide down on my butt rather than take a chance of falling forward and knocking out some teeth. I tried to tell myself that the mud was a beauty treatment, and I was going to be gorgeous.

I had left the Goddesses early on the course, and by this time I was in my angry stage, where I question why I sign up for races at all.  I was sick of walking so much, but I had to in many spots because of the mud. There might have been some grumbling, and there might have been some swearing, but I got it done.

I got to the finish line intact and ready for some HiHo beer. I changed my clothes before I took the obligatory mud picture, but I did take a picture of my shoes.

I made Butterbean spray these off when I got home.
The Goddesses and I met up again, and we enjoyed our beer in the heated mess hall. The race directors also provided chili, salad, and cookies.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I am happy to be off the trail. I don't know what is up with my headband. My head is NOT shaped that way.
One big plus to this race is the swag: instead of a shirt, I got an enormous duffle bag, and I LOVE IT!!!
This picture doesn't do it justice, but the bag is perfect!
This race has a lot going for it: a beautiful course, great swag, cool medal, nice finisher's party at the end. I spent two hours hanging out, drinking beer, and eating cookies, and I had a good time. Ok, some of that was because I knew when I got home that I would have to clean the house. I really, really hate to clean the house.

The only wild card to the race is Ohio weather, and this year I got lucky. Will I run the Fools 25K again next year? It's possible. It fits well into my training for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, and I now have a time to beat.

Next week I up the mileage again to prepare for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. Will you join me? Click here to register for any of the Cleveland races, including the challenge! Use my code, SICLE10, for a 10% discount on registration.  Join me, and we will drink beer and eat stuff after the race. Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Dial It Back Week

After pushing the mileage for several weeks, this week I decided to take a rest, although "take a rest" may be relative.  Here is what I did this week:

Monday: 2 miles running in place with 2 lb. weights to warm up for yoga.

Tuesday: 4 treadmill miles in the morning; 6 trail miles in the evening. This was super-fun.

Wednesday: 2 miles running in place to warm up for strength training. Then, as it was a snow day (first day of Spring--what???), I went directly to bed after working out, woke up two hours later, ate breakfast, and then put in 4 miles on the treadmill.

Thursday: Tae Bo. It felt amazing.

Friday: 4 treadmill miles

Saturday: 5 miles on the hills of Sand Run (after day-drinking with the Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors! Shhhhh)

We are a fun bunch! 

Sunday: Goddess Trail Run for 13! Yay!

This is EXACTLY how I look when I am happy to be running with the Goddesses.

40 miles of running + strength training + Tae Bo. Not a bad week!

Next week I have the Fools 25K, which I will probably be running with the Goddesses. After that, I need to bring my mileage up to 19 before the Pro Football Hall of Fame Half Marathon in April. Then, I've got the 20 miler the week after the half marathon.  Gaaaaa.  Am I ready? I don't know yet. I haven't gone beyond 16-point-something, but I'm pretty comfortable there, so I think I'll be ok in the weeks to come.

Meanwhile, I'm trying not to eat everything in sight. I weighed myself after today's long run (I ALWAYS go with the Sunday weigh-in while I'm still dehydrated), and I have lost about 6 pounds. Of course, that is water, but last week I was six pounds heavier even in the same dehydrated state, so I'm going with it. I'm trying to log all of my food intake. Some days are better than others (cough, cough, notthisweekend, cough), and I'm getting back on track.

This week is my Spring Break, so I look forward to lots of running and sleeping and reading trashy literature.

One last thing. . .there were people I didn't see at the Ambassador Meetup (and I miss all of you), but I was glad to see old friends and meet new ones.
Pam and I are together again. 

Andrew would never forgive me if I didn't post this picture of us. He really looked forward to talking to me; you can tell.

The wine was lots more interesting than I am. These damn kids.

Have you registered for the race of your choice (even the series) in the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon?  If not, there is still time! Use my code, SICLE10, to get a 10% discount on any race or the series. Come on, you know you want to run with me!

Have you run your 20-miler yet, Peeps? Are you looking forward to it or dreading it?  However you feel about that one run, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Product Review: Knuckle Lights

Sixty- one percent of my mileage happens when the sun (as well as everyone else) is asleep.  Most of my weekly runs are before 5:30 AM.  I know my neighborhood quite well, potholes and all, and I mostly run on sidewalks, so for a while I ran without a headlamp, even though I own one.

And then I met Elf-on-a-Bike.

It was a guy, dressed as an elf, on a bike, at 4:30 in the morning.
Thank GOD it wasn't this kind of elf.

 I had just rounded a corner, and he was in front of me. He started yelling at me. I was wearing earbuds, and I took them out, but I couldn't understand what he was saying. He circled me a few times and then left. Needless to say, I ran the rest of that route at tempo run pace.

I've seen Elf-on-a-Bike a few times since then, but he doesn't circle me on the bike anymore, although he still sometimes yells at me. He doesn't always dress as an elf either, although he always wears the elf hat.

Anyway, this incident made me think that a light might be a good idea.

There are actually quite a few runners in my neighborhood. During prime training season, I might see 5 or more runners along my route, even at 4:30 AM.  Until Elf-Guy, it didn't occur to me that lights might be beneficial, both for showing myself to other runners way ahead of our encounter and to see runners around me.  Of course lights are good to see the ground on which you run. I do have some potholes around my neighborhood, so lights are definitely beneficial to me.

The other circumstance in which I definitely need lights is during trail running at night.  The first night trail run for me was in 2015 for Ragnar WV Appalachians. That night I fell in love with night trail running, with the help of rechargeable Knuckle Lights. The problem I have with the rechargeable lights are pretty much the same problem I have with my headlamp and my watch: I forget to recharge them.  It's very annoying to realize 15 minutes before your night run that you forgot to charge your lights.

This is where the battery-run Knuckle Lights come in. The company offered me a set of Knuckle Lights in exchange for an honest review, and that is exactly what you will all get.

First, the lights come in four colors: black, grey, pink, and blue. I asked the company to surprise me, and I got black lights.

Here is some more specific information from the webpage:

Knuckle Lights are designed to be worn on the front of your hands, in a perfect position to light your path and be seen on your next walk or run in the dark. Knuckle Lights Original includes:
  • 150 TOTAL LUMENS — The LED pattern is a wide flood beam, putting out light in all directions, providing a steady, even light in front of you that does not bounce, even with your arms moving.
  • 2 LIGHTS PER SET — The units are held comfortably on your hands with soft silicone straps. The straps are easily adjusted to fit any size hand and even over gloves. The units are almost unnoticeable at less than 3 ounces each.
  • 3 POWER SETTINGS — High, Low and Blinking.
  • BATTERIES INCLUDED   Each unit operates on 2 X AAA batteries
  • BATTERY LIFE — 20+ Hours on High Power | 40+ Hours on Low Power | 50+ Hours on Blinking.
  • WEATHERPROOF — The units can be used in any type of weather and will not leak or fail.
They cost $39.99 plus delivery.

I would have to say that these lights are worth the price. I have worn the original lights for at least 5 hour-long night runs, and they do not seem to be fading yet, a problem I often have with the rechargeable lights. I like the adjustable strap that fits to my hands so that I don't have to actually hold the lights. In fact, I feel like I carry myself in better form when the lights are strapped to my hands because I hold them in the correct running position and I don't squeeze my fists at all.

Even though my arms move when I run, the lights don't bounce or move from steady shining on the road/path before me. I feel that they are perfect for my morning road runs because not only can I see and be seen, but I feel like the lights would be a helpful weapon in case Elf-on-a-Bike ever feels aggressive towards me.

As for trail runs, I find that I need both a headlamp and Knuckle Lights to see where I am running. Keep in mind that most trail runners I know use one or the other, and that may be because they are younger than me. I am very paranoid about tripping on roots or rocks, so I feel the need for both a headlamp and Knucklelights on the trail.

In any case, I am very happy for my lights. They help me to run safer both in the morning on the sidewalks and at night on the trails.  I like seeing where I am going, and I think that Knucklelights are an easy way to do that.

As for Elf-on-a-Bike, he had better not stop around me. Those Knucklelights can also be a handy tool for my protection.

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