Monday, August 14, 2017

My Training Plan

When I read the posts of other running bloggers, I read about how they train. I almost NEVER share with you how I train. Why? Well, I think it's boring as hell. Sorry.

This is how I imagine people look when they read about my training schedule.

The weird thing is this: I am fascinated by others' training weeks. I think my own is far less than fascinating, so you may have noticed that I generally base my posts on my races, long runs, or something weird that happened to me.

Oh, and also food pictures. I like to post about eating.

Arguably, none of this is more interesting than reading about someone else's weekly training.

My current goal is to keep a 40+ mile week. I have decided that my weekly runs (and walks) must total at least 30 miles, so that everything on the long run is cake.  The challenge is that I must do this safely: no shin splints, pf, or ITB syndrome allowed.

So far, so good. Last week was  48 miles, and I feel that I rested my legs enough that I'm not hurt.

Monday: Yoga and stretching. I had to recover from Sunday's 16 miles.

This is EXACTLY how I look before I stretch and recover from the Sunday run.
This is EXACTLY how I feel after I stretch and recover from the Sunday run. Hey, I am who I am; you can't expect miracles here.

Tuesday: 5 miles on the hills of Sand Run.  I kept a good pace, especially considering my sinuses have been KILLING me.

Wednesday: 10 miles.  I did my "Reverse Blue Line" route, which I just decided to do this year.  It follows the old Blue Line of the Akron Marathon (which goes right by my house). I start from my house, run the 3 miles of Sand Run, and then take on a mile long ascent to the Blue Line on Portage Path. I actually love this route even more now that I'm running it in the opposite direction. It's more difficult, but it makes me feel like a badass. Plus, now I can finish at my house rather than at my car.
You can see that there is an actual Blue Line painted on the route. This is what runners in my 'hood follow when they train.

Thursday: Lifting in the morning; 2.5 mile walk in the evening. I find that I am walking for recovery more than I used to do, and it really feels good. My super-speedy, so-amazing-she-is-frightening friend and fellow-ambassador Pam actually got me started on this. She ran the Canal Corridor 100, and she paced her husband Steve at Burning River for the last 30 miles. She posted a lot of recovery walks, so I decided I must not be lame if I decide to go for a walk.

Did I just basically say that Pam taught me how to walk?

Friday: 5 miles on Sand Run again. I need to take advantage of this park being so close to my house because once school starts (this week--gulp), I won't be running this area in the dark. I'm going to miss Sand Run. Every day it looks different to me.

Saturday: 5.37 miles with the Goddesses at Tree Farm Trail. Normally I don't run on Saturdays (so those of you whom I've refused before, don't get mad!), but this started at 8:30 and it was only 2 loops, so I was able to get back home just as the family was getting their act together.

We chose the tallest person to take the selfie. He was, like, 7 feet tall.

Sunday: This was the biggie: 18 miles on the Towpath.  GAAAAAA!!!! I did 2 miles before starting with the Road Shoes crew, then we ran out to Station Road Bridge and back to Lock 29, and then I finished with 2 more.  I made pretty good time on this, even with allowing myself to walk the first .10 of each mile after 14.

So glad it's over! Now to eat ALL the food!

This is probably my last week of really high mileage; I'm dialing it back before the Blue Line practice run (my 20 miler), and I'm going back to school starting Wednesday. Between my kids' crazy schedules and my own weird schedule, I won't be doing a 10 miler in the middle of the week. Plus, now I must complete all miles before 5:30 AM. I can do this; I did it training for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, and I can do it for the Akron Marathon.

Are you training for the Akron Marathon? Will I see you at the Blue Line Run? How about the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon--did you sign up to run with me?

Whether you're training or not, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Ode to the Goddesses

 Burning River is a 100-mile race basically in my backyard. It is a big deal. I've volunteered for it the first two years I was aware of it, and I have run the 8-person relay for it in the last two years. Last week's post is about my experience on Leg 5 of the 8-person relay for the Mother Runners.

This week I want to write about my training. I firmly believe that when I commit to a race, I need to be completely prepared for that race. This means that after running the Cleveland Marathon I decided to stay at the 16 mile long run until Burning River so that I didn't lose any fitness along the way. It just seemed silly to start over only to increase again.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I have to start over again with training. Haha! Just kidding. That is Sisyphus. My  shoulders don't look that good.

I also trained for the race by running with the Burning River Goddesses. They are a group that trains together for Burning River, but I have found that they are more than a training group.  Bear with some sentimentality for a minute (Oh--just shut the hell up. I'm never emotional. Just deal with my feelings for once).

Here is a tissue to deal with my issue.

When my regular training partner dropped me like a hot rock (is that even a saying?), the Goddesses picked me up. Jenn and I have run together when I've done trails; we also ran Ragnar together two years in a row. She told me I had to run with the Goddesses, and she promised that they would help me train for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, even though they don't like non-trail routes.
Jenn after our Ragnar Ultra in WV

 I was really feeling low, and they stepped in and pretended that there is nothing wrong with me (even though deep down I feel like there is). They saw me through my 20-miler before the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, and let me tell you, I was SCARED TO DEATH about running that alone. They were supportive and accepting and amazing.

My joke with the Goddesses is that each run is a venture into something vaguely illegal. I've decided that I'm going to train my kids to bail me out of jail if the need arises on a Goddess run. No, I'm not going to elaborate on this.

My runs with the Goddesses have taken place on just about every trail in Merriman Valley and just about every hour of the day or night. We have run on flat surfaces like the Towpath and death-hills like Candy-Ass Mountain.  We have run at 7 am and at midnight. The Goddesses are everywhere at every time.  They are incredible.

One day Jenn posted about these super-cool hoodies on the Goddess web page. I wanted a hoodie, but I didn't want to infringe on the group, so I asked if I could buy one even though I wasn't running Burning River with the group. The positive responses were overwhelming; some Goddesses informed me that I was already a Goddess, and I gratefully bought a Goddess hoodie.

The night before the race, I met with the Mother Runners for the pasta dinner. Marta from the BR Goddesses had texted me and said she would be there for a drink after the packet pick up. I found her in the bar, and she was so kind and encouraging. She even gave me a magnet and a body marker (which was the gift for all Goddesses at their dinner). I was touched. It's difficult for me to feel like I belong anywhere, and Marta has definitely made the effort to include me every step of the way. At that point I knew that I wasn't running with a Goddess bib, but I was running with a Goddess spirit, and it gave me strength and confidence.

Marta and I ran the Medina Half Marathon together.

We also drank beer together.

What does it matter how outsiders treat you when you know you are a Goddess?

This is my ode to you, Goddesses.  You are strong and amazing, and the added bonus is that you are kind. Thank you, and here's to many more trails and many more beers.

Reminder: The early prices for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race series will go away in a few days. Register now!

Who makes you realize that you are a badass?  I hope you have a group like the Goddesses, and more importantly, I hope you make someone else feel that way. As always, I hope you Run Happy, Peeps!

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Monday, July 31, 2017

Race Recap: Burning River 8 Person Relay

Burning River is a 100 mile race largely on trails. You can run the whole thing (if you are crazy), the front half or the back half (if you are half-crazy), or in a 4-person or 8-person relay. This year I ran Leg 5 of the 8-person relay with the Mother Runners.

I met the Mother Runners for drinks and dinner at the Sheraton on Friday evening after packet pickup. We had a great time together despite the lousy food. Paying 26 bucks for lukewarm pasta and peanut butter cookies is not my idea of a great food experience. For sure next time I will be spending that money elsewhere.

Remember my friend Joy? She ran Leg 7 this year.

The Mother Runners
The Mother Runners had a lot of teams this year, and it got very confusing as we neared race day. The initial goal was for Teams 3, 4, and 5 to run together the whole way; this was why I signed up to run with the Mother Runners. Anyone can run a trail race solo. Joy and I both did it when we ran the Ragnar West Virginia Ultra Trail Relay. I wanted to enjoy myself for this race, and I wanted to run 16.2 miles with my sisters. It took some finagling because some people weren't on board with the Mother Runners' goals, but Leg 5 managed to stick together.

This is EXACTLY how we look when we are NOT running BR. Candice, me, Kristin.
 We showed up at the Ledges in Peninsula, which would be our ending point, and then I drove us to the beginning point, Boston Mills Ski Resort, where we prepped for our leg.

I look confused, right?
After a bit of waiting, the runners from Leg 4 came in, and we took some pictures together:

This is EXACTLY how we look when we are fresh and ready, not tired and stinky.

 The atmosphere at Boston Mills was a big party with lots of people, noise, music, and food.  It really got me pumped up for the run. When Leg 4 came in, we had just a few minutes to change the batteries on the group Go-Pro and make sure we had everything and then BOOM!  We were off at 5:30 pm.

The first stretch of the run was Towpath--nice and flat. Then we turned onto the Bridle Trail for a while. The first aid station came really soon--too soon for me--at 3.5 miles, which was just after Brandywine Falls. Of course, we had to get pictures at the Falls:

Kristin is in charge of the Go Pro.

 We didn't waste too much time at the first aid station because we were just getting warmed up, so we took off in a timely fashion after cramming some chips and peanut M&Ms in our mouths. I LOVE the fuel in trail race aid stations. Nobody eats gels here; it's all peanut butter and jelly, candy, pop, chips.  So much awesome.

We had some long uphills on the trails, and there was a looooonnnngggg, sunny, gravelly hill right by the expressway. After slogging up that hill, I asked Kristin to film my signature move: I threw my fists in the air and yelled, "Yes! I made this hill my bitch!"  I don't know why other people don't see how funny this is.

Our next stop was at Pine Lane, which came after miles of uphill trails. We stuffed our pie-holes there  with junk food, wiped our faces and necks with iced towels (thank you, Volunteers, for being geniuses!), and refilled our water bottles.  That was our last aid station until the end of the leg.

Let me pause a moment and thank all volunteers in the Burning River race. You were all amazing. I felt a little awkward asking for food and water considering I wasn't running 100 or even 50 miles, but you never made me feel like I was unworthy. You commented on our shirts and told us how fabulous we are. Races can't work without volunteers, and you guys are the best.

Ok, I'm done being sentimental now. We left Pine Lane and hit the trails for a while. We passed quite a few 100 milers, and they all seemed to be in great shape. One of those 100 milers was Ron Ross, who is a school board member at the district where I teach, and this year he ran his 10th 100-miler. Amazing! He wasn't even grouchy when we saw him; in fact, none of them were ever grouchy when we passed. We were able to joke with some of the runners because we kept crossing each other, and I even discussed the Ragnar WV Trail with a nice man whom I threatened to smack on the butt as I passed.

One thing I really love about Leg 5 is that there were at least three long stretches of flat road or path that allowed me to stretch my legs: there was the Towpath, a road, and the Bike and Hike. Candice and I took turns going full steam and then walking until everyone was together again. I consider this interval fat-burning work.

About 2.5 miles away from the finish, we turned back into the woods, and this was the point where we needed our headlamps. Once we were in the woods it got dark pretty quickly. I tripped once, but I managed to regain my footing without hitting the ground. Luckily, none of us had a spill, and we made it to the Ledges safely and happily where a huge party awaited us. We took pictures and handed off to Leg 6:

We are a little delirious right now.
And voila! 4 hours, 5 minutes, 20 seconds later it was all over for us.

Candice took me back to my car, and I got home at the same time as my husband, who saw I was whipped and made me a quesadilla while I showered off the bugs and sweat. And then I crawled into bed, exhausted but too excited to sleep deeply.

I got up at 5:30 AM to get to the finish line with the other Mother Runners.

Joy looks like a rock star after her leg. I had time to shower and comb my hair and I still look like a hot mess.

We ate breakfast at the Sheraton (which was better than the pasta dinner) and then waited for our last Mothers to come in. During that time I saw my friend and fellow Cleveland Ambassador Pam (@HopRunner) bring in her superstar husband Steve, who completed his first 100 miler. I can't believe he was coherent and smiling when he came in!

This weekend was definitely a whirlwind, but I so enjoyed it. The philosophy behind the Mother Runners is that women empower women. We stick together and we raise each other up, and that is what I experienced at this race. Special thanks goes to Kristin, who made me a Mother Runner and stuck with me. Thank you to Candice for jumping in when we needed you and not bailing on us when things got funky. Thank you, Mother Runners, for the fun and for the inspiration. You are all amazing.

By the way, I'm thinking of forming a 4-person relay next year. Who's in? Anyone? Well, regardless of your racing or running plans, I hope you Run Happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

MishMash Running

I've skipped a few weeks, so I'm going to dump all over you.  Hang on.  That doesn't sound right.  Let me rephrase it:

I've skipped a few weeks, so I'm going to give you a mishmash of my running so far.

Two weeks ago I joined the Burning River Goddesses for a night run, organized by Marta.  We ran 10 miles on the trails at night because at some point we will be running at night for our legs at Burning River. I am leg 5, so in theory I should finish at dusk, but last year the teams I ran with got way off schedule, so I am prepared to start much later.

Marta, Jenn, Dawn, and I are ready--headlamps on!

Full-length shot because we are full-length badasses!
I LOVE running trails at night. I get so jazzed, no matter how tired I was during the day.  There is something exciting about wondering what that noise you heard was: coyote? deer? zombie?  We heard some coyotes twice, and we saw two deer on the trails. I saw three more driving home after midnight.  Yes, it was a very long run.

See how excited I am?
Two days later I ran 15 miles on trails with Jenn and Renee. Jenn and I started at 7 for five miles, and we met Renee for the following 10. It was really relaxing to run with these women. They are so zen, and they don't mind that I am not. Have I ever told you that I have zero-chill?

I spent this week in Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, and it was gorgeous but very hot and humid. The first two days I managed to get up early and run around the marinas a little bit.

Fog coming off lake as the sun rises

Sweat coming off face as the sun rises

I stopped that nonsense by day 3 because it was just too humid, and I was swimming a lot anyway.  I hate swimming, but the lake temperature was perfect, and I know it's good to work my body in different ways than just running.

On Saturday I ran 5 miles of trails with my Mother Runners peeps Kristin and Candice. We will be running Burning River leg 5 (16.2 miles) together.  Kristin and I knew what we were getting into; she is a Burning River pro and we've run together many times. This was the second time I ran with Candice (she doesn't remember the first time or she is very polite, which is good for me either way), and we all did a great job running in a thunderstorm.  Kristin is a doctor.  Candice is a counselor. I am a teacher. None of us is smart enough to get out of the woods during a thunderstorm.  Go figure.

This is before we got soaking wet and muddy.

Today I ran 16 miles all by myself. This is actually a good thing because although I love group running, I'm going to be running the Akron Marathon all by my lonesome, so I have to get used to running long distances alone. I like running alone because I can work through all of my problems (and there are SO MANY of them) without burdening other people.

I'm not going to lie; it wasn't easy today. After mile 11 I allowed myself to walk the first .10 of every mile, but oddly enough my pace was better than it has been in a long time. The average was 10:34, even with the walking.  I'm glad that it didn't slow me down too much because I may need to use this strategy during the hills of the Akron Marathon, and I still intend to PR that baby.  We shall see.

This is EXACTLY how I look after running 16 miles in 90% humidity.
What are you training for? How are you handling the humidity?

Even in this hot weather, make sure you Run Happy, Peeps!

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Running While Away

I just got back from Boston a few days ago. I am super-tired. I spent a week there participating in the National Education Association Resident Assembly.  If you're curious about what I did in Boston, feel free to follow my adventures here.

This is a picture of me, Bradley, and Katie, the 3 Medina delegates.

I've been to Boston with my family before, so I knew where to run (Boston Common); plus, our hotel was about half a mile from there. The only problem was that I had to be at the Ohio Caucus every morning at 7:00, and we never finished our day before 10:00 PM. That meant a 4:30 wakeup if  I wanted to run or lift weights.  Well, that is what I do during the school year, so I sucked it up and set my alarm for dark o'clock crazy every day. Most days I made it.

The first thing I had to do was get a picture at the finish line for the Boston Marathon, of course. You may remember that the last time I posted from Boston, my picture showed me stepping on the finish line. I have since learned that this is a no-no, so I had to take another picture to reverse the bad mojo.

No stepping on the line!
Then I ran loops in the Park and Boston Common.

I JUST NOW noticed that my Cleveland head band is upside down. What the hell is the matter with me?
Each day that I ran outside I managed to do at least 4ish miles, and one day I did 5ish miles, but there was no long run this week. I just didn't have the time. I did add at least 20-some miles of walking this week because we walked everywhere, but I didn't officially record it.

There were two days that I ran 2 miles on the treadmill and then lifted in the fitness room, and that was a luxury because my weights are crap, and so far I have been too cheap to buy what I really need.

I am especially proud of myself for running after three hours of sleep on the evening of July 4. The alarm system went off in our room, and a recorded announcement told us to prepare to evacuate. Katie and I walked down to the lobby from the 22nd floor; that was fun. 

This is EXACTLY how we look after walking down 22 flights of stairs at 3:44 AM. I'm not wearing a bra here, by the way, so that was interesting.
When we got the all-clear, everybody jammed up the elevators, so I walked back UP to the 22nd floor. By the time I got up there, it was time to get up to run, so I just changed into my running clothes and ran back DOWN the stairs to go to Boston Common. Damn, I'm dedicated.

When I got back from Boston, I needed to get back to group runs, so I responded to two running posts with the Burning River Goddesses. On Saturday we ran loops at Hampton Hills for a total of about 6 miles.

Look how matchy I am with my BondiBand headband! I am wearing  matching compression socks, too! #stylista

On Sunday we ran from the Boston Store to Pine Lane and back for a total of about 8 miles, and then Renee and I put in two more miles on the Towpath.

I'm wearing my Orange Mud HydraQuiver here. It has grown on me. No, really, it has GROWN ON ME. Can someone help me take it off?
I intended to eat a banana and do 5 more Towpath miles after Renee left me, but it was so hot and humid, and I felt so tired from my trip, that I called it a day after 10 miles.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I call it a day after 10 miles.
Overall, I think I did the best I could under the circumstances of travel and heat.  I started this week right by doing over an hour of yoga--really good poses that I knew I needed to do--and I jumped into 5 miles today.  I'm going to get back into those 45 mile weeks again, and now I'm going to try to focus more on trails because Burning River is coming up!

What is the focus of your training? Whatever it is, I hope you Run Happy, Peeps!

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Running with Heart

So, you may remember that I have had concerns about heart palpitations during certain races or runs. If you don't remember, you can read about some of them here and here.

You may also remember that this is the second anniversary of my father's death after a heart transplant.

If you put the two together, you might conclude that I should be seeing a doctor to determine if I have heart problems of the same magnitude as my father. This is definitely what my mom thought (Hi, Mom! Love you!), and so I made a series of appointments for tests and consultations with various specialists. Every test turned out normal. During my echocardiogram, the technician kept saying, "Boy, I wish every patient had pictures like yours!" I take a strange pride in the fact that I have pretty pictures of my heart.

This is EXACTLY how my heart looks in the echocardiogram pictures.  Except it isn't a tree.
The fact that all my tests were normal and I hadn't had any episodes since last Thanksgiving led me to believe that the palpitations (tachycardia) were probably stress-induced. My cardiologist (a young kid, by the way), however, wants to monitor my heart activity for a month to see if he can catch an episode. I have to wear the monitor at all times and do everything I can to provoke the tachycardia so that he can get a recording of it.

Me: Wait, so I can run, do speed work, race, all that stuff?

Doctor: Yes, exactly. I want you to provoke an attack so I can study it.

Me: Won't this be harmful? Couldn't I, like, die?

Doctor looks at me for a full minute, then says: Do you honestly think I would tell you to provoke an attack if I thought it was harmful to you?

Me: I don't know. Maybe you don't like me.

Anyway, now I'm sure he doesn't like me because wearing this event monitor SUCKS BIG TIME.  It's huge, so it looks like I'm carrying around a beeper from the 80s.  It has suction cups, which I have to move to a different place each day, so it looks like I have hickeys on my chest.  I have wires protruding from all parts of my body. I have to sleep with it, so I roll on it and it pokes me or vibrates to let me know that I'm killing it.

This morning I went for a long run (12 miles), and I wore the monitor.  This is how it looks:

One electrode here

The second one here just under my bra
They connect to this big, freaking box.

I can't see any data from it.  There are only buttons to push and one light that blinks when I have to upload the data.  How do I do that? I have to call a number, hold the box up to the phone, and let it play a whiny fax-machine-sounding thing for at least five minutes. I'm not exaggerating.

The good news is that I feel much better knowing that this isn't really harmful; the word the cardiologist used was "nuisance," which I know pretty well. I can live with this nuisance, but I'll wear the damned monitor while I have to (love ya, Mom!).

I'll leave you with something positive--my view at the Beaver Marsh on the Towpath this morning:

Those green plants are lily pads!
And this is how I felt when I finished my 12 miles:

I'm hot, I'm sweaty, and I'm fabulous!

Also, my fellow-Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Andrew (@Andrewrunsalot) found a picture of me on the Akron Marathon page!

I'm in the bright yellow. Look at that ass!
However you run this week, I hope you run with your heart--see what I did there? Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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