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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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Off-Season Fitness

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

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

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

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

My goals (so far):

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

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

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

4.  Do yoga at least once a week.

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

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Celebrating the Running Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

I looked down, and this is what I saw:

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

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

Our next stop was to look at these turkeys:

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

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

Then we saw some adorable goats:

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

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

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Best Hot Chocolate Ever!

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

Then we took some silly pictures:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

I'm Ok/ You're OK.

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of chocolate. . .

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

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

I Beat the Blerch in Brecksville!

I didn't get to write about this when I did it because of the Hot Chocolate Giveaway (Congratulations, Erin!), but here is the lowdown on the Blerch:

You know that tempting voice in your head that tells you it's time to give up in mile 6 of your ten-miler?  The voice that tells you that Halloween candy doesn't count because it's so tiny?  The same voice that lulls you back to sleep when your alarm goes off at 5:30 to prep for your Sunday long run? That voice belongs to the Blerch:

He looks like he likes candy, right?
The Blerch is a creation of Matthew Inman, known as The Oatmeal, who is a cartoonist, grammar enthusiast, Nicola Tesla groupie, and runner.  The Oatmeal introduced the Blerch in his book, The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances.  It is a beautiful comic that really captures distance-runners' feelings about the sport and explains why we do what we do.  As soon as I read this book, I had to buy a t-shirt and bumper sticker:

This is the front and back of my t-shirt.
This is my bumper sticker.  Everyone at my job thinks I'm weird, but now that I think about it, that may have little to do with the bumper sticker.  Hmmmm.
We all have a Blerch who lives inside us, and running (or any healthy physical activity) helps us to shut up the Blerch when he wants us to eat cake and sit in front of the computer clicking on mindless games.  Not that I do that. Ahem.

So, when I saw that there was a Beat the Blerch 10k/Half/Full Marathon, I was pumped.  Unfortunately, it sold out in ten minutes, so my dreams of traveling to meet a live Blerch (they chased runners on the course) were completely shot.  Luckily, The Oatmeal sold entries to a virtual race, so I was able to beat the Blerch on my own terms and still get a medal and some cool swag.  My friend/running Peep Jen also entered the race, so we decided to do a 10k together.  First, here is the swag:

Awesome, right?  All this for twenty bucks, plus, there is a mini-Blerch stress ball that I forgot to put in the picture.

Now I have even MORE bumper stickers on my car!  My kids aren't embarrassed AT ALL when I pick them up and their friends see my car.

Jen and I ran in Brecksville Reservation, and it was gorgeous.  The temperature was in the sixties, the leaves were colorful, and we were able to catch up after not seeing each other in a long time.  (Ah, the paths of trail runners and road runners don't often cross.  We must take advantage of the moment when they do.)  Anyway, here is my medal shot:

This is EXACTLY how I look when I beat the Blerch!

Jen and I had a fun time, and she celebrated by giving me some purple deliciousness for my kids (read the book, and you'll understand). Neither one of us drank it because--eww-but my seven-year-old will love it; he'll drink any kind of pop.

If you are into virtual races, this was a good one.  Jen and I are hoping to register for the real race next year where we will Beat the Blerch on his own territory.

Remember, Peeps, it isn't too late to register for the Hot Chocolate 5k/15k in Columbus.  Use my code, TroubleRunHat, to get a free hat with your swag.  I hope to see you there!

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Winner, Winner, Chocolate Dinner!

This is going to be a short post.  This week I am visiting my father, who is in the hospital, and I am very far from home.

The plusses:  The weather is beautiful!  Sunny skies, hot temps.  I was able to run every day so far.

The minuses:  I don't have time for a long run.  I pretty much don't have time for anything!  When I'm not with my father, I'm traveling to get to him.  When I'm not doing those things, I'm grading or monitoring my students online.

The running is keeping me sane, Peeps.

Now here is the news we've all been waiting to hear:

The winner of the Hot Chocolate Giveaway, generated randomly by Rafflecopter, is Erin M.!  Contact me for your entry code, Erin.  Congratulations!

Still want to register for the Hot Chocolate 5k/15k?  Click here and use my code, TroubleRunHat, to get a free hat!

Thanks for participating in my first (and hopefully not my last) giveaway.  Thanks for being my friends, and thanks for reading my blog posts.

Run strong, my friends.


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Sunday, October 19, 2014

I'm Giving away a Race Entry!

Helloooooo, Peeps!  It is a beautiful Sunday in Ohio, and I had a wonderful run with my Peeps from The Ohio Runners Network.  Those of you who know me also know that I have what I call "Bud Light Syndrome," which means I just want all of you to know this:

I love you, Man.

Are you creeped out yet?  Read this post to figure out what the heck I'm talking about.

I feel so good that I want to give back to you, my Peeps.

Hot Chocolate 5k/15k has given me a free race entry for the Columbus race on November 16, and I want YOU to have it.  Yes, you can stuff yourself silly with this:

And you can run away from a 15k with this:

And you can wear this while sledding this winter:

All for free, just for being my friend!

Keep in mind that the race entry is good for Columbus, November 16, ONLY, and it isn't redeemable for cash.  Join me, Peeps!  The random drawing (conducted by Rafflecopter) will be next Sunday, and I will announce the winner in next week's post.  

May the odds be ever in your favor!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Not a risk taker?  Register here for any Hot Chocolate race.  Use my code, TroubleRunHat, to get a free hat!

Like what you read?  Follow me on Twitter @itibrout!  (It will also get you an additional entry into the drawing.)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Party in Columbus for the Columbus Hot Chocolate 5k/15k

It is getting close to the Columbus Hot Chocolate 5k/15k--November 16.  I'm  excited as I keep hearing that more and more of my running peeps will be there.  We will party in C-Town!

Here is the 15k medal for this year:

Isn't it adorable?  You can tell it has the special Ohio touch because there is a buckeye on it.  They even got the candy right!  (On a side note, did you realize that there are people outside Ohio who don't know what buckeye candies are?  Me neither.  How can you live life if you've never eaten a buckeye?)

When I ran the Hot Chocolate 15k in 2012, I loved the course.  It took me through the Short North, part of the campus of The Ohio State University, and some residential areas.  I enjoy looking at the scenery when I run;  the houses were really funky and cool, and the campus was gorgeous.  Here is the course map for this year:

It is impossible for me to understand maps unless they are AAA Triptiks (remember those?), so I don't know where we are going, really.  The important part for me is the CHOCOLATE STATION!!!  Can you believe that there will be chocolate at mile 5?

I would include an elevation map for you, but I understand those even less than conventional maps.

By the way, I am not even good at following maps or directions on my phone!  Yesterday I tried to find a store that I thought was in Cuyahoga Falls, and somehow I ended up in Canal Fulton.  True but pathetic story.  Oh, and when my friend Joy and I tried to find my car after the Akron Half Marathon, we had to walk at least two miles out of our way because I got lost IN MY OWN HOMETOWN.  sigh.

The post-race party that year was so fun.  There was a great band and lots of chocolate, of course.  Here is what you get from the food tent when you finish:

This is a finisher's mug with hot chocolate, chocolate fondue, and dippables.  There are usually bananas, pretzels, crackers, and marshmallows.  It is soooo good!

Are you salivating?  Does a party in Columbus sound good to you?  Join me, Peeps; let's run the Hot Chocolate together!  Click here to register for the Columbus race.  Use my code to get a free hat:  TroubleRunHat.

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

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Will Run for Chocolate

Today I ran 10 miles on the Towpath from Lock 29.  It was so beautiful to see the colorful leaves, and this morning it was still warm enough to run with capris and a long-sleeve shirt.

This is EXACTLY how the Towpath looks in October

This is our starting point:  Lock 29 in Peninsula, Ohio.
I ran with Michael and Shelby, and while the run wasn't exactly relaxing (a bit faster for the lsd than I usually do), it was so nice to be with them both in the sunshine running next to a river.  Poor Michael had to listen to Shelby and me rehash the Akron Half Marathon.  He is a true gentleman; had I been in his shoes (very speedy shoes, by the way), I would have hit us both over the head.

Because I was able to whine and moan with Shelby about our disappointing times in Akron, I am not going to burden you with a more in-depth recap, which was originally my intention.  I will save you from the torture I have subjected myself to as I covered EVERY FREAKING INCH of the terrain to figure out where I lost those 32 seconds.  Enough.  Let's move on, shall we?

Let's talk about chocolate, the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k, to be specific.  I ran this in Columbus, Ohio, in 2012, and I loved every second of it!  Today I'd like to write about the Expo, and next week I'd like to write about the race and post-race events.  The expo was in downtown Columbus on a Saturday.  I arrived with my peeps: Teresa, Deidre, Julie, and Tina.  We had reserved two rooms through the race webpage, so we checked into our hotel, and then we went on to the expo. It was very big and user-friendly.  Even better, it was full of CHOCOLATE!  Chocolate fountains, chocolate tabs, hot chocolate. . . mm m m m m.

I picked up my bib and my swag.  Hot Chocolate always has a cool item of clothing as the goody bag.  In 2012 I got a windbreaker.  This year the goody bag is super cool:

Cute, huh? The hoodie is fleece-lined.  Perfect for the Polar Vortex.

The volunteers were so fun at the expo.  They were rocking out while passing out chocolate and bibs. They also encouraged us to try on our jackets to make sure they fit, which I really appreciate since I stink at guessing my size.

The Expo this year promises to be just as great (and full of chocolate).  There will be lots of vendors and the chance to buy more race gear, and there will be a DJ (our own dance party!) and a Kid Zone with inflatables.

As much as we enjoyed the Expo, my running peeps and I were anxious to move on to carb-loading in the Short North, so we did our photo-op and then left for pasta and wine.  And more chocolate.

This is EXACTLY how I look at the Hot Chocolate Expo after gorging myself on chocolate.

You, too can have this experience, Peeps.  Register now for either the 5k or the 15k!  Use my code:  TroubleRunHat, and you'll get a free hat with your goody bag!

Let's do this together!

Next week:  My memories of the 15k race and the post-race experience

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

Goodie Bag

The wait is over—check out the award-winning Hot Chocolate 2014-2015 goodie bag. It’ll become your go-to outer layer whenever you need to stay cozy and stylish. Pair it with the included reusable drawstring bag.
• Luxurious full-zip hoodie
• Fleece-lined material
• Men’s: cool green accent lining, piping, + drawstring
• Women’s: hot pink accent lining, piping, + drawstring
• Roomy front pockets

Goodie Bag

The wait is over—check out the award-winning Hot Chocolate 2014-2015 goodie bag. It’ll become your go-to outer layer whenever you need to stay cozy and stylish. Pair it with the included reusable drawstring bag.
• Luxurious full-zip hoodie
• Fleece-lined material
• Men’s: cool green accent lining, piping, + drawstring
• Women’s: hot pink accent lining, piping, + drawstring
• Roomy front pockets

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Race Recap: Akron Half Marathon

     "You will never run a sub-2 half marathon if you start in Corral C," Elizabeth said, shaking her head.  I followed her and Shelby to Corral B, slipped in, started my music, and tried to get in the zone.  "There are your pacers," Elizabeth continued.  "Keep them in sight at all times.  You are going to have to fight the crowd to stick with them.  This isn't going to be fun; it's going to hurt.  You have to be focused at all times.  Don't think about anything but staying on pace.  I'll stay with you as long as I can, but this is just a training run for me, so I'm not going to go all out for 13.1 miles.  Good luck!"

I waited, deliberately breathing slowly, wondering, "Why the hell did I decide to do this?"

"This" was the Akron Half Marathon.  It was my second time running Akron, and it was my fifth half marathon.  Even though I ran two half marathons in May, I realized that every race, every training program, every bite of food I did or did not put in my mouth for the past nine months had led to this very moment.

In December 2013, Shelby and I decided that we wanted to run a half marathon in less than two hours.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I am trying to forget about a time goal (by drinking lots of wine) at the Turtles' Team Dinner.  Shelby, on the other hand, looks MAH-velous.
You've read my goal posts (See what I did there?), so you know the ugly getting-there details.  This was the moment where it all came together.

The night before, I went to the Expo to pick up my bib, my shirt, and my racing singlet (Team Panera!):

This is EXACTLY how I look when I am panicked about running 13.1  in the early morning.

I laid out my racing gear:

See the VIP badge on the left?  Team Panera, baby!

And I did my best to get some sleep.  The next morning after I ate my pre-race Panera blueberry bagel, Joy and I got lost in my own hometown while I tried to navigate the closed streets to get to my VIP parking spot.  Alas, I gave it up and parked in one of the many available spots in a parking deck near the starting line.  Then came the the hurry-up-and-wait time with my peeps until the start.  I took some pictures in the pitch-dark:
Erin and I are posing under a tree that cast some weird pox-like shadows on our faces.  Remember Erin?  She ran Leg 3 (7.5 miles) on our Turtle Relay Team.

The Ohio Runners Network, Akron Half Marathon 2014

Then, after nervously high stepping in the corral, the race started.  I don't know if I am ready to write about everything I felt. . .It's too soon, and I think I need to digest some more.  This is what I can write about for now:

It was really, really difficult.  I carried my water bottle and never walked through a water stop, and that saved me a lot of time.  I ate two GU's on the run, one at 45 minutes, and the second at 1:30 minutes, and that saved me some time, too.

A consistent piece of advice I got from everyone who coached me was to stop calculating paces in my head. Instead of saying, "Wow, I'm running at a 9 minute mile right now, but I won't be able to sustain that for six miles/ten miles/whatever," I deliberately told myself, "You can run this pace for one mile.  That is all you need to do, just finish this mile."  I did that thirteen times.  Here are my results:

Akron Marathon - HALF MARATHON
Female / 44
Placed 88th in Women 40-44

Finish Time
Finish Net2:00:52
Finish Gun2:03:34

LocationNet TimeClock TimePacePace Between
3.935:3638:189:07 /mi
8:52 /mi
8.71:18:121:20:548:59 /mi
9:43 /mi
12.751:57:352:00:179:13 /mi
9:08 /mi
Finish2:00:522:03:349:13 /mi

I knew by mile 11 that I would be really close to my goal, but at that point I was hurting pretty badly, and I felt like I was doing the best I could.  As you can see, I was very close--53 seconds away from reaching my goal of a sub-2 hour half marathon.

This is a major PR, and I am happy with it, but I am also very disappointed.  Somehow, I think it would have been easier to take if I hadn't been so close.  What was it?  Was it the blanket covering the field on the home stretch that didn't allow me to sprint because I thought I was going to trip?  Was it the hill coming back around mile 12? Was it my weight? I don't know.  I have to do some more thinking.  I'm hoping to break this down further in the post for next week; maybe it won't be so painful then.

I would like to thank the Akron Marathon and Panera for the opportunity to blog for them.  I would love to continue this relationship next year (I adore those bagels!).  I also would like to thank my coach at OneLife Fitness (and the Towpath Turtles), Sheila, for pushing me and giving me sound advice for my training.  I'd like to thank everyone in The Ohio Runners Network for being such a great running club.  Lastly, I'd like to thank Shelby, who has stuck by me this whole time, temper tantrums and all.  Thank you for saying you believe in me, Shelby.  We are still in this together for next year!

Hey, Peeps--what's next on your race agenda?  I'm going to run the Columbus Hot Chocolate 15k/5k  on November 16.  Join me by registering and using my code, TroubleRunHat, to get a free hat with your swag.  It's the sweetest race around!  I'll give you more details after I work out this Akron-thing in my head.

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