Sunday, March 30, 2014

Run Cleveland!

Last year, I ran the Rite Aid Cleveland 10k.  It was incredible!  Here are some reasons why I liked it so much:

Parking:  I parked in the Cleveland Muni lot (cost was only $5.00), and it seems that NOBODY else did.  It was difficult to get to the lot because I had to go through the city first, but it was super-easy to get out because I could get directly onto the expressway to go home.  THAT IS A BIG PLUS.  People in front of me were waiting in line to get into parking garages that cost $15.00 or more.  Suckas.

Bathrooms:  There were several huge lines for the portapotties and the bathrooms just inside the stadium, but I walked about 500 feet farther around the stadium, and I NEVER had a line.  And I went at least four times, just sayin'.  Oops.  Was that TMI?

Course:  The last 1.2 miles were COMPLETELY downhill.  How awesome is that?  I felt GREAT in the last kick, partly because of the hill and partly because of the St. Ed's Trash Talkers, who played cadence on trash cans as we came in.  Also, it was a great surprise to see this guy:

John Adams,the Tribe drummer, is the bomb-diggity!

This year I am stepping up my game (See what I did there?), and I'm going to run the Half Marathon. I'm so excited about this race, and here is why:

The Course:  The course has changed this year, and I'm excited to see how it looks.  My favorite part last year (aside from running downhill at the end of the race) was Tremont/Ohio City.  My grandmother grew up in Tremont when it was the Polish/Ukrainian ghetto, and I am going to think about the many stories she and Uncle Frankie told me about life on Literary as I pass through that area.

The Training:  It has been seven months since I broke my foot in an unfortunate nut incident, and I have been slowly working my way back.  Last week I raced a train for ten miles in the Valley, and this Sunday I did a long, slow run of 10.25 miles, and I feel great.  Now that I know my foot will not snap in two, I am going to work on my speed.  The half marathon will be a great way for me to push myself.

The Weather:  I am probably jinxing all of us here, but I have to say it.  I am sick and bleeping tired of this weather.  This winter BLEW, literally and figuratively, and I am anxious to forget about it.  I look forward to running in the sunshine.  I DEMAND TO RUN IN THE SUNSHINE!!!

It's not too late to register for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.  Join me (and 22,000 other people who are, I guess, possibly as fun as I am) in a great run in the sun.  Join me for a beer afterward, too.

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Did I Beat the Train?

Let me set your mind at ease:  No.  I did not beat the train.

Today I ran the 10-mile Spring Training Race, sponsored by Western Reserve Racing.  It was an out-and-back course along the Towpath of the Cuyahoga River in Merriman Valley, Ohio.  The idea was to try to beat the train either to Lock 29, five miles out, and then take the train back or to beat the train both ways.  I chose the full route because I needed to get to the ten mile mark in my recovery-training.  It has been a rough road (with this horrible winter), and I thought this race would give me a little motivation.  Here is the recap:

The Good:  The best part about the race is that the proceeds benefit the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  The venue is great, too.  The Towpath is a beautiful route, fast and flat.  It goes through woods, farmland, and small towns (with good runner-friendly bars--Love you, Winking Lizard!).  It's great to see the river on your side as you run.  Normally, I would say it's great to hear the train whistle at you as it passes, but. . .

The Bad:  The train passed me the first time at the Mile 4 marker.  I didn't feel too badly because I knew that it wouldn't be a good idea in my training at this point to try to beat the train.  In fact, for the first three miles, I was running with the middle of the pack, and I noticed that my pace was 9:39, which I thought was too fast for sustaining ten miles for the first time in eight months, so I slowed down.

The train passed me the second time at the Mile 7 marker.  At that point I was resigned, and I tried to tell myself that it was a relief that I don't have to stress out about beating the train, but I'm not gonna lie.  I was pissed.  I TOLD myself (and everyone I talked to about the race) that there was NO WAY I would beat the train, but I really didn't believe it.

Curse you, Train!
The Ugly:  I am about the ONLY person who didn't beat the train.  There were some hard-core runners in this group, and I was definitely not one of them.  My stats were awful:  last in my age group, 39/52 in female division, 76/94 overall.  It's pretty demoralizing for me to see that the woman in my age group who took first place is my age and she finished at least twenty minutes ahead of me.  I stood shivering in a long, long line to get my 1/4 bagel and hot chocolate (there was no more pizza left by the time I got in), and then I stood in line for my time.  I watched everyone in front of me get a medal ("Congratulations!  You beat the train!"), and when I gave my time, it was, "Awww. . . so close.  Have a nice day!"

The Meh:  I got this coffee mug instead of a shirt.

Buck up, Happy Camper!  This is where I look at the bright side of things, so don't go away angry.

1.  I PR'd the 10-miler because the last time I ran a ten mile race was in 2012, the first year I ran.

2.  My pace was better than the first time I ran a half-marathon.

3.  My foot didn't snap in two.

4.  Getting the crap kicked out of my ego is actually a great thing.  This is an excellent opportunity for me to remember my attitude of gratitude.  Back in September, I thought I'd never run again, and today I ran ten miles.  I am SO LUCKY.  Now that I know that I can run a longer race without hurting myself, I can work on my speed.  And that is what I intend to do.

I am finished being a whiny, spoiled baby.  Thank you, Spring Training Race, for reminding me of what is important.

Next year I'm only running the five miler (so I get a ride on the train going back), and I'm going to beat the tar out of that train!

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Can You Feel It?

Today was the Shamrock 15k and 5k, and many of my running peeps represented.  I hope they were able to run away from the evil leprechaun.  Oh wait.  You're saying that's not the purpose of the Shamrock race?  HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT????

When ye run the Shamrock, ye run from me!

I ran the Shamrock last year, and it was just as cold as it was this morning.  It was my first race without any music at all, and I was miserable, as you can read when you click here.

This morning I had to do at least nine miles (in honor of the Shamrock), and I was alone, but I did it with music. As I was running and trying not to be cold and miserable, I started thinking about my running playlist and how I don't have it even slightly organized.  Some people have fantastic playlists that they customize for each run:  warmup song in beginning, tempo change for negative splits, badass song for kick in the end.  I would love to do that, but I have the attention span of a gopher.  I don't mean to insult gophers, actually; for all I know, they may have great attention spans.  I'm just basing my observation on the fact that they just poke their heads up from holes for no reason.  Why do they do that?

What was I talking about?

Anyway, I was thinking about how I categorize my music, and I realize that I choose my running music for the way it makes me feel.  So far I figured out that I have these types of songs:

Songs that Make Me Feel Spiritual/Emotional (for when you need to cry-run or do some heavy thinking):

This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm feeling spiritual.

     Anything by Mumford and Sons
     "Babylon" by David Gray
     "Carry On"  by Fun
     "Freedom"  by George Michael
     "My Companjera"  by Gogol Bordello
     "Clocks" by Coldplay
     "Learning to Fly" by Tom Petty

Songs that Make Me Feel Sexy (yes, that is possible when running):
     "Buffalo Stance" by Neneh Cherry
     "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover"  by Sophie B. Hawkins
     "Finish What Ya Started"  by Van Halen
     "Kiss" by Prince
     "Need You Tonight" by INXS
     "Somebody's Crying" and "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak
     "Sweet Harmony" by The Beloved
     "Whatta Man" by En Vogue
This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm a sexy runner.  WHADDYA MEAN which one?

Songs that Just Amuse Me
     "American Wedding"  and "Pala Tute" by Gogol Bordello
     "Ana Ng" by They Might Be Giants
     "Black or White"  and "Thriller" by Michael Jackson
     "Burning Down the House," "Psycho Killer," and "Nothing but Flowers" by Talking Heads
     "Butterbean" by The B-52's
     "Goody Two Shoes" and "Stand and Deliver" by Adam Ant
     "King of Spain" and "Michigan Militia" by Moxy Fruvous
     Anything by the Traveling Wilburys
     "One Night in Bangkok" by Murray Head
     "Peek-A-Boo" by Siouxsie & The Banshees
     "Yer So Bad" by Tom Petty
     "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen

Songs that Make Me Feel Like a Badass

I'm so BADASS, Chuck Norris asked me for advice on running the Shamrock!

     "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour
     "Give It Away" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
     "Immigraniada (We Comin' Rougher)"  and "Your Country" by Gogol Bordello
     "Pepper" by Butthole Surfers
     "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons
     "Royals" by Lorde
     "Some Nights" by Fun
I haven't put these in separate playlists or any kind of order, but maybe I should.  What do you think?

How do you group your music?

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Thin Starts in the Kitchen

Today I ran just over eight miles!  I am so happy because I am on my way to beating that train in my 10-miler coming up.

Now that I am increasing my mileage, I am starting to feel the soreness of the legs that comes from the long run.  When I got home today, I did my favorite recovery pose:  Legs up the Wall.

Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman are my heroes.

Tomorrow I will do some recovery yoga, courtesy of Rodney Yee.
Ooooh.  Stretch it, baby!

One thing that ticks me off about yoga (and this is perhaps the only thing) is that I can't get more calories than a hundred or so on  Do you know about My Fitness Pal?  It is a calorie and exercise-tracking website, completely free.  I joined it when I joined a subset of The Ohio Runners Network.  Our goal is to lose five percent of our group's bodyweight.  

I do a great job with exercise:  running, dancing, Zumba, kickboxing, light weights, and yoga.  My problem is my mouth, and this time I'm not talking about how I run my mouth.  I'm talking about what I put IN my mouth, which is anything edible.  All the time.  

Ten years ago I dropped forty pounds, and I did it by logging everything I put in my mouth.  It was hard.  It was painful.  I hated it.  

I'm doing it again.

My Fitness Pal lets me set a goal, and it gives me a number of calories every day to reach that goal.  If I exercise, I get more calories, but the problem is that the REAL calories come from cardio.  I love cardio, but I'm smart enough to know that I've got to do the other stuff, too.  This is where I hate My Fitness Pal.  It gives me very few calories for yoga, and it gives me NO calories for strength training.  Boo.

Nevertheless, yoga is what I must do on recovery day, and strength training is very necessary to maintain good muscles and a strong core, so I will suck-it-up-Buttercup and eat less tomorrow to maintain my calorie goal.

But I won't like it.

Do you use My Fitness Pal?  How do you deal with hunger?

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Why Am I Running?

This could be the opportunity for me to write a deeply philosophical post about the joys, challenges, and sorrows of running.  It could be, but it isn't.  I've already done that HERE and HERE.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I experience the joys and challenges of running.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I experience the sorrows of running.

It could be the post where I write about the camaraderie of a running club and how my running peeps keep me going.  It could be, but it isn't.  I've already done that HERE.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm experiencing camaraderie.

No, this post has nothing to do with these topics about running.  Why am I running?

Because. . .

I'm racing a train!

The Cuyahoga Valley Railroad: AKA My Racing Competitor

On Sunday, March 23, I'll be running for 10 miles along the Towpath, trying to beat a train.  Both the train and I (and hundreds of other runners) start at 10:10, and the train is scheduled to make it to the turnaround at 10:55.  Can I make it?

I am a bit nervous about this race because I haven't hit ten miles in my recovery yet.  I can do eight right now, so I believe I can get to ten before the race.  Can I average a nine-minute mile right now?  I don't think so, but you never know.  Recovery has been slow because of the terrible weather, but I'm hoping to kick it up a notch in the next couple of weeks.  Let's just say that I'd like to survive the race.

This race is just what I need to kick myself in the butt.  It will be a fun opportunity to get back into the racing season, and best of all, the proceeds benefit the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  I am so grateful to live in an area that has so many cool opportunities for runners, and I'm glad that this fun race will give me the chance to give back a little bit.

I guess I can't flatten a train's tires, so I must now either think of other ways to sabotage that train, or sigh. . . actually train for the race.

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