Sunday, May 25, 2014

Step It Up!

Today I decided to forgo a shorter long run (tapering) for a stair run with the Towpath Turtles.  We met at the William McKinley Monument in Canton to run the steps.   I first did this workout with the Turtles two years ago, and I love it now.  Notice I said NOW.  I remember arriving in the parking lot to see this:

This doesn't look nearly as scary as when you are at the bottom of the steps looking up.
First we warmed up with a two-mile run.  As we ran, I told the new Turtles that if I could enjoy this workout, anyone can.  It's the pain I feel a few days later that I don't enjoy.  I figured that I could do lots of yoga this week to recover, and I can shake out the legs with two short runs before the Medina Half Marathon on Saturday.  After the warm up run, we got down (or UP) to business:

This looks more intimidating, right?

We did ten laps up and down the steps, with an interval around the parking lot on laps 5 and 10.

To me, it's scarier to go down than up.
One thing I have learned, thanks to Sheila, the coach of the Turtles and One Life Coaching, is that it is so important to build in strength and general fitness in my running routines.  Of course, I would have burned more calories doing my traditional long run, and it would have felt easier, but running stairs --and yoga and lifting weights and core-building and strength training-- it all pays off in the end.  I will be so happy that I chose to mix up my workouts when I hit mile 11 of the Medina Half Marathon.  That is when I will remind myself that my body is strong and ready and I should trust my training.

I am not sure that I will ever be HAPPY that I choose to do planks and push-ups, but again, trust in the pay-off.

Have a happy Memorial Day weekend.  Let us all take time this weekend to remember the brave men and women who gave their lives for our freedom.

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Race Review: Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon

Today  I woke up at the ungodly hour of 3:00 am.  Normally when I wake up for a long run on Sundays, I console myself that it's STILL allowing me to get up later than I would for work (I get up at 4:30 am on school days).  Not so today because today was the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon, and because I always worry about getting into the city in time for parking, I had to leave my house by 4:30.  I got a great space in the huge Cleveland Municipal Lot, and I was really happy until a jackelope backed his truck into the next spot SO CLOSELY NEXT TO MINE that I couldn't open my door.  Seriously, Dude?  There were 60,000 spots in that lot; you couldn't skip a space at 5 am?

Anyway, I didn't have any trouble waking up because I was so excited after being at the expo on Friday.  Of course I set out my outfit the night before:

This is EXACTLY how I look when my body isn't in my clothes.

AND my son pasted on a temporary tattoo that I got at the expo:

Let's get to it, shall we?

The Good:  There was a lot of good in this race.  It was well organized, with plenty of port-a-potties.  The course was very interesting, with some funky neighborhoods (I'm looking at you, Tremont and Ohio City!) and some incredibly rich neighborhoods (I'm looking at you, Clifton).  The supporters were really enthusiastic in some places, and the signs were clever.  My two favorite signs were in Tremont.  The first said,  Run like you stole the kishka!  You definitely have to be from Cleveland and/or adore Franky Yankovic to understand this one.  For those of you who are not familiar with Eastern European food or our favorite polka player, check out this version of it:

The second sign is for those of us who have a love/hate relationship with George R.R. Martin.  It said, Hodor like you just Hodor!

Made my day!

Other "goods":  The beer line was better organized this year.  I actually got a beer this year, but because I was so exhausted, I only drank half of it.  I'm so ashamed.

The swag and the medal are awesome:

The Bad:  The pre-race weather was FREAKING COLD and windy, but of course nobody can control for that.  Welcome to Northeast Ohio!  I wore a long-sleeved shirt, but I only brought a gunky towel with me to cover up before the race.  I shivered in the wind off of Lake Erie for an hour and a quarter.  My fault; I really need to start buying throwaway clothing at Goodwill.

Also, although there were plenty of Port-a-Potties, there was no hand sanitizer.  ICK.  'Nuff said.

Lastly, I saw many people trying to pop a GU before the start time, but there was no pre-race water available.  I think it would have helped me since I waited so long after my 3 am breakfast.

The Ugly:  Well, that would be me.

Don't get me wrong:  I think this is a perfectly respectable time considering I have not been able to run 13.1 miles in a year.  Also, this is a respectable time considering I took five months off all cardio and endurance to heal a broken foot.  Every time someone asked me about a time goal, I said that I would be happy to finish the race.  This was a lie; I always have a secret time goal, and this time I dared to hope that I could PR my Medina time (2:12:21).  I know. . .stupid.  The thing is that I think that I COULD have pr'd if I had played this right.  Once again, I set out too quickly, and I was fluctuating back and forth between 9:30 and 10:00 for the first 9 miles (except when I walked through a water stop or fueled).  This was wrong.  I had originally intended to follow the 2:10 pacer, and I didn't follow through.  In fact,  my hubris led me to believe that I would PR the race because I was feeling great until mile 9.  

Mile 10 was difficult because it was a gradual incline.  It didn't really look like a hill to me, but I was already hurting by then, and I noticed that many runners around me had started walking.  I can't walk up a hill; it smells too much like defeat.  Luckily for me, the marathon winner came by on the other side of the highway at that time, so I was able to shuffle up the hill while watching him.  At mile 11, I decided that I would never run another half marathon again, and I wondered why I had thought my two previous half marathons were fun.  At mile 12, the resolve kicked in again, but I knew my body was toast.  I brought the pace back up, but it wasn't enough.

I am happy with this time.  I am.  The question is, What will happen in two weeks at the Medina Half Marathon?  I can't wait to find out. . .

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tapers and Tweets

Today I ran nine beautiful miles on the Towpath in Peninsula.  I started from Lock 29 with Renee, Kathy, and Carrie, and we ran for five miles before the Turtle training session.  Then I ran with my favorite band, Gogol Bordello, for the last four.

This is such a cute video, and it has the bonus of being one of the few "clean" Gogol Bordello songs I can post here.  I am in love with Eugene Hutz, the lead singer with the sweet 'stache.  My husband and I have an agreement: if Eugene ever calls for me,  I am outta here.

Anyway, I was running and zoning, and I passed a couple with my typical warning, "Passing on your left. . .unless I die first."  I thought I heard my name, but I was still in music mode, so it didn't register until I heard it a second time.  I turned around.

"Are you Stephani?" the gentleman asked.

"Yes," I said, wondering if the Turtles had passed a message on to me somehow.  You see, when my running peeps and I get separated on a path, we rely on people (usually the bikers) to relay messages for us.  We usually say things like, "When you see a woman wearing a neon pink shirt that says 'I'd rather be drinking,' ask her to turn around at the four mile mark."  So, it was for this reason that I thought I'd be getting a message.

"I follow you on Twitter," he said, extending his hand to shake mine.  Holy schmoly!  What are the odds of that?  Anyway,  I hope I remembered this correctly, but my newfound friend's name is Michael, and he found me by reading my posts in the Fairlawn-Bath Patch online.  Michael and his friend and I discussed the Cleveland Marathon, which is coming up next Sunday.  I will be running the half, and Michael and his friend will be run-walking the 10k.  They will love the 10k; I ran it last year and I had a blast.  Remember this review?

I am so happy that I met someone through running AND social media.  I used to think that Twitter was, well, for twits, but now I realize that I have connected with so many people from whom I learn many great lessons.  Thank you for reminding me of that, Michael.

I would love to meet up with anyone who is running Cleveland next Sunday.  When we all get more information on the staging area, I'll tweet out a meeting time/place for anyone who is interested.

Happy tapering, Peeps!

You know I can't leave you without mentioning Mother's Day, so here is Mike Polk's tribute to mothers.  Well, it's actually his Mother's Day tribute to MILFs.  If Mike Polk or MILFs offend you, don't watch this.  For the rest of you, this is hilarious.

Happy Mother's Day!

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Enough about Me; What Do You Want to Know about Me?

I am old.  How old am I?

I used to take pride in drinking everyone under the table.  Now I take pride in the fact that my dental hygenist told me, "I love when my patients take care of their teeth."

This is EXACTLY how I look with clean, sparkly teeth.  Hey!  My teeth are UP HERE!

I have an email.

You've got mail!

I use Facebook.

Don't you DARE try to guess my age group.

If you are one of my students, just the fact that Facebook is my main form of social media tells you that I am old.  Yes, I did all of those "Ten Personal Questions about High School" and "Three Things Nobody Knows about You" posts.

We live in an age of narcissism, and that is why I am going to contribute to my belief that you want to know all about me by answering some questions from the "Liebster Awards," sent by my blogging peep, Brian at Strides.  Check out Brian's blog; he has some great pictures of his hometown, London (Ontario), where all the streets and monuments have awesome Shakespearean names.  I'm a sucker for Shakespeare.

I am supposed to tag ten running bloggers to do this, but I am ashamed, so I will not do that.  What I will do is give you two more links to running bloggers I regularly read:

Check out David at Daddy Runs Fast.  He wrote a play about running called And Then You Die (How I Ran a Marathon in 26.2 Years), and he regularly posts different running playlists, which I love to comment on.

Also take a look at Caroline at I Heart Running.  She aspires to run a marathon in all fifty states and she is currently posting her progress in her new journey in veganism.

Ok, here are the questions Brian gave me, and here are my responses:

1. Tim's or Starbucks?  Haha!  This is a Canadian thing, right?  Starbucks, of course.  This week is Frappucino Happy Hour Week.  I can't believe I haven't bought ONE half-price Frappucino ALL WEEK.

2. What's your favourite distance, and why?  The longest race I've run is a 13.1, and that distance seems to be perfect for me.  It allows me to enjoy the race WHILE I'm running it, and it pushes me to set time-goals.  Someday I hope to try a marathon, but it will have to be when my kids are old enough to spend more time alone while I'm training.

3. How many hours a week do you blog?  I have two blogs, this and Blended Learning Implementation: A Living Journal of our Blended Learning Journey.  That's a horrible title for a blog, isn't it?  I assure you it is more interesting than it sounds.  In it I write about my successes and failures in being a guide rather than an expert for my students.  Anyway, this was not the question.  I spend about two hours a week on this blog, and I post every Sunday.  The other blog. . . I write when I feel it.  Then I usually spend about two hours per post.

4. How supportive of your running is your significant other?  I would say he is resigned to it rather than supportive.  He doesn't yell at me or pout (anymore) when I do my long runs or when I decide to run in the evening when he gets home from work.  He works around my running schedule within reason.  He jokingly calls me "The Kenyan."  I will say, however, that he has NEVER come to any running event I've done, even when I once asked him to come to my first half marathon.

5. Run in the rain? Or the treadmill instead?  Rain always.  I don't own a treadmill.

6. Does your job provide "training" benefits or incentives?  Nope.

7. Any notable difference between male bloggers and female ones? It just occurred to me I only nominated females....  Hmmm. . .I would say from my brief experience with following bloggers that male bloggers seem kinder than female bloggers.

8. Love numbers or hate numbers? (I hate 'em!)  The only numbers I care about are minutes per mile and overall time.

9. Consider your OWN celebrity crush. Go for drinks with them or go for a run with them?  I like to run, but I'm not crazy.  Drinking comes first.  I'm sure any celebrity I'd like to run with would crush me.

10. If you had to give up one or the other, would it be blogging or running?  I'd give up blogging, even though I love the creative outlet it has given me.  I hope to never give up running, as it keeps me from killing those I love.

Wow--that was a lot, wasn't it?  

IF you are so inclined (anyone), feel free  to answer these questions in the comments:

1.  Longest distance run without music?  Victory or completely normal?

2.  Worst pre-race meal consumed?  

3.  Worst post-race meal consumed?

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