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.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Race Recap: Medina's Race with Grace

This week I got to indulge in Panera bagels TWICE:  On Saturday I ate a French toast bagel (new to me--yummy) because I did a long run, and on Sunday I ate a blueberry bagel because I ran in the Race with Grace 5k.

Saturday was the Towpath Turtles' practice relay race for the Akron Marathon.  This is where we support our Turtles Relay Team by running their legs of the race with them.  I chose Leg #3, which is 7.5 miles.  Our rock star relay runner was Erin, and this was her longest run to date.  She was fabulous!  We had a fun run in the sun, and Erin smiled the whole time.  She is going to have a great race on Saturday, September 27.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I yell, "RELAY!" instead of "Cheese!"  Erin is on the bottom right, next to me.

Bagel #2 (blueberry) was preparation for the Race with Grace, a 5k that provides financial support to those with breast cancer.  My friend Sharon, a Spanish teacher at our high school, organized a huge team of runners (over 50!) to race in the name of Brenda, a mother of one of our English teachers and a breast cancer survivor.  Sharon did a fabulous job of organizing Team Brenda, from nagging us for our entry fees to getting us team shirts and herding us (like cats) to a team photo.  I got a few photos of our team before the official group pic:

Some of Team Brenda before the official snapshot

Brenda, our namesake, with her husband and her daughter, Sherri

I tried to stir up some smack talk (and a possible betting opportunity) by attempting to pit two teachers against each other for the win.  Jordan (the chemistry teacher, and just a damn kid, by the way) predicted he would win the race in 16:30.  Ed (the math teacher) said he didn't feel like training to win (as he had just run in the 2014 Gay Games), so I felt rather deflated.  I've got a year to get this rivalry going.

Ed and Stephani: Who is the fast runner here?  Hint #1: Second place finish in the Gay Games Half Marathon.  Hint #2:  It's not Stephani.

Hanging out with my Medina running peeps for a good cause was really a great way to spend a Sunday morning, but as for the racing part. . .I'm not gonna lie; I wasn't feeling it, Peeps.  It was hot and humid, and I am kind of sick.  That's right; a week before the half marathon, and I don't feel well.    Nevertheless, I did the best I could.  I had to pull out my mantras extra early:  I can do this.  I can do anything for 25 minutes. . . 20 minutes. . .10 minutes. . .5 minutes.  You get the point.

Official Time:  26:49 (the start wasn't chip timed, so I lost more than 20 seconds by my Garmin), 8:39/mile
9th in my AG and on Team Brenda (!),  183/694 overall

I'll take it.  I'll also take a nap as soon as I get some laundry done.  (I'm just kidding about the laundry.)

Jordan was right: he won the 5k in 16:31--amazing!  Ed was right, too; he took second place (but only because he wasn't feeling it either).  Lauren (intervention specialist) took first place in her AG, and Allison (math teacher) took second place for women.   Team Brenda won for fastest race results!

This was a great day for a race, and I will definitely do this again next year.  Now for a real taper, and then I will see you at the Akron Half Marathon on Saturday, September 27!

Don't forget, Peeps, that I will be blogging for the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k in Columbus, which is on Sunday, November 15.  If you want to register early, use my code, TroubleRunHat, to get a free hat with your swag.  Join me--it's the sweetest race around!

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Race Recap: Natatorium 5k

I normally don't like 5Ks.  In fact, I usually HATE 5Ks, but today was different.  Today my family came with me to a fun run, and then they stayed to watch me finish the race.  This is the first time in three years of racing that they have done that.

I was surprised last month when I casually mentioned doing a Family Fun Run (1 mile) on a Sunday morning for the Natatorium 5k, and my husband said, "Yep.  Let's do it."  The kids objected, of course, but they really didn't have a choice.  They were just as excited as I was this morning when I pinned on their bibs, although I admit that I bribed the 12 year old with a Dr. Who commemorative medal.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm happy that my family is running with me.  The kids are faking it well.

The kids did a great job!  I ran with the seven year old, and we got 'er done in about twelve minutes.  When we crossed the finish line, I could hear Turtle calls from The Ohio Runners Network, and it made my day.  My son was so excited that people were cheering for him, and I'm not gonna lie, I had tears in my eyes because he was smiling so much.  Thanks, Turtles!

Even if you are a long-distance runner, it is always good to test your speed with a 5k now and then.  I haven't run the Nat since 2012, so I wanted to see if the changes to my lifestyle (Dropped fifteen pounds and counting! No more broken foot!  Speed work at the track!) brought any improvement to my pace.  Since I am tapering for the Akron Half Marathon (September 27), I thought a PR would improve my rotten mood.  Plus, the swag for this race was awesome!

The race was only 25 bucks, and I got a track jacket!  Plus, the  Family Fun Run was only 20 bucks (for all four of us), and we got two tee shirts and two long sleeve shirts!  Wow!
PreRace Fuel:  Panera blueberry bagel with cream cheese, coffee with Thin Mint creamer.  Don't mess with tradition.

No fuel during race.  Come on, it was three miles.

Post Race Fuel:  There were lots of snacks:  tiny Larabars (so cute!), bananas, apples, chips, pretzels.  The kids ate some pretzels, and I took home a bag of Fritos (don't judge) and some mini Larabars.  I didn't eat any of it. . .yet.

The best part about this whole race is that as I rounded the corner in the last part of mile three, before I started my kick to the finish, I heard and saw my family cheering for me on the corner!  That gave me the motivation to finish strong (even though I was cursing myself for running a 5k, as I always do).  Plus, my husband took some pictures of me as I ran by, and that was great because I almost never get pictures of me during a race.
Here I come!  Ready to finish!

There I go!
To sum up:  I finished in 26:12 (my time, not official time), which is an 8:22 pace.  Much better than I had thought I would do!

Honestly, even though I am in cranky taper-mode, this was the best day ever!

Congratulations to Shelby and Brad from The Ohio Runners Network for taking Age Group awards.  Brad, aren't you glad I told you to dump your long run and do the Nat?

Preview:  Well, Peeps, I can't hold it back any longer.  I will soon be blogging for the Hot Chocolate 5k/15k.  I will be glad to share more with you later about this fabulous race, but I wanted to give you a preview gift.  If you use my code when registering, TroubleRunHat, you will get a free hat with your swag.  This goes for any Hot Chocolate race in the country, although I plan to run the Columbus race.

Tune in next week when I write about the Race for Grace 5k and the Towpath Turtle Relay Test Run.

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

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Blue Line Test Run

I voluntarily woke up at 4:45 am on a Saturday to run the Akron Blue Line with a couple hundred crazy runners.  The Blue Line Training Run is a free event sponsored by Vertical Runner where runners can check out part of the course for the Akron Marathon and Half Marathon.  Other contributors were Northeast Ohio Fit, the Towpath Turtles, YMCA Marathon 101, and New Balance.  Thanks to these sponsors, runners had aid stations with water, Gatorade, and PowerBar Gels along the mapped out 12- and 20-mile routes, as well as goody bags with PowerBars.  Some lucky ducks even got free socks!

Runners starting to gather for the start.  I am in the bottom left corner in the pink shorts.  Photo credit:  Vertical Runner

David and I meet up at the beginning. 
I didn't get to run this event last year because of my broken foot, but I did run the aid station for the Towpath Turtles, which you can read about here.  I was so excited to run with my peeps: Joy, Mandy, Carrie, and Renee.  Even the sucky weather (soooo hot and muggy) couldn't keep us from having a great time.

I'm not gonna lie:  it wasn't easy.  I thought I was going to have a leisurely run through Akron, but the  Badasses I run with had different ideas.  I was just happy to be able to hang with them (even though, as I reminded them, I am MUCH older than all of them).  I definitely dropped back in the last mile and a half, but I am ok with that.

PreRun Fuel:  Panera Blueberry Bagel and cream cheese, coffee with Thin Mint creamer, water

Fuel during Run:  Chocolate Outrage GU (1).  I probably should have taken a second around mile 9 or 10.  Lots of water.

Post Run Fuel:  1/2 cup milk with two tablespoons Carnation Instant Breakfast Drink, fried egg and cheese sandwich, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 tomato, spinach, 3 radishes.

Right now I am starving.

The Blue Line Training Run is one of the big events that make Akron such a great place to live.  I love that our local running stores are so involved in the community, and I especially love that we have such a large and supportive running community.  Everywhere I turned, I saw runners talking, laughing, and encouraging each other.  While it wasn't the easy run I envisioned, it was definitely a great time.  AND. . . I treated myself to this medal as a reward for last week's tempo run from hell and this week's test run.

Two tough twelve milers = 1 Tardis medal!

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