Sunday, December 20, 2015

Dang--It's Cold!

This post is going to be short and not-sweet.

1.  I am battling the crud, so I shouldn't be around anyone.  Except my family.  They will get it no matter what.  Then they will give it back to me.
     A.  Of course this is my Winter Break.  I hope I'll be able to breathe through both nostrils on Christmas Day.
     B.  I kicked up my anti-crud fight with my regular Emergen C Super Orange Immune Booster, NyQuil, and Zicam (after the Cold Eez ran out).  Zicam is awesome.
     C.  The Neti Pot is back--oh yes.  Neti Pot, why can't I quit you?  This time I'm boiling water to avoid brain amoebas.

2.  I wonder if Emergen C Super Orange Immune Booster would be a good mixer with Grey Goose?  Hypothetical question.

3.  I ran ten miles this morning on the Towpath.  I saw a mink running on the thin layer of ice at the Beaver Marsh.  I have no picture of that particular mink, but here is a picture of a mink:

Sorta cute.  Maybe not.

4.  It was super-duper cold, and I was irritated almost the whole time.  I bought a Fila jacket from Woot.  It was very cheap, and I thought it would be good for running in cold temps.  I still love the jacket, but I hated running in it; I felt like my shoulders were too constricted.

5.  This time, instead of listening to music or my own Voices, I listened to two podcasts: Wait, Wait! Don't Tell Me! and Car Talk.  I liked this because it made me slow down (combined with a too-tight jacket), and I felt like I was running the pace I should run for long, slow distances.  This will be important when I start training for my first marathon.

I'm looking forward to relaxing, reading, and running during my break.  I've got nothing to train for (officially) until May, although I'm certain I'll talk myself into running the Shamrock in March, so really, if I can maintain a minimum of ten miles on the long-run days, I'll be happy.

I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Race Recap: 2015 NERC Interclub Relay

Today I ran 10 miles on the Towpath. . . in capris and a t shirt.  Last week at this time, I wore tights, shorts, a long-sleeved shirt lining, a t shirt, a jacket, a hat, and gloves--and I was still freezing my tuckus off. Welcome to Ohio, Peeps.

Last week was the Northeast Running Club (NERC) Interclub Relay and Fun Run at The West Woods Park.  I'd tell you where that is, but I haven't a clue; Sheila drove me so I didn't pay attention.  She could have just dropped me somewhere by the side of the road, and I would have died of hunger there after I ate my one GU.  It's a good thing she didn't, or she and Shelby would have had to run the eight mile leg of the relay.

I knew nothing about this race when I signed up for it.  I thought, "Yeah, trails, a relay, I'll do eight miles.  No biggie.  No pressure."  Then I looked at the list of runners: Snakebite Racing Team with my fellow Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Pam and her husband.  Crap.  They are serious badasses, often taking first place in their AG or even overall in races.  My only consolation was that Pam finished her second Iron Man not so long ago, so I thought maybe she'd back off today.  Yeah, right.  Also I saw Nate and Giovanna, who are ultra runners (and Nate is a tri-athlete).  They both ran the Ragnar Appalachians Trail Relay this summer as part of an ultra team, and I see Nate zipping by in the neighborhoods when I run in the mornings sometimes.  Lucky for me, Giovanna told me she was taking it easy that day, so I was able to relax a little bit when we started.

The routes had been posted a few days before the race, but I am not at all familiar with this neck of the woods (see what I did there?), so it meant nothing to me.  Guy Gadomski, the race director, explained our eight-mile leg to us, but that meant nothing to me either.  I just hoped the course was clearly marked and I wouldn't be completely alone for eight miles.  I didn't need to worry; there were volunteers pointing us in the right direction, and I was able to run with and/or near a group of nice ladies for most of the race.
I'm smiling here because A) it's in the first few miles and B) I'm relieved that I'm not lost and alone.
The course was ALL HILLS.  If it had been snowing or icy, I wouldn't have run this race because there were also stairs.  My music died in the first 200 feet, so it was me counting my breaths and trying to make conversation with the runners around me.  Then I realized that they didn't want to talk to me, so I went back to counting my breaths.  It wasn't so bad running without music, even with the brutal hills and tired legs from my trail race the previous day.  I walked some of the hills, more at the end, but I feel like I finished strong and made a decent showing for my team.
At least I mustered up the energy for a thumbs-up towards the end of the race.

Those aren't fat rolls you see on me.  I put my gloves and phone in my pockets.

After the race there was a chili cook-off.  I didn't eat any chili, but I did shove a cookie in my head, as well as a homemade energy bar that was the bomb-diggity.  Then I did my selfies:

Team TORN: Shelby, Sheila, me.  Shelby is REALLY happy to be there.

Look!  I found CleMarathon Ambassador @pam_mcgowan!

All in all, this was a very nice day in the woods with some very nice people.  I've told you before that trail runners are good people, right?  Plus, you can't beat a free race, which this was. It was good to know that I can do eight miles of up and down, up and down because guess what?  I just signed up for Leg #7 in the Burning River 100-Mile Relay.  It's fifteen miles and change, and I'll be running at night, Peeps.  Crazy, ammirite?

I'll start panicking in a few months.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Racing Naked: Ohio Outside Trail Race 3

Friday evening's Facebook post:

Will somebody PLEASE give me an excuse not to run the Ohio Outside Trail Race #3 tomorrow morning?

Yep.  That was my attitude.  I only had one person (Sheila) respond, and she told me to go to bed.

I got up for the race, had breakfast, yadda yadda yadda, and I left with my bag o' racing supplies (towel, warm jacket, gloves, Garmin, phone, earbuds, FlipBelt, Kleenex).  It was freaking COLD.

I was further irritated when I discovered that I hadn't recharged my Garmin.  "Well, that is just dandy," I grumbled. "Now I won't know my pace or how far I am on the course or ANYTHING. Way to go, Stephani."

It turned out that running without the Garmin, or "racing naked," was the best thing I could have done.  I didn't look at my wrist during the whole race.  I didn't judge my pace or make any calculations on where I could gain time.  I didn't think, "OMG.  I SWEAR I've gone farther than .27 miles."

And. . . I shaved a minute off my previous time.  Not bad, eh?  Now, I don't think this is entirely due to running sans Garmin because I  know that I am a faster runner in cold weather; however, I do think that the fact that I didn't keep judging myself and measuring the course paid out for me, too.  I did measure myself against other runners--this dude, for example:

You think you're going to beat me?  Really?
You, sir, are going to get chicked.

All in all, I finished happier than when I started, especially after a slice of breakfast burrito and two carrot cookies.  Did I mention that the cookies are the bomb diggity?

This is EXACTLY how I look after shaving off a minute of my time and eating two carrot cookies.
All in all, the Ohio Outside Trail Series is a good, relaxed sort of race if you never have hopes of placing in your AG or at all.  The trail isn't too difficult, and it's very pretty.  The hoodie is freaking SWEET, and the beer glasses are cool, too.  I'd also like to do a shout-out to the mother who brought her ADORABLE Little Punkin to every race and always cheered in the same place--the last bend by the lake before the stairs.  I looked for that cute baby every time I did that loop, and I had to smile every time.  Lady, your baby is a life-saver.

Those cookies, though.

This post is a bit long, so I'll save my recap of the NERC Interclub Relay for next week.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

2015 Home Run for the Homeless

Ah, Thanksgiving morning.  The day one can sleep in, have a lazy breakfast in pajamas, read the paper, smell turkey cooking. . . unless you are a runner.  Let's try that again.

And watching the Macy's parade.  Who doesn't love that?

Ah, Thanksgiving morning.  The day a runner gets up extra early, fuels and digests, downs some coffee, and heads out in running gear to shiver her way through a Turkey Trot or some such race.  And so it was for me.

This isn't AT ALL how I look when running a Thanksgiving race.
This was my second time running the Gennesaret Home Run for the Homeless in Akron.  Gennesaret helps homeless people with all of the details that go into getting housing--deposits, furniture, appliances.  Home Run for the Homeless is a four mile run and a one mile walk, and it is their only fundraiser all year. Many businesses (donations came from Giant Eagle, Mustard Seed, and Papa Joe's, among others)and people in the running community (Jim Chaney, director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame race series is one) devote their time and talent to this race. This year about three thousand people participated, and one of them was me.

The weather was fantastic, starting in the forties and rising.  I got really hot after the first mile, which is quite different from last year.  There were people running in ugly Christmas sweaters and elf and Santa outfits; I don't know how they did it.  The race winds through a VERY hilly cemetery for miles two and three, so I was extremely proud of myself when I bettered my time.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm proud of myself because I bettered my time.

After the race there were lots of door prizes from the donors. I didn't win any of them.  I don't care; I just wanted to run in the nice weather and then eat a bunch of pizza and chicken wings for dinner.  What?  We don't eat turkey, ok?

Between this race and the 2015 Tryptophan Run sponsored by Vertical Runner of Hudson (which I ran today), I have a lot for which to be thankful.  Running sometimes with my friends and sometimes alone at this fun, free event reminded me that I don't have to train for anything in particular to be a runner.
Jen and me warming up in Vertical Runner before the run

Jen, me, Renee, and Carrie just before starting the run (in the dark)

Thanks for enjoying the run with me, Peeps!  Run Happy!

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Short and Sweet

I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving!

I also can't believe that five days ago I ran in capris and a long-sleeved shirt, and today I ran in tights, a long-sleeved shirt, a short-sleeved shirt, a jacket, a hat, and gloves.  And honestly, it wasn't that cold; I'm just not used to it yet.

Today I ran the Towpath from Lock 29.  Gorgeous as always.

Cuyahoga River
I ran two miles alone, met up with a group and ran with them for about three miles, then ran the rest alone.  It was nice to run with people, but it was also nice for me to run with silence and then with music.  Yesterday I had a reflexology session, and while I can pinpoint my problems and "blockages," I still have some work to do on getting rid of those blocks.  I feel like alone time might be a good thing for me for a while.  I plan to do some more journaling and meditation to see if I can work through my issues instead of ignoring them, as I usually do.

Stacy asked me today what I'm training for, and I said nothing; however, when I started listing what I committed to for next year, I realized that I will have a full plate.  Just this week I will run the Home Run for the Homeless and the Tryptophan Run.
This is EXACTLY how I looked in last year's Home Run for the Homeless.

  The following week I'll run the third race in the Ohio Outside Series and the next morning I'm going to run an eight-mile stretch of a trail relay.  And that's what I called nothing.  Huh.

Well, Peeps, I said this would be short and sweet.  I'd like to finish by listing what I'm thankful for:

1.  My family and friends
2.  My ability to run
3.  My career
4.  My enjoyment of reading and writing

Lastly, I'm thankful for YOU.  Don't think I haven't noticed what a difference your presence has made in my life.

Before you think that I'm getting all mushy, I'll post something that I think comes directly from my heart:

Until next week, run happy Peeps!

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

(Running) Friends Are There. . .

Is that a flash from the past or what?

I used to have a running posse during my weekday morning runs, but now I don't.  I used to run with a large group on Sunday runs, but now I don't.  I'm starting to think it's me.

I tend to like being alone, when running or not.  I think it's because I spend my workday being "on" for everyone around me, and I feel so drained at the end of the day/week that I just want to recharge by myself.  Sometimes this is a good thing, especially when I have a goal and I am motivated.

I currently have no goals, and I am not motivated in the slightest.

Usually I love the chillier weather, and I love running in the early morning.  I love to look up and actually see the moon and the stars when I run.  This week I didn't run outside ONCE during the week.  No biggie, you think, I'm sure you hit the dreadmill, and that's just fine, too.  Right?

Nope.  Didn't do that either.

The only running I did this week was in my living room, back in forth in front of my tv.  The reasons don't really amount to more than lethargy and laziness.  I have finished Season 8 of Dr. Who on Netflix, and I started watching Supernatural (because my daughter has been driving me bonkers about it), but I can't access the first 15 episodes on Netflix on our tv in the basement AND the DVD player doesn't work, so I can't put the show in down there while I run on the treadmill.  You could watch something else, you are thinking.  Nope.  Lethargy and Laziness are my twin friends this week.  They have been whispering things in my ears, seductive things like "You don't need to run at all, you know.  Put in a dancing DVD.  It's all the same, even if you don't sweat as much, " and "Yes, you should eat that brownie.  Shove it in your head right now; you deserve it.  Don't worry about calorie counts."  I gained about five pounds listening to those damned voices.

I was very reluctant to do my long run this morning even though the weather is gorgeous. I'm feeling a bit doldrummy (yes, I know it isn't a word--leave me alone already) and when I feel this way, I try to isolate myself from others.  True friends know this, and you know what?  They DON'T LEAVE YOU ALONE.  You heard me; friends know when you should and shouldn't be alone.  I am lucky that my running friends know when I need some company, and that was today.

Marilyn posted a running event for this morning, and I said I MIGHT go (but I was thinking that I'd probably run around there, see the group later and keep running alone).  As I was leaving, Sheila IM'd me asking me if I would be there, and once that happens, I am committed.  When I arrived at the meeting point, I found these peeps:

Marilyn, Jen, Shelby, Sheila
We had a beautiful run in the sun.  I had a few miles to myself, and I ran various miles at various paces with each of my friends.  It was perfect.  At the end, we did our traditional selfie:

See that warm, fuzzy glow?  
Thank you, Marilyn, for setting this up.  Thank you, Sheila, for messaging me to make sure I was going to be there.  Thank you, Jen and Shelby, for understanding EVERY SINGLE long-run topic we cover when we run together.

"Friends are there to help you get started, to give you a push on your way. . ."

By the way, in the above Garfield video, I'm Garfield.  Just in case you think you know me, but you don't.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Recap: Ohio Outdoor Series Race #2

After a week of Parent/Teacher Conferences and a presentation in Columbus, I ran the second race in the Ohio Outside Trail Series in Munroe Falls. I am really, really tired, Peeps.  I was in bed by 8:30 on Friday night to wake up at 6:30 for the race.

I really wasn't feeling it much.  I dragged my butt around the house until I HAD to get in the car, and I arrived at 8:05 for an 8:30 start.  As I walked quickly to the bathroom (only one person waiting in the women's line!), a woman who was walking next to me looked at me and RAN AHEAD so she could be in the line ahead of me.  Seriously.  Now I was miffed.  Then she wanted to make general conversation while waiting, but I wasn't having it.  I collected my bib and my beer glass and went back to my warm car to wait it out.  No socializing for me.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I don't want to get out of my warm car.

I lined up at the very last second.  Right next to me was Tracy, who told me that she hadn't decided whether she was going to run or race, which was exactly my dilemma, too.  When we took off, I decided that the chilly air actually felt really good for racing, and so I made my decision.  The trail was swept clean of leaves, and the packed dirt was perfect for running.  I especially liked the downhill parts this time because I didn't see a lot of rocks and roots, and I allowed myself to open up. Just like last time, the finish came quicker than I expected (weird GPS stuff going on), so I was pleased to see the steps that led to the flat sprint at the finish.

Pretty finish along the lake

I actually shaved over a minute off my time from the first race in the series!

This is EXACTLY how I look when I shave over a minute off my time.
I attribute it to the cold weather (lower forties/upper thirties seem to be the best racing temperatures for me) and the fact that I know the course a little better.  I was able to push myself on the hills because I knew the downhills were coming shortly after.  In any case, I'm happy with my time, and I'm super happy with the two carrot cookies I shoved in my pie-hole immediately after the race.  Seriously, they are that good.

Today I ran ten miles with Mandy, who is great at picking new spots for us.  We started at the Mustill Store in downtown Akron, and we turned around about a half-mile past the Wilbeth Road Trailhead.  This took us past Summit Lake, which I had never seen before.

Summit Lake
We had all different surfaces to run: pavement, road, soft track, dirt.  We even ran across a few bridges:

See the birds?  Mandy was freaked, but I felt like they were our honor guards.
The best part was running the last mile completely downhill.  I forgot that I was sore and tired and hungry, and I let it all go.  Totally worth climbing that hill in the first mile.

Our reward was the potluck dinner for The Ohio Runners Network, which will be the subject of next week's post.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Running Re-Connections

This week was a time for me to re-connect. . . with mileage and with people.

I have decreased my mileage since I haven't been training for anything in particular, and I thought that if I want to achieve my end-of-year mileage goal, which is 1,100 miles, I need to pick it back up. My first (reluctant) re-connection was with my treadmill.  I like the fact that I can watch tv while I run, but I don't like the fact that I can't really hear all the dialogue.  Is it because I'm old, or is it because tv shows are so weird about volume?  I turn the volume up to listen to someone who constantly whispers, and the next second I'm scrambling for the remote because there are a bazillion explosions.  Crazy.

Seriously, why you guys gotta be so quiet and then so loud?

My second re-connection was with my high school and college friend, Fred.  I have been following his running progress on Facebook, and after some of my nagging, he agreed to meet me on Saturday for a short run at Sand Run Park.

This is where we ran.  It is my favorite part of Sand Run Park.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I run with a good-looking guy.
We hadn't seen each other in twenty-five years, but when we started running, it was like we had never disappeared from each other's life.  Running really is the great connector.

My third re-connection this week was with Shelby and Jen, with whom I've done plenty of cold-weather Sunday runs.  Today was not cold; it was a sunny fifty-something degrees, and we ran loops at Hudson Springs Park.  Shelby hasn't been running lately because she is recovering from her badass run at the Akron Marathon, and I haven't seen much of Jen either.  It was great to run around the lake and through the woods while we picked up right where we had left off on our last run together.  I don't have a picture of us from today, but here is a reminder of how we all look:

This is EXACTLY how we look when the sun is in our eyes.  Now that I think about it, this is EXACTLY the same outfit I wore today, except that day I accidentally wore two different shoes.
Re-connecting with my friends helps me to re-connect with my love of running.  I realize that I don't always have to run my hardest; sometimes it's nice to chat.  I'm lucky that I have so many running friends who are willing to chat with me.

Do you have a set of running buddies?  Do you ever feel the need to re-connect?

Next week is the second race in the Ohio Outside Series.  I'll let you know all about it.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Running with Joy

And Happiness.  And Satisfaction.

Today I ran ten beautiful miles on the Towpath with my friend Joy, whom I haven't seen in weeks.  Joy and I used to run together regularly in the morning and on Sundays, but life got in the way for us, and it has been a while.  I was surprised and happy when she responded to my invitation to run with a "See you there!"

I've been worried about a bit of weight gain lately--food will always be a struggle for me--and I haven't run more than nine miles at a time in the past few months, so I wondered if today would be difficult.  It turns out that it was easy-peasy.  I felt like I could have easily put in a few more miles.

I attribute this to several factors:
1.  I ran with Joy, who is so easy to talk to.  Even after not seeing each other for weeks, we were able to slip back into our long-run conversations.  That is a true running peep.

2.  I haven't neglected my strength training, and I've tried to step up my core-strength training during my non-running days.  It's amazing what a difference weights can make.

3.  Believe it or not, I also credit trail running, which I have done about three weeks in a row.  I initially thought it might make me slower or more reluctant to run a longer distance since I walk the hills most of the time, but guess what?

We ran from Szalay's into Peninsula and turned around just a mile past Lock 29.

The Towpath coming back from Peninsula
One of the great things about living near the Cuyahoga Valley is that during fall I can randomly point my camera at ANYTHING and it will look artistic.  Case in point:

The Cuyahoga River from the Towpath
How could I not enjoy such a beautiful run?

On a final note, I would like to congratulate my running peeps who raced this weekend: Stacie and Cassie did the Buckeye 1/2, Teresa and Julie did the Buckeye 1/2 Relay, Heather and family did the Marine Corps 10k, and Jennifer and Steve ran the Marine Corps Marathon!  Well done, Peeps!

Gotta race coming up?  Yes? No?  Mine's in two weeks, but I'm definitely not stressing about it (I know--who is this person?).  Enjoy what is left of the fall leaves, and run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Brandywine Falls

Today's post is short and sweet:

I ran from route 303 to Brandywine Falls and back on the Bike and Hike trail.  It was gorgeous.  If you had run with me, you would have been counting the number of times I said, "This is so beautiful.  We are so lucky to live here."  It was, and we are.

Brandywine Falls.  This is just a picture on my iPhone; the Falls are THAT BEAUTIFUL!

Mandy and I met Sheila and Shelby, and they ran with us for the first 3-4 miles and then turned around.  I was so happy to see both of them; I've been feeling quite disconnected from my runner peeps lately.

I had never seen the Falls before, and Mandy took me there.  It was worth it even when the hail started.  Then the rain.  I'm not gonna lie; there may have been some swearing.

In other news that doesn't involve me, my #CLEVEMarathon Ambassador friends ran their asses off this weekend.  Pam ran her second Iron Man.  Think about that: she did one, and then SHE CHOSE TO DO IT AGAIN.

Andrew ran a major badass Columbus Marathon.  He cut 15 minutes from his PR!!!  In a marathon!

My friend (and colleague) Erin ran her first marathon in Columbus today.  I'm envious.

Me?  I did some laundry.

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Race Recap: The Ohio Outdoor Series #1

Saturday I ran my second-ever trail race (the first was the Ragnar Trail Relay in West Virginia), and it was a lot of fun!

The race was at Munroe Falls Metropark, which is close enough for me to take some extra time to sleep in the morning.  The race started around 8:30, and I arrived for my bib pick-up just before 8:00. The colors of the trees are starting to change, and the view of the mist coming off the lake was breath-taking and maybe just a bit eerie:

The race was very informal; there were just over 200 people running.  The race director told us to be careful on the steps around the trail and to let him know if anyone decided to bail after the first loop.  Then he gave us a "On your mark, get set, go!" and we ran for the woods.

The loop is about 2.2 miles, and we ran it twice plus a run to and from the trail.  My first goal was to get it done in under fifty minutes, and then I adjusted my goals to 1. never walking a hill and 2. keeping my pace to about a ten minute mile.  I think I did pretty well on both counts; I ran all the hills, and I finished 4.61 miles in 46:29.  Not bad!

The finish line was pretty informal, too, although the race was chip-timed.
 After the race, there was a great spread: breakfast burritos, delicious cookies with things like oatmeal, carrots, and dates in them, hot cider, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I ate some yummy food, but I wasn't digging the cider; I like my cider cold. . . and fermented.

This is EXACTLY how I look after running 4.61 miles and eating yummy food.
I liked this race because I was able to roll in at the last minute without my usual parking and bathroom anxieties, and I was able to be back home by the time my kids were thinking about changing out of their pajamas.  To be fair, I warned them before I left.  I also love my hoodie and beer glass.

I'll be running  this race two more times in November and December, so I'll post pictures of the hoodie and glasses then.

Today I ran 9.24 more trail miles with Mandy.  It was absolutely gorgeous:

The Ledges
Pine Lane
I definitely didn't run all the hills.

I'm feeling more relaxed with these trail runs.  Even though Saturday's run was a race, I am not feeling the usual pressure I put on myself.  I'm actually enjoying myself and recovering.

How are you loving your runs?  Hitting the trails?  What are your fall racing plans?

I'm going to work on reaching my mileage goal for the end of the year.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Don't Go Chasin' Waterfalls. On Second Thought. . .

This has been my recovery week from the Akron Half Marathon.  I gave myself two easy-peasy morning runs during the week and a dreadmill trot while watching Dr. Who. I didn't think I'd like Peter Capaldi as the doctor, but I'm digging him.

How can you not like this grumpy face?

I've been trying to figure out what I'm going to do for the next few months.  Running peeps tempted me with a half mary here and there, but frankly, I'm worn out.  I need some fun.

So, I decided to sign up for the Ohio Outside Trail Series in Munroe Falls Metropark.  It's a five mile loop done in October, November, and December.  These are on Saturday mornings, so I can run the race and be home in time to catch my kids in the act of NOT CLEANING THE HOUSE  like they are supposed to do.  These exact dates (plus, the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon--more on that in another post) are during mornings when I should have been attending some committee meetings (on Saturdays???  What???), so it was kind of a relief to take some time for me this year.  I don't have any expectations for these races; I just want to run and then drink cider.  My mind as well as my body is going to take a well-deserved rest.

Today, in the spirit of just having fun, I ran around Blue Hen Falls with Mandy.  The morning temperature was cool enough for a long-sleeved tech shirt and capris--my favorite running apparel.  I had never run there before, and I have to say it was beautiful.  Mandy and I hope to go back in a few weeks when the leaves have changed.

Blue Hen Falls
This run was relaxing.  It was a somewhat difficult trail, enough that I had to pay attention, but it wasn't agonizing.  After the turnaround, I got into my groove, and it felt like I was flying.

This is EXACTLY how I look after I get into my groove.
This is my moment to remember why I run and enjoy it.  I am grateful that I can run, and I'm so grateful that I live in Northeast Ohio, where there are so many gorgeous places to run.

Clearly, you can tell that I am still working a runner's high.  Don't worry; tomorrow somebody will do something stupid, and I'll be back to my old self.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Race Recap: Akron Half Marathon

I was more horrified than excited about running the Akron Half Marathon this year.  On Expo day, the text messages and Facebook posts were flying around.  When Peeps asked me how I was feeling, this was my post:
Stuck at work, no cardio today, and I just realized I'm running 13.1 tomorrow!

 I didn't have time to linger at the Expo because I had my kids with me, and they were registered for the Fun Run, but I did get a burst of anticipation from being there:

This was my third time running the Akron Half Marathon.  It is part of the new Rubber City Series, and both the marathon and half marathon routes are completely different.

Holy Hills!

When I ran the Blue Line practice event, sponsored by Vertical Runner, I wasn't impressed with the half marathon route.  It seemed deserted and ugly.  I had written in my review post that I hoped Akron could fill up that route with some interesting bands because I didn't think the crowds would be there.  I was partially correct.

I still think the route was mostly boring and ugly.  Some people didn't like the hills, but I didn't mind them until I got to mile 10, and then I was toast.  More on that later.  There were some highlights to the half marathon part of the route:

Starting line before we lined up
The start to the race was awesome.  There was some really exciting music with an inspirational speech as we walked toward the line.  Normally I'm pretty cynical about that kind of stuff, but I got super-emotional as I listened to it.

Before the start, I met up with as many of my Peeps as I could find:
Some of my fellow Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors
The Ohio Runners Network

Jen and me.  No, we are not sideways.  You are imagining it.

How did I get assigned to Corral A?  What am I doing here???

I felt great during the first eight miles of the course.  That should have been a sign that things weren't going to go my way later, but honestly, when I checked my pace, I was usually between 8:49 and 9:01.  I did lose it a bit at miles 6 and 7, but I was never slower than 9:23 for those miles, and I regrouped for miles 8 and 9.  I didn't even stop for the Milkshake Mile or this guy:

Mile 3: The Beer Mile!

One of the many pluses of the race series is the volunteers.  They were enthusiastic and LOUD, which is what all runners need.  Thank you, all volunteers, for giving your time for us.  In many places of the course, the volunteers outnumbered and out-shouted the spectators, even in some residential areas.  God, I miss Firestone Park.

This next part is a little difficult to write:  

When I got to mile 10, I had had enough.  I couldn't take ONE. MORE. HILL. and I suspected/half-remembered that there were more to come.  I had done a good job of getting my act together in previous miles by counting my breaths (in, in, in, out, out) and chanting (relax-er, runner, easier, runner, I am strong, runner, I feel strong, runner), but I just couldn't seem to do it.  I started to call on my father for strength, and then I realized that my father isn't strong; he's dead.  I know that sounds weird, but remember that I have been avoiding dealing with this for exactly three months (on the day of the race).  I started to cry, and then I promised myself a good, long, cleansing cry as soon as I crossed the finish line IF I made my time goal.  I sucked it up and moved on, but the times got longer as more hills arrived, and I felt pain in my legs for the first time in months.  My worst mile was 12 with a 9:43; I looked at my watch and I lost hope.  I went back to 9:17 for mile 13, and I even did an 8:45 pace for the last .21 miles (even on the stupid blanket on the field), but I knew I didn't make it.

I didn't even make my time from last year.

I'm not gonna lie: I'm disappointed, but deep down I know that I didn't do the speedwork I should have done.  I had a lot to deal with this summer, and I let it interfere with my training.  I'm going to give myself a break and remind myself that the course was much more difficult than last year's course.  I did the best I could with what I had in me.

The after-party was fabulous.  My fellow CLEMarathon Ambassador Andrew and I stretched, ate some recovery food, and scarfed up non-drinkers' beer tickets while we waited for the rest of our friends to finish.  Did you know that four Michelob Ultras are only 384 calories?  At least Michelob Ultra has that going for it.  

How many beers in was this? I dunno.  Erin isn't counting either.

Shout outs go to fellow CLEMarathon Ambassador Jamie and TORN friend Shelby who both ran their first road marathons.  They both had strong finishes; I am proud and jealous.

All in all, the Rubber City Series is definitely worth running.  Just because I didn't like the course doesn't mean that there aren't others who do.  The race directors planned a quality experience for the runners from the expo to all the volunteers to the finish line party.  I plan to run the series next year, but I think the Universe has been telling me that I need to pursue a new goal: next year the marathon.  Gulp.

I'm looking forward to some easy, relaxed runs as soon as my leg stops cramping. Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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