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!

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

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Race Recap: 2015 Medina Race with Grace

Today I got to sleep in.  That's right--no long run for this girl.  Today I woke up at a leisurely 6:30!  Then I had to scramble to wake up the kids, get them fed and ready for church, and motivate my husband to get out of bed and ready for his first race.  Geez, it's harder to get him out of the house than it is to get my two kids out of the house.

Months ago I registered my husband for the Race with Grace 5k.  Then I told him about it.  Despite the warning, he didn't train a bit.  I don't think he has run for over a month.  When I would remind him that training would be appropriate, he always responded, "It's only 3 miles.  I'll be fine."  This is EXACTLY the attitude he had when we were moving to the U.S., and I told him that studying the language might be appropriate.  His response then, "English is easy; it will take me a couple of months.  I'll be fine." I am happy to say that I was able to rein in my "I told you so" both times when he got a wake up call about his procrastination.

We were part of Team Brenda with Medina High School.  Brenda is the mother of my colleague Sherri, and she has been fighting breast cancer.  Our team wore shirts with her name on the back to remind us of why we are participating.  Brenda was there to cheer us on:

Sherri and Brenda, both looking MAH-velous!
It was nice to see so many friends on a Sunday morning.  The air was perfectly crisp at 56 degrees.  I was more excited for my husband than he was:

This is EXACTLY how I look when I am more excited than my husband about his first race.
After a bagpipe rendition of "Amazing Grace," we started.  Nacer tore off like a bat out of hell, and I reminded him to hold back so we could safely navigate the gazillion little kids who were in front of us.  Running with kids scares me; they stop on a dime right in front of me, and I'm always afraid that I won't stop in time and I'll mow them down.  Anyway, I followed his lead, and he was feeling the adrenaline rush.

In mile 2, the reality started to hit him (along with some hills), and he slowed down a bit.  I encouraged him to think about his breathing, and I DIDN'T say, "This would have been a lot easier on you had you trained for it."  I'm such a great wife.

Mile 3 was where I saw Nacer relax and settle in, and that relaxation really helped because he then picked up his pace.  I told him, "You only have one mile to go; that's less than ten minutes.  You can do anything for ten minutes," which is my mantra in races.  The last mile was full of downhill runs, so I was happy with it.  When we got near the finish line, I told Nacer, "When you see that finishing clock, I want you to tear ahead of me and give it your all."  He looked at me like I was nuts, and he kicked a tiny bit.  I was so proud to see him cross the finish line.

This guy ran 28:23 in his first 5k!  Without training!
While I am proud of him, I'm prouder of myself for not rubbing it in during or after the race when I saw him suffering a bit.  Men should suffer; it's so good for them.  Just kidding.  I was happy that when we were stretching, he said, "I didn't think it would be that hard."  Duh.

All in all, he was happy with his race, and so am I.  I informed him that he has to train from now on because I am going to register him for the Home Run for the Homeless, which is on Thanksgiving Day and consists of four miles of hills in the Glendale Cemetery.   He didn't seem unhappy with this idea.  We shall see.

Team Brenda had a fantastic showing; we were the number one team yet again, largely due to the fact that the winner of the 5k, Jordan Olsen, is a chemistry teacher at our school.  We mostly hired him for his 5k time.  This year he finished in 16:04.  Amazing.

I am so happy that my husband has started his journey with racing.  I look forward to many more races together in our future.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Race Recap: Natatorium 5k

In my world, I have plans.  I have organized To-Do Lists that I complete each day.  People do what I expect them to do, and nothing is a surprise.

In my world, the sky is violet, the grass is purple, and unicorns exist.

Sort of like this.
In an attempt to intersect the world in my head and the real world, I signed up my husband and two children to run the Natatorium Family Fun Run (1 mile).  I helped the kids choose their clothes the night before, and I got them to bed relatively early.  I organized my own gear and got myself to bed at a decent hour, rising just before my alarm at 5:30 am so I could have a quiet breakfast before waking the family.  The house was peaceful, quiet.  All was well.

At 6:00 I woke up the kids, and the eight-year-old told me his stomach hurt and he couldn't get out of bed.  At 6:15 he ran to the bathroom and vomited.  Sigh.  I informed my still-sleeping husband (who should have been getting up by then) that he didn't have to get up because he was staying home with Ben.  My daughter, the thirteen-year-old, was a trooper.  When I told her that she didn't have to do the run and she could go back to bed, she replied, "No.  I really want to do this.  I'm going."  Did I mention that she is really motivated to get un-grounded?

We are ready for our Fun Run!
Katya took off like a shot when the whistle blew.  I had expected her to run around a ten-minute mile, which was perfect for my warmup, so I had said I would run at her pace. When her pace in the first half-mile was 8:30, I told her to run ahead because this was a bad idea for a warm up for me.  I got to watch her from behind as she came in as the first child in the run!  There was an older guy running with her, and he crossed the finish before her (grrrrr), but I'm not counting him.

This chick ran a 9:13 mile!  I'm so proud of her!
After the Fun Run, I exchanged bibs for the 5k, handed off my gear to Katya, and stood in the corral with Jen.  We haven't run together in a long time (It's funny/sad how life gets in the way), but it was great to catch up with her while we waited.  I also chatted with Suegene, who will be running the Akron Marathon in two weeks--Go, Suegene!

The weather was a perfect 50-something degrees with a touch of sunshine here and there.  The conditions were perfect for a PR, which I was hoping to get.  I was a bit apprehensive because I haven't done the speed training that I normally do this year.  I was hoping the weight I lost and overall quicker pace I run would make up for the lack of track work.

I felt as good as I was going to feel during a 5k in the first mile, and my pace was on point.  In the second mile I felt like I was going uphill for much of the way, and I don't remember all of those hills in past races! I checked my pace, and it was off by more than ten seconds.  I tried to surge to correct it, but I only took off a few seconds.  The third mile was where I was feeling pretty strong.  I thought, "I feel good.  Usually I'm ready to die by now.  I bet this is my best mile," except that when I checked my pace it was my worst mile.  Dammit.  No wonder I felt good.  I broke my own rule: Nobody is supposed to EVER feel good in a 5k.  If you feel good, you aren't working.

I thought that if I saw my daughter on the route in the last half mile I would get a shot of adrenaline and be able to pull it out, but somehow she didn't get the understood memo that WHEN MOM IS RUNNING AND YOU ARE WATCHING HER, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO YELL FOR HER!!! The second understood rule is that you are supposed to TAKE A PICTURE OF HER!  Instead, Katya quietly read while I struggled through that last half mile wondering where the hell she was.  Ok, fine, not her fault.  I still had my kick to the chute even though I knew I hadn't PR'd.

The race turnout was pretty small this year, so I was hopeful that maybe I placed.  It turns out that Jen and I both placed in our (separate) Age Groups!

We are joyful AG winners! I placed first and Jen placed second.  Happily, we are in separate AGs, so we weren't competing against each other.
The Natatorium 5k is a great little race for this time of year.  It's good to test your speed once in a while, even when you are distance-running.  I enjoy the family atmosphere, which is why I make my family run it each year.  The swag is good, and the price is right, too.

A tee shirt for the fun run, and a hoodie for the 5k

My AG Award (plus a 10 dollar gift card)
Next year, the sky will be violet, and unicorns will graze on purple grass.  Also, my family will all run the 5k with me.  It's gonna happen.  I have plans.

Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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

Monday, September 7, 2015


After the fun of the Blue Line run last weekend, I've been kind of bored with my running routine.  This week I decided to shake things up by reversing my route and trying a new interval technique I read about in Running Times.

It's called 10-20-30, and it's supposed to be a way to keep your workouts fresh while throwing in some speed once in a while.  Now, the author of the article did not claim that this technique would make me faster; it is supposedly something doctors devised to keep patients from dropping their workouts out of boredom or because working out is too difficult for them.  I thought, "What the hell," since I was already pretty bored.  How much worse could it get?

You start with a warm up, of course; one mile will do.  Then, you run at an easy pace for thirty seconds, a medium pace for twenty seconds, and a hard pace for ten seconds.  I can't count seconds because I'm too busy counting breaths, so I modified my counting to breath sets of three in and two out.  This way, I did thirty breath sets at an easy pace, twenty sets at a medium pace, and ten sets balls to the wall.

This was the only family-friendly image I could get when I googled "Balls to the Wall."  Peeps, you would not BELIEVE what is out there!

I think this "game"  might be the answer to my aversion to tempo runs.  I've only played with it for four miles, but each time I felt that I could go on much longer.  I might even throw this in during the Akron Half Marathon if I feel like I'm about to slow down too much.

This Sunday Joy and I ran loops at Hudson Springs.  It was incredibly hot and muggy.  Just after seven miles we felt like dying, so we said we had to walk one more loop and then we could quit if we wanted.  We ended up with nine miles, and I'm going to call that a win.

My view while running. 
 Just a year or two ago I would have been incredibly angry and disappointed with myself if I walked for any part of the long run, but trail runs have knocked the dickens out of me.  If I am on a trail (even "trail-lite," as my friend Shelby would call it) I allow myself to walk when I feel like it.

Joy and I are only smiling because we are finally done with those loops.
Later that day, I canoed with the family--seven miles on the Mohican River.  It was fun, but it was disconcerting to note how many times I smelled weed when we passed through huge crowds of intoxicated, vulgar people.  I'm not surprised the eight-year-old had an incredible case of the munchies when we got off the river.

In any case, this was a great weekend, full of sunshine, fresh and not-so-fresh air, and exercise.  Oh and eating.  Lots and lots of eating.

Next week is the Natatorium 5k, in which I will attempt a PR.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

Like what you read?  Follow me on Twitter @itibrout