Sunday, December 10, 2017

Night Running Again

I've had some great runs in the past few weeks:

10 miles at the Vertical Runner Tryptophan Run.  The first 4 miles were with Joy; then I did 2 miles with Joy and Rob:

We aren't sweating; we are glowing.

The last 4 miles were with Ken, who kept me going at a 9:30 or under clip:
In other words, he tried to kill me. 
The next week I ran with Kristin on the Towpath. It was a bit chilly, but other than that, it was just like old times!

You can't tell because she is wearing sunglasses, but her eyes are googly-wide, just like mine.

On Thursday evening, I decided to try something different: I ran with the Crooked River Trail Runners. They are a crazy bunch who meet at the Brandy Wine Clubhouse in Peninsula to run trails at night. Kelleigh promised me she would guide me, so I gave it a go. Luckily for us, there was Mark on the trails to help us when we got confused and basically started bushwhacking our own trail. I loved that run! Running at night jazzes me; I feel so full of energy running in the dark, even after a full, exhausting day of work. After that run, I went home and signed up officially for club membership. I'm telling you this now because if you never hear from me again, it's because I got lost on a Thursday night run.

Kelleigh and I are a bit rosy-cheeked after our run/trailblazing.
Today I decided to do something seriously crazy: I ran two loops of the Bills Badass course with Marta. Holy Shmoly! It was really hilly.  I can't imagine what it would be like to do all six loops AND run up Candy Ass Mountain at the end. Plus, the wind was making my eyes tear up, and my nose wouldn't stop running (even when I stopped running).

Here is Marta at one of the stream crossings. We were lucky that it wasn't thigh-deep, like it was during the race!

And here we are at the finish. This is EXACTLY how I look when I am more than relieved to be done.
I've been looking for a new challenge before I start race training, and I think these Thursday night runs will be perfect. My goal is to attend every Thursday night run, unless it rains. I hate rain.

Are you looking for new challenges? What are you doing to enjoy your workouts? Whatever it is, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Race Recap: Home Run for the Homeless

This four-miler has become my Thanksgiving tradition. It starts and ends at Gennesaret, which is the  charity it benefits. Everyone associated with the race is a volunteer. Local businesses donate gift cards and door prizes worth hundreds of dollars. It's just a super-fun time for a great cause.

Gennesaret is an organization that helps homeless people to move into housing. Sometimes they donate furniture and kitchen supplies; sometimes they help financially. The Home Run for the Homeless is their only fundraiser. The race costs 20 bucks to register online--25 on the day of the race--for a four-mile jaunt through West Akron and the Glendale Cemetery. There is also a 1 mile Fun Run/Walk which is completely in the cemetery.

I picked up my packet on Wednesday afternoon. There was a tshirt option with online registration, but I don't have much luck in getting tshirts that fit me, so I took the gloves that come with the bib. I love those gloves.

On Thursday, I was able to roll out of bed at 6:30, eat breakfast, hang out, and then leisurely make my way to the start by 8:30. I used the bathroom before the crowds and then ran a mile warmup. I missed every group photo opportunity available to me: Phillips Phlyers, Canal Rats, Crooked River Trail Runners (I'm not really part of that group, but as a Burning River Goddess, I feel like I could have joined in). No biggie. There were soooooo many people there; the mayor said that there were about 4,000 people registered for both the Fun Run and the Four Miler.  What a testament to our community!

The countdown began, and then it was time to start. It took me about 2-3 minutes to get to the starting line, which normally is no big deal, but this morning on my group run someone told me that it was a gun start, not a chip start. What this means to me is that MAYBE I ran 2-3 minutes faster than I thought I did. I'm not upset about it because I had no intention of trying to beat my PR, which is 33:48.

The cemetery is hilly--super hilly. This is the run I did on Wednesday with Phillips Phlyers, and it is a toughie for sure. The first mile is through the streets of Akron, just outside downtown, and the rest of the course is basically inside the cemetery. I was feeling pretty good, but I decided to run the race conservatively based on what happened to me last year. I kept things at an even effort (rather than an even pace), which is important when running hills if you don't want to lose gas climbing all the time. I saw quite a few friends blow by me, and it made me happy. A woman dressed as a turkey, flapping wings and all, passed me going uphill, and that did not make me happy. At mile 3, we were about a half mile from getting out of Glendale, so I tried to push my pace as much as I could, until I popped out back on Exchange Street running toward Gennesaret for the finish.

The race was a bit short, so I jogged it out until I hit four miles, which means I had a nice cool down. My official time was 35:46, which I will take. I was 15/85 females in my age group, which I will also take. What I REALLY enjoyed taking was the gigantic piece of coffee cake that was waiting for me at the finish. I shoved that baby in my mouth while I stretched and talked to Pam and Steve.

Pam and I are horrified: Those hills are tough!

Pam won third in her age group, and Steve won first in his, which means they got a turkey, two mugs, and a huge jar of Smuckers jelly.  This is quite an accomplishment because the finish times at the top are incredibly fast. This race is a tough field of fast and experienced runners.

The Canal Rats CLEANED UP in the finishing categories; there should really be a Rat Party with the turkeys and pies they won. I was happy to congratulate them when we ran Sand Run the day after the race. It is important to note that the ONLY WAY I could run with the Rats was by choosing hills to run on a day that I knew they were tired from leaving it all out in the Glendale Cemetery. Even then, they were slowing down their pace to accommodate me, so THANK YOU, CANAL RATS!

I also found Joey Phillips and John Adams and took a post-race selfie with them:

By this time I've recovered and eaten my coffeecake, so I'm happy.

There were plenty of amazing door prizes and raffle prizes donated by local sponsors. I didn't win anything again this year, but I'm holding out hope for next year. It is a sure bet that I will be there next year. . .maybe with a shiny, new PR.

How was your Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving? I hope you pre-emptively burned ALL the calories you consumed, and I hope that you continue to run happy, Peeps!

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cold November Rain

There are two sides to the song "November Rain" by Guns N Roses. On one hand, Axl sings, "Everybody needs some time all alone," and I definitely believe that this applies to me.  I like to be alone. As a teacher, I feel that I give of myself physically and psychologically 24/7, and it really drains me. "Sometimes I need some time on my own," and I get that on the majority of my 4:30 AM runs.

On the other hand, Axl also sings, "Don't you think that you need somebody? Don't you think that you need someone? Everybody needs somebody; you're not the only one," and this is also me. I get tired of the Voices in my head. Sometimes they scream at me. Sometimes they tell me that I'm not enough. Sometimes I need perspective, and sometimes I just need levity.

And cemeteries.

And donuts.

Joey Phillips put out a call to the Phlyers for a Wednesday morning run, a preview of the Homerun for the Homeless, which takes place on Thanksgiving morning. I hesitated, then typed, "Any slower Phlyers planning on running?" Right away Joey responded that I would not jack up their run if I came, and several very fast people (I'm talking about you, Jim Chaney) indicated that we would be a group. I decided to go, and as I often do, I put it in my head that I can always start with the group and catch up later.

We met at Krispy Kreme Donuts.

Phlyers prepare to phly. Notice that the Blogger (me) has her eyes closed. SMH.

And we took off toward the Glendale Cemetery. I love this cemetery with its mausoleums and hills, but I will describe that in further detail tomorrow with the race recap. I was unsure of how I would hold up since a run with the Phlyers (even at a relaxed pace for them) is a tempo run for me, and I haven't done speedwork since the Akron Marathon in September. Luckily, Jennifer and Lyndsey both ran at my pace (because Jennifer kicked tail at the Bills' Badass 50k last Saturday and Lyndsey is injured), and even Jim slowed down to make sure we were all together. (Poor guy, I caught him doing butt-kickers for about a mile because we were running at least two minutes slower than he was used to running). I still averaged a 9:30 pace, which is very good for me at this time.

We had a few photo opps along the way:
John, Ron, and Joey goofing off

RIP. If you look at the bottom right, you will see that this is the resting place of Joey Phillips. Uh oh.

When we got back, the shenanigans started.

Joey is CLEARLY not deceased here. He seems to be making the donuts.

We all ate donuts. Some ate more than others. I'm looking at you, Bryan.

Post Run high. Just as the sugar hit me.

This isn't creepy at all.
I normally avoid donuts at all costs--I consider them poison--but I got sucked into the comraderie of the moment, and I ate an apple fritter and drank some good coffee. (Full disclosure here: I just edited the post because I originally typed "I HATE an apple fritter." That isn't Freudian at all.)

I'm so glad I got out for this run. Phillips Phlyers are really good people, and I sometimes forget that running can be communal as well as solitary.

Thank you, Phillips Phlyers, for including me.

Where are you Turkey Trotting, Peeps? I'll be at the Homerun for the Homeless.  I hope wherever you run, you run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

I Witnessed the BBA50K!

The Bills' Badass 50K is a legendary race that takes place in Peninsula starting from the Covered Bridge. Ever since I started trail running, I have heard people talk about its epic-ness: the weather, the stream crossings, the mud, the yelling of the RD.  I decided to volunteer at the aid station for this event, and I'm here to tell you that it is all true.

Here are the details of the race as I understand them:

It's free, but the racing community expects you to either donate your time to environmental cleanup or money to the cause. The causes this year were Edwin's Restaurant and Leadership Institute and the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership.

The race consists of 6 loops of hills, single track, and stream crossings. Runners check in after each loop. After the 6th loop, runners must ascend Candy Mountain where they will take a piece of candy out of the basket and bring it back to the finish line.

The goal is to finish the race, especially when the weather fights back. Those who do not finish the race are considered "candy-ass." They tend to take this label in stride and promise to complete the next year.

The race director, Wild Bill Wagner, carries a megaphone and likes to yell at people.

I showed up at 7:30 AM in horrible weather (cold, sleet, pouring rain, wind) to work the aid station. Thankfully, Wild Bill had set up a tent for the station, so I was protected from the elements. There was already a plentiful amount of food set out for the runners, and many participants brought in homemade and store bought food to share. We had tons of bacon (a trail runner staple), Subway sandwiches, pb and j sandwiches, pretzels, Pringles, M and Ms, salted potatoes, chicken soup. . . you name it; we served it up.

Do we have enough food? No?  There is lots more behind me in the tent!

I met my fellow volunteers, who were very kind.

Here we are in the red tent!
I had quite a few friends who ran this race, and I am amazed by their badassery. Here is a shot of the Burning River Goddesses (Nicole, Marta, and Jennifer) coming through after the first loop.

I stayed until 10:30 because I had to go home and wake up my kids. Wild Bill offered to yell at them over the phone, and in retrospect, I should have taken him up on it.

The weather got increasingly worse all day, so I am even more in awe of all runners of this race, even those who were "candy-ass," considering I didn't run a single mile that day, and I CERTAINLY didn't cross any swollen streams. Instead, I threw on every layer of clothing I had and tried to get warm for the rest of the day.

Will I run the BBA 50K one day? I don't know. The weather is a deal-breaker for me. Someday I intend to run a 50k, but I don't know if I want it to be this difficult. I do want to say that you will never find a more supportive community than these trail runners. Everyone was positive and encouraging and happy to be out there. I am honored to be a part of that family.  Even if I get yelled at.

Where did you run this week? Wherever it is, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Leaf Peeping

Today's run featured Marta for 4.5 miles

She is tapering for Bills' Badass 50k next week, but she was still kind enough to come out for a bit and show me some new trail. Sorry, I'd love to tell you where it was, but I have no idea.  Well, that isn't quite true. I did recognize Blue Hen Falls:

When Marta left I decided to test my common sense on the Buckeye Trail, following the blue blazes as Marta taught me. The leaves are still on the trees, and the colors are so vivid and gorgeous everywhere! Today I remembered how lucky I am to live so close to the Metroparks. I especially loved running through the pine trees:

I put in almost six miles for a total of 10.25. Not bad at all! The common sense thing ended when I realized that instead of attaching my key fob to my vest, I had attached my house and classroom keys.  Actually, I have no clue what these keys are doing on my key ring, but they were definitely NOT going to help me get into my car.   So, I had to call my husband and ask him to bring me a spare car key. He wasn't happy about it, but I promised to go shopping and buy steak for dinner.

As I was waiting, an older man pulled his car over to me and said, "I once hiked a trail around here. It goes through the woods and almost straight uphill. Do you know where that trail is?"

Me: "Ummm. . .yeah. That would be any trail around here. You can go there (pointing) or. . . "

Him: "No. This one was through the woods and straight uphill."


This was a great run today. I'm amazed that there are so many leaves around; it made for a dazzling long run.

Did you run in the leaves today? No matter where you run, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Race Recap: Run with Scissors

The subtitle to this post is "How I Ran More than a 25K when I Just Wanted to Run a Half Marathon."

This is the first time I've ever done Run with Scissors. You see, it has a reputation, and the crazies who embrace this trail race love the misery involved with it.

1. The weather will suck on the day of the race.
2. The trail markings will be confusing.
3. You will most likely get lost.
4. You will definitely get cold and muddy.

On the other hand, there are plusses:

1. You will get bacon.
2. See #1.

I decided to try the race this year just to have a long trail run. Some of the Burning River Goddesses signed up, too, so I figured it would be a fun time. . . and it was.  Sort of.

There are three races here: a half marathon (me), a marathon, and a double marathon (for people who generally like to be spanked, I guess). The half marathon started at 9:00, which was nice because I didn't have to get up too early to run it. I still didn't want to get out of the car and go out into the cold when I arrived at The Ledges Shelter.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I don't want to get out of the car. I really need to reconsider my life choices.

We listened to directions from the RD, Roy Heger; well, we pretended to listen to directions. Mostly people just looked at the runners who decided to run in Halloween costumes. I do distinctly remember Roy telling us to follow signs and markers on the right side of the trail. Pay attention because this becomes relevant later.

I took our obligatory selfie just before the start:

Me, Marta, and Nicole. Tracy and Katrina were also there. Katrina was a taco.
 Then we took off into the woods. 

It was a nice run during the first half of it. We stopped at the aid station located at Pine Hollow, and I ate bacon and grilled cheese and cherry licorice. The volunteers were amazing, especially considering they were standing in the damp and cold.

When we got to the halfway point, we were supposed to use our scissors to cut a page from the book there to prove that we made it that far. I just ripped the page out because although I ran with my scissors, I forgot to take them out of the plastic wrap, and I didn't want to deal with it.

And I STILL haven't taken them out of the plastic!

My page: Nietzsche
We ran back together towards the Pine Hollow aid station, but I was getting a bit fatigued. I hadn't fueled at the proper times for me, and it was wearing me down. When we got back to Pine Hollow, I knew that I had just over 3 miles left, and I felt that with another slice of bacon and some M&Ms I would get there. And then things got weird.

Nicole ran ahead of Marta and me a bit, and Tracy was behind us a bit. Marta and I were deep in conversation, and we weren't really paying attention to our surroundings. In my defense, I am constantly looking at the trail instead of around me because I don't want to fall. We saw a sign on the right of the trail pointing downhill for one of the intersections, and although it seemed counter intuitive to us since the finish was higher up, we followed the trail marking. This was a half mile from the finish line.

When we found ourselves at Kendall Lake, we knew we had screwed up, but there were more trail markings (on the right) directing us around the Lake loop.  We stopped and looked at some maps, but we were puzzled. Two marathoners and two half-marathoners approached us and told us we had taken a wrong turn and we had to double back to get on track, so we did. As we ran, we called our loved ones and  told them we loved them and we wanted to be buried together when they find our bodies covered in leaves.

We made it back to The Ledges Shelter after 16.55 miles, tired, hungry, thirsty, muddy, and a bit embarrassed.

Just a wee bit of mud
The Goddesses had been somewhat worried because we didn't come in when we should have, so we were all relieved to be reunited. I felt much better after eating a grilled cheese sandwich (prepared by the beautiful Stacy, who was volunteering) and some chili. We agreed that we had more than earned whatever treats we gave ourselves this weekend.

It was a spooky finish!
After following social media posts, I realized that many runners went the extra mile (or three!), including my friend Sydney, who ran the double marathon and decided to throw in some extra mileage when she turned off course.

Will I run this race again? Honestly, I don't know. I don't like running in cold rain.  The race itself was very nice: the woods are beautiful, and the volunteers and runners were all amazing. If you like to feel like a badass, and/or if you are a masochist, this race is for you. Consider the double marathon.

The swag is sweet, too!

I love my mug!
Next up: I laugh at the fools who will be running the Bills' Bad Ass 50K in a few weeks. I will be volunteering and reporting on their shenanigans. Will I see you there?

I hope wherever you run, you run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Relax, Max

I've been trying to cut down my mileage and relax, but I am stuck in this awful cycle of feeling guilty for doing less mileage. I did 11 miles today on the trails, and I feel like I should have done more. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME????

Last week I ran ten miles of trails, the first five with Marta, Nicole, and Jen, and then the last five with Jen. This week I ran with Marta, Kate, Renee, Carrie, and Nicole, and I finished the back seven with Nicole. This is great mileage; I feel good. Why do I feel like I'm slacking, then?

I know I need to allow my body time to relax; I'm just not used to relaxing. I'm one of those people who can't do shavasana at the end of the yoga session without wondering how much longer I have to lay there like that.  It's important, though, to counterbalance the time and energy I spend training with some other activities so I don't burn out or injure myself. I plan to chill until January, when I will need to start training again. In the meantime, it's Relax, Max, and have fun.

Today I started a Goddess run from the Boston Store to Brandywine Falls and back.

Kate, Marta, Nicole, Renee, Carrie. This is EXACTLY how I look when I am happy to run with Goddesses.

 As we ran, Marta pointed out to me where I went wrong on my infamous "I'm an adult and I can run by myself just fine" run to Brandywine.  We did a lot of talking and laughing. I love the dynamic on group runs when people pair up to chat for a while and then the pairs mix. It's so cool to talk one on one with everyone there at some time or another.

Burning River Goddesses in front of Brandywine Falls. I'm taking the picture.

We dropped the group off at the Boston Store, and Nicole and I decided to test our senses of direction by running the Buckeye Trail. We missed a turn halfway through and started up again in a different place.  Then we saw him:

It's Sasquatch!  Run for your life!

As we approached, Nicole started laughing and said, "Look at that tree. It looks just like a bear."

I squinted and said, "Yeah, it looks like Sasquatch. . .wait a minute.  It IS Sasquatch!"

We have no idea what he was doing there, but it made my day.

Nicole ran me back to the Boston Store for a total of 11.25 miles, and she continued on to 15.

Overall, considering we were able to find our way around Peninsula, I'm really pleased with my running adventure today.  I really need to continue this idea of "chill" so that I can learn to love training again.

When is your season to chill? Do you ever shut it down for a while?

Regardless of how much you run, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Oh, Those Trails!

I am directionally challenged. When you are with me, don't use words like "north" or "east" to tell me where to go. Tell me to turn left at the McDonald's or drive straight for twenty minutes.

Knowing this, Marta still told me that I could run the Brandywine loop from the Boston Store. Oh, she also ran the loop once with me before she left. She has such faith in me.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I tell Marta, "Oh yeah, I got this."  Yeah.
So, I left the Boston Store, turned onto the trail to Brandywine. .  .and I made it there.  Great! Now all I needed to do was complete the loop, and THAT IS WHERE IT ALL FELL APART.  I couldn't find the turn-off to go back toward the Towpath, so I ended up running a mile-long loop back to the falls.  Then I did it again.  On the third lap, people started actively mocking me, even though I told them I MEANT to do that.

I started texting Marta (what did I think she was going to do???), I guess because it would make her laugh.  On my next lap, I turned off the trail onto an unmarked section, and I found the way back.  Whew. Now I know--lesson learned.

This week I started part of the Run with Scissors course with Tracy, Ken, and Nicole. Three miles in Tracy fell on the stairs, which were really slippery with leaves. She grabbed her wrist and said she was hurt. This reminded me of the time I broke my foot on a run; I immediately stopped and said, "I'm hurt.  I'm really hurt." I knew the difference between being scared and superficially hurt and scared and truly injured. I took off my FlipBelt and used it to prop her arm against her chest. Looks like all that Girl Scout training paid off--thanks, Mrs. Mejia! Then we walked her back to the nearest parking lot, where a fellow runner picked her and Ken up so she could go to the emergency room. Poor Tracy now has a sprained wrist.

Nicole and I powered on by running the Ledges, the Octagon, and Boston Run to get a total of ten miles. She and I had a nice long-run talk, and I managed to burn off some crazy. Thanks, Nicole!

This is EXACTLY how I look when I have just burned off some crazy. 
So, lessons learned from the trails:

1. Don't get lost. Pay attention. (Honestly, I don't know if I can follow this rule.)
2. Don't get injured. Be particularly careful around steps. (I'm already afraid of going down steps, so I will continue to be cautious.)

Are you enjoying some beautiful trails right now? Regardless of where you run, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Race Recap: Akron Marathon

"Are you ready for this?" the nice lady at gear check asked me the morning of the Akron Marathon.

"Nope," I replied.

"Huh. Honest answer," she said.

I thought I was ready. I did the work. What I didn't do was anticipate 87 degrees during the last half of the marathon. I didn't anticipate getting an email from the race directors advising people like me (slow marathoner) to drop down to the half because of the heat and humidity. I appreciate the thought, but it messed me up.

After getting the email, I headed to the expo, my mind swirling around with "Should I drop down to the half?" The expo was great; I saw so many friends while talking to Kayla and Joan at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon booth. I of course took some hopeful pictures:

This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm trying not to freak out.

I faked it a bit better here.
After the expo, Andrew (@AndrewRunsalot) and I carb loaded with sandwiches and beer. I told him that I was considering dropping to the half, and as usual, Andrew basically told me to get my shit together and run the marathon.

Beer + Tough Love

The next morning I wasn't feeling too confident, which brings us back to the gear check. I couldn't find any of the people I had planned to take pictures with, and I was feeling agitated. In retrospect, my best races are when I start off feeling slightly agitated. I did find some great friends, and we chatted and took selfies:

Jess (@tamburarunner) needed some gels, so I came to the rescue!

Heather and Laura are running buddies, and Fred and I graduated from high school together!
 I then found Debi, and I decided to try to keep up with her and Shay and Sherrie:

Debi is pretending she's happy that I'm following her.

Corral time. Shit is about to get real

I always get emotional at the start of the race, but I was able to reel it in this time. I decided that I would do what I could, and if I had to walk the second half of the marathon, so be it.

With this new attitude, when Debi suggested we hit up the Swenson's milkshake mile, I was all for it. Blueberry milkshake shots---yum! Normally this isn't something that I would do, but I was already deciding that I had nothing to lose at this point.

I ran with the ladies for about eight miles, and then I decided to run a bit ahead because I'm pretty sure that I was annoying Debi, and eighteen more miles of me on a runner's high is a difficult thing to bear.

Things didn't start getting difficult until about mile fifteen. I noticed that I would try to calculate how many miles and how much time I had left, which was distressing rather than distracting, so I would make myself blank out and I would keep thinking, "Just get through this mile."

The city and local residents set up sprinklers to cool us off, and I ran through every sprinkler and walked every water stop. One cup went down my throat, and one cup went over my head. At mile eighteen I started wondering if The Kabyle Chef, Punkin, and Butterbean would show up at our designated meeting point, which was about a mile away from the house. When I arrived at mile 19. . . there they were! I burst into tears because I couldn't believe they were there. Five years of running, and this was the first time my family showed up on the course to see me.  The Chef told me that Butterbean had gotten up super early to soak a towel in a cooler filled with ice water, and let me tell you, that towel was the best thing ever. I wiped my neck and face, squeezed some water over my head, high-fived my family and thanked them, and then took off before I could decide to just run home.

When I got to Merriman Rd., I heard police shouting, so I looked behind me where they were pointing, and there was a truck on the course trying to weave around runners! Luckily, rather than being someone who intended to harm us, it seemed to be an older person who was really unsure of himself. He was certainly wondering why there were so many half-naked runners around his truck and why the police officers were forcing him to the side of the road.

I powered through the miles to route 18, the homestretch. At one point I looked behind me, and I saw the 4:55 pacer. I yelled, "No WAY!!!!  Tell me you are ahead of schedule!" Luckily, she was ahead by several minutes because everyone had dropped from her group and she just wanted to finish. She encouraged me by telling me that I was going to hit my time (something that I still didn't believe at that point).  

I turned down Main Street for the ACTUAL homestretch. I was looking forward to a crowd of people from whom I could draw energy, and I found. . . crickets.  Nobody. Now, I know I am a slow marathoner, but there were plenty of people behind me, and last year Main Street was packed when I came in around the same time.  It must have been the heat, but boy, did I feel defeated. 

When I reached Canal Stadium, I saw that the race directors had replaced the blanket they used to use to cover the turf with a runnable surface, and that gave me the energy to sprint (or something close to it). I wish I could have seen the jumbotron, because as I ran in, I heard the announcer say, "YES! This isn't her first rodeo!" I hope that was about me.

The finishers' party was pretty much deserted when I got in. Again, I blame the heat because last year it was packed at around the same time. The band was amazing, by the way. I got some food and beer and then I sat in the shade of the beer tent and stretched.

So, how did I do?

PR, Baby!!!!

This is EXACTLY how I look when I PR by about 90 seconds!

The Akron Marathon is a great race. I enjoy the hills, and I love the fact that Firestone Park is back on the course. The crowd support is still better than in most races, although I think maybe the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon had the crowd beat this year, even in the rain.

I was glad to be a part of my hometown race, and I intend to run this baby again.  

Ohio Weather, can you please make a note that I would prefer about thirty degrees cooler next year? Thanks.

Wherever you run this week, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Race Recap: Race with Grace

I was dreading this moment; I would have to race the damned 5k as opposed to just jogging it out. I tried everything I could think of to get out of it: I looked for new runners, I tried to get my husband and/or kids to run with me, I told myself that I really shouldn't exert myself during the taper for the Akron Marathon.  None of it worked. I knew that I would have to actually try to run fast, something I haven't really done for a while.

To make matters worse, I am tapering, and instead of making me nervous and jumpy, it is making me eat everything in sight. Sigh.

Every year Medina High School assembles a team to run the Medina Race with Grace, a race to benefit the Mary Grace Foundation, which supports those battling all forms of cancer. Click here for more information about the Mary Grace Foundation and how you can contribute. Our team is named Team Brenda and Mary, to support the mothers of two of our teachers.  This year we had a total of 62 people contribute to the team, although not everyone who contributed actually participated in the race.
Team Brenda and Mary

I came early and ran the course as a warmup. Then I took pictures with the team and chatted for a while. This is where I think I could have done things differently.  I should have timed my warmup better so that I didn't have about 40 minutes of waiting to start. I think I would have performed better if I had transitioned better.

As we took off, I told myself that I would be doing this as a tempo run, and half-marathon pace was what I was shooting for.  I hit the first mile at 8:44, which was right on target for a tempo run. At the halfway point, I could feel the humidity, and I was uncomfortable, but I could tell that I wasn't pushing myself to reach a 5k pace. I kept chanting, "In in in out out," so that I could focus on my breathing.

Mile 2 came at 8:46, still HM pace. I felt really hot and humid. The nice thing about this race is that the course is relatively flat. Sure, there are a few inclines, but the downhills absolutely cancel them out.  I was glad at this point that I had run the course ahead of time because I knew that the last mile was a lot of slight downhill.  I also reminded myself that in most previous races, at this point, I would be telling myself that I had 11 more miles to go at that pace. Then I thanked The Universe that I had one more mile to go.

Mile 3 motivated me. I did it in 8:26, so I felt like my old self again. The last part of the race wound around the hospital, and I tried to gauge where I would kick. I was pretty much done when I saw the finish line, but I did manage to speed it up somewhat.

My official time was 26:31, 16 seconds longer than my PR. I'm not gonna lie; I did not run this race the way I should have to get a PR. I feel like I could have cut at least a minute off my time if the weather were less humid and if I had done a better-timed warmup. All in all, though, I'm not unhappy with this time.

I ate a chili-cheese dog, courtesy of Dan's Dogs of Medina, after I cooled down a bit. It was fabulous. I talked with some fellow teammates, and then I walked back to my car with Laura, a friend and teammate. When Laura left, I finished out the mile for  a cooldown and an even number, and then I went home to shower and sleep.

I ran 6th out of 42 in my age group (Who knew there are so many women alive at my age????), and 145/322 among women.  I'll take that. Even if I had PR'd in this race, I still would have been 6th, so I'm fine with my efforts and the results of those efforts. I'm also happy with the fact that I eked out 4 more miles when I could have just punked out today.

On a last note, I didn't post any pictures from last week, so here is proof that I ran 16 miles with my friends (and yes, I do have friends):

The Mother Runners see me through.
This is the big week, Peeps. The Akron Marathon is on Saturday. I waited up for the Kabyle Chef to come home from work on Friday, and I told him that I expect that he and the kids will be at mile 20ish to cheer me on. I've made my peace with my training; I've done all that I can do. I'm taking the day off work Friday to get my packet at the expo and get my head together, and then Saturday is the moment. Will I run away from trouble? Will I succumb to the Voices in my head that tell me I should give up?  Stay tuned to find out.

I hope that if you run Akron, you will find me and say hello (or share a post-race beer with me). Even if you aren't racing this week, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Race Recap: Leave No Trace Half Marathon

After running 20 miles of the Blue Line last Saturday, it seemed like a good idea to sign up for a trail half marathon. I figured I could meander on the trails of Camp Manatoc, work some other muscles, and get in some miles at an easy pace.

Camp Manatoc is a Boy Scout camp, and once a year they open their trails for this race. It's a cool opportunity, and the trails are beautiful.

I had lots of friends at this race: both Goddesses and Mother Runners.

Goddesses: Marta made me take this picture 4 times because she thought her finger was too close to her nose.
We got a picture of all of us together:

Mother Runners + Goddesses = A Very Fun Race

It was a bit chilly; the weather app said 56 degrees, but it really felt like 46 degrees. I wore a long-sleeved shirt, and part of the race I was very glad I did, and the other part I was cursing my stupidity. It's sometimes difficult to find a happy medium.

We all started out together, and it was very cramped on the trails. Eventually the herd thinned as the speed demons passed us, and we started to hit our pace.  After a few miles, I felt like speeding up a bit, so I ran ahead to where I found Renee and Carrie at the bathroom stop, and we ran together.

The trails were awesome, and the fuel stops had ginger ale, so you know I was happy.  No GU on the trails for me--pretzels and ginger ale all the way.

At mile 11, I looked at my watch and half-turned to Renee and Carrie to announce, "We are probably going to beat 3 hours!" As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I went down.  Boom.  I lay still for about 30 seconds while I decided whether I was hurt and scared or just scared. I decided that I would live, so I got up and started up again. Renee and Carrie were good enough to stay with me even though I had jinxed us.

My left elbow and my knees were feeling pretty banged up, but I didn't want to look at them because there was nothing I could do about that. We raced on and finished in 3:03.

The medal is hard-core; it weighs about a gazillion pounds.
I took a picture of my knees before I got them cleaned up at the aid station because Renee reminded me that trail-runners only have bragging rights if the wounds look bad:

Gross, right?
After the race there was a vendor village with HiHo Brewery inside the Boy Scout mess hall, but my teeth had started to chatter, and I knew that it was housecleaning day anyway, so I left the Goddesses and the Mother Runners to their beer while I returned home to scrub toilets.

I really enjoyed this race: the trails were gorgeous, the weather was perfect for running, I loved seeing so many of my friends.  This is a keeper for sure.

It is now three weeks to Akron Marathon time. I think I'm going to run at least 16 miles next weekend and then go for a proper taper.

Will I see you on the Blue Line? I hope I do. I especially hope that no matter where or how you run, you run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

20 Miles on the Blue Line

I did it! 20 Miles on the Blue Line--13 of them with Marta, Angie, and Jeanine, and the remaining 7 by myself. Without crying. Without music. I f--ing did it.

In the past two weeks I've gone back to school (officially--I actually started work two weeks before that), figured out my kids' schedules with school and marching band (hell, basically), continued my training in the best way I could, and lost a LOT of sleep.

This is EXACTLY how I look before teaching first period each day.
This getting up at 4:30 is for the birds.

Nevertheless, I persist, and slowly but surely I am starting to get back in the swing of things.

This Saturday was the big 20 miler before the Akron Marathon. It's called the Blue Line Run, and Vertical Runner and NEOFit sponsor it. About 300 runners meet at 7AM to run 20 miles of the marathon route or 12 miles of the half marathon route. It's a great event, and it's completely free.

This is a partial picture of the runners before the run. Do you see me?

Marta and I found each other right away and took a selfie while we were still alive and pretty.

The weather was perfect; it started in the 50's and by the time I finished it was about 70 degrees. It was definitely better than last year's run.

Marta and I ran with Angie and Jeanine, and I saw lots of peeps along the way. Everybody looked strong and happy.

Here we are looking strong and happy.

After 13 miles, Marta peeled off to finish on the trails, and I continued on alone because I was afraid I would lose my will to live. The run started in front of Canal Park, and the 12 mile water stop was in the starting place. From there I moved to W. Market St. and then down Merriman to look at the gorgeous houses. I was pretty much alone most of the time because I am not the swiftest distance runner, but I did run with a Kent State professor that everyone (except me) seemed to know. He was older than me, but he was kicking my ass all the way down Merriman.

On the way back to downtown Akron, I ran through a Pride parade in Highland Square and a Pokemon Go tournament around Cascade Plaza. How great is it that on a Saturday morning in late August there were three separate events going on to involve diverse interests? I am truly happy to live here.

The water stops were at miles 6.5, 12, and 17, and I was grateful for each one. Thank you to NEOFit and Vertical Runner for supplying water, Powerade, gels, and Swedish Fish!  At the mile 17 stop, I joked that I was hoping to get hit by a car so I wouldn't have to finish the run, but the fact is that I felt so much better at that stop than I had last year. I think much of it had to do with the weather, but I would like to believe that my training has paid off.  Last year I felt defeated after the Blue Line--like I would not be capable of running 6.2 more miles--but this time I was tired, but I knew I could do this. It may and probably will hurt, but I can finish.

Victory is mine! The end of the Blue Line and I am still alive.

I was pretty wrecked for the rest of the day because I had not slept much all week, so I recovered in the best way possible:

This is EXACTLY how I recover from the Blue Line!
I'm not gonna lie; there may have been some Pumking and pizza involved that day, too.

I'm pretty proud of myself. I finished this run without drama, and I feel good. I think my training has been very good so far, and now I just have to trust that I put in the miles and the hard work.

I have four weeks until the marathon, which is a little too long to taper. Next week I will run the Leave No Trace Half Marathon and the week after will be my last long run before the taper. Will we all survive the taper? Stay tuned to find out!

Will you join me at the Akron Marathon? How will you handle the extra week before taper? No matter what you do, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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