Monday, July 31, 2017

Race Recap: Burning River 8 Person Relay

Burning River is a 100 mile race largely on trails. You can run the whole thing (if you are crazy), the front half or the back half (if you are half-crazy), or in a 4-person or 8-person relay. This year I ran Leg 5 of the 8-person relay with the Mother Runners.

I met the Mother Runners for drinks and dinner at the Sheraton on Friday evening after packet pickup. We had a great time together despite the lousy food. Paying 26 bucks for lukewarm pasta and peanut butter cookies is not my idea of a great food experience. For sure next time I will be spending that money elsewhere.

Remember my friend Joy? She ran Leg 7 this year.

The Mother Runners
The Mother Runners had a lot of teams this year, and it got very confusing as we neared race day. The initial goal was for Teams 3, 4, and 5 to run together the whole way; this was why I signed up to run with the Mother Runners. Anyone can run a trail race solo. Joy and I both did it when we ran the Ragnar West Virginia Ultra Trail Relay. I wanted to enjoy myself for this race, and I wanted to run 16.2 miles with my sisters. It took some finagling because some people weren't on board with the Mother Runners' goals, but Leg 5 managed to stick together.

This is EXACTLY how we look when we are NOT running BR. Candice, me, Kristin.
 We showed up at the Ledges in Peninsula, which would be our ending point, and then I drove us to the beginning point, Boston Mills Ski Resort, where we prepped for our leg.

I look confused, right?
After a bit of waiting, the runners from Leg 4 came in, and we took some pictures together:

This is EXACTLY how we look when we are fresh and ready, not tired and stinky.

 The atmosphere at Boston Mills was a big party with lots of people, noise, music, and food.  It really got me pumped up for the run. When Leg 4 came in, we had just a few minutes to change the batteries on the group Go-Pro and make sure we had everything and then BOOM!  We were off at 5:30 pm.

The first stretch of the run was Towpath--nice and flat. Then we turned onto the Bridle Trail for a while. The first aid station came really soon--too soon for me--at 3.5 miles, which was just after Brandywine Falls. Of course, we had to get pictures at the Falls:

Kristin is in charge of the Go Pro.

 We didn't waste too much time at the first aid station because we were just getting warmed up, so we took off in a timely fashion after cramming some chips and peanut M&Ms in our mouths. I LOVE the fuel in trail race aid stations. Nobody eats gels here; it's all peanut butter and jelly, candy, pop, chips.  So much awesome.

We had some long uphills on the trails, and there was a looooonnnngggg, sunny, gravelly hill right by the expressway. After slogging up that hill, I asked Kristin to film my signature move: I threw my fists in the air and yelled, "Yes! I made this hill my bitch!"  I don't know why other people don't see how funny this is.

Our next stop was at Pine Lane, which came after miles of uphill trails. We stuffed our pie-holes there  with junk food, wiped our faces and necks with iced towels (thank you, Volunteers, for being geniuses!), and refilled our water bottles.  That was our last aid station until the end of the leg.

Let me pause a moment and thank all volunteers in the Burning River race. You were all amazing. I felt a little awkward asking for food and water considering I wasn't running 100 or even 50 miles, but you never made me feel like I was unworthy. You commented on our shirts and told us how fabulous we are. Races can't work without volunteers, and you guys are the best.

Ok, I'm done being sentimental now. We left Pine Lane and hit the trails for a while. We passed quite a few 100 milers, and they all seemed to be in great shape. One of those 100 milers was Ron Ross, who is a school board member at the district where I teach, and this year he ran his 10th 100-miler. Amazing! He wasn't even grouchy when we saw him; in fact, none of them were ever grouchy when we passed. We were able to joke with some of the runners because we kept crossing each other, and I even discussed the Ragnar WV Trail with a nice man whom I threatened to smack on the butt as I passed.

One thing I really love about Leg 5 is that there were at least three long stretches of flat road or path that allowed me to stretch my legs: there was the Towpath, a road, and the Bike and Hike. Candice and I took turns going full steam and then walking until everyone was together again. I consider this interval fat-burning work.

About 2.5 miles away from the finish, we turned back into the woods, and this was the point where we needed our headlamps. Once we were in the woods it got dark pretty quickly. I tripped once, but I managed to regain my footing without hitting the ground. Luckily, none of us had a spill, and we made it to the Ledges safely and happily where a huge party awaited us. We took pictures and handed off to Leg 6:

We are a little delirious right now.
And voila! 4 hours, 5 minutes, 20 seconds later it was all over for us.

Candice took me back to my car, and I got home at the same time as my husband, who saw I was whipped and made me a quesadilla while I showered off the bugs and sweat. And then I crawled into bed, exhausted but too excited to sleep deeply.

I got up at 5:30 AM to get to the finish line with the other Mother Runners.

Joy looks like a rock star after her leg. I had time to shower and comb my hair and I still look like a hot mess.

We ate breakfast at the Sheraton (which was better than the pasta dinner) and then waited for our last Mothers to come in. During that time I saw my friend and fellow Cleveland Ambassador Pam (@HopRunner) bring in her superstar husband Steve, who completed his first 100 miler. I can't believe he was coherent and smiling when he came in!

This weekend was definitely a whirlwind, but I so enjoyed it. The philosophy behind the Mother Runners is that women empower women. We stick together and we raise each other up, and that is what I experienced at this race. Special thanks goes to Kristin, who made me a Mother Runner and stuck with me. Thank you to Candice for jumping in when we needed you and not bailing on us when things got funky. Thank you, Mother Runners, for the fun and for the inspiration. You are all amazing.

By the way, I'm thinking of forming a 4-person relay next year. Who's in? Anyone? Well, regardless of your racing or running plans, I hope you Run Happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

MishMash Running

I've skipped a few weeks, so I'm going to dump all over you.  Hang on.  That doesn't sound right.  Let me rephrase it:

I've skipped a few weeks, so I'm going to give you a mishmash of my running so far.

Two weeks ago I joined the Burning River Goddesses for a night run, organized by Marta.  We ran 10 miles on the trails at night because at some point we will be running at night for our legs at Burning River. I am leg 5, so in theory I should finish at dusk, but last year the teams I ran with got way off schedule, so I am prepared to start much later.

Marta, Jenn, Dawn, and I are ready--headlamps on!

Full-length shot because we are full-length badasses!
I LOVE running trails at night. I get so jazzed, no matter how tired I was during the day.  There is something exciting about wondering what that noise you heard was: coyote? deer? zombie?  We heard some coyotes twice, and we saw two deer on the trails. I saw three more driving home after midnight.  Yes, it was a very long run.

See how excited I am?
Two days later I ran 15 miles on trails with Jenn and Renee. Jenn and I started at 7 for five miles, and we met Renee for the following 10. It was really relaxing to run with these women. They are so zen, and they don't mind that I am not. Have I ever told you that I have zero-chill?

I spent this week in Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, and it was gorgeous but very hot and humid. The first two days I managed to get up early and run around the marinas a little bit.

Fog coming off lake as the sun rises

Sweat coming off face as the sun rises

I stopped that nonsense by day 3 because it was just too humid, and I was swimming a lot anyway.  I hate swimming, but the lake temperature was perfect, and I know it's good to work my body in different ways than just running.

On Saturday I ran 5 miles of trails with my Mother Runners peeps Kristin and Candice. We will be running Burning River leg 5 (16.2 miles) together.  Kristin and I knew what we were getting into; she is a Burning River pro and we've run together many times. This was the second time I ran with Candice (she doesn't remember the first time or she is very polite, which is good for me either way), and we all did a great job running in a thunderstorm.  Kristin is a doctor.  Candice is a counselor. I am a teacher. None of us is smart enough to get out of the woods during a thunderstorm.  Go figure.

This is before we got soaking wet and muddy.

Today I ran 16 miles all by myself. This is actually a good thing because although I love group running, I'm going to be running the Akron Marathon all by my lonesome, so I have to get used to running long distances alone. I like running alone because I can work through all of my problems (and there are SO MANY of them) without burdening other people.

I'm not going to lie; it wasn't easy today. After mile 11 I allowed myself to walk the first .10 of every mile, but oddly enough my pace was better than it has been in a long time. The average was 10:34, even with the walking.  I'm glad that it didn't slow me down too much because I may need to use this strategy during the hills of the Akron Marathon, and I still intend to PR that baby.  We shall see.

This is EXACTLY how I look after running 16 miles in 90% humidity.
What are you training for? How are you handling the humidity?

Even in this hot weather, make sure you Run Happy, Peeps!

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Running While Away

I just got back from Boston a few days ago. I am super-tired. I spent a week there participating in the National Education Association Resident Assembly.  If you're curious about what I did in Boston, feel free to follow my adventures here.

This is a picture of me, Bradley, and Katie, the 3 Medina delegates.

I've been to Boston with my family before, so I knew where to run (Boston Common); plus, our hotel was about half a mile from there. The only problem was that I had to be at the Ohio Caucus every morning at 7:00, and we never finished our day before 10:00 PM. That meant a 4:30 wakeup if  I wanted to run or lift weights.  Well, that is what I do during the school year, so I sucked it up and set my alarm for dark o'clock crazy every day. Most days I made it.

The first thing I had to do was get a picture at the finish line for the Boston Marathon, of course. You may remember that the last time I posted from Boston, my picture showed me stepping on the finish line. I have since learned that this is a no-no, so I had to take another picture to reverse the bad mojo.

No stepping on the line!
Then I ran loops in the Park and Boston Common.

I JUST NOW noticed that my Cleveland head band is upside down. What the hell is the matter with me?
Each day that I ran outside I managed to do at least 4ish miles, and one day I did 5ish miles, but there was no long run this week. I just didn't have the time. I did add at least 20-some miles of walking this week because we walked everywhere, but I didn't officially record it.

There were two days that I ran 2 miles on the treadmill and then lifted in the fitness room, and that was a luxury because my weights are crap, and so far I have been too cheap to buy what I really need.

I am especially proud of myself for running after three hours of sleep on the evening of July 4. The alarm system went off in our room, and a recorded announcement told us to prepare to evacuate. Katie and I walked down to the lobby from the 22nd floor; that was fun. 

This is EXACTLY how we look after walking down 22 flights of stairs at 3:44 AM. I'm not wearing a bra here, by the way, so that was interesting.
When we got the all-clear, everybody jammed up the elevators, so I walked back UP to the 22nd floor. By the time I got up there, it was time to get up to run, so I just changed into my running clothes and ran back DOWN the stairs to go to Boston Common. Damn, I'm dedicated.

When I got back from Boston, I needed to get back to group runs, so I responded to two running posts with the Burning River Goddesses. On Saturday we ran loops at Hampton Hills for a total of about 6 miles.

Look how matchy I am with my BondiBand headband! I am wearing  matching compression socks, too! #stylista

On Sunday we ran from the Boston Store to Pine Lane and back for a total of about 8 miles, and then Renee and I put in two more miles on the Towpath.

I'm wearing my Orange Mud HydraQuiver here. It has grown on me. No, really, it has GROWN ON ME. Can someone help me take it off?
I intended to eat a banana and do 5 more Towpath miles after Renee left me, but it was so hot and humid, and I felt so tired from my trip, that I called it a day after 10 miles.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I call it a day after 10 miles.
Overall, I think I did the best I could under the circumstances of travel and heat.  I started this week right by doing over an hour of yoga--really good poses that I knew I needed to do--and I jumped into 5 miles today.  I'm going to get back into those 45 mile weeks again, and now I'm going to try to focus more on trails because Burning River is coming up!

What is the focus of your training? Whatever it is, I hope you Run Happy, Peeps!

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