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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Monday, August 14, 2017

My Training Plan

When I read the posts of other running bloggers, I read about how they train. I almost NEVER share with you how I train. Why? Well, I think it's boring as hell. Sorry.

This is how I imagine people look when they read about my training schedule.

The weird thing is this: I am fascinated by others' training weeks. I think my own is far less than fascinating, so you may have noticed that I generally base my posts on my races, long runs, or something weird that happened to me.

Oh, and also food pictures. I like to post about eating.

Arguably, none of this is more interesting than reading about someone else's weekly training.

My current goal is to keep a 40+ mile week. I have decided that my weekly runs (and walks) must total at least 30 miles, so that everything on the long run is cake.  The challenge is that I must do this safely: no shin splints, pf, or ITB syndrome allowed.

So far, so good. Last week was  48 miles, and I feel that I rested my legs enough that I'm not hurt.

Monday: Yoga and stretching. I had to recover from Sunday's 16 miles.

This is EXACTLY how I look before I stretch and recover from the Sunday run.
This is EXACTLY how I feel after I stretch and recover from the Sunday run. Hey, I am who I am; you can't expect miracles here.

Tuesday: 5 miles on the hills of Sand Run.  I kept a good pace, especially considering my sinuses have been KILLING me.

Wednesday: 10 miles.  I did my "Reverse Blue Line" route, which I just decided to do this year.  It follows the old Blue Line of the Akron Marathon (which goes right by my house). I start from my house, run the 3 miles of Sand Run, and then take on a mile long ascent to the Blue Line on Portage Path. I actually love this route even more now that I'm running it in the opposite direction. It's more difficult, but it makes me feel like a badass. Plus, now I can finish at my house rather than at my car.
You can see that there is an actual Blue Line painted on the route. This is what runners in my 'hood follow when they train.

Thursday: Lifting in the morning; 2.5 mile walk in the evening. I find that I am walking for recovery more than I used to do, and it really feels good. My super-speedy, so-amazing-she-is-frightening friend and fellow-ambassador Pam actually got me started on this. She ran the Canal Corridor 100, and she paced her husband Steve at Burning River for the last 30 miles. She posted a lot of recovery walks, so I decided I must not be lame if I decide to go for a walk.

Did I just basically say that Pam taught me how to walk?

Friday: 5 miles on Sand Run again. I need to take advantage of this park being so close to my house because once school starts (this week--gulp), I won't be running this area in the dark. I'm going to miss Sand Run. Every day it looks different to me.

Saturday: 5.37 miles with the Goddesses at Tree Farm Trail. Normally I don't run on Saturdays (so those of you whom I've refused before, don't get mad!), but this started at 8:30 and it was only 2 loops, so I was able to get back home just as the family was getting their act together.

We chose the tallest person to take the selfie. He was, like, 7 feet tall.

Sunday: This was the biggie: 18 miles on the Towpath.  GAAAAAA!!!! I did 2 miles before starting with the Road Shoes crew, then we ran out to Station Road Bridge and back to Lock 29, and then I finished with 2 more.  I made pretty good time on this, even with allowing myself to walk the first .10 of each mile after 14.

So glad it's over! Now to eat ALL the food!

This is probably my last week of really high mileage; I'm dialing it back before the Blue Line practice run (my 20 miler), and I'm going back to school starting Wednesday. Between my kids' crazy schedules and my own weird schedule, I won't be doing a 10 miler in the middle of the week. Plus, now I must complete all miles before 5:30 AM. I can do this; I did it training for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, and I can do it for the Akron Marathon.

Are you training for the Akron Marathon? Will I see you at the Blue Line Run? How about the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon--did you sign up to run with me?

Whether you're training or not, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Ode to the Goddesses

 Burning River is a 100-mile race basically in my backyard. It is a big deal. I've volunteered for it the first two years I was aware of it, and I have run the 8-person relay for it in the last two years. Last week's post is about my experience on Leg 5 of the 8-person relay for the Mother Runners.

This week I want to write about my training. I firmly believe that when I commit to a race, I need to be completely prepared for that race. This means that after running the Cleveland Marathon I decided to stay at the 16 mile long run until Burning River so that I didn't lose any fitness along the way. It just seemed silly to start over only to increase again.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I have to start over again with training. Haha! Just kidding. That is Sisyphus. My  shoulders don't look that good.

I also trained for the race by running with the Burning River Goddesses. They are a group that trains together for Burning River, but I have found that they are more than a training group.  Bear with some sentimentality for a minute (Oh--just shut the hell up. I'm never emotional. Just deal with my feelings for once).

Here is a tissue to deal with my issue.

When my regular training partner dropped me like a hot rock (is that even a saying?), the Goddesses picked me up. Jenn and I have run together when I've done trails; we also ran Ragnar together two years in a row. She told me I had to run with the Goddesses, and she promised that they would help me train for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, even though they don't like non-trail routes.
Jenn after our Ragnar Ultra in WV

 I was really feeling low, and they stepped in and pretended that there is nothing wrong with me (even though deep down I feel like there is). They saw me through my 20-miler before the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, and let me tell you, I was SCARED TO DEATH about running that alone. They were supportive and accepting and amazing.

My joke with the Goddesses is that each run is a venture into something vaguely illegal. I've decided that I'm going to train my kids to bail me out of jail if the need arises on a Goddess run. No, I'm not going to elaborate on this.

My runs with the Goddesses have taken place on just about every trail in Merriman Valley and just about every hour of the day or night. We have run on flat surfaces like the Towpath and death-hills like Candy-Ass Mountain.  We have run at 7 am and at midnight. The Goddesses are everywhere at every time.  They are incredible.

One day Jenn posted about these super-cool hoodies on the Goddess web page. I wanted a hoodie, but I didn't want to infringe on the group, so I asked if I could buy one even though I wasn't running Burning River with the group. The positive responses were overwhelming; some Goddesses informed me that I was already a Goddess, and I gratefully bought a Goddess hoodie.

The night before the race, I met with the Mother Runners for the pasta dinner. Marta from the BR Goddesses had texted me and said she would be there for a drink after the packet pick up. I found her in the bar, and she was so kind and encouraging. She even gave me a magnet and a body marker (which was the gift for all Goddesses at their dinner). I was touched. It's difficult for me to feel like I belong anywhere, and Marta has definitely made the effort to include me every step of the way. At that point I knew that I wasn't running with a Goddess bib, but I was running with a Goddess spirit, and it gave me strength and confidence.

Marta and I ran the Medina Half Marathon together.

We also drank beer together.

What does it matter how outsiders treat you when you know you are a Goddess?

This is my ode to you, Goddesses.  You are strong and amazing, and the added bonus is that you are kind. Thank you, and here's to many more trails and many more beers.

Reminder: The early prices for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race series will go away in a few days. Register now!

Who makes you realize that you are a badass?  I hope you have a group like the Goddesses, and more importantly, I hope you make someone else feel that way. As always, I hope you Run Happy, Peeps!

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