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!

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

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!

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