Sunday, December 16, 2018

Christmas Lights and I am Stupid

Last week I ran the annual Christmas Lights Run, organized by Ed Sutter, of Eddie's Famous Cheesesteaks. This is where over one hundred runners don Christmas apparel and run through the streets of Akron (following the blue line of the Akron Marathon) to Stan Hywet Hall to see the beautiful Christmas lights. It is a total of eight miles, and then everybody fills the bars and restaurants in downtown Akron for post-run food and libations. Here are some pics:

Cleveland Marathon Ambassador and Pacer Spotting! Steve, Me, Pam

The whole group in front of Stan Hywet Hall. Photo Credit: Steve Pierce

Trail Sisters Represent! Marta, Cari, Angie, Me

I love running at night, and the lights at Stan Hywet are amazing. This was a great way to relieve some holiday stress. 

This is usually how I deal with holiday stress.

On another note, I did something stupid, Peeps. Here are some hints:

1. Peer pressure was definitely involved.
2. Alcohol may have been involved.
3. I was looking for something different in my races.
4. I'm turning 50 in two years.

Did you guess that I signed up for my first 50K? Ok, that isn't so bad, right? I mean, it's inevitable that I'm going to run a 50K when I've already run six marathons. Here is the problem. For my first 50K, I've chosen. . . 

The Mohican Forget the PR

Here are some things you need to know:

1. The course is EXTREMELY difficult. 
2. The race is in April (around my birthday), so I can most likely expect icy rain.
3.  I am #8 on the waitlist. When I mentioned to my friends that I felt that it was unlikely that I would get in, they all informed me that I was definitely going to be running the 50K if I'm only #8.  GAAAAAAAA.
4. Trail Sisters have already registered, so I will be in good company.

I've had a period of freaking out, but I am not a quitter, so I am going to prepare for this damn race.  I will run hill repeats. I will do squats and pushups. I will put in the long trail miles. I can do this, right?

Ok, this is the most important part of the post. What spring race will you train for this winter? Will it be the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon or any of the races associated with it? If so, I have a code for you! Use SI2019 for 10% off registration for any race, including the series!

However you run this season, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Turkey and Shenanigans

So, I wrapped up my racing season with the Homerun for the Homeless 4 mile race on Thanksgiving day. I was wondering if I would race it or run it, and when I saw my friend Jennifer at the start, I decided I would be much happier running with her, so I did. It was great. Poor Jen. I vented about my life for about 40 minutes as we ran through the hills of Glendale Cemetery. When I apologized for talking so much and said I'd shut up for her, she responded, "No! Just keep talking so I don't think about these hills!"  I'm so glad that my messed up life could help someone.

I saw many friends at the race.

Crooked River Trail Runners at Home Run for the Homeless: Damn, we are a good-looking bunch!

Of course I took a pic with Pam and Steve, per our tradition. Pam and Steve each won a turkey, and Steve won a gift card! I won nothing.

Me, Steve, Pam. We are happy that it is over.

On Sunday after Thanksgiving, I ran the Tryptophan Run sponsored by Vertical Runner. I love this free event. A hundred runners or so show up at Vertical Runner Hudson on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and run 1, 2, 3, or 4 mile loops for two hours, dropping tickets into a tub after each loop for a chance to win prizes. This year, I ran ten miles with Marta.

Me, Mark, Marta, Wendy post 10 miles (for me)

For the first time EVER, I won something!
I won this awesome hat!
Thanksgiving weekend was a wonderful running opportunity for me because the weather was nice. In fact, the great weather continued through the next week, so I was able to run some trails at night with Crooked River Trail Runners, and I had a fun morning exploring Hinckley Trails with the Trail Sisters. As usual, shenanigans ensued:

There are faces carved into the ledges in Hinckley. Check it out, Peeps!

I have significantly cut down my mileage lately, but it's all good. I am taking this time to do other things that I like (or don't like. I'm talking about you, swimming.): I am doing more Tae Bo, walking, dancing, and yoga than I normally do.  I know I will have to step up my mileage pretty soon. Why?  I'm not going to tell you this week, but I will give you some hints:
1. I did something stupid.
2. Peer pressure was involved.
3. Alcohol was possibly involved.
4. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Ok, this is the most important part of the post. What spring race will you train for this winter? Will it be the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon or any of the races associated with it? If so, I have a code for you! Use SI2019 for 10% off registration for any race, including the series!

How are you handling the holidays? No matter the weather, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Use Code SI2019

Peeps, this weather blows. I look forward to Fall all year, and I feel ripped off.  Again. Screw you, Ohio. I defend you all the time, and this is what I get???

Ohio before Thanksgiving.  Just kidding.
Usually this is the time that I consider ramping down my miles, but USUALLY I don't because I love being outside this time of year.  Yeah, right now, not so much. My motivation is seriously flagging, and I'm trying to be ok with it.

This morning it was in the upper 20s when I wanted to run. In November. The upper 20s. Now, in January, I will totally accept this, but NOT TODAY, OHIO. Now the treadmill starts, if I can even force myself to get on the treadmill. I've actually been pulling out some of my beloved Tae Bo DVDs, and I've even gone back to my Masala Bhangra.  That's good, right?

My first love
I thank goodness that I've had two nice weekend runs in a row. First, I ran with the Trail Sisters for Talula's 20 miler (I only did 10 miles). True to the Trail Sister creed, there may have been some shenanigans involved.

Beginning of the run
We found The Shining house!

Don't cross the streams!  (A second movie reference!)
Marta and I were going to catch the train. . . which went all the way to Peninsula.

This past weekend I ran toute seule because most of the Sisters had races. I ran ten miles on the Towpath. It was sunny but very chilly, and I found it difficult. I think I need to get used to the cold a lot sooner than I have in the past, and I'm not happy about it.

You know what I am happy about, Peeps? I get to be an Ambassador again this year for a race I love, the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. I want to pass that love on to you, so I'm encouraging you to register now so that you can run with me (or run ahead of me).  I've even got a code for 10% off to sweeten the deal: SI2019. Use it!

How are you doing in this unseasonably cold weather? However you run, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Race Recap: Run with Scissors

Highlights of last year's Run with Scissors:

1. Rain

2. Crying

3. Getting lost 1/2 mile from the finish

4. Running 3-4 extra miles

Because I've got some extra rage going on (How about you? Are you angry? No? Just me? Ok.), I signed up to take the whammy off the race.

Because I like to share my pain, I bullied persuaded the Trail Sisters to run it with me.

Of course the weather was the same: 43 degrees and rainy. Yuck. Luckily, we run in the woods, so we wouldn't get that wet from above. Running through the mud, however, was quite a different story. If mud baths are supposed to be good for the skin, I guarantee you that my feet and legs are glorious.

I found Mandy and Pam, my long-lost friends.

Early Trail Sisters selfie: Wendy, Nancy, Marta

Official Trail Sisters Selfie: Marta, Nicole, Laura, Me, Nancy, Wendy

We gathered at Pine Hollow at 9 AM to hear the Grim Reaper, Roy Heger, give us explanations of the course markings. Not wanting to get lost yet again, I listened very closely. The signs were very complicated:

What does he actually mean by that????
And then we took off. The first two miles are always difficult for me. I remember calling out, "Why are we even doing this???"

The response was a chorus of "Because you made us, you jerk!"

Oh yeah.

We hit the aid station at Pine Hollow, where Sydney and Sarah had some awesome food for us, including donuts! Then we quickly took off again.

We are already disregarding the trail markings. We are supposed to be running in the grass.

I started to feel really good, so I ran ahead a bit with Nicole, Dave, and Katrina (who ran dressed as Notorious RBG).  I decided to run by feel, meaning that if I felt angry/energized/angsty/good I would run faster, and if I felt tired/sluggish/sad I would run slower. We reached the halfway point, where we pulled out our scissors and cut a page from the book to prove that we were there.


Dammit, my eyes are closed.

Wendy and Marta demonstrate the proper way to run with scissors.

And now they cut their pages.
After that, Nicole and I decided that we wanted to be done with this race. I was getting cold and tired and hangry. We ran back to Pine Hollow for some bacon and love. Or bacony love. Then we took off up and down the Sound of Music Hills and back towards the Ledges. 

Oh, Ledges. You are so difficult with your sharp rocks and hidden roots. This is always where I get super-paranoid because I am afraid I'll break a foot or fall and hurt myself. I slowed down considerably, but Nicole was consumed by the desire to finish, so she pulled ahead. She was worried that I'd take a wrong turn (because this is where I went wrong last year), so I kept hearing her yell back, "Turn left!!! Turn here!" I told her to just go and stop worrying about me. She finished like a true Badass. 

Meanwhile, Wendy happened by, and we finished together. 

After crossing the finish line (this time running 13.4, not 17 miles), we filled our Run with Scissors mugs with yummy potato soup. Then I got to see Marta, Laura, and Nancy come in:

And we took our finish line picture with Roy:

I'm glad I ran this race, especially since the rumor is that we won't have it at the Ledges anymore. The park system is gorgeous in the fall, even in the rain and mud. The volunteers for this race were so kind and happy, and I love any aid station that serves up bacon.  Thank you, Running Forward and Giving Back, for a fun experience and the opportunity to pre-emptively burn calories before my Halloween shenanigans that night.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I go grocery shopping.
Are you running in costume this year, Peeps? Whether you are or not, I hope you run happy!

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Race Recap: Akron Marathon

It wasn't a PR. There. I said it. I've been brooding this weekend, and I've confessed it. The weather was PERFECT. The conditions were PERFECT.  I had TONS of support on the course. I didn't PR.

I took a personal day on Friday to go to the Expo. I know from experience that I should not be around anyone the day before a big race. I told my students right up front: I'll be crying and rocking in the fetal position for most of the day. You do NOT want to see this, so you will be happy to have a substitute teacher on that day. My students are wonderful kids, really, so they were very understanding about the whole thing. My own kids know the deal; they just made sure to steer clear of me that day.

I worked the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon booth at the Expo from 11-1ish. It was great to see all my friends and represent a race series that I love. I'm still mad that Ralph Staph, Race Director for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, didn't bring me a Frappuccino when I asked for it. Am I worth NOTHING????

Working it! #CleveMarathonAmbassador

I did get a prime picture with Zippy, the Akron Zips Mascot.

I also got my traditional 26.2 picture, courtesy of my friend Nick. You remember him; he was a pirate at the Burning River aid station.

And of course it isn't real until you see your name on the car outside the expo:

I spent the evening trying to relax, while eating everything in the house. Hey. I eat when I'm stressed. Actually, I eat when I'm not stressed, too.

The next morning was great! I got to say Good Luck to all my friends before getting in the corral.  We took lots of pictures.

Kelly, Me, Marta. We are excited because it is Kelly's first marathon.

I'm pretending that I'm not edgy or irritated or nervous. Or bloated.
The first 19 miles felt amazing, really. I was ahead of my desired pace by about 30 seconds per mile, and even though I told myself to slow down a bit, I really didn't want to, and I felt like I could handle it. I had started with the 4:40 pacer, and I left her because I didn't want to fight the crowd around her, and I felt so good.

You all know that this was a mistake, right?

I saw my friend Rob at the 16 mile marker, and I saw my friends Bees for Mary Relay Team at the various relay exchanges. I was still feeling great when I approached the designated meeting point to see The Kabyle Chef, Butterbean, and Punkin. I voice-texted Punkin, telling her that I had about two miles until the rendezvous, and then I realized that I miscalculated, and the rendezvous was straight ahead. Whoops.

This really bugged me, but I knew it was my own fault, and I tried to let go of the fact that I wouldn't see my family where I needed them. . . when I saw them! They had scrambled ahead, following the Blue Line until they could figure out how to intercept me!  What a great family.  I sobbed, of course.

Now, this is where I should have picked up the pace because I saw one friend after another, but I just couldn't do it. I was in so much pain, and for the first time ever, I could feel my quads seizing up.  I slowed down, and then I started walking. That is where I saw Pam and Steve. You know them; Pam is a Cleveland Marathon Ambassador, and Steve is a Pacer. They were riding their bikes, and they yelled to me to stop walking and go catch the 4:40 pacer (who had just left me in the dust). I shuffled along until I was suddenly attacked by a giant fox!!

OMG. WTF is that????
The Trail Sisters had stationed themselves at mile 22ish to cheer us on. They are amazing, right?

I passed Rob again going towards Heartbreak Hill. Just as I was contemplating walking the hill, I saw Kathy by the side of the road. I haven't seen her in at least 3 years! She told me that she came to that specific point to see me take the hill. I was so happy to see her that I remembered that I was supposed to make the hill my bitch. . .and so I did.

I was still going super-slowly, and I was in a lot of pain. When I made the turn onto Market Street, which is the start of the last 2 miles, I didn't even care. If the SAG wagon had approached me at that point,  I would have ditched the whole race. I sped up as much as I could on the downhill to make up for lost time, but then I started walking the uphill again when a young girl passed me, turned around and said, "Come on! You passed me on Heartbreak Hill, and you think you are gonna walk THIS?" She was right, so I started shuffling along again, and I managed to cut thirty seconds off that mile.

Coming into the stadium felt great, and I was able to give it a little kick, but I knew that it wasn't a PR, and I was pretty disappointed. I had time to stretch, rehydrate, refuel, collapse, and then find Marta. After taking post race pics with my friends, we moved the party to Lockview, where I ate all the grilled cheese and tater tots I could hold.

Me, Nick (the Pirate), and Marta. You be the judge: Am I laughing or crying here?
I had some time to process this race. I realize that I should have started more slowly than I did--15 more seconds per mile in the first 15 miles would have helped. I realize that I never lost the weight I intended to lose before the race (there is that number 15 again). Could I have controlled both of these factors? Yes. Did I ? No. But.  I trained really well with the right balance of miles, strength training, and swimming. I finished that baby, and though my time was not a PR, it was a course record for me--by 5 whole minutes! I think that I will take it.

I'm so grateful to all the volunteers at this race. They were always loud, cheerful, and fun. I'm also grateful to all of my friends who helped me through this long training cycle and my friends who cheered for me on the course. You all are wonderful; I love you.

As for you, Akron Marathon, next year I will conquer your hills and come back with a shiny, new PR!

Peeps, I hope that while I am hobbling along and soaking in Epsom Salts to recover, you will be running happy!

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

20 Miles in. . . Let the Taper Begin!

Huh. So this was a post I started a week and a half ago, Peeps. I don't know why, but I never hit the publish button. Enjoy!

Saturday was a busy day. I knew it would be a busy day, so I cleaned my bathrooms Friday evening after I got home from work and before I took my son to the football game to watch my daughter march.
This is EXACTLY how I look when I clean the house before the football game. . . in the 1950s.

Actually, this is EXACTLY how I look when. . .AHAHAHAH!  I can't even write it! No. Just. No.

I woke up early on Saturday to pouring rain. This was the morning of my 20 miler for the Akron Marathon. Great. I almost went back to sleep (something I am rarely tempted to do), but I got up and made breakfast. The rain let up a bit, so I kept going with my pre-run routine (coffee, bathroom, etc.).

It's raining in my soul.

I was a bit nervous about running the Blue Line for 20 miles because my Trail Sisters (at least those who are willing to run roads with me) were in Hell. . .Michigan, that is, for the Woodstock Race Series. I didn't go because I didn't want to miss Vertical Runner's Blue Line Training Run (or my 30th year high school reunion). Anyway, I didn't officially have someone with whom to run.  I tested out a few people:

Me to Jennifer: What's your pace today?
Jennifer: I plan to run the 20 in a 12 mile pace.
Me: Yeah, bye.

Me to Cassie and Beth: So, are you doing the 20 miler or the 12?
Cassie: Well. . .we're not really. . .
Me: Yeah, bye.

No worries. I ran with my friend Deb for a while, and then I decided to run alone, but there was always someone I knew or someone with whom I could chat along the way, so I wasn't LONELY.

I went really slowly, and I told myself that the only goal was to get this done without killing myself.  I stopped at all the aid stations, run by wonderful volunteers who braved the yucky rain--THANK YOU!

In the last 3 miles, I saw Tamra, my running partner from Burning River, and we ran together until the end, which was very nice.

In the past, I have felt very defeated after the Blue Line Practice Run, but today I felt. . .fine. Not great, not terrible.  I think this is a good sign; I've respected the training, and my expectations are realistic.
I even mustered up a smile!

Ok, so I have about a week and a half to go before the Akron Marathon, and the tapering hasn't been too terrible. I've cut down my mileage by about a third last week, and this week will probably be the same.

Last Sunday I ran the Race with Grace 5k, and that review will be my next post.  Until then, Run Happy, Peeps!

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

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Starting My New (Old) Routine

It's back to school time! While parents around the United States are singing the "Hallelujah Chorus," I'm buying a phone jail for my classroom so that I don't have to compete with "Fortnite" in the classroom.

Hey, Teacher: Did you REALLY think I was gonna read that short story?

Part of my back-to-school routine is switching up my regular running times and routes. During the summer, I am able to run whenever I get up in the morning, and my distances can vary between 5 miles and 10 miles, depending on how I feel that day. Now that I'm back to school, I have to get in all my miles before 5:30 AM. This makes my marathon training a little more challenging but still doable. I just have to adjust my wake up time to 4:20 AM. Here is my typical school year running routine:

Monday: yoga and possibly 1-2 miles of walking to warm up. Possible 2.5-3 miles of brisk walking in the evening during kids' Taekwon Do classes.

Tuesday: 4-5 miles on roads. Possible 2.5-3 miles of brisk walking in the evening during kids' Taekwon Do classes.

Wednesday: 4-6 miles on roads (6 if I get out of the house early enough and I do intervals or a tempo run)

Thursday: 4 miles on roads; 5 trail miles with Crooked River Trail Runners in the evening

Friday: Strength training and possibly 1-2 miles of walking to warm up

Saturday: 4-6 miles on Sand Run after housecleaning. If I'm too exhausted, 4-6 miles of alternating running and walking on the treadmill while watching Parks and Rec.

Saturday Evening: Do something to potentially mess up your long run the next morning.

Marta and I get our boogie on at the Silent Disco at PorchRokr Festival

Sunday: Long run leading up to 20 miles.

This Sunday I ran 16 miles on the Towpath with Marta, Pam, Steve, and Kelly. I was worried that I would struggle through this run because it's been about 3 weeks since I've run more than 10 miles, but I really enjoyed it!

Kelly, Me, Pam, Marta
Routines are really important to me because they give me something to hold onto when my schedule gets crazy (and it will). It's reassuring to me to know that I can still be confident when I run that Blue Line for the Akron Marathon because I will be prepared.

How do you deal with your work schedule and your running? Do you have to change it up during the year?

However/whenever you run, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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