Monday, January 20, 2020

Running Payday

Here it is, Peeps, my annual Payday Post!

Here is how it works:

I pay myself $.50 for every mile I run, $1.00 for every racing mile, and $5.00 for every PR.  I deduct my race fees from this amount, and I deposit the total in a special savings account for my big ticket racing goal.  Here and here are some previous posts. Go ahead and read them; I'll wait.

Ok, ready?  Step one is to calculate the total miles of 2019. I get this figure from Garmin and Strava, where I log my runs. This year I ran and walked 1,714 miles, which is a surprising decrease from last year, considering I added a 50K to my races. I think this isn't a bad thing, though, for two reasons:

1. I was sick and couldn't run a step for over two weeks during the summer. It was all in my chest. We all know that when it hits your chest, you don't do heavy workouts. That is a loss of approximately 60-some miles.

2. I did a better job of incorporating other activities besides running into my schedule. For example, I like to rotate among cardio and strength training activities like Zumba, Tae Bo, Dancing, Kettlebell, and free weights. I also did more swimming this year.

This is EXACTLY how I THINK I look as swimmer.

This is ACTUALLY how I look as a swimmer.
Step 2 is to add up the racing miles:

April: Forget the PR 50K= 32 (I got lost)
May: Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon = 26.2
May: Medina Half Marathon = 13.1
July: Burning River = 17 
August: One Hot Momma = 16
September: Race with Grace = 3.1
September: Akron Marathon = 26.2
October: Crowell Hilaka = 15.5
November: Home Run for the Homeless = 4

Total Racing Miles = 153.1 = 153

Step 3 is to subtract racing miles from total miles:

1,714 - 153 = 1, 561

Step 4 is to multiply non-racing miles by .50 and then add to racing miles:

1561 x .50 = 780 + 153 = $933

Step 5 is to add in $5.00 for every PR. . .and that would be one (FtPR): 933 + 5 = $938

Woohoo! I'm rich! I'm . . . Oh wait. I still need to add up my racing fees and subtract them from the total:
938-448 = $490

I am so happy with this! What this means is that I will be depositing $490 into my savings account dedicated to running the Paris Marathon. 

As my smart-ass brother has pointed out to me, I am merely paying myself with MY OWN MONEY, which I completely understand. . . HOWEVER. If you are remotely like me, you may want to pay attention to this part. 

I tend to be the person who takes care of everyone else around me: my family, my friends, my colleagues, my students. Running is one of the few ways that I take care of myself, and I have learned that I deserve rewards. Also, knowing that I have an account waiting for me to reach my goal of running the Paris Marathon gives me an incentive on the days that I don't want to get up at 4:30 AM to run or work out. I tend to punish myself pretty harshly when I don't achieve one of my gazillion goals, so I really use this system to remind myself that I am doing a great job.

How can you reward yourself for your goals, Peeps? One way you can reward yourself right away is by using my code, RUNCLESTEPHANI10, for 10% off any race entry for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. We can earn points towards our paydays together!

I'm looking forward to where my running year will take me. Wherever your running year takes you, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

There's a Needle for That.

You hate this title, don't you?

Last post, I wrote about my problems with Morton's Neuroma in both feet. Honestly, I have been really freaked about it.  You can read about it here.

Since then, I have been trying to figure out the problem and take care of the situation. Here are some things I have been doing:

1. I have cut back on my running by about 10-15 miles per week. I have been substituting strength training. I plan to put in some swimming soon.

Pretty soon I'll look EXACTLY like this. . . but hopefully with hair.  And, well, not as a man.
2. I have purchased a new pair of trail shoes, and I haven't worn trail shoes as much as I usually do.

Saucony Peregrine Ice.
3. I have continued my visits to the chiropractor.

4.  I now use YogaToes (when my feet aren't too cold).

5. I have had 3 acupuncture treatments so far, and I have another scheduled.

I basically get needles in my feet (soles and tops), my calves, my lower and upper back, my hands, my ear, and my head.  It doesn't sound relaxing, but somehow it is. . .well, after the needles in my feet go in. I can't feel any of the needles going in except for those on the soles of my feet. Even so, I don't feel them once they are in. 

I really like my acupuncturist. She instructs me by explaining how all of it works, and I find Eastern Medicine to be very interesting. I also like the idea that sticking me in different places can help different problems, all at the same time. You got a problem? There is a needle for that.

The marble-like sensation hasn't completely disappeared, but it is definitely dissipating. I have hope, so much hope that I'm thinking ahead to the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. I haven't registered yet because I can't choose between the Challenge Series or the marathon, but I'm definitely going to be there, and it's going to be amazing! Do you want to join me? Register here and use my code, RUNCLESTEPHANI10 to get 10% off any race, even the Challenge Series!

Clearly, I am excited to run Cleveland!
Wherever you run, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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

Monday, November 25, 2019

My Lumps

Yes, I know that isn't the song.

I have Morton's Neuroma on both feet.  This is some kind of  bullshit because I NEVER wear high heeled shoes. In general, my shoes are supportive, rather than cute. I first noticed the feeling of a marble in the ball of my left foot about two months ago. After the Akron Marathon, I went back to my trusty chiropractor, who previously had cured my Achilles Tendinitis. I like my chiropractor because she won't tell me to stop running.

This is EXACTLY what a Morton's Neuroma looks like.  I guess. What the hell is this???

What has caused my neuroma?  Here are some guesses:

1. Shoes.  I have worn the same brand of trail and road shoes since I started running about eight years ago. Maybe they are no longer the best shoe for me? I notice that I feel worse after trail running more than five miles.

2. Weight. I have not been able to shed fifteen pounds that I put on when I started marathon and 50K training. I'm not sure I buy this one, however, because I was much heavier when I first started running.

3. Stress. I have been in a dark, stressful place for a while. (I am sure that because of my naturally sunny disposition, you didn't notice.) I think my stress is slowly killing my body, piece by piece.

4. Dampness? This is a weird one, but my acupuncturist said that Chinese practitioners believe that dampness causes neuroma. This has certainly been a damp time outside.

5. Running. Gulp.  I don't want to believe this one. I'm going to just skip over it.

What am I doing to treat my neuroma?

1. Shoes. I am wearing completely supportive shoes at all times. I just bought a new pair of the same brand of trail shoes, but I might go to Second Sole to discuss changing brands.

2. Weight. Let's be honest here. Nothing yet.

3. Stress. Ummmmm. . .Move on. Nothing to see here.

4. I am currently experiencing acupuncture, a first for me. My acupuncturist seems really confident that she can take care of the problem.  I really, really hope so. I'm combining that therapy with my chiropractor's sessions, so I'm currently getting my neck cracked and needles stuck into the bottoms of my feet. And the top of my head. And my ears. And my back. And my legs. And my hand.

5. Running. I have cut way down on the mileage, and I"m not happy about it. I have been doing other exercises, but running has always been the best way to keep down the crazy.

How will this end? I haven't a clue, but I have hope. I have so much hope that I registered for a fall marathon.

Also, as a Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador, I am still your connection for discount race entries!

Would you like a free race entry? Take your chances by following the Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors. You can find their social media info here.

Not feeling lucky? You can get a 10% discount on your race entry if you use my code, RUNCLESTEPHANI10. Join me! I promise I won't keep talking about my lumps.

Wherever/whenever you run, I hope you run happy, Peeps!
Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @itibrout!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Race Recap: Crowell Hilaka

I have been in a funk since before the Akron Marathon. Marathon training is tough and long, and I ran two marathons and a 50K between April and September.  That is a lot of miles. The remedy to this should be letting go of the miles, but Fall weather is FINALLY here, and it is my favorite season to run. I'm still not really having fun.

On Saturday, I ran the Crowell Hilaka trail half marathon at the Richfield Preserve, and I found some mojo that had been hiding on the trail.  It was a great time.

Crowell Hilaka is a donation-or-volunteer race; you either donate money for your entry, or you volunteer with the group to clean up the trails.  Either way, it's a good place to put your money or time. The donation money goes towards the efforts to maintain the trails, so I feel good knowing that I'm not out there just using up resources without giving back. The park is a former Girl Scout camp; before that it belonged to the Kirby family (yep, the vacuum people). Last year I swept for this race, so I knew what it would be like, remnants of scout camp buildings and fire pits, beautiful trails, a lake, and houses (and a water wheel!) that used to belong to the Kirby family. It's a really interesting course with something different every couple of miles.

I like that I was able to roll in about an hour before the start time and collect my bib and t shirt. No worries about parking or bathrooms because there was plenty of both. I spent the time finding every trail friend I've ever seen.
I'll bet you recognize fellow Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Pam. We are always taking pictures together at the start. Then she blows me away.

This was a Trail Sister race, and boy, did we show up as runners and volunteers!

Lots of Trail Sisters today!
We started in the back, chatting. After about a mile, I started feeling a little bit perky. The sun was shining through the trees, and the course doesn't have any really sharp inclines, so I was able to continue my momentum of running, and I started to feel very good. I decided to run alone for a while and see if I wanted to push my pace at all.  The first loop of six miles passed very quickly (for me on a trail), and I enjoyed every second of it. I grabbed more food than I should have from the aid station and moved on.

Around mile 10 I started getting a bit tired, and that is when I spotted Giovanna, who I seem to see at just about every trail race. We started chatting and decided to finish together. With her the last three miles were great, especially since we both agreed to walk the steep parts of the last mile (which is pretty much all uphill).

The finish was a trail PR for me, and honestly, because I am a sick, sick person, I'm kind of mad at myself for not pushing a little harder.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm kind of mad at myself for not pushing a little harder.
There were lots of plans for post-race celebrations, but I had to excuse myself to spend 4 1/2 hours selling 50/50 raffle tickets for my kid's band invitational. I'm not complaining.  I'm not.

In short, this race made me want to do more and be a better runner. I'm already making plans to get in more speedwork and cross training because this is definitely something I've been lacking.

Kudos to Jennifer Douglas and Matt Force, who are great Race Directors!

Where did you find your running mojo this week, Peeps? No matter where you are, I hope you run happy!

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Sunday, October 6, 2019

Race Recap: Akron Marathon

I had to wait at least a week to write this recap because I am a very emotional person, and I feel like I'm a better person (and writer) when I can take time to think over what I want to write. I have some very strong prejudices against the Akron Marathon, and I wanted to be sure that I was being fair when  I describe my experience. If you have never read this blog before, I should probably bring you up to date about my background feelings, both positive and negative. Edit: On my long run this morning, it occurred to me that 78.9% of you don't care one bit what my background feelings are on the Akron Marathon. If this is you, I will spare you. If you are a part of the 21.1% who genuinely want to know, here is a link to my double secret blog post.  Call it an Easter egg. You're welcome.

Not THIS kind of Easter egg

The expo was lots of fun, as usual. I worked the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon booth for a few hours, and I got to see all my running friends.

Me, Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon RD Ralph Staph, Super runner (and Medina City Schools BOE Member) Ron Ross

Fellow Ambassador Jeff Edwards and I say, "Run Cleveland 2020!"

 Then Marta arrived and we went to lunch. We came back in time for Marta's pinning ceremony (10 years of running the marathon!), and then we were lucky enough to meet Desi Linden!

She was so amazing and inspirational. She actually ASKED ME ABOUT MY TRAINING!!!!  I stammered and smiled like a love-sick idiot.

Marta and I got our bibs and browsed the vendors.

Marta and I are ready!

It's tradition to find your name on the car outside the Expo.

I found my teacher friends, who were running the relay:

Me, Erin, Katie, and Mike

Then we met up with fellow Ambassador Pam McGowan and her husband Steve, who is a pacer for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. We all had a drink and went home to rest.

Flash forward to the race. I decided not to take the shuttle since it was making me so anxious. Luckily for me, my friend Jen offered to pick up Marta, Renee, and me downtown and drive us to the start line. She got us there in great time, and we didn't have to worry about lines.  Thanks, Jen!

My second worry was available bathrooms. The start from downtown always had plenty of bathrooms, and I worried that there wasn't enough space for them at Stan Hywet Hall.  I was right and wrong about this. We got there pretty early, so I had plenty of time to use the port a potties twice, but the second time involved a LONG line. There were lots of runners who chose to relieve themselves in the woods, and I wonder if the Stan Hywet committee thought of this.
Renee, Me, Marta 

Nicki, Me, Renee, Marta

The corrals are in the parking lot of Stan Hywet, with A Corral right by the start line, of course. It took me nine minutes to get from my corral to the start, and while those minutes are super exciting on  the road to the start downtown, at Stan Hywet they were. . .nothing. I stood still in the corral for 6 minutes watching a video monitor as the elites and sub-elites started the race. Then I walked very slowly for 3 minutes toward the start line. It was definitely anti-climactic.

I ran with my friend Jeanne and her cousin for as long as I could keep up.

Jeanne and I wait in the corral. And wait. And wait.

 I did pretty well with my pace, keeping it around 10:30-10:45 until Mile 17 when the wheels came off.  One of the advertised appeals of the new course is that it is faster and flatter than the old course. This is true, in my opinion, but it wasn't an easier course because the last part of it was in full sun reflecting off of water. It was humid and hot, and many of us suffered. Had I been a better runner, though, with a predicted finish of 3:30 or sooner, I probably would have loved the new course. Alas. I am not a better runner.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I pretend I am a better runner.
Photo Credit: Rob Thompson

From Mile 19 to the end, I walked at least .10 of a mile and then shuffled my way to the next mile. At least 3 miles were on the boardwalk on Summit Lake, and it was really difficult. Part of the course goes behind Canal Park, where big factory pipes burp exhaust as you run by.  That was not pleasant.

The finish line was wonderful, as always. Food, beer, a fabulous band, and a sweet medal.  Per our tradition, Andrew waited for me at the finish, walked me to a patch of grass, made sure I wasn't going to die, and then he left.  I found Marta and we got our medal shot.

Marta is fancy. She is drinking organic Mich Ultra Light.  
When I made it home, I ordered 44 dollars worth of Chinese take out, and I ate at least half of it. Marathons aren't for the weak, Peeps.

To sum up:

Plusses: End of race party, band, stadium finish, flatter course, crowd support in West Akron, plenty of water stops and fuel stops.  Desi Linden! Kudos to Swensons for bringing their food truck out for the milkshake mile! The medal is awesome!

One note about the plusses: I didn't use the shuttle system, but everyone I know who did said that it was very smooth. We didn't have to delay the start, which is a win for everybody. So, kudos to the RD for having planned enough transportation!

Minuses: Fewer bands and spectators on the course (I guess this would be normal since it is a different course). Corral start is awful for back of the packers. Not enough bathrooms at start. The miles on Summit Lake are excruciating with little shade, and with next-to-no crowd support (but not everybody needs a crowd)

This race was not terrible, but it is gradually moving away from the race I loved. This is obviously my problem. Change is inevitable, and I'm sure that the RD wants to have the best possible experience for his elites and sub-elites. Because I am so weather-dependent, I would guess that if we had had an overcast day in the low 60's, I might have felt differently about the back half of the course. Or maybe I wouldn't.  I do have to acknowledge that this is probably an awesome course as a half marathon.

I plan to sign up next year because it will be my fifth Akron Marathon, and I would like the pin.  Will I fret less? Probably. Will I enjoy it more?  Hmmmm. . .Time will tell.

What did you think, Peeps? Was this a fair recap, given my biases? How much did you love this race?

However you feel about the races you run, I hope you run happy with yourselves, Peeps!

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

Double Secret Easter Egg: My Complicated Feelings about Akron

1. I started running because I live on the (old) Blue Line, and for years I would watch the runners come by as I sipped my coffee and hated myself. I started running so that I could run that exact stretch that went by my house.

This is EXACTLY how I look finally running that Blue Line!

2. The Akron Marathon was my first marathon, and it was a wonderful experience. You never forget your first, and I was lucky that the conditions were the best they could be.

Coming into the chute for my first marathon. Notice Andrew in the blue. He tried to hand me a beer, but I wasn't having it.

3. The first year I ran the Akron Marathon, the RD took away the iconic jackets, and I received a long sleeved tech tee. . . like every half marathoner. Not to be too dramatic, but I was devastated. I talked to a member of the race committee about it and tagged Akron Marathon on social media to discuss this issue. The Marathon ignored my tags, and the committee member told me that runners actually said they would PREFER A SHIRT TO A JACKET. I am calling shenanigans on that one.

4. Each year, the RD tweaks the race, which is to be expected; however, those tweaks tend to make the race less enjoyable for slower runners, like me. In addition, the RD has sent some tone-deaf social media posts that I (and other runners like me) found disheartening and insulting.  I recently listened to a podcast that featured the RD, and through his interview I realized that runners who are not elites or sub-elites are not really on his radar. It's not that he deliberately ignores or looks down on runners like me; we just aren't there in his mind. This is obviously my problem to get over, not his, as he is a successful RD, and I am. . .a successful teacher who runs a lot.

This is EXACTLY how I look as a successful teacher who runs a lot.

5. This year, the course started at Stan Hywet Hall, and it started a half hour later than normal. This meant that the beginning of the course would be in the West Akron neighborhoods (usually at the back end),in the shade with lots of crowd support, and the back part would be in full sun on the boardwalk part of the Towpath in East Akron. Runners were expected to take a shuttle from downtown Akron to Stan Hywet. These recent changes caused me to lose my freaking mind with worry over shuttles and bathrooms. A race that I had loved for years and years was now causing me undue panic and anxiety. I feared that my only alternative would be to drop the race, but that idea was hurtful as I had run the race for so many years. I signed up and tried to be positive about it, but if you know me, you know that my "positive" includes a lot of fretting.

Ok, you've read my background information. Wow! You are persistent!  The obvious thought most of you are having must be this:

Get over yourself. Seriously. If you have this much trouble with the race. . . don't run it. Just shut up and let it go.  Well . . .

I can't. I'm not wired that way.

Although I can name my demons, and I have daily conversations with them while I walk them about on leashes, I can't actually make them disappear.  It's one of my little "quirks" that my friends tolerate. You don't have to tolerate the demons; they are not in your head. I hope you tolerate the quirks.  Also, YOU are the one who opened this Easter egg! Why are you here if you don't enjoy my neuroses??????

This is. . .not exactly how my demons look. My demons are chubbier and far less artistic.
Carry on to the race review, Peeps.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Race Recap: Race with Grace 5K

I searched and searched for someone who would run with me; I never found anyone. I am the sad and lonely runner who feels compelled to try her best, even in the middle of a long run, even during taper.

Here is my secret, Peeps: I hate, hate, HATE 5Ks. Why? Because 3.1 miles are just short enough that if you choose to run that race, you should race the crap out of it. I mean balls to the wall.  Gasping. Trying not to throw up at the finish line.  If you aren't trying to block out some major pain during a 5K, are you really running it?

Sick, right?  This is how I think, Peeps.  So, I am tapering until the Akron Marathon, and I needed at least ten miles on the day of the race. Last year I got Marta to run it with me; we ran the course pre-race as a warmup, ran it again for the race, and then we ran four more miles while sucking down snow cones.

Here we are in 2018, coming in to the chute. This does NOT look like tapering behavior.

 This year Marta wizened up and said she wanted no part of that, so I thought, well, I'll just find someone who hasn't run a 5K before. . .or someone who doesn't want to race. . . or someone who is sick or hungover.  No such luck.

I knew I had no motivation to PR this race; on the contrary, I have fifteen extra pounds and practically ZERO speed work that say there will be no spectacular running for me any time soon.  GAAAAAAA.

Still, it's a good cause.

MHS Team Brenda. I am clearly not a team player because I didn't wear the long-sleeved race shirt in 75 degree weather. 
So, I decided to do what I could. I showed up early and ran four miles, looked for someone to run with me, failed miserably, and resigned myself to a painful run where I would continually tell myself that I didn't have to run hard, but I would do so anyway.

I think I did ok.

This is SO DIFFICULT TO SEE!  I ran it in 27:27.

This is about a minute off my 5K PR. . .but I don't care. I don't. I feel like I did the respectable thing by running a middle distance between my comfort zone and my racing zone. This is my half marathon tempo pace, but I am no longer in that kind of shape, so. . .I'll take it.

I immediately switched my Garmin to walking mode after the finish, and I walked a mile to take off the nausea. Then I drank some water and ate some pizza, and I took pictures of some of the finishers. After that, I couldn't stall any longer, so I ran two more miles for a total of ten miles that day.  

I am currently in my last week of taper before the Akron Marathon, and I feel ok. I'm trying to keep an open mind about the race, and I'm trying to visualize a marathon PR and a good time. This is kind of against my nature, but I'm giving it a shot. Wish me luck!

Next week will be the recap of the Akron Marathon and all the fun things that go with it. Stay tuned!

What are you training for? Whatever is keeping you running, I hope you run happy, Peeps!

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