Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Recap of my 2016 Racing Season and a Farewell Blog Post

It's hard to believe it but this is the last post that I'm planning to write for Run Today Tri Tomorrow. Since I started the blog I've set and accomplished a lot of goals. I dreamed of running more marathons, an ultra and of completing an Ironman distance triathlon. I've done all these things and it's been a very fun and interesting journey. While I still plan to race for some time, I needed a change so I have launched a new blog that combines my love of running and tris with beer. Head on over there now to read it at: http://thehoprunner.blogspot.com/.

2016 went fast and so did my season. Here's a quick recap:


  • I placed 2nd at the Great Western Reserve Olympic Tri
  • I placed 3rd in the Munroe Falls Sprint Tri
  • I had my best 70.3 run ever at IM Ohio where I ran 1:46 for a finish time of 5:38
  • Milton Man Olympic Tri was rough and I was 2nd in AG
  • Nordonia Duo Relay - won co-ed although my bike time suffered due to a couple       mechanicals

  • Running:

    • I ran my second Green Jewel 50K and once again came in second place - albeit about 35 minutes faster this time thanks to better conditioning and weather conditions. 
    • I ran my first Boston Marathon and it was an amazing and unforgettable experience. I will be back for more but unfortunately missed my BQ this year by few minutes. 
    • I ran back to back marathons in Erie Sept 11 (3:44) and Lansing on Sept 18 (3:51). This was even harder than I thought it would be. 
    • 3 weeks later on Oct 11 I placed 1st in my AG at the Towpath Marathon in 3:42. 
    • I ran my first trail marathon at Run With Scissors. Ouch that was hard! 
    • I won my AG at the Hill Yeah 1/2 marathon and I placed 3rd in my AG in the inaugural Run for Chardon 1/2 Marathon. Both of these were hilly!
    • I placed 1st in my AG at Dirty Love Trail 10K, 3rd in my AG at Blossomtime Run and 4th at Run for Regis Trail 1/2 Marathon
    • This year I placed first in two 5ks, second in one and third in another. I should run more sprints as I tend to place better in these. Plus I wonder how much faster I could get if I focused on speed instead of aerobic work.
    • Cleveland Marathon I was fatigued and dropped down to the half. It was a tough day all around with that crazy weather!
    • My Trail 100K at Conquer the Castle became a trail 50K due to some lingering low back and hip issues.
    I have been running some base mileage, lifting weights, doing yoga, spinning, getting massages and going to a chiropractor for treatments to get me ready for the 2017 season. I plan to limit my racing early in the year to allow for some extra recovery. For 2017 I plan to go for a marathon PR and I am signed up for my first 100 miler in July so it will be a lot of running this season and hopefully some shorter tris in the summer once I recover followed by fall marathons if I am up for it.

    Friday, September 9, 2016

    It’s been challenging to find the time to blog as much lately but I wanted to take the time to post about the inaugural Ironman Ohio 70.3 triathlon. It was a race that I did not feel especially prepared for. Between running my first Boston Marathon this April, starting a new job in a new technical industry this May to spending the summer prepping for a move to a town an hour away, I just couldn’t dedicate as many hours as I wanted to in all three sports.

    Whereas last year I was swimming 2-3 x a week 2000-4000 meters each time and cycling religiously all spring and summer preparing for Beach 2 Battleship 140.6, this season it was maybe 1-2 swims a month of 1500 meters each and cycling as much as I could manage mainly 3-4 fast lunchtime spins of 35 minutes and some longer stuff up to 50 miles on the weekends. The run base was strong coming off of some long distance races so that was really the only thing I felt confident about. I debated even not racing with it being within a week or so of our planned move. But then I realized it was just a race and races are meant to be not just results but also fun. It’s not just what place you end up in but also seeing your friends out there and quite honestly taking in the whole experience. Racing is a Zen thing. Sometimes you are more fit than other times or more rested or more stressed out than other times. This was one of those races where I was stressed and feeling not as fit as last season but I could take some of the pressure off of myself to enjoy the race for the experience versus killing myself for a PR or a podium spot. This race was for me. It truly was about enduring and being. And it was one of the most fun races I can recall in recent years – especially the running part!

    My swim of 48:18 was slow but I expected that. The last couple of seasons when I practiced more a 40 minute half iron swim was average for me but with the lack of swimming I put in to train I am happy with this result. Especially for it being a non-wetsuit swim. I expect that with a wetsuit I would have been up to 5 minutes faster. One thing I took away a couple of seasons of Ironman races is confidence in the swim. I will never be a fast swimmer but I am a confident swimmer. I am not rattled by people kicking or bumping into me. I don’t worry if I’ll beat the cutoff time. I know I can swim for a long time at my slow pace and I am okay with this just as some are okay with being slower on the bike or swim. This is triathlon and what makes it interesting is our own unique mix of skills in each sport. So this swim I thought went fine. The water in Lake Delaware was warm and almost soothing. At times it was aggressive with so many people but it almost made it more interesting. It felt a bit long but without a GPS in the water I cannot say for sure.

    My first transition is generally slow. I like to sit and dry my feet off and I like to eat a snack before I hop on the bike this time was no different. 3-4 minutes average. This was 4:16 – not a big deal.

    My 56 mile bike had some challenges. Namely my bike computer was not working when I left
    transition. This was not good so I stopped to adjust the magnet to get my oldschool Cateye wireless computer to work. After a minute or so it was good to go so off I went. Then I hit a bump and here we go again. This went on a couple more times as the beginning of the course was bumpy. I finally said forget it for a little while and just went by feel versus mph. This explains why I had a negative split on the bike! I also lost one of my water bottles in the first miles so I was down to one for the race. I stopped at the first aid station to pee (I was hydrated) and I fixed my computer again (this time it lasted) and grabbed a water for my empty cage. Off I went to smoother riding for the rest of the race. And faster! I averaged 18.22 mph for 32 miles followed by 20.35 mph for remaining 24 miles for an average of 19.06 mph with a bike time of 2:56:16. This was somewhat an average half iron bike time for me so I was pleased given the little amount of work I dedicated to the bike this season relative to the last couple of years.

    T2 was 2:55. A bit faster but still a slower transition than I could have managed.

    My 13.1 mile run was most certainly the highlight of my day. I loved the course, which was a mix of
    flat and rolling hills with a good amount of shade. I went out faster than planned at a sub 8 minute pace for the first 10K or so and then slowed down to about marathon pace, which was the plan to try and use this 13.1 as a longer tempo run for my upcoming marathon in Erie this weekend. It was fun to see so many friends out racing and volunteering and that really gave me motivation to push to a personal best half ironman run split of 1:46:25 (8:07 pace). I was very happy with this leg of the race. I finished feeling strong and it was great finishing on the track!

    My final time of 5:38:10 was better than I expected given my training. My run being 10 minutes faster than usual certainly helped with that! This gives me hope that I can still PR this distance.

    Post race it was great to hang out with the hubby who also had a decent race and our friends from Snakebite Racing, CTC as well as Baucco Squad. Northeast Ohio had quite the showing of athletes and volunteers! Special thanks to Dan Hopkins from CTC for the race photos!

    I’m not sure what the next year will hold. Right now I am focusing on my crazy fall running schedule:

    Sept 11 - Erie Marathon
    Oct 1 – Doan Creek Trail 50K
    Oct 29 – Run with Scissors Trail Marathon
    Nov 12 – Conquer the Castle Trail 100K

    If I survive all of that, I am taking a long hard-earned break!

    Thursday, August 4, 2016

    Return of the Blog

    So...I am way behind on updating the blog. Between starting a new job and selling and buying a new home and racing, things have been a wee bit busy the last few months.

    Racing has been up and down this season - more good than bad. The Cleveland Marathon ended up being a bust for me. With the ridiculous weather we had that day and the cumulative fatigue I had from the season to date I made the call around mile 7 to just run the half. Some of my fellow ambassadors and my hubby had good races so I was happy for them.

    Following Cleveland I ran the Chagrin Falls Blossomtime run on Memorial Day weekend, which is always a competitive race. Was happy with 3rd in AG with a tough field. Then I ran the very challenging Hill Yeah 1/2 Marathon in Kirtland. I had a crappy day as I was struggling with a little hip strain going into the race. While I was happy winning my AG, I was not happy with my time.

    Next up was the start of Tri season at the Great Western Reserve Olympic triathlon at West Branch. It was hot as heck, I was not in great swim or bike shape, but I pushed as hard as I could and managed 2nd place female on a tough day. A couple weeks later was the Munroe Falls Sprint triathlon. That one hurt but I had a good day and finished 3rd female. My swim was crap, my bike was good and my run was on fire! My next race was Milton Man Olympic Tri where I had a crap day. It was my biggest running week to date leading into the race so I was probably doomed from the start but I wanted to at least get in a good training day, which I did. I raced nowhere near my potential but despite feeling like crap and wanting to call it a day I finished and earned myself some hoppy beer! Finally I raced the B'Nai B'rith 5K recently on a hot July day. I had no idea how this would go since I hadn't raced a 5K since March and really have not been good about my speedwork. I ended up running a 21:09 and placing 2nd female so I was pretty happy with that for where I am right now.

    So, what's coming up next, you ask? Ironman OH 70.3 triathlon is rapidly approaching! I debated sitting it out because I do not feel half-iron ready and we are moving a week later.  I have only put in a few swims, a few longish rides and then of course a boatload of running. I decided to say who cares and race it anyways. If I stink and it's just a training day, I will still have fun and get to see tons of friends and race the inaugural event. Following that I am hoping to race Erie Marathon again for the BQ. I am holding off on registration as long as I can to see what weather conditions will be. If it's 80+ degrees at the start...I won't hit my goal. I just don't do as well in the heat. If it is reasonable, I will go for it. Worst case, if weather sucks, I will run a later fall race and try for the 2018 BQ early. Lastly, I have that little trail 100K coming up in November at Squires castle! Yes, I am at that "what in the heck" did I get myself into phase of my training and thinking. At this point I still plan to attempt the distance and just try to finish in one piece. Wish me luck!

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016

    Run For Chardon Half Marathon Report

    prerace with my speedy husband!
    The decision to run the inaugural Run For Chardon 1/2 marathon last Sunday was last minute. I wanted to see how quickly I recovered from Boston. But I also wanted to support my local community. After talking with the RDs, I decided to go for it. I was not well rested going into the race as I had done a few harder workouts on the bike and run that week so I wasn't sure how things would go. Plus with the course having some hills I figured my time might be a little slower than average. Steve also signed up because he loves the half marathon distance.

    The race started at 7:15 at Chardon High School. We saw several friends that were racing so it was nice to chat with them before and after. The temperature was not bad although it felt very humid on our warm up.

    The race went pretty fast. Before I knew it we were on the Chardon Bike Path running along some flatter section with some rollers mixed in. Unfortunately it started raining and did so for much of the race. My first miles were all between 7:25-7:45 so I was hoping to come in around 1:40ish. There was a really fast, flat section for a couple of miles along Rt 44 on the bike path and then the rollers started around 8-9 miles in. My hips started to yell at me and I was forced to back off the pace.

    running on the course: photo by Kyle Johnson 
    The last couple of miles I was crushed by the hills. I tried to strategically sprint the downhills and walk the steepest part of the uphills as I do in trail running so this added some time to the clock but in the long run I was trying to be smart with the Cleveland Marathon being only 2 weeks out. I tried to tell myself that it was okay to not have my best race that day because really I was there to support Chardon and my local running community (Northeast Running Club and Great Lakes Race Timing). The problem is that I always want to do my best and place as high as I can. That can be a blessing and a curse.

    The race finish line was on the 50 yd line of Chardon High School's field. This made it a special finish. My time of 1:45:58 was slower for me than I had hoped but that wasn't what it was about anyways. Sure I would have liked to do better than third in my AG and 12th female but there will be plenty more chances to shine on a day when I am better prepared. In my heart I am just glad to have been a part of a special day for the Chardon community.

    Steve had a good race finishing in around 1:28, which is great for this course and he won his age group and placed 6th male overall so I was glad he had done so well. He certainly deserved a good one!

    some of the great race swag!
    Special thanks to Great Lakes Timing for putting on a first-class event. The medal was impressive and we also received nice long sleeve Brooks technical tees, pint glasses and AG winners also got commemorative coffee mugs. I would also like to thank NERC, Achilles Running and all the volunteers, the Chardon community and all who came out to support the race in some way, shape or form. I would add this one to your race bucket list for sure!

    Thursday, April 28, 2016

    Inaugural Run for Chardon 1/2 Marathon & 5K is This Weekend!

    Sunday, May 1 is a special day for the Chardon, Ohio community. It is the inaugural Run For Chardon 1/2 Marathon & 5K race. Proceeds from the race will be donated to the Chardon Living Memorial Fund to help remember the Chardon School Shooting victims and their friends and families.

    Chardon is a small and lovely community with an adorable town square and cute neighborhoods among the rolling hills. This should be a fun and challenging course and there is prize money up for grabs! Top Five males and females in the 1/2 marathon have a shot at $500 for 1st, $400 for 2nd, $300 for 3rd, $400 for 4th and $100 for 5th. So, chances are you could win your entry fee back if you sign up! If not you still have a shot at top 3 in your age group awards! 5K awards will also be given out to the top three males and females thanks to Achilles Running.

    Even if you don't want to run or just can't find the time, you can come out and cheer and make a donation here. Hope to see you there!

    Monday, April 25, 2016

    2016 Boston Marathon Race Report

    It's hard to believe it's already been a week since I ran my first Boston Marathon! The whole experience was incredible. First off I would like to thank my family and friends that supported me in getting to this big goal of mine. Your cheers gave me the energy I needed to have a good race!

    Day One:
    The whole race weekend was a blast. Steve and I made it a road trip and  drove in this year. We had nice weather for travelling both there and back. We rented a great condo in Navy Yard this year right by the Charlestown Marina. We loved our place and it was great to have our own kitchen. Our first night in town we found a cute bistro around the corner from us called the Brewers Fork. They had an excellent craft beer list and wood fired pizza - what more could a couple or carbo-loading runners ask for?

    Expo Day:
    We met Scott Jurek!
    Sunday was race expo day. The Boston Marathon expo is world class! After picking up our bibs and shirts we walked around the expo for a while. The highlight of the expo was meeting one of our running heroes - Scott Jurek! We also hooked up with our friend Jillian who was running her first Boston as well. Then we hooked up with our friend and fellow Snakebite Racing mate Mark for some much needed post expo beers so we crossed the street and headed into McGreevy's (bar owned by the Dropkick Murphys). After that it was time to head back to the condo for some prerace prep and we made a high carb dinner of pizza, garlic bread and roasted potatoes.

    Race Morning:
    Race morning went pretty smooth. We got up at 6am figuring that we would Uber over to the finish area to drop our bags and load the buses to Hopkinton around 7:15-7:30. We ate a big bowl of cereal, got dressed and headed out. The energy was electric as we walked to the athlete tents to drop our finisher bags. There were people screaming and cheering already. We bumped into our friend Karen who was running and then walked over to the commons to catch the bus. We were lucky to run into my friend Jen from Charlestown who I had met last year at the Cleveland Marathon. We hung out with Jen and her friend Siobhan as we waited to board our bus to the start in Hopkinton.

    pre race before loading the bus
    The bus ride went smooth and before I knew it we were in Hopkinton at Athletes Village. There were thousands of runners everywhere along with hundreds of porta potties, tents, snacks, etc. We ran into our friend Ryan walking in to the village and after using the bathroom we found a place under the tent to sit down in the shade. It was probably about 8:45-9 am but it was already getting warm quickly. Our time to leave the village was 10:20 or so with a wave start at 10:50. I was a sweaty, nervous mess. I had heard all the warnings about the race. Watch the downhill, don't go out too fast, beware of the Newton Hills. When the gun finally went off I was ready to get going.

    Focused look!
    Running Boston is unlike any marathon I've done. You are literally running with a sea of people for the whole race. Not to mention the hundreds of thousand of fans cheering. The crowd support was unbelievable...for the whole race! The miles ticked by quickly. I was overheated from the beginning and knew a PR was not likely and that a BQ might be a stretch but I had set a goal of 3:35-3:45.  I just tried to soak the experience in and keep within a pace that was comfortable given the heat and later the nasty headwinds that we battled.

    My favorite part of the race was Newton. I actually enjoyed the hills (does this make me weird?). I also laughed through Wellsley as I read all the goofy signs and listened to the loud screams. I also really liked the last few miles. I picked up the pace a little in the end hoping to run a 3:40 but came across the finish in 3:43:11. Not a BQ or my best time but a time I am happy with for my first Boston and on a tough day for many.

    Post Race: 
    Snakebite after-party!
    We  Ubered back to our condo to shower, change and eat and then met our Snakebite teammates Mark and Dan and Dan's wife for some post race celebratory beers and more food. Our first stop was a cool bar called Mead Hall in Cambridge followed up with the Cambridge Brewing Company. After that it was time for some much needed sleep.

    The day after we walked around Boylston Street and shopped and took in the city - the streets filled with Boston finisher jackets (including us). I was pretty excited to have my finisher jacket embroidered with my time at Run Base at no cost! They were also doing free medal engraving at Marathon Sports but there was a long line and we did not have our medals with us anyways.

    The next morning it was time to drive back. That was not much fun. Definitely not as fun as the drive there but we were ready to go home.

    Closing Thoughts:
    I was part of something special in Boston. It was the 120th year and the 50th year since the first woman Bobbi Gibb ran the race. I am pretty excited to say that I am a Boston Marathon runner! No doubt I will be back for more! My goal for the next Boston is to start in a faster wave (#2) and PR for the course.

    Thank you to my teammates, family and sponsors this year especially Pearl Izumi, Nuun and Freeplay Magazine. My next big race is the Cleveland Marathon on May 15. I am hoping to run a BQ time there. Fingers crossed for cool temperatures and no rain this year!

    Thursday, April 14, 2016

    Boston Marathon Weekend is Almost Here

    For years I have watched the Boston Marathon streaming on my computer each year on Patriots Day. Last year I was there in person for the first time as a spectator cheering for my husband as he ran his first Boston. The energy in the city on Boston Marathon weekend and race day is magnetic. Boston people LOVE their marathon and so do the thousands of runners who come from all over the world to lineup in Hopkinton on "Marathon Monday" as the running community affectionately refers to the race. In four short days I get to lineup in Hopkinton for my chance to run the best marathon in the country and probably the world!

    What makes Boston so special is that you have to qualify to be there, running with some of the best marathoners in the world. You can also run Boston for charity if you raise $5000+ for one of their charity partners but as a competitive runner I wanted to earn my spot there. My qualifying time as a woman in the 35-39 age group is 3:40. After four tries last season (Toledo 3:46), (Cleveland 3:52), (Charlevoix 3:42) and Erie (3:35) I finally got the job done. Prior to last year I had run the Cleveland Marathon three other times including the previous year. 

    I am both excited and nervous with the race being just a mere four days away! I have had a pretty good running season so far and I am hopeful that my Boston experience will be a good one. I am tapering and my body feels pretty good this week...for a taper anyways! I have been warned to take it easy for the first half of the race, which is largely downhill and to save some energy for the Newton Hills and of the course for the final miles. If you're interested in tracking me Monday I am in wave 3, which starts at 10:50 am and I am bib #19350. I want to enjoy the race and not put too much pressure on myself so goal for the race is to run between a 3:35-3:45 depending on the course and weather (right now forecast looks to be on the warm side at 72). 

    If I don't BQ in Boston that is okay. I will have more chances to BQ again for 2017 at the Cleveland Marathon on May 15 and then again this fall at one or two more races. My big marathon goal for the year is to run a 3:25 or close this fall in Erie. I still have some work to do for that but I don't mind hard work! 

    Special thank you to the folks that have helped me this season including Pearl Izumi, Freeplay Magazine, Nuun, Honeystinger and of course to my teammates and sponsors on Snakebite Racing! It takes a village to achieve big goals!