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!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Cleveland Marathon Contest Winner

It sounds like I'm not the only one that's excited to run the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon this year! There were 31 people who entered the contest for the free entry. There were so many heartfelt stories and all around terrific reasons to want to race with me this May in Cleveland. I wish I could give everyone an entry!

To be fair I wanted to randomly select the winner so I used Random-ize. The winner is one of my fellow Northeast Running Club (NERC) members. Congratulations Annemarie Cvijanovic! You won yourself an entry to the Cleveland Marathon race of your choice. If you already registered you can pass it on to a friend or loved one so they can join you. I will be in touch soon with the registration code.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Reasons Why I Love the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon & Giveaway

It has been an honor to be able to represent the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon as an ambassador for the past two years. The marathon staff are wonderful and my fellow ambassadors are some of my favorite friends. This week I am the featured ambassador, which means that I will be having a contest to give away a free entry to the Cleveland Marathon race of your choice. To enter simply read my post and leave a comment stating which race you would like to run and why. The winner will be randomly selected this Friday.

There are many reasons why The Cleveland Marathon is one of my favorite races:

First and foremost, it is our hometown marathon. I am proud that Cleveland has an awesome marathon that people from all over the world come to run! Some cities do not have the luxury of having their own marathon but we do. The marathon is good for the city because it brings in tourism.

Second, Cleveland was my first marathon in 2010. That race sparked a love affair that I hope lasts a lifetime. The marathon is my favorite distance running race because it is challenging and fun. You have to train hard to meet your goals and the race experiences are so amazing.

I also love the Cleveland Marathon because I love the course. It takes you through some of my favorite areas of Cleveland including Tremont, Lakewood and Rocky River as well as downtown. Probably the coolest part is running on the shoreway for the last few miles. It gives you a view of the city you don't normally get to experience while running.

Cleveland fans are awesome! There are many Clevelanders out volunteering and cheering during the race, which creates a fun, party-like atmosphere. At the finish there is also a post-race party with beer and music.

Cleveland is a great beer town so after the race you have a number of terrific options for post race lunch and brews!

I could go on and on but you get my drift. The Cleveland Marathon is awesome! So, which race would you like to do for free this year? The full? The half? The 10K? Leave me a comment below and you might be selected this Friday! Goodluck!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Green Jewel 50K Race Report & Training Update for Spring Marathon Season

Saturday was the Green Jewel 50K, which was my first big race of the season. I am happy to say that it went well! I feel like the training I've done this year helped me to get to the start confident, stronger than last year and better rested.

Steve and I parked our car at Oak Grove Reservation in Brecksville to catch the bus to the race start at Rocky River Reservation. We stayed on the bus to keep warm and use the bathroom before the 9am start. We quickly dropped off our bags for the halfway point in the race and said hi to some friends. We knew a number of people running the 50K and 50K relay. I was a little cold waiting for the start but as soon as we took off I was fine.

early miles
The first few miles were slick with some snow that had fallen in the middle of the night, early morning hours so this forced me to hold back a little and watch the footing. It felt great to be out there racing. I think I must have been smiling ear to ear as I had waited for this race for months. I took in a gel just before the first aid station and then started to pick up the pace a little. I caught up to my friends Jillian and Brandon and tailed them for a while as we weaved around the Emerald Necklace. At the 10 mile mark or so I did another gel and stopped for a drink and decided to slightly pick up the pace a little. I said hi to my friends and off I went back into my little running groove.

I felt pretty good arriving at Wallace Lake at 15 miles in. I located my bag and reloaded gels, grabbed some salt tabs and my little handheld bottle for the rest of the race. According to my first split I ran the first 15 at an 8:11 pace so I was happy with that and figured I would end up slowing down the back part of the race to at least an 8:30-9 min pace. Getting going again here was a little tougher but I got back on track and ran a few miles with my friend Mike before hitting a burst of energy and speeding up around mile 18 or so.

beautiful scenery!
Around mile 20 I remember feeling like I was on top of the world. Pink Floyd "Wish You Were Here" came on my playlist and I was singing out loud and playing the air guitar. This is generally a sign that I am having a great run. This went on for a few miles and then I came back down to reality as I approached Ridge Rd around mile 24. That is a tough hill. I walked most of it and hit the final aid station for a quick potty break and some final fuel.

The rolling hills of Brecksville were as hard as I remembered from last year. I got emotional a couple times as was the case last year. Something about these really long runs can dig deep into your soul. I love that feeling. It's like healing from the inside out - all the hurts and disappointments of my life just melting away bit by bit. This may be why I am in love with running and in some ways I feel it is a gift that was given to me to help make my life better and more rewarding.

2nd & 3rd awards!
Towards the end of the race I knew I had to make up some time so I picked up the pace the last 5k as I generally have been doing in my long runs this season. With the last couple of miles being down hill it worked out perfectly. I wasn't sure what place I was in - I actually thought I might be in first but with the relay it is hard to tell and when I crossed over I asked and learned that I was second again. Of course I wanted to win but the top spot went to a younger woman who certainly earned it with her 4:18. I was happy with 2nd having a nice PR with my 4:38. My friend Jillian ended up not too far behind me in 3rd.

After the race we headed over to Fatheads to meet some friends. I really enjoyed the tangerine-infused Headhunter and food. Then it was home to shower and head in for a massage. Needless to say I slept pretty well! Special thanks to my Sponsors: Pearl Izumi and Nuun and to my teammates on Snakebite Racing and Team Freeplay that sent cheers!

I have been recovering pretty well this week. Sunday we walked the dogs. Yesterday I did an easy spin on the bike trainer for 50 minutes and again walked. I also did the trainer today for 50 minutes and walked a couple of miles at lunch. Tomorrow I will swim and if I feel well enough  I will do a short recovery run otherwise I will walk and try to run Thursday. I would like to race this weekend but have to see how I feel later in the week and maybe I will go and use it as speed or tempo work. I am anxious to get back to the training! Boston is like 6 weeks away and Cleveland is about 10 weeks out so I still have some work to do to ensure successful races. Speaking of Cleveland, I am excited to see my fellow marathon ambassadors tomorrow night for a meet up! Love these folks!