Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cleveland Marathon is Three Weeks Away - Enter to Win An Entry to The Race of Your Choice

I cannot believe it, but the Cleveland Marathon is three weeks from this Sunday! As I toe the line in Toledo, I will be trying to recover quickly to race strong in my hometown! If you have done this race before than you already will know the amazing energy that comes with this race. Cleveland people are very supportive of this race and line the streets to cheer on the runners!

Playhouse Square Chandelier!
The course was changed last year to incorporate much more of the westside and has changed again this year to make it even better as it now goes through Playhouse Square by the enormous new outdoor chandelier! I am looking forward to seeing this on my run along with the gorgeous views of our own Lake Erie and the Cleveland skyline!

The course is flat and fast and the weather is usually nice for the race. It has been a little warm once or twice so make sure you bring some salt tabs or electrolyte drink with you!

As an Official Cleveland Marathon Ambassador for 2015, I have a free entry to giveaway to the Cleveland Marathon race distance of your choice! You can use it for the 10K, Half Marathon or Marathon. All of the races are spectacular and sure to be fast and fun! To enter to win the entry, simply comment below on which race you want to do and why. A winner will be chosen early next week and announced here on my blog and social media channels by Monday afternoon! Goodluck!







Wednesday, April 22, 2015

It's Marathon Week - From Boston to Toledo We Take On 26.2 Miles!

This is one of the most exciting weeks of the year for me! I spent the weekend and first couple of days this week in Boston supporting my husband as he ran his first Boston Marathon! Later this week we will travel to Toledo so that I can run the Glass City Marathon! It's a busy, hectic week that is full of preparations, nervous energy and of course lots of running!

Boston - Day One

View from our room!
We arrived in Boston last Saturday morning. From landing to checking into our spectacular room at the Hyatt in Cambridge to attending the race expo to running along the Charles River to watching the marathon live, it was an awesome experience! The weather was spectacular on Saturday and my husband and I were delighted to have a warm, sunny view of the city from our balcony. We spent some time watching the collegiate rowers race and people walking, running and cycling along the waterfront.

A bit later we walked from our hotel into town to the Hynes Convention Center where they Boston Marathon expo takes place. The expo was enormous. I have never seen anything like it. It was wall to wall people - probably close to 100K. We stood in line for probably 15-20 minutes just for Steve to buy the "Official Boston Marathon" jacket. We then peruzed row after row after row of booths from every big and small running related brand you can imagine.

Cheers with Sam Adams!
Probably my favorite booth was the Sam Adams booth where they gave away samples of their 26.2 Brew! Following the expo we stopped in across the street a little pub called The Pour House where we enjoyed a couple of tall Harpoon IPAS and brunch. The food was great and we met an elite runner guy from Australia who ended running a 2:30 Monday.

Boston Day Two

Sunday was a great day as well. Steve had a little shakeout run to do so he ran the first 30 minutes with me easy and then I did another few miles at tempo with a cool down mile to wrap up. Running along the Charles River is spectacular! There is a paved trail as well as some trails through dirt and grass, which I really enjoyed. There were hundreds if not a thousand runners out this day as most of the marathoners had to get in their prerace shakeout runs. The energy during this run was electric! I really had to hold back as my first tempo mile was 7:30 and I was aiming for 8-8:15ish!

out front of John Harvard's
We spent a good part of Sunday afternoon in Harvard Square around campus visiting little shops including the Harvard Bookstore, enjoying coffee and of course beer! We had a snack and some brews at the John Harvard's Brewhouse as we caught some of the Cavs/Celtics playoff game. We picked up a couple of salads and a bomber of Oatmeal Stout before heading back to our room for the night.

We had debated going out but ended up ordering some pizza in and watching the game, which was nice and relaxing. With Steve needing to be up around 5:15 am to get ready for the race we turned in pretty early around 9:30 pm.

Boston Day Three - Marathon Day

Look at this prerace smile!
The wake up call came promptly at 5:15 am and from there it was a long, hectic, exciting day! Steve got up to eat and dress and he had to catch the shuttle from the hotel to catch the Boston Marathon shuttles. I walked down with him to get some coffee and see him off - wishing of course that I was running the race as well! After he left I finished my coffee, had a small snack and headed outside for a run along the Charles River again. It was a chilly morning as I had to run in gloves, a long sleeve and a headband. After about 6 miles I was back at the hotel to shower and get dressed. The temperature was dropping and rain and high winds were anticipated so I dressed in as many layers as I could. After eating brunch and catching some of the race live on TV at the hotel, I made my way on foot towards the race finish.

Elite women at Kenmore Square
Walking over to the race finish area it was very windy and cold. I ended up finding a place to watch in Kenmore Square where I could actually see the elites coming in. That was pretty exciting - although I had to stream the finish line to see that part of it. Logistically it was tough to get over by the finish. I was freezing after watching for an hour or so and had went to Starbucks to warm up with a coffee and snack. After purchasing an umbrella that instantly broke from the wind, I made my way toward the finish to watch for Steve and some of my teammates and friends running also.

It was difficult to get to the finish as most of the roads are closed so I was instructed by race volunteers and security to walk down Commonwealth and eventually make my way to Arlington. Once I made it over where the runners were it was complete mayhem and I could not find Steve. It probably took an hour for us to find each other and he was shivering cold. We picked up his gear bag so he could dress in some warmer, dry clothes and caught a taxi back to the hotel. His race had started out great for the first half and then around mile 18 he started to have some cramping with his quads and hips and felt freezing cold. Some of the volunteers tried to get him to go to the medical tent but he refused and kept on. Although his time was not what he wanted I am proud of him for finishing. My husband is a Boston Marathon finisher! How cool is that?! Hopefully I will be soon too!

We had planned to meet our friends Jessica & Ryan that night for post race drinks and food but Steve was not feeling too well that evening nor was I so we ended up staying in and turning in early after a beer and some food.


Boston Day Four - Headed Home

After some coffee and breakfast and getting packed up, Steve and I went for one final walk along the Charles River to say goodbye to the city of runners' dreams. We took a taxi to the airport and were back in Cleveland around 2:30pm. We did some shopping on the way home and unpacked and got our stuff ready for work the next day.

Glass City in T-3 Days

In a few short days it will be my turn to toe the line in Toledo. While the race won't be anywhere near as large as the Boston Marathon, its meaning to me is just as large. Months and months of training will come to fruition in what I hope will amount to my first Boston Qualifying (BQ) marathon performance. Maybe #4 will be the one. If not, I will most definitely persist until I earn my place at the start line of all start lines in Boston. Let's do this!













Wednesday, April 15, 2015

10 Mile Drop Race Report & Marathon Training Update

This past Sunday I raced the Lake Health Running 10 Mile Drop race. This was my last race before the Toledo Marathon, which is coming up on Sunday April 26! I wanted to see what kind of speed/strength I have in me a couple of weeks out from the marathon. The good news is that it went well...even a little better than I expected!

My friend Jillian who is also doing Toledo and hoping for a BQ came out to run the race as well. My husband Steve dropped us off at the start on Ravenna Rd in Concord Township around 7:45. This allowed plenty of time to warm up, use the bathroom and say hi to some other friends. The start was at 8:25 and began with a slight incline heading up Ravenna Rd before a downhill and right hand turn onto the Greenway Trail. The start was fast but I was trying my best to hold back the pace.

Jillian was in the lead and the woman who ended up placing second passed me after a mile so I was in third for much of the race. Although the race is called a drop, there are some climbs throughout. Exiting the Greenway Trail and turning left onto Rt 84 is uphill. With the temperature rising and the sun shining down on me I knew it would not be an easy race. I was able to hold pretty steady. My 5K split was 21:51, which was faster than my planned pace. The next few miles I slowed down a little with my 10K pace slipping to 45 and change. I definitely started to feel some fatigue later in the race around mile 8 when I was passed by the third place female. Another woman had attempted to pass me too but I was able to hold my ground and push forward in front of her. I had hoped to regain third place but as the finish drew close she was out of sight. I just kept my goal as not letting any additional women pass me.

At the final turn onto Second St in Fairport Harbor there is maybe 1/4 mile to the finish. Or maybe a 1/3. I didn't look at my watch as I was focused on trying to finish strong. I saw Jillian cheering and saw the clock and I tried my best to break 1:14 but came up just a tad short in 1:14:02. My race average was 7:25 pace versus the 7:02 I started with. This was above my goal pace of 7:30 so I was happy with the 4th place finish and age group win. I was excited for Jillian to learn she had won the race with a 1:11 and change.

Postrace with Jillian and our friend Bryan (Lake Effect Runner)
We hung around after the race and talked to some friends that had run the 10 and 20 mile races and Steve came to hang out after his training run. After the awards we headed back to my house to change and then hit the Mentor Winking Lizard for some hard-earned hoppy beer and food!

This was my last hard effort before Toledo. I am hoping things go well there and I can celebrate my first BQ! I feel ready and just have to rest up now and get fresh for race day. After Toledo I will race the Cleveland Marathon Full or Half depending on how I feel and my goals. No matter which race I do, I am super excited to race Cleveland again as I love this race and especially with the new course!






Monday, April 6, 2015

Fools 25K Race Report & Marathon Training Update

The last two Sundays have been filled with long trail runs. This makes me a happy girl because I love trail running!

On March 29th, my husband Steve and I both raced The Fools 25K Trail race again in Peninsula. That is a terrific race put on by our friends at Western Reserve Racing. There is a 50K option as well for those who want to go longer - but the 25K distance on a hard course like this is a great effort to get ready for marathon season! Because of the difficulty of the course and longer time it takes to complete this race I consider it one of my 20 mile training runs. 

This year it was 14 degrees at the start. Brrr! We got down to Pine Hollow to park and pick up our bibs around 8am. This gave us plenty of time to get in a warm up, use the restroom, etc. The ground was full of frozen footprints on the warmup mile so I knew this would make for hard footing throughout the race. The 25K race starts at 9 so we lined up with some of our Cleveland Tri Club friends that were running as well. The race start is downhill into a field before you make your way to the trails so it's usually a fast start. I went out a little faster than planned but then quickly settled in after 2-3 miles into a more sustainable pace for this course. The temperature started rising and I quickly had to roll up my shirt sleeves and lose my gloves. 

My speedy husband w/ his award for winning Masters!
I felt pretty good through the half way point but then the frozen, uneven terrain started to weigh on me. By Salt Run, which is the hardest part of the course in my opinion (at least in terms of elevation) I was whooped. The stairs were especially tough and I ended up walking near the end more than I had anticipated. I think this was a combination of lingering fatigue from the GJ50K as well as the tough trail conditions for the day. While it was faster going than last year, it hurt more physically this year. I ended up finishing in 2:43 and change for 6th female, 1st in 35-39AG so it was a course PR and improvement over last year even though I was hoping to be closer to 2:30. Maybe next year I'll get there! Steve ended up finishing 7th overall and 1st place Masters so he had a great race with a time of 2:11. After the race we headed over the to the Winking Lizard with our friends Mark, Frode and Phil for some hoppy beers and hard-earned food.

Enjoying an Easter Sunday on the trails!
Much of last week I was fighting off a strain in my right calf from the Fools race so I mostly focused on my swimming and cycling and just got in an easy run later in the week. Then yesterday on Easter Sunday, Steve and I hit the trails of Penitentiary Glenn so I could get in one last long one before the Toledo Marathon. I ended up Taping my calf with KT Tape and that helped me get through it along with stretching it periodically. The weather was perfect for running and the trails felt good on my tired body. I am very happy to be officially tapering now on the run! 20 days to go and then 41 days until the Cleveland Marathon! I am unsure if I will run the half or full at this point as I have to see how I recover from Toledo. Either way I am excited because I love the new Cleveland Marathon course and the energy from this local race!

Today is my first rest day in a good bit of time. Then the balance of this week I will do some running including an easy one tomorrow and a tempo run and easier run Thursday then a tune-up race Sunday at Lake Health Running's 10 Mile Drop. I really loved the 20 Mile Drop last year so I am looking forward to running the shorter course this year and trying to find some speed. I will also be swimming 2 x 2400 yds, lifting once, and I have a bike TT tomorrow along with a 30 mile ride Saturday.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Green Jewel 50K 2015 Race Report

Saturday I ran my first ultra-distance race at the Green Jewel 50K. I had heard about this race and thought it sounded perfect for my first one since it was mostly on all-purpose trail called "The Emerald Trail" travelling North to South from Rocky River Reservation to Brecksville Reservation. The last part of the race is run on Valley Parkway on the road. The race has both a solo 50K option as well as a 2-person relay option. My husband Steve and I had both decided to run the whole thing as well as our friend Jillian.

With the winter we had it was a wildcard as to how the course conditions would be. Things were not looking promising as race day approached. With lots of snow and record low temperatures throughout January and February this year, much of the course through mile 16-17 was ice-covered, which really slowed things down. Even with the conditions being not ideal to race I enjoyed the race. You just needed to be prepared with proper footwear and slow down a little and it was definitely runnable.

Prerace:

Prerace photo courtesy of George!
My husband Steve and I got up around 5:15 for a hearty breakfast and then we drove to the finish at Oak Grove Pavillion in Brecksville to check in and pick up our bibs. We then boarded one of the comfy coach buses that the race directors provided for the drive to the start of the race in Rocky River. The bus was buzzing with excitement for veterans and first timers alike as we departed for the start around 7:40am. We arrived in Rocky River around 8:10 and stayed on the bus for a little while to stay warm and use the facilities then it was time to walk to the start and drop off our finish and half way point bags for Wallace Lake. We found our friend Jillian and lined up to listen to prerace announcements and put our trusty yaktrax on. Then at 9am sharp we were off for the journey!

First Half:

It was definitely icy right away once we got on the path. I was very glad that I decided to use the Yaktrax as the race directors had strongly advised being prepared for icy conditions. This definitely slowed me down as I wanted to be sure of my footing. Since the plan with my coach was to go out around a 9-minute pace this worked out very well. Had it not been icy I would have probably went out faster. The course was really beautiful albeit a little trecherous at times. I guess this made things more interesting for me since I could never really go into auto-pilot mode. I had to watch each step. There were a couple of stoplights that I got stuck at but other than that it was pretty straight forward with aid stations around mile 4.5 and again around 9 or 10. Our friend Jim was out running and cheering and checking on us to see if we needed anything.

At Wallace Lake, which is the half-way point where the relayers switch, I stopped and looked for my drop bag. I had a Coke in there as well as a small clip-on water bottle and some extra gels that I needed to grab. It took me a couple of minutes to get back to the path. I would say I maybe lost 5-6 minutes of time from the stoplights, this stop and a potty break after the second aid station.

Miles 15-24.5:

The next several miles I just tried to settle in to my run. Around mile 16 a woman had told me that the path was clear up ahead so I took off my yaktrax and proceeded to take a little spill. I was okay but a little annoyed with myself that I fell. I got up, kicked the snowbank next to me and that was that!

Tackling Ridge Rd Hill!
I was happy to see my friend Mel around mile 17 or 18 and then I realized I needed to go to the bathroom again. At least I was hydrated! So I ran until W 130th where there was a porto-potty that was a little off the course but manageable. I probably lost a couple of minutes here as well but it was worth it. Back onto the path this was around mile 20 or 21 I think and I was feeling some fatigue set in but didn't allow myself to walk except once to take a quick drink. I just trudged along at a 9-10 minute pace. Then I saw the infamous "Ridge Rd Hill" ahead and decided I would try to run it. I got up a little ways and then decided I would walk it until the aid station. That is definitely a hill! Again my friend Mel was out on the course cheering for me as well as my friend Jim so this along with the Coke and goodies at the aid station was a pick-me-up.

Final Miles:

The aid station folks told us to stay on the road on Valley Parkway after we crossed Ridge Rd so the final 6.5 miles were on the road, which consisted of pretty much all rollers heading back into Brecksville. I remember hitting a mentally hard point where I actually shed some tears but continued to push forward. The song "Freebird" by Lynyrd Skynrd was playing and all I can say is that running this far into the race I really had a sense of freedom and strength that filled me with emotion. I worked hard to train for this day and I knew in that moment that I would be done soon so it was one of those sweet moments that you don't want to end.

Then around mile 27 or 28 the second wind kicked in as Pantera's "This Love" came onto my playlist and I took off. I think this was my favorite part of the race. With a few miles to go I felt energized and strong. I looked down at my Garmin to see that I was running 8-minute miles again. Wow - where did that come from?!

The Finish:

Finishing it up!
I felt strong and excited to finish my first 50K. After a long day of running I saw the turn into Oak Grove for the finish and I had a good stride going into the finish. My husband Steve and friend Jillian were there cheering and I actually felt pretty good when I stopped after 5 hours and 4 minutes of running.

I headed over to the finishers tent to pick up my awesome medal and shirt and then eat some of the terrific soup that Kelly from Western Reserve Racing had made as well as having a hot apple cider that was the most delicious thing ever after running 31 miles! I then learned that I was one of the top females in the 50K race, which was pretty exciting and unexpected! Originally they had said I placed third and my friend Jillian was second but we were later contacted and notified by the race director that she was first and I was second! I guess the lead woman hadn't run and let a guy friend run with her bib. Second place in my first 50K?! Wow, what a day! Hard work does pay off! The awards are really magnificent too and handmade by Kelly and her sister Kirsten!

Jillian, me and Steve with our awards!
Steve also had a great race finishing 7th male and first in the masters division! I'm very proud of the progress he has continued to make as an athlete and the strong start to the 2015 season he has had already!

Post Race:

After changing into some dry clothes, Steve, Jillian and I headed over to Fatheads to meet Jillian's husband Brian and some other friends. We definitely earned the burgers, fries and hoppy beer that we enjoyed! After a couple of hours it was time to head home, eat again, shower and turn in early for some much needed rest and recovery!

Closing Thoughts & Thank Yous:

These memories will be with me for a while. I would definitely run this race again. In fact I think it may be in my list of favorite races ever! Western Reserve Racing did a wonderful job with this event. It is a beautiful course and there was plenty of aid on the course and the post race food and awards and everything were top notch!

I want to thank everyone that helped with my training this season...especially my sponsor Powerbar for fueling countless runs leading up to this day. Also thanks to coach Chris Martino of New Level Coaching for the guidance and of course for believing in me! A huge thank you to my husband Steve for slogging through the three hour treadmill runs with me this winter and coming along for the double long run weekends! We did it! Those long hours paid off! And finally to our Cleveland Triathlon Club friends that cheered us on and checked on us to make sure we were comfortable, thank you!

So now I am in recovery mode this week and planning to run St. Malachi Saturday. That is one of the most fun races of the year mainly because the huge afterparty at McCarthy's afterwards! And later this month I'm racing the Fools 25K again. I am looking forward to hitting the trails with this warmer weather!



Monday, March 2, 2015

It's a Big Week! Training Update for Green Jewel & Marathon Training

It's a new month, a new week - and a big week at that! On Saturday I'll be running my first 50K ultra-distance race. I opted for the Green Jewel 50K because it is a road race and I want to see what I can do in preparation for my marathons coming up - Toledo and Cleveland! The main goal of course it to finish the race healthy and in one piece but I of course have some time goals in mind too. I will keep those between myself and my coach for now so as not to put any unnecessary pressure on myself.

This weekend was a pretty easy training weekend as compared to weeks past. Saturday I had a 13 mile run to do as 8 miles @ 9:00, 3 @ 8:30 and 2 @ 8:00. I did an extra 1/2 mile cooldown to wind down. Then I had Sunday off! Yes, off! First off day in a while. I guess we need those at times - even if I'm not always a fan of them.

This week my volume is way down. A few shakeout runs, a swim, a bike and it's go time! I looked at my schedule and thought this is weird. I only have to workout once a day for an hour at most. I can't remember what that's like so I am planning on getting my workouts done in the am before work and spending some quality time with my husband Steve in the evenings this week. He too will be running the Green Jewel 50K this Saturday and I'm really excited to see what he can do!

The new kicks! Love them!
I am feeling well and planning to spend the week loading up on good food, green tea, emergen-c and doing lots of recovery techniques to be in the best possible condition for the start line Saturday. No matter what happens, I will finish that race and learn some things along the way that I hope will make me stronger for my spring races. I finally found a great shoe to run the race in - the Saucony Triumph ISO and I made a killer playlist. Just need to finalize the outfit now.

Special thanks to my sponsor Powerbar for fueling countless hours of running over the last few months! I would also like to thank my Challenge Family teammates and all my friends for the support. I also have to thank my husband Steve for being a constant companion and training with me. Thank god we like each other! Finally to my coach Chris Martino of New-Level Coaching, thanks for the guidance and support. I couldn't do it without all of you. It takes a village! And I am excited to see what I can do Saturday! So, nothing to it but to do it now. Wish me luck!!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Holloway Half Marathon Race Report

My husband and I had planned a trip to Clearwater Beach, Florida to help lift our spirits this winter. It ended up being an awesome vacation with perfect running temps. We decided a week or two before getting there to sign up for a cross-country style half marathon at a park about an hour east called Holloway Park. It was the inaugural race so we didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be a great experience!

We got up around 5:30 am to eat and get dressed as we planned to leave by 6:15 for the drive to Lakeland, which is about 30-45 minutes west of Tampa. It was an easy drive and when we got there we picked up our packets and headed back to the car to stay warm. It was actually pretty cool that morning around 49 degrees, which for FL folks is freezing. I debated racing in something warmer than shorts and a singlet but for a northerner, I was afraid of overheating. Steve and I did a little warm up and I decided I would be fine in the singlet.

Steve leading the pack, me a few back!
The race started at 8 am. We lined up a few minutes before in the field to listen to race announcements about the course and we were off. FAST! Of course my husband Steve was out in front, which is pretty normal for him. I didn't want to pace tool closely to him but the beginning pace was pretty fast considering it was a cross country course and I was in the lead for the ladies, which is always fun. I tried to be mindful of my breathing and focus on the twists and turns of the course.

The first few miles the ground was dew-covered but the sun quickly heated things up and by a few miles in I could feel the heat and I was ready to hit to aid station for a drink. It was nice to be see the sun shining and the peaceful surroundings, which consisted of grass, marsh, sand, twists and turns, woods and a few hills. The course was pretty easy to follow but at times it just felt as if I was running through a maze. Around the halfway point I started to feel like I was laboring a little more. I was still in first place and had no idea how strong the other female runners were so I tried my best to maintain a good cadence and focus on staying steady.

enjoying the sunshine!
Around mile 7 or 8 before the aid station I got a little discombobulated with following the signage and two women that were running together moved ahead of me. Knowing I was now in third and beginning to cramp from the heat, I felt a little disappointed but I just kept moving forward. A couple miles later around 11 or so another woman passed me. I was not very happy but the cramping just wouldn't allow me to get the speed I wanted so I had slowed my pace down. I held on and thought about getting to the finish as quickly as possible so I could cool down, get something to eat and see how Steve's race went.

Coming in for the finish & those strawberries!
The finish felt long to me because my Garmin said the course was long and I just wanted to get there. Once you come out of the woods into the field you have to run up and around to the finish. Steve was there yelling for me and taking pictures and I was definitely happy to be done - especially because they had fresh organic strawberries at the finish and I must have had a couple dozen. My time of 1:49 was a little slower than I planned but it is a cross country course and with the overheating I was a few minutes behind my goal of 1:45. The race gave really cool handmade commemorative mugs to all the finishers. Steve and I also got medals since we both won our age groups! I came in 1st in 35-39 and 4th female and Steve came in 2nd overall and 1st in the 45-49AG. All in all we both had a good experience and would definitely do this race again if we're back in the area!

I don't know if racing back to back half marathons helped or hurt me with this race but with the Green Jewel 50K and Toledo and Cleveland Marathon quickly approaching, I need to get the experience under my belt! Next up is the Green Jewel 50K March 7th!

Below are some photos including the finisher mug, medals and some shots from the course, which was truly scenic and beautiful!


The finisher mug!



The AG winner medals



A lot of the course looked like this