Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Blossom Time Run Race Report

Steve and I decided at the last minute to run the Blossom Time race in Chagrin Falls as a fun run. With perfect weather we had to take advantage of it!


With the start at 9am we were able to sleep in a little bit, which was nice. We arrived in downtown Chagrin Falls around 8 and headed over to packet pick up. It was nice running into some Cleveland Tri Club friends before the race. We headed back to the car to get ready and get in a quick warm up before lining up at the start around 8:50. There was a nice crowd of runners - probably close to 2000 people. It was already getting warm and I decided to run in my sports bra. It turns out that was a good decision because it will a hilly, hot race!

Start & Race:

After the Star Spangled Banner was sung the shotgun went off and it was a mad dash for the first mile. This first mile was fast and totally the opposite of the previous week's more relaxed start at the Cleveland Marathon. I went out a little faster than I probably should have and had some pulling in my right hamstring so I stopped to stretch it out at the first water stop. Steve had taped it for me but I think it just wasn't warmed up yet.

I slowed my pace some the next couple of miles and loosened up. By mile 3 I was ready to race and I really started to get into it. Unfortunately I had some time to make up. I enjoyed the hills and passing people the last couple of miles. The last 1/4 mile was a bonus since this was a 5.25 mile race. I definitely noticed people fading towards the end but with running a marathon the week before I felt great as I came across the finish in 39:25 (7:30 pace). I was 3rd in the 35-39 AG. Not as fast a time as I would have liked but this was a race for fun and I am happy with my time and finishing in my AG considering Cleveland was only a week before and it took me several days to recover from it.

Steve had a good race, finishing in 33:26 for 2nd place in the 45-49AG. A week after his big BQ he is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. It's great to see him doing so well this season!

Post Race:

Hanging out after the race in Chagrin Falls 
We stopped by the Northern Ohio Team in Training tent and said hi to some of staff and athletes that were running the race. Then we stopped at Starbucks for a snack and coffee and enjoyed taking in the gorgeous scenery in Chagrin Falls following the race. There were lots of people downtown with the Blossom Time festival going on.

We stopped for a quick lunch and post race beer on the way home at Willoughby Brewing. The Hop Jam Black IPA is a good one to try!

 It was a fun day. We had a great experience and I think we will definitely do this race again.

Monday, May 19, 2014

My 2014 Cleveland Marathon Race Report

I had a great experience at the 2014 Cleveland Marathon! This was my third time running the full marathon in Cleveland. I loved the new course although the hills on the shoreway were tough coming back towards the finish. We had perfect weather. It was chilly at the start around 49 but I quickly heated up enough to lose my longsleeve shirt and armwarmers. The sun was shining for the whole race and it was probably high 50s, maybe 60 degrees.

The Start:

Steve and I parked at the lot on West 3rd and jogged up to the start as our warmup. We used the restroom and lined up around 6:35 for the 7am start. We hung out for a while together and then I lined up around the 3:35 pace group and he moved up to the 3:20 pace group. The girl next to me was from Chicago and going for the BQ also. It would be her first time qualifying too so we had that in common. As we started I felt like I needed to use the restroom again. The first mile went fast and easy at around an 8 minute pace. Mile 2 I stopped to use the restroom quickly and rushed to catch back up to the 3:35 pace group.

The First Half:

I stayed just ahead of the 3:35 pace group as I wanted to have a little cushion in my BQ time. The first 10K felt nice and easy. My 10K split was 50:53 (8:11 pace). Somewhere around mile 12 or 13 the pace group got ahead of me but I didn't worry as I just tried to stick to my comfy pace and not worry about the pace group. My half time of 1:47:33 was on pace with an average of 8:12 and I was not worried as I was staying consistent at least.

The Next 7 Miles:

I stayed pretty consistent over the next 7 miles, slowing some around mile 17-18 and just trying to push through as steady as possible through the 30K. My 30K split time of 2:35 (8:19 pace) shows that I was not on pace anymore for a 3:35 but could still pull off the 3:40. I tried to remind myself of that as I felt the fatigue of 19, 20 miles setting in and the 3:40 pace group passing by. I'll just keep them in my sights I thought. I can still get Boston.

The Last 10K:

They say the second half of the marathon starts at mile 20 and yes it does feel this way to me. Through 20 I was able to force myself to hold on but mile 21, 22 and 23's splits tell a different story. They tell the story of a woman trying like hell to hold on yet wanting to let go. My hips and quads were aching. My spirit was breaking. I agreed to let myself walk for a minute or two a mile if I needed to but I would still need to go for the PR. My first marathon was 4:17, my second (last year) was 4:09. This year I would do better even if I wouldn't get Boston.

Miles 24 & 25 came and the hills of the shoreway hurt but I ran them. Not fast but steady. I gazed at my watch and told myself I could get 3:50. I focused all my effort on 3:50. It's not Boston but it's closer to Boston I told myself.

The Finish:

Mile 26 ticked off on my watch and I made myself run faster. Almost there I thought. 26.2 came and I was still going. I saw the finish line. There was a woman cramping up and shaking trying so hard to get there so I stopped to give her a pat on the back and a word of encouragement and then I ran it in and did some fist pumps as I crossed the line. My garmin said 26.52 and an average time of 8:44 pace. My official finish time from the marathon says 3:51:06 (8:48 pace). That is 18 minutes better than last year. I'll take it. Not a BQ but the best I could do that day.

Steve ran up to hug me as I cried tears of disappointment and yet tears of joy for the PR. I asked how he did and he told me he did a 3:16! He only needed a 3:25 to BQ and had done a 3:30 last year. He took 14 minutes off his time this year. As his coach and his wife and best friend I was elated for him!

Post race celebrating with my BQ fast husband!
Post Race:

Even though I didn't meet my goal of qualifying for Boston I still had a big PR and that alone is something to celebrate as was Steve's awesome race. We met our friends Jillian and Bryan afterwards for beers and burgers. It was an excellent day for sitting on the patio and conversing over IPAs.

Final Thoughts:

My coach says that a full in the fall will be difficult after the Ironman race but maybe in November or December I can run another. I will see how I feel and start looking at my options. I'd still like to BQ this year if possible. I know one thing I won't give up until I get it! It will be that much sweeter when I meet this elusive goal of mine!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's Cleveland Marathon Race Week

In case you haven't heard me say it like 100 times on Facebook or Twitter or instagram, it's Cleveland Marathon week! I should not be nervous to run a marathon. This is not my first or even second full. It's actually my third. Back in 2010 I ran it and thought I would qualify for Boston easily on my first try. Much to my dismay it was a lot harder than I estimated and my time of 4:17 and change was not even close to good enough to BQ.

For the next two seasons I battled injuries as I built my endurance. Last year after a breakthrough in training and staying injury free I think I was more ready to attempt a Boston worthy race but alas it was a brutally hot day and my last 10K wasn't too pretty. I had assumed I would at least break 4 and wasn't able to do it. My time of 4:09 was not up to par.

So, no pressure on this third try, right? I only need to take off 29 minutes off my best time. Easy Peasy. I kindof laugh when I think about it. My coach says based on my races this year I can qualify. The 20 Mile Drop last month was a good indicator that I'm ready and now it's time to see if I can do it. They say the third time is the charm and I sure as hell hope that is the case for me this weekend as I line up at the start of my third full marathon (all in Cleveland). 

With the new course and projected temperatures of 20-30 degrees cooler things look promising. I just need to contain myself during this taper, load up on the carbs, stay calm and run 26.2 according to the plan. Steady as she goes at around an 8:15 pace. Should be easy, right?! Wish me luck!!

sporting marathon colors!
And as some extra motivation this week I have created a kick ass new playlist, ordered the coolest sports bra ever invented that stores multiple gels in it and had my nails done today in Cleveland Marathon colors! You gotta look good and feel good when you're running a big race, right?! 

Watch for the race results on Twitter and Facebook and I'll plan to have a full report on the blog next week.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Flapjack & Jill 15K Race Report

Last Saturday was my last opportunity to race prior to the Cleveland Marathon. The 15K distance is long enough to challenge my endurance and yet short enough to allow me to see if I could muster up some speed. I've been feeling a little slower lately running many of my runs at marathon pace or slower. Coach said to go for it so I did my best. My thinking was to go out at around a 7:15-7:30 pace and I pretty much stuck to that with my first mile being a little faster and my last a little slower.

The Flapjack & Jill 15K took place in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) on the Towpath Trail. I love this section of the park and ran one of my first ever 20 milers on it years back so I was excited about the chance to do a race on this mostly flat, softer surface.


Steve and I got in a couple of easy miles to warm up before the race. It was a little cool at 50 degrees or so but I decided to race sans armwarmers as I figured I'd work up a sweat. We lined up around 8:00 and we were off.

The Start:

Race start I'm in the yellow hat and red shirt & steve is on my right
The start was fun as it started at the Stanford house and went straight down a little hill across the street onto a trail leading to the Towpath where we then took a right and ran toward the Ohio Turnpike Bridge. I started in the front next to Steve since it was a smaller race. One woman who ended up in second passed me right away and I just stuck to my pace.

The First 4-5 Miles:

Maybe another mile or two later another woman passed who ended up being the overall winner. We pretty much stayed in that position for a couple miles and then a couple other women passed. I just kept telling myself to stick to the pace. It's impossible to know whether they'll slow down or not later depending on their endurance and intensity. My hope was to at least place in the top three although I wasn't sure if that was going to happen.

The Back 4-5 Miles:

I did a gel around mile 5 at the water stop and kept steady (thanks for the race fuel Powerbar). I think one more more woman passed me here and she was in front of me the rest of the race just outside of my reach. I was feeling a little fatigued around miles 7-8 and my right calf was cramping up. I thought this might happen as it was a little achy following my Wednesday longer run. I just tried to maintain as I knew the finish wasn't too far off!

The Finish:

post race with my adorable & fast husband!
I enjoyed the finish. Running back up to the Stanford House there was the little hill but a lot of people cheering including my speedy husband. I finished a little slower than my goal time at 1:10:41 (7:36 pace) but was happy with the finish. I was 7th female and 3rd in the 35-39 age group. Both other women in my age group were within a minute of me and the woman who placed third was only 90 seconds ahead of me with an average 7:26 pace so it was a small but competitive womens' field.

Post Race & Closing Thoughts:

Steve had a great race and placed second overall so we headed out to Kent to visit Ray's Place for some post race celebratory IPAS and food.

It was a good day and we were lucky that the rain held out for the race. As usual Western Reserve Racing did a nice job with the event. There was an optional pancake breakfast after which we skipped and we received nice gender specific tech tees. I will definitely consider doing this one again - hopefully a little faster the next time! Next up is Cleveland in 10 days!