Monday, October 13, 2014

2014 Northern OH Half Marathon Race Report

I can be stubborn. It's both a good and bad trait to have as an athlete. I had looked forward to the Lake Health Northern OH half marathon for months. I felt like it would be a great opportunity to go for a shiny, new half marathon PR. And it probably was a good opportunity for that; however, my circumstances had changed. Last Sunday I started to get sick and by the time the weekend rolled around I was still sick with a seasonal bronchitis that I tend to get each year with the seasonal changes. I told myself if I felt okay race eve and race morning I would go for the PR. As luck would have it I did feel better although not 100% so I made a judgement call and decided to give it 100% effort.


I had slept pretty well the night before the race and was up at 5:45 to get ready, which really just consisted of getting dressed, using the restroom and eating breakfast. Steve was racing as well and we left the house around 6:30. We parked near the start in Fairport Harbor at 6:45 and headed out for a little mile warm up and to meet my friend Jillian to give her the race packet we'd picked up for her the day before. It was a chilly morning with temps in the high 30s.

Start & First 8 Miles:

I lined up near the front of the pack a couple of rows back on the left side as the course started with a straight away quickly leading to a downhill ending with a left-hand turn. A few of my friends that were racing were nearby as well as Steve. I tried to stay warm until the bullhorn sounded for the start. It was a fast start and the downhill section was a little rough on my knees with the cold temps. My first mile was a little fast being sub seven but I knew I would slow down and settle in soon after and I did. My early splits were all between 7:25-7:35 so about right where I wanted to be. At mile 5 before the aid station I took in my first gel and felt pretty good heading into the little climb up Courdoroy road. I noticed my tempo starting to slow a little as we approached Headlands Beach for the turn-around so I took in another gel here at mile 8.

The Last 5 Miles & Finish:

The sun was out and it definitely warmed up the back part of the race, which I was okay with. I was able to lose my arm warmers and focus on the task at hand. There is some climbing heading back toward Fairport over by Pickle Bills and then again a little later. These splits did not look as good as I had some 8 minute miles in there and I had been passed by one woman. I really just tried to stay focused and not over think those miles. I figured I had some time from the early miles in the bank and knew I could get back on track. I still felt kindof bonkish though and did a final gel coming up before mile 11. That one didn't sit as well in the tummy but did give me a little boost.

The course was changed from last year so instead of crossing the bridge to head back toward the beach, a decent little climb up to a side street was added. This was a little tough at mile 11 and I slowed a bit there but was able to quickly get back on track as my heart rate came down. The last two miles I focused on a nice, fast cadence and trying to hold steady around 7:30-7:40 pace. I did start to wonder if the finish would ever come as I was more tired than usual for a half. Finally made the turn onto 2nd street toward the finish and was happy to be done with the race. I had come up short on the PR with a 1:40:45 but that was good enough for 7th place female and first in the 35-39 age group. It was also a PR for this particular course where I had run 1:42 and change last year.

Postrace & Closing Thoughts:

Steve, me, Jillian, Courtney & Chris post-race
After the race was not pretty. I walked over to the car and basically coughed up a lung or two. I was pretty exhausted from pushing myself. Eventually I changed into warmer, dry clothes and headed to the finish area to hang out with my friends and get some food. Steve ended up PR'ing and having a great race with a 1:27 and change and my friends Jillian, Courtney & Chris had all PRd also. I was happy for them but definitely feeling disappointed about my own performance. Everyone had things to do or just wanted to go home and relax so Steve and I headed home. I was not feeling well at all and spent much of the day in bed resting. In hindsight maybe I should have either sat this one out or went a little easier given my situation. Lesson Learned. I guess I can't beat myself up too much as I was only a minute and change off from my PR and that was at the Towpath, which is more of a PR-friendly course.

To make up for this race I feel I owe it to myself to try again when I am healthier so I have signed up for the Buckeye half in Akron later this month. It is a pretty flat course and I have run it years back when they held it in the summer. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do at 100%. Hoping there's a sub 1:39 in me! If not, I may try again in late November.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Lakeland Clock Tower 5K Race Report

It's been a long time since I've run a 5K. In fact I think the last 5K I ran was in spring of 2012. I've just been so focused on endurance lately and haven't been able to fit in many shorter races. When I heard about this race I decided to do it because my daughter goes to college at Lakeland and I wanted to support the college and local community that I live in.

I had no real time to train for speed just coming off the Ironman recovery four weeks ago so I did not have high expectations for my performance. In fact I am surprised that it went as well as it did. Pleasantly surprised of course! It was a chilly day with temps around 45 degrees and some wind. Steve and I got in an easy mile warm up and tried to stay warm until the start. I lined up close to the front as it was not a big race. I told myself to have fun running and just do the best I could do that day. It was nice not feeling a lot of pressure and maybe that helped me to relax and enjoy myself.

The race started right in front of the clock tower that has become the symbol for the college throughout the community. The first mile was a little downhill and winding through the campus. It was a pretty fast first mile with my first split coming in at 6:40. I was pleased with this pace as I was not pushing as hard as I could but did not want to go out too fast and pay for it later not knowing how hilly the course would be when they mentioned running up Garfield Rd to the turn around. Fortunately the course was pretty flat with just one hill but then some gradual uphill heading back through the campus. I was able to see Steve around the half way point and he was in third place and looking strong. I took off after the turn around and hit the 2 mile mark with a 6:45 pace. I definitely slowed a little the last mile with the gradual uphill and wind but I was able to hold on to around a 7 minute pace for a finish of 21:17 (6:51 pace), which I believe is a new 5K PR for me. I was 2nd place female so that was a nice, unexpected bonus on a day where I didn't expect much from myself!

Post race picture with Steve and Lakeland in the background
Steve ended up finishing 3rd male with an 18:37, a new PR for him as well! I am pleased with how much the endurance work and cross training from triathlon has helped us with our running this season!

I got to see my friend Jessica (who I coached this year for Team in Training) and her family at the race. Her daughter Hannah came in 3rd place with a 23+ minute pace at 12 years old, which is so impressive!

Lakeland did a great job with the race and had lots of terrific snacks for the runners as well as a nice upbeat vibe with music and awards. I hope to do the race again and see it grow as this was only the second year they've had it.

After the race Steve and I headed over to Chapin Forest for another 5 mile run on the trails. It was the perfect fall day to run! After that we stopped at the Kirtland Diner and had a hard-earned, delicious breakfast. We of course had some celebratory beers later as well!

Next up is the Lake Health Northern Ohio Half Marathon this weekend! I'm hoping to earn myself a shiny, new PR there as well but have to see what the day and these legs bring. Stay tuned!