Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday News - Team Nuun and Training Update

This hasn't been the best week for me. I've been extra stressed with the holiday stuff and trying to get my training plan in order for the first part of next season. My week was definitely improved when I got news from Nuun yesterday that I was selected as an ambassador for Team Nuun in 2016. If you have not tried their products you are missing out! And they have hydration options for everyone not just runners and triathletes. Nuun All Day for example is good for anyone. It tasted good and is low calorie unlike many sports drinks out there.

It's been an average running week. I will probably end up around 35 miles. I've got in a couple of bike rides and plan to get in another tomorrow for a total of 60-65 miles. I also took kickboxing Wednesday and got some lifting/core work in Monday. I have been a bad girl and not been swimming much. But I will get back to it.

I just read an article in Freeplay Magazine about the importance of having an off season. So, I am doing that for a little while longer! I will start more structured training in the first week of January. I will be run heavy through spring since I have a number of running events including Run for Regis, Green Jewel, Boston Marathon and Cleveland Marathon as well as some shorter things. I don't have a tri on the schedule until June so in my mind I have plenty of time to build that fitness for the bike and swim!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Jingle Bell Run 5K Race Report

The Jingle Bell Walk/Run 5K for Arthritis was yesterday. The hubby and I both signed up. We've been having some off season race fun and figured this was for a good cause and close to home so we would give it a go. The race takes place at Legacy Village and the surrounding area in Lyndhurst. It has a 9:00 start too, which is great for those of us that like to sleep in on the weekend yet still race.

Steve and I arrived at Legacy around 8am and parked near the race expo. We had plenty of time to get our packets, get in a good warm up and have a quick snack before the race. It was unusually warm at 65+ degrees at the start so I noticed after our warm up that I was awfully sweaty for just jogging. I figured it would be a warm one so I am glad to have been in shorts and a singlet.

That darn hill! LOL
At the start I actually "tried" to hold back the first mile. My plan was to run about a 6:30 or 6:40 but when I saw the timer at mile 1 - oops 6:15. Okay, okay no biggie I will just slow down a little. At this point around the halfway point at Hawken School (where I used to run track workouts years back with some of the Second Sole folks) I felt fatigued. I knew it was going to hurt for the rest of the race. And it did. Mile 2 I was at 13:00 so I had slowed down to 6:45 that second mile. Mile 3 did not go well - 8:18...yep, ouch. Of course when you decide to walk a hill that will happen. I don't know exactly what went wrong I just felt crappy, kindof overheated and lost my focus. It was too bad - because many people including my husband PRd. I think the sub 21 was there which would be a good PR for me but no dice as I ran it in for a 21:18. Not a bad time but not the time I was capable of.

Even though the race did not go as I planned in that last mile I was able to pull it back together for 4th place female and an AG win. I cannot beat myself up too much for that. I just have to learn from my mistakes. Learning from our mistakes is the only way we can grow as athletes.

I need to do regular speedwork sessions so it does not hurt "as much" during these fast races. This year races have been my speedwork. Next season I will do speedwork to be better prepared. I also have to ignore the negative thoughts that creep me in and tell me "who cares you're not fast enough to win this thing today just walk". I will never be my best if I listen to the negative self talk. I will work on having some positive affirmations for difficult times during my races.

I resolve to be better next season. I will work harder, smarter and believe in myself more. I will also accept that I will have off days in training and racing.

Huge congrats to be my speedy husband Steve who set a PR of 18:22 yesterday at 48 years old! It has been a pleasure to watch him grow and improve over these last 5+ years and I cannot wait to see where he goes next.

Never let your age limit you. Never let your mind limit you. Just keep moving and learning and you will accomplish great things - whatever that means for you.

Special thanks to my Snakebite Racing teammate and friend Mark Erzen for cheering and taking some great photos including the one posted above.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Ending the Season With Some Fun Races

My officially planned race season really ended with Beach 2 Battleship 140.6. Since then I have been trying to get healthy and back to myself. An Ironman distance race can really take the life out of your legs for a while. After the Twinsburg Turkey Trot and my stupid allergies, I was feeling a little sorry for myself. I had to put things back in perspective and remember that I already had a productive, good season and it's okay for me to not be at 100% of my fitness level 100% of the time. I mean this is a hobby - albeit one I take seriously.

Pre Turkey Trot 
Since then I raced with my hubby on Thanksgiving at the Painesville Turkey Trot 5K. It wasn't a PR but my 21:46 was good enough to crack the top ten for females and first in my AG. This made the second year in a row that I won my AG and got a pumpkin pie for it so I have to keep this streak alive! Same with my hubby.

Then this past weekend we raced the NERC Interclub Relay at The West Woods Park in Novelty. Steve and I raced with our Snakebite Racing teammate Mark Erzen. Steve ran the 8-mile leg, I ran the 5 mile leg and Mark ran the 3 mile leg. We ended up placing 2nd in the co-ed division as we had the previous year when we ran with our friend Jillian. We were less than a minute off the co-ed win but a group of high school runners edged us out. At least us old-timers can feel good about the effort!

Post Relay w/ Our Awards 
After the race there is a chili contest so there was lots of tasty chili, soups and other treats. We hung around for a little while to catch up with friends and for the awards and then headed home.

Next up we will be running the Jingle Bell 5K for Arthritis this weekend. If you don't have plans this Sunday it is a great little event that takes place at Legacy Village at 9am. Visit this link here to register.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Exciting News for 2016 - Freeplay Magazine

I am so excited for the 2016 season to start already and now I have more good news to share. I have been selected as an ambassador for Freeplay Magazine! Team Freeplay is a team of elite and sub elite women focused on endurance running and triathlon. There are ten ladies on the racing team out of California and another five of us ambassadors added this year from all over to help spread awareness of the team and magazine. Head on over to to check out this awesome publication that is completely devoted to endurance sports for women. You can also visit My information should be live on the team site after January 1.

The team includes some pretty amazing female athletes. From 2:50 marathoners to Kona Qualifiers, you can read more about the new 2016 team and ambassadors here. I am looking forward to getting to know these fast ladies and hopefully picking up some guidance on how to improve myself.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Get in the Holiday Spirit with the Jingle Bell 5K Run/Walk for Arthritis at Legacy Village

This time of the year can be tough. The days are shorter and we don't get to run or walk outside as much as we want. To help keep the winter blues away, I like to stay active by doing fun races around the holiday. This year I plan on participating in the Jingle Bell 5K Run/Walk for Arthritis at Legacy Village. The race takes place on Sunday, 12/13 at Legacy Village. It's a 9am start too so you can even sleep in. Since it's at Legacy you can get some of that holiday shopping done afterwards!

The race is ideal for competitive runners as well as those who would rather walk. For those who prefer chip timing advance registration is $35 or $30 for the untimed 5K. There is also a 1 mile family fun run/walk option, which is great for getting the family members involved. Registration for that event is $30. 

Arthritis is a disease that affects many people. The Great Lakes Regional Arthritis Foundation has this event to help raise funds for research and treatment So, throw on a costume or your best red and green race attire and come out and celebrate the holiday with a fun run for a great cause! To register visit 

I will be giving away two race entries to some lucky winners! To enter simply comment and tell me why you would like to run or walk in the Jingle Bell 5K. Winners will be announce early next week! 

Images from previous Jingle Bell 5K walk/run

Monday, November 23, 2015

News for 2016 Racing Season - I'm Joining Snakebite Racing

It's the holiday week and I have some exciting news to share! I will be racing as part of Snakebite Racing's Multisport Team for 2016! I am excited to join my husband and many friends on the team next season.

The Snakebite Team consists of a diverse group of athletes from multisport (triathlon and duathlon) and cycling (road, cyclocross and mountain biking) disciplines. From placing in local races to AG nationals and worlds, Ironman Kona, Boston Marathon, State Cycling Championships and even Beer Miles, this is a team that is not afraid of hard work!

But what I love about the team is that the people are all friendly, passionate about their sports, humble and fun to be around. I also like that this is a local Cleveland based team so I already see these folks on a regular basis whether it's a training day, race or a Cleveland Tri Club social event. I am looking forward to rocking the Snakebite Racing kit next season.

If you are interested in sponsoring Snakebite Racing for the 2016 racing season I believe we still have some spots open for monetary and product sponsors. Send me a message and I can connect you with the right folks to speak with.

Happy Racing!

Monday, November 16, 2015

2016 Cleveland Marathon News & Quick Race Report

It was an interesting week for me. Some ups and downs. So let's start with the good news shall we?

I am officially back as a Cleveland Marathon ambassador again for 2016! This is great news as I love this race and the friends that I made last year that were also ambassadors. The race, which takes place on 5/15/16 is a month after the Boston Marathon so I figured why not run the full again. New this year for the adventurous folks there is a new Challenge Series where you can run multiple races such as the 8K and full marathon or 8K and half marathon, etc. I thought about doing this but with running Boston and prepping for a half ironman race in June I decided to stick with the solo 26.2. Watch my blog and social media posts throughout the season for updates on the race, meet ups and a chance to win a free race entry to the distance of your choice!

Hard earned AG Turkey Trophy
Now the not so good news. Since Beach 2 Battleship I have struggled to get my running mojo back due to "dead leg" syndrome. Finally this week I had a couple of decent paced runs and my husband and I signed up to run a local race called the Twinsburg Turkey Trot 5 miler. It's a fun little race that combines some road and trail running into one tough little race. The last time I ran it in 2013 I had a good day and won the female race in 36 and change. This time was not as fortuitous for me.

My respiratory allergies had flared up last week and I struggled with my breathing. I knew this going into the race Saturday but decided to take my albuterol inhaler and chance it anyways. Things started out pretty well for the first couple of miles then around the 2-2.5 mile mark I had a tough time getting in oxygen and had to stop and walk to get my breathe back. This happened a few times during the race so I quickly went from 2nd place down and ended up finishing in 6th with a time of 39:31 (7:54 pace). So, it's not the day I wanted to have but I am glad I hung in there and finished the race and managed to place 2nd in my AG. Steve ended up having a great race and took 3rd male with his time of 33 mins. I was happy that at least one of us had a great day!

I'm hoping my allergies clear up and my Turkey Day 5K race goes a little smoother! I am now at the point where seeing an allergist has become necessary because it's interfering with my training, racing and general enjoyment of life at times. Not cool, right?! So, I will be doing a cleanse following Thanksgiving and then experimenting with a vegan diet to see if that helps. I will also be seeing an allergist and may even try some accupuncture at the suggestion of a friend. Stay tuned for more on the healing journey in future blog posts!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Beach 2 Battleship 140.6 Race Report

It's funny how you look back on a big race once it's completed and think how fast it came and went. My whole year or at least summer for that matter was focused on one big task - taking on ironman distance race #2. After Rev3 Cedar Point last year I was disappointed. Sure, I was a finisher but I knew I had a bad day and was disappointed in my time. This left me wanting redemption so in December of 2014 I signed up for Beach 2 Battleship in sunny Wilmington, NC. I had heard wonderful things about the race so I figured it would be a good experience.

Countless hours of training and racing went into the biggest race of my season. An Iron distance race requires commitment and focus to be successful. I am pretty happy with how my training progressed but of course there are variables that one cannot control...such as getting very sick a few weeks out from race day. Several doctors visits and procedures left me wondering if I would even be able to race let alone meet my goal of a big PR. I battled with myself because at first I did too much and was not getting better and then I had to be honest with myself and rest and allow my body to heal. That is not an easy task for me but after a couple weeks I was feeling much better albeit not 100% and really just needed my doctor's approval to race pending some test results. I pretty much had decided I wanted to at least attempt the race. I had worked hard for months and it would have been depressing to sit out the biggest race of my year. I figured if worse came to worse I could do as much as possible and DNF. Fortunately my day went better than expected!

Prerace Thursday:

View from our condo on Water Street
Steve and I packed up the car and started the drive to Wilmington around 6am. With a few stops along the way and after hitting the expo we arrived at our condo downtown around 5:30pm. The place we rented from Trip Advisor was perfect. We had a full apartment right on Water Street overlooking the Cape Fear River and conveniently located a couple of blocks down from the expo. After unpacking we headed over to a local Brewery to have a pint and then later we met our friend Elisa for dinner at a local place downtown called Fat Tony's, which the locals rave about. After getting back to our condo Steve and I took on the big task of getting our race bags (transition, post race and special needs bags ready). After that it was time to call it a night.

Prerace Friday (Race Eve):

There is a certain energy you wake up with the day before you take on an Iron distance race. So we were up to have a coffee, eat and get everything organized for the day. We did a shakeout run and bike. We checked in our T2 bag and special needs bags at the convention center. We checked our bikes and T1 bag in at the beach transition area. Beach 2 Battleship has two transition areas because it is a point to point race. This makes the logistics a little more challenging but doable as long as you are organized.

After we checked the bikes in Steve and I headed to Wrightsville Beach for a little while to enjoy the sun and sand. We had a nice relaxing walk on the beach and then headed back to town to the condo to get cleaned up for dinner. We ended up eating at Fat Tony's again and it was a very nice low-key prerace dinner with lots of carbs including a dessert! One must eat well before 140.6 miles! After dinner we walked back to the condo and headed to bed. I slept reasonably well for the night before a big race.

Race Morning:

The alarm went off at 4:15am, which was actually not that bad. I woke up right away and so did Steve. After a cup of coffee, some food and a shower it was time to get dressed and put on the race tattoos. Our plan was to meet our friend at the Hilton where the race shuttle would drop us off at T1 by the beach. We were right on schedule for the shuttle, which was a trolly. I was in a very chatty mood and feeling pretty excited that I had made it this far despite the challenges over the last few weeks. This was happening! We arrived at T1 to finish setting up and then we had to catch a second shuttle over to the swim start a few miles away since this was a point to point swim. When we arrived at the swim start it was dark and chilly and there were not many athletes there yet. We hung out and stayed warm with some throw away sweats and shoes. After about an hour or so later it was time to chug some beet juice, eat one last snack, ditch the throw away clothes and walk over to the beach.

The Swim: 2.4 Miles - 1:05:01 clock time (1:01 watch time)

As we positioned ourselves for the start at 7:30 the race director played "Lose Yourself" by Eminem
Swim start photo by race photographer
and this got us incredibly pumped up. I was jumping and dancing and ready to get this thing started! Steve and I lined up close together and walked up to the water. It was go time. I ran in as long as possible and then started into a freestyle stroke right away. With it being a mass start of about 800 people there were no shortage of bodies around me throughout the whole swim. In fact it got a little physical a couple of times but I quickly repositioned as needed. It was a fast swim with the current in our favor especially for the first 2000-2500 meters. Once we made the first big left turn though the wind was not in our favor and the water was choppier. This wasn't too big of a deal since we had been practicing in good old Lake Erie a fair amount over the summer. My goal was to try to finish the swim in about an hour. At the end of the swim you have to climb a ladder up to the dock. I glanced at my watch time and it said 1:01 so I was almost exactly on pace. After the swim you have to get your wetsuit off and run through the showers to rinse the salt water off then you run a couple hundred meters across the street before you hit the timing mat. This added a few minutes to my time but no big deal.

T1: 9:29

This was a little longer than I planned but T1 is a pain. You are soaking wet and a little discombobulated from a long swim so it takes longer to change, get a snack, etc. Then you go grab your bike and wait a few seconds for the people in front of you so that you can mount your bike.

The Bike: 112 Miles - 6:26:23 clock time (6:12 watch time)

On the bike fighting the wind!
The start of the bike was slow as there was a good bit of weaving in and around roads and people until we finally made our way onto a straight-away when I was able to focus on hitting my pace and getting in some nutrition and fluids. My goal was to average around 18 mph for the race.

The first 60-70 miles were mostly flat and into the wind. I thought that flat would be easy but in all actuality you never really get a break to coast. If you let up on the cadence you lose power and slow down. I was pretty much on pace as we hit the first aid station at mile 25 or so. Unfortunately my aerobar mounted drink holder cracked and broke so I had to lose one of my two bottles. This was not ideal but I refilled my bottle and then chugged some water before I was on my way. I probably only lost a minute or two here.

At the next aid station around 45 miles I had to use the porta john. Unfortunately there was a line so I racked my bike and took care of my drink refill and then waited a couple of minutes to go. I maybe lost a few minutes here because the clock doesn't stop for you to pee.

Around mile 60 we got the special needs bags. I had a vanilla iced coffee in mine and some gummy lifesavers. Weird combo perhaps but it got the job done with a sugar burst. Then I used the bathroom again. So here I lost maybe 3-4 minutes as well but worth it.

I ended up hitting one more aid station for a third potty break so at least I was hydrated and this was around mile 75 or 80 and was my last stop. The wind had become more of a tailwind at this point so that was a good thing but of course I was ready to be done.

My last hour was my fastest hour I think. We were on a flat highway with a tailwind so I was averaging 19+ mph in that section. I was stoked to see the bridge at mile 111 and coast into the convention center for T2.

T2: 5:02

At T2 they had bike catchers, which was nice and then there was a decent 200 meter or so run to the bags. From there I hit the changing tent and changed from my Powerbar bike jersey into my Powerbar run singlet. I also took in a Powerbar energy blend gel and hit the restroom quickly before starting the run.

The Run: 26.2 Miles - 4:31:16 clock time

Starting 2nd lap of run
I felt pretty good for the first hour of the run. Maybe too good. My GPS watch died right around then which may have been a curse or a blessing - not sure yet which it was. I had felt pretty good on the run through mile 13 and then I kindof bonked. I walked a little to the special needs bag and was very happy that I had put a redbull and some Aleve in there as I needed both. My left achilles had started bothering me around mile 8 or 9 so the Aleve definitely helped. I also rubbed on some Biofreeze as well. That stuff is magic.

I got back on track for a little bit but started to feel the pain again around mile 18 from some pretty gnarly blisters on both of my pinky toes. My Hoka Cliftons were not kind to me late in the race. Luckily the aid stations had vaseline so I was able to stop a couple of times to coat my toes.

I made sure to take in a lot of salt from Base as well as the chicken broth and water. This definitely helped keep me from cramping. I tried to keep my walking to the aid stations or very short little 30 second breaks a few times in the later miles. I had hopes of being closer to 4 or 4:15 but it just was not happening this time. While running is definitely my best sport it is also the hardest thing to do when you are sick and I was still not 100% so this did not work in my favor.

One thing that was great about the run was that I got to see Steve and all my Cleve Tri Club friends that were racing several times, which was a real boost.

The Finish & Post Race:

CTC 140.6 Racers & fans!
My last mile of the run was a good one and emotional. I went from not even knowing if I would be able to race, to not knowing if I could finish to a PR! I was pretty close to my goal of hitting 12 hours. I ended up with a 12:17 and if it was not for the bike stops I would have been 12:03 or so. I ended up 6th in my AG out of 18. This was a big improvement over the mess that was my first 140.6. And I was recovering from being ill. I will take it. I was teary-eyed at the finish so Steve was worried and I just explained that I was happy. Happy to be done with the race. Happy to be done with this big goal. Happy to be strong enough to do this.

Steve had brought me some warm clothes to put on and a Fatheads Trailhead beer. I downed some pizza and a hot chocolate and then walked back to the condo to get showered. Shortly after we headed back to the finish to meet up with our Cleveland Tri Club friends and celebrate and wait for our friend Elisa to finish her first 140.6! She had a tough day but she finished and I was ready to call it a night when we got back to our condo at 12:30 or so in the am.

Unfortunately I was very sick after the race. I was in bed most of the next 36 hours but did make it out for one celebratory beer and food with the CTC/Bicycle Hub folks. Then it was back to Cleveland the next day. Then back to work the day after. How quickly it came and went.

Final Thoughts:

On the Race:

The race was awesome! It is very well organized. The swim is fast and I like the point to point swim layout versus the old double loop. The bike course is windy and flat at around 1400 ft of gain. Flat and windy hurts. The run is a nice course albeit hilly in some sections, was a little warm in heat of the day at around 70s. The aid stations were fantastic. Setup Events and the volunteers make this a great race. The town is scenic and fun with lots to do. The beach was nice too. I wish we had more time before or after the race to enjoy it!

On Racing my 2nd 140.6

Your health is more important than anything. I probably pushed myself beyond what I should have but my Dr. gave me the go ahead because even he knew how hard we train to complete an ironman distance race. I had debated sitting it out and playing it safe but that's just not who I am. I definitely paid the price after for a few days. I am now well into my recovery and want to thank my husband Steve for all his love and care, my friends who raced with me for the cheers, my friends I raced and trained with all year, my mom for her support and encouragement and also to Powerbar for being a top-notch sponsor once again this season.

After some thinking I will not be competing in a 140.6 next season. I need to give my body and mind a little break. There is a good chance I will do another in 2017 or beyond but for next season I am looking forward to some long run races, olympic and 70.3 triathlons, and some new stuff like bike time trials and cyclocross. This old girl needs some variety and more recovery. I plan to space my big races out at least 4-6 wks apart next season because taking on a BQ marathon, 70.3 and Ironman in five weeks time frame was just a little too aggressive for me. Lesson Leaned. Now it's time to enjoy the off season! Finally! Horray!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Deer Creek 70.3 Race Report

I'm a little late with this race report for the Deer Creek Fall Challenge triathlon but wanted to give a quick recap of the event before I write my race report for Beach 2 Battleship. Overall I thought HFP did a nice job with the event. There were a variety of distances from mini-70.3. Steve and I planned to make the 70.3 a hard training effort for our upcoming IM race at Beach 2 Battleship a few weeks later.

After a short bike and run shakeout workout, we headed down to Mt. Sterling, OH, which is a little outside of Columbus. It was maybe a 3-hour drive so not too bad. We headed over to the Beach to pick up our packets and then over to the Deer Creek Lodge to check in. A number of our friends from Cleveland were doing the race as well so we got a fun group together for dinner and drinks and then headed back to the room to get our race stuff ready for the morning. 

Prerace with friends
Race morning was smooth. We got up to eat breakfast and get ready to head back over to the beach to transition. We checked in our bikes, setup transition, grabbed our timing chips and then hung out with our friends Frank and Karen who were both racing the half too. We all got in a quick swim warm up. The weather and water temps were perfect!

The Swim - 1.2 miles - 33:41

The swim was quick and easy. There were a lot of people in the water but it went pretty smooth. It was a two lap swim course. After completing the second lap, there was a bit of a run maybe 200-400 meters over to T1. My time of 33:41 was prob more like 32 with the run.

T1 - 2:32

I had a long T1 perhaps but I like to sit down and put my socks and shoes on and eat something before heading out on the bike.

The Bike - 56 Miles - 2:59:46

Bike results were kindof flat for me. I was hoping to average between 19-20 and ended up around 18.8. I think fighting the wind just slowed me down some. It was a three loop bike course with some flat although windy terrain and the last 5 miles or so of the loop consisting of rollers. By the third lap I was ready to be done.

T2 - 1:34

T2 is always a little faster since there's no wetsuit involved. Quick change of shoes and headgear, a quick bite to eat and then off to the run.

The Run - 13.1 Miles - 1:56:50

Out on the run 
The run was okay for me. I had wanted to be a few minutes faster but it was hot and I was having some bladder pain the second half. Turned out to be a UTI I was treated for post race (not fun). I walked it off a few times but kept the breaks short as I wanted to have a decent run. I ending up averaging about an 8:55 pace versus the 8:45 I was shooting for. 

The Finish - 5:34:20

I was happy to see the finish and was excited to learn I was 2nd place female! It was hard to tell what place I was in as the run was a two loop course and there were a decent amount of people out there. This finish was very close to my goal time of 5:30 so I was happy with the effort and feeling good about my upcoming 140.6.

Post Race - 

After the race we headed over to the lodge to take a quick shower and then we drove to Polaris area in Columbus for a dinner at Matt the Millers Tavern with our friend Karen. We celebrated a good race with a good meal and a Bodhi IPA!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Erie Marathon Race Report...I Just Registered for My First Boston Marathon!

I just registered for my first Boston Marathon! Holy cow! Now I have to wait for my acceptance email but with a 3:35:14 qualifying time in Erie and my standard being 3:40 everyone that I have talked to has assured me I am "in".

The Erie Marathon at Presque Isle was an incredible course to qualify on. It is flat, shaded and fast albeit a little windy in some spots. I was a little nervous going into the race as it rained all day Saturday and I had visions of running 26.2 soaking wet miles. Fortunately the rain stopped around 2 or 3 am Sunday morning and held out for the whole race. The temperature was around 60 degrees at most, which made for a nice, cool day. That definitely helped my chances!

Race Morning:

Everything with the race went smooth but parking was a challenge and apparently it was from the main parking lot being closed due to flooding from the heavy rains. It took us about 45 minutes to park as we arrived at 5:45 and parked around 6:30. After a restroom break and some drills to warm up it was time to line up. There were pacing groups out there so I lined up near the 3:35 group since that was my goal. The start was jam packed with people from all over the country. I had a couple of women next to me from Texas and a guy behind me from Florida. Erie they say is one of the best qualifying races in the country with over 30% of the field qualifying. I was there like many people with that goal in mind. As I stood at the start and waited for the cue to start I was filled with a lot of emotion. This was my last chance to qualify for the 2016 Boston race. I HAD to get it done no matter what or I would be on the sidelines again next year cheering for my husband and friends.

The first half:

I would love to say that I had a  perfect race but the truth is I did not. I actually felt pretty crappy during much of the first loop, which was a surprise. I had tapered but with training for an ironman concurrently I was worried I had done too much. I tried to just brush those thoughts aside as my left knee locked up and my right hip was aching and I pressed on. I thought about making it a training run for Beach 2 Battleship and just cutting it short but I knew I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't give it my all. So around mile 12 or so I finally started to settle in. Yes, I settled in at mile 12 as odd as that is. I then decided that this was MY race. I gave up a lot for this race. I changed my schedule around this year and made this race my A race. I could not throw all that training away. I would simply make myself BQ. At the halfway point you literally go over a timing mat with the finish on the other side. That was hard. I was at 1:47 at the 13.1 mark - right on schedule for my 3:35.

The second half:

I finally ran a big girl marathon! My splits were close to perfect - all between 8:05-8:15 with only one or two miles at an 8:15-8:20 pace - one being my first mile where it was hard to generate speed due to the crowd and the other at mile 24. I really feel like I got into a meditative state in this second loop. I enjoyed my playlist and taking in the surroundings and every mile I checked my watch to make sure I was on schedule. Miles 20, 21, 22, 23 ticked by and I never hit that dreaded wall! 24 I slowed down just a hair and picked it back up for 25 and 26. As the finish line drew close I felt the emotion welling up inside. I had worked so hard for this day. This was my 4th BQ attempt this season with 3 consecutive marathons in April, May and June a little break for tri season and then this one a few months later.

The Finish:

Finisher shot courtesy of Kirsten!
That finish line sure was sweet! Coming in at a 3:35:14 was just about on goal. In fact I beat the 3:35 pace group. I am not sure when they finished as I was ahead of them the whole race after mile 4 or 5. Steve came up and gave me a big hug and I filled up my post race bag with as much food as possible and headed over to photographer for a post race pic with Steve and to the med tent for some post race stretching.

Post Race Celebration:

Steve ran to the car to get the "gift" he had made for me, which was a shirt that said "Cheers! I BQ'd Today! So then of course he had me put the shirt on and a nice woman took our photo so we could post it and share the good news with our friends!

Post race with the shirt!
The drive from Erie to Mentor was pretty short and we decided to stop at Willoughby Brewing to have some food and a couple pints to celebrate my BQ. We celebrated the next day too because why not? Big goals mean big rewards!

Closing Thoughts:

So much of my day was mental. Sure you have to be physically trained to run a marathon but the mind is a powerful weapon that can work for you or against you. Even though I had a rough start I was able to send the pain below and focus on the task at hand. And it was So Worth It! Always remember that even if things are not going your way in a race you can take control of the situation. That is a valuable lesson  I learned that I plan to take with me on my journey to other racing goals.

A special thanks to my husband Steve who believes in me and did everything he could to help me achieve this goal including running with me for many painful miles, to all of my caring friends and family members that believed in me and cheered for me - you guys are the best especially my friend Kirsten who took tons of race pics including the finisher shot above! I could not have done it without the support of all of you. And finally to Powerbar for being an amazing sponsor and fueling countless workouts and races - thank you!

What's Next:

I will be racing the HFP Deer Creek 70.3 this weekend as a tuneup for Beach 2 Battleship 140.6, which is three weeks later! After that I am taking a hard-earned break until next season!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Erie Marathon Race Weekend - Lucky #7

It's finally race weekend for the Erie Marathon...lucky #7 for me! Or at least I hope it will be lucky! There are so many ways to shave a few minutes off a marathon. I'm hoping to do that this Sunday and finally realize my goal of a BQ time!

Marathons #4, 5 & 6 happened for me this year in April, May and June consecutively. While that was never my plan it just evolved into the year of the "Marathon Maniac".

  • Glass City Marathon in Toledo (#4) was a nice PR for me at 3:46 and change. Looking back I had lost a little too much weight and don't think I was properly fueled to BQ. I also ran too fast the first 10 miles or so. I still managed to take off 5 minutes of time from my previous PR in Cleveland in 2014. 
  • Cleveland Marathon (#5) was three weeks later. I ran with the 3:35 pace group for the first 1/2. It just got too hot for me. I pushed as hard as I could that day to the point of throwing up but with a 3:52 a BQ was not in reach that day. No problem will just try again in late June then! 
  • Charlevoix Marathon (#6) in Northwest Michigan was a fun road trip and little long weekend vacation. I loved this area! I was ready here I think to get it done but I had two things working against me: first, I ran the first 1/2 a little too fast and had some uneven splits. Plus the last hour of the race was hotter than I hoped in the mid 70s. I don't do as well in the heat as I would like. I tried my best but came up a little short with a 3:42:45. Two minutes & change away from the 3:40 qualifying time. 

I have prepared more intently for Erie by including more speedwork, faster long runs and a cleaner diet. I have also obviously been cross training with the bike and swim as I prepare to take on some long course tris in the weeks to come.

This last week and a half has been pretty easy physically for me as I taper. I know my body needs to be rested to push as hard as I can. I feel more rested than when I went into Charlevoix. I have been carb loading all week and sleeping well. The weather forecast looks to be cool (high 50s - mid 60s), which is ideal for me. It may rain but rain is not a reason to ruin my day. I have worked long and hard for this BQ this year! The plan is to shoot for a 3:35. If it ends up being a 3:37 or 3:38 I will take it! I will slow myself down the first half and try to run consistent splits. I will push harder the last miles. I will give everything I have. I am ready! No matter what happens I will know that I gave it my best.

Special thanks to Powerbar for keeping me fueled for all these races and countless workouts and to Steve for letting me drag him all over to run marathons this season. He has sacrificed as much as I have for my goal. Nothing to it now but to go chase that unicorn! Stay tuned for the race report next week.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Rock Hall Half Marathon Race Report

I've been delayed in writing this post about the inaugural Rock Hall Half Marathon held downtown at the Rock Hall August 23. The event itself was done very well. Packet picket the day before was ideal because it made race morning a little smoother. It was very easy to park for the expo as well. The race shirt was a high quality Nike women's fit tee, which is nice. Also, the medal was awesome! Race day logistics went smooth, Greater Cleveland XC did a nice job with the timing and there was plenty of food afterwards.

Pre race at the start line
Race morning went pretty smooth as well. Steve was racing too so we left our house around 6am to get downtown by 6:45 and give ourselves plenty of time to warm up. We found street parking not too far from the start. We jogged about a mile to warm up and found some indoor restrooms to use before lining up at the start line in front of the Rock Hall. It was nice to see some of our friends before the race and chat. The race started at 7:30am and it was a fast start. I tried to hold back the pace not going out any faster than a 7:25-7:30 mile.

To be honest I didn't really rest for this race because I just didn't have the time in my schedule with a few other key races coming up. I had biked more than 100 miles and had about 30 miles of running and a couple of swims in at the start line so I wasn't sure how it would go. I hoped I would run about my average 1:40 time given my strength this season if nothing else. I also did no real race specific training for the half. I had raced some 5Ks and 5 milers this summer as speedwork for my marathon but never did any speed over 5-6 miles outside of marathon pace.

Fighting through the pain cave
This lack of focused training was evident as I hit the halfway mark and started to labor more than I anticipated. The weather was also warming up and this probably contributed to my feelings of malaise as well.  I had a second burst around miles 7-10 running through the MLK area, which was nice and shaded and had some rolling hills. That was my favorite part of the race. I felt good and I thought I might have a chance to PR but that quickly evaporated as we hit Marginal. The last 5K of this course wiped me out. I watched my average pace drop from 7:30s to 8:15s. I also got passed by four or five women in the last 5K and that was deflating. Normally I have more of a fight in me but this day I did not. I just let them pass and prayed that it would be over soon.

I finished in 1:41:49 about two minutes under my goal of 1:39-1:40. After the race I got in a cooldown mile with Steve and then another 3 marathon pace miles solo to round out the day and my last long training run for Erie with 18 miles. Although it didn't go as well as I wanted I didn't blow up. It ended up being a great training run for Erie I think and I was 4/80 in my age group so maybe next time I will crack the top 3. I do have a competitive age group so I guess I will have to do my homework and put in some longer speed sessions and rest up a little bit more to place in this one!

Steve had a great race and placed 1st in his AG! And his legs were just as tired from many bike miles and some run miles. I am glad that he did well and we were able to celebrate a successful race for him. After the awards we headed to Winking Lizard for food and a post race hoppy beer. Then we headed home for some pool time.

Thanks to Powerbar for fueling me through countless workouts this summer. Thanks to Second Sole Mentor for putting on this great event, to Greater Cleveland XC for timing the event and to all of the volunteers who worked the event. Definitely add this one to your list of half marathons to run!

This was my last race until the Erie Marathon on September 13! I am trying once more this year for the BQ. I need to take off 3-4 minutes from my time in Charlevoix and I am there. I am feeling good and just hoping for good conditions that day. Stay tuned for the race report!

Here's a shot of the hard earned finishers medal below!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Miller Marut 5K Race Report & Training Update for Erie Marathon & Beach 2 Battleship 140.6

This past Saturday was my birthday and I could think of no better to celebrate it then with a race! It was five years ago on my birthday when my husband Steve and I had our first date at the Perfect 10 Miler race. In addition to my birthday, running the Miller Marut 5K this past weekend in Concord Township (where we live) was kindof a celebration of our fifth year as a couple as well!

The race started a little later at 8:30 am and was close to home so we were able to sleep in until 6:30, which was nice! We left the house around 7:30 to get to packet pickup and get in a little warm up beforehand. We ran about 2 miles at an easy pace and I was already dripping with sweat as it was a warm and humid August morning. I opted to leave my singlet in the car and race in my sportsbra, which proved to be a good decision. The first half of the course is downhill so there was a fast start. My first mile was at a 6:35 pace and it felt pretty good but as we hit the turn around it was all uphill from there! I was very close at that time to Savannah Dennison who was in second place but she took off as I faded. The last mile was hard physically and mentally tough for me and I lost a lot more ground than I should have but I do not do as well in the heat as some. I was able to hang onto third place female with my time of 21:47 but I really think I should have been a little faster. With the tired legs and heat I will take it. The real purpose of these short races for me is to force myself to get in the speed work for the upcoming Erie Marathon!

post race with my love!
After the race Steve and I got in another two miles of easy running and then headed over to the awards. Steve ended up placing 4th male and 1st in his AG so he had a pretty good race too. After the race we treated ourselves to  Starbucks non-fat, unsweetened Green Tea Lattes! Then I headed home to ride my bike for an hour and fifteen minutes followed up with a short 500 meter swim. I wanted to make sure that I got in all three sports on my special day! The rest of the day was filled with family.

Sunday I did my long ride for the week. I had planned on a century but it was so hot that I only ended up doing 85 in the 5 hours I was out. Steve did the first 50 with me and then I did the 35 on my own. This wrapped up a big week of marathon and ironman training with 50 miles of running, 150 miles of biking and some swimming although not as much as I would have liked! My long run of 18 miles on Wednesday evening went great as I was able to average an 8:40 pace even with the last 4 miles being mostly on trail. All in all it was a solid week and I am happy with where I am.

This week I am focusing more on the swim. I have done three 2500 meter swims including a double on Monday (one in the pool and one in the open water at Mentor Headlands Beach). I will also get in about 45 miles of running including racing at the inaugural Rock Hall Half Marathon this Sunday in Cleveland and 130 miles of biking. So it's a little easier of a week than last with the exception of the race.

Next week I begin to taper the run down a little more to 39 miles but have close to 200 miles of biking on the schedule including another long one. This will be my biggest bike week for a while since Erie will be two weeks out from Sunday! I will also get in a couple of 3000+ meter swims and some bikram yoga.

The following week will be lighter on the running and biking with a couple good, long swims and then the week after that I will be on a very light marathon taper with only one swim and no biking. The idea of not biking for that long is not making me happy but it is necessary so that I will have fresh legs for Erie. I know that the next 24 days are going to go very quickly! Then it is time to recover and do one more short build for the Deer Creek 70.3 Tri and Beach 2 Battleship 140.6 tri!

Stay tuned for the Rock Hall race report! My plan is to race it as hard as I can assuming I feel okay otherwise I will run it as a marathon tempo run for Erie. Gotta keep my eyes on the prize for that BQ!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

My First Multisport Win at the Greater Cleveland Triathlon

Sunday I raced the Greater Cleveland Olympic Triathlon at Mentor Headlands. This race is literally in my backyard and the race director Mickey is a friend so it makes sense to race it. After another hard week of marathon/ironman training last week I was not sure how things would turn out. I just knew that I would give it my best effort. I had been practicing OWS swims at Headlands for a few weeks as well as riding the bike course so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect Sunday.

Steve was racing too so we got up around 5:30, which is late for a triathlon but with it being so close we could sleep in. After getting dressed in my new SL3 Triathlon kit we ate a couple bowls of cereal, loaded up the car and we were off to Headlands Beach. I was in an especially chipper mood singing along to some tunes on the radio and about 10 minutes later we were parking. After entering the transition area we learned that the swim was cancelled due to poor water quality and potentially unsafe waves. I was disappointed like many other triathletes because I was ready to tackle that swim and besides who wants to sprint a 5K before the bike and then again after the bike?! Ouch! Duathlon hurts. I give them a lot of credit for killing their legs like that!

I was able to rack with Steve and some of our friends and we knew lots of people racing so it was fun to catch up with everyone before and after the race. After setting up transition with just my bike stuff it was time for the prerace meeting and then my wave was first to start run #1.We would be doing a 5K run, 24 mile bike and a second 5K run for the olympic distance.

Run # 1 - 5K - 20:58 - (6:46 pace)

I lined up near the front with the guys and did not really know many people in my wave so I just tried to stay loose and go hard but not all out for the first 5K. I was first woman into T1 with a time of 20:58 (6:46 pace) although I think the course was a little short. I saw my husband in transition as I was leaving he was coming in but it was nice to be able to say hi.

Bike - 24 Miles - 1:12:31 (19.9mph)

on the bike!
Leaving the park I just tried to hammer the first part of the bike on 44 knowing the first 3-5 miles were pretty flat. I felt good. There are a couple of climbs on Heisley but other than that it's pretty flat and fast. Jackson was just bumpy and then Hopkins has a long gradual climb before crossing over to Chillicothe. Chillicothe is fast and there's a downhill with a very sharp left turn at the bottom so I had to slow down there taking the turn onto Baldwin Rd. Baldwin is pretty fast and scenic. From there we went left onto Hart Rd which has a nice climb coming up to Little Mountain. It flattens out for a minute and then there is a long, crushing climb up Little Mountain to Morley. I made sure to take in some nutrition here and really took advantage of the downhill on Morley Rd. Much of Morley is downhill and then there are a couple of rollers at the end as you cross over 44 to Newell Rd. The course then is very flat but bumpy and has some bad train tracks. From there we took Blackbrook up to 44. This was all very flat and windy. I started laboring a little but knew the bike was almost done. Another female Pam Semanik who was racing in the duathlon division passed me on 44. She is a great cyclist so I just made myself stay close to her. We came into transition at the same time but I knew she had started a few minutes after me.

Run #2 - 5K - 22:28 (7:15 pace)

Pam and I started the run together and she looked strong. I was not able to pass her until the very end. Even then it didn't matter since we were in different races. I was just happy to have someone pushing me for those last miles.

Finish & Post Race 

winner winner chicken dinner!
I ended up finishing in 1:58:01, good for the win in the "triathlon" olympic division. The next closest female was 2:08:39 so even with my swim not being my strongest I still would have had the win most likely. After 5 years in multisport it was nice to add a win to my list of accomplishments. I can see that the hard work I have put in this year and last have paid off.

Steve ended up coming in 8th male and 3rd in his age group with some tough competition from Nate Loman and Mark Durno. After the race awards we headed over to Winking Lizard Mentor for post race food and beverages. It was a fun day and I definitely pushed myself. I am looking forward to racing more short tris next season but this was my last one now until Beach 2 Battleship 140.6, which will be a long one. I do have another 5K, The Rock Hall half marathon and then the Erie Marathon before that so I will be focused on running and long rides and swims for the rest of the season.

Closing Thoughts

Special thanks to Powerbar for fueling countless workouts and races this season and to Cleveland Triathlon Club for some terrific training opportunities this season including the inaugural Emeraldman! I am lucky to be part of such a terrific local tri community!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Mayfield Wildcat 5K Race Report & Training Update

Last weekend's Mayfield Wildcat 5K was a painful sort of way! I have not done many 5K races in the last few years. The only one I did last season was the Lakeland Clocktower run, which was a 5K PR for me at 21:17. That one was about a month after my first 140.6 triathlon.

I was hoping to break 21 for this weekend's race but it was a little harder than I anticipated. Of course the pace of the first mile in a 5K is FAST. I resisted the urge to push so hard I would pay for it later in the race. So I went out around a 6:30-6:40 pace. That didn't feel so bad. At the halfway point we turned around in a cul-de-sac within the neighborhood we were running in (close to Highland Heights Community Park). I saw three women in front of me and wasn't sure if I would have enough to overtake anyone. I stayed on my goal pace and tried to just focus on that. A tad short of mile two, the woman in third stopped and I passed her. It was definitely hot and I was laboring a bit myself but with a short race like this there is no time to stop and walk. I quickly chugged a water and poured some on my head as I hit the gas.

Post race with our plaques
The last mile was hot and slightly up hill and it was my slowest mile coming in over 7. I tried to hold steady and think of how close the finish was. And there it was...a grassy finish too, which I love! So I pushed on through feeling like I was going to puke. Mission accomplished I guess. 5K races hurt but they are over fast! My time of 21:35 was not the PR I had hoped for but not too shabby as I managed a 6:56 average and placed third female. The prizes for a smaller local race were very generous too as I received a $30 gift certificate to Achilles Running Shop in Mentor and a plaque. They also gave AG awards out. Steve placed 3rd in the 40-49AG and our friend Brandon won his AG in the 25-29 group so it was a good race for all three of us.

There was plenty of food afterwards and lots of door prizes and we ran into some running friends, who also did well in the race.Afterwards Steve and I headed over to Headlands Beach in Mentor for a 40-minute open water swim. On such a hot day, it was the perfect day to be out there swimming. The following day we did an 80 mile bike ride out to Ashtabula Harbor and back. We managed to squeeze in some pool time and a beer tasting over the weekend to after a successful week of training.

We also got in a trail run Tuesday night, which was a nice change of pace. The rest of the week my training went well including my 16 mile solo run on Wednesday night so I am happy with my training for the week and my speedwork at the 5K race. Next up this weekend is the Greater Cleveland Olympic Triathlon at Headlands Beach. We got in another 45 minute practice swim out there last night and rode some of the bike course this morning so I am looking forward to the race Sunday. Hopefully my legs will treat me well since I do have an awful lot of training to get in this week!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sunrise 5 Miler Race Report

My plan to race shorter things as much as possible this summer as my speedwork leading up to the Erie Marathon is well underway. With the Johnnycake Jog two weekends back and the Painesville Sunrise 5 Miler this past weekend, I have been out of my comfort zone. This is good since I have focused on endurance all season. I am hoping these shorter, harder efforts combined with my long runs and solid base will net me those precious few minutes I need to line up in Boston next year!

The Sunrise race started in downtown Painesville at Veterans Park so this was a short, easy drive for us. We arrived around 7 to pick up our bibs and get in a quick warm up. It was already close to 80 degrees that early in the morning so I knew this would be a sufferfest! After a mile warm up Steve and I lined up. It was a smaller race but some fast runners from NERC were out there to make it competitive.

My first mile was about 7:15 so a little slower than my Johnnycake race but I knew this course was going to have some hills and with the heat and tired cycling legs I didn't expect to set a PR. I settled in to a good, challenging pace and kept moving forward. There were some good hills and the course was scenic. The last mile of the race winds you through a little park down in the valley so coming back to the finish you've got to climb out of the park and then up the street a good ways. With the heat and being late in the race this made me feel fatigued so I was very happy to see Steve screaming for me at the finish.

Greater Cleveland XC did the race timing so I was able to check my live results right away and see that I had placed 3rd female. My time was about 2-1/2 minutes slower than the Johnnycake at 38:13 versus the 35:56 but this was a more challenging course and it was hot and humid. Overall I am happy with the effort especially after doing a faster 50-mile bike ride the day before! Steve placed in his AG and 10th overall as there were some very fast guys out there running. He too was about 2 or so minutes slower than the Johnnycake.

Post race, happy with my 3rd place!
For coming in third I will get a small gift certificate in the mail for Second Sole Mentor, so that is good because I always need new stuff like socks. Next up is the Mayfield Wildcat 5K this weekend. This will be my first 5K since last October when I ran the Lakeland Clocktower run in 21:17. I would like to break 21 if I can but since this is speedwork moreso than racing I will be happy with anything between 21-22ish.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Johnnycake Jog Race Report for 2015

This was my second year running the Johnnycake Jog 5 Mile race in Mentor, Ohio. This one is right in my backyard and brings out a good amount of local talent. Last year I raced and ended up placing 3rd in my AG. This year I am happy to say that it went even better! It probably helps that I am running more, but I was also coming off of a marathon two weeks ago so I wasn't sure if the speed would be there yet.

Prerace w/ Steve
Since I signed up to run Erie in September I am planning to run a number of shorter local races like the Johnnycake as my speed work for the week. Before the race Steve and I got in a couple of warm up miles and then headed over to the start to line up. This is flat, fast course that starts on Mentor Avenue in front of the Lake County Fairgrounds. It's a fast start. My first mile was a 6:54. Then of course I slowed down some as my plan was to try to run about a 7:15 pace for the race. There is an incline as you near the top of Fairground Rd. This is probably the only incline on the course. I didn't labor as much here as I did last year but I was still happy to take the right onto 84 (Johnnycake Rd) and hit the first aid station for some water. From there it's a right turn on Mentor Avenue and then straight all the way down to the finish.

getting my award!
I ended up finishing in 35:54 (7:11 pace). Not a PR but a solid time for me right now so I was happy. It was good enough to win my age group this year as well so that was a big bonus. In addition to the award plaque I was given I also had my picture taken for the News Herald so that was fun!

My husband Steve ended up winning his age group again this year as well so that was great. We enjoyed talking with some of our running friends after the race and then treated ourselves to a smoothie at Pulp!

I am planning to run this one each year if I can because they do a nice job with the event all around including the course volunteers, food, awards and timing. Next up is the Sunrise 5 Miler in Painesville this weekend. That course will have some hills so it will be interesting to see where my time ends up but I am looking forward to pushing myself again. I really enjoy the 5 mile distance because it is a good test of fitness but there is no real recovery time needed so I can get right back to training!

Special thanks to Powerbar for fueling me through countless workouts and races including this one!

Friday, July 10, 2015

New Marathon PR at Charlevoix

I'm really happy that I decided to race the Charlevoix Marathon. Although I missed my BQ by a couple of minutes I was still happy with the new PR of 4 minutes and I enjoyed the whole race weekend experience with Steve. The weather was sunny and gorgeous and the sights of Northwest Michigan are beautiful indeed!


At the expo!
We left Cleveland Friday morning around 7am. The drive to Charlevoix, Michigan took about 7 hours from our house. We went straight to the Charlevoix Marathon expo before checking into our hotel, which was about 10 miles down the road in nearby Petoskey, Michigan. After unloading the car and relaxing for a little while we headed to Petoskey Brewing for dinner and a pre-race beer taste and drink. The food was excellent, the beer was good and we enjoyed the atmosphere. The staff and locals were friendly and talkative. After that it was back to the hotel to prep for the morning's race. After my last couple of races being triathlons it felt pretty easy to just get my running stuff ready!

Race Morning:

Race morning!
The wake up call came at 4:45am but as usual I was up a little before then. It's weird but my body seems to know what time to get up for big races. I had a coffee, took a quick shower and got dressed and then ate some breakfast consisting of Granola and Cashew Milk and watermelon and we were off.

Steve was racing the half marathon so he was pumped up as well!

The drive to Charlevoix was easy and took about 15-20 minutes. We were able to find street parking very close to the start area.

The start for the marathon was 6:30 and the half started at 7 so we had plenty of time to warm up and stretch and use the restroom.

The Start & First Half:

Steve stood close to me as we lined up and sang the Star Spangled Banner. I had tears in my eyes as I am always emotional at the start of big races. I was excited to get going and see this course that I heard was so beautiful. The start went well. Although it is a smaller race with several hundred people the beginning made it seem bigger. It took a good mile or two to spread everyone out into their paces. I was not able to run with a pace group as there was either 3:30 or 3:42 and I was aiming for 3:35-3:38. My first couple miles were spot on. I met a girl Mindy who was also trying to BQ at the same pace as me so we chatted throughout the race at different points.

I started to speed up some after I took my first gel and thought it would be better to be a little above my goal pace to compensate for any stops for water or potty. I did stop to pee at mile 6 and then maybe went out a little fast for a mile or two to catch back up with the group I was running with. In hindsight this probably expended too much effort but I felt wonderful at that point. At mile 8.5 there is a decent little climb for about 1/2 mile all said. It wasn't too much concern on the first half but with the course being an out and back I had to do it again later on.

Half Turn Around & Second Half:

Gorgeous Scenery!
I felt really good at the half turn around and ran my first 13.1 in 1:45. This was maybe 2-3 minutes ahead of my goal pace, which said I should be around 1:47-1:48. I kept the momentum up for a while and never really struggled until the hill on the way back. Even then I felt okay and just slowed down incrementally. The fatigue really set in for me around 19-20 but I was able to push through and then had a setback at mile 21 where I slowed. It was getting hotter with full sun and I struggle more in the heat. Mile 22 was rough, 23 was better, 24 was rough and then I picked it up towards the end when my friend Mindy passed me and gave me some encouragement. I knew it would be a long shot to BQ as my average pace went from an initial 8:05-8:08 down to an 8:25-8:28. I did still think it was possible to PR the race, which would still be a small win for me that day so I pushed harder.

Finish & Post Race:

At the finish a girl tried to pass me and I kicked harder because I hate to get passed at the last second so that was fun. I finished in 3:42:45 for my actual time (8:30 pace), which was about 4 minutes faster than my PR in Toledo in late April.Steve ran over to see me at the finish and I was still cramping and was extremely thirsty. With all the allergy issues I was having I think I was dehydrated as I downed 3 of 4 bottles of water immediately. My stomach was queezie so eating was not an option but I was able to drink a couple of chocolate milks to get some recovery calories in.

post race!
We hung around to wait for the awards as Steve placed first in his age group in the half! I was able to get in some pizza after a little while and then we headed to the hotel to get showered. We were both really hungry so we headed into town in Petoskey and had a great lunch and post race IPA at Mitchell St Pub. We also checked out Beard Brewing and tasted some of their local brews. After that we headed to nearby Harbor Springs to check out the beach and town. It was a cute, upscale area. We enjoyed some hard-earned icecream and then headed back to Petoskey later for dinner at the Duffy's Garage & Grill. Then it was back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.

Sunday we had a quick breakfast, packed up and made the trip back to Cleveland. The drive went smooth and we were home around 2:30 in time to hit the Willoughby Brewing Nutsmasher Release party where we enjoyed that beer along with sampling tastes of a couple others.

Closing Thoughts:

I loved the race. The course is gorgeous. It is relatively flat at 800 ft of elevation gain but it is not pancake flat. I loved the area - especially the Gaslight District in Petoskey. I plan to visit the area again and maybe do the race again as well. The beer is good but NOT as good as Ohio. I guess we are spoiled like that!

Because I was so close this time I made the decision to run the Erie Marathon on September 13. I am excited to have this opportunity to continue my journey. I am blessed this year to be healthy and running well and I want to take advantage of this fitness and try once more for that BQ in 2016. September 13 is the last day before Boston 2016 registration opens! Wish me luck!

P.S. I also qualified for Marathon Maniacs for completing my third marathon in 62 days. That's pretty fun I think in a running nerd kindof way! :)

Below are a couple of images from the beautiful area...enjoy!

Downtown Petoskey Pier at Sunset

Sunrise along to route driving to the race!

Downtown Petoskey's "Gaslight District"