Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cleveland Marathon Giveaway Winner!

Thank you to everyone that entered the contest to win a free entry to the 2015 Cleveland Marathon race of their choice! All of you had really compelling reasons to want to run and I am inspired by all of you. At the end of the day I wish there could be more than one winner! The only way to decide and be fair was to randomly select a winner so all of your names were out into a hat and I asked my hubby to draw the name of the lucky winner.

Image from a past Cleveland Marathon race!
The selected name and winner of the contest is Krystol Chang! Congrats Krystol! She will be running the half marathon.  Krystol, I hope you have a wonderful experience running the Cleveland Half Marathon this year and can't wait to hear how your race goes! I will be in touch with details for how to register for your free race soon!

Monday, April 27, 2015

2015 Glass City Marathon Race Report

Yesterday I ran the Glass City Marathon in Toledo. This was my fourth full marathon and once again I am humbled by this distance. To push yourself as hard as you can for 26.2 miles is no easy feat - in fact it's one of the hardest things you can do in my opinion. It challenges you and it changes you. It is the ultimate test of physical fitness for runners and it is equally demanding mentally. It is easy to run well when you are feeling good. It's later in the race when you ache and feel sick to your stomach or extremely tired that you have to try like hell to keep it together! That is when the real race starts. When that little obnoxious voice in your head says "hey you, why don't you just walk a little?" Someday I will be strong enough to quiet that voice entirely...but for now I am working my hardest to ignore it as much as possible!

Prerace Smiles!
All in all I am happy with the whole experience in Toledo. We stayed in a Holiday Inn Express close to downtown in nearby Oregon. We met up with my friend Jillian (who also ran the full) the night before for dinner along with her husband and friend at Maumee Bay Brewing. The food, beer and atmosphere were outstanding.

Race morning I did a little warm up with my husband Steve then tried to stay warm in the convention center for as long as possible. I met up with Jillian at the start as we were both in the same Corral. There was a great crowd and a lot of excitement and it was nice to have Steve on the sidelines cheering! I was fortunate later in the race to have him pace me for some miles before the finish also.

Enjoying mile 3!
The course was flat, fast and scenic. The weather was ideal. The crowd support and volunteers were terrific. The post race food and beer were well above average. And I am happy with my performance. I pushed myself as hard as I could and came up a little short of my "A" goal, which was to BQ but I fought like hell on a tough second half to walk away with a personal best, which was my "B" goal. I am happy to walk away with a shiny new PR of 3:46:24, a five minute PR over my third marathon in Cleveland last spring. How can I whine or complain about forward momentum? I am truly fortunate and appreciative of my ability to love running and push myself to my own personal limits. At times I am smiling from ear to ear because I am excited and feel amazing and at other times I am fighting back tears of frustration and pain because that voice inside my head is telling me to back off the pace or to take a little break. I am getting better at telling that voice to let me be.

I love the marathon because it is you against yourself. I don't get caught up on where I land on the podium. Sure, I hope one day to place in my AG in a marathon, but for now I am excited to have cracked the top 25% of the women's field. It is a race that demands so much of you and a race where you must give everything you have to see results. I look forward to seeing how I will progress in this distance in the years to come.

post race celebrating with Jillian!
The race finish is pretty fast as there is some downhill heading to the stadium and then the actual finish is in the stadium so it's pretty cool. I managed to sprint some of the finish and I think it was just the excitement and energy of the moment. After the finish I quickly downed a water and then found Steve. I was excited to see how Jillian had done and she had PR'd as well as qualifying for Boston so she had a great race! We met up for a beer at the beer tent and I was happy that they had some craft beer at the finish so we celebrated with a Mission Pale Ale! I also ate some pizza, garlic bread and pasta as well as some cookies.

After changing into dry clothes, Steve and I made the short trek back to Mentor (about 2-1/2 hours) and stopped for snacks along the way. We went to dinner later at Winking Lizard to celebrate my new PR.

Since I'll be running the Cleveland Marathon in a few short weeks, I hope to celebrate again with another PR and maybe even that elusive BQ! For now I will be focused on recovery and cross training for tri season, which is just around the corner after Cleveland!

Special thanks to my husband Steve for the support all weekend and especially on race day! I also want to thank my family, friends and teammates for the encouragement and cheers leading up to the race. Finally thank you to my coach Chris and sponsors Challenge Family and Powerbar for everything they do to keep me going!

Prerace at the expo with my sweet husband Steve!

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.