Sunday, March 1, 2015

And the Winner is. . .

I know you want to know who won the entry to the #RunCLE Giveaway, so I will make this short.

Did you really believe me?

Today is March 1st.  It is no longer February.  WHY SO MUCH FREAKING SNOW, OHIO????  The weather was a balmy 25 degrees, but Erin and I had to battle Snowmageddon to be out in it.  We did eight miles on the Buckeye Loop in Merriman Valley, and in the 2+ hours we were out there, we only saw three other runners.  Let me tell you, snow plows are VERY SCARY.

This is EXACTLY how Erin and I look after running eight miles in slippery snow.
It's so wonderful to me that at this time last year Erin was lamenting the fact that she could only run two miles (which was my situation when I started running, too).  Now look at her!

This is EXACTLY how Erin and I look at 5:30 AM for the Akron Half Marathon  (me) and the Relay (Erin).
Erin and I will be running the Shamrock 15k in two weeks.  If this much snow is on the ground, I'm not going to be a happy runner.

Ok, Peeps, here we are.  First I want to thank you all for reading my posts and following me on Twitter.  I'm glad so many runners are interested in running the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.   I hope you continue to run with me, and I'm also hoping we can all meet up in Cleveland.

The winner of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Giveaway is. . . Sadie B!  Sadie, I have sent you an email; if you don't get it, DM me on Twitter with your contact information.  I look forward to seeing you when we #RunCLE!

Don't give up hope, Peeps.  There are many other #CLEMarathon Ambassadors, and each week one will host a giveaway.  Click here to check them out.

I 'm so excited to run this race--hopefully, there will be NO SNOW!!!

Like what you read?  Follow me on Twitter @itibrout.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

RunCLE Giveaway!

That's right, Peeps!  This week I get to reward you for sticking with me by offering up a chance at a free race entry for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.  Yay!  First, you'll have to read about my trail run, though.


Today I ran part of the Fools 25k course in Peninsula with Renee, Cassie, Deb, and Darrell.  We actually started with about fifty other people, as it was a Vertical Runner event, but those fifty people dashed by very quickly and left us in the woods.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm relieved I can stop to pose for a picture.  Oh, and this is Darrel and Renee.
Photo credit:  Cassie Baldwin

The trails were gorgeous; I had never seen this area in Peninsula before, and frankly, I felt like I was running in Narnia.

Mr. Tumnus is waiting on the other side of the bridge.
Photo credit:  Renee Milhalyov
It was soooo crazy-difficult!  The snow was deep in many places, and despite the fifty people who ran just before us, the trail wasn't as packed down as I had hoped it would be.  It was also very. . . slide-y.  No, I don't mean slippery; I mean that our feet slid in the loose snow (no ice).   I thought I would be able to run ten miles with Renee (who is a badass trail runner), but at mile 5, instead of fueling, I decided to take the shortcut back, and we got in almost eight miles.  Renee kindly reminded me that eight trail miles are definitely equivalent to more than ten road miles, even if we walked the hills.

I'm not particularly fond of trail running, but I think it's important for me to switch up my runs, and like most of you, I have been dying to get outside.  Trail running is a good strength workout, and I'm pretty sure that those hills gave me the strongest glutes EVER.  I'm really looking forward to my yoga recovery workout tomorrow, and I'll definitely be spending some time this evening in my legs-up-the-wall pose.
Renee and me about two miles away from the finish.  Notice my rosy glow from the tropical 20-degree weather?
Photo credit:  Renee Milhalyov
So, here we go, Peeps.  You know that I am lucky enough to be writing these posts as a Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador.  Each week one of us will be hosting a giveaway ( so follow these wonderful bloggers) and this is my week.  Here is the deal:  You can't redeem or trade this prize for cash, so if you've already registered, I can't reimburse you.  Enter the Rafflecopter (only once), and score extra entries for commenting on this post and following me and the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon on Twitter, and next week Rafflecopter will randomly generate a winner.  Questions?  Ask me in the comments.  Of course, if you don't win, or if you can't wait, you can always register here!  Good luck, Peeps, and thanks for running with me!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Long Run on the Dreadmill: It IS Possible!

This week I am learning to tolerate embrace the treadmill.  The temperature has been at or below zero  the whole week, so I have had to run inside.  First of all, let me say that I am grateful that I have a treadmill.  I just bought it for my husband for Christmas, but I have had to start using it.  For those of you who don't have a treadmill or a gym membership, I suggest you run in place in your living room while watching Dr. Who.  That's what I used to do.  Now I run on the treadmill and watch Dr. Who.  I'm on the eleventh Doctor-- how about you?  Really, though, MY Doctor is and always will be Christopher Eccleston.

Who's your Doctor?

This is my Doctor.

I don't care who your Doctor is; this is just funny.
Anyway, even the Doctor can only get me so far on a dreadmill.  I've talked to regular treadmill users, and they've given me some great advice, which I sometimes implement.

Advice #1 (from Elizabeth):  Make every run count.  Don't just decide to "go on the treadmill." Have a reason.  Is it a speed workout?  What about inclines?  Tempo run or intervals?

What I've Done with Advice #1:  Mostly I decide my purpose is to "burn a ton of calories" so I can "eat a ton of food and drink a ton of wine."  Somehow I feel that I've failed at following Elizabeth's advice.

Advice #2 (from Mandy):  Use the treadmill for your speed workouts.  You HAVE to hit your pace or you will fall and hurt yourself.  Did I mention that Mandy is a LOT younger than I am?

What I've Done with Advice #2:  Considering I almost fell off the treadmill today because I simply turned my head to the left a little bit, I'm not so confident that I will always "hit my marks."  Nevertheless, I did experiment this week with different speeds.  I started at 5 for a mile; then, I gradually upped the speed every half or full mile until I got to over 7, and then I moved it back down to 5.5, which felt much easier after running fast for a few miles.

Today, with subzero temps, I couldn't possibly do my long run outside, so I glommed onto Mandy's membership at LA Fitness, where we did a ten mile treadmill run together.  I prepped myself physically by bringing a banana, water bottle, and headphones.  I prepped myself mentally by coming up with strategies to survive every three or four miles: 1) Talk to Mandy whenever possible  2) Listen to Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! or Car Talk on my list of subscribed podcasts 3) Listen to my running playlist, of course.

The really pleasant surprise was that I didn't need to do any of that (well, beyond the talking).  Mandy and I set a goal to run six miles, stop and fuel, and then run four more, and it worked really well.  Kevin showed up to run 5k next to us, and that was a nice change for a while, but really Mandy and I did a great job putting in ten miles.  I can't believe I never even touched my earbuds!
This is EXACTLY how Mandy and I look running on a treadmill for ten miles.  The legs are blurry because we are so darned fast.
Knowing that I CAN do a long run on the treadmill makes a huge difference in the way I see my training for the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon.  I'm still not happy about subzero temperatures, but I will deal with them.  For now.

Speaking of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, Peeps, did you know that the CLEmarathon Ambassadors are having race entry giveaways?  Check out the list here; the giveaways have already started.  Get busy!

Like what you read?  Follow me on Twitter @itibrout!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Head for the Hills!

Hill training is important, right?

Today I test-ran the course for the Shamrock 15k in Cuyahoga Falls with Shelby and Mandy.  It is EXTREMELY challenging and super-fun.  I signed up for the race in March because I was tempted by a lower race fee, and I realized that I don't have anything on my radar until April 25 (when I run the Pro Football Hall of Fame Gold Jacket 5k in Canton).

Now, keep in mind that when I say "super-fun," I mean, "This course will kick your butt.  You'll gasp, you'll groan, you'll swear a LOT.  You will be glad when it's done."  That's the kind of fun I mean.  I had a lot to say about the race when I ran it in 2013.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I run the Shamrock 15k.  This is my happy look.

Just kidding.  This is EXACTLY how I look when I run the Shamrock 15k.  In freaking 25-degree weather.
The first 5k goes down, down, downhill.  It's fabulous if you don't think about the next 5k, which is the steepest, longest set of hills EVER.  I am used to hill repeats, but this hill is tough.  I have to lean forward and run it on my toes.   Deep down I wanted to walk the hills, but I couldn't let Mandy, who is a damned kid, show me up, especially when we started the ascent and she said, "This isn't so bad."  Shut up.  Actually, I'm glad she and Shelby were there. The great thing about group runs is accountability.  I can't quit because they are watching me, and I'm sure at certain points in the run they are thinking of quitting, too.  Shelby and Mandy, you complete me.  Don't feel too flattered, though, because I say the same thing to my glass of wine at dinner.

So, how will this help me for the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon in May?  I seem to remember a set of hills starting around Mile 10.  If I can continue my practice on that big-ass hill on the Shamrock run, those hills will look like NOTHING to me.  Nothing.  Right.

Do you include hill repeats in your training, or do prefer to run hilly routes regularly?  I like to do both, but I would say I enjoy the hilly routes more.

Until next week. . .Run hilly, Peeps!

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Now THIS Is Ohio Weather!

Today I ran the Covered Bridge loop in Merriman Valley with Jen and Mandy.  Getting plans together for the long run was a bit difficult, as every freaking news station in Ohio has been predicting a mac-daddy of a blizzard for today and tomorrow.  Don't even try to buy bread or milk at Giant Eagle today, Peeps.

Anyway, it has been snowing, but it's the BEST KIND of snow--the kind that makes Ohio people calmly say to their Southern friends, "I like the changing of the seasons in Ohio."  Honestly, I haven't felt that way lately because it has been too cold, and the snow has been very icy, but with the temperature in the 30's and big, fat, fluffy flakes of snow falling gently to the ground in a beautiful national park,  today I am glad to run in winter in Ohio.
The Covered Bridge on Everett Road

We started at Hampton Woods and ran down Oak Hill to past Hale Farm and Village, which is Bath's historical village.  I took the family there a few years ago, and it was so interesting to tour the houses and school and to hear about life during those times.

Hale Farm and Village--so beautiful in the snow!
It was great to run with Mandy and Jen.  Mandy only wanted eight miles, and I wanted more, but I committed the stupid error of not fueling at the one hour mark if I wanted to go past eight miles.  Usually if I want to hit ten or more, I take a GU at the sixth mile, but I was so caught up in the snow and the beauty and the camaraderie that I didn't do it, so after 8.7 miles, I was done.

Mandy to Jen:  Suck it up, Buttercup and get running!

BAHAHAHA!  The beauty of being the sole writer and editor of this blog is that I can spin the captions of the photos any way I want.  The above caption isn't actually what this picture was about, but it sure looks like Jen wants to stop, and Mandy is bossing her around.

Anyway, during a normal training season, I would be very angry with myself for not pushing through to ten miles, but I haven't yet started my training season for the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon.  I like Ohio winters because I can relax a bit and run by feel instead of by plan.  I have enough of a base that I could run the half marathon next week, but since I want to run it WELL, I will build in better training components in the months to come.  Right now I just want to run in the snow and enjoy it.

Speaking of training, I'd like to remind you, Peeps, to always celebrate your victories.  One element of cross-training that I worry about is my strength training.  I have a few routines that consist of dumb bells, squats, lunges, and core exercises, but I often wonder if I'm doing the right thing or if it even matters.  Anyway, yesterday my husband, who likes to make fun of my lack of arm strength, touched my biceps and triceps (presumably to mock me), and then he said, "Whoa!  You actually have muscles there now!  I guess the lifting has worked for you!"  VALIDATION, Peeps.  We all need it sometimes.
This is EXACTLY how my biceps look when I flex them!
If you haven't tried running in the snow, give it a shot.  Four years ago I thought winter-runners were crazy, and look at me now!

This is EXACTLY how I look running in the snow.
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Sunday, January 25, 2015

When You're a Turtle. . .

It is that time of year, Peeps, time to think about training for the upcoming racing seasons.  No matter your goal, there is no better way to meet it than by joining a running club.

Four years ago, I couldn't run farther than two miles without becoming incredibly winded and exhausted.  It was ridiculous.  I was convinced that I would never become a runner. . .

And then I joined the Towpath Turtles.

Not this turtle
 The Towpath Turtles is a structured training program in which the end goal of the runners is to run either the Akron Half Marathon or the relay for the Akron Marathon.  The group runs together on Sunday mornings (Saturdays for the relay training group) for the long, slow distance run.

THESE Turtles

Sheila Avsec, the coach of the Turtles, describes the program in this way:

I believe that to be a runner, one does more than run, namely a Towpath Turtle is defined as:
• A runner who runs on a regular basis, regardless of distance or speed;
• A runner who participates in the running community: as a volunteer, a member of local running club, and as a spectator/support crew member for other racers;
• A runner who knows about his/her sport – about proper fueling and nutrition, injury prevention and recovery, race etiquette, and the running community in general;
• A runner who is supportive of his/her peers and other runners.

Through the Turtles, I was able to go from not being able to run more than two miles to running the Akron Half Marathon in seven months, but that isn't all I got from the group.  Through Sheila and the Turtles I learned about proper cross-training, fueling, and racing strategy.  Most importantly I learned that the Turtles embrace true sportsmanship: We cheer on every runner in a race, right down to the very last one.  We support everyone, regardless of ability.  We have fun.

I am no longer technically a Turtle, since I am not a beginning runner (Wow!  When did that happen?), but I run with the Turtles during their long runs, and I attend other events with them when I can.  This year the alumni Turtles are planning to run the various races for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon.  I proudly wear my Turtle shirts at races, and I loudly chant my Turtle call whenever I see a Turtle.  Ask me to do it for you sometime--it's awesome!

Once a Turtle, always a Turtle.

The Turtle season starts in February, and the information session is February 1:

An Information Session about the 2015 Season will be held on Sunday, Feb 1st 2015 at 1:30pm at the Main Akron Library (in the meeting rooms). This session will give prospective clients an overview of the different training programs that I offer through OneLife Fitness Coaching, including the 31-week, large group "Towpath Turtles" running program. Immediately following the general meeting, I will be meeting with Alumni who are interested in signing up to run with the large group in 2015. If you have any desire to sign up, please put this on your calendar now as only one info session will be offered.

If you are looking for a group, or you need an extra push to achieve your running goals, there is no better group than the Turtles, Peeps.  I look forward to every new season because I know I will meet some fabulous friends--will you be one of them?

Run happy, my friends!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Trail Running away from Trouble?

First, before I tell you about anything, you have to watch this.  Seriously.  If it doesn't motivate you, ask someone to get at you with a defibrillator.

Favorite tagline:  I kick balls. (I wish I played soccer so I could actually use this.)

I love that this video shows women of all ages, shapes, and abilities doing what we do: working hard and sweating a LOT.  Women who work out are all beautiful--'nuff said.

Speaking of working out. . .I have been taking advantage of my off-season running to try new things; specifically, I've been doing some trail running.  If you know me, you probably fell off your chair (or whatever you're sitting on) because you know that I gripe about trail running.  As a matter of fact, check out this post, which addresses what I hate about trail running.  Winter is a good time for me to shake up my routine, so when Jennifer and Renee invited me to go trail running during my last two long-run Sundays, I thought, "What the heck?"

Trail running is an excellent way to strenghten your ankles, feet, legs, and core.  It is also great for practicing mindfulness, which is definitely something I need to develop.  I like to put in the earbuds and zone out, and if I forgo my music, it's because I plan to have lots of conversation with my peeps.  Trail running doesn't rule out conversation, but you can't zone out while you're doing it, or it's a good way to fall and hurt yourself.

The first trail run I'll write about is from two weeks ago.  Jen and Renee invited me to do parts of the Buckeye Trail combined with the Towpath in Peninsula.  We planned to do at least five miles and then see how we felt afterwards.  I really enjoyed this trail because the weather was gorgeous, and the trail offered a little bit of everything.  Renee and Carrie left us at the five mile mark, and then Jen took me on another part of the trail (I have no idea where I was--seriously, she could have left me there, and I would have starved to death.) for three more miles.  During this run, I told myself to relax and enjoy.  I have not yet started any speed work for the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon, so I don't have to "expect" anything out of my run.  I also made sure to reward myself for trying something new:

3 kinds of mussels.  Yummy!

I don't know the name of the actual trail for the second trail run; it starts from the Covered Bridge on Everett Rd., and it is the course for the Bills' Badass 50k.  The plan was to do two loops of five miles each.  During mile two (about 40 minutes into our "run") I decided that I was NOT going to do two loops.  Geez.  I don't know how runners do six loops of this!  We actually followed deer tracks because nobody had been around there for days.  I was grateful that the stream we had to cross was frozen.  There were some pops and cracks when I crossed, but I made it without falling in.

The Covered Bridge on Everett Rd.

This is where we start getting into uncharted territory.

Jen and Renee were very nice about it, complimenting me on getting through one loop without my normal bitching and moaning.  I'm sure they were grateful that I didn't go on with them.  Instead of another loop in the woods, I finished out my long run by doing three speedy miles on the roads with Shelby and Elizabeth.  It was an excellent way for me to get two different kinds of workouts in on the same day.  And the company for both runs was fabulous, of course.

Reward for trail run #2:

Apple Tart-Fine with Sea-Salt Caramel Gelato
Are you sensing I have food issues?

Today I ran the lake loop in Munroe Falls Park.  I chose the park because I thought it would be best to be off the roads when there is ice around.  Loops are good because I don't have to carry anything.

This is the lake I circled eight times.

One nice surprise was that I saw Bob at the lake as I was leaving.  Do you remember Bob?  I ran with him one hot day in Sand Run Park.

I'm not going to show you my food-reward today because we are going OUT to get it!  I'm so excited; we are going to Bar Cento tonight for dinner.  I love eating out in Cleveland, and Ohio City is such a great neighborhood.

I'll leave you with this:
This is the new, trail-running Stephani.  I'm not going to claim she is improved.

Happy Trails, Peeps!  Keep up your training, and let me know if we are running together at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!

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