Sunday, November 16, 2014

Best Hot Chocolate Ever!

Saturday I made my kids clean the house, and then I packed them off to the sitter so I could go to the packet pick-up and expo for the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k in Columbus.  I met Deidre, one of my running besties, at the Expo, and we crammed chocolate tabs in our mouths right away.  Then we scoped out any other food items there and crammed those in our mouths, too.  There were marshmallows dipped in chocolate fondue, mini Larabars, and sweet potato tortilla chips.

Then we took some silly pictures:

This is EXACTLY how I look when I am dreaming about Hot Chocolate!
We dressed up for the occasion.
I also spotted some Turtles there.  Fear them!

The expo was well-run.  I didn't have to stand in line for anything.   There were more vendors there than when I ran in 2012; I think the race is at least twice as big now.  Also, there were inflatable slides and things for the kids, but since I run to get AWAY from my kids, I didn't care about the inflatables.

After the expo, Deidre and I laid out our gear.  I agonized over my running outfit because I wasn't sure about the temperature, and I had packed several possibilities.  I went with this:
Flat Stephani appears to like blue this year!

Per our tradition, Deidre and I had dinner at Marcella's, a great Italian restaurant in the Short North, where I continued my personal pre-race tradition of stuffing my face with pasta carbonara.  YUM!!  It is also possible that someone consumed some wine.  Maybe.  We had a wonderful dinner, and we enjoyed catching up with each other, so much so that we didn't get back to the hotel until around midnight after walking several miles around the city.  In high heeled boots.  DOH!

The morning of the race was a little rough because of my lack of sleep and the cold.  I went down to eat a bagel for breakfast, but the breakfast bar wasn't open yet--GRRRRR.  Luckily, I am ALWAYS prepared when it comes to food.  I had brought a Cliff Bar, so I ate that and downed some coffee on the way to the corral for a 7:30 start time.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm freezing my dupa off in the corral at 7 AM.

As soon as the race started, I felt GREAT!!!!  The cold air woke me up, and running warmed me up quickly.  There was music in some parts of the course and plenty of water and sports drink.  At the beginning of Mile 2, I received some dark chocolate chips (a whole handful!), which I munched on for a bit.  In other stations, volunteers gave out Tootsie Rolls and marshmallows.  I took a Tootsie Roll for later, but I was afraid to try eating a marshmallow as I am clumsy, so I can just visualize choking to death on the marshmallow.

This year, after the trauma of running REALLY HARD for both the Perfect 10-Miler and the Akron Half Marathon, I decided to just enjoy myself in this race, and I really did.  I loved looking at the course.  The first few miles were a run up High Street and through the Short North.  Then we moved to the University and along the Olentangy River for the middle miles.  My favorite miles were the last two, the residential neighborhoods.  I LOVED looking at the old houses, especially the Painted Ladies.  I'm so glad I allowed myself to slow down and enjoy this race because it could have easily gone another way if I had given in to my inner slave-driver.

I finished strong because the last .3 miles were downhill, and I was smelling the chocolate.  I was surprised and happy to see Deidre waiting for me, and we got our fondue together. I ate a little bit of it, but my hands started freezing up, and I couldn't hold the food, so I knew we had to get back to the hotel as soon as possible, which we did.  Unfortunately, that meant I had to skip the after party, which I remember from 2012 as being really fun with a great band.

All in all, this race was worth the 2 hour drive and the run in the cold.  I really enjoyed the course and the chocolate, and what I liked best was being with my friends (even though I couldn't find most of the Turtles--sorry, Peeps!).  Oh, and the swag was FABULOUS!
I LOVE my warm jacket, swag bag, and hat!
And check out my medal--SWEET! (See what I did there?)

I plan to make this a tradition, so I will be back next year--hopefully as an ambassador again so I can get hats for everyone and a free entry to a lucky winner.  Thanks for running with me and following the blog, Peeps!

Keep following me--I'll soon be blogging for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!

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

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I'm Ok/ You're OK.

Today I ran ten miles on the Towpath in Merriman Valley.  It was just me, the leaves that are stubbornly sticking to the trees, the geese migrating overhead, and lots of good music.

This is my favorite song by Adam and the Ants.  Look at him:  he's so beautiful, and he's the Dandy Highwayman!

I ran most of my short runs of five or fewer miles by myself when I was visiting my father in Florida, and that was fine.  Lately I have grown accustomed to running the lsd without music and with at least one other person, if not with a group.  When I didn't get my act together to post a run in The Ohio Runners Network group page, I was a little bit grumpy about going out by myself for ten miles.  Don't get me wrong; I'm sure I could have posted and someone would have joined me, but I was worried that nobody would respond, and I don't handle rejection well.

It was after my typical, soul-sucking, hateful first two miles that I started to relax and enjoy my music and being inside my head.  I remembered what it is like to enjoy ME.

This is EXACTLY what it looks like when I start to feel good after two miles on a long run.
It was a perfect Fall morning, and I'm so glad I got out there to enjoy it.  It made up for the crappy food choices I made this weekend.  (Just a hint:  You should NEVER eat a chocolate-peanut butter bar AND a chocolate chip cookie within five minutes of each other.  Never.  Especially when you have no intention of cutting back for the rest of the day.)

Speaking of chocolate. . .

Have you registered for the Hot Chocolate 5k/15k?  If not, remember to use my code, TroubleRunHat, to score a free hat.  I'm so excited for this race, especially since I just found out that my friend Deidre is driving up from West Virginia to run with me!  We are going to have a nice dinner together (and some wine, no doubt), and then we will stuff our faces with chocolate.  Will you be there?

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

Sunday, November 2, 2014

I Beat the Blerch in Brecksville!

I didn't get to write about this when I did it because of the Hot Chocolate Giveaway (Congratulations, Erin!), but here is the lowdown on the Blerch:

You know that tempting voice in your head that tells you it's time to give up in mile 6 of your ten-miler?  The voice that tells you that Halloween candy doesn't count because it's so tiny?  The same voice that lulls you back to sleep when your alarm goes off at 5:30 to prep for your Sunday long run? That voice belongs to the Blerch:

He looks like he likes candy, right?
The Blerch is a creation of Matthew Inman, known as The Oatmeal, who is a cartoonist, grammar enthusiast, Nicola Tesla groupie, and runner.  The Oatmeal introduced the Blerch in his book, The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances.  It is a beautiful comic that really captures distance-runners' feelings about the sport and explains why we do what we do.  As soon as I read this book, I had to buy a t-shirt and bumper sticker:

This is the front and back of my t-shirt.
This is my bumper sticker.  Everyone at my job thinks I'm weird, but now that I think about it, that may have little to do with the bumper sticker.  Hmmmm.
We all have a Blerch who lives inside us, and running (or any healthy physical activity) helps us to shut up the Blerch when he wants us to eat cake and sit in front of the computer clicking on mindless games.  Not that I do that. Ahem.

So, when I saw that there was a Beat the Blerch 10k/Half/Full Marathon, I was pumped.  Unfortunately, it sold out in ten minutes, so my dreams of traveling to meet a live Blerch (they chased runners on the course) were completely shot.  Luckily, The Oatmeal sold entries to a virtual race, so I was able to beat the Blerch on my own terms and still get a medal and some cool swag.  My friend/running Peep Jen also entered the race, so we decided to do a 10k together.  First, here is the swag:

Awesome, right?  All this for twenty bucks, plus, there is a mini-Blerch stress ball that I forgot to put in the picture.

Now I have even MORE bumper stickers on my car!  My kids aren't embarrassed AT ALL when I pick them up and their friends see my car.

Jen and I ran in Brecksville Reservation, and it was gorgeous.  The temperature was in the sixties, the leaves were colorful, and we were able to catch up after not seeing each other in a long time.  (Ah, the paths of trail runners and road runners don't often cross.  We must take advantage of the moment when they do.)  Anyway, here is my medal shot:

This is EXACTLY how I look when I beat the Blerch!

Jen and I had a fun time, and she celebrated by giving me some purple deliciousness for my kids (read the book, and you'll understand). Neither one of us drank it because--eww-but my seven-year-old will love it; he'll drink any kind of pop.

If you are into virtual races, this was a good one.  Jen and I are hoping to register for the real race next year where we will Beat the Blerch on his own territory.

Remember, Peeps, it isn't too late to register for the Hot Chocolate 5k/15k in Columbus.  Use my code, TroubleRunHat, to get a free hat with your swag.  I hope to see you there!

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

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Winner, Winner, Chocolate Dinner!

This is going to be a short post.  This week I am visiting my father, who is in the hospital, and I am very far from home.

The plusses:  The weather is beautiful!  Sunny skies, hot temps.  I was able to run every day so far.

The minuses:  I don't have time for a long run.  I pretty much don't have time for anything!  When I'm not with my father, I'm traveling to get to him.  When I'm not doing those things, I'm grading or monitoring my students online.

The running is keeping me sane, Peeps.

Now here is the news we've all been waiting to hear:

The winner of the Hot Chocolate Giveaway, generated randomly by Rafflecopter, is Erin M.!  Contact me for your entry code, Erin.  Congratulations!

Still want to register for the Hot Chocolate 5k/15k?  Click here and use my code, TroubleRunHat, to get a free hat!

Thanks for participating in my first (and hopefully not my last) giveaway.  Thanks for being my friends, and thanks for reading my blog posts.

Run strong, my friends.


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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

I'm Giving away a Race Entry!

Helloooooo, Peeps!  It is a beautiful Sunday in Ohio, and I had a wonderful run with my Peeps from The Ohio Runners Network.  Those of you who know me also know that I have what I call "Bud Light Syndrome," which means I just want all of you to know this:

I love you, Man.

Are you creeped out yet?  Read this post to figure out what the heck I'm talking about.

I feel so good that I want to give back to you, my Peeps.

Hot Chocolate 5k/15k has given me a free race entry for the Columbus race on November 16, and I want YOU to have it.  Yes, you can stuff yourself silly with this:

And you can run away from a 15k with this:

And you can wear this while sledding this winter:

All for free, just for being my friend!

Keep in mind that the race entry is good for Columbus, November 16, ONLY, and it isn't redeemable for cash.  Join me, Peeps!  The random drawing (conducted by Rafflecopter) will be next Sunday, and I will announce the winner in next week's post.  

May the odds be ever in your favor!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Not a risk taker?  Register here for any Hot Chocolate race.  Use my code, TroubleRunHat, to get a free hat!

Like what you read?  Follow me on Twitter @itibrout!  (It will also get you an additional entry into the drawing.)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Party in Columbus for the Columbus Hot Chocolate 5k/15k

It is getting close to the Columbus Hot Chocolate 5k/15k--November 16.  I'm  excited as I keep hearing that more and more of my running peeps will be there.  We will party in C-Town!

Here is the 15k medal for this year:

Isn't it adorable?  You can tell it has the special Ohio touch because there is a buckeye on it.  They even got the candy right!  (On a side note, did you realize that there are people outside Ohio who don't know what buckeye candies are?  Me neither.  How can you live life if you've never eaten a buckeye?)

When I ran the Hot Chocolate 15k in 2012, I loved the course.  It took me through the Short North, part of the campus of The Ohio State University, and some residential areas.  I enjoy looking at the scenery when I run;  the houses were really funky and cool, and the campus was gorgeous.  Here is the course map for this year:

It is impossible for me to understand maps unless they are AAA Triptiks (remember those?), so I don't know where we are going, really.  The important part for me is the CHOCOLATE STATION!!!  Can you believe that there will be chocolate at mile 5?

I would include an elevation map for you, but I understand those even less than conventional maps.

By the way, I am not even good at following maps or directions on my phone!  Yesterday I tried to find a store that I thought was in Cuyahoga Falls, and somehow I ended up in Canal Fulton.  True but pathetic story.  Oh, and when my friend Joy and I tried to find my car after the Akron Half Marathon, we had to walk at least two miles out of our way because I got lost IN MY OWN HOMETOWN.  sigh.

The post-race party that year was so fun.  There was a great band and lots of chocolate, of course.  Here is what you get from the food tent when you finish:

This is a finisher's mug with hot chocolate, chocolate fondue, and dippables.  There are usually bananas, pretzels, crackers, and marshmallows.  It is soooo good!

Are you salivating?  Does a party in Columbus sound good to you?  Join me, Peeps; let's run the Hot Chocolate together!  Click here to register for the Columbus race.  Use my code to get a free hat:  TroubleRunHat.

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

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Will Run for Chocolate

Today I ran 10 miles on the Towpath from Lock 29.  It was so beautiful to see the colorful leaves, and this morning it was still warm enough to run with capris and a long-sleeve shirt.

This is EXACTLY how the Towpath looks in October

This is our starting point:  Lock 29 in Peninsula, Ohio.
I ran with Michael and Shelby, and while the run wasn't exactly relaxing (a bit faster for the lsd than I usually do), it was so nice to be with them both in the sunshine running next to a river.  Poor Michael had to listen to Shelby and me rehash the Akron Half Marathon.  He is a true gentleman; had I been in his shoes (very speedy shoes, by the way), I would have hit us both over the head.

Because I was able to whine and moan with Shelby about our disappointing times in Akron, I am not going to burden you with a more in-depth recap, which was originally my intention.  I will save you from the torture I have subjected myself to as I covered EVERY FREAKING INCH of the terrain to figure out where I lost those 32 seconds.  Enough.  Let's move on, shall we?

Let's talk about chocolate, the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k, to be specific.  I ran this in Columbus, Ohio, in 2012, and I loved every second of it!  Today I'd like to write about the Expo, and next week I'd like to write about the race and post-race events.  The expo was in downtown Columbus on a Saturday.  I arrived with my peeps: Teresa, Deidre, Julie, and Tina.  We had reserved two rooms through the race webpage, so we checked into our hotel, and then we went on to the expo. It was very big and user-friendly.  Even better, it was full of CHOCOLATE!  Chocolate fountains, chocolate tabs, hot chocolate. . . mm m m m m.

I picked up my bib and my swag.  Hot Chocolate always has a cool item of clothing as the goody bag.  In 2012 I got a windbreaker.  This year the goody bag is super cool:

Cute, huh? The hoodie is fleece-lined.  Perfect for the Polar Vortex.

The volunteers were so fun at the expo.  They were rocking out while passing out chocolate and bibs. They also encouraged us to try on our jackets to make sure they fit, which I really appreciate since I stink at guessing my size.

The Expo this year promises to be just as great (and full of chocolate).  There will be lots of vendors and the chance to buy more race gear, and there will be a DJ (our own dance party!) and a Kid Zone with inflatables.

As much as we enjoyed the Expo, my running peeps and I were anxious to move on to carb-loading in the Short North, so we did our photo-op and then left for pasta and wine.  And more chocolate.

This is EXACTLY how I look at the Hot Chocolate Expo after gorging myself on chocolate.

You, too can have this experience, Peeps.  Register now for either the 5k or the 15k!  Use my code:  TroubleRunHat, and you'll get a free hat with your goody bag!

Let's do this together!

Next week:  My memories of the 15k race and the post-race experience

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

Goodie Bag

The wait is over—check out the award-winning Hot Chocolate 2014-2015 goodie bag. It’ll become your go-to outer layer whenever you need to stay cozy and stylish. Pair it with the included reusable drawstring bag.
• Luxurious full-zip hoodie
• Fleece-lined material
• Men’s: cool green accent lining, piping, + drawstring
• Women’s: hot pink accent lining, piping, + drawstring
• Roomy front pockets

Goodie Bag

The wait is over—check out the award-winning Hot Chocolate 2014-2015 goodie bag. It’ll become your go-to outer layer whenever you need to stay cozy and stylish. Pair it with the included reusable drawstring bag.
• Luxurious full-zip hoodie
• Fleece-lined material
• Men’s: cool green accent lining, piping, + drawstring
• Women’s: hot pink accent lining, piping, + drawstring
• Roomy front pockets