Sunday, October 4, 2015

Don't Go Chasin' Waterfalls. On Second Thought. . .

This has been my recovery week from the Akron Half Marathon.  I gave myself two easy-peasy morning runs during the week and a dreadmill trot while watching Dr. Who. I didn't think I'd like Peter Capaldi as the doctor, but I'm digging him.

How can you not like this grumpy face?

I've been trying to figure out what I'm going to do for the next few months.  Running peeps tempted me with a half mary here and there, but frankly, I'm worn out.  I need some fun.

So, I decided to sign up for the Ohio Outside Trail Series in Munroe Falls Metropark.  It's a five mile loop done in October, November, and December.  These are on Saturday mornings, so I can run the race and be home in time to catch my kids in the act of NOT CLEANING THE HOUSE  like they are supposed to do.  These exact dates (plus, the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon--more on that in another post) are during mornings when I should have been attending some committee meetings (on Saturdays???  What???), so it was kind of a relief to take some time for me this year.  I don't have any expectations for these races; I just want to run and then drink cider.  My mind as well as my body is going to take a well-deserved rest.

Today, in the spirit of just having fun, I ran around Blue Hen Falls with Mandy.  The morning temperature was cool enough for a long-sleeved tech shirt and capris--my favorite running apparel.  I had never run there before, and I have to say it was beautiful.  Mandy and I hope to go back in a few weeks when the leaves have changed.

Blue Hen Falls
This run was relaxing.  It was a somewhat difficult trail, enough that I had to pay attention, but it wasn't agonizing.  After the turnaround, I got into my groove, and it felt like I was flying.

This is EXACTLY how I look after I get into my groove.
This is my moment to remember why I run and enjoy it.  I am grateful that I can run, and I'm so grateful that I live in Northeast Ohio, where there are so many gorgeous places to run.

Clearly, you can tell that I am still working a runner's high.  Don't worry; tomorrow somebody will do something stupid, and I'll be back to my old self.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Race Recap: Akron Half Marathon

I was more horrified than excited about running the Akron Half Marathon this year.  On Expo day, the text messages and Facebook posts were flying around.  When Peeps asked me how I was feeling, this was my post:
Stuck at work, no cardio today, and I just realized I'm running 13.1 tomorrow!

 I didn't have time to linger at the Expo because I had my kids with me, and they were registered for the Fun Run, but I did get a burst of anticipation from being there:

This was my third time running the Akron Half Marathon.  It is part of the new Rubber City Series, and both the marathon and half marathon routes are completely different.

Holy Hills!

When I ran the Blue Line practice event, sponsored by Vertical Runner, I wasn't impressed with the half marathon route.  It seemed deserted and ugly.  I had written in my review post that I hoped Akron could fill up that route with some interesting bands because I didn't think the crowds would be there.  I was partially correct.

I still think the route was mostly boring and ugly.  Some people didn't like the hills, but I didn't mind them until I got to mile 10, and then I was toast.  More on that later.  There were some highlights to the half marathon part of the route:

Starting line before we lined up
The start to the race was awesome.  There was some really exciting music with an inspirational speech as we walked toward the line.  Normally I'm pretty cynical about that kind of stuff, but I got super-emotional as I listened to it.

Before the start, I met up with as many of my Peeps as I could find:
Some of my fellow Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors
The Ohio Runners Network

Jen and me.  No, we are not sideways.  You are imagining it.

How did I get assigned to Corral A?  What am I doing here???

I felt great during the first eight miles of the course.  That should have been a sign that things weren't going to go my way later, but honestly, when I checked my pace, I was usually between 8:49 and 9:01.  I did lose it a bit at miles 6 and 7, but I was never slower than 9:23 for those miles, and I regrouped for miles 8 and 9.  I didn't even stop for the Milkshake Mile or this guy:

Mile 3: The Beer Mile!

One of the many pluses of the race series is the volunteers.  They were enthusiastic and LOUD, which is what all runners need.  Thank you, all volunteers, for giving your time for us.  In many places of the course, the volunteers outnumbered and out-shouted the spectators, even in some residential areas.  God, I miss Firestone Park.

This next part is a little difficult to write:  

When I got to mile 10, I had had enough.  I couldn't take ONE. MORE. HILL. and I suspected/half-remembered that there were more to come.  I had done a good job of getting my act together in previous miles by counting my breaths (in, in, in, out, out) and chanting (relax-er, runner, easier, runner, I am strong, runner, I feel strong, runner), but I just couldn't seem to do it.  I started to call on my father for strength, and then I realized that my father isn't strong; he's dead.  I know that sounds weird, but remember that I have been avoiding dealing with this for exactly three months (on the day of the race).  I started to cry, and then I promised myself a good, long, cleansing cry as soon as I crossed the finish line IF I made my time goal.  I sucked it up and moved on, but the times got longer as more hills arrived, and I felt pain in my legs for the first time in months.  My worst mile was 12 with a 9:43; I looked at my watch and I lost hope.  I went back to 9:17 for mile 13, and I even did an 8:45 pace for the last .21 miles (even on the stupid blanket on the field), but I knew I didn't make it.

I didn't even make my time from last year.

I'm not gonna lie: I'm disappointed, but deep down I know that I didn't do the speedwork I should have done.  I had a lot to deal with this summer, and I let it interfere with my training.  I'm going to give myself a break and remind myself that the course was much more difficult than last year's course.  I did the best I could with what I had in me.

The after-party was fabulous.  My fellow CLEMarathon Ambassador Andrew and I stretched, ate some recovery food, and scarfed up non-drinkers' beer tickets while we waited for the rest of our friends to finish.  Did you know that four Michelob Ultras are only 384 calories?  At least Michelob Ultra has that going for it.  

How many beers in was this? I dunno.  Erin isn't counting either.

Shout outs go to fellow CLEMarathon Ambassador Jamie and TORN friend Shelby who both ran their first road marathons.  They both had strong finishes; I am proud and jealous.

All in all, the Rubber City Series is definitely worth running.  Just because I didn't like the course doesn't mean that there aren't others who do.  The race directors planned a quality experience for the runners from the expo to all the volunteers to the finish line party.  I plan to run the series next year, but I think the Universe has been telling me that I need to pursue a new goal: next year the marathon.  Gulp.

I'm looking forward to some easy, relaxed runs as soon as my leg stops cramping. Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Race Recap: 2015 Medina Race with Grace

Today I got to sleep in.  That's right--no long run for this girl.  Today I woke up at a leisurely 6:30!  Then I had to scramble to wake up the kids, get them fed and ready for church, and motivate my husband to get out of bed and ready for his first race.  Geez, it's harder to get him out of the house than it is to get my two kids out of the house.

Months ago I registered my husband for the Race with Grace 5k.  Then I told him about it.  Despite the warning, he didn't train a bit.  I don't think he has run for over a month.  When I would remind him that training would be appropriate, he always responded, "It's only 3 miles.  I'll be fine."  This is EXACTLY the attitude he had when we were moving to the U.S., and I told him that studying the language might be appropriate.  His response then, "English is easy; it will take me a couple of months.  I'll be fine." I am happy to say that I was able to rein in my "I told you so" both times when he got a wake up call about his procrastination.

We were part of Team Brenda with Medina High School.  Brenda is the mother of my colleague Sherri, and she has been fighting breast cancer.  Our team wore shirts with her name on the back to remind us of why we are participating.  Brenda was there to cheer us on:

Sherri and Brenda, both looking MAH-velous!
It was nice to see so many friends on a Sunday morning.  The air was perfectly crisp at 56 degrees.  I was more excited for my husband than he was:

This is EXACTLY how I look when I am more excited than my husband about his first race.
After a bagpipe rendition of "Amazing Grace," we started.  Nacer tore off like a bat out of hell, and I reminded him to hold back so we could safely navigate the gazillion little kids who were in front of us.  Running with kids scares me; they stop on a dime right in front of me, and I'm always afraid that I won't stop in time and I'll mow them down.  Anyway, I followed his lead, and he was feeling the adrenaline rush.

In mile 2, the reality started to hit him (along with some hills), and he slowed down a bit.  I encouraged him to think about his breathing, and I DIDN'T say, "This would have been a lot easier on you had you trained for it."  I'm such a great wife.

Mile 3 was where I saw Nacer relax and settle in, and that relaxation really helped because he then picked up his pace.  I told him, "You only have one mile to go; that's less than ten minutes.  You can do anything for ten minutes," which is my mantra in races.  The last mile was full of downhill runs, so I was happy with it.  When we got near the finish line, I told Nacer, "When you see that finishing clock, I want you to tear ahead of me and give it your all."  He looked at me like I was nuts, and he kicked a tiny bit.  I was so proud to see him cross the finish line.

This guy ran 28:23 in his first 5k!  Without training!
While I am proud of him, I'm prouder of myself for not rubbing it in during or after the race when I saw him suffering a bit.  Men should suffer; it's so good for them.  Just kidding.  I was happy that when we were stretching, he said, "I didn't think it would be that hard."  Duh.

All in all, he was happy with his race, and so am I.  I informed him that he has to train from now on because I am going to register him for the Home Run for the Homeless, which is on Thanksgiving Day and consists of four miles of hills in the Glendale Cemetery.   He didn't seem unhappy with this idea.  We shall see.

Team Brenda had a fantastic showing; we were the number one team yet again, largely due to the fact that the winner of the 5k, Jordan Olsen, is a chemistry teacher at our school.  We mostly hired him for his 5k time.  This year he finished in 16:04.  Amazing.

I am so happy that my husband has started his journey with racing.  I look forward to many more races together in our future.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Race Recap: Natatorium 5k

In my world, I have plans.  I have organized To-Do Lists that I complete each day.  People do what I expect them to do, and nothing is a surprise.

In my world, the sky is violet, the grass is purple, and unicorns exist.

Sort of like this.
In an attempt to intersect the world in my head and the real world, I signed up my husband and two children to run the Natatorium Family Fun Run (1 mile).  I helped the kids choose their clothes the night before, and I got them to bed relatively early.  I organized my own gear and got myself to bed at a decent hour, rising just before my alarm at 5:30 am so I could have a quiet breakfast before waking the family.  The house was peaceful, quiet.  All was well.

At 6:00 I woke up the kids, and the eight-year-old told me his stomach hurt and he couldn't get out of bed.  At 6:15 he ran to the bathroom and vomited.  Sigh.  I informed my still-sleeping husband (who should have been getting up by then) that he didn't have to get up because he was staying home with Ben.  My daughter, the thirteen-year-old, was a trooper.  When I told her that she didn't have to do the run and she could go back to bed, she replied, "No.  I really want to do this.  I'm going."  Did I mention that she is really motivated to get un-grounded?

We are ready for our Fun Run!
Katya took off like a shot when the whistle blew.  I had expected her to run around a ten-minute mile, which was perfect for my warmup, so I had said I would run at her pace. When her pace in the first half-mile was 8:30, I told her to run ahead because this was a bad idea for a warm up for me.  I got to watch her from behind as she came in as the first child in the run!  There was an older guy running with her, and he crossed the finish before her (grrrrr), but I'm not counting him.

This chick ran a 9:13 mile!  I'm so proud of her!
After the Fun Run, I exchanged bibs for the 5k, handed off my gear to Katya, and stood in the corral with Jen.  We haven't run together in a long time (It's funny/sad how life gets in the way), but it was great to catch up with her while we waited.  I also chatted with Suegene, who will be running the Akron Marathon in two weeks--Go, Suegene!

The weather was a perfect 50-something degrees with a touch of sunshine here and there.  The conditions were perfect for a PR, which I was hoping to get.  I was a bit apprehensive because I haven't done the speed training that I normally do this year.  I was hoping the weight I lost and overall quicker pace I run would make up for the lack of track work.

I felt as good as I was going to feel during a 5k in the first mile, and my pace was on point.  In the second mile I felt like I was going uphill for much of the way, and I don't remember all of those hills in past races! I checked my pace, and it was off by more than ten seconds.  I tried to surge to correct it, but I only took off a few seconds.  The third mile was where I was feeling pretty strong.  I thought, "I feel good.  Usually I'm ready to die by now.  I bet this is my best mile," except that when I checked my pace it was my worst mile.  Dammit.  No wonder I felt good.  I broke my own rule: Nobody is supposed to EVER feel good in a 5k.  If you feel good, you aren't working.

I thought that if I saw my daughter on the route in the last half mile I would get a shot of adrenaline and be able to pull it out, but somehow she didn't get the understood memo that WHEN MOM IS RUNNING AND YOU ARE WATCHING HER, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO YELL FOR HER!!! The second understood rule is that you are supposed to TAKE A PICTURE OF HER!  Instead, Katya quietly read while I struggled through that last half mile wondering where the hell she was.  Ok, fine, not her fault.  I still had my kick to the chute even though I knew I hadn't PR'd.

The race turnout was pretty small this year, so I was hopeful that maybe I placed.  It turns out that Jen and I both placed in our (separate) Age Groups!

We are joyful AG winners! I placed first and Jen placed second.  Happily, we are in separate AGs, so we weren't competing against each other.
The Natatorium 5k is a great little race for this time of year.  It's good to test your speed once in a while, even when you are distance-running.  I enjoy the family atmosphere, which is why I make my family run it each year.  The swag is good, and the price is right, too.

A tee shirt for the fun run, and a hoodie for the 5k

My AG Award (plus a 10 dollar gift card)
Next year, the sky will be violet, and unicorns will graze on purple grass.  Also, my family will all run the 5k with me.  It's gonna happen.  I have plans.

Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Monday, September 7, 2015


After the fun of the Blue Line run last weekend, I've been kind of bored with my running routine.  This week I decided to shake things up by reversing my route and trying a new interval technique I read about in Running Times.

It's called 10-20-30, and it's supposed to be a way to keep your workouts fresh while throwing in some speed once in a while.  Now, the author of the article did not claim that this technique would make me faster; it is supposedly something doctors devised to keep patients from dropping their workouts out of boredom or because working out is too difficult for them.  I thought, "What the hell," since I was already pretty bored.  How much worse could it get?

You start with a warm up, of course; one mile will do.  Then, you run at an easy pace for thirty seconds, a medium pace for twenty seconds, and a hard pace for ten seconds.  I can't count seconds because I'm too busy counting breaths, so I modified my counting to breath sets of three in and two out.  This way, I did thirty breath sets at an easy pace, twenty sets at a medium pace, and ten sets balls to the wall.

This was the only family-friendly image I could get when I googled "Balls to the Wall."  Peeps, you would not BELIEVE what is out there!

I think this "game"  might be the answer to my aversion to tempo runs.  I've only played with it for four miles, but each time I felt that I could go on much longer.  I might even throw this in during the Akron Half Marathon if I feel like I'm about to slow down too much.

This Sunday Joy and I ran loops at Hudson Springs.  It was incredibly hot and muggy.  Just after seven miles we felt like dying, so we said we had to walk one more loop and then we could quit if we wanted.  We ended up with nine miles, and I'm going to call that a win.

My view while running. 
 Just a year or two ago I would have been incredibly angry and disappointed with myself if I walked for any part of the long run, but trail runs have knocked the dickens out of me.  If I am on a trail (even "trail-lite," as my friend Shelby would call it) I allow myself to walk when I feel like it.

Joy and I are only smiling because we are finally done with those loops.
Later that day, I canoed with the family--seven miles on the Mohican River.  It was fun, but it was disconcerting to note how many times I smelled weed when we passed through huge crowds of intoxicated, vulgar people.  I'm not surprised the eight-year-old had an incredible case of the munchies when we got off the river.

In any case, this was a great weekend, full of sunshine, fresh and not-so-fresh air, and exercise.  Oh and eating.  Lots and lots of eating.

Next week is the Natatorium 5k, in which I will attempt a PR.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Blue Line Training Run

After an exhausting week at school, I dragged my butt out of bed at 5 am on Saturday to prepare for the Blue Line Run, hosted by Vertical Runner.  This is an annual free event in which runners practice for the Akron Marathon and Half Marathon by running 12 or 20 miles.  The Blue Line is literally a blue line painted on the roads to show runners the route.  This year there were about 400 or so runners who showed up at 7 am for a fun morning of running and socializing.

Group shot (well, what the photographer could fit in).  Can you see me?  NO??
Photo Credit: Christy Wilmoth
TORN Peeps before the run.  Can you see me now?

We started our run by leaving downtown and crossing the Y-Bridge.  I'm sure the drivers were not pleased to see hundreds of runners crowding the bridge, sidewalks, and streets.

Coming across the Y-Bridge.
Photo Credit:  Jim Blake

The routes for the marathon and half-marathon are completely changed from last year.  I ran the half-marathon route, and I'm TORN (see what I did there?) about my feelings for it.  There are some hills, more like inclines, which are kind of nice to break up the run, especially since there are downhills after every hill.  I felt like I got through the course pretty quickly because I wasn't bored.  On the other hand, there isn't much to see in the first nine miles.  I hope there are bands in some of the more secluded areas because I don't think there will be much crowd support.  The full marathoners said that they liked the second half of the route because it was in residential areas, and our Akronites on the Blue Line know how to throw a PARTY.  I just wish I could see it.  Well, maybe next year when I train for the full. . .

There were photographers along the route--how nice is that?  For once I was able to see pictures of myself running.

Photo Credit: Christy Wilmoth

Me, Mandy, and Joy.  See the Blue Line?
Photo Credit:  Joseph Kiggans
I put the smack down on Mandy and Joy: I told them there would be NO sub-10 minute miles on this practice run.  I wanted to slow down, relax, and enjoy, and we did just that.  I saw so many of my friends:

Shelby and Elizabeth are training for the full.  It's Shelby's first road marathon!
Photo Credit: Christy Wilmoth

Debi Glinsek, who is my hero.  I don't know how many marathons and ultras she's run.
Photo Credit: Christy Wilmoth
Since our cold snap last week, I've rediscovered my pace and my endurance.  Last Tuesday morning it was in the 50s, and I was finally able to run sub 9:30 miles without wanting to die.  Thank God.  It was the heat and the humidity.  This week is supposed to be in the 90s and humid, but I'm not going to panic about it.  Now that I know I haven't lost my mojo, I'm just going to stay the course.  I may or may not PR this year, but I'm going to give it my best shot.

I've got two 5Ks to run before Akron: the Natatorium 5K, in which I will attempt a PR, and the Race with Grace, which I will NOT attempt to PR because I will run it with my husband.  That's right--I signed my husband up for his first 5K!  I'm so excited to run it with him!

This morning he and I ran an easy three miles after breakfast, and although he hasn't trained in over a month, I think he'll do fine.  By doing fine I mean that he will not stop running and he will not drop dead of a heart attack.  Please, God, I can't take any more heart attacks.

Were you on the Blue Line?  What did you think of the course?

Run Happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, August 23, 2015


So, I have been whining about my summer from hell.  In a nutshell, it involved an unwelcome guest in my house (for a month!), my father's heart transplant and death, my son's emergency appendectomy, my sickness (antibiotics!), and my son's sickness (no antibiotics, just worry).  There actually have been lots of good things that happened this summer (Boston vacation, welcome changes at work), but I have a difficult time being thankful for the good when I feel so overwhelmed with the bad.

Anyway.  This crap in my head has interfered big time with my training.  You know; you've read the posts.  I've done what I could to counteract the negativity in my life: I've set mini-goals in running, I've done some speed and hill work, I've eaten healthily, I've done the strength training and yoga.  These past two weeks I considered getting some outside help, so I saw two different holistic health practitioners.

The first session I had was reflexology, and I got it through Groupon.  Lately, many therapists have used the term to simply mean "foot massage," and while I LOVE a good foot massage, that isn't really what reflexology is supposed to be.

This is a typical "foot map" for a reflexology session.
I was pleasantly surprised that the session I had purchased was a true reflexology session combined with chakra balancing and tuning forks.  I didn't learn anything new--my heart chakra (and almost every other chakra) is blocked; welcome to my life--but if nothing else, the session was relaxing and full of affirmations.

The next week I went to a tuning fork and color therapist.

This therapist also told me that my heart chakra is blocked.  She gave me six different pairs of colored glasses to wear (since then I have learned that many practitioners use colored silks instead of glasses), and she waved tuning forks over me.  I had rushed to this session after work, and I was exhausted, so I kept nodding off and then jerking myself awake because I was in a sitting position.  The therapist told me that she had three images that came from me during the session, and she looked them up in a book, briefly explained each one, and said she would send me more information by email.  I didn't really feel relaxed or positive after this session (lack of sleep, antibiotics, still recovering from throat infection), and I never did receive that email.

Since then, the antibiotics are out of my system, I am no longer nursing a sick child, and the weather has cooled down in the mornings, making my runs a bit more pleasant.  I noticed that on Friday I finally had a run where I felt I could have continued beyond four miles without wanting to die.  My pace has quickened, but I'm definitely not where I used to be.  Today I ran ten miles with Mandy and Shelby, and I had a great time while running at an average pace of 10:20 without really struggling.

So, did anything work?  The answer is. . . I don't know.  There are so many factors involved here that it is difficult to pinpoint one thing that is helping me.

Here is one thing I know:  Visualization techniques are key to success for me.  When I have a goal, I visualize the achievement of that goal.  The reflexology session involved a lot of visualization combined with affirmations, and I liked that.  Sometimes it's good to sharpen your focus when you are going after a goal or dream.

I have some time until the Akron Half Marathon.  Next week is the Blue Line Practice Run, and I plan to enjoy it.  Then I will have three weeks until the race.  I know that last year at this time I was not feeling very positive about my chances of hitting a sub-2 half, and I came VERY CLOSE, so really, anything can happen at this point.  I have some supportive friends, and I am in good health.  This could be a great race!

How do you feel about your next race?  Do you have a time goal?

Until next week, run happy, Peeps!

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