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

Comeback?

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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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Race Recap: Burn Rubber 10k

The Burn Rubber 10k/Half Marathon is the second race of the Rubber City Series.  I wasn't able to go to the first race in the series, so I had no idea what to expect.  Being sick enough to take Amoxicillin this week, and noticing a decrease in my strength and pace, I was a bit nervous about running any race at all.

The race was scheduled at 6:30 AM, and the race-day communications suggested runners arrive before 5:30, when roads would start to close.  I live less than fifteen minutes away, so I left my house at 5:00 and got there in plenty of time. . . sort of.  I arrived at the ONLY OPEN ROAD to the parking lot around 5:15 and waited in a huge traffic jam to move less than a mile into the parking lot, where there were plenty of spaces, by the way.  I didn't even get into the lot until 5:40, which set off my grumpiness and irritability.  I was lucky.  Anyone who was behind me had an even longer wait, and checking the Facebook site for the race, I saw that traffic was backed up onto the expressway.  This was definitely a fail on the part of the race director, but he made it right by delaying the start time by fifteen minutes and sending police out to the off-ramp to direct traffic.  This is the inaugural year for the Burn Rubber, so I am willing to give this mistake a pass because I am certain it won't be a problem next year.

I found my peeps from The Ohio Runners Network, and we took a cool picture in front of the start line:

The picture isn't blurry; we are.  It's early!

Then I found Shelby in the corral, and we took a selfie:

This is EXACTLY how I look before I find out there is a fifteen minute delay.
The gun went off, and away we ran, only to stop abruptly to get around the pace car, a Goodyear race car that had stalled in front of the start line.  It wasn't funny at the time, but when I saw the video of the driver and race director trying to get it started, I laughed out loud.  I can't even imagine what words were coming out of the driver's mouth as he kept trying to turn over the engine.

I went out fast in my first two miles, which seems to be my MO, but usually I feel great in the first two miles of a race, and I have to calm myself down.  This time I was still going fast, but I felt awful; I could tell that I would be racing the struggle-bus the whole time, and I was grateful that I chose the 10k rather than the Half-Mary.

By Mile 3, I was super hot, and I decided I would walk through every water stop on the course, drinking a cup and dumping a cup over my head.  This lost me a lot of time, but it was my choice not to carry my own water, and I did think about it, so I can't be too angry.  My body was telling me that I was still not 100%, so I'm glad I made a conscious choice to slow things down a bit.

The Goodyear Blimp followed us the whole race.  I never get tired of seeing the blimp.
Around Mile 4-ish, I was running just behind a guy who was really having fun with the race: he was telling corny jokes to anyone who would listen, he high-fived people on the route, and he thanked every volunteer.  I decided that I had to relax and try to be more like him, so I changed my mantra to "Relax-er, Runner, Relax-er, Runner," which coincided with my breathing.   Yes, I know "relax-er" isn't a word, but I read about it in Runner's World, so I decided to try it.  When I felt like a mantra was too complicated, I simply chanted my breathing method: "In, in, in, out, out.  In, in, in, out, out." This was surprisingly relaxing and helpful to me, so I stuck with it.

We headed into the Goodyear Proving Grounds for the last mile and change of the race, and boy, was that cool!  I have never seen a race track up close, let alone run on one, and I really enjoyed it, as well as the DJ and loud music parked in there.  At this point I started getting excited again, and I actually felt pretty good (Really???  It took me almost FIVE MILES to feel good?), so I shaved thirty seconds off that mile, but I still didn't push it until I got to the chute.

Waiting for me in the chute were a super-sweet medal, water, chocolate milk, a banana, and the best part was a towel from TruMoo soaking in ice water that a volunteer draped around my neck.  It was so hot, and I really appreciated that towel.

Then the fun started.  I had two food tickets and a beer ticket to cash in while listening to a great band sing my favorite songs.  There were food trucks from Swensons, Eddie's Cheesesteaks, and Strickland's Custard, all Akron institutions.  And there was great beer: Shock Top, Goose Island, and Bud Lite.  I'm so happy that many race directors are moving away from crappy Michelob Ultra beer; runners love good beer.

8:00 AM: Strickland's Custard and a Shock Top beer.  Missing:  the Galley Boy from Swensons that I just devoured.
This race was a PR for me, even though I was sick and it was nowhere near the pace I should have run.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I came in tenth in my Age Group!  And no, there weren't only ten people in my age group.  Shelby fulfilled her goal of a sub-2 hour half marathon, and I am so happy for her!  She has trained really hard for this, and she earned that time with every step.

Way to go, Shelby! What a badass!
Overall, I think this race is a winner, and I will definitely sign up again for the series next year.  This was a really fun event, and I think that the race director will fix the road access problem for next time.  I really appreciated the Akron-ness of the event; this is a great way to celebrate all things Akron.  Plus, I got a great medal and t-shirt:

Until next time: Run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

12 Mile Boost

It's no secret that I am battling a lack of running mojo lately.  I smile, I show up, I do the run, I do the strength training, but I'm just not feeling confident.

Neither one of these seems to work lately.


It's also no secret that some of this lack of confidence probably stems from dealing with my father's death in June, something with which I really haven't come to terms.  (Read my post about it here.)

I suspect that I went through a slump like this at the same time last year, but I haven't read those posts yet because I choose to wallow for a bit.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I choose to wallow for a bit.
Now, there are some very positive things that have happened to me just recently.  First, I came up with a plan for my dreaded tempo run.  I have decided that I am going to run Sand Run Parkway the difficult way (downhill first half, uphill on the way home), and I'm going to better my time each time I run it.  Also, I'm going to focus on an even pace rather than racing the downhill part and suffering the uphill part.  I did this on Thursday, and while my overall time may have been slower, my splits were even, and I felt great.

The second positive thing that happened is that I won't have to deal with two very toxic people who really took up too much of my psychic energy for the past few years.  Those people are gone, and I wish them well.  I will be going back to work this year with a sense of hope that I had been lacking for quite a while.

Yet I am still anxious and worried about the Akron Half Marathon.

Last Wednesday at the track, Mandy invited me to do the long run on Sunday with her--twelve miles--with the condition that we keep it around 10:30 a mile.  Normally this would be no problem for me, but the heat and humidity have really messed with my runs (and my head) lately, and I immediately starting doubting I could keep up for twelve miles.  See, it's this kind of mental crap that I'm talking about; self-doubt sucks.  Anyway, I said I would go with her, and today I did.

What a boost!  Our overall pace was faster than 10:30, with one mile at 9:45, and NEGATIVE SPLITS!!!  I am normally not a negative split runner, but I am really happy with this run.  Not gonna lie, Peeps, I suffered in the last two miles, but who doesn't suffer in the last two miles?  Mandy, that's who, but she's just a damned kid.  This old lady finished a minute behind her, and I'm just happy that my time was so good, especially since we ran in the same heat and humidity that has been bothering me all along.


This is EXACTLY how I look when I run negative splits in a 12-miler.  This is also my first experience with a selfie-stick, which Mandy says is the best 8-buck investment she ever made.

I can do this.  I just need to shut down the stupid head games.

Coming up: the Burn Rubber 10k in Akron.  Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Running Boston

This week I took it relatively easy, considering I did no speed work, no tempo run, and only ran 18 miles total.  That doesn't mean it felt easy, though, because I spent the week walking an average of 8 miles a day in Boston.  Yep, it was family vacation week.

I had not been to Boston since I was ten, and frankly, I remember next-to-nothing about the city at that time because our family mainly visited cousins while we were there.  I did some research, and I came up with a great list of activities: Plimoth Plantation, whale watching, Salem, the Freedom Trail, lots of clam chowdah, Italian food, and walking.




This is one of the many reasons for lots of walking: Mike's Pastry in the North End.  Holy Cannoli!
We always finished our evening stroll with coffee from Caffe Vittoria

Most of my plans involved activities I knew my family would enjoy, but there was one thing I did purely for myself: I ran through Boston Commons to the finish line of the Boston Marathon. 


 The Swan Boats in Boston Commons



Mecca
 It was my pilgrimage, and even though fellow Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Andrew (@Andrewrunsalot) told me not to step on the finish line until I run it, I did it anyway.


This is EXACTLY how I look after running across the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  Of course, this was after running two miles, not 26.2.



I reminded that young punk Andrew that I am a 45-year-old realist, and I know that my chances of qualifying for Boston are pretty slim, considering I haven't yet run my first marathon.  He told me if I keep running regardless, I'll be able to age into the qualifying time by the time I'm eighty. On one hand, that's a pretty smart strategy; on the other hand, Andrew is still a punk.

I got two morning runs in this week, and I walked my butt off for the rest of the week.  I had to, not just because I wanted to see the sights but because I ate ALL THE FOOD.  We stayed in the North End, and I definitely took advantage of the delicious Italian cuisine there.  One night we stood in line for Giacomo's, which takes no reservations, accepts cash-only, and has a line down the street every night from opening (at 4:30) to closing.
This is EXACTLY how I look when I'm standing in line at Giacomo's.

Burrata with fresh tomatoes

Lobster and shrimp with housemade fusilli in Giacomo sauce

Lobster, clams, mussels with linguini in pesto sauce

It was soooo worth it, Peeps.






We ended our week in Boston by finishing the Freedom Trail.  We walked all over Charlestown, seeing the USS Constitution and the Bunker Hill Monument.  My son decided that it would be "fun" to climb the monument.
294 freaking steps up.  294 freaking steps down
 Now, I have run the steps at the McKinley Monument in Canton, OH, a few times, and I've never been as sore as I feel from those damned steps at Bunker Hill.  Even two days later I'm having trouble descending the basement stairs to do laundry.  Luckily, I have two kids, so I've decided that THEY are going to do the laundry, and I am going to do "legs-up-the-wall" pose in the bedroom while reading a book.  Here is an instructional video if you'd like to try this yourself:







All of those steps made us hungry, so we finished our week in Boston by eating pizza at Quattro.
This is EXACTLY how I look when I need more wine because my legs ache.


Today I ignored the pain and I ran my traditional "old-blue-line" route of 10 miles and some change.  This is a loop that starts in Sand Run Park and continues through West Akron along the former route of the Akron Marathon.  I like it because of the change of scenery: Metroparks, beautiful residential neighborhoods, two country clubs, Stan Hywet Hall.  I also like the fact that my last mile is completely downhill.  This is possibly the only route I can run where I can guarantee negative splits.  

Well, Peeps, it is good to be back.  I'm going to get my head back in the game with my speed work and my race preparations.  Meanwhile, there is laundry and grocery shopping to do and children to nag.

Run happy this week, Peeps!

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

I Overanalyze Everything


Ever since I wrote last week's post, I've been obsessing about speedwork and more specifically, my attempts at a tempo run.

I've had three different people offer me advice, and I think it all comes down to the same thing: I've got to get my head straight.

We all know that running is mental, and there is no greater proof of that than watching me drive myself and everyone around me crazy by talking about running.  

On Wednesday, I did 3 x 800 at the track (plus a warm up and cool down), and I was able to keep my 800s between 4:00 and 4:20.  I was happy with that.  I think next time at the track I will shoot for 4 x 800, and I will try to decrease my recovery time.

Thursday was a gorgeous day, a day made to go running.  Despite the pretty day, I was feeling upset because my daughter wanted to cut off her beautiful, curly hair.  Now, I know, it's her hair--if this is my biggest problem with her, I'm lucky--hair grows back--yadda yadda yadda.  I know these things. 
Still think I shouldn't be upset?

 As we were making an appointment for the salon for that afternoon, I got a lump in my throat, and I felt tears coming.  This isn't like me at all, so I figured out that my need for a breakdown after my father's death was manifesting AT THAT MOMENT.  The perfect solution would have been to go on a run/cry, especially on a day made for runs, but I didn't do it because I'm an idiot.  Or I'm afraid to let my guard down.  Or because I told the kids we were going hiking.  Whatever.  I didn't do it.

I sucked it up and hiked the Mingo Trail (3+ miles of glorious, primitive trail) in Sand Run Park with the kids.  It was a great experience for all of us as the kids didn't complain ONCE about how far we had to walk.  I did have one interesting exchange with the eight-year-old, though:

8YO:  Will there be donuts at the end?
Me:  No.
8YO:  No.  There will only be water and sadness.
No donuts for you.
Water and Sadness
On Friday, I decided, to hell with it, I'd run how I felt: no patterns, no plans.  Looking at my splits, I think it's interesting how consistent they are, and how the run is divided in half.  There is a reason for the discrepancy between the two halves: Miles 1-3 were downhill, and Miles 4-6 were uphill.  If consistency of pace is what I'm shooting for, I will take this run as a win.
Mile 1 (half mile warmup): 9:36 
Mile 2: 8:53 
Mile 3: 9:02 
Mile 4: 10:36 
Mile 5: 10:35 
Mile 6: 10:37 
Mile 7: Cooldown: 11:35 

It rained all over me, but I felt great when I was done.

Today I ran with Shelby, and it was HOT and HUMID.  Shelby is training for a marathon, and she needed 14 miles.  I foolishly thought, "Huh. I can do 14 miles," but luckily I only told Shelby that I would run what I could with her. 
This is EXACTLY how I look when I foolishly think, "Huh.  I can do 14 miles in incredible heat and humidity."
I lasted just over 10 miles at a turtle-like pace before I called it quits.  Poor Shelby had to finish up by herself, but she was kind enough to give me a bottle of ice-cold chocolate milk before she left.  I love that woman.

This week I intend to focus on myself.  My near-crying-jag in a hair salon this week tells me that I need to take care of myself.  I'm not quite sure how I'm going to do that, but if I figure it out, you will be the first to know.

Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Speedwork

Here is the deal:

I have 53 seconds to cut off my Akron Half Marathon PR, and it's time to do the hard stuff.


ARGH!! Those 53 seconds have to go!

You may or may not know that Akron is my big PR race of the year.  It was the reason why I started running in the first place.  I wrote all last summer about my desire to run a sub-2 hour half marathon, and I came SO CLOSE.  This year I will nail that sucker.

Time to get serious, Peeps.

On Wednesday I started up my track workouts.  I wasn't looking forward to this, but I know that a concerted effort at speed work really pays off during the race.  Unfortunately, my coach isn't offering a training program this year, so I have to figure out something that works.  Right now I'm just winging it.  I started with ladder drills: 400, 800, 1200, 800, 400.  I warmed up for about 1.5 miles, gossiping with my peeps, and then I got to work.  

One of my biggest problems is going out too fast in a race, and it shows in my speed work.  I was shooting for an 8:20 pace, but I started at 8:00 or less.  Not good.  I made sure to slow down, and that helped.  I am extremely proud that my last 400 was faster than my first 400, with a pace of 8:08.  


What makes me happiest, though, is that my daughter came with me to the track, and she did her own workout.  For a few years now I have been asking her to run with me, and she has turned me down almost every time.  At one point she told me, "You are going to have to deal with the fact that I will not be your runner.  Work on Ben."  

When I casually asked her if she wanted to come to the track with me, I expected a withering, "No, Mom," but she actually said, "Sure.  That sounds like fun."  And it was.


This is EXACTLY how we look when we are finished with speed work.


Then Friday was my first attempt at a tempo run.  First, I got all pinked up:


On Fridays we wear pink.

Then I set out for my run on Sand Run at 2:00 pm, which was stupid on so many levels.

Mile 1:  Warmup 10:11 Mile 2: 9:03 
Mile 3: 9:11 
Mile 4: 9:57--This is where I fell apart. It was all uphill, though.  
Mile 5: Cooldown 11:18

Lessons learned: 1. Tempo runs need to be on flat paths.  Sand Run is a a three mile path full of hills.  As you can see from my times, Miles 2 and 3 were downhill.  2. Miles 2 and 3 were too fast and they were not steady (Did I mention they were downhill?).  I tried to control my pace, but there were some points that I was running at 8:15 or less.  Not cool.   3. Tempo runs should never be at 2:00 in the afternoon in the summer.  I was so. freaking. hot.

Can I call this a win in speed work since it was extremely hilly?


I did call it a win, and I rewarded my daughter and myself with a trip to Stan Hywet Hall to see the Ohio Shakespeare Festival's production of Much Ado about Nothing.  

This is EXACTLY how I look when I am watching Shakespeare.  My friend Shelly is on the  left.

It was fabulous, Peeps; I highly recommend you see this comedy or Henry V, which starts July 30.

Today I ran three loops of the Boston Run Trail in Peninsula for a total of 9-something miles.  I thought I did pretty well.  I got through the third loop by telling myself I could walk any hill I liked, and I walked most of them.  Don't judge; I didn't walk any of them in the first two loops.

Anyway, this is my new committment to speed work.  I'm going to go to the track every Wednesday, and I'm going to fit in a tempo run each week.  

Akron won't know what hit it when I cross that finish line.

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