Shawshank Hustle Race

The Ohio Reformatory in all her glory

The Ohio Reformatory in all her glory

When I first heard of the Shawshank race I immediately thought it was in Mansfield and that would be too far of a drive to race. However, the more I thought about it, I just couldn’t resist passing up this race. Sadly, I didn’t register in time and it sold out. Then for some reason it opened back up and Ryan and I both registered immediately so that we wouldn’t miss out.

IMG_4388I’d be lying if I said for months we were looking forward to this race. We even watched the movie the week of the race to pump ourselves up.

The shirts and finisher medals for the race both glow in the dark!

The shirts and finisher medals for the race both glow in the dark!

Getting up early the day of the race was a piece of cake because we were so excited to get to this race. And also a little nervous because there was limited parking by the starting line. We got there early enough for parking and easily got our packets. We had plenty of time before the race to just hang out and chill.

IMG_4389We decided to do a longer warm up since we had long runs to do and didn’t want to be doing all day long. We started with a 1.5 mile warm up, then the race got pushed back so we did another mile to stay warm and then the race got pushed back again so we did a little more and ended up with a 3.5 mile warm up.

Normally I would be annoyed with a race starting later than scheduled but because this was a first time race and it was a rather large race, I decided to be patient and not get mad about it. The only thing that was really annoying me was that it was getting hot out and I was getting hungry.

IMG_4470The race starts with an uphill and I know Mansfield is fairly hilly so I did my best to hold back and not go out too fast. However, I think I underestimated the hills for this race and quickly realized how hard this race was going to be.


Now the course is an odd distance and one that I have not run before. The course measured at 4.66miles. My mindset was to run it like a 5 miler and with the hills I hoped to have something left at the end to finish strong. The 56 year old Maureen was at this race and passed me around mile 2 and all I could think was “please stay with her, she’s going to run a good time”

IMG_4499Once again I underestimated the hills and even running this race like a 5 miler was tough. I kept pushing myself though and this race was no where near as hot as the Shot in the Dark 4 miler, even though it was starting to heat up.

Before I knew it, I was climbing the last couple of hills and I could see the exit we came off of so I knew I was getting close to the finish which meant a downhill was coming. I could still see 56 year old Maureen so I was hoping to catch up to her so that I could photo bomb her finish picture.

However, coming down that last hill she slowed down so I took off and kept going so she ended up photo bombing my finish picture! However, based off chip time, she beat me by 3 seconds!

IMG_4498I ended up 4th in my age group, just barely missing placing and was 19th overall with a time of 36:10. Ryan ended up with 2nd overall which is pretty amazing as there were some speedy people there. I’m just happy he can keep up with me these days. (Just kidding Ry)

This race happened to fall on our anniversary weekend so after the race we finished our long runs. 15 miles for me and 17 for Ryan and then we toured the Ohio Reformatory.

IMG_4457 IMG_4430 IMG_4409

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2015 Huntington Sprint Triathlon

I had not planned on doing a Sprint Triathlon this summer because the focus was all long course stuff this year. Also, triathlons are expensive, even sprint ones! However, I sucked it up and signed up for NCN’s Huntington Triathlon. I wanted to do the Fairport Harbor Tri but it’s almost an hour drive and Huntington was only 15 minutes. I also heard really good things about the Huntington race so I was excited to finally race it.

When I got to the race, I was surprisingly calm and felt ready to go! I felt like I had enough training under my belt and I could totally do this. Plus it was only a sprint. I swim, bike and run more than twice the distance multiple times a week this should be a breeze.

The Swim – 400 meters

The swim was a run into the water start. When the gun went off I ran into the water, got out of breath and when I went to swim, I freaked out. Not like flailing my arms or anything but just couldn’t get a breath or put my face in the water. The swim doesn’t go too well when you a going back and forth between a sad butterfly/doggie paddle stroke and flipping on your back to do a back stroke. I wanted to flag in a kayak to come save me and just quit all together. I didn’t though because I know I can swim much farther than 400 meters. I got passed by almost the entire wave of swimmers that started 4 minutes after me and was pretty sure I was the last one to get out of the water. Ryan has assured me that I wasn’t but I think it was probably really close. I finished the swim in 25:49 and 6th or last in my age group. There was a current so we actually ended up swimming .41 of a mile instead of .25

T1 – 2:09

Coming out of the water I really wanted to quit and just call it a day. However, seeing Ryan when I got out of the water immediately gave me a confidence boost. I could also tell I probably freaked him out since the swim was not supposed to take me that long.

The Bike – 12 Miles

I have been working hard on the bike this summer and was really excited to race on the bike on closed roads. Well somewhat closed roads. I got passed by 1 person early on in the bike when I was going 15 mph. After that I kept picking it up and before I knew it I was at 17 mph and was passing lots of people. I had to make up for that horrible swim so I was doing my best on the bike to make up for it. I think I passed about 8 people on the bike. I finished in 42:01, averaging 17.1 mph and was 3rd or 4th in my age group.

T2 – 1:21

The Run – 3.1 miles

Now the run is where I excel so I had one more chance to redeem myself. The entire bike I had to convince myself that I was ok and that I could do this. The swim really messed with my mojo! The run has some hills in it so it’s not ideal and no one runs amazing coming right off the bike. You need that couple of minutes to get your legs in running mode. About 2 minutes into the run I was able to get a good pace going and slowly started picking off runners. I picked off 4 runners right off the bat, then I just focused on pace and tried to increase every mile. And I did! I have no idea ow but I kept picking it up and continued to pass more and more people. Before I knew it I had passed 10 people! I was at a sub 7:30 pace at this point and I usually aim for 8 minute miles for tri stuff. I ended up doing to run in 25:53 an 8:22 pace.

Yes, that is an uphill finish!

Yes, that is an uphill finish!

Overall I finished 4th in my age group with a time of 1:37:19. To be honest I was very disappointed in myself, mostly the swim. I actually had to have a long talk with Ryan so that I could figure things out and decide if I wanted to continue on with Ironman training. In the end, I decided the swim had to be a fluke and I just need to practice more. I signed up for another sprint tri later that day.

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Winking Lizard 4 Miler 2015

Signing up for summer races you always have the threat of it being a hot race. Well the Winking Lizard 4 miler was exactly that this year. Which is the complete opposite of the monsoon from last year’s Winking Lizard 4 miler.

It doesn’t help that this race starts in the evening, usually round 6pm, which can be the hottest part of the day. But that’s also part of the fun! Being able to sleep in and do a night race and then maybe grab some drinks afterwards with other runner friends. Also the night races tend to bring out non runners who don’t want to get up early for races.

After a quick 1.5 mile warm up I thought “wow it’s hot” “But totally manageable” and had little worries before the race. Other than I was going to be very sweaty after.

Just before the race started I ran into a bunch of runner friends all at once and it was so nice to quickly catch up with them. When the race started, so many people went out very fast and quickly died due to the heat. Within the first couple minutes it was nice to pass so many people.

I felt pretty good up until mile 2. At mile 2 I felt like I hit a wall and was completely done. I was so hot and nauseous almost instantly. Shortly after mile 2, everyone around me started walking and I was looking around like ” did they cancel the race due to heat?” Walking sounded like a great idea to me at that point.



I eventually saw the next mile marker sign and was hoping that I somehow missed the 3 mile marker and this was somehow a 3.5 mile marker. The thought of runner 1 more mile in the heat sounded awful.

Still Melting

Still Melting

However, when I got to that mile marker it was the 3 mile mark and I had to keep going. Usually towards the end of a race I have a nice kick and can’t pick up the pace hard for the last bit. However, for this race I had nothing. I ended up finishing in 30:22. My goal was to go sub 29 and i wasn’t even close. I did place 3rd in my age group! I have no idea how that happened, when I originally looked at results I was 4th but something must have changed!

Put a fork in me, I am done!

Put a fork in me, I am done!


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Bay Days 5 Miler

The Bay Days 5 Miler is one of those races that is hit or miss with decent weather. The past 2 years we have had awesome weather for this race. It’s hard to get that lucky in the middle of the summer in Cleveland.

BayDays1I wasn’t planning on any big PRs or anything for this race since I did an hour swim and 3.5 hour bike ride the day before. I wasn’t sore or anything but I didn’t think my legs/body would have anything left in them to run a good race. I did a 1.5 mile warm up though and felt pretty good so I was hopeful that I would have a decent race.

Start of Bay DaysThis race is huge so  easily went out too fast for the first mile…sub 6:40 and definitely felt it for miles 2 and 3. I tried to just keep pushing and hold a decent pace. There is a local woman, Maureen, who whoops me at every race so I knew she was still behind me so I was holding my own.

Suddenly, out of nowhere she came out from behind and passed me! Like didn’t slowly pass me, like sprinted by! What in the world! This woman is a wonder! I tried my best to keep up with her and I couldn’t so I tried to keep her in my sights instead. Holy Moly is she fast though.

I kept pushing the rest of the race to catch up with Maureen but I’m no match for her. She probably got my by a whole 30 seconds. The whole race is really flat, almost to the point where you want a hill just to switch it up and get the downhill on the way down.

I must not have pushed myself enough during the race because I had a huge kick at the end and finished with a 37:05 which was actually faster than last years time! Not what I expected at all after a huge workout the day before.

Bay Days has become a Fourth of July tradition for Ryan and I to run and I look forward to it every year now.


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Run Puritas 5K

The past couple years Ryan and I have been participating in the Run Puritas 5K. It’s a local race that supports the West Park community’s housing, senior, and youth services so we make sure to attend every year and show our support. This year the attendance was amazing so I was so happy to see how much it has grown.

Modified Race shirt

Modified Race shirt

I have so many basic race shirts that I have been experimenting with cutting them to fit me better. Making the sleeves shorter, making the bottom not so long, sometimes cutting neck line out. Makes the shirt a little more fitted!

Race day I wasn’t going for a PR but was hoping for a time in the low 21’s. I had a goal for the summer that I am going to slowly chip away at my 5K time. So when the race started I let lots of people blow past me and tried to go out slow. I looked down and saw a 7 minute pace and thought “Perfect!”

The race director’s son pulled up next to me and I was pumped because I knew that we could run together for the next 2 miles so I would have someone to help keep me accountable and on pace.

However, after the first mile, I lost my friend and we both lost our paces. I don’t know what happened. The race is flat and I felt like I was pushing hard but when I saw my pace way off my goal I immediately picked it back up.

I fought hard to catch the girl who was in first but in the end my second mile really hurt me and I ended up in second place. 5K’s lately just haven’t been my thing when I am training for marathons. I can’t keep the speed and long distance, it’s one or the other.

IMG_4027Naturally, since I was 2nd overall, I was first in my age group! My official time was 21:42 which really wasnt’ that far off from what I was aiming for. And in case you were wondering how Ryan did, he won, obviously.

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Hermes Run Like A God 10 Miler

Yes, I am almost 2 months late on writing posts but I still want to keep up with my race recaps because that was the whole reason I started this blog. To remember my races and my running journey.

Back in April I ran the Hermes 10 Miler. I had some unfinished business on that course/race and had been looking forward to it all year. My Hanson’s training plan was the perfect recipe for a 10 mile PR.

Before the race, I had spent a lot of time calculating my race plan and how I would attack the course. I looked at my tempo runs and dialed into a very specific pace that I wanted to run. The pace would have me finish sub 1:15 which would be a 10 mile PR for me.

Race day morning was a little colder than I had expected but I still tried to dress as light as possible. Which meant capri’s and a jacket. I don’t do cold well.

For the first 3 miles of the race, I paid very close attention to my watch and to the times I had written on my hand. I wrote the 3 mile mark, 5 mile mark, and 8 mile mark on my hand. My goal was to get to each mile marker on time. Not too Early and not too late.


I ended up hitting the 3 mile mark early, not too surprising since the course has some downhill at the beginning. I had gotten past the phase of passing or being passed and was in a groove with some runners where we were all running similar paces. By mile 5 I was running with another runner who was keeping the pace pretty even but I still hit mile 5 a little early.


I knew there were some hills towards the end so I told myself to ignore them all and just get to my mile 8 split on time. I had hit all my other times early so I had some cushion if I needed it.

When I hit mile 8, I started doing the math in my head and was pretty confident I would PR but was not sure by how much.

Coming in for the finish

Coming in for the finish

The last part of the race winds around so you can see the finish line but it’s a lot farther away than it looks. As I started to get closer to the finish line I started to feel like I would puke. Awesome! That must mean I am pushing myself hard! I slowed down just a bit but then sprinted the last straightaway.

PR Smile

PR Smile

I crossed the finish line so proud of myself. A HUGE 10 Mile PR. 1:13:44 a 7:22 pace.

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Cleveland Marathon Recap: Give It To Me Again!

Going into race weekend I had a very specific game plan for this marathon. I trained hard and planned to give it all I had but I never shared with you my goal. My goal was to run with the 3:35 pace group until mile 20 and then push the pace then to a 3:33:30 finish. It sounded easy enough to me and based off my training plan I was confident I was ready.

A lot of people were concerned about the weather but I decided to ignore the weather all week and pray for rain. I trained for a specific race and I was determined to run that time. The only thing I needed to know from the weather was what to wear.

My Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Friends

My Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Friends

I got downtown early this morning and met up with the rest of my ambassador crew and stayed calm before the race as I have some major race nerves. The Ambassador crew was absolutely amazing this year, I loved hearing about their training throughout the year! As I got into my corral I realized that my pace team was not in my corral but that actually all the pace teams were in the A-B corrals. So I broke a race rule and went up snuck (snuck is not a real word) into the corral where my pace team was. I absolutely hate when people do this so I am sorry for being a hypocrite but I had a plan!

This is the face of a girl with a plan...or a girl with nerves, talking to a friend before the race and lacking all forms of caffeine.

This is the face of a girl with a plan…or a girl with nerves, talking to a friend before the race and lacking all forms of caffeine.

When I got into my pace group, I ran into a fellow Second Sole runner, Crystal as well as fellow Ambassador PAM! Just before the race started, it started to rain. Not a downpour (I don’t think) but enough to get wet…and cool everyone down. I had went back and forth on if I wanted to wear a hat today so I was suddenly second guessing that I didn’t have my hat!

When the race started it was the normal start and go until we actually reached the timing mat to start the race. Naturally, it was crowded and I did a lot of weaving but I finally got to the pace group again and literally glued myself to them. Also part of my plan. I will literally run on my pacers heels or right next to them.

Miles 1-7: 8:17, 8:08, 7:58, 8:00, 8:04, 8:00, 8:12

A little in front of the pace group here, oops!

A little in front of the pace group here, oops!

As we ran through the streets of Cleveland I was very focused on my race and put a smile on my face to keep me relaxed throughout the run. I let the pace group dictate the pace even when our watches had beeped when we weren’t at the mile markers yet.

Running through Ohio City

Running through Ohio City

My plan was to take a Gu at mile 7 but I was feeling kind of full and not really wanting a Gu yet so I pushed it off to mile 8. I had a plan and it didn’t include eating Gu at specific miles, it included gluing myself to the pace group. I was still with them so that’s all that mattered.

That weird smile is because I was mid chew from chewing gum.

That weird smile is because I was mid chew from chewing gum.

 Miles 8-16: 7:57, 7:53, 8:19, 8:02, 8:02, 8:12, 8:09, 8:07, 7:59

At mile 8, I finally took my first Gu and immediately felt a boost from the sugar and caffeine. You see, the week of the marathon, I gave up caffeine. As if running marathons wasn’t crazy enough. Throughout the entire race I had grabbed water at every water stop. I took a small sip and then poured a little on each arm to keep myself cool.

Normally, I run with music to keep my nerves in check. However, I waited til almost mile 9 before I finally put them in my ears. I was enjoying the race and the crowds and my friends who came out to cheer.

Especially this little one who had a road runner sign and kept asking “Where is Jess going?”

Best Cheerleader!

Best Cheerleader!

Now as much fun as I was having on the course, I realized I was having a slight problem…I was full! I felt like I had demolished an entire meal. I couldn’t even think about opening my second Gu. Luckily, I had packed some Run Gum with me so I was able to get a little boost from that. For the record, Run Gum tastes pretty gross but I have noticed the caffeine in it helps me on my runs.

At mile 16, I slowly started to drop back from the pace group. I hoped that if I slowed down, my stomach would settle/make more room and I could just catch back up. I told myself that I had just carb loaded too much and that I would burn it off and be fine.

Miles 17-22: 8:32, 8:30, 8:22, 8:37, 8:47, 9:04

I kept the pace group in my line of sight and looked forward to the turnaround which was quickly approaching which meant that I would finally see Ryan! Sadly, I had hoped that when I would see him I would still be with the pace group. Luckily, I was still very close to the group but I gave him a big smile so that he knew I was okay.

At the turnaround, I felt a nice surge of energy and knew all I had to do was run back downtown. Sounded easy enough. I even talked myself into taking my second Gu around mile 20. The second Gu didn’t go so well. I literally opened it, took a tiny bit and threw it on the ground. Instead, I popped my second piece of Run Gum to keep myself distracted from not getting any Gu.

Running down Lake Ave

Running down Lake Ave

It had been drizzling on and off during the race but by mile 21, it had cleared up and was starting to get warm. I kept running, even though my pace group had slipped out of sight. I figured I might get a burst of energy and catch them on the Shoreway or I could still PR.

As I was running down Lake Ave, I saw a woman with a tray of watermelon that she was holding out for runners. I avoid unofficial water stops most of the time but I couldn’t pass up that watermelon at that time. I grabbed a small piece and slowly took tiny bites out of it and carried it with me for the next mile or so. I wouldn’t find out til after the race that the woman I took watermelon from was my friend Beth from Zumbercani! The must have really been getting to me!

The further down Lake Avenue I got, the closer I got to the Shoreway and I knew the Shoreway was only about 2 miles from the finish. The 3:40 pace group had not passed me yet so I was still on pace for a PR. I was assuming that I was on pace to finish in 3:38.

Miles: 23-26.2: 9:09, 9:11, 10:19, 9:33

I know most people dislike running on the Shoreway but for me, it’s the only chance I ever get to run on the Shoreway. It makes me feel like a rebel getting to run on that wide open road along Lake Erie.

As I was running down the shoreway, I was tired but not anywhere near walking. I could still hold a running pace and I intended to. I caught up to some runners that were in my 3;35 pace group who had also fell away from the group. Then up ahead, I recognized a runner and I pointed at him, caught up to him and decided I would run the rest of the race with him. That runner was fellow Ambassador, Andrew Runs A Lot who was battling some painful blisters from the wet course earlier in the day.

Literally ran into fellow Ambassador, Andrew Runs A Lot

Literally ran into fellow Ambassador, Andrew Runs A Lot

Andrew and I didn’t say much those last few miles. We were hot and we were tired but we had the same goal and it was to get to the finish line and finish the race. I was still battling nausea but was happy I could run with a friend those last few miles to distract me.


As we reached mile 26, Andrew picked up his pace and headed to the finish line. I was right behind him and smiled the whole way to the finish. I wasn’t going to PR at this race and I wasn’t going to BQ but I could honestly say that I had a blast and enjoyed every minute of 14th marathon. As soon as I finished all I wanted to do was run the race all over again.

299677_197869578_XLargeI ended up 5th in my age group with a time of 3:42:51, my 3rd fastest marathon.I could easily be disappointed in not meeting my goals and following my plan but instead I feel encouraged. I feel like I was close to my goals and I know that the PR and BQ are in my near future.

I think it is pretty obvious that I will be back again next year. I love this race so much! Thank you Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon for yet another great race!

Give It To Me AGAIN!

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