River Run Half Marathom 2015

I am suddenly reminded that I should probably write race recaps within the first 2 weeks that I do a race. Otherwise, I am left doing them 2+ months later and trying to remember how it went and what the weather was like. AKA be a better blogger Jess.

I don’t remember exactly what the weather was like but I believe I remember seeing people somewhat bundled. Tights, capris, long sleeves etc. I was feeling brave and went with shorts and compression socks.

I usually try to make River Run a goal half marathon for the year. I feel it is a PR friendly course and it goes through some areas that I run through regularly so it is familiar to me. I can pick off my favorite area that I run through. I can also chip away and know exactly where I am on the course at all times.

River Run 2015 1

This year it was even easier to know where I was on the course because I had spent a lot of time biking in the metroparks while training for the Ironman.

Originally when I signed up for the River Run half marathon, I was pretty sure it would be my goal running race of the year and the race that I would PR at. As it got closer to race day, I slowly realized that the half marathon PR likely was not there. Ironman training slowly took over my life so a speedy half marathon did not seem likely.

That didn’t mean I wouldn’t give it a try though. Basing off the past couple races of the summer I decided I would probably run a 1:42-1:43 and set out at that pace. Within the first mile, I found my unofficial pacer Maureen. Maureen is a local runner who kicks my ass at almost every race. I don’t know how she does it since she is in her 50s! She is pretty much my life goal to run her paces at that age.

I seriously spent the rest of the race pacing with Maureen. Neither one of us was backing down on the pace and it was awesome because it was exactly where I wanted to be. And I didn’t want to slow down because I knew I would never get back to that pace.

River Run 2015 2

However, after a tough battle, at mile 12 I was done. Not done done and had to walk done. Just done running a 7:xx pace (I have no idea what pace we were running). The last mile was easily my slowest but I kept trucking along to the finish.

I finished the race in 1:43:13, exactly where I thought I would be and I had zero disappointments in this race. I was actually very pleased with how I executed it. After the race I discovered that I had actually placed in my age group!!! This race is huge so I didn’t expect that to happen.

We celebrated the race with a crab and shrimp boil.

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Ironman Louisville 2015 – Part 2

This post is taking me entirely too long to complete, but I really wanted you guys to know all the details of one of the happiest days of my life. It also doesn’t help that this day started at 3:30am and ended well past my bedtime and past midnight!

3:30am – My alarm went off and I immediately got out of bed. On the day of big races I have a hard time sleeping for fear that I will over sleep or hit snooze and the snooze won’t work. I normally wake up around 4:30 but I was feeling that 3:30am wake-up call. Normally, I tell myself to get moving and that I could take a nap later. However, I knew there was no time for napping on this day.

I got dressed and immediately started to get my breakfast going. Oatmeal, banana, cereal bar, Gatorade and Nooma. I was feeling pretty nauseous and I knew it was just nerves; however, I had a hard time eating because I felt so sick. After struggling to get my oatmeal down, I was in the bathroom puking it right back up. This was not exactly how I planned on starting my day.

I think I made Ryan a little worried when he knew I was that nervous. Actually, I know he was nervous because he texted Francesca to keep him calm. I tried my best to keep down whatever breakfast I might still have in me and headed out as soon as I could. I was hoping that once I was at the race I would be calmed down.

I got to the transition area at 5am. I thought I would be one of the first people there since the race doesn’t officially start until 7am. However, it was packed. These Ironman people don’t mess around.

Gear Bags IMG_5195

Although I had racked my bike and dropped off my transition bags the day before, I still had to get to my bike to put my water bottles and food on it. I also went to my gear bags to make sure that I didn’t forget anything. Then it was time to make the walk to the swim start. I am not kidding you when I say the transition area and the swim start were a mile apart.

swim course mapAs I got to the swim start area, I had to take off my layers of clothes to get my body marked. I get ridiculously excited about this.  Oh, did I mention that the temperature was in the 40s!? I am the biggest freeze baby! They literally write your number on your arms and legs. I love it because if it doesn’t wash off, then everyone knows you raced that day. It’s the little things that make me happy.

As I kept walking, I saw the swim start and I saw the line. I was warned that people get in line really early for this race. I had no idea how early though. From the looks of it, some people were in line at 5am. As I began walking to find the end of the line, I started to get a little worried that I should have got in line sooner. The rule is, you get 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the swim from the time you get in the water. They have this crazy rolling start so that 2 hours and 20 minutes doesn’t start until you get in the water. However, you only get until midnight to finish the race, regardless of what time you actually start the whole thing. This made me pretty nervous because I didn’t know how much time I needed to finish the race as this was my first Ironman!

Sunrise over the Ohio River

Sunrise over the Ohio River

I finally met up with Anna and her parents who were already in line. I was still pretty nauseous at this point so I was hoping that being in line would make me feel better and I could get more food down. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. I sipped on some Gatorade but that was about it. As cold as it was outside and as early as we were in line, the time went by really quick and by 6:45 we were already taking layers off and putting wet suits on.

IMG_52447:30am – The race started! However, with the rolling start, they start each athlete individually and they jump in the water. This is awesome because mass starts make me even more nervous. As far back as I was in line ( I’m talking hundreds of people back), the line moved extremely quickly and I was nearing the water fast. This probably helped with my nerves but it also made me tear up a couple times. I just kept thinking to myself “I can’t believe I am doing this!”

Anna and I making wetsuits and tennis shoes look sexy.

Anna and I making wetsuits and tennis shoes look sexy.

Why am I smiling so BIG??? Nerves, lots and lots of nerves.

Why am I smiling so BIG??? Nerves, lots and lots of nerves.

7:45am -ish – I started the race and without thinking, jumped in the water and started just started swimming. I normally have pretty bad water anxiety and I worked really hard to overcome it this summer. I tried to stay to the outside of the swimmers and immediately did the one thing that calms me down when swimming and that is to sing U Boj U Boj in my head. I don’t know why but that song calms me down every time I freak out.

Free hug for whoever can find me in this picture. Hint, I have a pink cap on.

Free hug for whoever can find me in this picture. Hint, I have a pink cap on.

I found my rhythm in the water and eventually moved towards the middle of the swim pack so that the turn would be a little easier. This was a bad idea because it was more congested and I ran into a lot of people. It was very frustrating to me every time someone got in my way. This was also the first time ever that I accidentally swam over someone!


I still can’t believe I swam this!

I don’t know if I swim in a straight line or not but I assume I am all over the place and probably swim further than I actually need to. I started to feel the current a little bit as I was swimming into it, so I looked up to see how close I was to the turn buoy and I thought I was losing my mind as I saw people walking! I looked up again and apparently there was a sand bar (more like a mud bar) that you could walk on for a minute. I thought this was amazing. I used my time wisely to pee in the water at this point.

A little further past the sand bar was the turn buoy and then I knew I would be home free to swim to the finish with the current. However, after I made the turn, I didn’t really feel the current so I put a new song in my head, Po Prigorju, and picked a point in the distance to get me to the finish (If you are thinking that I listen to weird music then you are correct).

Although I didn’t feel the current, it must have been working because the second part of the race was flying by and I could see the finish! I almost had tears in my eyes because I was so excited. All I could think was “I did it! I swam 2.4 miles in open water!” There are stairs to help you out of the water, but with the current (that I suddenly now felt) I couldn’t get my legs on the stairs. Luckily there were volunteers nearby to help make sure I “found my legs” and got out of the water safely.

That's my

That’s my “I did it” smile

Official Swim Time: 1:27:12. My goal was between 1:30-2:00 so I was beyond happy.

Transition #1 – 16:41

The best part about T1 was that there were so many people out cheering at the swim exit that I didn’t even look for Ryan. But there he was screaming my name and taking pictures as I headed over to the wet suit strippers to get my wet suit off. I had the biggest smile on my face when I saw him. I just wanted to hug him and tell him “I’ve got this”.

I was hoping to keep my transition time under 15 minutes but there was a long run from the swim exit to the changing tent and then from the changing tent to the bike mount. The changing tent was also packed so it was extremely difficult to change…especially while wet.

9:28am- ish – I started the bike leg. This is the longest part of the event as it is 112 miles long but not only is it long, it’s very hilly. However, I biked A LOT this summer and I was ready. I had a plan that I was practicing all summer that included a solid nutrition plan and I had more Croatian songs in my head to pass the time.

Bike course map

The first 12 miles flew by and I was holding an awesome pace. I admit I am not a good cyclist; I’m just blessed with the ability to complete long distance events. So it was no surprise that the awesome pace did not stick around for long, especially once the hills started.


Unlike most people, I never had the chance to ride the course until race day. I had not driven it either so race day was my first look at the course (minus the YouTube video of the course). I had heard about an out and back section of the course that people complained about, but I thought maybe it was just a hilly section. As I neared this section I was in for a scary bike ride.

Not only is this out and back section hilly but there are cyclists going in both directions and there are crashes! Crashes were not something that I was prepared for when I trained. I figured if you crashed it was because you were going too fast. I never imagined that people would crash into each other or what that scene would look like, let alone what it would sound like.

I have nightmares now of the sound of bikes crashing together. It was so scary that I started praying on the bike that I didn’t care how long the bike leg took me as long as I didn’t crash. As people were flying down the hills, I was going super slow. I didn’t want to take any chances on crashing.

Smiling and didn't even know there was a camera there.

Smiling and didn’t even know there was a camera there.

Many people ask “What did you do while on the bike for so long?” Oh you mean besides bike? I tried my best to distract myself. You are not allowed to have headphones of any kind so I sang to myself a lot. I’m not sure why but I sang the ABC’s a lot, especially while going up hills. I would try to guess how many times I could sing the ABC’s before I reached the top of the hill. When that got old I would count to 100… 3 times and I would quiz myself on some lyrics that I needed to memorize for an upcoming Zumbercani show.

Bike course

So if it sounds like I kinda lost my mind, I probably did. I ate as much as I could on the bike (Powerbar fruit pouches, Slim Jims, lots of gels, Smuckers Uncrustables and lots of Gatorade) because you have to remember I threw up my breakfast and I was on the bike for hours. Whatever I ate on the bike had to be enough to fuel me for a marathon as well. I’m pretty much on the bike through most people’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yep, this is just sounding a little more crazy as we go here.

I had to pee after about 30 miles on the bike. However, I didn’t want to stop! A lot of people pee on the bike…like literally pee while riding. I decided I was going to do this too! However, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t do it. By mile 70, I decided I would just stop at one of the many aid stations but every time I got to an aid station, there was a line for the bathroom so I ended up holding it…for the entire bike ride.

To tell you I was excited to get off the bike is an understatement.

To tell you I was excited to get off the bike is an understatement.

I was hoping to finish the bike in under 7 hours. However, I was much, much slower than that. When I slowed down because of the scary steep down hills, I slowed down a little too much.

Official Bike Time: 7:50:39

Transition #2 – 11:22

This transition was all sorts of amazing. To start, I was done with the bike leg! And the next leg was my favorite…the run! I grabbed my run gear bag and headed to the changing tent to change into running clothes. Literally the first person I ran into was Mel from the Cleveland Tri Club. She is seriously just amazingly ridiculous. She came down from Cleveland just to volunteer at the event. While I was attempting to get changed and ready she helped to get everything out of my bag and ready to go so that I could have a fast transition. She also gave me a much needed hug as I headed out for the run. I also took a second to use the bathroom at this point. Phew, finally.

5:30/6PM? I have no idea at this point what time it was. I just knew it was time to run!

As I started the run I saw Ryan! He had his phone out and was taking pictures and I was telling him how happy I was to be running. He pointed to his shirt and I was like, “What is that”

Iron Jess

Iron Jess

fam3 fam7 fam8

Apparently, my company had shirts made for the event. The shirts had an Ironman head and a blonde pony tail (I work in the t-shirt industry so this is pretty easy for them to pull off). While I was running, Ryan informed me that there were people in Lakewood wearing these shirts and Euclid and Delfos and Aruba. As he said each city, I slowly realized that somehow my family and friends also had these shirts!

baffi Better Francesa Brotherinlaw fam1 fam4 fam5 fam6 friends inlaws

My first mile for the race was 9:29. I didn’t really have a pace goal in mind but I would be OK with running between a 4:30 and sub 5 hour marathon. This is well slower than my normal marathon time of 3:40s but my goal was to finish the Ironman, not to run a good marathon time.

IMG_5228    IMG_5231

My plan was to run the first 10 miles and then work in a run/walk. By mile 5, I saw so many people walking, cramping, passing out while running and crying that I decided to implement my run/walk plan early to ensure I make it to the finish line in without any issues. So my mile 7.3 split was still pretty good at a 9:33 pace.


My happy place.

The route for the run is a double loop course which I was OK with because I actually love double loops. It gives friends and family a chance to see you a couple of times on the course but it give me a chance to know what to expect on the second loop of the course. The first loop went by pretty quickly for me and I slowed down to a 11:17 per mile pace.

run courseMy plan for the second loop was to basically run to each aid station, walk the aid station, count to 100 and run to the next aid station. This actually worked really well for me. It gave me something to look forward to and at the aid stations I had a ton of different foods to choose from. Coke and grapes were my favorite things to grab. A couple of times I grabbed chips and pretzels but I had a really dry mouth so I had a hard time chewing them. I would have to throw some Gatorade, water or Coke in there to wash it down. It was about as gross as you could imagine but you do whatever you have to in order to finish an Ironman.

Run course map

There are almost no hills on the run course in Louisville but with an October race, it got dark really quickly. I was happy that someone handed me a glow-in-the-dark necklace so that people could see me, even though the course is very well-lit.

As I passed the 20 mile marker, I teared up because I knew how close I was to finishing. From that point, it was only a 10K, 6.2 miles. I knew at that point that I could walk the last 6.2 miles and I would finish well below the cutoff time and close to my goal finish time. To be safe, I continued a run/walk strategy to mile 23. At mile 23, I picked up the pace and stopped my run/walk strategy. There were a ton of spectators on the course and they were encouraging me to keep going. With your name on your bib, it was nice to hear people yell my name.


Finally, I made a right turn and I could see 4th Street Live…I could see the finish line that I had been dreaming about for the last year.  As I came down the finishers chute, I was high-fiving people in the crowd and trying my best to hold back the tears that were welling up in my eyes. I could hear the Cleveland Tri Club screaming my name but I couldn’t bear to look at them because I knew I couldn’t keep it together much longer.


After the longest endurance event of my life, I crossed the finish line after being on the course for 14 hours and 41 minutes.  I threw my arms in the air and had the biggest happiest smile on my face.

Official Run Time: 4:55

“Jessica McCartney, You are an IRONMAN!”

arms up finish

I immediately broke down in tears and told the closest volunteer “I did it!” and she said, “You crushed it, I’m so proud of you.” I didn’t even know this woman but she put my finisher medal on me and walked with me through the finish area telling me how well I did.

ironmanfinishLiterally just lost it after I finished.Literally just lost it after I finished.


Talking to the media and signing autographs post race…j/k

(If you want to see me finish or just want to see me lose it when I finish, here is the video)

For me, I had one thing left to do and that was to get out of the finisher area as quickly as possible to give Ryan the biggest hug ever. Ryan was literally on his own for the entire day. I made him get up at 4 am and he followed my race as closely as possible for the entire day. He was not only by far my biggest fan out there but he made sure everyone at home knew where I was on the course the entire time. To say that Ryan is supportive is an understatement. I seriously don’t know what I would do without him.

Ryan was very good at passing the time.

Ryan was very good at passing the time.

I was the most sore I have ever been in my life almost immediately after this race. I could barely walk. However, I was totally OK with that as it was the perfect reminder of what my body had accomplished and the 140.6 miles that went with it.

This man deserves a medal for supporting me this entire year. He is seriously amazing.

This man deserves a medal for supporting me this entire year. He is seriously amazing.

For those of you who are wondering if I will do another one…you better believe it! However, I need a year or 2 off of Ironman training. The amount of training that went into this was A LOT.  It’s also really expensive! I think my body and my bank account need to recover and rebound before we try to complete another one.

For those of you asking f I will get the tattoo…absolutely not! I think a million t-shirts and a necklace will do just fine.

Celebrating with Husband Ryan and Friend Ryan and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Celebrating with Husband Ryan and Friend Ryan and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

For anyone on the fence about completing an endurance event of any kind, DO IT! You won’t regret it and you will be amazed at what your body can accomplish.


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Ironman Louisville 2015 – Part 1

Sometime in October 2014, I had asked Ryan “What would you think if I did an Ironman?” I had been researching it and it was definitely something that I was dreaming about doing. I was expecting a response from Ryan to bring me back to reality and remind me how difficult and time-consuming the training would be, that I would miss out on time with friends and family or the fact that I really wasn’t much of a swimmer. However, he said none of those things. He turned to me and said “I support you.” I was kinda shocked with how he said it with full confidence. He supported me and I could tell he believed I could do it.

Believe it or not, I did not sign up in October. Ryan might have believed in me but I needed a little more convincing. I began to talk to friends who have completed Ironmans for advice and most tried to talk me out of it because I was so new to triathlons. So I ignored them and talked to the friends who were crazy like me and jumped into endurance events head-first. I researched many training plans, bike workouts, and pool swim hours before I finally registered in January…just days before it sold out for the year.


After months of swimming with the Lakewood Master’s Swim Club, swimming at Lake Medina and Lake Erie, countless hours on the bike on the trainer in the basement watching Game of Thrones 1-5, rides down in the Metroparks, plenty of early-morning runs, and managing 15-20 hours-a-week of workouts, it was finally Ironman weekend and time to make the drive down to Louisville, KY.


Arriving in Louisville, I miraculously found parking and was able to walk to athletes village. The expo was held outside and judging by the wet grass, I just missed the storm that rolled through. I made my way to get in line to check-in and was greeted with the most amazing volunteers. Everyone was so well trained on what they had to do and it made the check-in seamless.

I may or may not still have this on.

After athlete check-in, I met up with my coworker’s sister, Anna. Months ago, my coworker told me that his sister was doing an Ironman. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes, assuming he meant a Tough Mudder (nothing against the Tough Mudder, but people confuse the two events when they are quite different). When he said it was in Louisville I thought he might actually know what he was talking about. Naturally, I friended her on Facebook and he was right; she was also signed up for the Ironman. She lives out of state, so we were unable to train together, but we were able to keep in touch about our training. Anna and I hung out for the rest of the day. We grabbed late lunch on Fourth Street Live (the site of the finish line) and we also walked around the swim exit/transition area to get familiar with it for race day.

   Athletes village Swim Exit before

It was an early night for me on Friday as I had to head to my room to check-in and to compile my race bags. This should be the true test of an Ironman; can you pack all the items you need to swim, bike and run for one day?

Gear Bags laid out and in order

Gear Bags laid out and in order

I was really nervous that I might have forgot something, but after packing my bags it looked like I had everything I needed…even chap-stick! Then, I was nervous that it wouldn’t all fit in the bags.

But every thing fit!

But every thing fit!


Friday was a jam-packed day for me so I went to bed early and was up early. Saturday morning was very important to me as it was the only chance I would get to do a practice swim in the Ohio River. There was a lot of talk about the toxic blue and green algae blooms leading up to the race, but it had been cleared for swim practice and race day.

I met up once again with Anna and her dad and we headed to the swim practice. The temperature was in the mid-50s and with me being the freeze-baby, I was really nervous about jumping into a cold river. I heard the river temperatures were in the 70s but the air was so cold that I couldn’t believe it. I shivered as I took off my layers of clothes and put on my wetsuit. The “sherpas” in the area looked at us triathletes like we were crazy for swimming in the cold weather.

I walked down the swim exit to the water and was pleasantly surprised that the water was warm…like, really warm. I got in a couple of strokes and felt amazing. It wasn’t super crowded but a lot of people were stopping and looking around, which made me have to stop as well. I only swam a couple of minutes, but that’s all I needed to do to tell myself that I would be OK on race day. I tend to freak out during the swim, so practicing in the water really calms me down.

SwimPracticeThe rest of Saturday was pretty uneventful. I spent a lot of time relaxing and eating. I did a pretty good job of keeping my nerves down too.



I must have been a little more nervous than I thought thought because I took very few pictures on Saturday. After double checking my to do lists to make sure I didn’t forget anything, I fell asleep watching a video of the bike course.

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Lake Erie Waterfest Splash & Dash Sprint Tri

After the Huntington Sprint Tri I contemplated retiring from triathlons. This may be the first time I have said that out loud. The swim was so bad for me that I couldn’t imagine swimming 1.2 or 2.4 miles in open water. I was going to throw away my Ironman dreams. The entire drive home I was very disappointed and Ryan and I had to have a conversation on what to do next. I decided I could either give up OR get back out there and train harder.

Obviously I got back out there and kept working. I also signed up for another race as soon as I could so I could get back out there and prove to myself that I could swim in open water.

I got to this race early and set up my transition area while trying to remain calm. I was doing good until I saw the water. There were a lot of waves. Fairly big waves, at least to me but it looked like the big waves were close to shore and where you could still stand. The farther out you went the water flattened out. I think that’s probably the best scenario I would have hoped for.

The Swim – 14:54

The swim  was a literally straight out and back course. I’ve never seen that in a triathlon before but I actually really liked it. I did good for the first couple strokes and then I started to freak out. I did a really good job of staying calm and just doggy paddled til I calmed down enough to start putting my face back in the water. After I put my face in the water I just tried to breathe on every stroke. I did ok but still had to doggy paddle to remain calm. When I got to the turnaround buoy, I told myself I had to swim normal all the way back. And I did! Finally felt good on the swim! Minus the fact that I had a full sleeve wetsuit on and it was a little warm.

T1 – 1:37

I’ve never worked on my transitions but I really good at getting ready quickly and especially  changing quickly. Seriously, if you ever go shopping with me, I am really fast at changing in the changing rooms.

The Bike – 41:12

My goal was to do the bike in under 40 minutes but I came up just a bit short. This was the first time I really hammered the bike. And by hammered I averaged 17.5 mph. Really not that fast but I was happy with it. I probably lost a little time going through the cud-de-sacs and close to an intersection I had to wait to pass some ladies to avoid drafting. I don’t even know if there were draft rules in place but better to be safe.


T2 – 1:19

Another fast transition. Not mad about it.

The Run – 24:15

My watch timed the run at 23:20 but I’m happy with a 24:15so I won’t complain. Plus who knows where the timing mats were and I may have started my watch late. After hammering the bike I was pretty sure my legs would be useless but I was still going to try for a 25 minute 5K. It took my legs less than 1 minute to find their running legs but after that I took off and picked off runners as I went. The best part about triathlons is with a running background I get to pass a lot of people during the run. It’s nice to be able to make up some time in the sport you excel at. Especially when the swim and the bike are so bad.

Look at that stride!

Look at that stride!

Overall Finish Time: 1:23:20


In case you need a reminder, I did the Huntington Triathlon just a few weeks before this in 1:37:19. Took well over 10 minutes off my sprint triathlon time. It was exactly the confidence boost I needed to continue with Ironman training. Felt good to be back on track and even better to place 1st in my age group! This was my first time placing in a triathlon.

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Akron Goodyear Half Marathon

Almost every year I participate in the Akron Marathon/Half Marathon or Relay in September. Well, this year the great people at the Akron marathon develop a summer series of races. I didn’t sign up for all 3 races in the series because it was too expensive. I did sign up for the August Goodyear Half and the Akron Half Marathon in September though.

We arrived super early to the start of this race because we have no idea where we are going in Akron and because it always seems that the freeways are crazy and end up being congested. Since we arrived early we got awesome parking literally in the parking garage next to the start/finish line.

We are mastering the pre-race photo

We are mastering the pre-race photo

I really don’t know my way around Akron but it was nice to warm up in a new place. The only bad part was I warmed up, was ready to race and this race started super early in the morning but not everyone arrived early like we did and the race start time got pushed back. That has happened way too often lately and I’m kind of annoyed that people can’t get to a race on time.

When the race finally started, I had planned to stick with the 1:40 pace group. Yay for having pace groups at a half marathon! I didn’t think I would PR at this race but I was hoping to run around a 1:43. However, at about mile 3 I lost my pace group. There were so many hills that I had to slow down my pace!

I thought no big deal, Akron is known to be hilly, I’ll be ok and catch back up in no time….

That really never happened, I swear the race just got more and more hilly. I never got a break from the hills. That seems to be a common theme in my races lately. At every hill I kept thinking we would come back down but that didn’t really happen. Luckily, as it got hotter I really didn’t notice and was able to keep moving.

Akron Half Marathon Burn Rubber 2015 - 1I don’t think the heat even started to both me until the last mile or so. When we got to the race track, I finally started to realize how hot it was. I kept moving around the race track because I knew I would be almost done after that and that the track was about a mile.

Akron Half Marathon Burn Rubber 2015 - 2As I neared the finish line I knew I was way off my goal as the 1:45 pace group passed me around mile 8. I ended up coming in at 1:47:04 and 6th in my age group. I wasn’t super excited about my time but I was super glad I wasn’t running the full in Akron this year! I could be wrong but I think part of the course for the Goodyear Half is the same for the Akron Marathon this year.

Me with all my goodies

Me with all my goodies

I have to mention that this race was extremely well run, especially for a first year event. I crossed the finish line and was given my medal, chocolate milk, gatorade, water and a cold wet towel. A COLD WET TOWEL! That has to be the most genius idea that I have ever heard of. Also with the race you got free food from Swensons! I’ll definitely be back next year!

All the race swag and of course Bodhi snuck in

All the race swag and of course Bodhi snuck in

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The Perfect 10 Miler

This race was not originally on my schedule but I decided last minute to run it because I thought it might be a nice tune up to see where I was at for the half marathon that would be the following week. In the past I have ran this race and always enjoyed the course. However, they have changed it since I last ran it so the course was going to be a little different. I knew that but I did not realize how much it had change.

Ryan and I pre-race

Ryan and I Pre-race

I am pretty sure Ryan and I were the first ones to arrive on race day but better to arrive early and be prepared than to arrive late and be rushed. We had plenty of time to use the restrooms and get warmed up. We were able to warm up on the first and last mile of the course so we could get a taste of the hills at the end of the race. We had no idea just how hilly the course would be though.

The start of the race was delayed 15 mins due to the athletic director not showing up to unlock the gates to the track that was part of the race course. As the race started we were unsure as to if the course would include the track or not, also meaning that we did not know if the course was going to be short or not.

The first couple miles of the race were pretty hilly so I immediately slowed my pace down. I had hopes that the course would flatten out and I could get my pace back on track. Speaking of track, when we got to the track it was open! Not sure if the person with keys showed up or if the locks were cut before the runners came through.

Somewhere on the course - My weird face is because I was chewing gum during the race.

Somewhere on the course – My weird face is because I was chewing gum during the race.

Throughout the entire course I kept thinking that it couldn’t get any hillier. That the hills had to stop and we would have some relief with some downhills. However, this never seemed to happen and my pace slowly decreased.

I remember climbing the last hill thinking how in the world is this course so hilly! I was well past my goal time, well past the pace I was aiming for and just so done with hills. I finally made it to the top of the hill and knew I was very close to the finish line. I tried to pick up my pace and took the headphones out of my ears as I neared the finish line.

This is my "I'm totally done with hills" face

This is my “I’m totally done with hills” face

I’m not sure how but I managed to finish 2nd in my age group with a 1:19:21. I thought for sure I wouldn’t because this race is usually pretty competitive. I was very happy with my time for such a hilly course. I was not so happy with the fact that I had to get a couple more miles in after the race and I was surrounded by nothing but hills. I would have to say I am undecided if I would run this race again next year.

I was a little relieve when I found out these mugs were our awards for placing in our age groups.



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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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