Lakewood Summer Meltdown 5K

Way back in 2011 I stumbled upon the Lakewood Summer Meltdown 5K and did it for once reason only. Not because it was a night race but because I was doing the Muddy Paws 10 miler that morning (which I ended up only doing the 5 miler option because it was really hard, muddy and hilly) and I thought I would get some solid mileage in that weekend.

Fast forward to 2016 and I haven’t done the Lakewood Summer Meltdown since because I was busy or already racing something else. Or it was really hot and I just didn’t want to deal with it.

After the Winking Lizard Shot in the Dark got canceled this year, I was craving a fun night time race. The Lakewood Summer Meltdown came at a perfect time and fit into my schedule.

Usually these summer night time races are ridiculously hot. We were extremely lucky this year in that it wasn’t too bad and very manageable. I even brought a long sleeved shirt with me for after, just in case it got cold when the sun went down.


There are tons of local high schoolers at this race so it was very hard to judge how far back to start knowing that most of them would be going out way too fast. This race also has a downhill start so it can be an awesome first mile if you play your cards right. I ended up with a 6:55 first mile.

The second mile flattens out a little bit as the course headed towards Lake Erie. However, after that you start to hit some very small inclines. I ended up running 7:25 for my second mile. I definitely thought I was moving faster than that.

The last mile you come back pretty much the same way you came. However, that downhill you started on the first mile is now your uphill finish. The whole race I kept picking runners to pass to keep me motivated to run fast and not give up. At mile 2 I had decided I wanted to pass 3 runners before mile 3. And then at mile 3 I wanted to pass 3 more. My last mile, even while uphill was 7:24.


I ended up with a finish time of 21:48 a 7:02 pace and fourth in my age group and 9th overall female. Looks like more of the faster women were in my age group. Good Job old ladies🙂

Post race food from Deagan’s in Lakewood was a must!


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Bay Days 5 Miler 2016

Every year the Bay Days 5 miler is on the 4th of July so every year there is the fear that it will be 100 degrees. For years, I avoided this race for that very reason. However, the past couple years I have been running it and we have had surprisingly good weather. This year included.

Last year, the day before this race I biked for 5 hours because I was Ironman training. This year I decided to run 20 miles 2 days before. Not exactly the best decision but I don’t normally run well at Bay Days so I figured it wouldn’t matter.

Bay Days Elevation

The Bay Days course is fairly flat but the beginning of the race is slightly downhill so it is really hard to not go out too fast. Which I always love to do. This race was slightly different in that I actually didn’t go out as fast. The first mile marker was a little long but my watch had me at 7:05 mile for the first mile.

The pace felt difficult but my legs didn’t feel heavy so I was hoping I could hold on to the 7:05 pace. I thought for sure that I was running slower but I looked down and by mile 2 I was at a 7:13 pace. So I was running slower but not by too much.

I normally race with headphones but lately I have been getting away from that. For running by myself it is nice to pass the time but when I am racing I always wear them to keep my nerves down and to keep me focused. However, at mile 3 I didn’t even notice that I didn’t have my head phones! I hit mile 3 at 7:19 pace and that wasn’t too far off from the 7:11 pace I was aiming for.

I tried to pick up the pace for the last 2 miles. Nothing major just was hoping to take off a couple seconds and maybe get closer to my goal finish time. I haven’t felt 100% this summer for races so it wasn’t the end of the world if I didn’t hit my goal time. I hit mile 4 at 7:16.

During the last mile, I got passed by a man pushing a stroller but not any stroller. A DOUBLE STROLLER. Like seriously? Who is THAT bad ass? Running in the low 7s while pushing 2 children.

So obviously my goal was to stay as close to Double Stroller Man as possible for the rest of the race. He took off and while it helped my pace, I wouldn’t say I “kept up” with him. I don’t even remember seeing him at the finish.

BayDays Finish

I ended up running that last mile in 7:13 for a finish time of 36:07 a 7:14 pace. SO CLOSE TO MY GOAL TIME! Ahhhh. It wouldn’t have been a PR but just a time I thought I could come close to running but it was just out of my reach. It was a nice way to push myself though. I ended up coming in 4th in my age group which was totally fine with all the competition there and I would rather run a good time than place in my age group. This is also about a minute faster than what I ran at Bay Days last year.


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Towpath Ten-Ten

When I started planning my races for the year, the Towpath Ten-Ten was not on the list. Usually it is just too hot and I don’t like to race long distances in that type of weather. However, we occasionally get lucky in Cleveland so I decided to do it anyways.

Also, I already did the Towpath Half in April and was planning to do the Towpath Marathon in the fall so doing the Ten Ten gets me the Trilogy. I believe you get a shirt and glass for participating in all 3 events.

The weather wasn’t awful the day of the race. I knew it would get warm but just hoped I could at least get a decent workout in.

Unfortunately, I made a major mistake early on. I went out way way way too fast. I know I always say this but I was just being really really dumb. I was hoping my overall pace would be around a 7:20 for the race. I went out at about 6:55 for the first half mile but was able to slow the first mile down to a 7:09 but really wasted a lot of energy. After that I decided to play smart. The first mile marker I had really long so I hoped the rest would adjust themselves as the course went.

To be honest, I just didn’t feel ready to race 10 miles. I did a 10 mile in April that went very well and I did the Cleveland Marathon. However, I just didn’t feel like I was ready to race 10 miles. But there I was, racing 10 miles. I tried my best to zone out and run a good pace. I was also trying to ignore the heat as the race went on and it warmed up outside. I am pretty good at denying it is too hot to run until the race is over.


I was melting but somehow look happy. Makes no sense.

Miles 2-5, 7:24, 7:22, 7:35, 7:30.

For some reason, I was convinced this was going to be a long course from the start. I also felt like we were so far away from the finish and I kept looking for the turnaround. In reality, we were fine and I just didn’t realize where we were.

Miles 6-10, 7:36, 7:48, 7:49, 7:59, 7:52

On the way back, the only thing I kept looking for was to get back to the bridges. You go over these 2 bridges early on in the race so I knew once we got to the bridges I would be close to finishing. Like a mile away from the finish…maybe

As you can tell by my paces, I was slowly melting and the heat was definitely getting to me. It was getting to a lot of other people as well as I saw them slowing down. You know people are too hot when you are running when you pass them and they don’t even try to pick up their pace. You just get in that zone where you don’t care and just want to get to the finish.

I was most definitely looking forward to getting to that finish line. My watch beeped for mile 10 (I had 10.11 on my watch at the finish) but the finish line was still a little ways away. However, at that point, I didn’t even care about my time anymore. I completely missed my goal time but that’s my fault for going out too fast and for racing in the heat.


Don’t puke, don’t puke, don’t puke

As I crossed the finish line, I was immediately dry heaving and running for the grass before grabbing my water or the finishers medal. I leaned over in the grass for what felt like minutes, waiting to vomit in front of all the people there. Luckily, I was able to get my stomach under control but it was not fun.


This race has some of the best awards

I ended up finishing first in my age group with a time of 1:16:54 a 7:54 pace. Well off my goal time but happy to place, especially after not feeling well in the heat.

I am really looking forward to the Towpath Marathon this fall and hopefully some comfortable temps.

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St. Mark’s Run For The Arts 5K

I’ve had the opportunity to run this race a number of times and I don’t know what my deal is but I always race bad at this one. The race is through a familiar neighborhood that I get to train in often, it’s flat and should be fast. However, every time I run this race, I feel like the race is so much longer than a 5K. It’s entirely mental but I keep coming back for more. This is race is held at the church I attend so it also holds a special place.

This race held another special place this year. The week of the race, we had to bury a good friend. This friend was also an avid runner and popular athlete in the area. His death came as a huge shock to us and I’d be lying if I said we were over this or at peace with it. It’s never easy to say goodbye but some people I’m just not ready to lose just yet and this person shouldn’t have left us so soon. But some people are fighting a battle you just can’t understand.

The week of the funeral, I buried my thoughts in running to try and distract myself. To say I needed a race was an understatement. I just wanted to run in memory of Bob. Although the funeral was earlier in the week, some friends put together a group run the morning of the race to remember Bob. It was so nice to get his friends together, some I knew and some I didn’t but we all got together to run for Bob.

RunforBob GroupWe only did a short run with the group above because we had a race to get to but it was so nice to get together.

Ryanand Jess

Luckily the race we were doing was small and close by so after the short group run we still had plenty of time to get to the 5K in time.

This race is for a local school n West Park so it draws a lot of kids and families from the school and neighborhood. Which is another reason why we do this race. However, it makes for  a tricky start as all the kids want to be at the front of the start line. Also makes it comical because most of them will go out fast and be walking after 400 meters.

I tried to start off conservative for this race but I definitely went out way too fast. There were so many kids in front of me I couldn’t help it. After about half a mile, I was able to slow myself down and be more conservative. I took the lead early on but the problem with that was I didn’t know where the other women were. Were they right behind me? Were they waiting for me to slow down to overtake me?

At the 1 mile mark I could see there wasn’t anyone immediately behind me. Phew. But I knew from the past that there was a woman who always wins this race so I figured she would pass me soon. At the 2 mile mark, I still didn’t see anyone immediately behind me but I knew there was at least one woman creeping up so I had to keep my pace strong.

As I neared the finish line, it was so adorable to hear all the younger kids who did the 1 mile cheering. They were so excited to see the 1st girl coming in. (I think my husband told them to cheer loudly)


I ended up finishing 1st overall female in 21:59 but also 3rd overall. I forgot I was passing a lot of boys because I was slowing trying to pick them off. I really was not super happy with my time after this race but it was also a very humid race. Looking back, my time was fine and I really should be happy with that.

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Run Puritas 5K

It appears I am continuing my habit of posting well after a race has passed. I’ve been so so busy but still posting because I don’t want to forget the details in these races.

I’ve raced the Run Puritas 5K for a couple years now and look forward to it because it is a race in my neighborhood. It’s also usually a good tune up for the summer racing season.

For the race this year, I had planned on going out at a very specific pace and not going out too fast no matter who passes me. For once, I stuck to this plan and it worked out perfectly! I ran 6:59 for the first mile.

The course is pretty much out and back so you can see who is around you on the way back and I get to see how Ryan is doing during the race. I always struggle during the second mile and I worked really hard to keep my pace for the second mile and I ended up running 7:07.

For the last mile, I knew I was in first place but I didn’t know who else was close to me. I think that’s why I had such a good last mile because I didn’t know how close anyone was to me. I was also chasing down some boys the last mile and hoping to pass the ones in front of me. My third mile ended up being 7:05. Pretty surprising since my 2nd mile was pretty similar.


I was so happy to finish 1st overall female at this race in 21:31 and Ryan was first overall male in 17:49. This race had a large amount of kids from We Run This Town so it was awesome to see them out there being active but also nice to talk to them after the race. They think Ryan and I are crazy for running as much as we do. We just hope that we are inspiring them to be active.


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Cleveland Marathon 2016

A couple days ago a coworker asked “Is this your favorite weekend of the year?” She was referring to the Cleveland Marathon weekend and I was like “no not my favorite but probably close.” I lied, it’s totally one of my favorite weekends of the year. Every day from Friday-Sunday is just filled with so many fun activities. I’ve dreaded writing this recap because then it means it is really over.

After feeling quite nauseous for the Cleveland Marathon in 2015, I made some changes to how I fueled for the Cleveland Marathon this year. It involved a serious carb deplete but with a more normal carb load. I tend to get full fast and don’t digest food quickly enough so I spread my foods out throughout Friday and Saturday. But on race morning, I got up at 2am to eat half a turkey sandwich and powerade to make sure I had enough fuel and went back to bed.

My alarm went off at 4:10 which wasn’t too bad since we normally get up around 4:20-4:30. Finally it pays off to be an early bird. The plan was to leave by 5:10 so that gave me enough time to take the dogs out, get dressed, eat breakfast (peanut butter toast and half a cup of coffee) and do some warm up stretches.


It’s going to be in the 30s so I decide to wear shorts and a tank. So dumb sometimes.

Most marathons I wear shorts and a tank. However, Cleveland weather made it very difficult to decide what to wear this year. Not just what to wear to run but what to wear to the start. I stuck with my shorts and tank but added compression socks, sleeves and gloves to keep warm. I also had hand warmers and last minute decided to wear a hat because it was sleeting. Yes, sleeting in mid May.


Pre-race with some of the best people I know!

This was by far the most nervous I have been for a marathon in a long time. I just needed this race to start so that I could start moving. Thankfully the time went by quickly and after the national anthem the race started. I was way back in the middle of corral B with the 3:35 pace group so it took us a while to get to cross the start line.

Once we crossed the start line, our pacer went straight to work. It was awesome because I just let him do his thing and maneuvered the crowds and kept us on pace. There was a lot of dodging to be had with walkers who somehow ended up in corral A and B and were being tripped over. Then there was a lot of dodging with the puddles and those weird groove things that the buses use downtown. I hated to waste time and energy dodging puddles but I wanted my feet to be dry as long as possible.

Mile 1=7:57. Mile 2=8:20. Mile 3=8:11. Mile 4=8:17

The first couple miles of the race are obviously crowded but there is a 10k, half and full all together for those miles. And by crowded it is not crazy shoulder to shoulder but it still a crowd running through the streets. I ignored my watch and let the pacer tell me whether we were on or off pace. Our pace was to be 8:12 per mile.

The one thing that could not be ignored was the weather. It was windy and hail by mile 2. I told myself there would be a break in the weather and I would be fine within the hour.

Mile 5= 8:12. Mile 6=8:13. Mile 7=8:04. Mile 8=8:22

Now the first couple miles of a marathon always feel great but its those miles after where I start to check in with myself. How do I feel? Good, the pace feel easy. Almost too easy. Does anything hurt? Yes, my hamstring around mile 8. How is my stomach, is it queasy? No feels pretty good but too nervous to take a gel (bad Jess).

Glued to pacer

Only one who is sleeveless…

I kept looking around and I was the only idiot in a tank. All the guys had on short sleeves or long sleeves. The girls all had on tights, capris or jackets. Mile 7-9 was on a street called Train Ave. It’s a very “Cleveland” type of street (if you know what I mean, wink wink) but I was happy to see some supporters out there with fun signs. That street is not easy to get to and the weather was just awful at this point.

Mile 9=8:19. Mile 10=8:12. Mile 11=8:17. Mile 12=8:17

I finally got to see Francesca and Bethany who came out to cheer. I thought the weather would have scared them away but there they were bundled up in winter coats in May and cheering! It was around mile 9 that I finally finished my first gel that I started around mile 8. The half marathoners broke off around mile 10.5 and that’s when the course really started to thin out. I also lost Dan at this point. He was running with my pace group and doing awesome. I couldn’t talk to him because I was in the zone but it was nice to have someone I knew with me.

Mile 11 I remember very very well because once we got on to Detroit it was like Mother Nature put a switch on. We were running straight into the wind and snow/sleet/hail that was coming down. That hail hitting my shoulders was quiet painful. I am so happy that I had a hat on to protect my face!

Mile 13=8:11. Mile 14=8:16. Mile 15=8:13. Mile 16=8:13

At the half marathon mark, we got a new pacer and the original pacer dropped out. This was their plan all along and I was aware but the first pacer was doing good, I didn’t want him to go! The second pacer did really well and jumped right into pace. It was like he runs that pace in his sleep and did it effortlessly.

I forgot to mention that very early on, I don’t know if the mile markers were off or if everyone’s watches were off because my watch would beep but the mile marker I couldn’t even see yet. However, I was feeling really good and wasn’t going to let that bother me.


Mile 17=8:27. Mile 18=8:06. Mile 19=7:55. Mile 20=7:58

Between mile 17 and 18, I finally got to see Ryan! He was pacing the 3:25 group. Mile 17 was into the wind but I was looking forward to turning around so that I could finally have the wind at my back. Now the whole race I kept telling myself I could pick it up at mile 20 0r 23, depending on how I felt. Lucky for me, my pacer started picking it up for me. Maybe a little too fast that late in the race though. I just told myself to keep holding on though and kept gluing myself to him. So much so that I kept bumping elbows with him during the race.

Mile 21=8:02. Mile 22=8:08. Mile 23=8:15. Mile 24=8:17.

Just before Mile 22, I lost my pace group. I just couldn’t hold on to that pace anymore and had to drop back. I was really hoping I would have a second wind and get back to them. However, I was happy with how well I stayed on my pace without them. Miles 22-24 are hard miles of any marathon. To hold onto your pace that late is a huge accomplishment and I was happy with it.

Mile 25=8:45. Mile 26=8:51

Everyone always complains about running the Shoreway. However, I really like the Shoreway. I love the views of the lake, the views of downtown and the fact that I am running on a road I never ever get to run on. The last 2 miles really fell off for me but not as bad as other marathons I have ran. But that whole picking it up at the end thing just wasn’t happening. There were these gusts off the lake that were borderline pushing me over. I am not even exaggerating. I was literally getting pushed.

I looked at my watch and doing the math, I knew I wasn’t going to BQ, which was sad. My training had went so well and a sub 3:35 was totally there. However, I ran a really good race, felt really good and still had a chance at a PR. A PR that I set back in 2009!

I could still see my pace group but they were way too far away for me to catch. I came off the ramp of the Shoreway and there was Dan, jumping and cheering. He was so pumped it made me pumped and got me out of my funk that I wasn’t going to BQ.


Coming in for the FINISH!

I picked it up to finish and passed as many runners as I could. Not that it really mattered but it kept me going and kept the pace up. I ended up crossing the line in 3:37:57. The best part about crossing the finish, was that I could see Ryan right away. He was jumping and pumping his fists that I PR’d. He was so happy for me.

Below is the time from my Garmin Connect and the distance I had for the race.

Cleveand Marathon Time

So what’s next?

Not gonna lie. I thought about signing up for another race immediately. Like that Bayshore marathon in 2 weeks. However, I decided I would hold off and start a full training plan all over again and do Erie in the fall.

As for Cleveland, I can’t wait to come back next year as the race turns 40 in 2017. Rain, wind, hail, sleet and snow couldn’t scare this girl away from the Most Cleveland Race Ever.

Special thanks to every one who came out to the race on Sunday. The weather was less than ideal and I was freezing while running so I can’t imagine how cold the volunteers and spectators were and they were still out there. Special thanks to the Cleveland Marathon staff who puts this race together every year. I get to see first hand how hard it is to shut down a city for a day but every year they make it work. Special thanks to Ryans parents, Francesca, Bethany and the Nush family who braved the elements to come out and cheer. Special thanks to the Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors who inspire me daily and finally special thanks to Ryan for dealing with my nerves but more importantly for being my biggest fan and pushing me to be my best.

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Cleveland Marathon Training Week 17 and 18: Race Week is Here

I can’t believe race week is finally here. It’s so crazy to think about training from January-May and to see that the race is just days away.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been pretty nervous all week for this race. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been extremely excited but definitely more nervous than past marathons. You would think after 15 marathons I would have the nerves thing figured out.


At least I know what I am going to wear!

Training Week 17

Monday – 1 Hour Elliptical and arms and abs strength training.
Tuesday –  1.25 mile warm up, 7x800m repeats, 400 recovery, 1.25 mile cooldown
Wednesday – 1 Hour elliptical
Thursday – 1 mile warm up, 7 miles at 7:47 pace, 1 mile cooldown
Friday –  Rest Day
Saturday – 10.13 – 1 mile warm up, 8 at marathon goal pace, 1 mile cool down
Sunday –  Rest Day

Total Mileage:26.13

Training Week 18

Monday – 1 hour elliptical

Tuesday –  1 mile warm up, 3x800m repeats, 400 recovery, 1 mile cooldown
Wednesday – 3 mile easy run, 20 minute elliptical and strength abs and arms
Thursday – Rest Day
Friday –  Rest Day but light abs and arms strength work
Saturday – Rest Day – Watch the 5K, go the expo and eat carbs
Sunday –  RACE DAY!

3 Reasons this week is the worst:

1.) Running Less: The past week has been one of the hardest of my training cycle. Running and working out so little is really tough. Especially after all those weeks of hard workouts. I mean, I really missed my tempo run this week. Who knew I would grow to love tempo runs!


Less running but more cuddles from these dudes.

2.) Carb Deplete/Reload: This past week is also rough because it’s carb deplete week/reload week. A lot of people skip the carb deplete part of carb loading. I mean who really wants to go through that. However, I love torture so I definitely do it. What does it mean? Long story short, after my last long run, I cut back majorly on all carbs. I basically cut back to less than 50 grams of carbs a day. It’s pretty rough. I basically eat lean meat, cheese, eggs and pork rinds for days. However, when it is over I can start carb loading and your body will retain more carb energy…or something like that. This article sums it up much better than I do.

3.) Negativity: I am a very positive person. I like to look on the bright side of most things. Who wants to live their life as a downer? The answer is, most Clevelanders. Sometimes I can’t blame them but man do Clevelanders like to complain about everything. Maybe it’s the weather, the Browns, the marathon (course is too shady or too sunny or too hilly or not scenic enough, etc.). And maybe that’s how some people deal with nerves. It’s Cleveland; what do they expect?! It’s still a relatively flat and fast course and besides downtown, what scenic sites do you want to see? For me, I like to focus on the positive. My training went great even with injuries. I can’t control the weather but it’s shaping up to look very comfortable, if not cold. And I get to run a marathon with 20,000+ of my friends.


What are your favorite carb loading foods? What are you looking forward to?

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