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Rock Hall Half Marathon 2017

When I signed up for the Rock Hall half marathon, I did so with the intention that this would no be a PR race and that it would be likely very hot. I figured a good hot August long race would be great training for a fall marathon that would likely be cool. However, race day was actually pretty nice and after running well at Hofbrauhaus I had hopes of running a good time.

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There are pace groups for this race so I decided to start right by the 1:40 pace group. I was hoping to stick with them til mile 10 and then likely slow down and run around 1:41. I’m not exactly sure what happened at the beginning of the race but the 1:40 and 1:35 groups were right by each other for the first 2 miles. For some reason that messed with me mentally. My watch was giving me a hard time and wasn’t trusting it so I decided to run by feel which meant leaving the 1:40 pacer.

Mile 1 – 7:42, Mile 2 – 7:50, Mile 3 – 7:59, Mile 4 – 7:54, Mile 5 – 7:59

I ran really smart at Hofbrauhaus so I was trying to tell myself to stay smart and not go too fast so that I could have energy at the end. Also, parts of the Hofbrauhaus and Rock Hall are on the same course so I was fairly familiar with it and was pretty sure it would be faster.

Mile 6 – 8:01, Mile 7 – 7:48, Mile 8 – 7:54, Mile 9 – 8:08, Mile 10 – 8:22

I’m not sure what happened but I dropped my pace between miles 5 and 6 but then when I hit MLK I started cruising with the slight downhill. However, I was pretty done at this point. Perhaps the humidity was higher but I just couldn’t hang on to my pace. I pretty much begged my body to push until mile 10 and then it could slow down but I started slowing down right after mile 8.

Mile 11 – 8:45, Mile 12 – 8:44, Mile 13 – 8:26

The last couple miles are on the marginal, in the sun and I was pretty much on a death march at this point. It took all that I had to tell myself to keep going and to hold on to an 8:45 pace. Which I did but it was not pretty. I ended up finishing with a 1:45:38 which was about 3 minutes off my goal. I probably lost at least 2 minutes the last 4 miles so I’m ok with it.

The best part about this race though was that Ryan won the whole damn thing!!!! I had no idea because I was kinda bummed after my race and he’s so humble that he didn’t say anything to me. I only found out when someone else came up to him after and congratulated him.

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Congrats Ryan! You won the whole darn thing!
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Shamrock Shuffle Half Marathon

There are not many half marathons in the Ohio area in February and March. Which makes sense because it is normally cold and snow and what crazy person wants to run in that? Don’t answer that.

Anyways, Ryan did some searching and found the Shamrock Shuffle Half Marathon in Harmony Pa. Which also happened to be on his Birthday, so naturally it was an easy pick as a fun race to do.

The website clearly listed it as a hilly course. Which is good to know so I could pick what pace I would want to run and not feel like I should push for a PR on a hard course. However, I have ran quite a few hilly course and still manage to run fairly well so I figured I could still run a 1:42-1:43 on a hilly course…Even if it is the toughest in the tri state area.

Shamrock Shuffle 2016

Even if it is the toughest and crazy elevation and 2 massive hills….

Shamrock Shuffle Elevation

Seeing the actual elevation I got a little nervous so when we got into town we had just enough daylight to drive part of the course. I thought seeing the hills would make me feel better and help me pace myself for the race.

Unfortunately, seeing the hills did not make me feel any better. They kind of scared the crap out of me. You know, like when you are so scared you laugh nervously. I mean, I was actually scared the car wouldn’t make it up some of the hills. And I’m not even exaggerating.

Shamrock Shuffle hills
This doesn’t even do the rolling hills justice.

I tried to remain positive the rest of the night and tell myself it would just be really good training. And also to through out all goals and just try to run a good race, no PR or time goals.

I wish I could say I didn’t sleep well because I was nervous for the race, instead, I didn’t sleep well because I was listening to what sounded like a porn movie being filmed in the next room. I am not even exaggerating. I should have video taped the noises alone from proof. I laughed at first but from 2am to 4am was very noisy. Especially with a 5am wake up call.

Despite a lack of sleep, I was ready to tackle these hills and run a good race. Just kidding, I was having stomach issues, so nervous I was sick to my stomach and was not looking forward to a tough race. Especially with the hamstring issues I have been dealing with. What was I thinking signing up for a hilly race when I am already having hamstring issues. So dumb Jess.

I’m lucky enough to have a husband who takes good care of me and pumps me up when I am nervous. After warming up for the race, I was as ready as I could be and ready to go out conservative.

The first 4 miles were lots of rollers, the course elevation doesn’t really show that but it definitely was not easy or flat, I managed to run a 7:30 pace for most of those miles. By mile 5 however, you get into the hilly stuff and HOLY COW was it some tough stuff. The first hill was so tough I could barely run up, a lot of people walked it but I was determined to run it. But I kept thinking, “this is the smaller of the hills, what am I going to do for the next hill.”

I stopped looking at my watch at this point because it was so hilly, it really didn’t matter what I was running. There would be no picking up the pace for the next couple of miles. I did try to tell myself I only had to get to mile 8 or so and then I get to turnaround and head back.

The next hill, the really big hill, was just that. Really really really big. I was determined to run up it though. I saw everyone walking ahead of me and I was going to run past each and every one of them. This was my chance to gain a lead in the race. Yeah right, I didn’t last long running up the hill. I was walking with the rest of them.

Imagine you are hiking up a mountain and it is so steep that you can touch the ground as you are climbing. That might be a slight exaggeration but definitely what it felt like climbing the big hill. There was even green beer and jello shots at the top to celebrate with.

Something I didn’t realize when I completed the big hill was that I would have to come down that hill. Normally, coming down a hill sounds great. Less work to do and should be able to pick up the pace. However, this hill was so steep that it was literally pulling you down the hill. If I would have tripped, I would have went tumbling down the hill and probably would have hurt myself. Who knows when I would have stopped rolling down the hill.

Spoiler: I did not trip or fall down the hill, I successfully put one foot in front of the other and made it to the bottom.

The best part about this race was from mile 9-13 it is almost all downhill. I mean, as downhill as a hilly race can get. The last 4 miles felt amazing. I kept thinking about how good I felt despite a hilly race and how I never once hit a wall or point where I couldn’t run anymore. Perhaps I paced myself well with the fear of the hills.

Shmrock Shuffle
Post race smiles because we survived!

I ended up finishing 11th female overall and 2nd in my age group with a time of 1:46:52. This might be one of the hardest races I have ever ran. Definitely one of the hardest half marathons. Still I was happy how I ran this race and even though I didn’t run a great time, I ran well considering the tough course.

Will I be back to run this race again? Probably not. It was a great race but I really don’t need to run races that are that hilly.

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Heart & Soul Wooster Half Marathon

I am somewhat unfamiliar with the area of Wooster. As far as I know, I have been there once and it was to visit a local brewery, JAFB. Then when I saw the elevation for the race I must have read it as flat. However, when driving to the race on race day I said “good thing we don’t have to run any of these hills during the race”. Little did I know I was about to eat my words.

It was fairly cold on race morning. Cold enough that I was wishing for a throwaway top and gloves. Hard to believe that in August in Cleveland.

HeartnSoul Half startI shivered as I stood at the start line but reminded myself that I would warm up soon and the temps wouldn’t feel so bad. This race had pace groups which was awesome, so I lined up with the 1:40 finish time group. My plan was to stay on pace with them and if a PR was there that would be great if not then I would run that pace as long as I could.

The race started and the 1:40 pace group took off 7:15 pace (way faster than they should have been) so I stayed with them for the first mile. Which included a major hill that I didn’t expect. Then as we made our way out onto a main road, I realized that this was not going to be the flat race I had anticipated and I let the 1:40 group pull ahead and steadied into a 7:40 pace which was closer to a 1:40 finish time.

As I turned into a development I noticed signs for the higher miles and figured out that we must go through this area again later in the race. Which wasn’t going to be so great since there were some not so fun hills during this race. I slowly started to curse Chelsea for pointing out this race. One of the only things that kept me going was telling myself that it would be awesome training for the Akron Marathon.

My paces were all over, mostly because I felt like we were constantly going uphill and not getting a break. I couldn’t figure out what pace to run. Naturally, I forgot GU for this race so it was my saving grace when I saw they had it at one of the waterstops a couple miles before the turnaround. Which was where I saw the overall male runner who was crushing the course! The overall male winner ended up running a 1:08!!! The second place runner didn’t come in for a full 8 minutes!

As I looped a big grassy area, I started wondering where the 1:45 group was since they had not passed me yet and I was estimating my finish in the 1:50s. It wasn’t until mile 10 that the 1:45 group finally passed me and by then I was in the zone and just trying to pick off the miles, I was still assuming I would run a 1:50.

As I chipped away at the last couple miles, I had no idea how to run the course because I didn’t know how many hills were left. I also didn’t know what else my legs could take. At mile 12 I started to really pick up my pace and for the last mile I ran a 7:05 pace! The closer I got to the finish line I could see the clock and I checked my watch to make sure but HOLY CRAP! I was actually going to run a good time!

I quickly got over Chelsea not warning me about the hills as I crossed the finish line in 1:43:13 a 7:55 pace. 11 female overall and 5th in my age group. I’m not sure what the 1:45 pace group ran as they finished before me, as well as the 1:40 pace group which wasn’t even in sight.

Overall and yes, minus the hills, this was a great race and course. I would run it again depending on my training plan and because it was super cheap!

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Cleveland Half Marathon 2014 Recap

After a training season that had a lot of ups and downs I was pumped to be running the half marathon on Sunday. Although my training didn’t go as planned, I was confident that I would run a good time.

Hanging out in the corral
Hanging out in the corral

I did a 1 mile warm up and everything felt good. No random cramps in my side and no pain in my feet. All I had to do was wait 45 mins for the race to start. And stay warm, I was freezing in those temps. I had planned on my race outfit being shorts and a tank. Slowly I convinced myself I would need capris and a long sleeve (and gloves).

I had planned to run with the 3:20 group to keep me on pace and from going out too fast. Apparently that pace group doesn’t exist so I stayed in the back of the pack of the 3:15 group instead.

Within the first 10 steps of the race, I could feel discomfort in my feet, my left especially. I hoped it would go away in a couple miles when I had warmed up.

Focused...on the pain
Focused…on the pain

Mile 1 – 7:34, Mile 2 – 7:28, Mile 3 – 7:38, Mile 4 – 7:39:

After a couple of miles I realized that the pain was not going away and was getting worse, I decided to slow down my pace and see if that made it any better. It didn’t so I slowed down some more. I couldn’t decide if I should speed up to finish faster and get off my feet or slow down to make the pounding less painful. The only thing I knew was that even if I had to crawl I was crossing that finish line this year.

Just keep moving
Just keep moving

Mile 5 – 7:43, Mile 6 – 8:07

I wasn’t even sure I knew my pace at this point but I was hoping my pace was still fast enough to be ahead of the 3:25 group Ryan was pacing. I still don’t know if it was the embarrassment of him passing me with the slower group that bothered me or him knowing I was in pain and there was nothing we could do about it. I tried not to let him see how much pain I was in but I’m pretty sure my face said it all.

Mile 7 –  7:55, Mile 8 – 7:59

Although I was in pain, I LOVED this course! The crowd support was amazing. I can’t believe how the city came out to support the runners. Times I felt like I couldn’t go on but then I couldn’t stop either with all of those people cheering me on! Seeing the support on the course helped me to stay at a decent pace.

Mile 9 – 8:16, Mile 10 – 8:34

At the time, these miles felt really slow, but looking at them now I feel a little better about them. I knew the turnaround was around mile 10ish so I was anxious to make the journey to the finish line.

Smiles
Smiles

I knew the Shoreway would be hard in general, I had no idea how hard it would be with feet that were screaming in pain and calves that were tightening up. Every time I saw a curb, I just wanted to sit down, cry and rub my feet. My left foot was worse than my right so I had started favoring it. That made matters worse because then things that never hurt started hurting. I was convinced I had given myself a stress fracture at one point. I ended up having to suck it up and run evenly on both feet to save myself other random pains.

Mile 11 – 8:30

I somehow forgot to take Gu the whole race. I was so concentrated on my feet that I completely forgot. I told myself when I got to the next water stop that I would make sure to take my Gu.

 Mile 12 – 9:31, Mile 13 – 9:06

I finally busted out my Gu for the last 1.5 miles as I passed through a water stop. I ended up walking through the water stop because I was in so much pain. I even entertained walking to the finish line from this last water stop. Luckily, I had friends working the water stop and just seeing their smiling faces and hearing words of encouragement got me moving again.

Finish Chute
Finish Chute

Those last 2 miles on the shoreway were not easy but I as I looked around, every runner was struggling but not quiting. I knew with every step I took I was getting closer to the finish line so all I had to do was keep moving.

I was getting excited towards the end because I was pretty sure there would be a downhill and then a straight shot to the finish. I loved coming off the Shoreway and seeing a long line of people on the sides of the street leading to the finish line.

My painful face
My painful face

I didn’t kick to the finish like I normally do, I just kept the same pace. I painfully crossed the finish line and made my way through the finish chute. To be honest it was kind of a blur but I randomly grabbed, water, powerade, chocolate milk and a popsicle. Those are my favorite things to have post race because they don’t upset my stomach at all.

Popsicles and chocolate milk, I wasn't lying.
Popsicles and chocolate milk, I wasn’t lying.

It was a half mile walk back to the car so I slowly tried to look at my watch and see some of my paces from the race. I had the course measured at 13.4, based on this I was running an 8:03 average pace. My watch had been beeping about .1 before each mile marker so I knew the course would be long in the end. My official finish time was 1:48:30. I feel better knowing if this course was 13.1 (rare that a race would be that exact) I would have ran a 1:45:30. Still way off my PR but I estimated that if something went wrong with my feet that I would still run a 1:45.

I admit I was pretty disappointed in my time for this race. Only because I train hard so when a race I had been training hard for doesn’t go well then it is kind of heartbreaking. As heartbreaking as it might be, it also makes you want revenge and you come back stronger. However, I believe I have figured out what went wrong and caused my feet so much pain. A 17 hour work day 2 days before and warming up too early before the race because I needed to get in my corral. Not much I can do about either of those except get my feet and calves to stop tightening up.

In the end, after being injured and sick the past 2 Cleveland Marathons, I am happy I was able to cross the finish line of my hometown race. I can’t wait to do it again next year.

 

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Cleveland Marathon Training Week 16: Race Week Is Here

I wasn’t sure how I would feel as race day closer and I wouldn’t be able to run the full marathon like I wanted. However, I can say that I am pumped to run the half marathon this year. I love running this distance because I can race it and go for a PR. I set a new PR last fall but I’ve been trying to go sub 1:40 in the half for 2 years now. I would be stoked if Cleveland could be that race.

Monday: 800 meter swim
Tuesday: rest day
Wednesday: 3 mile run and arms and ab work
Thursday: 8 mile run
Friday: rest day
Saturday: 10 mile long run and 2 mile run with Ryan to cooldown after his race.

Post long run Bodhi kisses
Post long run Bodhi kisses

Sunday: 6 mile run and 45 minute bike ride

Relaxing on Sunday and practicing tambura music with my sister.
Relaxing on Sunday and practicing tambura music with my sister.

Total Mileage: 29 miles

I skipped speedwork last week because my legs just weren’t feeling it. I think they are trying to tell me they are ready to taper 😉 I’ll be taking off Friday and Saturday this week to help them rest and get ready to run on Sunday!

Bodhi likes rest days
Bodhi likes rest days

I have 2 goals for the half marathon this year.

  1. Have fun and enjoy the course. I love Cleveland!
  2. Run a sub 1:40 half. Even if it is a 1:39:59

Now I have one more thing to figure out before the race on Sunday….WHAT DO I WEAR!?!? Yes the weather stalking has begun.

Good luck to everyone participating in the Cleveland Marathon events this year. I’ll be cheering at the 5K on Saturday and then hitting up the expo!

What are you looking forward to for the race this weekend?

 

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Cleveland Marathon Training Week 15: Almost There

Very True #clemarathon
I seriously have this problem

The beginning of this training week was rough because I didn’t get over the stomach flu until Monday night. But even Tuesday and Wednesday I just didn’t have any energy to really work out. I finally started to feel like myself again on Thursday.

Monday: Still sick from the norovirus
Tuesday: Easy 4 miler in the AM. 1/2 mile swim in the PM
Wednesday: Speedwork 1 mile WU, 2×1 mile, 3×800, 1×400, 1 mile CD
Thursday: 5 mile run in the AM, 1/2 mile swim in the PM.
Friday: Abs and arms in the AM
Saturday: 12 mile long run with a 5K in the middle followed by a 1/2 mile swim

Top Male and Female in a 5K this weekend
Top Male and Female in a 5K this weekend

Sunday: easy 6 miles

Total Mileage: 32.5 miles

I won’t be doing much of a taper the  next couple weeks but I’ll keep the mileage similar to what I have now. 25-35 miles a week should be plenty and I’ll probably keep my swims to 1/2 mile workouts so that I don’t over do it.

This is what I feel like when I over do it.
This is what I feel like when I over do it.

Absolutley excited to run the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon in less than 2 weeks! If you haven’t done so already, stop by Second Sole in Rocky River to pick up some Carb Boom! It’s the gel that will be used on the course this year. You should always try the gel before race day (nothing new on race day)! You can also order online at www.boomnutrition.com and use the code CLEMARATHON for 20% off.

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Cleveland Marathon Training Week 14: Decision Time

The day after the Cleveland Marathon last year I registered for the full marathon for 2014. I had attempted to run the marathon last year but came down with the norovirus the morning of the race. I started the race but was too sick and had to call it quits after mile 12. This year I was pumped to run the full, I couldn’t wait! Then after having some awesome long runs I came down with Plantar Fasciitis.

I was lucky to catch the plantar fasciitis early but it’s been bothering me for over 2 months now. The good news is I can still run! The bad news is I can’t run the full marathon. The good news is I can still run the half marathon! I’ve been able to keep my long runs between 10-14 miles but anything higher makes my heels feel like the are on fire. Slowly I’ll get back to the higher mileage but it might take awhile.

Monday: 6 mile run to Heartbreak Hill to watch the marathon, 3 miles after trying to get to Ryan.

photo 1
Tuesday: Rest Day
Wednesday: Speedwork at a track in Morrisville VT. 1 mile WU, 2×1 mile, 2×800, 2×400 and 1 mile CD

photo 2
Thursday:  3 miles in the am up a mountain in Vermont.

Although it looks pretty it was very hilly so I didn't even enjoy this run. Also there was a lot of ice on the ground.
Although it looks pretty it was very hilly so I didn’t even enjoy this run. Also there was a lot of ice on the ground.

Friday: Abs and Arms
Saturday: Sick
Sunday: Sick

Total Mileage: 18 miles

I was really happy with my training this week and counting on a killer long run on Saturday. I was going to run the Hermes 10 miler but saturday morning I woke up with the norovirus! This thing haunts me and ruins my goal races! I guess it is better to have happened now rather than the morning of the Cleveland marathon this year.