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Towpath Half Marathon 2017

Yes, once again I am very behind on blog posts. I am trying really hard to get caught back up!

I really wasn’t planning on running this race but after being really sick, I decided to do this one to see where my fitness level was at so that I could predict a goal finish time for the Cleveland Marathon. Spoiler: It wasn’t in a good spot.

I warmed up for the race and felt fine. I was aiming to try and run about a 1:45 half so it could be a goal time predictor but also a solid workout with out totally destroying my legs. As the race started, a nice downhill start, I focused on not going out too fast. Easy to do on a downhill start of a race when you are excited.

Unfortunately, I noticed right away a sharp pain in my hamstring/adductors. Sharp enough that I instantly thought about pulling out of the race. But not sharp enough to change my gait as long as I slowed down. Ryan came to spectate this race so I was trying to think where he would be if I wanted to drop out. But I also knew he was probably going to grab coffee and a newspaper so he would be gone awhile.

I eventually decided that maybe my legs had gotten too cool after the warm up and once they warmed up they would be fine. By mile 3 I was in so much pain but knew I couldn’t drop out where I was but promised myself I would drop out at mile 8. I was pretty sure the race looped close to the finish line around then and I could be done then.

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The pain came and went most of the race and I was constantly slowing down to accommodate my cranky leg. As I neared the spot I thought was mile 8, it was actually mile 9 so naturally I talked myself into running the rest of the race. I mean it was “only” 4 more miles at that point.

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This is what I call being “Over Doxied” Doxies in both arms and Doxie pants on!

 

I ended up finishing with a 1:50:11. Which was really hard for me to accept considering I ran a 1:40 in 2016 there. However, this race told me I wasn’t in the shape I thought I was in and this injury was holding me back more than I thought. Without this race, I probably would have continued training for the full marathon which would have been a horrible idea.

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Half Marathon #31 Complete

I have a feeling I will be back to run this race next year as I have some unfinished business in the half marathon.

 

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Staying Healthy – 2 Week Training Update

It’s no secret I’ve had my fair share of injuries but I’ve done really well dealing with them and running some pretty high mileage. However, I’ve also had a sinus cold, stomach flu and now some other cough cold thing that has not only kept me from running since last week but I have also completely lost my voice.

Maybe I should just change this blog to a new name “Running While Sick and Injured.” However, isn’t being flexible with your running plan part of the journey. Learning how to “roll with the punches” and make changes as you go.

Hopefully, I can start running again in a day or two. I’m waiting for this cough to knock itself out of me and then I will be back to running.  Until then I’m doing lots of squats, push-ups and sit-ups.

3/12-3/18 – 51.2 Mile Week 

Sunday – 4 miles treadmill at 8:40 pace
Monday – 10 miles treadmill  at 8:50 pace
Tuesday – 5.2 miles treadmill at 8:43 pace
Wednesday – Rest Day
Thursday – 10 miles treadmill at 8:39 pace
Friday – St. Patrick’s Day – 4 Mile Run with 2nd Sole
Saturday – 18 miles at 8:49 pace
Total –  51.2 miles

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3/19-3/25 – 23 Mile Week 

Sunday – Easy 5 Miles
Monday – Easy 3 miles treadmill  at 8:54 pace
Tuesday – 10 miles treadmill at 8:49 pace
Wednesday – 5 miles treadmill at 8:46 pace
Thursday – Elliptical
Friday – Rest Day – Sick
Saturday – Rest Day – Still Sick – manged some strength training
Total –  23 miles

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“Modest” Bodhi cuddles make most things better.

So while I have been sick I did miss my 20 miler. However, I am hoping that I can squeeze one in during the week if I feel better soon. Fingers Crossed.

Despite being sick, I did make it to Cokeburg PA to perform with my Croatian group Zumbercani. Sorry no video since I can’t take video while I am playing. You’ll just have to deal with this picture after we ate 2lbs of lamb and drank a bunch of beers. I thought drinking would kill my cold germs.

Zumbercani

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New Plan and 3 Changes

So looking back at my last 2 weeks of training, it really wasn’t that bad. However, it felt bad. Nothing hurt physically (well except for the normal aches and pains from my hamstring) but it just felt hard all the time. My easy runs felt hard, my hard runs felt hard (well duh) and my long runs which I love felt hard. It really didn’t make sense to me. So I have decided to make some changes.

1.) Coconut Water – It was recommended to me by a muscle specialist to maybe try and increase my potassium and Coconut Water has a ton of it. Way more than bananas if you are wondering “why not just eat a banana?” However, I do love bananas, so I am trying to snack on those more often.

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2.) More Meat – I noticed I barely ate any meat the past 2 weeks and almost no iron substitutes. Lots of salads but not enough protein or iron. I went to the store today and purchased enough ground beef to last the next 2 weeks.

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This Pork Ramen from Mason’s Creamery was probably the extent of my protein last week. So good though!

3.) A new training plan. I was following the Pfitzsinger plan but it really wasn’t doing anything for me except allowing me to run higher mileage. Which I am absolutely loving. Ryan is using the Pfitzsinger plan, loving it and crushing his training. However, it just wasn’t for me at this time. I would love to come back to it next year. I have jumped back to my beloved Hansons Plan. I have modified it a little bit but already feel better with these changes.

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If you are wondering why my training plan stops in April it’s because I was planning on running the Athens Ohio Marathon. However, I don’t feel very confident in my training and don’t feel like I will run well. My first 20 miler of the training season was awful. Could I run a marathon? Yes. Will I run it well and enjoy it? Probably Not.

I am giving my self 1 more week to decide if I still want to run the Athens full, switch to the half or skip it altogether and run something more local that weekend. I was planning to run the Cleveland Full as well but last weekend I even questioned that!

51.5 Mile Week – Mostly Outside!!!!

Sunday – 5 miles at 8:47 pace
Monday – 8.5 miles at 8:42 pace
Tuesday – 10 miles at 8:34 pace
Wednesday – Rest Day?
Thursday – 8 miles treadmill at 8:46 pace
Friday – Rest Day
Saturday – 20 miles at 9:46 pace
Total – 51.5 miles

40.6 Mile Week – Almost all OUTSIDE!

Sunday – 5 miles at 9:32 pace
Monday – 8 miles at 8:21 pace
Tuesday – Stomach Flu
Wednesday – 6.1 miles at 8:09 pace
Thursday – 11 miles at 8:59 pace
Friday – 5 miles treadmill at 8:42 pace
Saturday – 5.5 miles with Hills
Total – 40.6 miles

This crazy warm weather had me outside so much!!!!!! I didn’t expect that for February!

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The boys are missing the heater kicking on.

Happy Fat Tuesday Everyone! I stopped by Colozza’s yesterday for Paczki and they were amazing!!!!!! The bakery had so much to offer. I will definitely be back to try some more of their baked goods.

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Towpath Half Marathon

When picking out races for the year, I had decided I was going to run the Presque Isle Erie Marathon as my fall full marathon. After some health issues over the summer, I decided it would be best if I picked a different fall marathon instead and decided I would run the Towpath Marathon. The Erie Marathon and Towpath Marathon are only a few weeks apart so I am not sure why I thought this would really make a difference. It should be no surprise that I ended up changing to the Half Marathon as I saw how poorly I was running this year.

However, for this race I went into it knowing that I would likely run very poorly and was hoping that I could go sub 1:50 for this race.

Race morning it was very cold for early October. I ended up wearing shorts and a tank top anyways but it was very chilly.

Exactly like the other half marathon I ran, my pace dropped significantly by the time I got to the 3rd mile. Unlike past races, I didn’t feel completely like I wanted to quit. Maybe I had just come to terms with my new slower paces. Maybe I just really love running on the Towpath.

In the past, I remember more fall colors during this race but there was actually a lot of green left on the trees. It was still really pretty to run through though. I think my only complaint would be that the path gets narrow in a few places and you have to go single file in both directions. For me it really wasn’t frustrating since I knew I wasn’t going to be running a PR and was already off my goal pace.

A lot of people will tell you that it is slower to run on the Towpath. I disagree with this statement, I feel like I run really well on the Towpath…normally. It’s softer on the body than running on asphalt.

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The course is extremely flat and mostly out and backish. On the way back though I felt like it was taking forever to get to the Boston Store. Even with half a mile to go I was like where is it. It pops up so quickly once you get to it but i felt like I couldn’t even hear any spectators up ahead.

I ended up not running my goal time and finished with a time of 1:50:03. Officially hung up the running shoes on long distance races for the year after this one. Don’t get me wrong, I will be back and am still running long now. Just the racing long thing hasn’t been going so well. I did buy a giant bag of kettle corn after the race so I have that going for me.

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Racing has gone extremely well for Ryan and he PR’d in the marathon at this race! Ended up finishing 5th overall.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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