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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).

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.

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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?

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Cleveland Marathon Training Weeks 15 and 16: Taper Time

It’s crazy when you start a training plan and spend these days/weeks/months preparing and then suddenly it’s almost here! Technically, I’m on training week 17 but just typing up the info for weeks 15 and 16. But it’s officially taper time!

Taper time isn’t traditionally my favorite. I struggle with the whole taking it easier for the next 10 days. It’s hard to figure out what to do with all that free time 😉 But really it’s hard to wrap your head around the whole “am I ready?” thing. I mean, if you did the training that would make sense, right?

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Training Week 15

Monday – 8ish miles in Boston ( I lost track of the mileage this day as I stopped my watch while trying to find Ryan

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Tuesday –  1 mile warm up, 5x800m repeats, 400 recovery, and 1 mile repeat, 1 mile cooldown
Wednesday – 1 Hour elliptical
Thursday – 1 mile warm up, 8 miles at 7:47 pace, 1 mile cooldown
Friday –  Rest Day
Saturday – Hermes 10 miler (1 mile WU, 10 miles, 9 miles after) – Last 20 miler
Sunday –  Rest Day

Total Mileage: 44.5

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Training Week 16

Monday – 1 Hour elliptical
Tuesday –  1 mile warm up, 6×1 mile repeats, 400 recovery, 1 mile cooldown
Wednesday – 1 Hour elliptical
Thursday –  AM Workout: 1 mile warm up, 9 miles at 7:47 pace, 1 mile cooldown
-PM Workout: 1 Mile WU, 4 miles at MGP – 5.20 total at 8:02 pace
Friday –  Rest Day
Saturday – 5K Run (15.17 miles total for the day at 7:59)
Sunday –  Spinning

Total Mileage: 40.87

So while I don’t necessarily trust the McMillian Calculator anymore, it’s fun to see what it thinks you might run based off past races. Right now it is predicting at 3:25-3:28 for me. However, I have no interest in even trying that right now. I think I could hold that pace for maybe 15 miles and then would want to quit..with 11 miles to go (which I would probably be walking if I went out too fast). Instead, I will be starting with the 3:35 pace group and sticking with them for as long as I can. If things go well, I’ll pick it up towards the end and come in earlier. If things go ok, I’ll finish with them. And let’s just not even consider options if it doesn’t go well. Positive thinking only.

What are you top reasons why you are ready to run a race?

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Cleveland Marathon Recap: Give It To Me Again!

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

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

My Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Friends
My Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Running through Ohio City
Running through Ohio City

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Cheerleader!
Best Cheerleader!

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

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

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

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

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

Running down Lake Ave
Running down Lake Ave

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

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

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

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

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

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

Literally ran into fellow Ambassador, Andrew Runs A Lot
Literally ran into fellow Ambassador, Andrew Runs A Lot

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

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

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

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

Give It To Me AGAIN!

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Training Week 13: The Final Stretch, Happy Hour & A Giveaway Winner

It’s no wonder my but is sore with all the biking that I did on Sunday but it’s officially taper time so I am looking forward to some rest on my legs. I’ve had to make a few adjustments to my Hanson’s training plan these past 2 weeks. Mentally I just had to get a 20 miler in, the Hanson plan has 16 as the longest run but I feel good that I got in at least 1 20 miler. Then for week 13 I decided to do 800 meter repeats instead of the 3×2 miler on my schedule. I just wanted to see what I could run my 800s in since that is typically a predictor for marathon finish times.

This guy makes it hard to get out of bed in the morning
This guy makes it hard to get out of bed in the morning

Training Week 13

Monday – 6 Easy Miles
Tuesday – AM workout – Speedwork 1 mile warmup, 8×800 at 3:34, 3:30, 3:30, 3:28, 3:28, 3:20, 3:20, 3:20 with 400 jog in between and 1 mile cooldown.
Wednesday – AM workout – 6.2 Miles, PM workout- 2,500 yd swim
Thursday – 1 mile warmup and 10 mile tempo run at an 8 min pace
Friday – 48 minutes elliptical
Saturday – Run Puritas 5K – 12 miles for the day
Sunday –  11 mile bike ride, 20.8 mile spin class, 3 Miles and then 10 more biking miles on my slow hybrid.

Total Running Mileage: 46.2

Nooma sent me some drinks to rehydrate with in this final stretch of training. Thanks!
Nooma sent me some drinks to rehydrate with in this final stretch of training. Thanks!

Now that it is Taper Time, I have more time for things like Happy Hours. The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon is putting on a Happy Hour at Southside this Friday (May 8th) from 5-7.

I want to thank everyone who entered the giveaway, the lucky winner is Julie! Julie, I’ve sent you an email with the details to register. There are still other giveaways going on if you didn’t win mine! (Hint)

With the weather finally warming up, I am looking forward to seeing the 10 day forecast for May 17th!

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Training Weeks 10 and 11: Cross Training and A Pain in the Butt

I always stress the importance of Cross Training and Strength Training while training. However, I myself tend to slip up and get lazy skip the cross training and strength work. I am always reminded that I need to keep this up when an injury creeps up.

For Training Weeks 10 and 11, I had some issues with piriformis. Which always seems to pop up when I stop my strength exercises and stop cross training. To be honest I stop and back down because I’m lazy and just love running so much that’s all I want to do. But also I get really tired during training and just want to run and sleep. My body thinks its ready for taper time but it’s not quite that time yet! Staying positive helped me to keep getting out the door no matter how tired I was.

Positive Patient PersistentTraining Week 10

Monday – 6 Easy Miles
Tuesday – AM workout – Speedwork 1 mile warmup, 3×2 miles in 15:40 with 400 jog in between and 1 mile cooldown.
Wednesday – AM workout – 6 Miles, PM workout- 2,250 yd swim
Thursday – 1 mile warmup and 9 mile tempo run at an 8 min pace
Friday – 16 miles
Saturday – Rest Day
Sunday – 8 Miles

Total Running Mileage: 54

Training Week 11

Monday – 6.2 Easy Miles
Tuesday – AM workout – Speedwork 1 mile warmup, 2×3 mile in 23:30 with 800 jog in between and 1 mile cooldown.
Wednesday – AM workout – 1hr elliptical – Miles, PM workout- swim 2,500 yd
Thursday – 1 mile warmup and 9 mile tempo run at an 8 min pace
Friday – Rest Day
Saturday – 10 miles at 8:43 Pace – Very Hilly throughout Boston/Somerville/Cambridge

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Sunday – 10 miles at 8:48 Pace – A little flatter of a run through Somerville and Cambridge

IMG_3685Total Running Mileage: 45.2

Literally a pain in my bitt
Literally a pain in my bitt

To “fix” the piriformis I made a visit to my chiropractor who does ART (active release treatment) and Graston. He was able to loosen up my back and butt to get blood flowing back to that area. I also followed up with a massage at Soothe Massage to continue loosening things up. I try and get a massage about every 6 weeks to keep my body from getting too many knots that the foam roller doesn’t get out.

How do you keep up with your cross training? Anyone have any nagging injuries that creep up?

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Akron Marathon 2014

Way way back in 2007 I decided to run the Cleveland Marathon. I trained hard (maybe a little too hard) and ended up injured. I rallied and ran the half at Cleveland that year but wasn’t ready to give up on the marathon so I signed up for Akron 2008.

In September of 2008 I ran the Akron Marathon, my first marathon and I was completely hooked. After spending years running other marathons, I finally made my way back to the Akron Marathon this year for my 12th marathon.

Vintage Moja
Vintage Moja

Training for Akron was kind of a spur of the moment thing. I had been wanting to run Akron again for a while but I was really dreading the hills that I remembered from my first Akron Marathon. When I decided to run, it was mostly because I was already signed up for the RNR New Orleans Marathon and Akron fit in time wise to run and still recover in time to train for New Orleans.

I thought my training went really well for Akron but I really had no idea since I had not ran a marathon in over a year! To get a gauge on pace, I put the 3 half marathons I had ran over the summer into the McMillan Calculator. With the marathon time the calculator gave me, I took the average which was around 3:37. Two of the halves were really hilly and one was fairly flat so I thought it might actually come out somewhat accurate. To be safe, I decided to run a 3:40 to give me a little cushion, to be able to run with a pace group and to give me some time on the hills.

The morning of the race, I got up early, packed up, left the house early and 10 minutes into the drive, the LOW TIRE pressure alert came on the car. It wasn’t a complete flat tire but being so close to home we decided to play it safe and go home to grab the other car. I then decided to drive to the race because I am a crazy driver who has a problem with speeding so I thought I might be able to make up for some lost time.

The problem would not be getting to the race on time but rather getting to the race before the streets were closed and parking lots were filled. When we arrived in downtown Akron, we were greeted with tons of traffic that was barely moving. Barely moving traffic and 2 runners who both needed to use the potty created quite a bit of stress before the race. After about 15 minutes, we finally moved over to another lane and said a little prayer as we turned right down a street and hoped a parking location would be near. We lucked out and got a parking space…on the 5th floor of an elevator-less garage (This would be interesting to get up the stairs post marathon).

With less than 30 minutes before the start, we rushed off  to the nearest bathrooms and Ryan attempted to calm me down. For someone who doesn’t stress out easily, I was majorly stressed out. The good thing was, I had 26.2 miles to pound out that stress. By the time I got into my corral, I had less than 15 minutes before the race but guess what?!?! The weather temps were really nice! Like 55 at the start? Maybe it was warmer, but I really don’t remember.

When the race started, I stuck with my plan to stick to the 3:40 pace group.  I tried to pretty much ignore my watch and just trusted my pacer. When we neared water stations, I sped up to be able to grab what I needed and then waited for my pace group to catch up. I did the same thing on hills because I struggle with hills and I like a minute to compose myself after going up the hills.

Mile 3.9 in 32:43 an 8:24 pace. Estimated finish 3:39:54

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Mile 8.7 in 1:10:50 an 8:09 pace. Estimated finish 3:33:26

As we looped through downtown a second time the  Pace Leader mentioned he purposely was banking time for the “Sand Run Hills” that would come later in the race. I’m not a fan of banking time but I put my trust in my pacer and hoped for the best. Around mile 11, I found myself struggling to keep up the pace and thought too myself “you didn’t train enough and aren’t ready for an 8:23 pace.” I looked down at my watch an noticed that we were not at an 8:23 pace but an 8 min flat pace.

Pacegroup

At that time I slowed myself down and figured I was done running with the pace group. I slowly drifted to the back of the pace group and then they started to get farther away from me. After a few minutes they seemed to realize the pace was too fast and before I knew it I was back with the pace group!

Just before we got to the towpath we hit a super steep downhill that I took very easy. Even going slow on the downhill, my IT bands were screaming! It was quite a long downhill too. Before I knew it, I was heading onto the towpath which is the one section that was fresh in my mind as I did 1 training run on it. It felt great on my legs and was really hard to hold back. Then suddenly I had the urge. The urge to go number 2…

Mile 13.1 in 1:47:48 an 8:14 pace. Estimated finish 3:35:36

I hoped that somehow I could will it away. However, number 2 was being extra persistent and I wasn’t sure how far I would make it. I started to speed up and get away from the pace group. I was hoping to get some space between so I could stop to use the bathroom and eventually catch back up to them. The pace leader mentioned that if you had to stop to use the bathroom, that it would take you 2 miles to catch back up to the group.

I had to skip the bathrooms at mile 13 because there was a line and didn’t get to use a bathroom until mile 15.3ish. I was maybe a minute ahead of the pace group but it took me about 3.5 minutes to use the restroom. As urgent as the number 2 was, it did not urgently leave my body.

When I exited the bathroom, I started running and felt very confident that I could catch the pace group. I slowly picked off runners and was passing a lot of people but could not even see the pace group. I picked probably one of the worst times to go to the bathroom as some of the gnarliest hills were approaching…also know as SAND RUN.

Akron2014

Mile 16.2 in 2:15:13 an 8:21 pace. Estimated finish 3:38:50

I’m not exactly sure where SAND RUN starts but I think I am accurate when I say there are A LOT of hills from mile 16-19. There is also “Heart Rate Hill” I don’t know which mile this was at either but let’s just say it lived up to it’s name.

No matter the hill, I powered through and kept pushing. I never let my pace drop below an 8:34. There may have been some praying, talking/singing to myself and convincing myself that every motivation sign was specifically dedicated to me but there was no giving up. I didn’t do a very good job at taking my gels but after mile 20 I was due for my 3rd gel and it just wasn’t going to happen. I eventually saw some Jolly Ranchers that were being handed out and decided those would be a great idea. Taking candy from strangers, smh.

Mile 20.7 in 2:53:46 an 8:24 pace. Estimated finish 3:40:05

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After mile 20 I just kept picking off the next mile and holding my pace. By mile 23, I was hoping that my watch was correct and I would come in at just under 3:40! However, the pace group was no where in sight! I told myself they just decided to go too fast and were going to finish well below that. I always think of my Mom at mile 23 because years ago as I was running the Cleveland Full Marathon, I saw her at mile 23. She was jumping up and down like a crazy person going “It’s just a 5K from here, just a 5K!” She didn’t even know at that time that I was about to qualify for Boston.

I found my pace picking up the last couple miles of the race and I was so excited to continue to pass runners. Usually I have hit the wall and am struggling the last couple miles. I have never felt so strong at the end of a marathon. At mile 24 my watch went off early and the same thing happened at mile 25. I held out hope that my watch was wrong and that I would some how run exactly 26.2 miles. Just before mile 26 I looked down and saw 26.2 but no finish line and 3:38!!! However, none of that mattered; my stupid GPS watch is always off. I crossed mile 26 and still had .2 to go.

Love the salty look from the girl next to me
Love the salty look from the girl next to me

I made the final left turn into the stadium and charged to the finish line with a smile on my face. I was so proud of myself. I crossed the finish line as the 44th overall female, 11th in my age group in 3:41:49 an 8:28 pace. Ridiculously close to my goal time and that INCLUDES A BATHROOM PITSTOP!

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Akron Finish Medal
Akron Finish Medal

I am already planning to run Akron again next year and have set the goal to place 18th female overall because Ryan was 18th overall male this year.

My favorite sub 3 marathoner!
My favorite sub 3 marathoner!

Oh and the completely awesome jacket you get for running the full marathon is ridiculously nice. I wore it for a week straight I loved it so much. I will definitely get a lot of use out of that.

AkronJackets

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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.

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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

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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.

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Cleveland Marathon Weeks 12 & 13: Sick and Traveling but not sick of traveling

It has been a crazy couple of weeks here. I came down with some awful flu/cold thing a few weeks ago and it completely knocked me off my feet. I spent most days working and sleeping and trying to get healthy again. I had to give up workouts and missed a speed session but it’s always better to be healthy than to try and muscle through workouts and make yourself worse.

Monday: Rest Day
Tuesday: sick
Wednesday: Sick
Thursday:  3 miles in the am and 1,250 meter swim
Friday: Abs and Arms
Saturday: 12 mile long run and 800 meter swim
Sunday: 3.15 mile run and 1 hour of strength training

Total Mileage: 18.15 miles

Once I finally got over the flu/cold thing, I walked right into a crazy work schedule and leaving for Boston. I got in workouts when I could and worked out most days that I was on vacation.

Seen on my run
Seen on my run

Monday: Rest Day
Tuesday: 1,250 meter swim
Wednesday: AM Speedwork 1 mile WU, 5-800s, 2-400s, 1 mile CD
Thursday:  abs and arms
Friday: rest day (11 hours in the car driving to Boston)
Saturday: 12 mile long run in Boston and 8 miles of walking
Sunday: 3 miles run and lots of walking

Total Mileage: 20 miles

I love that I was able to get in a lot of miles and time on my feet while in Boston. I love even more that my feet are finally starting to hold themselves together and I can finally start increasing my mileage again!

Do you workout on vacation? I always do!

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Cleveland Marathon Training Week 11: Crushing

crush  (krŭsh)

v. crushed, crush·ing, crush·es
1. To press between opposing bodies so as to break or injure.
2. To break, pound, or grind (stone or ore, for example) into small fragments or powder.
3. To put down; subdue: crushed the rebellion.
4. To overwhelm or oppress severely: spirits that had been crushed by rejection and failure.
5. To crumple or rumple: crushed the freshly ironed shirt.
6. To hug, especially with great force.
7. To press upon, shove, or crowd.
8. To extract or obtain by pressing or squeezing
9. A popular soda drink

With the marathon slowly creeping closer I have a big decision to make. Will I be crushed by not be able to run the full marathon this year? Will I drop to the half and crush my PR? Will I attempt the full and risk injury then spend the rest of the summer crushed that I can’t run?

Right now I’m hoping for a miracle and that I can suddenly bust out my 20 milers. I’m bummed that I got my 15, 16, 17 and 18 milers in with no problems and then came down with the plantar fasciitis. I can’t help to think that those long runs went to waste if I end up not being able to run the marathon.

Practically living in compression socks... sometimes over my jeans because i just want my feet compressed.
Practically living in compression socks… sometimes over my jeans because i just want my feet compressed.

Monday: Rest Day
Tuesday: 800 meter swim
Wednesday: AM Speedwork 1 mile WU, 5-800s, 2-400s, 1 mile CD
Thursday:  4 miles in the AM and 800 meter swim in the PM
Friday: Abs and Arms
Saturday: 10 mile long run and 800 meter swim
Sunday: 1 hour of strength training

Total Mileage: 19 miles

I kept the mileage extra low this week but kicked up the pace of my 10 miler and am happy to report that I had zero pain! I also received the go ahead from my doctor to run 12 miles this weekend and see how I feel!

Bodhi and I celebrated the good news with a milkshake.
Bodhi and I celebrated the good news with a milkshake.

Have you ever had to come up with a decision to run or not run? Ever had to drop out of a race or drop down on your distance? I’ve never had to drop down my distance because I usually end up injured and can’t run at all 😦