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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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Cleveland Marathon Training Weeks 5 and 6: Olympic Marathon Trials and Expectations

I stayed pretty close to my training plan for Week 5 and 6, minus a spontaneous rest day because I was just too tired to run that day. I normally hold 3 workouts in high priority in my training plan. Speedwork, tempo and long runs are the keys to a great training cycle for me. The easy days are just junk to me anyways. Okay, not really junk but if I am going to skip a workout, I would rather it be one of my easy days rather than my speedwork, tempo or long run days.

Right now my speedwork and tempo runs are a little faster than they need to be for my marathon but I really want to PR in the half marathon this year. So my paces are more for a PR half than a PR marathon. I honestly haven’t decided what I want to run for Cleveland yet. I’ll likely start with the 3:35 pace group.

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“Mom, you done running yet? Time for puppy cuddles” – Bandit

Training Week 5

Monday – 7 Easy Miles (8:51 pace)
Tuesday – Speedwork – 1 mile warmup, 4×1200 (in 4:57 not sure of pace)  with 400 jog in between and 1 mile cooldown.
Wednesday – 3 mile easy run (8:55 pace) and 45 min Elliptical
Thursday – 1 mile warmup and 8 mile tempo  (7:47 pace) and 1 mile cooldown
Friday – Rest Day
Saturday – 15 mile long run – Treadmill! – (8:24 pace)
Sunday –  3 Mile Run with hills (8:46 pace) and 45 minutes on the Elliptical

Total Running Mileage: 44

To say I was excited for the Olympic Marathon Trials was an understatement. I LOVE THE OLYMPICS so this was a nice little teaser to get me excited. It was also cool to see the many talented athletes who got to run this race, especially since I follow a lot of them on social media. I was especially excited to see all the Hoka athletes compete.

Training Week 6

Monday – 6 Easy Miles (8:50 pace)
Tuesday – Spontaneous Rest Day
Wednesday – 7 mile easy run (8:49 pace)
Thursday – 1 mile warmup and 8 mile tempo  (7:47 pace) and 1 mile cooldown
Friday – 1 hr Elliptical
Saturday – 15 Mile Long Run – OUTSIDE! – (8:25 pace)
Sunday –  4 Mile easy run (8:29 pace)  with Francesca and then Runner’s Yoga at Second Sole in Rocky River

Total Running Mileage: 42

I got to run outside!!!! I’m a freeze baby who gets sick easily so I opt to run inside a lot during the winter. I also start my runs around 4:30-5am so it’s too dark to run outside by myself at that time. However, Saturday was warm enough that I got outside and ran in shorts! I was hoping for a 15 mile run with an 8:05-8:10 pace. However, I ended up hitting a wall around mile 8, after I went up a steep hill and then I hit another wall at mile 13, probably from the crazy winds. My fastest mile was a 7:45 and my slowest was a 8:37 so it really wasn’t that bad, I just had high expectations 🙂

If you go to the store after your long run, it’s crazy the things you will buy out of hunger. I didn’t think twice to grab these pork rinds.

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Oh Yeah

What is your favorite post long run snack?

Currently, I have been loving a glass of milk, a hard boiled egg and cookie butter straight from the jar.

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Heroes Run 2014

The Heroes Run is one of those great local races that I look forward to every year. 2 years in a row I went and watched the race, last year I finally got the chance to run it for the first time and this year I ran it for a second time and can’t see any reason why I wouldn’t run it now.

Last year I ran Celebrate Westlake and sucked but then ran Heroes and did awesome! This year I again sucked at Celebrate Westlake so let’s see how I did at Heroes this year.

The race has a long straightaway to start so I easily held back knowing that after the straightaway is a down hill and then into my “home court” AKA the Metroparks. I felt really really good with a first mile in the 6:50s. My legs felt good after the first mile so I took off and just started to pick off runners. BOY RUNNERS! It was awesome.

photo 1(2)

Miles 2-3 have some rolling hills but I just ignored them and tackled them. As I was passing water stops the workers got really excited “ohh a girl! go girl!” which made me think “what place am I in?” I knew I wasn’t in the top 3 but I must have been close to have them get excited to see a girl.

Before I knew it I was closing in on HOGSBACK LANE. AKA HOGSBACK HILL. One of the meanest, toughest hills on the westside. Trust me you don’t mess with Hogsback, it will chew you up and spit you out. Unless your last name is Kieser and you can miraculously cruise up this hill, crushing your competition.

So Hogsback pretty much chewed me up and spit me out BUT I didn’t walk! I just kept moving and willing myself to the top. Once at the top my legs took a minute to get back together but then I took off again to pass more boys (one girl passed me on the hill). Through out the race I was thinking “I’m going to PR” or “I’m going to come close to PRing”. As I got closer to the finish I realized that I wasn’t going to PR.

I kept cruising and pushing to get to the finish line and ran a 37:38 a 7:32 pace. Apparently Hogsback really sucked up a lot of my time. Still a minute faster than the Celebrate Westlake race that was completely flat.

photo 2(2)

I ended up finishing 3rd in my age group but 7th overall female. I’ll see you next year Heroes Run!

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River Run Half Marathon 2014

It was no secret that all summer I was hoping that River Run would be the race I would go sub 1:40. It’s know for being a fairly flat race and net downhill. All I had to do was run smart. (not always easy)

Race morning Ryan and I made a last minute decision to drive to the race instead of taking the buses. The buses take too long to leave and get there so when you get to the start of the race, you have to get into a ridiculously long bathroom line or warm up for the race. Driving to the start allowed Ryan and I to go to the bathroom, warm up, go to the bathroom again and keep as many layers on as I wanted without having to throw away clothes.

At the start of the race, it was laughable how many people (and I admit they were women) were at the very front of the start line and you knew there was no way they were going to run a fast half marathon. I wish newer runners understood, how important it is to line up where you belong for races and not at the very front. End Rant.

Sexy Hermes people modeling the River Run shirt which I am a huge fan of. Womens cut shirts and pink ink!
Sexy Hermes people modeling the River Run shirt which I am a huge fan of. Womens cut shirts and pink ink!

I had looked up the pace I had planned on running and had planned to stick as close to that as I could. In the past I have admittedly gone out way too fast for the first 3 miles and then died out for the last 10.1. When the race started I immediately dialed into my pace and was happy that it felt easy. My next hope was that someone nearby would be close to my pace and I could run with them for the race.

The first 3-4 flew by at a 7:34 pace for those miles and was feeling good and taking running very seriously. My watch was clicking early though as if the mile markers were off. There were a couple roller hills I had forgot about as well as a lot of turns but I was confident I would crush my PR and run around 1:38 because I thought I could pick it up. Miles 5-7 I ran crazy random paces at 6:49, 7:10 and 6:57.

I believe this photo was around mile 6? Yes the guy behind me has on a sweet purple mesh top.
I believe this photo was around mile 6? Yes the guy behind me has on a sweet purple mesh top.

I took my gu around mile 7 or 8. I really don’t remember but I was definitely needing it. I was hungry and getting these weird chills. Probably needed food or sugar because I don’t like to eat much before hard races.

I looked down at my watch and I was going back and forth between a 7:30 and a 7:40 pace and I knew at mile 9 a large hill was coming up that kicks my guza. I was wrong because i think the hill was mile 9.5 or 10 but it was killer. I passed a couple people but when I got to the top and got to come back down, I couldn’t get my legs to get going fast again. I slipped to a 7:45 pace and told myself the last couple miles would fly by and at mile 11 I’ll pick it up and cruise to the finish. My watch was continuing to beep early and every mile marker I had off by about .2.

Unfortunately, the wheels came off and I just didn’t have anything left in the tank. My pace slipped to an 8 or 8:15 pace and I had nothing. I felt like I was pushing my legs to go faster but they didn’t listen.

Look at that serious face in both pictures.
Look at that serious face in both pictures.

I swear I love running and was having a good time, despite the look on my face. I just really wanted that PR! I got a little discourage at the end of the race where I saw on my watch 1:39:45 at mile 13.1 but the finish line was further down 😦

I had the course measured at 13.34 but most of my friends had it around 13.17. I ended up coming in at a 1:41:39, a 7:46 pace. (faster than the 5 mile pace I ran the week before! That’s how bad that 5 miler went for me).

River Run Half Marathon Finishers medal
River Run Half Marathon Finishers medal

Overall I was very happy with my time and how well I ran. It wasn’t a PR but I feel like I ran as best as I could. I am now looking for an October or November half marathon so that I can get that half marathon PR!

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Celebrate Westlake 5 Miler

For years I ran the Miles for Smiles 5K, when I moved to the westside, I went back and forth between running the Celebrate Westlake 5 miler and the Oktoberfest 5K. This year, like most, the 5 miler won my attention. I never race well at this race but it’s still a great race and great training.

Celebrate Westlake

This race falls on Labor Day weekend and is almost always very hot! (although the first year I did it, it was freezing cold and raining). The temps for the race were to start in the mid 70s and rise to 90 throughout the day so I was eager for the race to start before it got too hot.

I felt comfortable after a nice easy 1.5 mile warmup, however, as I walked to the start line I noticed that the temperature had already rose significantly.

The first mile is flat so my plan was to go out conservatively at a 7:20 pace. However, during the race I ended up going out at a 6:50 pace. Mix going out too fast with temperatures rising and my wheels just fall off. My 2nd mile was around a 7:50 but felt like I was pushing to a 10 minute pace. At mile 3 you run almost a mile on a flat trail. It messes with your time a little but not too bad.

After I finished the trail section, I think my legs finally recovered from going out too fast and started to get into their normal running routine. as I was suddenly below 7:30 paces. The last .5 of the race or so the 5K merges in but the road is huge and completely blocked off so there is plenty of room for everyone. However, it was nice to have more runners to pick off at the end of the race.

I finished as strong as I could for the race (and of course, almost puked). I ended up with a 38:41 a 7:44 pace. Which is pretty horrible for me. But you have to run some bad races to get some good races in!

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Park 2 Park Half Marathon: Holy Hills

I ran this race last year and remember it being hilly but I apparently forgot how hilly it actually was.

After watching the weather all week, I was expecting a high of 80 and imagined heat would be a factor. However, I got lucky since the temps were only 53 at the start. Naturally, I was freezing cold. A 1 mile warm up with Ryan and I finally started to warm up.

There were a couple changes announced at the start of the race. Such as a reminder of the rolling hills and the addition of another tough hill somewhere before the turnaround.

We lined up at the start of a trail entrance. That’s right this race has a little bit of trail in it…like a mile at the beginning and a mile at the end. The gun went off and instantly another girl and I were right with each other. I was so excited that I would have a friend to run the race with. (Friend as in, never met you before but hey if we run the same pace, let’s be friends).

Sadly, my friend was a little faster than me (Or didn’t know the hills that were coming) so I let her continue on while I slowed down to a more manageable pace. I held a solid 7:47 pace for about the first 5 miles. There are a lot of hills and I basically had to give myself little pep talks before each hill. As I neared the halfway point I knew the big hill was coming and I was hoping it was big and short… I was wrong.

The hill was ridiculous. I have no idea how I didn’t walk up it. The only thing keeping me running up it was thinking “I get to come back down on the way back”

You can just barely see the start of the hill in the packground. Thanks for the pic Jodi!
You can just barely see the start of the hill in the background. Thanks for the pic Jodi!

Mistake #1 in a hilly race: taking the downhills at full speed. So of course, that’s exactly what I did. By mile 8 I realized my mistake and held on until the wheels fell off at mile 10. At mile 10, I walked for about 30 seconds to let my legs get it back together and then I took off running again. However, my pace had fallen way off. The good news was I was in 2nd place! Overall! The leader was well in front of me, so unless she completely fell apart I was in a good position.

Coming in for the finish, thanks for the pic Ryan
Coming in for the finish, thanks for the pic Ryan

The last 3 miles were a challenge for me. The rolling hills on the way back were no help to me even if they were mostly downhills. I finally hit the trail portion of the race so I knew I was getting closer to the finish. I popped out of the trail and could see the finish. I wasn’t close to a PR but I pushed to finish the race anyways.

Park2Park1

I ended up 2nd female overall with a time of 1:47 (official results are still not up). Ryan was the first male overall!!! With a pretty impressive time with those nasty hills. I see a half marathon PR in both our futures.

Park2Park4After the race we went to celebrate father’s day with my father in law and had one of the most amazing brunches I have had in a long time!

ParkView - Crab benedict. The size and the price will not disappoint.
ParkView – Crab benedict. The size and the price will not disappoint.
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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 😦