Another Done

7 05 2018

I’ve realized over the last few months that I need to record these races and their story. Of course my super helpful friend, TFMC suggested I resurrect this forum. I considered, then quickly got busy with yet another project.

But after another whirlwind weekend of racing, I guess it’s time. I’m thinking I’ll be circling backwards to where we left off more or less but here’s the current situation:

After a super frustrating first three quarters of 2017, I worked on my health and in turn my running. I contacted a running coach I knew of locally who was just starting out and we started working virtually together. She was so very helpful in re-igniting my training I am forever in her debt. She pushed me to do things I didn’t deem possible. And helped me see that my biggest hurdle was likely, silly old me.

After some work in the late fall of 2017 with her, I had a promising 5k. It wasn’t magnificent by any stretch, but for me, it was solid. I was quite indecisive on my next goal and Coach Sara gave me some more general workouts as a guideline to keep me moving. I ran solid through the holidays and honestly had a pretty decent winter. Over that time I got talked into this past weekend’s hi jinx. It should be pretty common knowledge that I am easily persuaded to do crazy things at this point. It’s a common theme, I’m willing to try if there’s fun, a medal and running involved.

The current mountain to climb was the Pittsburgh Steel Challenge. Travel to Pittsburgh, a place where my grandparents had from a young age instilled a healthy fear of getting lost in me, and run a 5k on Saturday and a Half marathon on Sunday. Because normal people do these things, right?

The arrival went off without a hitch. I picked up TFMC and her dad at the airport on my way in. Wrangled some parking, then headed to the expo. A random guy on the street suggested a great meatball place for lunch, we were on course and smooth sailing. Hotel check in was easy, then we explored the lay of the land a bit. TFMC’s Dad had grown up here and had joined the trip to revisit his hometown, since it had been some time since she had visited as a teen. He was a fabulous tour guide and we never got lost.

Saturday AM we traversed the Roberto Clemente bridge to the start of the 5k.

Such a well organized race. It was crowded in the corral, but the announcer gave a great overview as it was a point to point race, with a few loops kind of along the way. The crowd spread out immediately and I was able to run comfortably and really had a great time checking out the stadiums are surrounding areas. The slightly downhill finish was a wonderful surprise! I was pleased with my time, I didn’t put it all out there. I ran negative splits, but the first two maintained a conversational pace, and picked it up right before mile 3 began. My kid had raced a 5k the evening before at home, and if I beat his time we owed him $10. He got his money, but it was close.

Another friend joined in the festivities that evening as she had gone to college in the Burgh and lived there for a few more years afterwards. She toured me with a slightly different view than my earlier guide, and I was proud to pass on some of his historical facts to her. Seeing her old stomping grounds was a really nice afternoon. 30k plus steps might not have been the best idea the day before a half but I truly enjoyed every step of my Saturday. This Cleveland Girl had her heart charmed by Pittsburgh.

The forecast for Sunday went from iffy to crap while we were playing all day. Luckily by our 5:45am wake up call it had improved a bit. Armed with our trash bags as insurance against the rain, we headed to the corral. Our hotel was perfectly placed, an easy walk to the corral, and had we been speedy runners and not in the later corral, it would have been even closer.

The time in the corral was long, we didn’t start until nearly 30 minutes after the first set of runners. The half winners were nearly halfway done by then! But the back of the pack is where it’s at, and I enjoyed seeing my friend with our custom sign just near the start. In a sea of spectators, it was nothing short of a miracle that I spotted her. Her clutch wardrobe choice of red, not Penguins, Steelers or Pirates black and gold played a big part in that, I’m sure. It knocked my nervousness out of my mind and really made me smile.

I tried not to check my watch too much and run by feel. I was running slower than the day before and pretty close to what I had planned, the first 3 miles ticked away quickly.

Mile 4 was fun as I saw my friend again, and then J & Dad all within about a block. I was cruising and feeling good. I started to feel myself fade a bit, and took some nutrition. It hadn’t really started to rain, but it was that heavy it’s almost raining but not actually forming drops type weather still. I felt soaked by the 10k sign. More nutrition there, and tried to stay steady.

About mile 8.5 I really started to hurt and just slow down, I didn’t want to, it’s just what happened. I tried to keep a few steady pace seeming runners right ahead of me, but there was a ton of leap frogging going on. The 5:30 marathon pacer passed by around this time and I hung on to the outskirts of her crowd for a while. My music was still on point, and I kind of zoned out a bit.

Buy the end of mile 9, my feet were hurting badly. I was starting to struggle. I knew my friend had planned to trek out near mile 11 for another cheering spot and I tried to just push myself to get to her. As if by magic, she appeared along with the 10 mile marker. A quick hug and pep talk and I was on my way with tears in my eyes. She updated another friend in my progress who texted support that I could read on my watch. “5k to go” was included in her message. At that point I wondered why there wasn’t a “2 day half marathon” option that would count YESTERDAY’S 5k instead of continuing to run. This seemed like a viable, reasonable option to me at this time as I was really struggling. I got to the 11 mike marker, which boasted it was the “flattest mile on the course” and I realized getting myself together on the flat would help get me up the hill I had been warned about that was coming in mile 12. I did a scan of myself. What was my problem? Breathing? Hydration? Electrolytes? A crappy attitude? I couldn’t decide so instead of giving up and phoning it in I tried everything. My rescue inhaler, an endurolytes cap, a big swing of water and mixed up more of my hydration drink. I followed that up with a mini pep talk that included the fact that I could “walk with purpose” it in and probably hit my “good” goal, I could suck it up and probably make my “better” and realized my true “pie in the sky” goal was gone. I put that behind me and went for “good.” I was going to have to speed it up, but the end was near and I could do it.

The Birmingham Bridge was a challenge, no doubt. But I kept moving forward. Relentless Forward Progress. A quick decline followed by gradual long incline, followed by a big hill. Pittsburgh is famous for hills, and while this was not the worst I’d seen by far, it wasn’t an easy roller either. I recalled our discovery of a truly downhill finish on our journey through the town the day before and just tried to hold on to that. The finish line was packed with spectators, marathoners were rejoining the course to finish as well it was exuberant chaos. I cruised in right at my “better” goal. I didn’t feel fantastic, but I’ve felt worse, much worse, post race. I grabbed a curb seat and TFMC finished right behind me. She was armed with the goods to fix me up. After a minute or two, I was ready to resume movement and hunt down the challenge medal in the finishers area.

We asked at “late packet pick up” (if you are still picking up your packet, yeah you missed it) but the kind volunteers pointed our way and we retrieved the third, and in my opinion coolest, medal of the weekend. Another rest and some sustenance (and a brief moment of “I’m stuck in this chair” and I truly was because my water bottle had gotten trapped and was attached to me) and we wandered a bit more getting a cool picture with a steel sculpture.

The weather had not improved so we headed back to the hotel to get ready for lunch, but not really wanting our weekend to end.

All in all, I didn’t kill it, but I came, I saw, I fought back and finished with one of my 3rd fastest miles as number 13.

Plus I earned three sweet medals.

I’m thinking this was half number 9, but I’m going to have to count again when I’m rested.

Photo credits to TFMC, she’s a much better blogger than I.

And, just like that, summer is gone.

1 09 2014

I’ve been neglectful, not just of my blog, but of my running this summer. I would do great for a week or two, and then some lame excuse would get me off track. My mood has reflected my poor attendance to my scheduled runs, in fact if I it had been a summer school course, I would be repeating the class this school year.  This morning, I at least put in the effort when I found that my attitude mirrored that of one of my favorite t-shirts, a Another Mother Runner lifestyle tee that says “If you don’t have anything nice to say, go for a run.”  After  four humid miles, I was a much better participant in the day.  I tried another loop suggested by my neighbor and it helped to keep me fresh, I think. Later, I was reminded I have 42 days until the Army Ten Miler.  Yeah, that’s like, soon. I guess I should have squeaked in an extra mile at the end of that run, huh? The good of that is that I get to see 2/3 fabulous women from my “forgot to press the publish button draft” that I wrote in July. I finally posted that today. Maybe its 42 days late? It’s close.


The bad? Yeah, the fact that I have only run over 5 miles twice since May 31st’s half.  August really only consisted of me complaining about a lot of things, so you didn’t miss much. Promise. The highlight of the month in running was an awesome 10K I did with the Cleveland Chapter of Moms Run This Town. What an awesome group of ladies. They held their summer safari out of a local running store, which opened its doors at 8am on a seriously muggy Sunday morning to a nice crowd of ladies. They served mimosas, bagels and cookies. It’s no wonder it was my favorite run on August!  Seriously though, it got me a bit energized for seeking group runs. I met 3 fabulous ladies I ran with, one whom I used to live near (if only we knew each other a year ago!) and two that spent a good deal of time helping me with breathing techniques and my “mental game.”  It wasn’t my fastest 10K, but it was what I needed that day. I pushed myself pretty hard, my first two miles were well above my normal pace, three and four were closer to normal and five and six pretty crappy (although 6 was straight up hill and included crossing 2 major roads that had significantly  increased in traffic since we started). It was so good to have company.  I also found out about a semi-local group run as well that sounded promising, but then we drove to that park and its a good 30 minute drive, so an hour of time I generally don’t have in driving.  I might check it out, but its not going to be easy to make in a part of my routine.  I’m so glad I went to the run though, it tipped my anxiety a bit, but I met some really nice ladies. And the swag? AWESOME!


A successful 5 miler at Hinkley Lake

A successful 5 miler at Hinkley Lake


I ended August with a group lesson in Stand Up Paddleboarding , arranged by a good friend from my cycling days.  C joined us at the Medina Half, and got me to sign up for it next year at the ex po.  I had totally forgotten about that until we were chatting on the SUP’s.  Oops.  The class was great fun, the ladies from Nalu led us in a quick lesson on land and then we hit Lake Erie, via Wendy Park. I wish I could say I was a natural, but as with all my athletic endeavors thus far in life, I was not. I did however enjoy it immensely.  And I am quite good at the “orca” technique of getting back on the board due to lots of practice. Others were able to get into yoga poses, I stayed in mountain and whatever you would call bailing into the water.  One lady even attempted a headstand, I fell just watching her (seriously). It gave me a touch of open water swimming and a new experience, if nothing else. It was so cool to see the Cleveland Air Show going on to the east, and my kids and The Man hanging on the beach to my west. I hope I can get in another session or two before the weather turns, I’ve already talked it up to my best friend and my neighbor. Hopefully I can coerce a partner in crime to join in the fun!


I'm the one in pink going to wrong direction.

I’m the one in pink going to wrong direction. That’s Browns Stadium on the far right.


So, on to September,  because summer is gone. Just like that. It’s back to carting kids to and from school, cub scouts and soccer. And finding the time to run each weekend. The best part of back to school is that my lunch hours are a bit more my own, so I can squeeze some runs in there.  Fall is when I started running, back more than a dozen years ago, and even in the years I wasn’t really doing any running, it was the one time of year, I did run. I love fall. The weather, the leaves changing color, the fresh apples (I am such an apple snob) and the Halloween and fall festivities. I love it all!  I’m hoping that my love of fall, will translate into a desire to run, and in turn my overall mood will improve.

It’s time to bust out of this funk. My goal tonight is to come up with the six week plan that will help me to succeed, or at least not die, during the ATM.



Cure for the blahs? Achilles heel 10k

17 07 2014

How do you cure the blahs? You enlist friends, and then watch a friend complete an inspiring and amazing race.

I think it worked for me.

I’ve been struggling for the past six weeks, barely getting runs in, and not really even caring that I wasn’t running. Overall my mood had been not so sunny. Not running clearly wasn’t helping that situation, and the weight I lost in early spring was starting to creep back on. I needed a kick in the ass, or some mental inspiration. Something, anything to get me back at it. Opportunity knocked in the form of J signing up for an Olympic distance triathlon. Of course, way back then I had no idea I would get to be a part of it, nor that it would be the antidote I needed.

J signed up for the race long before she was benched from running due to an Achilles injury. She trained with amazing focus her training for the swim and bike portions, but she was really worried about the run. Her last 10k was over six months ago, and wasn’t after a 1 mile swim and 24 mile ride. She had only been officially cleared for short runs about 3 weeks before race day.

M was flying in from Texas for the occasion (she loves a good excuse to visit) and I decided to make the six plus hour road trip with the kids to join in on the fun. The Kid and the Small One adored J’s middle kids last year and she said the more the merrier, so plans were dialed in. About two and a half weeks before the race J asked M and I if we would run the 10k with her–she was really worried she was not going to be able to finish. She’s generally a bit speedier than the two of us, but her swim and bike would level the playing field. And hopefully, the excitement of the company would carry her through.

M and I began scheming via text as soon as plans solidified. We needed to get her through the run, and to make it fun. This wasn’t going to be your average jog. We each had assignments, which we took seriously, and executed with precision and humor. Here’s M’s weekend recap with all the details.

We made the best of our short trip and enjoyed every second of it. Well, we did. Poor J had some stomach issues at the end of the race, but she powered through and finished strong. She’s such a great role model, for me, her kids, my kids, heck, everyone. How many people would tackle their first triathlon after 4 kids, full time job and a major injury? Not many.

I keep trying to think about her focus and drive. I know I can’t be her, but seeing her continue to laugh at the antics of M and me, despite the agony she must have been in, gets me off my butt and out the door. And that’s where it all starts, right?

Anticipation – a double edged sword, and Twin Sizzler recap

5 07 2014

Anticipation is a powerful thing. Sometimes is a positive force, but other times, I think it works against me.

I think if I didn’t get excited about races, I would just sit on the couch instead of running. Mostly though, my races are friend focused. I’m never going to even place in my age group. It’s all about the experience and keeping me honest and active. Pushing myself along, and sometimes even ahead is a bonus.


I had been looking forward to the 39th annual Twin Sizzler since the half in May. We made plans to do another family BBQ/swim day post race, and it kept me moving a bit more than I would have otherwise. I was not ready to race, but I knew I would get through it. Mostly I was excited to spend some time running with a friend. Solo running is getting to me. I was excited to have a running buddy for the day.

In the back of my head though, I have those nagging kidney stones. I kept thinking, what if they decide to move during the race? Or immediately post race? What if I can’t even finish a 10k after running a half 5 weeks before? How will I recover in time for my trip to the East Coast next week? Then, of course, I think about if they move during my trip. I’m driving 6 plus hours solo with the kids. That’s the negative side of anticipation, sometimes it snowballs into anxiety. I have enough self induced performance and weather related worries spinning in my head with my running, these uninvited passengers are not helping me one bit, as tiny as they might be.

On the weather side of worries, we lucked out with a not so sizzling day. It was high 60’s at 9am, the 10k start time. The event is a bit unique in that you can do multiple events. The 5k starts at 7:45 so one can do the 10k as well. For multi sport athletes, if you are speedy, you can treat it as a duathalon and do the 5k then the bike race. There’s a kids run as well. It’s quite the event, and I can see why it’s a community classic. The weather was perfect, we could not have asked for more. 


I  stayed with my partner in crime through the race catching up on the antics of our kids, jobs and lives in general. My mid back twinged a bit about mile 2.5, I grabbed I bit of extra water then and hoped for the best. I wasn’t sure it wasn’t stone related, but I couldn’t rule it out either. Luckily, it faded to a dull ache and eventually subsided. Dodged a bullet there. This course took us into some very hilly areas, so it could have been that. The up side is I found a few streets to run on very close to my house that I hadn’t explored yet. We were the only people at the water stops, so we chatted with the volunteers, who were exceptionally friendly. There was really nice crowd support, even with the race using some of the major routes around town. Even those of us at the back of way behind the pack had great race support. We did opt for a bit of sidewalk running for a small stretch before the final ascent into the square, but the traffic was much more controlled than the day of the half. After 39 years of this, they really have things down to a science.

About a half a mile to go I asked if it was ok for me to push ahead up the hill. I was so disappointed at my finish line approach for the half, that I wanted to beat that hill, or at least not crawl up it. My family was about a quarter mile from the finish, and The Kid decided to run in with me. He was smiling the entire time and chattering alongside me. It was so great. I can’t wait to see the finish line photos!

Overall it was a great race, we maintained a decent pace  despite spending a lot of time walking. I felt good and strong during the portions I ran. I’m feeling positive about my C25K modifications I’m working on to try to bring up my speed again. I revised my paper training plan, yet again, and I think it’s going to help without killing me in the process. And that’s what I’m anticipating, enjoying the process and the journey. I have a few races on the horizon, but right now my only official registration is for the Army Ten Miler this fall, which from the experiences I have read, it will be worth the preparation.

The post event blahs

2 07 2014

I try to prepare for it, I learn from experience, but somehow the post-event blahs hit me. It was my fear as I contemplated training for my first half last year, based on past experience. I feel like I ruined cycling after my century rides back in 2002. Cycling has never been the same for me. I did some off road racing, and quite a few new trails but I never had focus to actually put time into training. I got to the point that it didn’t feel worth it to go out unless I had an hour to ride. I talked with a few distance runners who assured me that with running it would be refreshing to only need to run three miles after completing my training plan and race.

I’ve always done well the first time I set out on a plan. First go around with Weight Watchers? To goal weight in 10 weeks. First century ride? Followed my Team in Training coach’s plan to a T. My first half? More or less followed my training plan, with a few adjustments. My encore performances?  Well let’s say the Weight Watchers efforts have transformed to My Fitness Pal attempts, and I’m always struggling.  My second century actually went better performance-wise, but my training was so sporadic it was a miracle. This years half training? Sub par, at best. But I got it done, and I did improve my time, but it was much, much more painful overall. I just lose the focus I have for the firsts.

Clearly, based on my lack of posts, as well as lack of runs, the blahs hit again after the Medina half. They were compounded by allergy issues, outdoor home improvement projects, The Man’s short term overnight work schedule, swim lesson madness, a kidney stone, Lego day camp and summer schedule in general. It’s not just that I haven’t had the time to run, but that I haven’t wanted to run, so I haven’t found the time. Then suddenly the Electric Run was upon me, and I’m lucky that I couldn’t go all out there, because I wouldn’t have had it in me. I have a few 10ks coming up in July, but nothing solid and focused until October’s Army Ten Miler in DC. It’s all just casual stuff. I’d love to improve, but they are  friend-focused events, really.

I decided to start small getting back at it. Just work on getting a few runs a week in to make it through the 10ks reasonably. I had planned to mirror a friend’s training plan to work on speed but my knee has been bothering me for a few weeks and doesn’t seem to be letting up. Her training plan has been quite ambitious and I think the group setting is necessary to push that hard. I think now I’m going to brush off an old Couch to 5k-type plan, but really push my speed during the run intervals, with a bit added on the end to round up the mileage. I’ll throw a bit of distance once a week as well to keep me in the six-mile long run range, working back up to 10 in the fall. It seems doable, but I need to plot it out on my handy dandy notebook. Why does a paper schedule help me? I have no idea, but it seems more real, less able to dismiss like an Outlook reminder.


I hope this helps me shake it off. It’s been a rough month–the sneaky hate spiral of post-race apathy has taken control of me for too long. Saturday morning was a good start. I did not want to run, but I did. I forced myself out the door, into a sea of humidity. I didn’t bring a hat or sunglasses or water. I didn’t eat my prerequisite banana. But I survived. And I’m glad I went. I reflected as I ran about how to find the joy in exercise again. I was able to swim a few laps earlier last week, which felt pretty good. I’ve figured out a decent bike route that appears to be safe for a 10-15 mile ride, so I’m planning do get that in this week once as well. I’m going to work on finding the joy again, instead of just going through the motions.


Do you get the post event blahs?

Any tips to move through them,  back to the joy?

Electric Run Cleveland- a party where there was running, sort of.

28 06 2014

Back in late fall last year, the BFF and I had discussed attempting to do a 5K each month together. We really have to work at it as the starts have to align perfectly for it to happen. Two working moms, nontraditional schedules in both houses? It’s a logistical nightmare.  We started with a Trick or Treat run in October, a Turkey Trot in November, December and January were a bust, February was an insanely snowy and cold Frosty 5K in Medina, then she broke her foot so we took a hiatus for February and March. April was our Alma Mater Glow run with the boys. In May I had the  Cleveland Marathon 10K and Medina half and we just couldn’t get it together between busy schedules.


But back in like, November, maybe? We registered for the Electric Run Cleveland in June. Friday Night? Warmer weather? Music and cheezy glowy stuff? We were in. It’s a very hyped up, over advertised run. But hey, it looked like fun, and we are known for being two crazy bitches looking for a good time (not that way, get your head out of the gutter!).  A few weeks before the race a friend asked if I knew anyone to take her registration as she had a conflict.  I found my Nightowl Niece to take her slot. It would be her first race ever, she’s a treadmill runner, with occasional solo neighborhood runs. She sleeps as late as she possibly can and hence is not awake when 5K races are run.  This was going to be jump in the deep end kind of run for her. I was excited to have two fun people to hang with.


We left with plenty of time to hang before the race, or so we thought. One would assume that 90 minutes would be plenty of time to drive the 20 miles to the venue. One would be wrong. So, so wrong.  We did awesome getting to the exit ramp, then spent nearly 30 minutes on the actual ramp. The mile or so to the venue, off the ramp? Another 40 minutes, or so. We did a fair amount of people watching during our lovely traffic debacle. Discussion ensued about how just a few traffic officers could have made a world of a difference, why so many people were wearing tutu’s and how this was basically just about what I had expected based on a friends review from last year in a different city.  We finally parked off site and walked the rest of the way. So much for my VIP, guaranteed start in the first 4 waves. The best part of this is that after raining for 8 hours solid, it finally stopped while we were on the ramp.


We followed the “start” banners to a corral of a sea of people,  the waves were about 100-200 people start at a time, every 5 or so minutes. They threw glow sticks out while we waited, there was music blaring, they tried to pump up the energy. They encouraged walkers to stay to the right and let runners take the left side of the course. People had been quite creative with their attire. My favorite of the night was a pair of ladies with skirts made entirely of duct tape and glow sticks, almost like a hula skirt. They were great! We also saw the husband of the friend who Nightowl Niece was replacing. So crazy that we saw him, without a concerted effort to connect.


Sea of starters

Sea of starters

As I mentioned before, it rained for 8 hours straight prior to the start time, so mud was inevitable. My goal was to keep it below the knees, and was later revised to finish with both shoes actually still on my feet.  We made a concerted effort to not get separated, which was amazingly successful, possibly in part to my ridiculous dayglow green, fishnet fingerless elbow length gloves. I’d throw my arms up if we got separated and bring us all back together. Weaving in and out of walkers, often 4-5 abreast, on the left- there were mud puddles on the right (and on the left as well, but I digress) we made our way through the course. It zig zagged a bit, and we did finally hit a paved section. The “electric” parts of the run were awesome. Lit up glow arches in multiple colors, floating umbrellas,  blow up lit ice cream cones and then a few barns with floating jelly fish and lots of music. And mud. Lots and lots of mud.


Floating jellyfish

Floating jellyfish

We would be able to keep a decent, not fast pace for a good 500 or so feet, then come upon another pack of walkers, likely from each previous wave. It definitely increased the challenge of staying upright. BFF was rocking the huge mounds of mud on her shoes, showing off her 5am workouts with Jillian Michaels have her ready to kick some serious butt with her strength.  Seeing the string of participants ahead and behind us, lit up in various manners was pretty damn cool. The humidity was high, but it was high sixties, so tolerable. One water stop at about half way was staffed very well, and there were many volunteers along the course. Some were very in to it, dancing and swinging around glow stuff, some completely oblivious to the fact that there was an event happening. Overall the volunteers were attentive, but there is no controlling crowds that size.


This was not a timed run, which is good because it would have been abysmal. The after party was rocking by the time we crossed the finish line, we attempted to grab a drink before heading over, but the prices were quite steep so we skipped it. Having parked a ways away it wasn’t reasonable to go back to the car and come back with more funds.  We got to the front of the after party stage and scored cool foam glow wands quickly which were super fun. We then hooked up with a high school classmate for a bit. We headed home after sampling some Rockstar (hind sight: Rockstar at 11pm? not such a stellar idea!). Traffic was moderately better than our arrival, they had a few of Berea’s finest assisting by now.


After party, complete with Cheezy DJ and SoCo girls. And more glowy stuff.

After party, complete with Cheezy DJ and SoCo girls. And more glowy stuff.



Overall there were some real fails on the part of the race organizers. A few people directing traffic at the exit ramps and the main intersection between the venue and the highway would have likely improved the satisfaction of the everyone involved. I felt really bad for anyone who happened to chose to eat at the Olive Garden that evening, their dinner likely took double the normal time with the traffic. Better explanation of the start times/procedures in the race information emailed the days prior to race would also have been helpful. I had registered VIP, but no email stating my items had been shipped came. I expected a “your packet is on the way” email instead of a generic “the race is a week away, if you registered VIP you might get your packet, if not come to pick up on Thursday night.”

Overall we had fun, but I had very low expectations due to a friends’ previous report. Nightowl Niece seemed to enjoy herself, and even said she would do another night run with us if we found one.  The first 3 pictures are courtesy of her Iphone. I really enjoyed the time with her before she heads off to college soon, as well as with BFF (always a given).  It seemed as though many were treating it as girls night out or something along those lines, there were people drinking on the race course even. I like to keep my running and drinking separate, and generally in that order as well, so that hadn’t even really crossed my mind.  I can’t say that I won’t do it again should it return to Cleveland in 2015, but I will go at it with a different mindset, likely that of a 20 something college co-ed, with a designated driver, of course.


Where I’ve been and Medina Half re-cap

1 06 2014

After my great run at the Cleveland Marathon’s 10K I had a rough few weeks. Training time was swallowed up by kid activities and home improvement tasks or appointments. There is just not enough time in the day. My allergies made my run last Sunday feel uphill, both ways. It left me feeling severely lacking in preparation for the half.

Expo day arrived and I hadn’t run since Sunday. While I worked during the day, my super awesome mom grocery shopped and prepped some food for us to all enjoy post race, picked up The Kid from his last day of school and wrangled The Small One. After work, the kids and I met an old friend, C, at the expo and decided to carb load together. We dropped The Kid off at an end of the school year sleepover, did dinner with lots of gab involved. My partner in crime, S, whom I had suckered into racing by promising an afternoon by the pool post race, decided to take me up on the offer to crash here since she lives 45 minutes away; we got back from dinner mere minutes before she arrived.  After returning home, I squeezed in a 20 minute easy paced run right at dusk that made me feel a bit more stretched and balanced. During that run I figured out how to have Siri read me texts, and let M know that she was on duty after the 2 hour mark to help me finish strong. All this after a more than full day’s work, I had a hard time settling my brain to sleep. Thank goodness for Calms Forte. That stuff is a life saver!

Race day I woke early and got ready,  finally deciding on my dark purple “13.1, it seemed like a good idea at the time” shirt. S had bought us matching ones in January and had decided to wear hers. After getting dressed there was a small hiccup in that The Kid needed to be picked up from the sleep over early, like now, 5:30am. Luckily I was ready, and used the 10 mins it took to get him to eat my banana in the car. I didn’t let it fluster me, and I dropped him back off in the care of The Man. S and I rode our bikes the two miles to the square to prevent parking chaos. That was a perfect way to stretch our legs just a bit, I am so glad we did that. The line for the port a potties was epic, but we made it to the start line as they began the national anthem. We tried to locate C who was planning a similar pace to hook them up with no success. I wished S the best of luck and gave her a hug as we started.

Due to our near miss arrival at the start line my Garmin was not ready to go as I crossed the start line. I was about 45 seconds off the clock time as I started, but the Garmin started a bit after that. It was going to be hard to know where I sat goal wise exactly, but at least it was something. It was quite crowded, but I weaved through people until I felt comfortable with the pace. This meant that I passed the 2:40 pacers before mile one. I was OK with that as I knew I would need a bit of a buffer later. My unicorns, rainbows and ponies goal (with the stars aligning perfectly) goal was 2:45. This was a quite ambitious goal based on a 3:06 finish at last year’s CLE, especially considering the hills involved in this course. My better goal was sub three and my good goal would be to finish without dying. I had set my mind to try to stay between the 2:40 pacers and the 2:50 pacers. And how awesome is it that there were pacers every 10 minutes? All the way down to 3:20. AMAZING!

My legs and lungs felt better than last week’s long run, which was quite a relief. We went past the small private lake that seems to be a requirement for all Medina races, and the crowd seemed to stabilize. Not much passing or being passed, just a nice steady, not-too-crowded group. I had Siri text M and The Man after I hit the mile three marker. We spent a hot second crossing and then running on the berm of one of the major roads here, Route 3. The police and volunteer support were quite noticeable here and quite appreciated. The bridge over the creek was lined with American flags courtesy of The Patriot Runners, one of the race beneficiaries, who were cheering and providing a water stop at the other end. The course turned in to the park and up to the trail that rounds the beautiful Lake Medina. The trail is gravel and a bit uneven the but view is well worth it.

Leaving the park we started the big climb up route 18, where the race was clearly affecting traffic. I noticed a lot of nurses in the traffic jam, likely on their way home from a night shift at the hospital. The 10K split seemed to come up fast after I turned into the neighborhood at the top of the hill. There was a great deal of crowd support in that area. The only downside was that due to the Memorial Day holiday, their trash pick up was that morning and it was a bit stinky. The Gu stop was right before the split but the flavors were not to my liking, but I am overly picky, especially when tired so I had planned for that. It did remind me to fuel up. I had eaten a few Honey Stinger fruit chews right before the hill, but now I used a peanut butter Gu. I added water to my tepid hand held water bottle as well, which helped quite a bit. I have found that I am a sipper–I don’t do well with water stops and the cups. I had Siri read my texts: one from The Man saying he was hurrying to get the crew to mile eight cheering spot, and two other friends with encouraging words. M included a few inside jokes and prompts to sing. She also called me Bad Ass.

Right after the 10K split the 2:40 pacers caught me. They were great. I chatted with them about my goals, and the fact that we were nearing my ‘hood and it was going to be hard to turn right and not left to go back home to bed. They joked about grabbing an arm each and the third one thought my run bun would be a nice way to yank me back on course. I stayed with them right until the eight mile cheering area. This is where my family, joined by S’s family, waited. The elementary school’s PTO had a DJ playing the Rocky theme. They all had great posters, my kiddos included. My kids were even dressed in acceptable outfits–score one for The Man. I collected high fives and hugs and set back on my way. The family would wait there for S and C, and then head to the square for the big finish. I was glad to see that The Kid had rallied so they could be out on the course–I wasn’t sure they would be there. After I left the hug stop, my hips really started to hurt, and my bra line chafing seemingly caught on fire. I finally stuffed my washcloth in there which helped, or at least stopped the burning.

Heritage's cheering section- I may be biased, but they deservedly won the cash prize for best cheering squad!

Heritage’s cheering section- I may be biased, but they deservedly won the cash prize for best cheering squad!

The next five miles are kind of a blur of sun and gradual incline. As I passed a kid with a garden hose, I spun around in front of him for a second. How refreshing! A few houses later, his friends had water guns and they helped as well. Tons of neighbors sat out at their driveway aprons with signs, chalk drawings and inspirational sayings, many quite funny (Don’t Poop! was my favorite), and high fives and words of encouragement. Somehow the water stops seemed to be further and further apart (they weren’t) and the temperature seemed to increase quickly (it did). A really well done sign from earlier reappeared at the second cheering area for the Up Side of Downs, the other charity the race was benefiting. It was bright neon, sort of old school comic book style, with a “TOUCH HERE FOR POWER” spot. I figured it couldn’t hurt, so I did.

Less than two miles to go and we passed a yard sale, complete with an eight seat dining set with all the chairs in a line. They were quite inviting, despite their less than stellar condition. I trudged on, and at this point, it truly was trudging. There was no shade, and the most excitement was a mama goose and her many goslings crossing the road. I knew once we turned again we would be nearly there. I had Siri check for new texts. M had sent nine, which made me laugh even before listening to them. They were filled with encouragement, making Siri swear and inside jokes that helped keep my mind off the fact my hips were attempting to lock up. She urged me to finish so she could go for her run as the Texas heat was rising quickly and she didn’t want to die of heat exhaustion. I did my best to oblige.

Siri did not describe the photo of the wet cat, by the way.

Siri did not describe the photo of the wet cat, by the way.

The final turn went over another major route in town. This time the drivers were not so patient. I chose to utilize the sidewalk. It was truly sad how impatient they were, not even following the police officers directing them. I find that the area is full of two types of drivers. The majority are over courteous, often not following the actual rules at a four way stop in order to be overly polite and letting bikes and people cross by waving them ahead. The others are in a hurry and don’t even stop at stop signs and will tailgate you and run you off the road if you are in their way. Sad to say that a few of the second type seemed to be out about 9:30 on Saturday this week.

As I made the final turn on to the brick road I saw S’s husband and her girls on their bikes and got a nice cheer from them. A bit up the road my crew was waiting to give me a final push up the hill. My hips ached and I could barely lift my feet from the ground. Later The Man said he was a bit worried as he could tell I was really struggling after I passed them. Once I hit the square, the road leveled off and I was able to give it a final push to finish under 2:50 clock time, ultimately finding that 2:48:43 was my actual time. Exactly where I wanted to be, between 2:40 and 2:50, but a bit behind the unicorns and ponies. The impressive medal made up for any hint of disappointment I felt. Talk about bling!!

That's a medal to buzz about!

That’s a medal to buzz about!

I grabbed a giant smiley face cookie and a water and headed for shade. I ran across the woman I had run with on the freezing cold training run and her husband and chatted with them. My family met up with me then and we headed to watch for S and C to come to the finish. I was so excited to see S running strong as she crossed her first half marathon finish line. C followed soon after. They had never crossed paths but became instant friends, as we were all half marathoners that day! We compared and admired our hard earned bling and sat in the grass and nearly collapsed. We kept talking about going to the farmers market, but it took a while to get the motivation to actually stand up again. The fresh squeezed lemonade for me, a mini fresh doughnut for S, and a catnip plant for C, made it worth it.

As we gathered the group to leave, the volunteers were tearing down and I noticed the race director Beth among them. We went over to thank her and let her know our vote for favorite cheering section and I gave her a hug. Her hard work had paid off–it was an awesome race. Traffic in Medina, particularly near the square, especially on a Saturday is quite the force to be reckoned with. I do my best to avoid it on foot or in a vehicle, but she had pulled it off. We all made it safely back to the finish line.

We headed back to the house for a well-deserved, relaxing afternoon by the pool. On our way out of the square, my sister-in-law passed in her car and waved. A few seconds later, we saw a family from my street who shouted congratulations when they noticed my medal. As we rode the trail towards home, I realized I finally felt at home, part of the community. After 10 months, Medina is finally home. Funny how running in a big circle around the city is what finally made me feel that way. I plan to BEE THERE next year as well. I know this race wasn’t my first, but it may be my most important.

Light at the end of the tunnel? Cleveland 10K recap

18 05 2014

10,000 plus crowded Superior Ave for the combined start of the 2014 Cleveland Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K at 7 am, awaiting the new course route and the ability to warm up by moving.

And Go!!

And Go!!

As I was in corral area F due to my predicted finish time, it was about ten minutes before I crossed the official start line. Even then, the street was so crowded it was hard to actually run. I had spent a great deal of time formulating a brand new playlist just for this race. I was hoping for a time goal, and wanted to be able to use a few key songs at the end to trigger me to kick it up a notch. I burned out my other lists as we used them as part of our rotation during the epic road trip in April. I utilized a few key friends to add songs to my list and iTunes to make it happen. Somehow, just as happened last year it shuffled on me. It worked out just fine other than my “power song” not even ever coming up on the shuffle.

Crossing the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge is an amazing experience, but at mile 2 when you are fresh and still in a huge pack of runners made it even more breathtaking than last years 11 mile crossing. The end of the bridge would separate the routes of the 10k and the longer distances, and they did a good job marking that. The sun on the bridge warmed my feet, finally. It was nice to have toes again.

After much wardrobe discussion I had settled on capris, short sleeves and heavy arm warmers. I really wanted to wear long sleeves but M talked me out of it. I’m still not sure what the right call was. But I survived, ok I did more than survived.

After mile two I realized I was actually doing as M had predicted.

“Rule 1. You are always faster on race day. ”

The thing is, I don’t race much. I go to races to have fun and be with friends. I’m never going to win, or even place in my age group. So why not chill with my peeps? I rarely get friend time, so I like to maximize. I’m a nurse and a mom, multi-tasking is my life.

Running a race on my own is kind of new to me. My availability to even race is a challenge as well. And then, why pay if I can run alone for free?

The Cleveland Half was so amazing last year, running streets that are always full of cars. Seeing the sights from a totally different perspective on foot. I think that’s what sucked me in when I realized the stars could align for me to squeeze the 10k in this year. That and the promise of a medal. Who doesn’t love a medal?

The requisite bling shot

The requisite bling shot

Saturdays demand for play list songs was a rousing success. My friends added some songs I hadn’t ever heard all the way through, but I listened to the preview on iTunes and determined it was worth the risk. Knowing a friend had selected that sing for me really helped push me, even if I couldn’t sing along. I will admit, there was singing and dancing again this year, mostly as I was feeling full of life on the bridge. The Best Day of My Life and Timber both had people around me joining in a bit. I may have even “stretched my arms out to the sky.”

My goal was to stick to approximately 12 minute miles. I realized at mile two that I was doing better than that. And I was feeling great. The new playlist pushing me forward, I went right by the water stops. I had chosen to bring my small hand held knowing it would be sufficient for the full distance, why mess with cups when I could sip?

I knew I was going significantly faster than my overall goal, and it started to hurt a bit. I tried to stretch my stride a little which seemed to help. Once we hit the shoreway the spectators really became few and far between. I noticed a young girl and two adults sitting on the highway divider. She had a drum and was looking at the crowd intensely. I waved like a goof and she lit up and banged her drum. The adults with her cheered and clapped then too. At about mile five and a half my breathing got a bit tight, a fine time for spring to finally hit Cleveland, huh? A woman near me touched my arm as we ran, and calmly said “you’ve got this, deep breaths, in your nose, out your mouth, and again.” It sounds simple, but that focused attention was exactly what I needed then. I thanked her and picked up pace. If I was going to beat my rainbow and unicorn goal, I might as well crush it.

I wove through the field, still quite full of runners, as best I could. I did my best to leave it all on the course, I didn’t have much left, but I used it. The finish line was a bit anti-climactic. Last year I knew J would have finished ahead of me and she was yelling to me as I crossed, this year, yeah, nothing. I got my medal (yay, bling!) , banana a tangerine carrot ice pop (really?, yes really. It was ok). I took a space blanket as I was already shivering and had a ways to get back to my car. I found a text from M that likely hit as I approached the finish line, and texted The Man that I was done. I stopped and grabbed a cool free water bottle and took a quick selfie with the FREE stamp, because why not?

I also went and checked out the new chandelier over Euclid Ave. It’s pretty. Then I found my car.

Cleveland got new bling recently too!

Cleveland got new bling recently too!

Once I got to the kid hand off point and waited for The Man to arrive I realized that I had really done it.

I dragged myself out of bed at 4:45.
I parked, figured it all out on my own.
I ran the race alone, friends only with me in playlist and spirit.
I pushed myself beyond my expectations.

Later, as I drove to the grocery store, Best Day of My Life came on the radio. As The Kid belted it out I became a bit verklempt. I may have even held back a few tears of pride. I think that was the flicker of the light at the end of the tunnel of my half training.

The work is done. I just need to keep it together for two more weeks. Eat decently, get a few runs in and then enjoy the ride.

Week of wind

18 05 2014
Golf ball sized hail is not friends with aluminum siding

Golf ball sized hail is not friends with aluminum siding

I had an off week with my training. We had some really bad storms here, including hail and a now substantiated tornado on Monday. Tuesday I used my lunch hour to set up an insurance claim and a contractor to review our damage. I considered running that evening but it was just a really tough day and we went out for ice cream instead.

I said it was an off week, you were forewarned.

Wednesday I did an indoor track run at the rec center. I counted laps reliably, I’m 99% sure, and had some good speed. I pushed it pretty hard as I wasn’t sure how long The Little One would last in the day care so I wanted to be sure I took advantage of every minute.

The rest of the week was crazy and Friday I had to go down to the Expo for packet pick up (total misnomer as they didn’t print the race info stuff this year, which really annoyed me) but I got a few fun things for a few friends, and for the half in two weeks. The Kid loved the expo. I’ll have to take him with me again in two weeks.

More like packet-less, shirt and bib pickup

More like packet-less, shirt and bib pickup

My second run for the week, as discussed via text with M was a 30 minute stretch the legs out run. I had to drop off The Kid at 7:30am so I figured might as well make the best of the damp dreary early Saturday and get it over with right away. I was dropping him off right near the lake the half will run around in two weeks. It’s a crushed limestone trail that’s just over a mile each way. I took it really slow and finished the out and back as my timer hit 30 minutes.

As Saturday progressed my anxiety about Sundays race increased. Texting commenced, naturally. M and I set good, better and unicorn goals for the race. There was arguing back and forth, M having much more faith in my training than I. I tried to rest a bit but somehow I did not rest, nor did I get anything done. I had to be up before 5AM, and didn’t end up asleep until after 11PM. Of course, The Little One chose that night to wake up after a week of full nights sleep, luckily she snuggled back in quickly.

I had laid out all my clothes, and gear before bed so I was very efficient in getting moving and put of the house. I realized about a mile down the road that I failed to grab my banana. I turned around, I was not making that mistake again. The drive downtown went easily, I adjusted my exit as I am pretty familiar with the parking an exit one sooner than most people appeared to be targeting. I needed to be able to get out of town efficiently, but was not necessarily worried about proximity to the finish line.

I parked, finished getting dressed and kind of dragged my heels about going out into the cold. It was low 40’s and windy, but no chance of rain. I had a full hour and was not concerned about the walk to the start. I decided it best to find a restroom though, so I headed towards Public Square. I noticed a few run ready people heading out of the Residence Inn, so I ducked in and was pleasantly surprised by a lack of line for the lobby facilities. I hung out there a bit and stretched in the warmth. I also plotted out my route to my car post race.

On my walk down to the start, I got a bit nostalgic thinking of the amazing experience I had last year (in detail here from M’s point of view, but she was sitting on my couch when she typed it so I added some and concur) with my friends. I stopped and took a picture at the fountain in Public Square that M, J and I had posed at after the half. I sent them a selfie of me alone there saying there was something missing. I giggled to myself as I passed the parking garage J had to search forever for a parking spot as the Sweet Adeline’s had commandeered the spots for the weekend. I noticed a significant increase in spectators and supporters in the corral area this year. Security was pretty high last year as Boston was still so raw. I noticed a lot of security presence, but people with blankets and sport chairs as well, even once I got into my corral. I chatted with a few ladies who were running their first half that morning. Both were very happy to learn that last year was my first and I was back on the course even if I wasn’t doing the half. I even found a couple who is running the 5k at the half event in two weeks. They were all quite nice and kept the mood light. I really needed that as my nerves were creeping up as my muscles tightened up with each gust of wind. By this point in the week, I was over the wind. My toes and house had both been victims of it’s games.

The Little One "helps" me trace the 10K route on my printed out at home packet.

The Little One “helps” me trace the 10K route on my printed out at home packet.

Eleventy billion excuses, and I still feel guilty.

10 05 2014

The good, the bad and the ugly, right? They are all to be expected during training. I experienced them all, this week.

The Good – the spring weather, seeing green instead of brown during my runs, my Tuesday run, the registration for the 10k at the Cleveland Marathon (yay, bling!), The Little One having a shyness break through (huge mama smiles!)

The Bad- my acclimation to the new heat on Thursday, the weather forecast for today, the fact that I had to hire babysitter (she’s awesome, not bad, to clarify) to run, my long run started much later than I’m used to due to the last two things

The Ugly-my house was a wreck so I cleaned for an hour and a half before the sitter got here, the chafing from my sports bra, the lack of stashed water on my route today, the toe pain today, the hip muscle craps today. Hell, let’s just say from mile 6.5 on during todays run.

I felt fully justified in coming home early during my run. Ten hours later? Not so much. My pace really wasn’t that much better than last week, I just wasn’t as prepared.

Was it being awake for 3 hours before leaving? Being on my feet sweeping, vacuuming, scrubbing toilets and showers? Was it the two loads of laundry I had completed before setting out? Was it the spring blooms affecting my breathing? Are my toenails just a bit too long? Did the body glide wear off since I was wearing my sports bra during above mentioned cleaning? Was it a shitty attitude? Was is mental weakness? Am I just fed up with how my speed tanks once I add miles above 6 as a long run? Should I put the superfeet in my shoes?

Rest assured this is only a sampling of the stream of consciousness that has been my brain this afternoon and evening. Tomorrow is a new day, and I’ve got lots planned for the day that will help me not ruminate and bring myself down.

I ran six strong miles today, and then two more. I’m racing in Cleveland next Sunday. I need to get my head straight, and in a positive light. No matter what it WILL be a PR since I’ve never raced a 10k.

I WILL finish the half in two weeks. I am trained, I am ready, despite obstacles (flu, road trip, schedules) I have more or less completed my training plan. It’s time to taper off.

The guilt stops here. Ok, maybe right after I aquaphor my chaffing and trim the toenails, you know just in case that was part if it.


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