T’was the week before marathon

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T’was the week before marathon when runners were making final preparations.  The training is complete, the miles have been run.  It’s time to take faith that you can get it done! As I look back on the training, I am thankful for all the miles I was able to complete.  I can’t put myself down for only running 2- 20 mile distances.  I need to just relax and enjoy the day with my friends!

I have run Columbus one other time and it is my only marathon to date.  My training was extremely lonely.  I wasn’t running with anyone and didn’t even know running groups existed in my area.  My knee gave out in my training when I attempted my first 20 miler. I was never able to break that mileage distance in training due to my knee always causing me to stop short of my distance goal.  During the race I felt great, until I hit mile 18.  My knee pinched and I immediately had to stop.  I walked/limped in pain for 7 miles. I felt completely defeated.  I didn’t want to walk across the finish line, so I would jog for a minute, walk for a minute and repeat that cycle through the last mile.  When I crossed the finish line, I was in tears.  I was so upset with myself for not finishing the way I had hoped nor the way I had planned.  At that moment, I swore I would never run another marathon again.  I would stick to the half marathons.  After all, I like that distance.

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Everything changed when I was introduced to my #RunHappy friends!  I started training with them for a half marathon that I had committed to a year in advance.  I was enjoying running again.  Fast forward and I completed 4 half marathons this year and was training with my friend to complete her marathon.  I completed some of her long runs with her and decided to just throw in the towel and run it with her.  I got a bib, ran another 20 miler in seriously gross weather conditions and started tapering.

Now, we are just 3 days away from lacing up our shoes, hitting the starting line and finishing another marathon.  The distance I swore I would never do again.  I’m not only going to toe the line and finish this thing, I’m going to do it with a lot more confidence than the first time.  I’m going to watch friends reach their goals and push their limits.  I’m going to cheer on those that finish at the back of the pack.  I’m going to enjoy race day in all its glory! Columbus truly has the most amazing crowd support and I am excited to have a better race experience.

Not only will I complete this marathon, I will complete my first ultra marathon next April!  I’ve already signed up for the Forget the PR 50K at Mohican State Park!

Look for my race report next week to hear all about Columbus!

Bobcat Trail Half Marathon

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A small portion of the lake we were running around

This past weekend I celebrated my birthday by running my first trail race.  I had set out months in advance to complete a race on my birthday since it fell on a weekend.  The only trail race I could find within a decent driving distance was the Bobcat, so I registered and never looked back.  I knew that the weather could be absolutely horrendous, but that didn’t stop me.  I wanted to have some fun and I wanted my husband and kids to be at the finish line when I was done.

The night before the race, the kids and I drove down to meet my husband at his work so the kids could see the big trucks.  Then we met some friends for dinner.  As we were driving on some very dark and twisty roads, we learned that our son gets car sick.  So, pulling over, we striped him down, wiped him up and cleaned the car seat as best we could.  Then we were back on our way to the lodge.  I packed up my gear for the morning in hopes that I wouldn’t wake everyone up, but our son was up before my alarm even went off in the morning.

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My running buddies for Bobcat!

My friends and I had decided to hit the morning shuttle because the emails leading up to race day made it look like the shuttle would be full of people and we may have a hard time getting a spot.  So, we opted to take the early shuttle and arrive to the start location an hour before we needed to be there.  By doing this, we were going to need to stay warm and brought extra gear that we could through in our drop bags before the start of the race.  Just incase you are considering running the bobcat, you don’t need to take the early shuttle.  The second shuttle had just as many as the first- maybe even less.  There were only 5 people that took the shuttle in the first trip *whomp whomp whomp*

At the start of the race we were given directions and then the bell was sounded to start.  The first half mile was on a road before we meet our first hill.  This hill was the start of a muddy mess.  It was slick, but I made it to the top (walking of course).  Once we hit the trail it was single track and fairly narrow.  But, it was just slippery and muddy that even on the down hills you had to take them slow or you would lose your footing.  This was the first 5 miles.  There were lots of puddles, lots of mud suctioning off shoes, and lots of people falling.  Luckily I didn’t fall or lose at shoe.  But, I hit the aid station at mile 5 and the volunteers were telling everyone that we were at the water crossing.  I was prepared for the water crossing and assumed it would be fairly deep based on the  amount of rain that we had in the week leading up to the race.  But, this was a river.  There was a guy helping people into the water, but eventually he was getting too cold and decided to move on with his own race (I can’t blame him).  He told myself and the person in front of me that it was just a step down.  So, she stepped down and moved out of the way.  Then I go to step down and completely fall in.  Did I mention it was 29 degrees that morning and the water was COLD?  I stood up and acknowledged that I was ok, but also let the guy know that it wasn’t just a step down.  What could I do?  So, I just moved on and kept going forward.

The last 8 miles were less mud but a lot more hills.  I did my best to power hike the hills, but this will definitely be the area I focus on for the 50k and 50 miler that I will complete in 2019.  Around mile 10.5 my husband sent me a text to see where I was at in the race.  My phone was drained from the tracking app, so I had to shut it down.  It took me nearly 3 minutes to respond to that message and I got really cold.  I decided I wasn’t going to stop again for a text or phone call (sorry mom).  I wanted to finish this race and get warm!

After three hours and twenty minutes, I crossed the finish line and was greeted by my husband and kiddos.  Before we walked back into the lodge so that I could change, I tried to remove my shoes.  But, the laces were frozen and I couldn’t get my right shoe off of my foot without a struggle.  I went right in to change into warmer clothes and attempt to heat up.

My preparation for this race was the same as my other half marathons this year.  Only difference, those races were all completed on roads.  So, needless to say, I was under prepared. In fact, I felt completely out of shape as I was running.  I knew that there would be hills during the race, but apparently didn’t realize just how many hills I would have to concur.

Overall, this was a wonderful way to spend the first half of my birthday!  It was a great introduction to trail running and I definitely have things that I want to work on to improve.  I’m very thankful that my husband and kiddos were at the finish line to see me and celebrate with me.  I’m definitely looking forward to this year and what 2019 has in store for trail running!

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Another Trip Around the Sun

In just a few days I will be another year older, hopefully a bit wiser and stronger.  This past year I really tried to regain some focus on myself and my mental health.  I had signed up to complete a half marathon a year in advance and when January came around I knew I had to start training.  So, let’s recap what 31 has looked like to me.

November and December are always a whirl wind of birthdays and holidays in our house.  That means lots of time spent with family and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I am truly blessed with such an amazing family and I tell people all the time.  I don’t take for granted what my family has done for me in the least.

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Where it all started!

January and February, I finally started walking/jogging/and pretending to run again.  I hadn’t done anything since I was 4 months pregnant with Ben and at this point he was 15 months.  I spent 4 days a week in the basement on the treadmill binge watching Netflix.

March rolled around and I noticed a Facebook post inviting people to a training run for the Canton Marathon.  I wasn’t training for a marathon, but this would give me the opportunity to run with other people so I was so lonely.  This is when I met two people who were talking about a local running group called Run Happy.  I finished my lonely miles and found the group on Facebook later that day.  From that point on I joined a morning run group twice a week where I met more awesome people.

April was the start of the half marathons.  The race I had signed up for a year ago was finally just around the corner.  You can read more about that here.  I  was training with my running buddy and decided since I was already trained, I would run another half marathon two weeks later.  At the race expo I was talked into a third half just weeks after the second.  I was starting to binge sign up for races so to speak.  By the end of May I reached LifeTime status with Weight Watchers as well.  So, I was finally back to a healthy weight.

June, July and August are too hot for me to race.  I kept training with my running buddy as she prepared for a marathon.  I knew that it would help me with my half in September anyway so I wasn’t concerned.  I started watching YouTube videos and listening to podcasts about Ultra Running.  I was getting hooked and picked out a 50 miler to sign up for in a year.  *I mentally like to give myself plenty of time to panic and analyze my decisions in running.

September rolled around and I ran my 4th half marathon for the year and relayed a marathon with a bunch of Harry Potter fans I had never met.  By the end of September I had talked myself into running the full marathon with my running buddies.  There were a large number of members going to run this race and I remember the fun I had with the half marathon (not so many fond memories of the full).  So, in October, I toed the line and finished my second full marathon.

Just a few days later, myself and other Run Happy members raced to the ultra sign up webpage to register for a 50k.  This will be my first Ultra.  I’m still waiting for registration to open for the 50 miler, but when it does I will be registered day 1!

This year has been incredible.  I found joy in running again.  I was no longer training alone.  I was no longer stressing about running races by myself because I was almost sure I would know someone there at the starting line.  My family is happy and healthy and I get to share another year with all of them.  I am grateful for everyone in my life and the opportunities that I am given.  So, thank you to everyone who has shared a small part of this year with me and I look forward to what is to come.

Just to make sure I kick off my 32nd year right, I will be running my first trail half marathon with my running buddies on my birthday!  The Bobcat Trail half marathon is sure to be a muddy mess after all of the rain we’ve been experiencing.

As always, be confident, be fit, be you!

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Columbus Marathon Recap

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The weekend started out with a road trip just two hours south of home and 3 other running friends.  In the days leading up to the race, I was unsure what the temperature would be like that morning or even what I would wear.  We’ve trained all summer in hot and humid temperatures that I didn’t know what I would do in the cool crisp mornings.  We were going to hit up a running store and then the expo, so I was going to look for some capri pants to run in (I know this is a big running no- no) with my HRC tshirt.  I have a lot of cold weather running gear, but not much for the in-between.

As we all discussed strategy and running gear, the drive seemed to go fairly quickly.  Just like that we were at the running store and out stretching our legs.  I was starting to feel some nerves because I wasn’t quite sure if I could run a full 26.2 miles.  Training said I could, but there was a lot of self-doubt.  By the time we arrived at the expo, there were booths already being taken down.  There was still an hour and a half left before it closed!  We went up and got our bibs and gear bags and then headed down to see the vendors.  I picked up some GU and took the obligatory pictures with the large daunting numbers.

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As we headed to our dinner reservations, the wind picked up.  When I say picked up, I mean we felt like we were going to blow away.  A large marathon route sign fell right in front of us.  We all kept praying that the wind would die down before we had to hit the start line in the morning.  Once we got to our restaurant, we checked and there was an advisory for 50-55mph winds!!! We were pretty sure we just attempted to walk through that.

I was starting to feel like I had a sinus cold coming on so I took some medicine and went to bed.  Sleep came quick, but the morning came even quicker. The alarm clock rang and it was time to get dressed and prepped to run.  I was still feeling pretty foggy in the morning so I took some more medicine and ate some peanut butter.  I don’t like to run with food on my stomach because that’s when I experience bathroom issues.

As we headed down to our corrals, Susan and I said good luck to our fellow running friends and waited for the second wave to start. In the Columbus marathon, they actually start one wave of runners and then repeat the starting process for the second wave.  We made sure we were right in the front of the second wave because we wanted to attempt a 4:15 marathon time which was paced in the corral ahead of us.  When the gun went off we were off.  The first mile was completed in under 9 minutes.  I knew we had to back off if we were going to last the remaining 25.  I started watching the pace and Susan was watching the miles based on goal bracelets that were given out at the expo.  We were ahead of schedule through the first half.

It is always very tempting to complete the first half and just want to run in with all the people who were finishing up.  But, we still had another 13.1 to go.  I could tell Susan was feeling really good with her race because she kept running through each mile.  In training, once we hit the mile we would walk for a minute or two and then start running again.  She only walked through the water stations to get her fuel.  At mile 16 I was starting to feel cramping in my quads.  This was new because most of the time there is pain in your knees or calf muscles.  My legs just felt heavy.  I could tell Susan was trying to wait for me but by mile 17 I had told her to just go on and run her race.  I didn’t want to hold her back from her goals.  I was still on pace to hit mine, but I knew slower miles were coming.  I stopped to stretch at mile 18 and then set a goal to run at least 3/4 of every mile left in front of me.  I caught up to our running friends as one of them was singing!  She had been battling a cold for two weeks prior to this race so she’s a super hero for going out and giving it her all!

After a while, I kept going and the miles did seem to tick a little faster than 16-19 moved.  However, my times were still getting slower.  The crowd support was a little thinner than I remember, but the patient champions were out there with their families and that was inspiring enough to keep moving!  At mile 21 the crowd kept saying “only 5 more miles!”  Problem is, that isn’t that encouraging.  At the start of mile 26 I decided that I was going to run it in and not stop until I crossed the finish line.  I finished that mile in 9:40 and then the final .5 was an 8:55 pace.  I’m not sure why, but my watch clocked the race at 26.5 miles instead of 26.2.  I started it right when I crossed the start line and ended it when I hit the finish.  But, every mile marker I hit, my watch was .25 miles ahead after mile 2.

Just like that, all my training and hard work had come to an end.  The final result was a 4:21:03, just 1:03 over my goal time.  However, it is 26 minutes faster than my first marathon so I shaved off a minute per mile! I need to work on miles 18-25 to really improve my time.  This may or may not be my last road marathon.  I’m going to try trails for awhile and just enjoy my time running.  If the Columbus marathon teaches you anything, it is that running is a privilege that should not be taken for granted.

COSI Birthday Celebrations

This past week Little B turned 2.  Where did the time go?  I swear he was just coming home from the hospital, learning to crawl, and jumping in the bouncer.  Now he is running and climbing all over the place.  He has definitely started to come into that two year old stage.  Luckily, we had H first and she was super rough at this stage, so we are prepared for B.

To celebrate his birthday, I was able to take the day off of work and take the kiddos to a museum two hours from home.  COSI was somewhere I remembered my mom taking me as a child and we always had a good time.  When I went a few years ago with my coworkers, I wasn’t as impressed.  So, I was a little nervous with how my children were going to like the experience.  I choose this museum because they have a hot wheels exhibit right now and B loves anything transports.

After the long drive, we were ready to stretch our legs and enjoy the exhibits.  First up was Hot Wheels.  There were cars and tracks everywhere! B wasn’t sure where to start and was really good about sharing the cars.  He practiced changing tires and H was able to drive the simulated race car.

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The Ocean exhibit had lots of water play experiences and a submarine that kids could go in and explore.  I would have brought extra cloths had I known about all the water play areas throughout the museum.  But, my kids were fine and didn’t get too wet.

We enjoyed a quick lunch and then went to the younger child area where there are locked gates and multiple attendants.  They check you in with the number of adults and the number of children that will be entering the space.  Once inside, the kids split and both went off to do their own thing.  Ben went straight to the fire truck, ambulance, helicopter, and train tracks.  Remember he loves transportation! Hailey went off to the farm, market stand and grocery store.  There was so much to do in just this little area that we could have spent 4 hours in there and my children would never be bored.  We explored the light/dark area together.

Finally, we enjoyed a PBS room that had a green screen.  B was too tired at this point to really enjoy it, but H and I had a great time!  We added different backgrounds with overlays and really just hit any and all buttons that we could.  At one point it was snowing in the ocean with Curious George balloons floating.  It was a hidden gem that no one else was in at the time we were there.

Alas, we had to head back home before it got to be too late.  Driving out of Columbus during peak times is not something I enjoy.  B had a great day and it is definitely a place that we will go back to in the future.

Akron Marathon Relay Recap

It was 4am on a Saturday morning.  I was up and getting ready for my race with four other like-minded people I had never met.  We had some communication via a group chat, but I only knew the name of the person that would be handing me the bracelet to continue on with our race.  I didn’t know a face, didn’t know what they would be wearing or what their estimated pace would be to know when to be at my starting point.  There were a lot of unknown variables and I was okay with it!  I just wanted to run.

This says a few things about me.  First, I’m putting myself into situations where I am forced to meet new people.  A far cry from my middle school and high school days where I would hide in the music room to eat so that I didn’t have to socialize with people for fear of what they thought about me.  Second, I was running for fun and didn’t fear being the last person.  My only attempt in Track was in elementary school and I ran the mile distance but I was almost always second to last.  My motivation was to stay ahead of the last person because they had a queasy stomach and would often throw up towards the end.  I never wanted to be puked on so I had to keep moving forward. I wonder where those track pictures are???

The morning of the race, I prepped for a long run.  I was running the third leg of the relay which was 5.4 miles and had some nasty hills.  But, I wanted to get extra miles in since I had only completed one 20 miler in my training for Columbus.  My friend and I parked, found the bathrooms and gear check and then determined the safest place for me to run.  The final portion of the marathon would be the perfect place to get in some extra miles.  I ran back and forth, back and forth, back and forth for 6.7 miles.  Then the race was starting.  I had never experienced Akron’s Marathon before, so I went to the end of the starting corrals and watched the runners take off.  Then I set off to complete a few more circles around the block to get another 2.3 miles, putting my pre-race running at 9 miles.

Now, to sit and wait.  Since I had put in extra miles, I was starting to get really chilled.  About an hour into the race I received a text from the first runner that their leg was complete and the second person was off and running.  I estimated the second runner would be about an hour. I didn’t want to run the block anymore because runners were starting to come in and hand off to their teammates.  Remember, I had no idea who I was looking for to begin with so I definitely didn’t want to risk missing my handoff.  The announcer was calling off relay bibs left and right.  It was confusing, but I eventually heard 220 and so I set up in the relay lane.  After running 9 miles and now freezing where my toes were tingling, I was not prepared to “race” this relay leg.  My teammate found me and I was off.

I started and knew I needed to get moving to warm my body back up.  My start was at mile 12, so the half marathon finishers were getting ready to break off and go into the finish line.  Within half a mile I hit my stride and was feeling good.  My toes were still numb, but they were coming around.  I finished the first mile at an 8:42 pace and started the climb for the second mile.  I was determined to make it up the first big hill, after all I have been attempting Harmon Hill of death.  I made it up Market and hit mile two at 8:56 pace.  Heading up another long hill, I was feeling fatigued.  I walked a portion, and as IMG_4254soon as I could, I started running again.  Mile three finished much slower at a 9:42 pace.  Now the fun started.  There were people out eating breakfast on their lawns, champagne and macaroons, gummy bears, and just a lot more crowd interaction.  We had some downhill in this mile and I finished mile 4 with an 8:40 pace.  One more big climb and then I was done with hills, mile 5 was a 9:22 pace.  The last .4 of a mile I was able to push myself down a straight away.  I knew I was nearing the end of my relay leg and would be handing off to another complete stranger.  I knew what this person was wearing at least! I finished my leg with an average pace of 9:02/mi. which I will gladly take when I consider the hills.  My overall mileage for the day was 14.4 miles.

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Team Soaring Eagles meeting for the first time!

I had a great time and during the finishers festival I was finally able to meet my fellow teammates!  Well, three out of four. It was a great experience and definitely something I would do again.  I just want to do a different leg of the race LOL!

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HRC Wizards in the Wild! #somuchgood

 

 

Beginner Trail Running

A few months ago I decided that I would take on a trail run.  I researched races that would fall on my birthday and asked fellow running folks their thoughts and opinions.  I determined the Bobcat Trail half marathon was going to be my birthday present.  I love running on my birthday because I am grateful that I was able to run another year and spend another year with family and friends.  I am also crazy enough to run a 50 miler at Mohican next June with these crazy running friends.

Signing up for a race means you should prepare for the distance and the terrain.  If you know the race will be hilly, you need to practice hills.  If the race is going to be on trails and the most you’ve run is a towpath, you need to hit up some trails.  That is exactly what I did last weekend along with some fellow running friends.  We woke up and hit the road at 5:30am to arrive at Mohican Park by 7am.  By 7:20, everyone had stretched, hit up the bathroom and we’ve reviewed the trail map.  This bought us just enough time for the sun to come out and eliminate a need for headlamps or flashlights.

Just a few miles into our run we hit up the bike path.  The terrain quickly changed to rough, bumpy, and up and down hills.  It was AWESOME!  I was seeing how fast I could take the downhills without tripping over anything or mis-stepping.  The uphills, I walked or tried to jog here and there.  Although it had rained the day before, there weren’t many puddles or muddy spots to break in my Hoka Torrents.  They are still a bright orange with a tiny spec of dirt.

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We passed a small waterfall and then a bigger waterfall, made a wrong turn and ended up back at the cars after 2 miles.  After checking the map and getting a quick bathroom trip in, we set off to do another 6 miles.  It was during this portion of the loop we were given more information about the Mohican 100 trail race and how the course logistics work out from a four time finisher.  We were running to the fire tower when someone questioned the distance.  It was at that point the maps came back out and we realized we missed our turn.  Uh-Oh, we just added an additional two miles.  Once we got to the fire tower some chose to climb the steps, I decided to rest my legs.  We started to contend with mountain bikers as they were getting a long ride in around the park.  After 10 miles, we made it back to our vehicles!  It was a fun day, I wasn’t sore and I didn’t fall once during this run or my first official trail run either, but there is always next time.  Don’t worry, I’m carrying a band-aid.  I did miss my long run for the weekend, so I will need to make that up with my marathon relay.

I have definitely found something that is challenging and exciting that I will pursue more next year!  I want to continue to explore new races to have new adventures.  Even while I’m writing this, I am receiving messages about other trail races that will be opening registration soon.  Running friends can be very persuasive.

Get out there with your friends and family and explore your national and state parks!  As always, be confident, be fit, be you!