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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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!

 

The 4am wake up

This is my why.  This is my blog post about why I get out of bed at 4:05am to workout.  This post is dedicated to explaining the purpose behind my crazy schedule and how I attempt to fit as much into my day as possible, even on the weekends.

Before I had my first child, I would get up before work around 6am and get a run or workout in before I needed to leave.  If I was feeling a bit sluggish when the alarm went off, I would just re-set it for a later time and fit my workout in after work.  Then came my first child.  After I returned to work, I had to fit my workout in before I left for the day.  I, also, needed to consider my husbands schedule to make sure I was home before he needed to leave.  This meant that I needed to get up at 5am.  That isn’t a horrible hour of the morning, I could do that a few days a week.

Then baby number 2 came along.  I completely lost my desire to workout simply because I was too tired to do just about anything outside of my normal routine.  Wake up, get kids ready, take them to grandparents by 7:30am, go to work, pick up kids, make dinner, put kids to bed by 7:30pm, clean up dinner or other household tasks.  I wanted my children to have consistency and schedules.  Children function much better when they know how the daily routine is going to progress.  This left little time for me to get a workout in before 8pm or I would have to start getting up at 4am.

I tried the 8pm workouts.  I found more ways to cancel on myself than one could believe. “I ate a donut for breakfast, the day is already shot, you can skip the run tonight.  Oh, the diaper laundry needs done, forget a workout tonight.”  If there was a way to cancel on myself, I did. This left me unmotivated and feeling very discouraged.

One thing I have learned, and my husband has learned, is that if I don’t workout consistently, I will live in a depressed state.  I want to sleep a lot more than my body really needs.  I will seclude myself from the people around me.  I cut off communication with my husband.  Therefore, I need to workout.  I need to run.  I need to commit to myself so that I can commit to others on a meaningful level.  Lucky for me, my husband completely understands that I need to do this as well.

So, I now get up at 4:05am to meet with a group of crazy runners at 5am three days a week.  On the days that I don’t run with the group, I still get up at 4:20am to head down to the home gym my husband so graciously remodeled recently.  I am able to get a positive physical and mental health start every single day.  I am able to still do the same daily routine mentioned above to maintain consistency for my family.  My children still go to bed by 7:30pm, but now I am able to be a better presence in their play when we are home.  I am a better me because of my 4am wake up.

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Newly remodeled home gym. That treadmill has seen enough use that we’ve replaced the belt!

Until next time, be confident, be fit, be you!

River Run Race Recap

Say that title five times fast.  This past weekend I completed the River Run Half Marathon in Cleveland.  This was a carefully chosen race based on a strong recommendation from a fellow runner.  After looking at the course and seeing that it was primarily flat and mostly having a slight down hill grade, I knew this was the race to add to my schedule.  Not only was I going to complete this race, but I was going to attempt to PR.  I wanted to put everything out there on the road so that I knew I gave it my all if I were to come up short.  My PR time to beat was 1 hour 57 minutes and some change completed a few years ago.  This would be my fourth half marathon this year and I would need to shave off 4 minutes from my fastest one this year alone.  I was up to the challenge.

Race day was around the corner and the forecast was calling for wind and lots of rain.  Based on the day before, the rain with the added 20 mph wind gusts could be a complete bummer for a race.  Up to this point, we’ve trained in squelching heat and humidity.  I was struggling with what to wear so I wouldn’t get too hot, but wouldn’t be shivering at the start.  If my toes get cold, I would never get them warm again.

The morning of the race, I was psyched to see what the weather was going to be like an hour north.  I filled my new hydration flasks and started to get a little nervous about the course.  Those pre-race jitters can really do a number on a person.  We hopped on the bus to take us to the start line and drove through most of the course.  It was a very windy course through the metro parks.

IMG_1160Time to start the race.  I line up midway through the pack and wait for the start.  When the sound goes off, I take off and throw my jacket to the side.  I went with the pack and we hit that first mile at 8:15 pace.  I wanted to average an 8:50 to hit my goal so I knew I was pushing it a little much.  I just kept going with how I felt and pushed through each mile.  There was a volunteer at every single mile marker calling off times, which was motivational for me.  At mile 4, I quickly grabbed water at the aid station and when I looked up shortly after I spotted an eagle in a tree.  I was so excited that I actually pointed it out to other runners, but everyone around me had their headphones in and up too loud.  I was one of the few runners without ear buds and just enjoying the scenery around me.

Mile 6, I needed to get some GU and water.  I had started to cramp in my sides and was having difficulty breathing while running.  I knew that if I got some water and food (I don’t eat before a race), I would feel stronger and can push on.  At this point I had settled into a comfortable 8:30 pace anyway.  I continued to push myself through each aid station and around mile 9 was confronted by 3 young deer.  They were trying to figure out a way to cross the street amidst the sea of runners.  They decided to cross right behind me, which I was thankful for them not running into me!

Mile 10 and 11 came and went but I was starting to have more cramping issues.  Only this time I was in need of a bathroom.  Around 11.8 miles, I found a port-a-potty and made a stop.  A minute later and I was back on my route to finish the 13.1 mile course.  The finish line was just around the bend and I heard the announcer say 1 hour 55 minutes and 15 seconds.  I was slightly crushed.  I thought I would beat my goal PR and hit just under 1:55.  I ended up crossing at 1:55:45 with a  chip time of 1:55:25.  Definitely a PR! IMG_1165 2

Two things played into my time, the bathroom and the course being slightly longer than 13.1 (my watch and my friend’s watch both said 13.25).  I probably could have hit 1:53….maybe next year.  This was a fun course beautiful scenery and lots of support at each mile.  There were ample water stops and bathrooms with lots of post race food options!  The shuttle back to the car wasn’t a long wait and we were able to get into warmer clothes right away!

I would recommend this race to anyone wanting to push themselves and hit a new PR.

Next scheduled half is in November, but I may run a full before that….we shall see.  As always, be confident, be fit, be you!!!!

First Race

This past weekend was filled with fun adventures for our family of four.  We enjoyed the Pittsburgh children’s museum again, a favorite of ours!  We spent lots of time with family for a birthday picnic! Enjoyed the outdoors at the county fair where our 4-year-old completed her first race!  Racing was something I wanted her to enjoy when she was ready but not push it too early.  Our kids have been playing “Race” with my medals and my mom’s medals for about a year now.  I’ve wanted her to participate in a kids fun run for a while, but didn’t want it to be a hundred yard dash.  I knew she could do more than that because we walk all the time.  After searching for a race for the little one, I came across a nice 1 mile run at the local county fair.

The Stampede race had a “Country Mile” option as they called it before a 5k.  Individuals could register for the mile, 5k or both. The mile was starting an hour before the 5k, so there was no concern for finishing in time before the next race started.  The race fee would get her a medal of her own and entry into the fair.  She would be excited!  I signed us both up for the Country Mile.  The race time was not ideal with a 9am start and the 5k starting at 10, so I opted to only complete the 1 mile.  It was a double loop around the dirt track.

The day of the race was upon us and I was pinning her race bib to her shirt.  She was getting excited and her brother was less patient.  We did a couple of practice laps around some of the vendors at the fair just to get us warmed up.  The little one did some stretching with Mimi and we went to the track to wait for the start.  It was an inaugural race with a ton of race options in the area, so the pool of racers was very limited.  Daughter H was the youngest in the group to complete the 1 mile.

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We set off around the track and about a quarter of a mile in, she was getting HOT.  It was a scorcher, so I don’t blame her.  But, we enticed her to keep going because the back portion of the track was shadded.  She made it around the track and as we circled the hay bail to head back the other direction, she was starting to negotiate for some sweet treats.  She wanted shaved ice, ice cream, cold water poured on her head, anything to keep her cool.

As we were coming around the end and she was getting ready to cross the finish line she took my hand and we went across together!  They hung her medal around her neck and cheered for her since it was her first race!  I poured some cool water on her head and apparently she didn’t really want that after all.  A few tears later and being allowed to dump water on my head made up for that parenting mistake.  She was proud of herself for finishing but wanted something to help cool her down.  Unfortunately the fair vendors were still not open.

Little H’s medal is now proudly displayed in her room for her to see it daily.  She has requested to get more medals to hang on her wall! I may need to make her own display rack for her to hang her accomplishments up as she earns them!  I want to encourage her to be active without burning her out or pushing her further than her body is capable at this point.  She is young and I want her to enjoy exercising and being outdoors.