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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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!

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

 

 

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.

Where does the time go?

When you were younger the adults in your life would say how “fast” life was going for them.  It isn’t until you hit a certain age or parenthood that you realize just how true that statement rings.  I haven’t had the time to sit down and write something that I felt would be worth while.  Time has gone by fast and lots of things have happened in the last five months.  Let’s talk racing and training!

February, March and April I spent preparing for a half marathon I had signed up for a year in advance.  Mid-April I ran the Athens Half Marathon and felt horrible.  The race didn’t go as planned and if it had rained the whole time, I would have quit half way through.  My first race back since before my second child and it was not picture perfect.  I needed a do-over.  I signed up for another half marathon right away that was just a month away.  I decided to just run that for fun and to help a fellow runner hit their PR.  Race day came and I was feeling pretty good.  Traffic was horrific and I was afraid I wouldn’t get to the start line in time before the gun went off.  Fast forward and my friend hit her PR!

 

At the Expo for the May race I decide to sign up for a 3rd half marathon just two weeks

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Medina

after the second.  I’m already trained and ready to go, so why not?  The Medina half marathon course was also supposed to be for fun.  But, I was feeling good and thought I could hit a sub-2 hour time.  I have only hit that two other times and one was pre-baby number one and the other was post-baby number one.  It had been years!  Sadly I finished in 2:00:58.  Yes you read that right.  Just 59 seconds short of the sub-two hour time frame.

This prompted another half marathon sign up.  However, it is at the beginning of September, so I have been training hard.  My friend from the May race that PR’d signed up for the upcoming half as well as the Columbus Marathon.  I decided I would help her train and have gone a numerous long runs with her to help keep pace.  There are times when I felt like I have held her back, like that first 20 miler, but we keep moving forward!  To be honest, that is only the second time in my life I have run 20 miles.  The first time was the only time I attempted a Marathon.

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After a seriously long training run! We’re still smiling!

For the big finally to this post, I got into Trail running.  My hubby was listening to a podcast with Joe Rogan and he had Courtney Dauwalter on after completing the MOAB 240.  She not only kicked butt on the course, she beat the second person by 10 hours.  Over 240 miles she ran in 2 days, 9 hours and 59 minutes.  It was insane!  From there I went on my first trail run with my Run Happy friends and it was a completely different experience.  I started binge watching YouTube videos of trail and ultra running.  The pictures and views were incredible.  I was living vicariously through these other trail runners.  I decided to sign up for a trail race.  I asked the people of the inter webs just which races were worth completing in our area on my birthday.  That’s right, I wanted to spend my birthday out running in the woods!  I was directed to the BobCat Marathon and half marathon and decided to give it a go.  I’ve implemented hills into my workouts and have the full understanding that I will be much slower than a road race.  But, the views will be worth it!  With all this information and my obsession with podcasts and YouTube videos on ultra running, I have decided to sign up for a 50 mile race next June.  Yes, you read that right, 50 MILE trail race!  I have a few people interested in completing it with me and I’m excited to start some serious cross training.  Apparently there are some serious gains in elevation.

I’m excited for how this year has spiraled in my running journey.  The only few times I have flaked on a group run is when I wasn’t feeling well or my kids literally did not sleep the night before.  Other than that, I have gotten my butt out of bed in the 4 o’clock hour 5 days a week and on the weekends it is 5.  I’m staying healthy, meeting some incredibly nice people and enjoying running once again!

Until next time:

Be Confident! Be Fit! Be You!