Monday, March 2, 2015

It's a Big Week! Training Update for Green Jewel & Marathon Training

It's a new month, a new week - and a big week at that! On Saturday I'll be running my first 50K ultra-distance race. I opted for the Green Jewel 50K because it is a road race and I want to see what I can do in preparation for my marathons coming up - Toledo and Cleveland! The main goal of course it to finish the race healthy and in one piece but I of course have some time goals in mind too. I will keep those between myself and my coach for now so as not to put any unnecessary pressure on myself.

This weekend was a pretty easy training weekend as compared to weeks past. Saturday I had a 13 mile run to do as 8 miles @ 9:00, 3 @ 8:30 and 2 @ 8:00. I did an extra 1/2 mile cooldown to wind down. Then I had Sunday off! Yes, off! First off day in a while. I guess we need those at times - even if I'm not always a fan of them.

This week my volume is way down. A few shakeout runs, a swim, a bike and it's go time! I looked at my schedule and thought this is weird. I only have to workout once a day for an hour at most. I can't remember what that's like so I am planning on getting my workouts done in the am before work and spending some quality time with my husband Steve in the evenings this week. He too will be running the Green Jewel 50K this Saturday and I'm really excited to see what he can do!

The new kicks! Love them!
I am feeling well and planning to spend the week loading up on good food, green tea, emergen-c and doing lots of recovery techniques to be in the best possible condition for the start line Saturday. No matter what happens, I will finish that race and learn some things along the way that I hope will make me stronger for my spring races. I finally found a great shoe to run the race in - the Saucony Triumph ISO and I made a killer playlist. Just need to finalize the outfit now.

Special thanks to my sponsor Powerbar for fueling countless hours of running over the last few months! I would also like to thank my Challenge Family teammates and all my friends for the support. I also have to thank my husband Steve for being a constant companion and training with me. Thank god we like each other! Finally to my coach Chris Martino of New-Level Coaching, thanks for the guidance and support. I couldn't do it without all of you. It takes a village! And I am excited to see what I can do Saturday! So, nothing to it but to do it now. Wish me luck!!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Holloway Half Marathon Race Report

My husband and I had planned a trip to Clearwater Beach, Florida to help lift our spirits this winter. It ended up being an awesome vacation with perfect running temps. We decided a week or two before getting there to sign up for a cross-country style half marathon at a park about an hour east called Holloway Park. It was the inaugural race so we didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be a great experience!

We got up around 5:30 am to eat and get dressed as we planned to leave by 6:15 for the drive to Lakeland, which is about 30-45 minutes west of Tampa. It was an easy drive and when we got there we picked up our packets and headed back to the car to stay warm. It was actually pretty cool that morning around 49 degrees, which for FL folks is freezing. I debated racing in something warmer than shorts and a singlet but for a northerner, I was afraid of overheating. Steve and I did a little warm up and I decided I would be fine in the singlet.

Steve leading the pack, me a few back!
The race started at 8 am. We lined up a few minutes before in the field to listen to race announcements about the course and we were off. FAST! Of course my husband Steve was out in front, which is pretty normal for him. I didn't want to pace tool closely to him but the beginning pace was pretty fast considering it was a cross country course and I was in the lead for the ladies, which is always fun. I tried to be mindful of my breathing and focus on the twists and turns of the course.

The first few miles the ground was dew-covered but the sun quickly heated things up and by a few miles in I could feel the heat and I was ready to hit to aid station for a drink. It was nice to be see the sun shining and the peaceful surroundings, which consisted of grass, marsh, sand, twists and turns, woods and a few hills. The course was pretty easy to follow but at times it just felt as if I was running through a maze. Around the halfway point I started to feel like I was laboring a little more. I was still in first place and had no idea how strong the other female runners were so I tried my best to maintain a good cadence and focus on staying steady.

enjoying the sunshine!
Around mile 7 or 8 before the aid station I got a little discombobulated with following the signage and two women that were running together moved ahead of me. Knowing I was now in third and beginning to cramp from the heat, I felt a little disappointed but I just kept moving forward. A couple miles later around 11 or so another woman passed me. I was not very happy but the cramping just wouldn't allow me to get the speed I wanted so I had slowed my pace down. I held on and thought about getting to the finish as quickly as possible so I could cool down, get something to eat and see how Steve's race went.

Coming in for the finish & those strawberries!
The finish felt long to me because my Garmin said the course was long and I just wanted to get there. Once you come out of the woods into the field you have to run up and around to the finish. Steve was there yelling for me and taking pictures and I was definitely happy to be done - especially because they had fresh organic strawberries at the finish and I must have had a couple dozen. My time of 1:49 was a little slower than I planned but it is a cross country course and with the overheating I was a few minutes behind my goal of 1:45. The race gave really cool handmade commemorative mugs to all the finishers. Steve and I also got medals since we both won our age groups! I came in 1st in 35-39 and 4th female and Steve came in 2nd overall and 1st in the 45-49AG. All in all we both had a good experience and would definitely do this race again if we're back in the area!

I don't know if racing back to back half marathons helped or hurt me with this race but with the Green Jewel 50K and Toledo and Cleveland Marathon quickly approaching, I need to get the experience under my belt! Next up is the Green Jewel 50K March 7th!

Below are some photos including the finisher mug, medals and some shots from the course, which was truly scenic and beautiful!

The finisher mug!

The AG winner medals

A lot of the course looked like this

Friday, February 20, 2015

Run for Regis Trail Half Marathon Race Report

Race season officially started this year on January 31st at Run For Regis. I think this is the earliest that I've ever started my season. Although with the conditions many people don't consider it a race but rather a "fun" run. My plan was to push myself as hard as I could that day given the conditions and that's how it went. Really it goes like this with most trail races - especially in the winter when terrain can vary greatly and footing is tricky!

It was a cold start with temps in the single digits so I opted for some extra warm gear such as my balakalava and heavy duty winter gloves, two pairs of Smartwool socks and had plenty of layers on to keep me warm.

The race takes place in the gorgeous Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) and includes a half marathon, 50K as well as other non-traditional distance options like 18 or 22 miles. Packet pickup is inside at the Ledges Shelter where they had the fireplaces going. My first impression after picking up our swag was a good one. They gave out some awesome stuff! The 50K runners started at 7:30 and the half marathoners started at 9am. I enjoyed the later start since we had a 50-minute drive. Steve and I got to see some of our friends and get in a little warm up before the start,

The Start:

Hubby in the front at the start!
The start is just out in front of the shelter as is the checkpoint and finish. We lined up. I told my speedy husband to line up in the front and I was back a few rows. It was slower going than some race starts due to the sloppy uneven snow in the fields leading to the Ledges Trail. Once you get on the trail the snow is mostly packed and a little easier to run on. Not too far in you encounter a nice, steep set of stairs that will get the heart going a little. Then it's little ups and downs and twists and turns as with most trail races.

I felt pretty good through the first aid station, which was around 5 miles. It was so cold that my gels had frozen but I was able to get one down and take a quick drink before heading back into the woods. I feel like I started to labor more as time went on and there were not many people around. I wasn't sure where I was place wise, I just knew at least a few of the usual speed demons like Janet Edwards and her sister Lisa were ahead of me.

bringing it home!
Around mile 8 we headed back to the Ledges to the start and went over the mat for timing as well as being able to get a drink and more gels. I grabbed one to bring with me. The second loop was definitely the more challenging loop as we were running the ledges, which are full of uneven rocks and some hills. It is probably the most beautiful and challenging part of the course - especially heading back in. I definitely felt fatigued heading into the last mile but was able to finish strong with a smile on my face. Not a terrific time at 2:16 ish but I survived it and came in 5th female, which I was happy with. They don't give awards to the age groupers but even if they did I was 4th in my AG - Oye! 35-39 is a tough group of women! Steve ended up finishing 2nd male with a pretty solid time. He has really been running strong the last couple years and it's definitely motivating me to push myself more because at this rate I'll never catch him!

After the race I was freezing! I stopped to get a drink and some snacks and hug my love. I Chatted with some of my friends and then headed to the heated restrooms to change into my dry clothes. After that we headed over with a group of friends to the Winking Lizard in Peninsula for some hard-earned food & hoppy beers!

I definitely will do this race again. Maybe someday I'll even tackle the 50K as I had originally planned. But on this day, I was glad to be finished after 13! The next day we were off to sunny Clearwater Beach, FL and getting ready to race again the following Saturday at a cross country race in warmer temps. That will be my next post!

Below are a couple more photos from the course from the photographer. It truly is beautiful to run here at anytime of the year!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Race Season is Starting this Week! An Update on my 50K & Cleveland Marathon Training

It's hard to believe that my first race of the season is this weekend already! I guess it's more of a fun run than an actual race but it's the first thing on my schedule this season so still pretty exciting to get it started! I'll be running the Run for Regis trail half marathon this weekend in Peninsula. Originally we had planned to do the 50K distance but I just didn't feel ready. We'll be running the Green Jewel 50K in early March instead! 

I also just signed my husband Steve and I up for another trail half marathon at Holloway Park in Lakeland, FL next Saturday! We'll be going from one extreme to another...from snow, ice and cold to green grass, rocks and sunshine/warmth! I think it will be fun and coach agreed running back to back trail half races would be good training for the 50K and upcoming marathon season. 

So far the long runs to train for the Cleveland Marathon are going well also. I plan to run Toledo first and toughen up for Cleveland! I've been doing longer runs back to back most weeks with this past weekend being 18 miles on the road including some hills and a trail 10k run Sunday at North Chagrin Reservation. The legs are feeling pretty strong so far!

This week my training is a little lighter than the last couple of months to freshen up the legs a bit. I look forward to starting the season out strong and continuing to work on developing my endurance for later in the season!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My plans for the 2015 Running & Triathlon Season

I am excited about the 2015 racing season and being part of the new Challenge Family Triathlon Team (formerly Rev3 Triathlon), Powerbar Team Elite as well as being an Official Ambassador of the Cleveland Marathon!

I plan to continue to focus on endurance running and triathlon with some shorter stuff thrown in as tune ups and for fun.

My main goals for 2015 are as follows:

  • Complete my first 50K running race at the Green Jewel in March
  • Try again for the elusive BQ (Boston Qualifying time) and at minimum PR the marathon
  • Set a new PR in the 70.3 triathlon distance
  • Complete my second 140.6 and set a new PR
You can check out my tentative race calendar below. The races that are bolded are key races for the season that much of my training will be focused on.

  • Jan 31  - Run for Regis Trail 1/2 Marathon - Peninsula, OH
  • Feb 7 - Holloway XC Half Marathon - Lakeland, FL
  • Mar 7 - Green Jewel 50K - Rocky River, OH
  • Mar 14 - St Malachi 5 Miler - Cleveland, OH
  • Mar 29 - Fools 25K - Peninsula, OH
  • April 12 - 10 Mile Drop - Concord Township, OH
  • April 26 - Toledo Marathon - Toledo, OH
  • May 9 - Nordonia Duathlon - Nordonia, OH
  • May 17 - Cleveland Marathon - Cleveland, OH
  • May 25 - Blossomtime Run - Chagrin Falls, OH
  • May 31 - Twinsburg Duathlon - Twinsburg, OH
  • June 7 - Lula 5 miler - Rocky River, OH
  • June 14 - Challenge Williamsburg 70.3 Triathlon - Williamsburg, VA
  • June 28 - Milton Man Olympic Triathlon - Lake Milton, OH
  • July 4 - Bay Days 5 Miler - Bay Village, OH
  • July 12 - Johnnycake Jog 5 Miler - Mentor, OH
  • July 26 - Fairport Harbor Sprint Tri - Fairport Harbor, OH
  • Aug 15 - Challenge Poconos Olympic or 70.3 Triathlon - Poconos, PA
  • Sept 13 - Challenge Cedar Point 70.3 Triathlon - Sandusky, OH
  • Oct 4 - Lakeland Clocktower 5K - Kirtland, OH
  • Oct 17 Beach 2 Battleship 140.6 - Wilmington, NC
  • TBD
So far the training for Regis and Green Jewel are going well thanks to a strong base from 2014 and a little guidance from my coach Chris Martino of New Level Coaching. I look forward to giving it my best this year! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Looking Back - The 2014 Running & Triathlon Season in a Nutshell

It's hard to believe that in a couple of days it will be 2015! This year went fast between work, kids and training and racing. It was a good year and I accomplished some new goals, made some new friends and shared a lot of ups and downs with my family. Here's a quick recap of all my racing in 2014:

Dirty Love - As all my Cleveland friends will recall last winter was a real doozy. My first race of the year was the Dirty Love Trail 10K. On that particular day old mother nature had dumped a fresh foot of snow for us. Needless to say it made for difficult race conditions. I had my slowest 10K time ever and still managed to win my age group but I learned a valuable lesson here: always have fuel with you even if you don't think you will need it because if you're out there working for a long time you will in fact bonk at an inopportune time like at the end of the race. Post race we went with our friends Mark and Phil to Willoughby Brewing for some much needed food & beer.

Fools 25K trail race - With the race being at the end of March the weather is definitely a major variable. For this particular year much like the Dirty Love race we received a gift of 6+ inches of fresh snow. From previous melting and the new snow this turned out to be a cold, wet and muddy race. I absolutely loved the race - especially the first 10 miles. It was a lot more difficult than I expected. The last hour or so I pretty much hated my life as I was cold, tired, wet and hungry. I nearly fell running the hilly pasture leading to the finish but luckily I did not. I was very happy to be done with this one and spent much of the day feeling sick afterwards. I managed to place in my AG and my husband had an awesome race, coming in 2nd overall! We did manage to hit up the Winking Lizard in Peninsula for some post race food & bevs on the way home.

20 Mile Drop - While preparing for the Cleveland Marathon I decided to run this little gem as a 20 miler as part of my prep. It ended up being a gorgeous, sunny day in the 60s and the race went even better than I expected, Partly because I was not supposed to be racing it according to my coach at the time. So, I started off slow for the first 3-4 miles and felt so good I decided to go for it. I'm glad that I did because I won my age group and made a new friend (Jillian). After the race my coach was pretty confident I would qualify for Boston at Cleveland.

Flapjack 15K - A little speed work the week before Cleveland, this race is down in the Valley on the Towpath so it is flat and fast. It was pretty competitive also. I barely snagged 3rd in my AG! I think we celebrated this race with a visit to Ray's Place after. Love that place!

Cleveland Marathon - We had perfect weather this year and a terrific new course and I was on pace to BQ until about mile 22 where I cramped up and lost my opportunity. I did however manage to have a PR and got to celebrate my husband's first BQ with him. We had a great time hanging with our friends Jillian and Bryan and ate the most delicious burgers ever at Luxe and they had Bodhi on tap. Complete post race bliss!

Blossomtime Run - This was our first time running this race in downtown Chagrin Falls and it definitely will not be our last! Loved this race. Starts and ends downtown and is a challenging 5.25 mile course. With this being a week post marathon I wasn't as fast as could but I managed to place in my AG and got to see many of my Cleveland Tri Club friends as well as some of my Team in Training friends as well.

Twinsburg Duathlon Relay - I had a blast racing the relay this year. My friend Laurie was not able to run due to a stress fracture so we paired up and she did the bike and I ran. We ended up placing in the relay and it was fun just to watch the competition at this one. This may be thee most competitive duathlon in Cleveland and the race director Mickey is my pal!

Girls With Sole Lula 5 Miler - I just love Liz Ferro. She is such a great person. I was happy to run this race to support her. It ended up being a soggy, rainy day but I almost think that made me run faster. I ended up setting a new PR and winning my age group, got the most adorable custom made trophy ever and had brunch afterwards at Sweet Melissa with my friend Jillian.

Rev3 Williamsburg 70.3 Tri - I just love this race and with the improved swim course this year going with the current and the updated run course with much of it on trails I was in heaven. I set a new PR and managed to place 3rd in my AG. I had a blast hanging out with my Rev3 teammates and made some new friends.

Milton Man Olympic Tri - This is one of my favorite local triathlons and I try to do this one every year because Greg and Julie from Champ racing are the coolest! The weather pre race was bad but fortunately it cleared up and we had good conditions albeit some wet roads on the bike course. I ended up setting a new olympic PR and winning my AG so it was a good race. After the race we got to visit Ray's Place and we met up with our friends Bill & Lynn, Tony & Nate.

Bay Days 5 Miler - Running in July you know it will be a hot race. This one is flat and fast. and competitive as I wasn't even able to place in my AG! The hubby did manage to place though! Afterwards we enjoyed a post race ride with some of CTC and Snakebite Racing friends and then headed over to Fatheads for some amazing beer and food!

Johnnycake 5 Miler - Another hot July race! This one in our backyard and also competitive. I was a little slower but I think the humidity zapped me. Was able to snag 3rd in my AG as was my friend Jillian. The hubby won his AG as well so after the race we went to Burgers & Beer in Willoughby for some food & beer.

Challenge New Albany 70.3 Tri - Loved this course! The swim was mellow, rollers for the bike and it was tougher than I expected and it was a scenic, hot run. Manged to PR and place 3rd in my AG despite some GI issues. I had forgotten my salt tabs and ended up drinking gatorade, which did not agree. Fortunately was able to work through it. After the race we got to hang with my teammate Maggs and checked out a restaurant called The Goat, which had good, hoppy beer!

Rev3 Cedar Point 140.6 Tri - This was my first full and it was humbling! I had quite an emotional week with my baby brother's accident. My main goal was just to finish but of course I had "ideas" about what my time should be. With a turbulent swim those goals quickly evaporated and I went into survivor mode. My bike time was not what I had wanted either as I bonked from lack of nutrition and over-exertion on the swim. My run was decent and I was happy with my effort there. I was so thankful to have my Rev3 teammates and Cleveland Triathlon Club friends and of course Steve there to cheer me on. Although this was a tough one I am proud of myself for sticking it out on a tough day. This race definitely taught me that attitude is everything and an iron distance race is just as much mental as it is physical.

Lakeland Clocktower 5K - For about 3-4 weeks after the 140.6 I just felt sluggish and slow but I wanted to see if the legs had anything in them so why nor run a 5K? I surprised myself with this one by running a new PR of 21:17 and taking 2nd place. Steve also PR'd by about a minute so it is nice to see that the longer stuff does not necessarily slow you down and that you can in fact convert endurance into speed.

Lake Health Northern OH Half Marathon - This was a toughie. With having bronchitis I pushed myself to the limit to try and PR. I ended up with a 1:40 and change so no PR but it was a PR for the course and I won my age group despite feeling miserable for the rest of the day. Lesson learned here is to know when to back off. I should have ran this easier as a training run or just sat it out. It was nice that a group of my friends were there and all did well and PR'd including my hubby.

Buckeye Half Marathon - Only ended up doing 1 loop of the 2 due to lingering bronchitis and foot pain. They can't all be wonderful, right? On to the next one!

Autumn Leaves 5 Mile XC Race - I love this race! It is a tough one too. Guaranteed to be muddy and slippery, part trail, part pasture, part pavement, part corn maize. This one is not a boring race and it is challenging. I was a bit slower than last yr but the course was harder. Placed 2nd in my AG and won a sweet pint glass that was filled later with some delicious beer!

Salt Fork 10 Mile Trail Challenge - When the words "trail" and "challenge" are in the race name you can expect it will in fact be a challenge. I fell very early in the race but luckily caught myself and got back up quick. I gave it all I had and definitely labored towards the end for a 2nd place AG win which got me a very cool cutting board. That combined with my "Built salt fork tough" hoodie and pint glass were probably the best swag I got this year! We also purchased a growler which we promptly filled after we got home but first we had to attend my cousin Michael's funeral.

Painesville Turkey Trot 5K - Crappy, cold, snowy, slippery weather conditions for a road race... Good thing it was a short race! Steve and I both managed to win our age groups and for that we won pumpkin pies and some sweet insulated travel mugs.

NERC Interclub Relay at Westwoods - Ending the season with a relay sounded more fun than another serious race so I put together a co-ed team "Blood, Sweat and Beers" with my friend Jillian, husband Steve and myself. The race consists of an 8, 5 and 3-mile leg. Steve ran the 8, I ran the 5 and Jillian ran the 3. It was a tough course! I definitely worked hard and still came in slower than I anticipated. Fortunately Steve and Jillian both did great and we placed 2nd in the co-ed division. It was a fun way to end the year.

Special thanks to my 2014 sponsors!!!

Now it's onto 2015! Just putting the finishing touches on the race calendar and will posting that in the next week or two. Already busy training for the first race of the year, which is the Run for Regis trail half marathon. My original plan was to do the 50K but decided to run the Green Jewel 50K instead!1

Monday, December 22, 2014

2015 is Shaping Up to Be an Epic Year!

2015 is shaping up to be an epic year. With all the excitement I had to share the details!

  • Team Rev3 Triathlon will now be Challenge Triathlon Team. I'm excited to be part of the newly branded national age group team! This will be my fourth season with this team and I just love them! If you're considering signing up for any of the Challenge races, all US races (except Rancho Cordova) and Canada races are 10% off if you use my code. Please message me with any questions or for the code. Additionally be sure to watch for other specials. Right now for the month of December Challenge Maine and Challenge St. Andrews are buy one get one 1/2 off! 

  • I have been selected as a 2015 Official Cleveland Marathon Ambassador. I am excited to represent my hometown race! If you're considering a spring marathon, half marathon or 10K, this is a great race. Last year the course was redone and it was awesome. We also had perfect running weather!

  • I have a new coach...Chris Martino of New Level Coaching. I am looking forward to working with Chris this season and pushing my limits in running and triathlon. I'm hoping for some shiny new PRs and podiums 2015! 

  • My husband Steve also has some exciting things going on for 2015! He has joined the Snakebite Racing Team for 2015 and is also now an official Boom! ambassador

Watch the blog for my 2015 race schedule, which is coming soon!