Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sunrise 5 Miler Race Report

My plan to race shorter things as much as possible this summer as my speedwork leading up to the Erie Marathon is well underway. With the Johnnycake Jog two weekends back and the Painesville Sunrise 5 Miler this past weekend, I have been out of my comfort zone. This is good since I have focused on endurance all season. I am hoping these shorter, harder efforts combined with my long runs and solid base will net me those precious few minutes I need to line up in Boston next year!

The Sunrise race started in downtown Painesville at Veterans Park so this was a short, easy drive for us. We arrived around 7 to pick up our bibs and get in a quick warm up. It was already close to 80 degrees that early in the morning so I knew this would be a sufferfest! After a mile warm up Steve and I lined up. It was a smaller race but some fast runners from NERC were out there to make it competitive.

My first mile was about 7:15 so a little slower than my Johnnycake race but I knew this course was going to have some hills and with the heat and tired cycling legs I didn't expect to set a PR. I settled in to a good, challenging pace and kept moving forward. There were some good hills and the course was scenic. The last mile of the race winds you through a little park down in the valley so coming back to the finish you've got to climb out of the park and then up the street a good ways. With the heat and being late in the race this made me feel fatigued so I was very happy to see Steve screaming for me at the finish.

Greater Cleveland XC did the race timing so I was able to check my live results right away and see that I had placed 3rd female. My time was about 2-1/2 minutes slower than the Johnnycake at 38:13 versus the 35:56 but this was a more challenging course and it was hot and humid. Overall I am happy with the effort especially after doing a faster 50-mile bike ride the day before! Steve placed in his AG and 10th overall as there were some very fast guys out there running. He too was about 2 or so minutes slower than the Johnnycake.

Post race, happy with my 3rd place!
For coming in third I will get a small gift certificate in the mail for Second Sole Mentor, so that is good because I always need new stuff like socks. Next up is the Mayfield Wildcat 5K this weekend. This will be my first 5K since last October when I ran the Lakeland Clocktower run in 21:17. I would like to break 21 if I can but since this is speedwork moreso than racing I will be happy with anything between 21-22ish.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Johnnycake Jog Race Report for 2015

This was my second year running the Johnnycake Jog 5 Mile race in Mentor, Ohio. This one is right in my backyard and brings out a good amount of local talent. Last year I raced and ended up placing 3rd in my AG. This year I am happy to say that it went even better! It probably helps that I am running more, but I was also coming off of a marathon two weeks ago so I wasn't sure if the speed would be there yet.

Prerace w/ Steve
Since I signed up to run Erie in September I am planning to run a number of shorter local races like the Johnnycake as my speed work for the week. Before the race Steve and I got in a couple of warm up miles and then headed over to the start to line up. This is flat, fast course that starts on Mentor Avenue in front of the Lake County Fairgrounds. It's a fast start. My first mile was a 6:54. Then of course I slowed down some as my plan was to try to run about a 7:15 pace for the race. There is an incline as you near the top of Fairground Rd. This is probably the only incline on the course. I didn't labor as much here as I did last year but I was still happy to take the right onto 84 (Johnnycake Rd) and hit the first aid station for some water. From there it's a right turn on Mentor Avenue and then straight all the way down to the finish.

getting my award!
I ended up finishing in 35:54 (7:11 pace). Not a PR but a solid time for me right now so I was happy. It was good enough to win my age group this year as well so that was a big bonus. In addition to the award plaque I was given I also had my picture taken for the News Herald so that was fun!

My husband Steve ended up winning his age group again this year as well so that was great. We enjoyed talking with some of our running friends after the race and then treated ourselves to a smoothie at Pulp!

I am planning to run this one each year if I can because they do a nice job with the event all around including the course volunteers, food, awards and timing. Next up is the Sunrise 5 Miler in Painesville this weekend. That course will have some hills so it will be interesting to see where my time ends up but I am looking forward to pushing myself again. I really enjoy the 5 mile distance because it is a good test of fitness but there is no real recovery time needed so I can get right back to training!

Special thanks to Powerbar for fueling me through countless workouts and races including this one!

Friday, July 10, 2015

New Marathon PR at Charlevoix

I'm really happy that I decided to race the Charlevoix Marathon. Although I missed my BQ by a couple of minutes I was still happy with the new PR of 4 minutes and I enjoyed the whole race weekend experience with Steve. The weather was sunny and gorgeous and the sights of Northwest Michigan are beautiful indeed!


At the expo!
We left Cleveland Friday morning around 7am. The drive to Charlevoix, Michigan took about 7 hours from our house. We went straight to the Charlevoix Marathon expo before checking into our hotel, which was about 10 miles down the road in nearby Petoskey, Michigan. After unloading the car and relaxing for a little while we headed to Petoskey Brewing for dinner and a pre-race beer taste and drink. The food was excellent, the beer was good and we enjoyed the atmosphere. The staff and locals were friendly and talkative. After that it was back to the hotel to prep for the morning's race. After my last couple of races being triathlons it felt pretty easy to just get my running stuff ready!

Race Morning:

Race morning!
The wake up call came at 4:45am but as usual I was up a little before then. It's weird but my body seems to know what time to get up for big races. I had a coffee, took a quick shower and got dressed and then ate some breakfast consisting of Granola and Cashew Milk and watermelon and we were off.

Steve was racing the half marathon so he was pumped up as well!

The drive to Charlevoix was easy and took about 15-20 minutes. We were able to find street parking very close to the start area.

The start for the marathon was 6:30 and the half started at 7 so we had plenty of time to warm up and stretch and use the restroom.

The Start & First Half:

Steve stood close to me as we lined up and sang the Star Spangled Banner. I had tears in my eyes as I am always emotional at the start of big races. I was excited to get going and see this course that I heard was so beautiful. The start went well. Although it is a smaller race with several hundred people the beginning made it seem bigger. It took a good mile or two to spread everyone out into their paces. I was not able to run with a pace group as there was either 3:30 or 3:42 and I was aiming for 3:35-3:38. My first couple miles were spot on. I met a girl Mindy who was also trying to BQ at the same pace as me so we chatted throughout the race at different points.

I started to speed up some after I took my first gel and thought it would be better to be a little above my goal pace to compensate for any stops for water or potty. I did stop to pee at mile 6 and then maybe went out a little fast for a mile or two to catch back up with the group I was running with. In hindsight this probably expended too much effort but I felt wonderful at that point. At mile 8.5 there is a decent little climb for about 1/2 mile all said. It wasn't too much concern on the first half but with the course being an out and back I had to do it again later on.

Half Turn Around & Second Half:

Gorgeous Scenery!
I felt really good at the half turn around and ran my first 13.1 in 1:45. This was maybe 2-3 minutes ahead of my goal pace, which said I should be around 1:47-1:48. I kept the momentum up for a while and never really struggled until the hill on the way back. Even then I felt okay and just slowed down incrementally. The fatigue really set in for me around 19-20 but I was able to push through and then had a setback at mile 21 where I slowed. It was getting hotter with full sun and I struggle more in the heat. Mile 22 was rough, 23 was better, 24 was rough and then I picked it up towards the end when my friend Mindy passed me and gave me some encouragement. I knew it would be a long shot to BQ as my average pace went from an initial 8:05-8:08 down to an 8:25-8:28. I did still think it was possible to PR the race, which would still be a small win for me that day so I pushed harder.

Finish & Post Race:

At the finish a girl tried to pass me and I kicked harder because I hate to get passed at the last second so that was fun. I finished in 3:42:45 for my actual time (8:30 pace), which was about 4 minutes faster than my PR in Toledo in late April.Steve ran over to see me at the finish and I was still cramping and was extremely thirsty. With all the allergy issues I was having I think I was dehydrated as I downed 3 of 4 bottles of water immediately. My stomach was queezie so eating was not an option but I was able to drink a couple of chocolate milks to get some recovery calories in.

post race!
We hung around to wait for the awards as Steve placed first in his age group in the half! I was able to get in some pizza after a little while and then we headed to the hotel to get showered. We were both really hungry so we headed into town in Petoskey and had a great lunch and post race IPA at Mitchell St Pub. We also checked out Beard Brewing and tasted some of their local brews. After that we headed to nearby Harbor Springs to check out the beach and town. It was a cute, upscale area. We enjoyed some hard-earned icecream and then headed back to Petoskey later for dinner at the Duffy's Garage & Grill. Then it was back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.

Sunday we had a quick breakfast, packed up and made the trip back to Cleveland. The drive went smooth and we were home around 2:30 in time to hit the Willoughby Brewing Nutsmasher Release party where we enjoyed that beer along with sampling tastes of a couple others.

Closing Thoughts:

I loved the race. The course is gorgeous. It is relatively flat at 800 ft of elevation gain but it is not pancake flat. I loved the area - especially the Gaslight District in Petoskey. I plan to visit the area again and maybe do the race again as well. The beer is good but NOT as good as Ohio. I guess we are spoiled like that!

Because I was so close this time I made the decision to run the Erie Marathon on September 13. I am excited to have this opportunity to continue my journey. I am blessed this year to be healthy and running well and I want to take advantage of this fitness and try once more for that BQ in 2016. September 13 is the last day before Boston 2016 registration opens! Wish me luck!

P.S. I also qualified for Marathon Maniacs for completing my third marathon in 62 days. That's pretty fun I think in a running nerd kindof way! :)

Below are a couple of images from the beautiful area...enjoy!

Downtown Petoskey Pier at Sunset

Sunrise along to route driving to the race!

Downtown Petoskey's "Gaslight District"

Friday, June 19, 2015

Challenge Williamsburg Race Report - Sometimes You're Hot, Sometimes You're Not

Last weekend I competed in Challenge Williamsburg. This was my third time doing the race although the first time as a Challenge race and teammate. The inaugural year I raced the olympic, followed by the half last year and then the olympic again this year (which is a different course than 2013). I really love this course and like the Rev3 Tri brand, the Challenge brand really goes all out in making their races special!

After fighting off allergies all week, I was not happy to wake up Thursday with an earache, sore throat and headache and headed into the doctor. The doc said I have a sinus infection and put me on some antibiotics along with nose spray and an allergy pill. Not good timing but I decided to at least attempt to race since we had planned the trip and paid in advance.

Yum Yum!
My husband Steve was also racing the olympic distance so we made a little race vacation trip out of it. Friday we drove in and checked into our condo at Wyndham Kingsgate and immediately headed over to the pool for a little while to decompress from the long drive. After unpacking and getting cleaned up, we headed out to The Dog Street Pub, our favorite little place in Colonial Williamsburg for dinner and drinks. After dinner we checked out the Hair of the Dog Bottle Shop behind the restaurant where Foothills Brewing Company from North Carolina was sampling some beers. We also tried the Ale Works IPA that was on tap. Good stuff!

Race Eve:

My awesome teammates!
Saturday was a busy day! We got in a little shakeout run before heading to the expo to pick up our packets, timing chips and swag followed by the practice swim. It was so much fun seeing The Challenge staffers and my teammates and meeting some new folks as well! For the practice swim, the James River was perfect. Warm and calm and it went very smooth in trying my new swimskin so I assumed it would be a decent swim. After the swim, Steve and I headed out on the course for some recon. We planned to do about 12.5-13 (one loop of the course) but because of the way the course was setup we ended up getting in some bonus miles and doing 22. With the temp being 97 degrees that day we definitely got some sun!

Later that evening we headed out to The Corner Pocket to meet up with my teammates and their families for some prerace beer and food. Steve and I ended up cooking a light dinner later on and then getting all of our stuff ready for the morning.With the race being two transitions there is a little more organization involved.

Race Morning:
I woke up at 4:30 and was really not feeling too well. I was stuffy, hardly had a voice and had some funky GI issues going on from the antibiotic as well. Steve was concerned but I told him I would just do my best and if it wasn't my day I would back off. I know racing with a cold or infection isn't the best idea, but I am stubborn. We left the condo around 5:30 to head to the Warhill Sports Complex where the race finishes. Once there we setup our T2 area and then took the coach bus shuttle to the swim start and T1, which was setup at the Jamestown Beach area. It is a pretty short drive and most of T1 was setup from checking our bikes in Saturday so we just needed to setup the other stuff. After a trip to the bathroom we walked down to the start.

Swim: 1500 meters:
I had assumed the swim would be fast and easy. I assumed wrong. The first year with the current I had a terrible swim, last year we had the current assisting us so I did 40 mins for the 2000. This year it took me 34 mins, which did not make me happy considering I had just done a 27 at the GWRT olympic last weekend. I felt like it was a long swim. Some of my teammates and friends said they felt the current was pushing us out away from the buoys so I definitely lost some time here as I was hoping to be at least 30 or better.

This is a long transition having to run from the beach up a good distance to the bike area so this was 3:40ish versus being a minute or 2 faster.

I heart my bike!
Bike: 25 Miles:
This is usually a fast bike course with some nice flat sections as well as rolling terrain. Last year I averaged about 19.2 for the half and I ended up doing the olympic in 1:18 and change or 19.14mph this year. This was not the bike split I was hoping for but I am a little behind on my bike fitness this year and I hope to be stronger later in the season. This was definitely my favorite part of the race though as the course is quite beautiful and also shaded in many areas.

Pretty straight forward transition here. At 1:48 it was a little sluggish but I was kindof dreading the run!

Run: 6.2 Miles:
I love running...except when I am sick. Needless to say I did not set a 10K PR here. Where I had done a 46 minute 10K at GWRT this one was 55 minutes...ouch! I guess with the heat, trail portions and being sick I just could not do better than an 8:53 pace. I lost the most time here. I should have been at least 5-7 minutes faster here on a decent day.

I debated either walking or quitting the second loop because I did not feel great but then I just told myself it is just a 5K and you are done and I fought through the conditions to finish. I am glad I did. Sometimes the tough workouts are what really help to strengthen us and with a marathon coming up soon I need all the strength I can muster up!

The Finish:
Post race with my love
My time of 2:53 was disappointing yet not surprising given the conditions. Had it been a better day I probably would have done better than 6th in my AG. After coming off of a 2:36 with a longer bike the week before I had envisioned closer to a 2:35-2:40. But I cannot beat myself up too much when I was not at 100%. At the end of the day it was a heck of a training day for me anyways! Steve had a good race and placed 2nd in his AG so I was happy that one of us made the podium!

Post Race:
After the race we enjoyed the post race food and hung out with some teammates and cheered before heading back to the car to change. We stuck around for the awards and then headed back to the condo to relax. That night we met some teammates and friends out for dinner and drinks at the College Delly. We headed back to watch the Cavs game and I ended up falling asleep not far into the third quarter as I was exhausted.

We drove home Monday and used it as a rest day so I am slowly getting back into the training now as I heal and rest up to take on the Charlevoix Marathon next weekend!

Monday, June 8, 2015

GWRT Race Report - Good Start to the 2015 Tri Season

Yesterday I raced the Great Western Reserve Olympic Tri put on by Champ Racing. I will admit that I was nervous going into this race. I am always a little worked up about the first OWS of the season and I was not really sure that I was tri-ready with so much focus on the run this season and not as much focus on the bike. I have been pretty good about my swimming and gotten in as many bike miles as I can around a very run-heavy schedule. I just had to give it my best and see where I am right now.

West Branch State Park was the venue for the race. I really liked this venue. The swim was in a calm and warm inland lake and for the most part the bike roads were good and the run course was a nice setup. In addition to the olympic race, there is a sprint, a half and a half aquabike option so that brought out some good people to race. It was nice to see so many friends and fellow Cleveland Tri Club members at the race. Many of which had a great day at the races!

Steve and I both raced the olympic and we are racing an olympic again this weekend at Challenge Williamsburg (formerly Revolution 3 Williamsburg). I love the course there and it's my first team race of the year so that's pretty exciting. Racing GWRT was a great way to test my fitness before Williamsburg.  I am pleased with how things turned out yesterday and looking forward to giving it another go Sunday!

Prerace: We arrived at West Branch around 6:30am to pick up our packets and setup our transition areas. The olympic was scheduled to go off around 8am. The start was delayed about 30 minutes due to the other waves starting later. This was actually not a bad thing for me because I had time to relax and chat with friends as well as get in a nice warm up swim. The water temperature was 71 and my sleeveless Blueseventy wetsuit was very comfortable.

Swim (1500 meters):
Start of one of the swim waves
The olympic men's wave went off and then olympic women were 5 minutes later. We were the last wave. This again was okay with me. I like a relaxing swim where I am not crowded with people. It was a double loop course and the second loop really felt like it went quick. I looked at my watch leaving the water and I was around 26 minutes and change. Once crossing over the timing mat I was at 27:31 (about a 1:50 pace), which is not bad for me in open water. I am working on my sighting as I have a tendency to get off course.

I felt wobbly in T1 but got the wetsuit off pretty fast, dried off a bit, put on my gear and got in a Powerbar energy blend gel before heading for the bike mount. My 1:52 was a little slow but I'm just getting back into the swing of things.

Bike (26 miles):
I liked the bike course. It was mainly flat with a couple sections of rollers. It was a straight forward course so not too technical. The best part I think was riding along the dam. It felt like flying through that section and I got to see Steve and some friends here. My goal for the bike was to average between 19-20mph. I knew that my bike fitness was not as good yet as it was during some of last year's races where I was close to averaging 21 for this distance. I felt pretty strong on the first 13 mile loop and through the first half of the second loop but started to labor toward the end of the ride and had some pesky low back pain as well. I haven't spent too much time in the aero bars yet this season so I am sure that I will build up my tolerance to this again. My new Lazer aero helmet worked great. It was light and comfortable and well ventilated. My bike time ended up at 1:20:16 (19.4 mph average) so for where I am right now this was decent. I will be switching my focus to the bike in early July after I recover from the Charlevoix Marathon.

Again I felt a little slow here with a 1:23 but as the season goes on hopefully I will be quicker with my transitions. The one thing that annoyed me in T2 is that my GPS signal for my run watch did not come on right away so I just had to start the run without it.

Run (6.2 Miles): 
The run was pretty straight forward and flat. Leaving the park was hot but most of the olympic run was shaded, which was nice on a hot day like yesterday. It was an out and back, 2 loop 5K course with 2 aid stations on each loop. It was nice to see so many friends on the course and I got to see Steve a couple of times as well, which was a nice boost of motivation. I ended up running a negative split for the second loop, which allowed me to move up at least a handful of spots in the race. I ended up running a 46:08 10K (7:41 average).  I was glad to have my run working for me with all the miles I have been logging training for my marathon June 27.

Post race with my hubby
Finish & Post Race:
It was nice to have Steve cheering as I finished. I am happy with my time of 2:37:12. It was good enough to win my age group and place 6th female. In looking at the results the swim is really what killed me for this race along with not having my bike legs at 100% yet. I am okay with that. I will get stronger as I change my focus to multisport! Steve had a solid race too and placed 3rd in his AG. We stuck around to hang out with friends and eat. Champ does a great job with the post-race food especially the pizza! Mmm! Many of our friends set PRs and placed so it was a good day at the races!

Closing Thoughts:
I liked this race and will plan to do it again - possibly the half too. Champ did a nice job with the course, volunteers, food, and I loved the race shirt! Today is a recovery day and then I get back into a hard week of training followed by the Challenge Williamsburg olympic tri this Sunday!

Cool shirt & my AG medal

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Third Time is the Charm They Say - Training Update

After not hitting my BQ goal in Cleveland due to weather I was disappointed. I sometimes have a hard time letting things go. Although I knew I would be sacrificing the beginning of my triathlon season I made the decision to run a third marathon this season in Charlevoix, Michigan later this month. It's a small, beach town race that is said to be one of the most beautiful races in the U.S. Needless to say I am excited to give it another go. Plus, I'll qualify for Marathon Maniacs  too, which is fun!

I am still planning to participate in the multisport races on my schedule as well - I just cannot train for these specifically. Last week for example I ran 53 miles, rode my bike for 75 miles, got in one 2000 meter swim along with some yoga and pilates work for strength. In a normal multisport focus training week I would have had another swim, 15-20 miles less running and about 50-75 more on the bike.

Last Sunday was the Twinsburg Duathlon. It was kindof a rainy, crappy morning to race but I was up for it. The first run went okay as I had not really intended to push the pace given my tired legs so according to my watch, the first 2 mile run was around a 7:29 pace. My goal was to run between a 7:15-7:30 for both runs and average 19-20mph on the bike. Entering transition I saw my hubby. He had a flat and said he was out so just to go ahead. I ran over to my bike but felt bad that he was out of the race so I went to go find him to just ride the course with him and finish for fun. After 5+ minutes of trying unsuccessfully to find him and then hearing that he changed his wheel and jumped back into race, I was bummed. I felt like I had lost too much time to be competitive and I had some extra run miles I needed to make up so I made use of the time to get in 7 more miles at a slower pace around 9. Later that afternoon I hopped on my cross bike for an hour to get in my needed bike miles for the week. I guess it all worked out okay in the end although I am bummed that I didn't get to race my bike.

I do get to do that this weekend at the Great Western Reserve Olympic Tri at West Branch! This week is another 50+ mile run week along with 70+ on the bike, 5300 meters of swimming and some strength work. This may not be optimal triathlon training but I am excited to take on my first tri of the season, tired legs and all! My husband and several friends are racing so it will be fun to see everyone! Hope that water is not too cold!

The following week I have my last build week for the marathon with about the same mileage as this week. Steve and I head South to Williamsburg, Virginia next weekend for a little vacation and to race Challenge Williamsburg. We will be racing the olympic again as we did two years back (last year we raced the half and loved it). I am super excited to see my Challenge teammates and staff!

The following week will be a taper week with no races (thank god).

Then we head to Charlevoix for another long weekend vacation with a race. I will race the full marathon and hubby is racing the half marathon. Hopefully I can get the BQ done and move on this season to the half iron and full iron triathlon build phase! I will not have any long races on my schedule until later in August now so I am looking forward to the change of focus.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Busy Weekend, Lots of Training & a Race for Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is always one of my favorite times of the year since it's the official welcome of Summer for us Ohioans. This Memorial Day was full of friends and family and lots of training, including a race!

Friday kicked off the weekend with a recovery run and a Bikram Yoga class. Saturday Steve and I got in a ride on the tri bikes then spent some time with the kiddos at the driving range. Of course their favorite part was driving the golf carts!

Pre Blossom Run Fun at Ginny & Bobs
Sunday we headed to Chagrin Falls for the annual Blossomtime Run, which is always a fun and challenging race with the heat and the hills. Our friends Ginny and Bob had a nice little prerace party at their house for the runners. Some of our Cleveland Tri Club friends were there so it was nice to catch up with folks before jogging over to the start.

Last year I went out too fast at the race start so this time I held back with my first mile being a 7:15. My splits were pretty consistent as I never really felt I was pushing too hard and I ended up finishing the 5.25 mile course in 38 and change (7:20 pace), which I was happy with since it was a better time than last year. With that I placed 3rd of 85 in my AG.

Post race with my speedy guy!
Steve also had a good race finishing in 33 and change and 3rd in his AG, which included some pretty fast local runners! After the race we caught up with my friend Jilllian for a few minutes and then headed to get a post race smoothie. The rest of the day was filled with house cleaning and yard work so it was a busy day!

Yesterday I was going to go with Steve to do the Snakebite Racing Death Ride but I needed to get in a decent long run and bike so I opted out and went to the Towpath in Independence instead for a 13 mile run at marathon pace followed by 30 miles of riding on my cross bike. Steve was nearby so we met up after for some much needed Chipotle! Then we ran some errands and headed home to get ready for our neighbors picnic.

This week will be full of lots of swim, bike, run as well and the first multisport race of the season too at the Twinsburg Duathlon, which is a sprint consisting of a 2 mile run, 10 mile bike and 2 mile run. I am hoping to do well but will see how it goes as I don't feel I am in great bike shape yet this season. It will be a great tuneup for the next two weekends, which will both consist of olympic triathlons (Champ Racing's GWRT and Challenge Williamsburg). I am excited to switch gears a little bit these next few weeks!