Monday, May 21, 2018

Cleveland Marathon Weekend and Race Report

There are so many things that I love about the Cleveland Marathon! It's not just a race. It's a whole weekend of festivities with terrific people - the Marathon staff, my fellow ambassadors and tons of friends that are either running or fanning at the race. This means it's one of my favorite events of the year and I am always a little sad when it's over.

My husband Steve and I kicked off race weekend with a visit to the race expo on Friday late afternoon and got to see many of the staff, ambassadors and friends. The expo is always fun and there are some good deals to be had for us gear-loving runners! They also setup some pretty cool photo opps as well.

After that we headed over to the Hyatt Regency Arcade to get changed out of our casual clothes and grab a drink at the hotel bar until it was time for the annual Cleveland Marathon VIP dinner.

The VIP dinner is always a great time and I am glad that they include all of the ambassadors because it's a chance for us to chat about the race and our goals and to cut loose and have a good time together before the races begin. Here are some pics from this year's dinner. The one on top is of the race ambassadors. Can you pick me out? The one below is of my hubby and me.

Saturday was a relaxing day for us as we got all the housework and shopping done and picked out our race day outfits and made sure to carb load on some healthy, tasty food and maybe a beer or two.

Sunday morning we were up at 4am to get dressed, eat and get out of the house around 5. Because Steve was pacing the 3:35 group we had a parking pass for W. 3rd street right by the finish, which was nice! We ended up arriving around 6 with traffic and headed over to the start about 1/2 mile away for pre-race photos. Here I am below with the race ambassadors. Do we look excited?!

Unfortunately it was raining all morning and for much of the race but that didn't stop us from running and having some fun. I really felt great for the first 8-10 miles but I could feel the fatigue in my body and I was fighting a piriformis issue this week so I was forced to back off from running 7:50-8 min pace to 8:15-8:45 pace for the back half of the race. Steve finally passed me around mile 18 or 19 and I just tried to stay focused and keep on my pace. It was a hard fought finish of 3:38:10 for me (about 9 minutes slower than my HOF marathon time a few weeks back).  But this is still the best Cleveland marathon race I've run yet (course PR) and a second BQ for me in the last three weeks. I definitely am happy with that! Thanks to my friends out cheering on the course yesterday and taking these photos! The top one was taken by Elizabeth Miceli and the bottom was taken by Lesli Barni. I got a lot of great comments on my new Skirt Sports Lioness Skirt in holiday print!

After the race we headed over to the beer tent for our free Great Lakes Brewing beer! You can't beat a great race followed up with a good hoppy beer. We ran into many friends at the post race party including some Snakebite Racing teammates and CTC friends and my friend and fellow ambassador Stephanie below (bottom picture) who had a pretty big PR and our NERC friends Julio and Rosa (top photo) who also both had PR races! It was a great day to run for sure!

Finally Steve and I stopped on the way home at Winking Lizard for a late lunch and post race celebratory beer together.

It was a busy and fun Cleveland Marathon race week and I can't wait to do it all over again next year! Who's with me? Oh and check out this awesome medal below! I'm a little sore today but it was definitely worth it!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Hall of Fame Marathon Was a Successful Race

I'm happy to say that my race at the Hall of Fame Marathon in Canton, OH went well! I was a little nervous heading into the race because I had picked up a little cold last Monday and didn't feel very well for a few days. I just did everything I could to fight it (ZiCam nose spray, zinc lozenges, Emergen-c, extra rest, no running, lots of fluids and healthy food). By Thursday I was feeling better about my chances of trying to race versus sitting it out or doing it as a training run.

Friday I felt pretty good so my husband Steve and I headed to the expo at the Stark County Fair Grounds (where the race also starts) to pick up our bibs. I had done an easy 4 mile run before work in the morning so the rest of the day was rest and I took Saturday completely off because I was busy and wanted to be as fresh as possible going into race day. I had a very light week of running (only two 4-mile runs), about 30 miles of biking and a couple of core workouts beforehand so it was a very easy week for me and I felt rested. Saturday night I finished getting my stuff ready and we went to Melt for dinner. I love a good, carby plain grilled cheese sandwich (no fries for me though). We got to sleep early and were up at 4:30am Sunday to get ready.

Chillen pre-race with Steph & Steve
I always have GI issues the morning of any big race and this one was no exception. After going to the bathroom a few times and after a large dose of Pepto I was okay. I ate a bowl of cereal and drank my coconut water and we got ready to leave when my friend and fellow Cleveland Marathon ambassador Stephanie met us at my house at 5:20. We were on the road by 5:30am - figuring this would allow ample time for parking and a stop at the porta-johns prerace. We arrived and parked by 6:30am and we had plenty of time. It was a cold morning (low 30s) so I kept on some throw-away sweats until the race start. After a trip to the bathroom we made our way to the start and ran into some friends. We started about 10 minutes after 7 and the sun was coming up and finally warming us so I lost my throw away stuff and off we went!

Having some fun on the course!
After the 20 mile drop going so well a couple weeks back I had made up my mind that I wanted to run between 3:25-3:30 for the race (assuming the day went okay). I took off at around a 7:45 pace to see how that would feel and it felt pretty good albeit maybe slightly faster than I wanted. By mile 5 I had locked in a 7:50-7:55 pace which was my sweet spot. This is an ideal pace for me right now in the marathon and I was able to hold it through 22. I was disappointed that my last 4 miles I slowed down to an 8:27 average but it was hilly and very windy so it was hard to get any speed here.

When I finished and looked at my garmin it said 3:29:33 for 26.39 miles (7:56 avg pace) versus my race chip time of 3:29:33 for 26.2 (7:59 avg pace). Maybe the course was a little long. Had I held even an 8 minute pace for the final 4.2 miles I would have finished a couple of minutes faster but I can't complain about a new PR of almost 6 minutes! And since I am 40 in August my BQ qualifying time was now 3:45 so I beat my standard by more than 15 minutes! I was also excited to see that I was 2nd in my AG because 2 of the women in my AG were overall winners. So 2nd in AG, 11th female - I'll take it!

I'm also happy to say that my husband Steve had a BQ too by almost 10 minutes. Unfortunately he did not have the race he had planned but I know he has that PR in him. He'll be pacing the 3:35 group in Cleveland if you want to run with him. After the race we headed to Fatheads Canton with my friend Stephanie and enjoyed some hard earned burgers and hoppy beer!

The finish!
I'm excited to head back to Boston next year. It took me longer than I expected to re-qualify but I have made a lot of changes to my training this year that I think really worked well for me. I tried running super high mileage last season and that did not make me faster plus oddly enough I gained weight and wasn't as happy with my physique. This year I ran about 60-70% of the mileage, biked more between 3-5 days week and also added in core/lifting work 2-3 x a week. I feel much stronger and I also am leaner than last season. I also listened closely to my body and rested and cross trained when I felt I needed it and tried to eat cleaner especially during the week. I think all these factors added up to make me a stronger, better runner this season.

I'm recovering well this week and depending on how I feel and the weather in Cleveland I may go for another PR attempt to see if I can get closer to 3:25. No matter what I plan to have fun and not take myself too seriously. I also am learning to do that more. At HOF I actually had fun for much of the race and smiled and posed for the camera people and really just tried to stay positive and be thankful that I am healthy and fit right now. It's not always about the end result as much as it is about the journey in getting to our goals. My whole journey this season has been a good one so far!

Cheers to hard-earned PRs and BQ's! And Good IPAs!

Friday, April 20, 2018

20 Mile Drop Race Report

Last Sunday was a good running day for me! Sure the weather conditions to race the 20 Mile Drop were not ideal but what choice did I have? I needed a fast 20 mile training run for my marathon in two weeks and I had already payed for the race and stayed at a hotel in Mentor Saturday night with my hubby who was also planning to run the race. So even though it was dreadful (pouring rain and around 34 degrees when we got up in the morning) we bundled up and made the drive to Fairport Harbor at 6am where we would catch a bus to drive us to the Chardon Square.

On the bus we ran into our friend Deb (from Cleve Tri Club) and chatted with her about the race and other stuff going on this season so the time went pretty quickly. Once we arrived in downtown Chardon I needed to use the porta-potties along with most of the other runners so there was a 10 minute wait and the rain was coming down hard. I had a poncho on to try and stay semi-dry before the race start and the grass we were standing on was wet and muddy so I tried to keep my feet as dry as possible. I hate starting a race with cold, wet feet!

The downhill part of the big Chardon hill!
The start was kindof a mess for me. I came out of the bathroom and panicked a little because I saw everyone walking on the other side of the Square and I was afraid I would miss the start so I quickly ran over and put my gels in my Capris (Skirt Sports Pocketopia Capris) and set my watch and removed my poncho. Then we were off. It was cold and rainy so I went out fast around a 7:15 first mile just to warm up. The race loops around the square before it heads towards to bike path in Chardon. Once I got onto the bike path I was already getting warm and fussing with my arm warmers to remove them (while running) as well as tucking in my baselayer tank (Skirt Sports Free Me Tank). Once I was situated I was able to settle in for the first big climb in Chardon. Ouch! That one is a doozy!

I didn't really feel cold since I was keeping a 7:30 pace for these early miles and I just tried to stay focused - taking in a gel about every 40 minutes. Miles 8-11 or so were pretty hard mentally for me. I felt like crap running through Quail Hollow and then there is a big climb in Concord by the exploration center where I stopped to take a salt tab. Part of me had wanted to drop out at the 10 mile point but I knew I needed the run so I pressed on. Once I got to the Greenway Trail I felt better and since I spent so many miles over the years we lived in Mentor running on this trail it felt familiar and good.

I decided to see if I could hit the half marathon mark around my normal pace of 1:39-1:40 and I did so then I told myself to see if I could just hold it until 25K and I did. I was passing some of the 10 mile runners and then more and more and I just told myself to keep hammering the pace because it's only 4 miles and then I can get out of the rain and wet clothes. The last couple of miles were physically hard because my quads were cramping up some and I was tired but I was able to keep my pace between 7:40-7:55 through the finish. I knew I was in first place for the 20 miler so I was excited to hit the finish line and hear my name announced. I finished in 2:34 and change so a good time for me average pace of 7:43 and my splits were pretty consistent through the whole race.

post race with some cash! Woohoo!
My husband Steve had a good race too and finished 3rd place with a time of 2:19. We both won some cash and got a finisher cup along with our awesome medals. I was excited to get dry clothes on and then head back to our hotel for a hot shower. We went to lunch at Willoughby Brewing and had a very hard earned post race hoppy beer and some food!

I am excited to see how the Hall of Fame marathon will go next weekend! I feel like I am ready for another BQ  and hopefully also a PR! Right now the weather looks ideal (low 40s high of 60ish). I am keeping my fingers crossed that it stays this way! You never know with the stupid weather we've had this spring in Ohio!

Now I just need to taper, stay healthy and wait for the big day next Sunday. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Run for Home Half Marathon Race Report & Training Update

Sunday my husband and I raced the Run for Home Half Marathon in New Philadelphia, OH. It's been years since I have run this one and I'm happy to say that it was a course PR for me and an unofficial half PR as well (course was a little long).

It was a chilly morning but once we got in our 2 mile warm up I felt okay. My only real issue Sunday was that I had some GI distress before the race that lingered in the later miles of the race as well even after taking the trusty old Pepto.

Racing in Skirt Sports Redemption Capris & Truker Hat!
The start of the race is next to the stadium at Tuscora Park and I lined up near the 1:35 pacer. My goal for the race was 1:40 or better since this is a hilly course I wasn't expecting to PR. My previous course PR here was 1:45ish. As the first few miles ticked off I felt pretty good and was running around 1:35 pace (7:15s). I was able to hold this pace until about the half way point where it starts to get hilly and then I started to slow down a little to 7:20s and 7:30s, which was ok with me.

Around mile 8 or so I started to experience some GI stress again and had some nasty stomach cramps a couple times throughout the rest of the race that forced me to take a couple of short walk breaks. I was not happy about this but what can you do when you are in pain besides try to ease up?

I tried to stay steady and I feel I held back the last few miles a bit more than I would have needed to without GI trouble, which really stinks because I only lost 1st in my AG by 1 minute and 19 secs and she passed me with maybe 1-2 miles left in the race. I ended up 2nd in AG, 6th female with my race time of 1:40:19. My actual 13.1 time was 1:39:14 (7:35 pace), which would have been a slight PR for me! So despite a challenging course and GI issues I still had a good race and I'm happy with the effort!

Post race AG trophies for the two of us!
My hubby Steve also had a strong race running a 1:29:14 race time (real time of 1:28:12) for 6th male and 2nd in his AG also! We celebrated by going to FatHeads in Canton for some hard-earned hoppy beers!

My recovery this week has been rapid, which is good because I am also racing the 20 Mile Drop in Lake County this weekend. It will be a great last hard effort for Steve and I before we race the Hall of Fame Marathon April 29 because this one is a real quad buster! I'm hoping to have another good race even if it is supposed to be a rainy day (who knows maybe it will force me to run faster!?!)

As far as training last week I was a little under my goal but got in 45 miles of running, 53 miles of cycling and 2 strength workouts. This week I am hoping to get in 45-50 miles of running, 70-80 miles of cycling with 2 strength workouts.

My taper for Hall of Fame starts Monday but next week I will still be cycling a lot early in the week especially as I recover and just cut my running back to maybe 30-35 miles and try to get in 3+ strength workouts because the following week will be pretty light leading into the race. I hate tapers but they are a necessary evil!

I am looking forward to a little break in the racing in May until the Cleveland Marathon on May 20th! This is always one of my favorite races of the year because so many of my friends are out there running with me and Steve! If you need to sign up use my code (PMCLE10) for a 10% discount!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Training Update - April is a Busy Month & Another Race is on the Schedule

I thought I would do a quick training update before things get crazy this month. This Sunday I'll be running the first of three long races this month as preparation for my spring marathons. The Run for Home Half in Dover is a challenging half marathon with some good hills so it should be a good workout. I plan to get in a mile or two before and after to get in my mileage goal for the day.

The following Sunday I'm racing the 20 Mile Drop in Lake County, which will be a good quad buster and then I'll be starting my two week taper for the Hall of Fame Marathon on Sunday, 4/29.

I then get a few weeks off. Well racing that is! I'll still be running a lot until the Cleveland Marathon on Sunday, May 20! This of course is one of my favorites because it was my first half and full marathon and I get to run with all my awesome fellow ambassadors. If you still haven't signed up use my code PMCLE10 and get 10% off your registration.

I also just signed up for the Eagle Up Ultra in Canal Fulton on June 9. I signed up for the 50 miler to get in a good training run for the Canal Corridor 100 in July! It's shaping up to be an epic running season!

As far as my training goes, last week was decent. Although we traveled to Louisville, KY for some fun we still got some running in so I ended the week with about 40 miles of running, 60 miles of cycling and a couple of strength workouts - down a little from the previous week.

These next two weeks although I am racing I will not taper much for either because I need the mileage. I will just do my best to race being fatigued and while that may not be ideal it will help me build strength for my summer ultras.

I have front-loaded my week with two strength workouts and a big chunk of running so I can cross train more and just get in an easy run or two before the race Sunday. I'm planning to end the week with 45-50 miles of running and 50 miles of cycling and of course my 2 strength sessions.

I'm sure I will be sore Monday and will cross train on the bike or in the pool as active recovery and try to build up mid-week and taper off Friday and Saturday leading into the 20 miler.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Pam Versus 100 Miles Part 2 and Training Update

Ever since last year's 100 mile race I have had mixed feelings on attempting another go at it. In the few weeks after my finish last year I wanted to do it again. I think I was riding the high of the finish. Then a few weeks later I decided that I needed to take a year off of such a big race. Maybe get back into triathlon - race a half or maybe even another full iron distance. And then I changed my mind again. And again. And well you get it.

Training for a full ironman is also a large time commitment and when I started to weigh it out I realized that I have some unfinished business with the 100 miler. Sure, I finished last year but not under ideal conditions. I know I can run a better 100 if I am healthy! I'd like to break 24 hours at least and on the Towpath I am sure that I can do that if I have a good day. So I took the plunge this weekend and I signed up once again for the Canal Corridor 100. Why? Because I loved this race and I want to give it another go and see if I can do a little better this year. My priority will be to train smart and take good care of my body so I can hopefully arrive at the start this year healthy and ready for a good race.

As for triathlon, I'm still getting back to multisport this year...just taking my time getting there. I plan to maybe race Vermillion in mid August if I am ready and definitely Portage Lakes in September. And I may attempt my first stand alone bike tt if it works into the schedule and cyclocross race. I plan on logging more bike miles this season and less overall running miles and I will continue to swim and lift as well. I think it's important to cross train - not only is it better physically but I also think it's better mentally for most people.

Digging the new tee!
Last week I had a decent training week. I got in 48.5 run miles, 68 on the bike and a few core workouts. I finished my first 20 mile run of the training cycle yesterday and overall feel pretty good today. I am cycling today between 25-30 miles easy as my recovery. This week I will plan to get in around 50-55 miles of running with a solid amount of cycling and some lifting. April is going to be an intense month of racing with a half marathon on the 8th, a 20 miler on the 15th and HOF Marathon on the 29th. I then will have a few weeks to freshen up a bit for the Cleveland Marathon and then really get into the core 100 mile training! It won't be easy - but nothing good ever is!

It was nice to see my fellow Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors Saturday at Sarah's Vineyard. We had a nice little meetup and got our 2018 ambassador shirts and goodies. I'm excited to think of running in warm weather after the crappy winter we've had! Have you signed up yet? If not use code PMCLE10 and save 10% off your registration!
Cleve Marathon Ambassadors with Race staff at Sarah's Vineyard

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Buzzard Day 25K Trail Race & Training Update

Last weekend I made a last minute decision to run the Buzzard Day 25K at Hinckley Reservation. My long runs have been boring and uninspiring and I just wanted a change and wanted to support local race director Roy Heger so the hubby and I went to packet pick-up Friday after work and signed up. After a pre-race IPA we headed home to make dinner and get our race day stuff ready including the race day outfit! I picked out my Skirt Sports Redemption Capris and I also ran in my new Skirt Sports Super Girl tank albeit underneath two other shirts and arm-warmers and my sweet new trucker hat.

On race morning we got to Hinckley Reservation around 9am and since the 25K start is at 10am we had plenty of time to catch up with friends, get warmed up, etc. It ended up being pretty cold around the start like 25 degrees so I was glad I had brought arm warmers and extra layer shirt because I definitely needed it. We took off into a field to head into the trails and my eyes were watery and breathing a little strained from the cold but just for a mile or two. I took off around an 8-8:30 pace, which was comfortable - slowing down for hills, icy patches and other obstructions like trees.

I have not been trail running as much as I should be so I almost forgot how fun it is as compared to just hammering it out on the roads. I do like that too but this race made me remember why I fell in love with trail running. All the twists and turns and climbs and jumps and beauty of nature coupled with the exhiliration of running in the woods with a couple hundred other people and making friends along the way.

The first half went pretty smooth except I came to a section with signs pointing both directions and took the wrong turn, which added about a half mile to my day. I came into the first aid station and they told me I was first female but I didn't think much of it because in a longer race and especially on trails anything can happen. I've had some races where I faded at the end but fortunately this was not one of them! I felt strong throughout and the last few miles were not too bad for me. 

Post race with trophy in my Skirt Sports Hat & Capris
I loved the course! It was a mix of single track, bridle trails, grass and pavement so it was never boring and I enjoyed running the asphalt sections too because I was able to make up some time there. The last mile seemed to go on and on and there was a steep little climb right before the end but I was excited to see the finish with Steve and my fellow Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Eric Geyer cheering for me! Then of course I got to say thanks to my friend Rich who was doing the timing. Roy gave me a trophy for first female and Sydney brought me some hard-earned ramon noodles, which tasted very good after 16.5 miles of running! My time of 2:40 was an average of around 9:40 I think. I should have been about 2:35 or so without the bonus half mile so I'm happy with the effort. It was definitely not another boring long run!

Later on that afternoon we met up with my friend and fellow Cleveland Marathon ambassador Stephanie Itibrout for post race St Pat's day beers and dinner. It was an awesome St. Patrick's Day!

Steph celebrating with me at Ray's Place in Fairlawn
I ended the week with 38 miles of running, 45 miles of cycling and two core workouts so it wasn't a big week for me volume wise and I think that helped my effort.

I opted for cycling on Sunday along with a recovery walk with the dogs and I also rode the bike yesterday. I did a short 3-mile recovery run this morning and an hour bike at lunch. I hope to start kicking the run mileage back up tomorrow. I am signed up for a 10K this weekend but I am not sure if I'll race it or not. Will see how I feel plus I think i need to focus on mileage more then speed this week. If I'm lucky I will get in a shorter long run Thurs or Fri and be able to race Sunday. Either way I'm getting excited because spring races are here and it's only 60 days until the Cleveland Marathon! If you haven't signed up yet feel free to use code PMCLE10 to save 10% off your registration. Oh and if you want to try anything from Skirt Sports you can use code 588McGo to save 15% off any regular priced items.