Monday, July 2, 2018

Charlevoix Marathon Race Report & CC100 Update!

It's hard to believe that I'll be running the Canal Corridor 100 miler again this week for the second time! But first here's a quick update on my last hard training run/race, which was the Charlevoix Marathon in Charlevoix, Michigan. I had run this race back in 2015 while I was on my first BQ quest and while I had come up a little short then - I had a better time this year and another BQ!

Prerace pic
This race was a real confidence builder for me because I just felt awful most of the race since it was only two weeks after racing my first 50 miler at Eagle Up.  I went out with the 3:30 pace group but just couldn't quite keep up after mile 5 or so. Uh-oh this was going to be a long, hard morning. And it was! The rain started too after about an hour of running and pretty much continued throughout. I was a soaking wet, sore, unhappy girl but I was determined to not let myself fall apart. Even if I couldn't do 3:30 I thought I could still break 3:40. This became my mission and I just pushed through despite some pretty tight glutes and hamstrings.

I felt like I needed this hard run to prep for the Canal Corridor race in two more weeks. This was my last hard effort. I finished in 3:38 and change for my third BQ since April 29! I was excited to finish and get changed into dry clothes. It was a bonus to find out that I was 2nd in the 35-39 AG (this was my last 26.2 in this category since I am 40 in August).

Someone looks happy!
The real exiting part of the day was my husband Steve's PR of 3:12 and change! And another BQ for him as well as an NYC marathon qualifying time! I am super proud of his hard work and have no idea how he accomplished that on such tired legs! I think he will have a great marathon season after another 100 and some rest!

Of course we went out to celebrate at a little pub right by the finish and enjoyed some hard earned food and IPAs!

Glad that was done! Cheers!

Saturday we'll both be running the Canal Corridor 100 (my second time with this race and the hubby's first). I'm hoping this course is a little easier on me this time around and that I arrive at the start healthy unlike last year. I also hope Steve has an easier time than BR100. Right now I am just tapering and keeping my fingers crossed for decent weather! Send me strong, healthy vibes this week you guys!!

How cute is this?

Beautiful area!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Eagle Up Ultra 50 Mile Race Report

Last Saturday I ran my first 50 miler. I had no idea going into it how it would feel since the only other time I ran 50 miles was in my 100 miler last summer. Since I am once again running the Canal Corridor 100 miler on July 7 I thought that running the Eagle Up 50 miler would be an ideal training run for me. I hope that it will better prepare me for this year's 100. My expectations for Eagle Up were low key and I did not put a lot of pressure on myself. That is one of the things I like most about ultras and ultrarunners - generally the races and people are easy going with these longer distances. It makes sense because a lot can happen with your body in 50 or 100+ miles plus some days you feel better than others so you just go into it with a flexible mindset.

race start I'm the pink skirt left side :)
I lined up Saturday with a goal of trying to maintain 9-10 minute miles for as much of the race as possible. Most of my miles were between 9:15-10 minutes so right on target. Of course stopping at the aid station added a little time to each loop. The course was setup in a 5 mile loop consisting of about 2.5 on the Towpath and 2.5 on another trail just like the towpath. I actually really liked this setup. The loops went very fast for me mentally.

After the first loop I ate a Honeystinger waffle and just dropped off my water bottle. After the second loop I also ate a Honeystinger waffle and picked up my water bottle again. By the end of the third loop I had to stop and use the porta potty and I also hit up the aid station for some pbj and watermelon. After the 4th loop (20 miles) and 5th loop I also hit the aid station for similar fare. During my 6th loop I felt like crap having some cramps and just decided to walk for a while to see if it would pass. I debated dropping down to 50k but figured I could at minimum walk a lap and see if it passed. I walked the first half of the loop (2.5 miles) and decided to run again following the aid station. I felt much better! From there on out I walked about 1/2 mile after each 5 mile loop to give my body a little break. This worked well because by mile 40 (start of 9th loop) I could grab a slice of cheese pizza and walk while I ate it.

All smiles for most of the race anyways!
I felt really good the last couple of loops and was super excited near the end when the guy who was winning the 100 miler told me that I was likely first female in the 50 miler! It had not dawned on me that I could finish first because there are people running 50k, the relay, 50 miles, 100k, 100 miles so it was hard to know where I was in the race. That gave me a little boost and I pushed on to finish the race in 8:44:44 (10:28 avg). I think if my 6th loop was better I may have finished closer to 8:30 but I was pretty excited to finish and also to learn from the timers that I was indeed first female in the 50 mile race! :) P.S. The Skirt Sports Lioness Skirt in Holiday print was a big success as probably at least 20 people said "Love that skirt" to me!

My friend and fellow Skirt Sports ambassador Mary had came to cheer and drop off some goodies she picked up from me at the Skirt Sports store in Colorado so it was nice to see her there at the finish as well as my hubby who also ran the 50 miler and was technically first in the 50 miler too so that was awesome! We ate some food and had a couple of beers/ciders before heading home for a much needed shower!

Weather wise it ended up being a pretty mild, cloudy day for the first 4-5 hours with some off and on rain the back few hours but it was manageable. The race vibe was fabulous - so many people cheering and great volunteers and also made some new running friends from all around while running and chatting. The race swag included a nice women's fit tech tee and goodie bag along with a 50 mile medal. I would highly recommend this race! It would be a great first ultra or great for a PR at any distance. I am thinking I will run this again next year although not sure what distance - perhaps the 50 again or the 100K. I guess I have time to think it over.

My recovery this week is on schedule. I took a few days off of running and got in 4 miles yesterday morning, which went fine. I've been walking a lot of miles and doing some cycling. Next up is the Charlevoix Marathon next Saturday in Michigan. It's a great small-town marathon. Another marathon PR right now may be too lofty of a goal but I'll see how I feel that day and run accordingly. I will get in a good training run and have some fun to say the least!

Finally two weeks later is the Canal Corridor 100 again (eek)! I hope to start healthier this year and take some hours off of my time as well as have some fun! This year my husband is running it also so it will be fun to see him out there on the course! After the 100 I am taking a summer break to rest and cross train more and will start ramping up for fall races when I'm ready. I have some ideas about what I'd like to do but plan to allow myself more recovery time this year.

Post race with my speedy husband!

Post race with my Skirt Sister Mary!

Hard earned adult beverage. MMM!

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.