Second Sole Made in America Half Marathon Recap

Sunday morning I ran the Second Sole Made in America Half Marathon, my first half since May. I didn’t have a goal in mind, especially since I had really only “trained” for the past five weeks. I knew I just wanted to get back out there and complete the distance. I decided to aim for a 9:30 pace and see where it went. If I felt it was too hard, I’d back off, if it felt too easy, I’d push it a bit, but no pressure to to PR or try to come close.

We had a group of MCRR members running, and most of us met up at 6:15 to make the drive to Massillon. We ended up arriving early, but it gave us plenty of time to stay warm and use the port-a-potties a few times. The race started at 8:00, with some sun on our back, it was the perfect weather for a half.

We started next to the Tuscarawas River and had a slight downhill. We were on a back road that twisted and winded around some houses, industrial buildings and woods. I was definitely nervous and hoped I could find a good pace to stick with. I started a bit too fast but was able to slow myself down by the first mile.

It was within the first mile or two that I realized I had to use the restroom again. Race nerves? I tried to focus on my surroundings and fellow runners, which seemed to help a bit.

Mile 1- 9:16

Mile 2- 9:21

The road had some rollers, but nothing too big to handle. Surprisingly I actually enjoyed having some uphill and downhill rather than an absolutely flat course. The trees hadn’t lost all of their leaves yet, so it was somewhat pretty when we were surrounded by woods.

The biggest hill came in mile 3 and I felt confident climbing it. I was a little worried my hip wouldn’t approve and I’d have some pain, but luckily my legs felt great. My stomach on the other hand didn’t. I kept my eye out for a port-a-potty, but nothing.

Mile 3- 9:34

Mile 4- 9:30

Around mile 4 we got off the road and turned onto the towpath. I was excited for some flat land, beautiful scenery and hopefully a steady pace.

We continued along and my pace was still decent, along with some pain free legs. My need for a bathroom was growing, and I even thought about dodging behind a tree. Instead, I kept my eyes focused in front of me, praying a port-a-potty would appear after each bend.

Mile 5- 9:32

Mile 6- 9:46

I should have taken my honey stinger at mile 6, but I was too nervous it would cause me harm, so I waited, focused on the runners around me, and zoned out for a while. I noticed my pace dropped a bit, but every time I tried to speed up a bit, my stomach would rebel. Back to focusing on the runners and the scenery.

Mile 7- 9:49

Mile 8- 11:57

By mile 7 I was starting to struggle. I had gotten to the point where I was getting a bit bored of the trees and desperately needing that bathroom. I trudged along, no longer caring about my pace, but contemplating dropping if I didn’t feel better soon.

But then, magically a port-a-potty appeared right  before the turn around. Finally! I lost about 2 minutes, but I felt like a new person and was ready to run! I also took the time to eat a Honey Stinger to get my energy up for the last 5 miles.

Mile 9- 9:39

Mile 10- 9:50

We pass the turn point and headed back toward the start. The sun was in and out of my eyes so I focused on the ground. It was a little uneven, and I didn’t want to trip or slip on leaves. I felt much better and even my legs felt great. Thankfully up to this point, my legs were handling the half well.

Mile 11- 9:55

Mile 12- 11:24

I continued along and would bounce back and forth between zoning out and trying to pass runners. My legs were beginning to become sore, which I knew would happen eventually. I started to stop at each mile marker to stretch my legs and hips, hoping they could keep up with the final miles.

My back started to cramp up in the last mile and a half, so I started stopping every half mile to stretch, walk a bit, and get my body to a comfortable pace to finish. I kept getting pulled in with the other runners paces, so I tried to imagine myself on a short run on my own trail to get me to the finish.

Mile 13- 11:01

With a mile left, I knew I could make it, because I certainly questioned it earlier on. I kept a pace I was comfortable with, without stressing my hips too much. We made our way to the finish, and I was excited to see the MCRR group at the top of the bridge before the finish. ( I swear I was excited to see you guys, even though my face didn’t show it.) I pushed what I had left, and crossed the line of my 23rd half.

Las 0.20 – 9:23 pace

When you cross the line, you’re given your medal and a blanket, and offered water, food and the option to get beer. I grabbed my stuff and met up with the rest of the group. We hung around for a while and then walked back to our cars. Shuttles were available, but why not walk some more after running 13 miles!

Lovely MCRR group!

Lovely MCRR group!

Overall, this was a pretty good race. Despite my own personal stomach issues, the course was pretty well laid out, 4 miles on rolling roads and the rest on the towpath. Everything seemed well organized and from what I’ve read, the race has improved a bunch in it’s third year. I don’t know if I’ll run it again soon, but I recommend trying it out. And for $30, you can’t beat such a great deal.

Race swag

Race swag

Results

Time: 2:12:36

Age Group 25-29:12/20

Female: 122/240

Overall: 297/453

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Medina Half Marathon Recap

Last Saturday I ran the Medina Half Marathon, and honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. After the HOF half, I had high expectations to continue on with a strong training period between then and the beginning of Akron training. But unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. Between a week and a half with vertigo and finding myself in a running rut, my mileage was pretty low. Thankfully, Mallory, who was also in a running rut, agreed to run with me and we decided to turn the race into a fun run.

I got up around 4:45 Saturday morning, ate, got dressed and prepared for the race. The start time was moved back to 6:45 this year, which was nice. I left my house around 6:15, found parking and was on the square by 6:30. The 5 minute drive to the race, and multiple parking lots is always a huge plus in my book.

I met up with Mallory, we lined up and we were ready to take it easy on a 13.1 mile jog around town. Once the race started, we were off and tried to stay with a 10:00 minute pace. Neither of us had run any long runs since April, but we figured we could handle the pace for the distance we had ahead of us.

We stayed behind the 2:10 pace group as they started a bit fast, easy to do when the first two miles have some declines in them. We noticed right away that the air was thick with humidity and I was already sweating heavily by mile two. We kept an easy pace, talked and eventually were joined by Amy.

Mile 1-9:38

Mile 2-9:42

The course was a little different this year, so we ended up with more time winding through developments in the beginning of the course. It was a good way to keep my mind off the miles and rather the company I had while running.

Between mile 2 and 3, we ended up with Christy, who decided to join us for our easy run. We chatted for a while, and she kept reminding us how “cold and snowy” it was. Her positive outlook helped to keep my mind off the heat and humidity for a bit.

Mile 3-9:51

Mile 4-9:43

Our first rollers came on Reagan and just like always, slowed me down a bit. From here we headed toward Lake Medina, but unfortunately couldn’t use the new path, so we took to the roads and onto the grass path at the top of the lake. It was starting to heat up, and it was around mile 5 that I took my first Sport Beans. I took two, hoping that it keep me full for a longer amount of time than just one.

Mile 5-9:56

Mile 6-10:06

As we were leaving the lake, I stopped for a quick porta potty stop. There was a short line, so it slowed me down a bit. I was a little concerned I was dehydrated so early into the race because my mouth was so dry just 6 miles in. Thankfully I was hydrated, but instead, I was feeling the side effects of new medication.

From here we went up 18, giant hill included and back into another development before heading to Smith. I was starting to feel a little tired, but figured it was just leftover from the hill. Mallory was working on encouraging me to keep going and reminding me that we were more than half way there. It helped, but I was starting to hit a wall.

Mile 7-13:48 (potty stop)

Mile 8-10:35

From Smith we turned into some more developments, which was a new part of the course this year. I actually enjoyed this section, despite the rollers. The twists and turns kept it interesting and kept my mind off checking my watch. I took two more Sport Beans around mile 8.

Mile 9-11:27

Mile 10-12:58

I’m not sure when, but Heather joined Mallory and I between mile 8-10. It was also during this time that I really started to break down. My legs were feeling ok, but I felt hot, dehydrated, and sick to my stomach. I started to feel so guilty about bringing Mallory down with my negative thoughts and bad attitude. I told her to go ahead and I’d make my way to the finish line, but she refused to leave.

From then on, we walked the water stops and hills and would run the flat sections. I shuffled behind Mallory and Heather, going through moments of feeling fine to feeling sick to my stomach. I started to think I had too many Sport Beans, or maybe I should take a salt tab. Nothing was helping and the miles seemed to drag on.

Mile 11-12:33

Mile 12-12:50

We finally made it to mile 12 as we headed down South Court and back towards the square. I continued to shuffle along, dreading the finish line. We made our way closer and with about a half mile to go,we ran down the brick road. I always loved this part because it reminded me of Muskingum. But I also knew that after the brick finished, the uphill finish line was waiting.

Mile 13-12:49

Last .1 -11:33 pace

And then suddenly with about 400 feet to go, I started to feel light headed, and sick. I told Mallory and Heather to go ahead and I started to walk, getting a hold of my bearings. I slowly began to jog and made my way toward the finish. And as quickly as I felt miserable, I felt normal again.

Making my way to the finish

Making my way to the finish

I crossed the line of my 22nd half marathon, and regretted letting myself run so under trained. I felt like I had let myself down, the Medina Road Runners down, and of course Mallory. But I finished, and that was good enough for me that day.

Wouldn't have finished without her!

Wouldn’t have finished without her!

Thoughts-

Despite my less than spectacular attempt at running, I still love this race. The community support and cheering sections along the course are fantastic. The water stops were easy to navigate and each had their own personality. The new course is much better than last year, and even though I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of that hill on 18, it seemed to be a bit flatter. Well, as flat as you can get in Medina. And of course, the finish line support is the best. There are always so many people lined up along the hill, that you can’t help but dig deep for some kind of sprint.

Hills, hills, and hills!

Hills, hills, and hills!

I know exactly what went wrong to cause my horrible race, and I have only myself to blame. I slacked off a bunch in the past month, and was no way ready to run a half marathon, at least one that I’d be proud of. I also didn’t fuel as well as I had hoped.I need to take a break from Sport Beans because I still can’t figure out how to chew and run at the same time. I’m ready to try something new and I’m going to start incorporating Honey Stinger back into my training. But I’m also open to other options.

As far as hydration, I was a mess. I was not ready to run in the heat and humidity, so I second guessed everything. Combine that with the constant dry mouth due to a new medication, I had no idea if I was actually hydrated or not. I need to go back to drinking water at every mile marker, taking a salt tab every six miles, and throwing some Nuun into my water after mile 10. I know better, I just didn’t execute this properly.

After running this race three years in a row, I still love it. It’s a challenging course, but the crowd support and 5 minute drive are worth it all. I know I’ll be back next year!

Race swag

Race swag

 

Results

Official Time: 2:27:36

Age Group 25-29: 46/72

Female: 325/537

Overall: 607/886

Hall of Fame Half Marathon Recap

Let’s rewind to last week first before touching on the race recap. I had a pre race blog post ready to go, but decided not to post it after I had some mysterious shin and knee pains. I didn’t want to go in with my expectations out in the open to just absolutely bomb them. So I took things easy, stayed off my feet and decided to accept whatever would happen on Sunday.

I still had a goal that I had written out, but instead of sharing it, I kept it to myself, and honestly, I think it was for the best. In my drafted post, I set out my plan…“Going in, I’m not planning on running a PR. I didn’t train for a PR, and the course is a bit tough from what I’ve heard. So my plan is to run the first 8-9 miles at a 9:20 pace, then drop to 9:10-15 for the final 4 to 5 miles. If I can hang on, then I think I’ll be finishing around a 2:02 time. If the hills really beat me up, and there is a strong possibility of this, then I’ll be around 2:06-2:08.”

And now to Sunday. I got up at 4, ate, stretched and tried to prepare myself for the race. I was feeling more doubt than anything, wondering if I was really ready for this. I knew I had a plan, and if for some reason, things didn’t go as planned, I would still try to do what I could to make it through the race.

I drove to Belden Village to wait for the buses. Unfortunately when I go there the lines were out of control, so we waited, and waited, and by the time we got to the start line, it was already after 7am. Luckily the race was delayed due to the large amount of people who were still waiting for buses. But I couldn’t help but feel that I wasn’t ready, and now feeling rushed.

The race started and we had a bit of an incline, but I used it as a reminder to go out slow. I eventually found an open spot and tried to settle into my pace. I hovered right around a 9:20 pace and felt ok so far. No shin pain, no knee pain. So I told myself to lock it down and just get comfortable.

I zoned in on my pace and thought about my race plan. As long as I felt good as this pace, I wasn’t going to change it. We made our way through city streets, and before the second mile I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned to see Christy, we talked for a moment, and then she was off to continue the marathon. I noticed my pace had quickened, so I tried to reel it back in, focusing on not getting ahead of myself.

Mile 1- 9:21

Miles 2-3 took us through downtown Canton. I actually enjoyed running through the city streets with no traffic and very little spectators. It was refreshing and reminded me of early summer runs while the rest of the world is still sleeping.

Mile 2- 9:04

Mile 3- 9:14

I also knew that we were on the longest street of the course. Market took us all the way to about 4.5 miles in. There were a few rollers, but nothing too terrible. I honestly wondered if the “hills” were just slight inclines that had been over exaggerated. I was still feeling pretty good, despite a bit of head wine, and was still averaging a decent pace to be around 2:02.

Mile 4- 9:28

I took my first Sport Bean at mile 5 and really started to zone out. The course was relatively flat still, and I was actually becoming a bit bored. But then I saw Christy again, and was a little concerned as to how I was able to catch up with her. I saw she was limping, and ran up to her to ask if she was ok. We ran together for a few seconds and then I backed down on my pace. I kept Christy in sight and kept chugging along without going too quick.

Mile 5- 9:23

Mile 6- 9:20

Somewhere around mile 6 I lost sight of Christy, so I kept going, hitting the 10k mark at 58:xx. Feeling good, I zoned out again, trying to focus on keeping my current pace until mile 8 or 9. Then all of a sudden Christy was next to me again. Over the next two miles we didn’t speak, we just ran. We got into a nice rhythm, and even though we were pushing the pace a bit, I felt comfortable.

Mile 7- 9:09

Mile 8- 9:17

After we got to mile 8, I decided to hold onto 9:20 pace for another mile. But unfortunately the hills arrived and they had other plans. Sometime up the first hill and the water stop, I lost Christy. I slowed down a bit, hoping we’d meet up again, but I never found her. So I focused on the hills, repeating to myself that hills were friends, not enemies, I had conquered Effie, I could do any hill.

Mile 9- 9:59

I made it through, but my pace suffered. I continued along, still hoping I’d see Christy, and took my second Sport Bean at mile 9.5. Despite how my legs and hips were starting to feel, this was probably one of my favorite parts of the race. We ran through Stadium Park, and it was beautiful. I wanted to stop and take pictures, but knew I’d never get going again.

I started to get a little warm around this point, and a bit fatigued. I started to count down the miles, noticing my pace wasn’t getting any faster.

At the end of mile 10, we came up a short but steep hill and were met with a view of the McKinley Museum. It was a beautiful view, and gave me a bit of motivation to keep going. But the next two miles were brutal. A continuous incline, my hips were in pain and my legs felt like they couldn’t go any faster. I started to walk some of the bigger hills, pushing myself on the smaller ones. I knew that 2:02 was officially out of sight, but maybe a 2:05 was possible.

Mile 10- 9:25

Mile 11- 10:10

Mile 12- 10:52

The last mile was tough, it was windy and hilly, and my legs were finished. I was ready to be done, but the course just never seemed to end. We passed Fawcett Stadium and did a loop around the Hall of Fame. By now, you could see the look of exhaustion on everyone’s face. After so many turns, I could finally see the entrance to the stadium.

Mile 13- 10:14

Once I entered the side, I heard my name over the speakers. I tried to give it everything I had, but my legs had nothing left to give. I crossed the 50 yard line to the finish of my 21st half marathon with a time of 2:07:03.

50 yard finish

50 yard finish

I got my medal and my blanket and took a seat on the field. I felt a bit weak, thinking that I didn’t eat enough Sport Beans during my race. I sat around for a while, until I heard Christy’s name called. Heartbroken, I knew she had dropped to the half instead of working towards her marathon, but I was proud that she had played it safe and made the right call. I met her at the finish and was glad to see that she was in good spirits.

Fawcett Stadium

Fawcett Stadium

After that, I headed home and really reflected on the race. Even though my splits weren’t perfect, I was on a pretty good pace to end up around 2:02 through mile 8. But just as I suspected, the hills got the best of me, and oddly enough I ended up right between my back up time of 2:06-2:08.

After 21 half marathons, I think I finally have them figured out. I tested a 14 week training cycle, and it worked out really well. I knew what pace I could comfortably handle, and where I would land if I had some trouble with hills. I truly wasn’t sure what to expect, mostly because I was nervous about the what ifs. All year I’ve been nervous to race again, nervous to get back out there. I’m still a bit disappointed with my Wineglass race, but after Sunday’s race, I was finally excited to race again, finally feeling like myself. I think I’m ready to push myself again.

 All in all, this was a great race. The bus situation was a bit stressful, but in due time, I’m sure those kinks will get worked out. Other than that, everything else was very well run, considering they’re only in their second year. The course, while full of some small rollers, has some tough hills in the second half. I didn’t do enough hill workouts, but if you prepare properly, they should be pretty manageable. And the best part of the race? Not only do you get a tech tee and medal, but you also score a really nice fleece blanket.

Race swag!

Race swag!

So my first big race is done for the year. It was one of my strongest training cycles, and one of my stronger half marathons.  I’m excited to see what else this year has for me. On to the next!

 

#21

#21

Results:

Official Time: 2:07:03

AG 25-29: 42/119

Female: 295/993

Overall: 699/1705

River Run Half Marathon Recap

Sunday I ran the River Run Half Marathon for the third time. I ran it in 2011 and 2012, my second and eighth half marathon. This year would be my third time running it, and ever so slightly monumental, my 20th half marathon. I couldn’t help but be excited, considering I knew the course by heart and I was hoping for a little redemption from the Wooster Half.

I woke up at 5am Sunday morning, got ready and was out the door by 6:45. I decided to park at the start because it was closer by about 15-20 minutes. The views on the drive up were absolutely beautiful and I wish I could have taken some more pictures. Just imagine, back roads, old farms, sun rising and major spots of fog.

Beautiful start to race day!

Beautiful start to race day!

Anyway, I got to the start and was able to find a close parking spot. I got in line for the rest room and ran into a few MCRR members. We chatted for a bit, went off on our own ways and pretty soon we were ready to start.

Matchy-matchy, ready to go!

Matchy-matchy, ready to go!

Going in, I knew I wanted to finish better than Wooster, which meant aiming for a 9:30 or under pace and no bathroom stops. I started off at a good pace, weaving in and out of the crowds to find a comfortable pace. I settled into a 9:20 pace and made sure I’d have enough energy to last me the entire race. My legs felt fresh and I was in my comfort zone, running the parks I spent miles upon miles on my feet.

Within the first couple miles, I could feel my pace picking up. I made sure to keep it somewhat conservative, but I couldn’t help but be excited for how great I felt. During the second mile we passed the leaders as we made a loop in the nearby development. It was definitely a confidence booster to see so many people I knew.

Mile 1-9:10
Mile 2-8:56

Over the next couple of miles I could feel the downhill, which meant my pace was picking up. I kept bouncing between 8:35-8:50, but knew I couldn’t keep up the quicker pace. So I kept telling myself to dial it back, because I wasn’t sure how long I could keep this up. I I stuck with my normal fueling plan of taking water every mile, and a sport bean every 4 miles. So far, so good, and no stomach issues.

Mile 3-8:45
Mile 4-8:54

It was probably around mile 5 that I started to really focus on what my plan would be. I was well above my goal of 9:30, but I was also a little nervous that at any moment the adrenaline would wear off and I’d be on the struggle bus. I was still feeling strong, my legs were feeling good, and I was cruising down the course.

Mile 5-8:46
Mile 6-8:50

I could tell between mile 5 and 6, my pace was slowing just a bit, but by this point the crowd had spread out, and I was with the same group just making our way through the race. Typically I would take salt tab at mile 6, but this time I waited, curious to see if it was behind some stomach issues. I still kept an eye on my pace and at 6.3 miles, I was coming in at 53:xx, far better than I expected.

Mile 7-8:57
Mile 8-9:04

Just as I had expected, my legs started to slow down between mile 7 and 8. I took my second sport bean at mile 8 and could feel a small twinge in my hips with the little rollers on the course. I knew the hill was coming up around mile 9.5, so my goal was to give a little more until I hit the hill.

Mile 9-9:02
Mile 10-9:45

I made it about half way up the hill and my legs started to crumble. I took this as an opportunity to take my salt tab, which means I had a few moments to walk. Once I was settled I picked up my pace and focused on the fact that I had a 5k left. But just as I suspected, but stomach started to bother me, but luckily not enough that I would need to stop along the way. I made a mental note to revisit the salt tab on my last long run.

I could feel that I was starting to wear down and that I couldn’t get enough water, clearly an issue of taking my salt tab too late in the race. I took advantage of the water stop at mile 10 to fill up my hand help and continued on at a slower pace.

Some look of determination

Some look of determination

Mile 11-9:45
Mile 12-9:20

By this point in the race, I didn’t have the momentum I had earlier in the day. These last few miles were always the hardest on me, and mentally this was something that wasn’t going away. I counted down every half mile, just wanting to be done with the race.

I finally came up to the last water stop at mile 12 and made sure I stopped for water. I felt like I had just finished a 5k, I was so exhausted and run down. I mustered up what I had left and continued my way into the last mile. What felt like a half hour, I kept my eye close on my watch. At around 12.6, I was at 1:55 and knew there was a possibility I could hit sub 2 if I picked up the pace. I tried, but instead I felt a heavy pressure on the top of my stomach that just wouldn’t go away.

And so, following tradition, right before the 13 mile marker, I had to go to the side and clear my stomach. I stood there, hands on my knees for what felt like a long time. I knew I had to continue, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready. I finally was able to get going and got myself to the finish. I crossed the line of my 20th half marathon, with a time of 2:01:45.

Mile 13-10:50
Last .17-9:58 pace

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t break 2:00, but really it wasn’t my initial goal. The night before, I told Darren I wanted 2:02, and I got just that. If I hadn’t of thrown up, or stopped to walk while filling my water at stops I probably could have gotten it. But really, I’m excited about my time. My first River Run was completed in 2:21, my second in 2:08, and now 2:01.

All smiles

All smiles

Probably the best part of the race was the medal. As part of the Hermes Distance Journey, I received my medal for River Run, and the third for completing the 10 Miler earlier in the spring. It was an awesome concept, and I hope this is something that continues in the future.

Distance Challenge Bling

Distance Challenge Bling

And considering this is my third time running this race, I definitely have a soft spot for it. This has by far become one of my favorite races and no doubt my favorite fall half. I’d certainly recommend the race if you’re looking for a PR.

Half number 20!

Half number 20! 

Results

Official Time: 2:01:45

Age Group (25-29): 39/112

Female: 272/830

Overall: 684/1485

 

Heart & Sole Half Marathon Recap

Saturday I ran the Buehler’s Heart & Sole Half Marathon down in Wooster. I ran this race last year, so I knew what to expect from the course. I also ran the race with a pretty bad case of PF, which ended my Akron training, so knowing I had healthy legs, I was excited to see what I could do.

I had an early wake up call of 4am to make sure I was ready and out the door before 6am. The weather was absolutely perfect hovering between 49-50 degrees and the morning had every intention of being the perfect race.

Sunrise on the way to Wooster

Sunrise on the way to Wooster

I was on the road by 6am, headed down the back roads, and could feel the excitement of the race. Even with a long 45 minute drive, I can’t help but sign up for races in Wooster. After spending two years running almost every other weekend around town, I can’t help but have a sense of home when I go there.

I got in town and found a parking spot by 6:45 and made my way to the start line to get my bib, shirt and get in line for the bathrooms. I met up with some MCRR ladies before the start and was ready to go!

Lovely ladies of MCRR

Lovely ladies of MCRR

I lined up between the 2:05 and 2:10 pacer, knowing that I could probably keep up with the 2:05 pace, but the hills would slow me down a bit. Just as we were about to start, my Garmin turned off. I restarted it, but unfortunately lost between .10-.20 of the course, so none of my splits or mile marks were correct. So I decided to just run by how I felt and see where that led me.

The course was exactly the same as last year, so we made our way out of downtown from Market to Bowman to Christmas Run Park. We made our way through parts of the development and out to Oak Hill Drive. I was feeling pretty good and finding a pace I felt comfortable with. I took a sip of my water at every mile (marked on the road) and tried to keep a steady effort as we started with a gradual incline.

We had a couple of hills coming up soon, so I didn’t want to use up all my energy so quickly, but also wanted to get the hills over with. At about 2.5 miles in, we turned in the hilly development. We went up and turned and continued to go up some more. We were met with some flat ground at the third mile marker, but turned another corner to face more hill. Finally on the way out we have some decline, but it was at this point I needed to use the port-a-potty that was conveniently located by the water stop.

I got back on my way and felt better, knowing I was behind, I started to pick people off one by one as we made our way up Oak Hill. The incline was ever so slight, but surprisingly my legs were still feeling great. I took Sport Beans around mile 4 and continued past Oak Hill Park.

We turned onto Oldman Road and it was about this point that the first runners started coming back. I saw a lot of MCRR and Jess and Ryan, which was a great confidence booster. The road also had the only section of flat course, so my pace started to pick up to take advantage of it.

Next we turned onto 83 and headed to the park around the soccer fields. This was our half way point and we reached 6 miles just as we headed into the park. I took some water, a salt tab and Honey Stinger Chews. I was still feeling pretty good and was navigating the rolling hills of the park pretty well. We were almost on our way out of the park, and that’s when I started to feel sick. I had almost a mile until the next water stop and port-a-potty, but luckily we were on our way back. I stopped for a bathroom break and then got back on the road.

I felt better and continued along. Most of the course would be downhill now, with the exception of the hilly development. I tried to pick up my pace and make up for lost time. Despite the hills and the stop and starts, my legs weren’t tired, which I knew would be good for the upcoming hills.

I made my way around the development, which was without a doubt harder the second time. Last year I walked a bunch, but this year I kept it steady, even if I had slowed down by some. I started to pick up speed in the final downhill of the development and made a last minute stop at the port-a-potty, more of fear for “what if”. After a waste of a stop, I was back on the road with 2.5 miles left. It was here that I started to beat myself up for the time I wasted.

I kept my pace steady, picking it up ever so slightly. I was frustrated that my legs felt so great, yet my stomach, and partially my head got in the way of my race. As we made our way back towards downtown, I took advantage of all the downhill I could. In the last mile I really tired to pick up my pace and wanted to give it all I had. With my Garmin not matching up, I really had no idea what time I’d come in. I rounded the last corner and started the finish down. I kicked in my finish and gave the last quarter mile everything that was left in me.

I crossed the line at 2:08:16. My 4th fastest half. And three minutes faster than last year.

Overall, I love this race. Both times I’ve run it, I haven’t run my best, but I still keep coming back. Wooster is hilly, and the development is the absolute hardest part of the course.

Just keep going up (2013 Elevation, same course as this year)

Just keep going up (2013 Elevation, same course as this year)

However, the course is clean, it’s well marked, and the support has been great. I also may be a little biased because I have an absolute love for Wooster. Even though I didn’t have my best race, I was impressed with how great my legs felt on course. It may not have been my day, but Saturday was a great way to see how far I’ve come this year with my training. As long as I’m available, I plan to be back at this race again next year.

Half number 19

Half number 19

Results

Official Time: 2:08:16

Age Group 20-29: 15/21

Female: 64/105

Overall: 176/233

Columbia Station Half Marathon Recap

Sunday I ran the Columbia Station Half Marathon. I had my eye on this race over the past couple years, but never had the chance to run it. Well, I finally did, and it was quite the experience. The race started at 8am, and was relatively close so I didn’t have to drive far, but by the time I got there, it was already starting to get a little too warm for my liking.

There was a small turnout, and the start had both the half marathon runners and the half marathon skaters. We lined up, had a quick talk about the race and then we were off. The first two miles I was focusing on find a good pace. I knew it was much hotter than it had been, so I had to go slower than normal. I decided to stick between a 9:30-9:40 pace, hoping that I wouldn’t be pushing myself too hard later on in the race.

We made our way on West River Road and had a few rolling hills. There was some shade, so I tried to take advantage of it the best I could. Still early in the race, the group was close together, but somewhat spread out. I wasn’t familiar with this area so the views helped to distract me from the heat.

Mile 1-9:24
Mile 2-9:41

We hit our first water stop after mile 2 and I passed on filling up. I still had plenty of water and wasn’t too thirsty yet. I did take a salt tab though, because I knew that staying hydrated would be key.

I was still feeling pretty good, but I was starting to warm up. By mile three we had turned on a few other country roads, I really had no idea where I was, but luckily the course was well marked. Runners were starting to spread out by this point, but I had a few behind me, and a few ahead of me. I was running alone, but at least had people in sight.

By mile 4 the heat was starting to rise and shade was hard to find. I kept drinking water and poured some on my back and head. Luckily a few kids were out with squirt guns, which at this point felt amazing!

Water stops were spread out nicely, every mile and a half to two miles depending on if they had enough space next to the road. I stopped at mile 4 to fill up and took some sport beans to re-energize. I didn’t lose too much time and felt like I was right on track.

Mile 3-9:37
Mile 4-9:34

I was still feeling ok, but with a few rolling hills, but legs started to become a little tired.  I knew this past week was a lot for my legs and I started to worry it was too much. I was still drinking water at every mile, but I started to drink it every half mile too.

I came up to another water stop at mile 6 and stopped for a bit. I refilled my water bottle, stretched, took some Gatorade and a salt tab. I could feel myself start to wear down, but made a new focus of getting to mile 7.5, the point where I would reach 100 miles for the month of June.

Mile 5-9:41
Mile 6-11:08

I kept chugging away, but I could tell the others around me were starting to slow as well. Shade was no longer an option, and the sun was starting to beat down bad. We made our way through a neighborhood and then back onto the country roads.

I made it to mile 7.5 and had a small celebratory moment, it was enough to keep me going until mile 8 were I walked for a short moment to eat some sport beans, stretch and re-focus on my pace. By this point I was starting to wear down a lot, and I couldn’t get enough water. I may have even questioned why I was running a few times because I felt like I was moving in slow motion.

Mile 7-10:30
Mile 8-10:13

Right before mile 9 we had another water stop. I refilled my bottle again and stretched a bit. I was now into a run/jog/shuffle/walk mode. I started to count down the miles, but they weren’t going quick enough. We also started to pick up more rolling hills which sucked the energy right out of me.

Luckily with the water stop, I was able to regroup with about 5 other runners. Our paces varied and some of us would walk the steeper hills, while others would run, but it was nice to have at least one other person within 10 feet of me.

We hit mile 10 right before a big decline, and it was nice to have some momentum, however, what goes down, must come up. We turned back onto West River, and were greeted with multiple hills.

Mile 9-11:59
Mile 10-11:04

By this point, I was just focused on getting myself to the finish line. The heat was getting to me a lot more than before, and I was starting to feel miserable. We continued on the rolling hills, walking the uphill and taking advantage of the down hill. My energy level was extremely low, so I took more sport beans hoping that would help.

I continued along and stopped at the last water stop. I refilled my bottle again, and dumped a bunch of water on me to cool down. By this point, I was drenched in water and sweat and looking like a hot mess. I knew I was going to make it to the finish, it was just a matter of how quickly I could get there, and by this point, quick was the opposite of what I was doing.

Mile 11-11:33
Mile 12-12:06

We made it to the last mile and all I could think about was the finish. I kept going, but would slow down for the last of the hills. It wasn’t until the last 500 feet that I saw the finish was uphill. I knew I wouldn’t be able to spring it, so I took whatever energy I had left and gave it my all.

Mile 13-11:56
Last .15-10:41 pace

I finished, grabbed my medals and headed straight to the car. I originally planned on running three more miles, but my stomach wasn’t going to let me. Overall this race was ok. The sun and heat was horrible, but I couldn’t control that. The last 8am start was a little rough, but that’s what you get for the end of June in Ohio. The water stops were great, and the sheriff’s department did a great job of constantly driving the course to make sure that all the runners were ok.

My performance had nothing to do with the race support, the heat hit me hard halfway through and I am not a heat runner at all, it tears me apart. My legs were also pretty tired from the week of running, so I was running on borrowed time. I’m glad I got to experience the race and complete half marathon number 18!

Half marathon number 18!

Half marathon number 18!

Official Results:

Time: 2:19:54

Age Group 25-29: 1/1

Female: 12/17

Overall: 32/43

Park 2 Park Half Marathon Recap

Sunday I ran the Park 2 Park Half Marathon, a race I’ve wanted to run for three years, but never had the day available. This race has had my eye for years because it goes through two of the parks I grew up running in. I used to run at each of these parks at least once a week, so I had a bit of home team advantage on race day. To make things easier, the race was only about 5-10 minutes from my parent’s house, so I was able to stay with them and get an extra hour of sleep.

I woke up at 5am, got ready, stretched and was out the door by 6:30. My nerves were out of control, but luckily they calmed down once everyone started to line up. The weather was just about perfect and I made the decision to stick with a 9:30 pace, and hopefully finished between 2:03-2:05, but wanted to aim for 2:04.

We started in French Creek Reservation, and most of the first mile was crushed gravel and dirt. I hadn’t run on the path for years, but as soon as we were off,  I wanted to turn off and run every trail around me. I started with a conservative pace, and focused on not going out too fast. We turned out of French Creek onto Colorado and made our way past the entrance for James Day Park. It instantly brought back memories of playing in the fields with my babysitter when I was just a small child, and really made me feel like I was at home on the course.

I made sure to drink water every mile to make sure I’d be hydrated by the time the temperature rose. We turned into what I’ve always called the “Mars” section of the park, really called the Steel Mill Trail, because it’s always so desolate and hot. The mounds of dirt and steel mill trash make for a less than exciting view. There was a huge chunk of runners around me, so it wasn’t too bad, but it seems to be never ending any time I run it.

Mile 1-9:38
Mile 2-9:13
Mile 3-9:26

We hit mile three right at the entrance to Day’s Dam and were greeted with a nice long, winding downhill. The paved path was about three miles with some winding and smaller rolling hills, including a few bridges. As I made my way through the park, I couldn’t help but smile, thinking back on all those runs that I did over the years on this exact path. I tried to take in the views and reflect on the past. I kept wanting to sneak off the path and run the trails along the Black River, but I knew I had to stay the course.

I took a sport  bean at mile 4 and still felt relatively good. My pace was right where I wanted it to be, and even though some miles were under 9:30, I knew I’d need the extra time with the two major hills on the course.

Halfway through this three mile section lies the giant bridge. It’s always been a bit bouncy, but this time, my legs felt like I was in a bounce house. To me, this was the hardest part of the race. My legs felt like jello, and I had to stare straight ahead or I’d be sick. I knew what to expect, but the bridges have definitely gotten worse over time.

We had a few other bridges, but they were much more shorter, and stable. Once we crossed the last bridge I knew we’d have a decent stretch of flat pavement before we got to the large hill and halfway point of the race. I was still with a group of about 5, but we started to spread out more. This was also about the time that I saw Ryan on his way back to the finish.
Mile 4-9:21
Mile 5-9:28

After we left the Bur Oak path, we went directly to the large hill. It was about a half mile of a semi steep gradual incline. I took it a little slower than my race pace, and hoped my legs were ready for it. The guy next to me mentioned that he was having trouble, but I mumbled something about the hill not being so bad and pushed my way passed him. We finally got to the top, and surprisingly I felt pretty good. The hill was a lot easier than what I remembered, and I felt that running trails the week before paid off for sure.

I got to the turn around point and took a salt tab, water and a sip of Gatorade. I wasn’t sure if I could stomach it, so I didn’t drink much, but it helped to fuel me toward the second half of the race. Next up was heading down the long hill we had just climbed and I tried to use it to my advantage as best as I could. But I also didn’t want to wear out my legs with about half of the race left.

On my way down, a woman told me I was in first place for my age group, so that was a nice surprise and gave a little extra pep to my step. After the hill we went back into Bur Oak. The entrance to Bur Oak is one of my favorites and looks beautiful in every season. I knew what I had in store for me, I just had to make sure my legs were on board.
Mile 6-9:37
Mile 7-9:26

I started to pick up speed a bit, and took advantage of the flat sections of the paved path. I was definitely off in my own little world, chugging along and feeling at peace with my running. I was still making decent time, and I hadn’t had any issues yet. I crossed the bridge again, this time by myself, and that seemed to help the bounce a little bit. But the bounce feeling stuck with my legs for another half mile and slowed me down a bit.

I took another sport bean at mile 9 and started taking water every half mile. The temperature was starting to heat up, and I didn’t want to become too dehydrated with a decent chunk of the race left.
Mile 8-9:20
Mile 9-9:31

As I got to the end of the path, I knew that the hill at the entrance of Day’s Dam was waiting for me. I had done hill repeats on that hill no less than 40 times growing up, so I knew what to expect, and I knew the point on the hill that it would start to hurt. I pushed all negative thoughts out of my head and went for it, telling myself that it was only a little bit more. I got to the top and knew that all those years of hill repeats had paid off, even if they were miserable while running them.

I reached the water stop at mile 10, walked for about 10 feet to catch my breath and dumped the water on my back. I knew I’d be entering the “Mars” territory next and I wanted to be ready.

The next half mile went by quick, but I was ready to be back in the shade. Everyone was pretty well spaced out at this point and I didn’t have anyone in front of me that I could see. I followed the path, hoping this section would be quick and tried to make my way to the last water stop as quick as I could.
Mile 10-9:52
Mile 11-9:32

I came around back to Colorado Avenue and knew I had just a little over a mile left. I grabbed water and dumped it on my back, and made my way back into French Creek Reservation.

The trail was a little bit harder to run on at this point because my legs were starting to get tired, but I knew if I just pushed through I’d be done shortly. I followed the path, checking out all the trails that were calling my name. They’d be a lot more fun that the giant switch back I had coming ahead. My pace really slowed down during this section and I felt weaker than I normally did, but I kept going knowing I was getting closer to the finish.

Without fail, at 12.75 I started to feel sick. I knew it was from the heat and the nerves of having my parent’s at the finish line. I sucked it up and kept my head up, repeating to myself that I wasn’t allowed to throw up. I finally made it out of the woods and kicked it as quick as I could towards the finish line.
Mile 12-9:31
Mile 13-10:17
Last .1-8:56 pace

Coming into the finish

Somehow, despite the few hills and my attempt at almost getting sick near the finish, I came in right at 2:04, exactly where I wanted to be. I don’t think I’ve ever run a race where I hit my goal time right on the nose. And not only was my time perfect, but this was my second best half marathon time!

I ended up with first in my age group (25-29), but honestly I don’t know how many there were in the age group. Results haven’t been posted, but it was a relatively small turnout.

Post race sweaty smiles

Post race sweaty smiles

I had an absolutely great time running this race, but I think it’s mostly due to the fact that I was on home turf. I benefited greatly knowing every hill, turn, and type of terrain we’d be running on. I am so glad I was finally able to make this race, and plan on running it every  year I can make it.

Half marathon number 17!

Half marathon number 17!

Post race I talked with Ryan and Jess for a bit before I went out for a few impromptu miles. Since I had the chance I ran a few trails, all of which I somehow remembered from memory. It felt great to just get out there and zone out, enjoying a few miles by myself. I only went out for two miles, but it was good enough to put me at 15 for the day!

These old trails...

These old trails…

All in all it was a great day and the perfect finish to week two of marathon training.

 

*Official Results added after post published.

Time: 2:04:54

Age Group 25-29: 1/3

Female: 6/18

Overall: 22/39

Medina Half Marathon Recap

I wasn’t sure how to begin this recap. I spent 16 weeks training for Saturday, and a whole year counting down for the day to arrive. But after just 6 miles, my whole race fell apart, and it was as though all of that training was for nothing.

The week leading up to Medina wasn’t a normal week for me. My legs were still tired from Cleveland, I had the brilliant idea of starting a run streak during taper, I experimented with morning runs, and I ran hard 400s the Tuesday before a Saturday race. That right there was enough to know I was in for a troublesome race.

Saturday morning I woke up at 5, got ready and ate some breakfast before heading down to the square. I took a moment to reflect on my training, read last year’s recap, and think of those who helped along the way with Team JDRF. I wasn’t nervous, I was ready to run, I was excited to run what I had spent the last 112 days training for.

I found great parking in a near empty lot right off the square with about 5 port-a-pottys just about to myself. I made a quick stop, headed up to the square and made sure to take in the moment before taking my place in line. I saw many familiar faces of MCRR and we all wished each other good luck. I hopped in between the 2:00 and 2:10 pace groups, put in one ear bud and was ready to go.

The calm before the race

The calm before the race

We were off and I quickly got myself up next to the 2:00 pacers. I knew the first three miles would be the easiest and I wanted to take advantage of them. I tried to keep my pace as comfortable as possible, but I also didn’t want to pass the pacers. A lot of people were going out quickly and there was no clear group of people sticking with us yet.

We made our way away from the square and out towards some of the housing developments. It was all so familiar after running the course runs I was able to focus more on my breathing than running. We passed a few groups cheering and so far the temperature wasn’t too bad. Our pace was a little quick, but I knew we’d slow down once we made it to the first hill.

Mile 1- 8:47
Mile 2-9:06

Out of the developments, we made our way on Reagan. With the rolling hills, I tried to use the momentum from the downhill to push myself up, and not focus on how much effort I was using. I was still keeping a steady pace with the pacers, and while others spent time talking and joking around, I kept my silence and focused on the run.

We made our way on Granger and I looked forward to a bit of shade.  It was starting to warm up a bit, but not too much where I was uncomfortable yet. About 3.5 miles in we turned towards Lake Medina, and I mentally prepared myself for the small hill up towards the lake. My pace was still quick, and definitely a lot quicker than I had normally run around the lake. I tried to keep my focus and let the pacers lead me through instead of worrying about the run. The slight breeze over the lake helped to keep us cool and the views were gorgeous. I easily could have stayed there for an hour to sit back and relax.

Halfway through the lake, we made our way back down on the grass and out to the parking lot. I knew that the giant hill was coming and told myself not to worry, just take it a step at a time.
Mile 3-9:00
Mile 4-9:05

As I made my way up on the hill I started to fade back from the pacers. I wasn’t too concerned because this hill was tough. I tried to take advantage of the slight downhill afterward, but it wasn’t quite enough to get me back on their pace. I was ok with that, I wasn’t trying to break 2 today. So I kept a bit behind them and tried not to let the gap get too large. I could feel my body start to get a little tight from the hill and the slight inclines that followed, but knew that around the 10k mark I’d had a bit of relief.

I kept going, keeping the pacers slightly in front of me, every so calmly keeping an eye on my pace. I had been drinking sips of water after every mile, but it was around this point that I realized I had never taken my sport bean at mile 4. Now feeling a little tired, it made sense. I hurried up and fueled, hoping I’d feel better shortly.
Mile 5-9:14
Mile 6-9:33

Leaving the development, we started on Smith.  Having run these roads so many times last year, I knew the route like the back of my hand and that I’d be in for some decent shade within the next mile. But right before mile 7, I stopped to stretch. My hips were getting tight and I knew I had some more inclines that would need somewhat of fresh legs to tackle.

As I stood back up, a gentleman passing me asked if I felt ok. I was getting hot and tired, slightly faint, but overall, I didn’t feel horrible, just not myself. But I suppose I looked worse than I felt. I continued on my way and ran down the biggest decline of the race. We were in full sun now, and for the first time in a long time, I walked the water stop.

I started to run again, but I was starting to struggle. I slowed down a bit, hoping that maybe going out too quick was catching up with me. I knew these next few miles would be tough. Every time I ran the course, I mentally blocked myself from running as well as I could. Knowing we were over half way done, I started to countdown the miles, hoping they’d go by quick.

We made our way towards Sturbridge and I finally reached a breaking point. I started to walk. My legs were screaming and I was so tired that I just didn’t want to go any further. So I stretched and decided I’d run a half mile, then walk a tenth of mile, just until my body felt back to normal.
Mile 7-9:49
Mile 8-11:10

Still counting down the miles, I continued my plan of walking/running. I walked the water stops as well, trying to soak up as much hydration as I could. There were many times that I wanted to text Darren and tell  him I was done, to come pick me up on the course, but I thought of Team JDRF, and I knew I’d do whatever I could to cross that finish line.

Once I hit the 10 mile mark, I knew I had a 5k left, a very long 5k. The temperature was getting hotter and I was getting warmer. I took a sport bean hoping it would help, and starting drink water about every quarter mile. I continued my walk/jog, disappointed in myself that I had to walk, but I couldn’t keep up enough energy to run.

Knowing I had saved time in the first 6 miles, I knew I wasn’t too far behind where I wanted to end up. But just as I was trying to do math, the 2:10 pace group showed up next to me. I stayed with them until I found a port-a-potty. I stood in line for a good 3-4 minutes, second guessing if I really needed to use it. I was in and out as quick as I could, but I know that it added time onto my race.

Mile 9-11:19
Mile 10-14:52 (Bathroom stop)

With two miles to go, I knew I was falling way behind any goal time. I started questioning myself, only two weeks ago I was running a sub 2 half, and now I’d be lucky if I made it in under 2:20. I also started to feel sick, and started to worry if I’d spend the last part of my run throwing up again.

Turning on Oak to West Park, I was on roads I hadn’t run much, and they seemed to go on forever. I was getting closer and I could feel that every time I ran my pace was good, but I just couldn’t hold it without being in pain. By this point, everything hurt. My feet and legs were toast and I wondered how I’d ran those first six miles so perfectly.
Mile 11-11:47
Mile 12-11:41

The last mile was tough. I started to become anxious knowing I was getting so close. I made my way down the bricks and thought of last year, how happy I was finishing with Melissa, and this year, how I was letting my personal cheering section down.

As I approached the square I started to feel sick again, this time from nerves. I tried to pick up my speed but it didn’t help, instead I ended up on the side of the course coughing and gagging. A gentleman asked if I was ok, and helped me get back on course.

I moved as slow as I could with tears in my eyes. My race that I spent so much time and miles training for was finally over.
Mile 13-11:38
Last .12-13:25

Almost finished

Almost finished

After I finished, I grabbed my medal and met up with Darren, his cousin and my mom. The first thing I did was apologize. I felt so bad they came out to watch me, and I failed, miserably. We took some time for me to stretch, listen to awards and then walked the Farmers Market. I finally felt a little better, but I was still struggling with the heat.

This race was definitely a tale of two halves. The first half was amazing and I was running exactly where I wanted to be. But the second half, I fell apart. I know I have no one to blame but myself, and I’m still disappointed in how I ran the second part of the course. But know that I’ve had time to dwell on it, I know it was a combination of things that really led to my destruction. My legs were toast and my feet were sore as can be. I pushed my legs too hard in the week before, and my shoes were on their last miles. Even though I carried water, the heat and my lack of properly fueling led me to wear down way to early.

 

Half number 16

Half Marathon #16, by far my favorite medal

The course, the support, the volunteers, everything else was amazing. I absolutely love this race and I know it will be in my race schedule for years to come. And although I had a bad race, I know so many who had amazing races. Everything I did wrong was all on me, and sometimes we just have bad races. Not every race will be perfect, so I need to let go, move on, and prepare myself for the next one.

 

Race swag

Race swag

Results

Time: 2:18:37

AG 25-29: 31/69

Female: 271/581

Overall: 546/942

 

*Registration is already open for the 2015 Medina Half Marathon. With the current cost at just $45, I’d definitely recommend signing up for it now. I’ll see you out there!

 

Cleveland Half Marathon Recap

Running is all about the numbers. Distance, time, splits, mileage, pace, they all mean something. But one number stands out, a milestone, a goal, a number to crush. After 3 years and 15 half marathons, I finally met my goal. On Sunday, at the Cleveland Half Marathon, I finally ran a sub 2:00 half marathon.

After I ran the Medina Half course last weekend I had doubts about running sub 2. I had put in the miles, and I’d been faster in my races. But the Medina course had me second guessing everything I had done this year. So with the few days leading up to Cleveland, I decided my best shot at running sub 2 would be there. Inside I was bursting to tell everyone that I was going to give it my all on Sunday and hopefully see that little “1” on the front end of my finish time. But instead I kept it to myself, scared I was setting myself up for failure.

Friday after work I went to the expo, and quickly made it through with just a shirt and a few Sport Bean Recovery Beans. As I went down the last aisle, I ran into a familiar face, Coach Kara, my favorite high school coach, and pace coach for Cleveland Marathon. We spoke briefly, and I told her of my goal, hoping to get words of wisdom. She believed I could do it, and handed me two pace bands. If I stayed between the splits, I’d get it.

Goal range

Goal range

Sunday started at 3am for me. I already had everything laid out, so I ate an extra helping of breakfast, stretched, read my previous Cleveland race recaps, and may have shed a few tears. By 4:30, I was on the road and made it to Brunswick to meet up with Jeanne and her neighbor Laurie. By 5:15, we were on the road and making our way towards Cleveland. The drive was fairly easy and we avoided most of the traffic, but I couldn’t help but feel nervous the closer we got.

Accidental team neon green!

Accidental team neon green!

After we parked, we made our way to the bag drop and visited the port-a-pottys a few times to get rid of all last minute nerves. We lined up in corral C, mentioning the plan to possibly stay together, and hopefully get me in under 2. The gun went off and we walked toward the start until it was finally our time to run. This was it, I was going to give it everything I had in these next 13.1 miles no matter what.

The first mile, as always was congested, and we were dodging and weaving to find an open space in the crowd. We quickened our pace and tried to get to where we needed to be, instead of starting out too slow and playing catch up. I was a little nervous I was going out too fast, but I knew it was easier to slow down later than speed up when I was worn down.

Everything felt great, and I was keeping up with the pace pretty well. Jeanne was a little ahead of Laurie and I, but we had her in sight and I wasn’t too concerned about being left behind yet. I was taking sips of water after every mile, and by mile three, the crowd had started to thin out just enough that we weren’t running into each other anymore.

Mile 1-8:44
Mile 2-8:37
Mile 3-8:45

Laurie and I kept running together, checking our watches every quarter mile or so. We knew we were still ahead of pace, but I was feeling good, so we kept with it. I took a sport bean after mile 4 even though I felt I didn’t need it yet. It was around this point that I noticed I had pretty much zoned out on the race. The miles had ticked by quickly, but I hadn’t really been paying attention to them. I was so focused on staying ahead of pace that I blocked everything else out. It was a blessing really, I wasn’t analyzing every second of the race, instead I was just there, running it.

Mile 4-8:42
Mile 5-8:32

By mile 5, I started to wonder what exactly I was doing. My pace had been under 9 for the entire race, yet my legs were feeling great, and I felt oddly comfortable. It was a surreal feeling, but knew that it could change at any mile. As we checked our pace, I mentioned that I’d rather have a little extra time, than cut it down to the wire at the finish. So we would keep going until we needed to slow down.

We were approaching the 10k mark, and I saw Sarah out of the corner of my eye. I yelled hello, and waved, and went on my way to the 10k mark, hitting it at 55 minutes. We continued on our way, half of the race behind us, hoping my legs could keep up for the second half of the race. Any while my splits were still sub 9, I was completely surprised at the times I was hitting. I was well ahead of my normal pace, and still 4 minutes under the 2 hour mark splits on my pace band. We caught up with Jeanne, but after about a mile together she veered off towards a port-a-potty. I was nervous to be left alone, but Laurie stayed with me, and kept me on pace.

I took another sport bean at mile 8 and noticed my hips had a small twinge. They were starting to get sore, but I tried to block it out. I couldn’t let anything get it my head. Eight miles down, five to go, the countdown was on.

Mile 7-8:41
Mile 8-8:35

I was finally back into familiar territory in this part of the race. I enjoyed the moments of shade and tried to keep my pace consistent. I couldn’t help but think back to the Hermes 10 Miler and the Flap Jack 15k, I had done great until the end, and hoped that my body wouldn’t start to shut down by mile 10. I hadn’t pushed myself this hard in a race of this distance before, I was starting to enter the unknown and I had no idea how my body would react.

That thought left my mind as I saw Elayna and Marissa on the side of the course between mile 9 and 10. I was beyond excited to see them, and was quickly overcome with emotion. I started to cheer up and before I knew it, I was running over to see them. I attempted a weird side hug, but my legs steered me back on course. Not even a minute later, my emotions got the best of me and I started coughing and gagging. I couldn’t throw up, not with so much left in the race. I did whatever I could to get back into a normal pace, and about a half mile later, I was finally good again.

It took a while, but I was back on pace. At this point, my hips started to ache more and I was concerned as we approached the last two miles. I knew there was some incline, but my legs weren’t ready for it. I tried to focus on my watch, telling myself that I’d come so far, I couldn’t let the last few miles break me down.

On a mission

On a mission

Mile 9-8:44
Mile 10-8:53
Mile 11-8:48

The next two miles were hard. For the first time all race my pace was over 9 minutes, and by a lot. The combination of the inclines, my sore hips, and running a pace I wasn’t used to for 11 miles hit me hard. I mentally started to break down, questioning if I could do it. Every time I reached the top of the hill, I’d see another. Laurie helped to push me along, and it helped me more than she could ever know. I didn’t want to give up, but it was hard. So I kept telling myself, I’m going to do it, I’m going to break 2. I had to do whatever I could to keep the momentum up.

As we reached the last hill, I could feel my pace start to pick up, and after two incredibly hard miles, I finally felt confident about breaking 2. I had worked so hard for the first eleven miles, I wasn’t going to let the last two get to me.

Mile 12-9:48
Mile 13-9:31

I took advantage of the decline and the straightaway as much as I could. The crowds were getting louder, and I could feel the city pulling me in. Knowing the course showed up long on my watch, I kept staring down to see what I hit when it turned over to 13.1. When 1:55 was on my watch, I couldn’t believe it. I had never seen those numbers together, and honestly never thought I would. I couldn’t help but smile.

I started to pick up my pace, knowing I was so close to the finish, yet I still wasn’t done. I started to fade and veered off to the right of the crowd. I didn’t feel myself, and couldn’t control what would happen next. Instead of running towards the finish with a smile on my face and hands up in the air, I was throwing up, over and over as I made my way to the finish until I finally got there.

Don't puke, don't puke!

Don’t puke, don’t puke!

Last .3-9:06

I got sick again, but I was finally able to walk it off. I grabbed my medal, met up with Laurie, and finally looked at my watch. 1:58:00. I had done it. I broke 2 and ran a 7 minute, 55 second PR. And I had left everything I had on the course while doing it.

Happy as can be!

Happy as can be!

We found Jeanne and got a group picture before grabbing food and taking a seat in the sun. And although I was excited, it hadn’t quite hit me yet. But I soaked in the moment as much as I could. After a while we made our way back to gear check, then the car, and we were back on the road towards home. I made sure to stop at Panera on my way home to grab a cinnamon roll that would be my reward for making it through another long run. It wasn’t until I pulled in the garage and turned off my car, that everything hit me, and I finally cried tears of joy.

I couldn’t have asked for a better day on Sunday. The weather was perfect, the course was greatly improved and for most of the race, my run felt effortless. I didn’t know what I’d feel the first time I broke 2, or when it would happen, but I’m glad that I did it at the race that started it all.

I can’t help but admit that there is a feeling of what now. This number that I held up with so much admiration and fear is no longer there, a feeling of being a little lost. I don’t know if I’ll break 2 again, or if it was a one time thing. But one thing is for certain, I’ll never forget the day I finally broke 2 hours.

Race swag

Race swag

Official Results:

Garmin Time: 1:58:00

Age Group 25-29: 148/726

Gender: 652/3589

Overall: 1752/6113

Medina Half Training: Week Twelve

Well, here we are, one month left of training! I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone by, pretty soon race day will be here. It’s usually this time of training that I start to become sad that all the work and miles will be coming to an end soon. Four months of training, and hopefully it will lead to a sub 2 half marathon.

Monday started off the week with the usual way, Body Fusion class. We used kettle bells for our weights this time, and I upped my weight yet again. I surprisingly felt pretty comfortable with the higher weight and got a great workout in.

Tuesday I went for an easy run, but my legs were still feeling pretty tight from the hard runs over the weekend and some heavy legs lifts on Monday night. I took to some trails, but even then my legs felt like lead. Fortunately I did get some speed work in when a cyclist and runner came up behind me and scared me. I think the only positive from this run was the views of the sun going down before the storm.

Calm before the storm

Calm before the storm

Wednesday night I was busy, but was thankful for an extra day to make sure my legs were ready for the weekend. Thursday I did an easy run, that actually felt easy compared to Tuesday’s run. I kept it light, and actually had to slow myself down so I wouldn’t use all my energy. I even found a fun little library along the way. I almost stopped to check out the books, but knew I wouldn’t be able to carry them home.

Free books!

Free books!

Friday and Saturday were big days for me. Friday night I ran a local 5k in town that supported Medina schools. Even though we don’t in the Medina school district (go Bucks!), I still wanted to see how my legs would do at a 5k when they were well rested. I’ll have my recap later on this week.

Saturday I ran the Jack & Jill 15k. Originally I wanted to run it to get the miles in. But the race ended up to be more of a trial run of race pace when my legs were tired. I’ll have more on this race too later this week.

Overall this week went really well. I had originally planned to do a much longer run over the weekend, but that plan changed by mile 8 of the 15k. But it’s ok, because I still have this weekend to get my longest long run in before I run the Cleveland Half and begin to taper. It’s hard to believe that there’s less than a month!

Monday: Body Fusion Class – 30 minutes of lifting/abs/squats & 30 minutes of yoga

Tuesday: 3 Miles

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: 3 Miles

Friday: Run.4.Fun 5k

Saturday: Flap Jack & Jill 15k + 1 Mile

Sunday: Off

Total Miles: 19.5 Miles

With one month left to go, let’s recap on how training has been going.

Mileage: 80 miles in 4 weeks, 196 miles total. Mileage was definitely more consistent these past four weeks and I’m sure it helped that all long runs were in the double digits. Long runs have begun to feel easier, I’m pushing harder, and now it’s about fueling properly and working on pace.

Diet: It’s still a work in progress, but I’ve managed to stay pretty healthy. I’m still figuring out what works and what doesn’t, but I’m in a much better place than where I started. I’ve also gained between 3-4 pounds since February, which I assume is hopefully muscle.

Workouts: I definitely improved on hitting the workouts I needed these past four weeks, but I’m still missing on my speed workouts. Luckily I’ve been able to throw in some 5k’s and hills as mini speed sessions to work on my turnover. Now I just have to work on cutting down splits and making sure I stay injury free until May 31st.

Overall: I’m really pleased with where my training is right now. Even though I run less often than others, and my weekly mileage isn’t too high, it’s what works for me and my body. My biggest goal is running a sub 2 half marathon, but I need to be healthy and injury free to get there.

I’m at a point with my running where I couldn’t be happier. These past four weeks have shown me just how strong I am, and what I’m capable of. I’m continuously on a runner’s high. This training cycle has been probably my best yet, and I don’t think I’ve felt this great about my running since college.

What’s your focus in the last four weeks of training? What’s your goal workout to prepare you for race day?