Coastal Delaware 9k Recap

Over the weekend, I ran my first race of the year. It was much shorter than I had originally planned, but I’m thankful I was able to run at all. It was exactly three months from my first day of absolutely horrible shin pain to the day I crossed the finish line in Dewey Beach, Delaware. Pain free, and wearing this biggest smile I’ve had in months.

Pre Race

When we planned this trip back in the winter, we decided we’d make the 8 hour drive. As it approached on Friday, it seemed a lot more daunting. We left Friday night after work, and made it about 3 hours before we decided to stop for the night. We picked up on Saturday morning, and made the rest of the drive through Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. Thankfully the packet pickup and expo didn’t start until 2:00pm, so we didn’t have to rush.

After a few stops for food, gas and outlet shopping, we made it to Dewey Beach. Packet pickup was held outside of The Starboard restaurant, and gave the event a bit more of a beach feel. Packets came with our bib, official race shirt and a custom Tervis cup.

Beach town packet pickup

Beach town packet pickup

Pick up your packet, head to the beach!

Pick up your packet, head to the beach!

From here we stopped at the beach, dropped our bags off at the hotel and went to find something to eat. We had been given recommendations to stop at The Lighthouse, but after stopping in, it wasn’t a place we wanted to test the day before a race. Instead, we crossed the street to the Rusty Rudder, and after a few turns down a few hallways, we found the pasta dinner and buffet that was set up for the race. The food was great and we had some amazing views of the sunset.

The views are ok...

The views are ok…

The only thing left for the night was to lay out our outfits and try to get some sleep!

Race Day

We woke up between 5:15am and 6:00am on race day. The marathon, half and 9k had different starting times, which was nice because I got to sleep in a few extra minutes. Michelle and Mo left early to catch the bus to the start, while Mallory and I took our time getting ready before heading outside to watch the marathoners run by. Luckily we were able to see Michelle and Mo run by before we headed down to the start for our own race.

Looking goo at mile 1!

Looking goo at mile 1!

The bus line was quick and fairly empty, and the ride last 5 minutes at most. We were dropped off at the start, and had plenty of time to use the porta potties, relax and get in line.

Not your typical Ohio start line

Not your typical Ohio start line

At almost exactly 8:00am, we were off. We didn’t really have a plan for the race, other than to take it easy and walk if we needed. I had hoped to stay under and hour, but wasn’t going to put too much pressure on myself.

The first mile we ran along the coastal highway from the watch tower to a little outside of Dewey Beach. We had some views of the water, but it was mostly filled with high grass and some houses. I felt pretty good, but noticed I had some tightness in my left calf. It eventually went away and didn’t bother me the rest of the race.

Strong start to the race

Strong start to the race

From here we continued on into town seeing more shops and restaurants, showing it’s true colors of a little beach town. We also noticed how flat the course was, almost too flat. Which, had we been in perfect shape, it would have been perfect for a PR. We also had a bit of a headwind, but with the sun out, it kept us cool and wasn’t too much of a bother.

Mile 1 – 10:23

Mile 2 – 10:29

We pulled off the Coastal Highway and now we were running down Silver Lake Drive. We were able to run next to Silver Lake, which was absolutely beautiful, and picked out a few houses we wouldn’t mind buying. We still felt good, and didn’t have a need to push it at this time. Runners were starting to spread out, but it was also starting to warm up a bit.

Halfway there!

Halfway there!

From here we turned into a housing development and ran through a few different streets. We had a bit of shade from time to time, but nothing too helpful. We didn’t see too many people outside, but noticed a lot of cars and furniture on the side of the streets.

Mile 3 – 10:32

Mile 4 – 10:20

We turned back onto the Coastal Highway and knew we were in the home stretch. I grabbed a water and took a few sips at the water stop around mile 4. It was starting to warm up and I didn’t want to be too dehydrated.

We ducked off the highway again and back into some more housing developments where we finally had a decent amount of shade. Then suddenly, the first place half marathoner passed us. He was the only one we saw, and wondered where everyone else had gone. (He ended up finishing in 1:20, 6 minutes ahead of second place).

Mile 5 – 10:20
Once we hit mile 5, I knew we only had about .6 left to go. We were out in full sun and all of the tan colored buildings looked the same. Finally we ran past our hotel and all that was left was a turn to the finish. I couldn’t help but get excited and had the biggest grin the whole way to the finish. I think I almost started to tear up a bit as well.

All smiles into the finish

All smiles into the finish

I was so excited to cross that finish line that I completely forgot to stop my watch, so I have no idea what my last split was. We grabbed our medals and water and headed to the beach. It was still relatively empty so we had plenty of room to spread out. Luckily they had a computer out where you could check your time, I finished at 58:33, meeting my goal of under 1 hour!

I ran the entire race without walking or stopping and I had no pain at all. Despite the fact that I was running a 10:27 pace, I could not be happier. A month ago, I had no idea if I’d be able to run, let alone run the entire race. I’m far from PR shape, but I’m running again and building myself back to where I used to be.

Finished!

Finished!

Medal and beach, all you need post race

Medal and beach, all you need post race

Overall, I think this was a great race. The packet pickup was easy and went fairly quickly. The race was very well run and according to Michelle and Mo, the full was the most beautiful race they’ve run. After the race, they had a huge party on the beach which included music and a full buffet of real food including chicken, pasta, salad, bread deserts and a few others. Plus, every runner was able to get three beers for free after the race.

I would highly recommend this race, especially since they did such a wonderful job and it was only their second year. The full and the half are a bit expensive, so signing up early is key. The 9k option was a lot cheaper, and almost an automatic PR for everyone since it’s not a common distance. If the drive wasn’t so far, I’d consider doing it again in the future.

IMG_0735

Results:

Official Time: 58:33 (First 9k, automatic PR)

Overall Place: 223/517

Female Overall: 142/375

AG 25-29: 16/27

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Wineglass Marathon Recap

For the past 18 weeks, my training was focused on one race, one goal, and one day that would mean everything to me. Settle in and get comfy, because the recap of Wineglass Marathon is going to be a long one…

First, let’s back up to why I chose Wineglass as my marathon. Growing up, my family took a few vacation trips to the Finger Lakes Region of New York. We’d spend a week traveling the area, visiting wineries, and spending time in cities like Watkins Glen, Corning, and Elmira. My favorite was always Corning, mostly because of our visits to the Corning Glass Museum. We’d spend a day watching the glass blowers make glass, tour the museum and dine at their cafe.

About two years ago, I saw that there was a half marathon that went from Bath to Corning, the Wineglass Half Marathon, and I knew I had to place it on my 25 Challenge list. After my training went poorly for Akron, I entertained the idea of running the full instead of the half for Wineglass, but never gave it too much thought. But during a Friday morning run with some MCRR members a few days before Christmas, my mind was set. A few mentioned they were thinking of running Wineglass, and suggested that I run it too. I went back and forth, wondering if I’d really want to train and run another full. A few weeks went on, a few more MCRR members registered for Wineglass, and on January 11th, I pulled the trigger and registered for the full.

And so he were are, fast forward 10 months, and I began marathon weekend all over again. Saturday morning we began our drive to Corning, NY. What was supposed to be a 4.5 hour drive, turned into a 6.5 hour drive. The closer we got to Corning, I started to remember the views, and the rivers and everything I missed about the area. Even though it was cold, and would remain cold the entire weekend, the views were absolutely amazing. The ridges were covered in trees ranging from green to orange to yellow to red, it was perfect fall weather, and made all those humid, early weekend runs worth it.

Packet pickup was at the Glass Museum and I was beyond excited to pick everything up. We got a long sleeve tech tee, reflective drawstring bag, a wineglass, and a small bottle of Champange from a local winery. Seriously, best swag bag ever! I made my way around the small expo, only picking up a tank top, shorts and a long sleeve thermal. Because the expo was at the museum, once you picked everything up, you could tour the shops and museum free of charge. We only had a short time, but all the memories of my childhood came back, making the already exciting day, that much more meaningful.

IMG_8562

After the expo, we stopped at our hotel, relaxed for a bit, then made our way to downtown Corning for dinner. On our way, we ran into Mo and Michelle, which was great to see familiar faces so far from home. We stopped at Market Street Brewing Company, which had wonderful food, perfect pasta to carb load the night before the race. We finished up, ran to Walmart for heavier throw away clothes, and then I got ready for bed.

Marathon eve...quiet on the streets

Marathon eve…quiet on the streets

With a late start of 8:15, I slept in until 5:30. Although I was in bed by 10, I woke up every half hour throughout the night, and had more than a few nightmares about the race, so starting out, I was already really tired. I got dressed, forced myself to eat more than I wanted, and tried to relax before the start. This year, it was mandatory for all runners to take busses to the start, so Darren dropped me off at the bus, and I waited in line about 10 minutes before taking the bus to Bath.

Race day sunrise

Race day sunrise

Throughout the half hour drive, my emotions were all over the place. I was nervous, excited, doubting myself, relaxed, and not really sure what to expect. As soon as we got off the bus, I waited in line for the bathrooms. It was chilly, right around 30 degrees, and everyone was huddled, waiting in line. Once I got out of line, we heard that the race would be delayed a bit because more busses were still on their way. I managed to find an entrance to a building, and huddled close with about 30 other runners. As the start got closer, I used the bathroom again, slowly took off my throwaway clothes, and made my way right between the 4:15 and 4:30 pace group.

The starting line was very crowded, and the pace groups were close together. I was hoping that once the race started they would spread out more. Instead, the pace groups started to speed ahead, and I saw the 4:30 group sprint ahead. Knowing I would be running my own pace, I wanted to stay between the two groups, so once I saw the 4:30 group pass me, I started to question my own pace.

Start line

Start line

I made my way through the first two miles, trying to find an even pace of around 10:00 minutes. I was a little fast, but so were all the pace groups. I know I shouldn’t have let it bother me, but it was certainly a mind game. Despite being cold, my legs felt good, I was starting to loosen up and I was feeling pretty confident.

Mile 1-9:49
Mile 2-9:57

I continued along at a pretty steady pace and took in the sites of Bath. I wanted to stick to a strict fueling plan, so at every mile I took some water, making sure to stay hydrated. I was still just under a 10:00 pace, and was trying to slow myself down.

Mile 3-9:52
Mile 4-9:53

We continued along and the group around me was staying together nicely. There were a few that would speed up, but for the most part, we were a nice little pack. I knew the first hill would be coming up around mile 5, so I tried to conserve some energy, but I just couldn’t slow down. At mile 4 I took my first sport beans, and planned on sticking with the same flavor the entire race.

As we approached the hill, I tried to slow down so I wouldn’t use too much energy early on. The hill was a little longer than I expected, but I made it through and didn’t feel too fatigued. My hips however were a little tight and wouldn’t let go once I got to the top. I moved over to the side of the road, hoping that running on the crushed ground would help a bit.

Mile 5-9:58
Mile 6-9:54

It was about this time that another runner appeared next to me, walking about 20 feet, then running 50 feet. She shuffled next to the cones, and kept running to pass people and then stopping right in front of them. I tried to get ahead of her, but she kept up her walk/run pace….for the next two miles! This wouldn’t have been a problem, but she kept stopping in front of people, which made for some frustrating miles.

Mile 7-9:58
Mile 8-10:03

We continued on, and I was still on pace. We made it to mile 8 and I took my second set of Sport Beans. I was feeling ok, but I noticed that my miles started to slow down at this point. My hip was finally back to normal, but I couldn’t help but worry that something would go wrong. I tried to take in the views to distract myself from thinking of the race. Some views were beautiful, with farmland and rolling hills, some not so much, like when we ran next to the highway. But still, I was thankful to be out there, knowing the views and the weather could be much worse.

Darren said he’d try to be around mile 9, so I tried to keep a lookout for him as we got closer. As we approached mile 9, I saw Darren and couldn’t help but get excited. I was still on pace, feeling pretty good, and was glad that he had made it out to watch me go by.

Right on pace!

Right on pace!

Mile 9-10:08
Mile 10-10:08

I made the turn and followed the road, continuing my way to mile 10. By this point, my bladder was starting to fill up, so I knew I’d need to stop soon. Once I got to mile 10, I stopped at the port-a-potty. With my 4:22 goal, I didn’t factor in bathroom stops, so I tried to keep track of the minutes. 2:00 minutes at the beginning of mile 11, I’d still be good with a 4:24.

I continued on my way, a little disappointed that I stopped, but knew that it was necessary. The weather was starting to warm up, but not too warm where I felt uncomfortable. Somewhere between mile 11 and 13 I started to hit my first wall. I knew that once I made it to the halfway point I’d be fine. I tried to push out any negative thoughts and continued on my way. During mile 12 I recognized a purple and orange shirt. I ran next to the woman, and she asked me if I was from Medina, Ohio. I told her yes, and instantly we remembered running with each other during the long run that Active runner hosted. We agreed that we were having a harder time than we thought, and we would push each other through.

Mile 11-12:01
Mile 12-10:12
Mile 13-11:21

We made it just past the halfway spot until I stopped at a water stop to refill my water. She went ahead and that was the last time I ran next to her. I was now in the mindset that I had less to run than I already have, and maybe my pace and time wouldn’t be too bad, I just had to keep up my current pace.

I got to mile 14 and saw Darren, let him know I was having a bit of a hard time, and he said I was doing good and he’d see me at the finish. It was enough motivation to keep me going, but deep down I knew I was starting to wear down. I started to enter a dark mile, I questioned if I could keep running, if I could finish, and how I was able to run my long runs so perfect, yet here I was struggling at mile 15. I’ll be honest, I wanted to quit, I didn’t want to be out there anymore. But I had come so far, I had worked so hard all year, I didn’t want to disappoint myself.

Mile 14-10:34
Mile 15-11:01

Approaching mile 16, I started to feel sick, I was a little light headed, worn down, and I had an odd  pressure just under my rib cage. I remember the pain, just like I had during the end of the River Run. I didn’t want to get sick this far from the finish, but knew that if I did, it was something I couldn’t control. Luckily, I got to the water stop, stopped for the bathroom and refueled on Sport Beans. I walked for a bit after the stop, hoping that everything would be back to normal. I started to feel better and continued on my way. I only had 10 miles left now, and I knew I had to make it through them.

Mile 16-14:35

The next couple of miles were a blur. I tried to envision running mile 17-20 at Buckeye Woods where I had such strong finishes. This was also around the time where I started to run/walk/shuffle. My body was breaking down and I wasn’t sure if I was more uncomfortable running or walking. I felt so stupid for walking, knowing that I’ve never needed to in my long runs, so why would I know. Again, the feeling of self doubt kept popping up, comparing my training runs to the race. I do remember that once I hit mile 19, a volunteer made me cry, she said, “You’ve made it to mile 19, you’re doing so good!” It was exactly what I needed to hear despite how bad I was feeling.

Mile 17-11:30
Mile 18-12:31
Mile 19-11:32

Once I hit mile 20, I started to countdown how much I had left. I focused on taking it mile by mile, running, walking or doing whatever I could to make it through. I think it was around this time that I stopped for a port-a-potty again, but by this point, I wasn’t keeping track of how many minutes I was losing. We were getting closer to the finish, and I could feel myself start to become more excited. Mile 21-22 we made our way through a park, and with the slightest downhill I started to have more energy. I didn’t want to push it too much, but I felt like I was doing better than before.

Mile 20-15:20
Mile 21-13:48
Mile 22-14:59

I continued drinking water at every mile, and now started every half mile or so. I was also trying to run at least ¾ of each mile and walk about ¼ of each mile. Again, my body was uncomfortable doing both, but as long as I kept moving forward I was ok. With four miles to go, I was at 4:22, the time I wanted to finish. It was heartbreaking, knowing how far I still had to go, but knowing that in this moment, my goal times weren’t in the cards. At this point, all I wanted to do was finish in one piece.

I started to break down again at mile 23, frustrated with how I was doing compared to my training, worried that I would be a complete failure. I also made a note to never let myself sign up for another marathon, that I wanted nothing to do with this distance again.

Mile 23-12:29
Mile 24-13:47
Mile 25-13:56

The last few miles, were really just pitiful. I watched the minutes go by as I continued on my way, hoping that the last mile marker would show up shortly. I watched my Garmin hit 5 hours and was devastated. I was well beyond my goal time, and gave up all hope in my race. Until I hit mile 26. We ran across the bridge into town and I knew it wouldn’t be much further until I would cross that line. For the first time in many miles, I knew I was actually going to finish this race. As I came off the bridge, I saw a few MCRR members to my right cheering me on. I started to tear up, knowing I had such great support even in my darkest times of running. A few feet later, I heard another cheer, my orange and purple shirt friend (so sorry, I don’t remember your name!) from Medina, and I was so happy to see she made it.

So close, yet so hard

So close, yet so hard

Mile 26-14:00

With the moments of encouragement, I started to pick up  my pace, as much as you can by that point, and turned onto Market. I could see the finish line down the road, now I just needed to make it. I put one foot in front of the other, pushing all negative thoughts out of my head. As I got closer, I told myself, that this was my race, my marathon, my day that I worked so hard towards. Naturally, I made myself cry. I heard someone come up behind me, and gave it everything I had. Tears in my eyes, a smile on my face, I finished the marathon feeling better than I had all morning.

Last .4-10:34 pace

Crossing that line...best feeling in the world

Crossing that line…best feeling in the world

I almost got sick after I crossed the line, so I got some water then went to get my medal. As the volunteer was putting on my medal, I cried again. I never wanted something so bad, and I had finally made it. I got in line for my finishers picture, and started to tear up again. But it wasn’t until I finally saw Darren that I let it all out, and I was a mess.

IMG_8577

18 weeks of training, 403 miles, numerous early morning Saturday runs…I finished my second marathon in 5:06:43, a 21 minute and 27 second PR.

It took me all week to think about Sunday morning, to really process what happened and how I feel. When I crossed that finish line, I promised myself I’d never run another marathon again. I didn’t enjoy it, and I was miserable for half of the race. But I was also disappointed in myself, in my legs, in my mind, for letting negative thoughts in, and keeping me from running to my full potential.In my heart, I know I can run faster than 5:06, but on Sunday, it just wasn’t my time.

Race swag

Race swag

I’m finally proud of my 5:06, it took a while, but I know I gave it everything I had on race day. I’ll get my 4:30, and when I do, I’ll officially retire from marathons…..

Cheers to 26.2!

Cheers to 26.2!

Official Results

Time: 5:06:43

Age Group 25-29: 131/166

Female: 911/1174

Overall: 1610/1962

 

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

Flap Jack & Jill 15k Recap

Saturday morning I woke up extra early, met up with Amy, and headed out to Peninsula for the Flap Jack & Jill 15k. I wasn’t really sure what to expect because I’d never run a 15k before, but since I had to get the miles in, I went for it. Originally my goal was to stay at 9:20 pace for the 15k and follow it up with an additional 3-5 miles at a much slower pace.

Amy and I made our way to the parking lot and didn’t realize how far we’d have to walk to get our bib and shirt. So naturally I left my water, iPod and sport beans in the car, thinking we’d have time to get them. Nope! By the time we picked up our shirt and used the port-a-pot, we didn’t have enough time to run the 3/4 mile to the car and the 3/4 mile back. So we decided to forget it, and met up with Jeanne instead.

We lined up and were ready to go. We were near the front so we were quickly pulled with the rest of the pack. After about a quarter of a mile people started to spread out, but we were still at a quick pace. I tried to take in the views since I’d never run that part of CVNP before.

We're off!

We’re off!

The course was relatively flat and easy on the legs. Still going at a faster speed that I was ready for we started to slow down a bit. The sun was starting to come out and things started to get a little toasty.

Mile 1-8:54
Mile 2-9:18

We continued on the path, feeling really good. I started to wonder when my legs would get tired, but they kept up. It wasn’t until later into mile 3 or 4 that we started to see the first runners on their way back. I always think this helps to distract me from the run and pull me along the course.

The further we went, the better the views were and we even managed to take a few photos on the run.

Mile 4 Selfie

Mile 4 Selfie

Beautiful day in the CVNP.

Beautiful day in the CVNP.

Seriously, the views were beautiful.

Mile 3-9:13
Mile 4-9:04

Before the turn around point I grabbed a bit of water, just to make sure I was staying hydrated. I was still feeling really good despite the pace we were running. I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to keep it up, but I went with it.

We continued to talk throughout our run and managed to keep a relatively close pace for each mile. The sun was still out and we could see a few runners making their way to the turnout point. It wasn’t until mile 6 that my hips started to get a little sore. I’m not sure if it was my hips or the fact we were more in the woods so everything looked the same, but that mile felt like it went on forever. I could feel my energy starting to sink, but knew I only had a little over a 5k left, so I had to hold on.

Mile 5-9:18
Mile 6-9:14

Once we got to mile 7, I knew I could handle 2 more miles. I kept forgetting about the extra .3, or maybe I was mentally trying to ignore that it would be there. Amy shared a Honey Stinger Chew and it was exactly what I needed to boost my energy.

My legs were starting to feel the pain my hips had and I felt like I was dragging both Amy and Jeanne down. Once we got to mile 8 I knew I could get some water and stretch so I kept my focus on that. Amy pulled ahead of us, and Jeanne and I kept up the pace  before stopping for water and a stretch.

Mile 7-9:11
Mile 8-9:41

I thought I had grabbed water, but it turned out to be some sort of sugar water. Not what I wanted, but it was something. We stayed for a bit to stretch, but didn’t wait too long before heading back on the trail. At this point I knew I wanted to be done. My legs were toast and I didn’t know how I was going to get back. There were a number of times that I wanted to just sit down and stop, but knew I couldn’t give up.

It was probably around this point that I decided that instead of 12-14 long miles, today would end up being another trial. I wanted to find out if the Hermes 10 was a fluke, if I really could run fast. I was running at almost race pace for the 15k, just 12 hours after running my best 5k in over 4 years. If anything I wanted to see how much I could push myself on dead legs, to see how I could handle mile 10-13 of a sub 2 attempt. It may not be logical, but at the time, it was the only thing getting me to the finish.

Mile 9-9:23

When we reached the last mile marker, I was excited to be almost done, but knew we still had a ways to go. I tried to kick in it as much as I could, but I struggled to get my legs to turn over. Jeanne and I started to spread out a bit, but I did whatever I could to keep her in my sight. We rounded off the trail and came up the driveway, and I gave it everything I could to finish the race.

Last .34-9:17 pace

Final kick!

Final kick!

I was exhausted, tired and sore, but I was happy for how I had raced. I finished my first 15k, and averaged a 9:14 pace, something I never thought I could do. But really, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Amy and Jeanne pushing me the entire way.

After the race, pancakes, sausage, eggs and fruit were available. I didn’t get the breakfast, but it looked pretty good. Instead, I watched flap jacks get thrown around.

Runners and flap jack catchers

Runners and flap jack catchers

Overall I thought this was a great race. It was the first year, but I hope it sticks around for a while. The race also made me want to run more trails, so looks like like I’ll be getting some trail shoes soon!

Race swag

Race swag

Official Results:

Time: 1:26:25

AG 25-29: 3/8

Gender: 25/56

Overall: 54/93

Hermes 10 Miler Recap

This was the first year that I had run the Hermes 10 Miler, but I knew in the months leading up to it that it would be a crucial race. With five weeks between the Hermes 10 and the Medina Half, I knew that whatever time I ran would determine how close sub 2 would be for Medina. With it being my second 10 mile race, the first one a month before, I still wasn’t sure how to race it, how to pace, or what I expected my time to be. The night before I joked with Darren that I wanted to run 1:32, a 4 minute drop from March’s 10 mile race, but realistically was planning on 1:35.

I woke up at 5:45, had my new pre race/long run breakfast of a Bagel Thin and Chewy granola bar and debated for about an hour or so on what to wear. I was a little nervous, but I was more concerned about the 45 minute drive and finding a place to park with enough time before the race. I finally decided on capris and my Flyte Long sleeve, still enough clothing to keep me warm, but light enough that I hopefully wouldn’t be sweating to death.

The drive up was fairly easy, but as I passed by my office I realized I need to use the restroom now, and probably couldn’t wait until the race. I stopped at McDonald’s and was in and out within a minute. About ten minutes later I pulled into Edgewater and struggled to find parking. After getting kicked out of a few areas, a bunch of us headed way back towards the entrance and I scrambled to get everything ready and over to the start line. Looking back I was thankful I stopped at McDonald’s when I did.

Good morning Cleveland

Good morning Cleveland, welcome to Edgewater

Lining up I felt rushed and still wasn’t sure how the race would go. My plan was to run a 9:30 pace or under and see how I felt. We started the race and I followed the crowd for a bit, trying to settle into a decent pace. Luckily I found myself right above 9:30 and so I tried to maintain the pace. Soon enough my headphones kept falling out so I fiddled with them, pulling the cord and pushing them back into my ears for probably a good half mile. It wasn’t until about a mile in that I realized my playlist was all wrong. I had charged my iPod the night before, but never put it back to my race playlist. So I pulled it out and started to fiddle with that as well. By this point we were well into our second mile and I just didn’t feel myself. I didn’t feel ready to run the rest of the race, and hoped it would quickly change.

Mile 1-9:19
Mile 2-9:24

It wasn’t until mile three that I started to feel like myself while running. I was now down to a pretty steady pace, still above 9:30, but I felt good so I kept with it. I was taking a small bit of water after each mile marker to make sure I stayed hydrated. I was starting to get a little warm, but once in a while a gust of wind came along and helped to cool me down. It was also during this part of the race where the leaders had turned and were heading towards us. It was a great distraction to watch them zoom by.

I made my turn and started to debate when I was going to fuel. I thought mile 4 would be a little too early so I opted to wait until mile 5. I kept running along, watching runners head towards the turn around and tried to keep my mind from doing math.

Mile 3-9:23
Mile 4-9:20

Once I got to mile 5 I waited a bit before taking my sport beans. I was halfway through and still feeling good. My legs still felt fresh and I wasn’t sucking air. I decided to stick with the pace as far as I could and as long as I stayed above 9:30, I knew I’d get my 1:35 or under. When I finally took my sport beans I struggled to get the bag in and out of my Flip Belt. For some reason, my hands just wouldn’t work. I definitely wasted more energy than I needed trying to fuel, and determined I’ll have to move them back to the pocket on my hand held.

Luckily it didn’t slow me down too much, but I tried not to push myself to get back to the pace I was running. It was during these next few miles that we started back in towards Edgewater. I was still feeling good and somehow kept creeping up towards 9:10. I slowed myself down some knowing that I was running in some uncharted territory for this distance.

Mile 5-9:22
Mile 6-9:21

I’m not sure how, but the next two miles seemed to fly by. I knew I was closing in on the miles and still feeling good, I wanted to test myself. I picked up the pace a little, but not too much where I was struggling. I was feeling strong until I saw the hill as we entered Edgewater Park. I was nervous that this was where everything would fall apart and my legs would  be toast, but somehow I coasted up the hill passing people and barely changed my pace. I kept going and at that point I knew if I just kept the pace, I could definitely PR.

Post hill happiness

Post hill happiness

Mile 7-9:16
Mile 8-9:17

The last two miles were definitely the hardest. I was in an area of town that I was not familiar with at all. I wasn’t sure where we were going or what to expect. I lost satellite in the tunnels and somehow end up with a 11:xx pace when I came out. I started to panic, wondering how I’d lost so much in such a short amount of time. Luckily, my Garmin bounced back, but I spent too much time focusing on my watch than the road.

The small rollers and inclines didn’t help either. My legs were beginning to ache and I could feel myself break down. The wind started to become an issue and I really started to question what the last mile would bring.

Mile 9-9:44

It wasn’t until I passed the mile 9 marker that I really thought I could do it. I welcomed the downhill with open arms, but was smacked in the face with the wind. I made my way around the last neighborhood and back through the tunnel. I could see the finish in the distance, but it felt so far away.

I pushed myself over and over to get closer, but was concerned I was picking up speed too early, so I backed off a bit. I continued to fight the wind from Lake Erie and once I was about 200 feet from the finish I gave it everything I had. I saw 1:32:xx on the giant clock and was ecstatic. I gave it everything I had, and hit my somewhat of a joke goal of running 1:32.

Mile 10-9:06

Hard earned

Hard earned and greatly appreciated

I walked around for a bit after I finished, soaking in the race and the beautiful views over the lake. After a while I walked back over the beach and headed towards my car. I was still in shock of the pace I ran, amazed how close my pace was to running a sub 2 half marathon. It wasn’t until that race, that moment, that I fully realized that maybe sub 2 is a reality this year.

I had such a good experience with this race and I can’t wait to run it again. I couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather and a more perfect race day. Even though it was my “B” race for the spring, it feels almost as good as running sub 2 right now.

Race swag

Race swag

Results:

Time: 1:32:19

Age Group 25-29: 74/191

Gender: 303/1045

Overall: 783/1752

Cleveland Take Two

Before I start on my race recap, let’s back up to Friday and the expo. Outside of the whole parking ordeal, I was pretty excited to get my race shirt and see what other items I could live without needed. I got there around 6, so I only had an hour, which was probably better on my wallet anyway. I saw a few familiar faces, but I was on a mission to get to the pacers booth. One of my coaches from high school just happened to be in town for the race. In fact, the same coach that encouraged us to run with Second Sole back in high school. We spent a good half hour catching up and discussing a number of topics. She gave me great tips, and told me I could definitely go sub 2 soon. Encouraging, but it didn’t cross my mind for Sunday, or even this summer. More importantly, she agreed to help me pace my marathon in October. Seriously, I couldn’t ask for anything better. It was a great start to the weekend.

An inspiration

So fast forward to Sunday. I was feeling pretty good when I woke up at 4:30. I was nervous though, after running the 5k on Saturday, I was concerned on how I would handle 13 miles in the heat. I still had the words “it’s ok if you don’t finish” stuck in my head from my dad. He told me not to go all out, and just take it easy. I continued to get ready and was headed down town early enough that traffic wouldn’t be an issue. I had a parking pass, so I easily found a spot next to Brown’s Stadium and I was ready to go.

I spent the next hour trying to calm my nerves and prepare myself for the heat. I made a quick decision at bag check to run with my fuel belt. It would be my first time using it, and after a quick few steps of warming up, it was already bouncing around. Should I use it, should I go put it back, should I wear it as long as I can handle and then just toss it somewhere on the course? This became my new stress for the next half hour.

Finally the race was ready to start, I decided to use the belt for as long as I could handle it. When that moment came where it was too annoying, I would figure out what to do then. I started out behind the 9:30 pace group. If I could start faster while the weather was cooler I knew I had a better chance of finishing. The first mile was slow and congested, and the heat set in as soon as we turned the corner. I  immediately thought of last year in Columbus where I was mentally done in the first mile. But I didn’t let that thought last long, I had to stick it out, I couldn’t give up yet. Until mile two, I felt off. My fuel belt was slipping and one of the bottles was leaking. My left knee was already stressing from the few smaller hills and I started to think I’d feel this way the entire race. Soon enough I got my belt into the perfect position, just seconds before the first water stop. I grabbed a cup and noticed a familiar form running past me.

Lucky for me, my aunt was just feet from me, so I sped up and tapped her on the shoulder. My intention was to say hi, run a mile together and fall behind her quicker pace. Things didn’t go quite like that and we ended up running together until mile 10 or so. The miles in between were probably the toughest and most rewarding.

Miles 3-5 were quick. We kept up about a 9:00 minute pace and even had a chance to talk. At this point though, my left arch and knee where letting me know they were already getting tired. I could also feel a blister start on my right foot. I told her I may not finish the race, but I would hold on and see how I felt. Mile 6 came and went, and we were under an hour. The temperature was rising and shade was minimal. I had taken advantage of some Gu, all of the water stops, and my water/nuun combo I had in my fuel belt. By the time mile 8 rolled around, I was in shock with how quick the race was flying by. We were a little slower, but still bounced around a 9:30 pace. Not bad, considering everything that wasn’t on our side that day.

Mile 9 has always been my check point. If I’m over 1:30 I know I’m in poor shape, if I’m under 1:30, I better hold onto what ever I have and just run with it. We came in under and started counting down the miles. Running was getting harder, our pace was slowing at points, but we still kept going. Until the hill. This was new and I was a little hesitant on the down hill part, because when you go down, you have to get back up. I looked up and everything was in slow motion. No one was running, everyone was moving at a snail’s pace to get up there. So I shuffled as slow as I could, only to hear two phrases that sent chills up  my back. The man left to me yelled out “I think I tore my Achilles” Ouch, I could feel his pain. Then the lady next to me yelled out, “Call 911” I turned around and saw a gentleman pass out. Everyone was pretty much in a panic and just wanted to get to stable ground again.

Mile 10, just a 5k to go. I checked my watch and I was at 1:35, still at a good pace but I knew that one last bridge was ahead of me before I was home free. Half way on the bridge, my aunt told me to go on without her. She wasn’t feeling her best and didn’t want to hold me back. I felt bad, I was in her same shoes last year at the same exact point on the bridge. So here I was, alone for the last 2.5 miles, it was either fade into the crowd and coast in or see if I could keep this pace for the rest of the race.

A lot of thoughts went through my mind in these last miles. I quickly did the math and knew that I would be finishing in under 2:10. I wanted to keep my pace, I wanted to finish strong. This was the first race that I didn’t rely on my watch or iPod, I just ran. I spent a majority of the race not stressing about time or where I should be with my pace. I was like everyone else, making my way through, hoping to cross the finish line. A mile to go, and I was under the 2:00 mark. I wanted to quicken my steps, but I knew I could easily ruin everything I worked for if I went in too strong. Following everyone ahead of me, I knew we were getting close, I recognized some of the streets and that final turn would be any second. And it was there. The sun was shining, the crowds were cheering and I could taste the finish line. With less than a quarter mile to go I saw my uncle. I sprinted up to give him a high five and told him my aunt was on her way.  This was exactly the encouragement I needed. The winding finish felt like it would never end. I kept checking my watch thinking that seconds were flying by. In those moments, I wanted a number, I needed that number. I was suddenly on the heels of a PR.

PR Party

Crossing the line was surreal, emotional and unbelievable. A year ago I was finishing my first half. In the same place that it started, I ran a new PR. Looking back, I honestly don’t know how it happened. I am not a heat runner at all, I struggled the day before in a 5k. All I can think of is that I had the motivation of running for Team JDRF on my mind and the support of my aunt along the way. We both had low points, but we needed each other. Neither one of us would have made it if we ran it alone.

Race partners

So here I am, my second shot at Cleveland, and a completely different experience. Not only did I experience my first half here, but I ran my best half under crazy conditions. I find it bittersweet. As much as I’ve loved my Cleveland Experience, I knew it would be my last CLE half for a while. I love everything about Cleveland Marathon weekend, but my love for Green Bay wins this next round. Instead of lining of outside Brown’s Stadium next year, I’ll be outside the greatest place on Earth, Lambeau. Thanks Cleveland, for giving me my first and best.

Results:

Official Time: 2:05:55-PR!

Overall: 2593 / 14635

Gender: 1045 / 8262

AG: 139 / 898

Half number seven, The Cleveland Half Marathon

Earth Day Challenge Half Recap

Months ago I came across this race and was pretty pumped that it was on my birthday. What better way to spend your birthday than running, right? The race was on part of Kenyon College’s campus. I’d never been there before but waking up at 5:15 to get there was no picnic. I arrived about 45 minutes before race time, picked up my race packet and did a little warm up. Surprisingly I wasn’t nervous, I felt relaxed and I was ready to give this race a shot. I saw Molly right before the start and was excited that I’d have a fellow Muskie out there! (She ran awesome btw, finished 1st female overall and PR’d!)

Muskies!

We started the race on the track and ran about a lap before we headed off into town. The path was pretty crowded but I quickly found a pace I felt comfortable with. Unfortunately this pace was 9:00, and I knew I had to slow down if I wanted to make it through the race. Suddenly a “small mountain” appeared and we ran uphill for about the next half mile. Definitely slowed my pace down!

The next couple of miles were rolling hills, which I normally hate, but after my long run in Wooster a few weeks back I felt a lot better. Once we hit mile 4 we started the out and back in the woods. It was a paved course, and very peaceful. At this point in the race I really took time to reflect. I never really set a goal for the race. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. The last time I ran back to back half marathons I felt the pain early in the race, so I was almost expecting to feel the drain in my legs at any moment.

I checked my watch about every five minutes and noticed that my pace was still a little quicker than what I was used to. I bounced around between 9:25-9:40. I came in at mile 6 right around 55 minutes,  but I was actually feeling pretty good about it. At this point, I decided to just let my legs do the work, I kept telling myself don’t think, just run. I wasn’t going to let my watch control my race. I kept a pretty steady pace throughout the next four miles and pretty soon I was closing in on the last 5k. By this point my knees were hurting and I could tell I was in need of a major water stop.

I kept checking my time, but I reminded myself that anything could happen. I was still ahead of my current PR, but I tried not to let it get to my head.  I was starting to think that all of the hard work I had put in this year could finally be paying off. I made it to mile 12 and I was right around 1:56-1:57. I knew there was no way I’d make it under 2:00, but I felt I could score a big PR. I picked up my pace by a few seconds and just let my mind go blank. I saw the finish line, and knew I was there. I still had a lap on the track to do before I could stop. By this point I had nothing left in me, no kick at the finish, just a steady pace until I crossed that line.

I could not stop smiling. I got a 9 MINUTE PR!!!!!

New 13.1 PR

Words can’t even describe how I was feeling. I couldn’t believe I knocked so much time off of my race. I didn’t expect I would do that well, this early, especially coming off a race the previous weekend. Colorado must have been good for me. It was the perfect race and the perfect day, and I couldn’t be happier.

Finishers mug and tree

After this weekend, I feel so much better about the rest of the year. I don’t feel pressure to really knock off the minutes, I can relax, enjoy the races and have fun. But this doesn’t stop me from setting up my next goal, to eventually break 2:00. If I don’t do it this year, it’s ok. I’m proud of my running and all that I’ve accomplished so far. It’s still early in the year and anything could happen. In the meantime I have the Love-A-Stray 5k Fur Fun Run this weekend followed by the Cleveland Half a few weeks later. I’m so excited to see what these next few races will bring, it truly is the year of races!

Half Marathon number 6!

Platte River Race Recap

Yesterday’s post explained my love affair with Denver. Today I’m excited to share my first experience of an out of state race. To catch you up to speed, I had a minor set back on Saturday when I had the joy of feeling full altitude sickness. We drove into the mountains, and a combination of curvy roads, altitude change, and dehydration caused me to be out of commission for 2-3 hours. I still wasn’t feeling up to par by Saturday evening, but I knew if I stayed in bed all weekend, I would feel even worse.

This is where I started to panic. Weak as can be, I was somehow supposed to run a half marathon the next morning. How is this even going to happen? I honestly regretted the race and trip at this point. I was pretty sure I wasted time and money just for me to end up sick. Darren wasn’t going to let me waste any more time. So after driving all over to find me food and drinks I could keep down, I was finally able to get out of the hotel and we kept the night low key, and I made sure to over hydrate.

Sunday morning came, it was race day! Good morning to an early wake up call, nervous stomach, and over thinking. Luckily I was feeling better, at least I thought I was, I always feel like a train wreck race mornings, mostly due to the nerves. One less thing to stress about was the weather, it was perfect, almost too good to be true. A little bit of sun, a little bit of a chill, and not a drop of rain or snow in sight!

Perfect weather!

How could you not relax driving towards this on the way to the race?

We got to the race early, and I took my first steps in the parking lot. My pace was slow, but I wanted to shake my legs out. I decided to wait until race day to do any running. If I had a bad run on Saturday, I knew I would worry about it right until the start and even during the race. I took my spot in wave 3 (2:15 and above) I wanted to make sure I’d start with a comfortable pace and wouldn’t try any 8:30 miles.

Ready to go!

The race started off at a good pace, and I quickly found a comfortable spot. With every turn the mountains were in the background, almost surreal. There were many times in the first mile that I still couldn’t believe I was out in Denver running a half marathon. Am I crazy?

Quickly after mile one we headed to a paved path which immediately made for a very tight run, there was even one point where we were stopped and walking because there were so many people. Water stops were every two miles, which I made sure to take full advantage of. I was already thirsty before the first stop, and I knew staying hydrated would be key to making it to the finish line.

The first couple miles I spent figuring out my pace, checking over my body to see how I felt, and trying to find my place in the crowded path. I decided beforehand I would take some Gu at mile 4 and 8. Well, it must have helped because when I got to mile 5, I was at a 9:30 pace. Whoah! Slow down and don’t get ahead of yourself.

Miles 6 through 9 I kept a pretty even pace. I stopped at all the water stops and took my Gu at mile 8. At this point in the race I felt comfortable, my body felt good, my pace wasn’t too quick and I was just taking in the moment. The wind started to pick up, but I tried not to let it get to me, and I kept pushing on. I even passed people, something I have rarely done in a half. The course up to this point followed the Platte River and we had multiple bridges to run over and under. Including a few that shook and reminded me of running at Bur Oak. There was even a dirt path next to the pavement that gave provided some relief throughout the race.

Right around mile 10 the path opened up a bit and I could tell we were getting close to the finish and into the city. The sky also darkened at this point, and it became a race to get to the finish without getting caught in a storm. Lucky mile 11 came and I started to cramp. I knew by this point I was a little dehydrated and my pace started to slow. I started checking my Garmin about every ten seconds. Throughout the race I had been on pace to PR, and like always I knew it would come down to the last two miles.

Mile 12 finally showed up and it was the mile I had been dreading the entire race. There was a “small” hill right at the finish. This hill lasted what felt like a half mile and once everyone made it to the top, the wind took full force. I was blown around multiple times, I started to think I was going to get blown off the bridge and wouldn’t make it to the finish. Coming down the bridge, I knew I was close, and as we turned the corner I could see the balloons at the finish line. My first thought was, “OMG, it’s finally here! Just keep moving, and the cramps won’t kill you” I was so excited for this moment!

Fact: I never remember the finish to a race. I get into a weird sprint the last 50 feet and black out everything. But, I actually remembered this one, and I was thrilled to see Darren on the side, taking pictures, so of course I had to smile. I glanced at the clock and saw 2:16. I missed it. But….Garmin said 13.2, and by my calculations for a 13.1 race, I got a PR by a few seconds. WHAT!!

Couldn’t have done it without him

Here I am, in Colorado, running my first half of the year, and I ran a PR for 13.1 miles. I never even dreamed this would happen. Throughout the race I knew I had the chance of getting close, but after the last two miles, I gave up the idea of finishing strong and just wanted to finish. I don’t even know how it happened, but I felt great during the entire race. Even with cramps at the end, I couldn’t have asked for a better race. I was relaxed, and just let my legs lead the way. I was so excited to say that I finished and I had half number 5 under my belt. Half number two in the 25 challenge was in the books! I ended up placing 727/1421 of all the lady runners, and 64/110 in my age group. Not bad.

This race was exactly what I needed to jump start half marathon season. I fell in love with the distance all over again, and I can’t wait to enjoy so many more this year. Colorado, not only did you give me an amazing experience, but you’ve given me a whole new meaning to the words, I love running.

Love.

Up next is the Earth Day Challenge Half Marathon in Gambier, Ohio. Molly will be dominating the race, and I’ll be celebrating my birthday! (and running of course)

Go the Distance 5k Recap

This past weekend we spent the Easter holiday down in Marion. Darren spent Saturday morning golfing, so to fill up my morning, I wanted to find a local race. Luckily there was a 5k just down the road, so I quickly jumped in on this action.

The Go the Distance 5k was put on by the Marion Boys and Girls Club, all proceeds going directly to them. They had a huge carnival set up for kids and a fun run for the little ones. I picked up my shirt and bib, did a short warm up jog and I was ready to go. I was a little nervous because I didn’t know the course at all, and I knew absolutely no one that was there.

We started and I quickly took off to find the perfect pace. I got into my groove and checked my watch, 8:15 pace. Way too fast, but I didn’t feel like I was going that quick, so I kept with it. First mile and I was still at 8:15, not bad, but I knew I had to slow down. I never remember my second mile time, but I slowed the pace at one point to about 8:45. Second mile is always the worst. I had one mile left, and I was feeling pretty good. I followed the girl in front of me until about a half mile left. This is where my memories of cross came back, and I was excited to sprint into the finish. We came down a small hill, and I rounded the turn right at 25:55. New “adult” 5k PR!

I was pretty pumped with my time, and even more excited that my knee pain was pretty minimal. I felt great and I was surprised that I was able to get my time down without doing any sprint workouts this year. First a RP in the 5 miler and now in the 5k, makes me wonder if I can get a PR in the half this year! Next up on my year of races is the half…..

Newest shirt and bib added to the collection

Platte River Training: Week 6

I am so pleased with how this week of training went. It was the only  time during traveling that I was able to get all my workouts in. Even better, my legs felt great the entire time. A majority of my week was spent in Dallas, humidity and warmth included, but it was a nice change from the Cleveland “winter.” Unfortunately I didn’t get to run outside. The location of our hotel didn’t allow for a safe route in the heart of downtown. But, the workout room made up for it with a beautiful view of the pool and the skyline of the city.

Downtown Dallas

Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: 5 Miles

Wednesday: 3 Miles

Thursday: Rest Day

Friday: 4 Miles

Saturday: Rest Day

Sunday: 10 Miles

This week’s biggest accomplishment? That 10 miler up there. I somehow pulled off PR pace and ran it in 1:33, which would give me a 2:04 half! Despite some ups and downs in the past few weeks, I’m doing better than last year 🙂 Bring on Colorado!