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! 


Official Time: 2:01:45

Age Group (25-29): 39/112

Female: 272/830

Overall: 684/1485


Wineglass Marathon Training: Week Fourteen

Another week is in the books and this was a great one! With only a few good hard runs left, I wanted to make sure that this week my runs exceeded my expectations. The rec was closed on Monday because of the holiday so no Body Fusion, but I also took it as a day to recover from the long trail run.

Tuesday was slightly delayed when our normal track was hosting a soccer game. Luckily the second track we checked was empty so we weren’t too far behind on our schedule. After getting rained out last week, I was determined to hit all 8 800’s on pace. With the cooler weather, it wasn’t a problem, and I hit all of them below the projected pace I wanted. With a goal of under 4:15, I ended up with all of them under 4:05, including the last three negative splitting under 4:00. I wasn’t the biggest fan of them in high school, but I may have a new love for 800’s. On top of perfect 800’s, we were able to witness a beautiful sunset, another reason I just can’t quick evening runs.

Chasing daylight on the track

Chasing daylight on the track

Wednesday I met up with Mallory again and we headed for a run at Blue Heron. The abandoned golf course is in the process of being cleaned up to become a park, but really it looks just the same, overgrown and unrecognizable as a golf course. Going in I knew it was going to be hilly, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be on my legs. What felt like an 8:30 pace was actually 10:30. No matter how hard we pushed it, we’d somehow get back to a slower pace. Looking back, this probably wasn’t the best “recovery” run the day after a track workout.

No easy recovery run

No easy recovery run

The elevation may have been rough on the legs, but the views were pretty good. I left my phone behind so I missed out on some gems, but I was able to capture this one after I got back to my car.

Beauty in the abandoned.

Beauty in the abandoned.

I took Thursday and Friday off because I wanted my legs to recovery and be fresh for Sunday’s half marathon. Saturday I went out for a short shake out run in my neighborhood. The weather was cool and I was able to enjoy a bit of rain. My legs felt great and hopefully they were ready for Sunday.

River Run Half Marathon was on Sunday, and I went into this race wanting redemption from Wooster. I’ll have my recap up later this week. I originally planned to run more after the race, but after I got back to my car my whole body felt beat up. I don’t feel horrible about not getting more miles in, because I know I pushed it hard in the race and I put in a lot of time on my feet the previous week.

Monday: Off

Tuesday: 6 Miles, 1 mile w/u, 8×800(4:02, 4:03, 4:01, 3:59, 4:02, 3:55, 3:52, 3:45), 1 mile c/d

Wednesday: 6 Miles

Thursday: Off

Friday: Off

Saturday: 2 Miles

Sunday: River Run Half Marathon

Total Miles: 27 Miles

Overall this was a really great week. I felt strong in all of my runs, and was finally convinced that I’ve been making progress. Not every run or week of training is going to go well, but when you finally have a good week, it really helps to bring confidence back into running.

This next week is my final long run! It’s definitely bittersweet, but I have to say that I’m excited this training cycle is almost complete. I’m excited to run Wineglass and I know I’ve grown as a runner, but it’s been a long and tiring summer to get here. And after this weekend, I’m ready to focus my training towards my true love, the half.

River Run Half Marathon Recap

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to run this race. I saw the t-shirt and medal a while ago and that was my single motivation, I’m a sucker for race swag. But as the day got closer, I knew I had to run the race, not just for the shirt, but because I knew I had to get my long run in. I ran it last year and I felt good most of the way. The end wasn’t my best shot, but I really enjoyed the race. I really didn’t know what was in store for me this year, but I’m glad I signed up. I was in the same boat as last year, coming back from an injury with limited training. I had hopes that the slight down hill of the race would be to my benefit and allow me to finish in one piece.

The day started off chilly and rainy, almost perfect weather. I tried to stay warm in my car as I mentally prepared myself for my longest run in 5 weeks. Even after a Clif Bar and some sport beans, I was still starving, so naturally I tried something new on race day with a Honey Stinger Waffle. It was delish, and lemon of course. My only hope was that it wouldn’t come back to haunt me later on. About 10 minutes before the race started it stopped raining, and I headed to the start line. I wasn’t nervous, just ready to run.

The first couple of miles felt pretty good. I started off at a slower pace, mostly because it was crowded. I made my way through the familiar path and was excited to head into the park. (Sidenote: I actually lived in Berea for a short time, I was right off the parkway, so running this course was a daily thing for me.) I was hitting the miles in a 9:30 pace and was feeling pretty confident that I could keep it up for a while. The sun was starting to peak through the clouds, and the views were beautiful. I’m a sucker for the bridges and leaves of the parkway, so anytime I run through it I make sure to take advantage of the sights.

I was coming up on mile 6 at 56 minutes. My time was much quicker than I thought it would be. I quickly starting counting miles and tried to figure out my estimated finish time. As quickly as I thought about it, I shoved it out of my mind. I wasn’t going to stress about my finish time, I hadn’t run more than 8 miles for quite some time. Who knew what would happened once I made it past that mark.

Soon enough I started to feel the effects of the winding path. I had tried to run along the center line, but with the course still pretty full I ended up all over the road. The biggest downfall of this race is that even though it’s pretty flat, the road is never even. Most of the way you’re putting stress on one leg or another and I was feeling it pretty bad. However, it didn’t slow down my pace too much yet. I was able to get to an 8:50 pace, but kept myself between 9:05-9:20. No idea where this speed came from.

Right around mile 7 I heard my name being called, it was Heather! Seeing her for a few minutes helped to keep me motivated to continue on and hopefully make it past that 8 mile mark. And once I got to mile 8, I took a  break. Not a short one, but I walked while I took some sport beans, and tried to shake out my legs. I was at 1:18 (I think) so I had some time that I could use to make sure I’d have enough energy to get to the end. I knew the hill was coming up, and it would be tough. My strategy going in was to attempt to run as much as I could and walk what I couldn’t run. I’m not sure if it was the fear of the hill or all the hills I have to run in Medina, but I made it up didn’t have to walk a step.

But once I got up the hill, it all went down hill from there. My legs started to really hurt and my pace slowed down. I took advantage of the water stops, and I even walked a bit in mile 11. I swear that is the longest mile of the entire race. I knew my time was somewhat still decent, but had no idea how well I had done until I crossed that finish line. I finished at 2:08, just three minutes off my PR and 13 minutes faster than last year. I honestly didn’t think I had it in me, and I’m still surprised with Sunday’s results.

River Run was by far not my best work, but I don’t think I’ve ever worked that hard for a race. I had a strong start and got my pace down to where it should be to go sub 2. Even with limited training and sore legs, I know that I can still bounce back and prepare for Columbus. Racing this past weekend gave me the confidence I needed for marathon training. And maybe that sub 2 isn’t that far off…

Half Marathon #8

Columbus Marathon Training: Week 10

Going in I knew this week would be crazy, but also very important. If I didn’t get a long run in, I knew I wouldn’t be ready for Columbus. Starting off with the long weekend, I took Monday as a day to catch up on sleep, unpack and survive allergies. I followed up the weekend with a work trip to Mississauga, a city outside of Toronto. I wasn’t able to check out the city like before, but I did take advantage of some fantastic food. Seriously, I’ve never had a bad meal in the Toronto area.

My feet and legs took a small beating after standing for two days and riding in the car for 6 straight hours both ways. However, I was able to get a short run in while I was there and another after I got back. I wanted to be careful during the week, because I had a weekend filled of racing that I wanted to be ready for.

Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: 2 Miles

Wednesday: Rest Day

Thursday: 3 Miles

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday:  3 Miles (Run for the Record 5k)

Sunday: 14 Miles (River Run Half Marathon)

Total Miles: 22 Miles

Saturday was my easy race day, I paced my sister in her first 5k. I found the race months ago, and decided it should be a pretty flat course. The weather was ideal as it stopped raining about 5 minutes before the start. It was a good event and I’m proud of Claire for finishing her first 5k. She’ll have her recap posted here later this week.

Sunday was my second race of the weekend. I needed the miles, so I figured the best way to get them done was to sign up for a half. I even added an extra mile once I got back home. I’ll have that recap later this week as well.

Overall, I had a pretty good week. My weekday runs need to be a little bit longer, but so do my weekend runs. I feel much more confident about Columbus training now, knowing I can still get the long miles in even though I had to take some time off. And an added bonus to this week, I became a Sweat Pink Ambassador. I’m excited to continue to grow myself as a runner and learn more from this group!

Perfecting imperfections

This past Sunday was the 12th annual River Run Half Marathon through the Cleveland Metro Parks. I picked this race months ago because of my love of running through the parks. Of course my version of the parks were the trails and smaller distances. The whole experience was a good one, I had small difficulties to overcome, but in the end, it was a great way to honor those who were lost on 9/11 ten years ago.

Packet pick up was my first small panic of the race. I was confused about my “bus ticket” and realized it was only a smiley face on my race bib, thanks to those on Twitter. I also noticed that my shirt I received was a few sizes too big. Not too worried, since this happens most of the time, but once in a while I hope that a shirt will actually fit. I also picked up my inserts for my arches from my parent’s house so I’d have some support. The same inserts I haven’t worn in over a year and was going to try out during the race.

He knows the drill

For the first time that I can remember, I wasn’t nervous about the race. I was more nervous the night before, when I started thinking about the distance and the much shorter distances I had been training. Confession, the farthest I’ve run since the Cleveland half was 4 miles…once in July, and once in August. My plan was to get to 10 miles  by August but then my knee gave out. So I was pretty much going in blind, telling myself I was going to run 13.1 after doing horrible training.

I started out with a good pace. First mile was 9:57. Honestly I wasn’t asking for a PR in this race. I missed the second mile marker, but read that there was a water stop at mile two. When I looked down at the first water stop and saw that it had already been 25 minutes, I was completely confused on how I added an extra 5 minutes that early in the race. Luckily I was wrong, and I was at 29 minutes by the third mile. This was also about the same time that my one working headphone blew out so I could barely hear my music.

I took this as an opportunity to really focus on my running. I was expecting to get several cramps within the next few miles so I took the advice everyone as given me and focused on my breathing. My legs were feeling good (no knee issues yet!) and I wanted to see how far I could get without hitting the wall. Around mile seven I was definitely in need of some sports drink. The running gods were looking out for me and I was happily chugging down water and Gatorade at mile eight. I was feeling great until about 100 feet from mile 9. Goodbye anything in my stomach. This added a minute to my time, but I was determined to keep going. I did 9 miles in just under an hour and a half. Right on time for a 2:10 finish (5 minutes faster than Cleveland) This got me thinking of somehow getting a PR, so I decided I’d try to quicken my pace. Again, this wasn’t a good idea, and I was off to the side, added more wasted minutes to my time.

Mile 11 I officially gave up getting a PR, my legs hit the wall and I was ready to finish. Those next two miles were rough, and it was the first time I walked all race. I walked during water breaks because I can’t run and drink at the same time, but to me those didn’t count as actually “walking” during the race. The highlight of the race was the finish. I was about 25 feet from the finish and of course, got sick again. The biggest puker award goes to me! This isn’t the first time I’ve lost it at the end of the race, but definitely the first time I did it during a race. I finished with a time of 2:21:32.

I was a bit emotional when I crossed the line, but I held it in. I was a little upset with how I did, but for lacking on training, I’m still pretty proud of myself. I was also really excited to get to the finish line because Darren was finally going to see me run. Yes, it was long over due, but apparently running isn’t as fun to watch as football, I beg to differ.

My support system

Overall it was a great race. I was able to really focus on my running because I wasn’t nervous or trying to get a PR, at least most of the time. My legs and knee held up most of the race, but without training, I was expecting my body to give in a lot sooner. Each race  I know I’ll learn something new to help me compete the best to my ability. But for now, I guess I’m addicted since I came back for more.

Half number two, in the books

Call me Crazy…

Friends, family and coworkers have called me crazy for running a half marathon. They ask what’s chasing you to make you run that far. Why would you want to run any distance remotely close to that. I must be crazy, but aren’t all runners?

Thinking back to May, a few days before my first half, I was a nervous wreck. I had nightmares and would panic every time I thought of running 13.1 miles at one time. But here I am, two days away from my second half marathon, the River Run Half Marathon, and I’m in a completely different mind frame. I know what to expect and I know how I’m going to feel. But I also know how great it will be to cross that finish line and say I ran 13.1 miles. Again.

I’m not in as good as shape as I’d like to be. The whole Mastick knee incident put a small hiccup in my training, but I’m not going to let that get me down on Sunday. I haven’t decided on a time either. I don’t have enough half marathons under my belt to really tell what a good time is going to be for me to aim towards. However, I’m really excited for the race. It’s through the Cleveland Metro Parks, which I love. And it’s on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, so I can guarantee it’s going to be a very special race. I’ll be wearing my red and white shorts along with my blue shirt to show my support.

So if you happen to be wide awake Sunday from 8-10am and have nothing else to do, come on down to the metro parks and support your favorite runner 😉

>What’s Next?

>It’s a weird feeling coming home from work and knowing that I didn’t have to do anything. No workout, no stretches, no ab crunches. For the first time since January, I came home, put on sweats, drank hot chocolate and caught up on shows. It felt great, and I wasn’t guilty because I knew I deserved a day off. I’m still sore today, which I expected, but not as stiff as I was yesterday. Yesterday my lower half felt like I had standing in an ice bath for hours, today I just feel blah. The lack of sleep, and mixed up eating schedule from the weekend has caught up, hopefully not breaking down my immune system too much. Good thing I don’t have to run all week, I think it would make me feel worse.

As I mentioned, I already picked out a half marathon. But I’ve researched some more and found some races I’m interested in doing this summer.

Girls With Sole  June 5th, Located in Rocky River, this race features a 5k and a 1 mile family run/walk. Any race in Rocky River, I will gladly sign up to do. This is my only free weekend in June, and what better way to spend it than running for a reason.

Huntington Duathlon  July 24th, Located in Bay Village, this race features a triathlon- 1/4 mile swin-12 mile bike-5k run and a duathlon-5k run-12 mile bike-5k run. I’m opting for the duathlon, and hoping it will be a success. This will be my first duathlon, but I’m sure not my last, and it’s a great way to make sure I get use of my amazing road bike.

Classic at Mastick August 10th, Located in Rocky River Metroparks, this race is a 5k and personal favorite of mine. I ran this in high school and college and even now that I’m old. It’s on a Wednesday night and you run through the metroparks, always motivation for me. It’s a good time and a great way for cross teams to see where they stand before season officially starts.

River Run Half Marathon September 11th, Located in Berea/Cleveland Metro Parks, this race is a half marathon through the metroparks, starting in Berea and going north. I picked this because it’s far enough away to give myself better training, it’s in the fall so it shouldn’t be too hot, and the elevation maps shows it is a consistent down hill, making for a quicker time.

With these four races, I’m hoping not only can I get into a quicker pace, but really enjoy running again. They’re spread out to give enough recovery time, but also I won’t feel bogged down each weekend with a race. I’m looking to do a race every month, but I’ll just have to see how the summer goes. My ultimate goal is to run a half marathon in every state, but I’m not trying to rush it. I’d like to do a half each spring and fall, but who knows, maybe I’ll get one in the winter, just have to find a warmer state to run in.