Three and a half short months ago during my taper for the Free Press Marathon, I gave into the taper crazies and emailed the Cleveland Marathon and asked them to up my registration from the half to the full. This week I just wrapped up a great first week of training for the Cleveland Marathon.
Cleveland is an interesting race for me because it's one of the two races I have done multiple times. It's the hometown race. I will be going back for the fourth year in row, only this time, to finally conquer the course and to run the full rather than the half. The past two years in Cleveland I have had a terrible time. The last 3.5 miles are a long gradual uphill with no spectators and usually direct sunlight. The weather can range from 30 degrees to 85 and 100% humidity. So why do I want to do it again and for a full 26.2 miles I'm trying to use to qualify for Boston? Because I'm not okay with coming up short of my goals. Every year I have ran Cleveland it has been a PR for me but every time I have come up short of the goal time I set out for myself. 2014's goal was to break 2 hours and I ran a 2:00:50. 2015's goal was to run a 1:45 and I ran a 1:53. So during my taper I decided that the way to truly redeem myself was to kill the full marathon course and hopefully get my BQ in my hometown.
So how did week one of training go? Well for having what felt like the most miserable week ever due to work, school, and personal issues, training was amazing! Guess that's why we run right?
The first day of training was a fairly simple run. Headed out for 3.1 miles at whatever felt like a comfortable pace since it was only my second run back from Rock n' Roll Arizona and I was coming off of an 8 miler the Saturday before. Ended up with 8:25/mile which was probably a little bit faster than it should have been but everything felt good so I let it happen.
This was a day for recover as my calves were incredibly tight from Monday's run and probably going too fast too soon after Rock n' Roll AZ. Ended up with 3.2 miles at 8:46/mile. Really trying to work on my pacing because I tend to struggle when it comes to holding 8:45-9s. This one I tried starting out slow because I knew I'd kick it up on the way back.
Wedneday was where the stress of the week really set in and started to interfere with my running. I really didn't want to go for my run and I especially didn't want to go outside in the cold. I basically told myself to get over it because I knew I would feel so much better post run. And I was right! 3.1 miles at 8:38/mile.
For me Thursdays are always the last short run of the week. I take Fridays off to rest up for my Saturday long runs. I ended up tweaking my hamstring during Wednesday's run so I opted for a shorter one on Thursday at whatever pace didn't aggravate my hamstring. I did 2.5 miles at 8:31/mile (clearly the hammy felt pretty good).
I knew going into today's long run that I was going to go fast. Probably too fast. All of the stress of the terrible week was built up and waiting for me to burn it off in the form of a long run. I showed up to run club bright and early at 7:30. My training partner wasn't there because he is battling an injury, and my other running buddies were MIA as well, so I knew there was no one to hold me back. After opening remarks were made and it was time to run, I took off like I was at the start line at a race (I know because it was commented to me later :D). What started off as me telling myself to back down after 2 miles turned into 3, then four, and so on until I just decided to let myself go. I needed it. Every time I thought about slowing down, a song that described my mood came on my music and picked me back up. My favorite today (and always, who am I kidding) is Let it Go from Frozen. My run ended up with 8 miles at 8:00/avg. Will I pay for this next week? Probably. Would I do it different? Nope, because it put be in the best possible mindset for today and I had an amazing day.
All in all I can't complain about week 1. 20 miles. 8:18 avg. That would make me happy even without everything else that went down this week. Even better was coming home to a shipment of Nuun post run! I love the stuff and I'm so proud to represent such a great company! Time to relax and foam roll as week 2 may bring my intro to speed work!
The Rock n' Roll Arizona half marathon. Where do I even begin? I am still on a high from this race. I guess let's start from the beginning.
Friday morning I headed out for a very easy 2 mile run and then to brunch at Firstwatch with my sister and her friend and then after we headed off to the expo. We hit up all the booths and grabbed all the free snacks and goodies and then we bought our Rock n' Roll Arizona Brooks jackets. By far the softest running jacket I've ever found.
Saturday morning I lounged around most of the day drinking water and Nuun and watching Law and Order Reruns and then I went for a 1.5 mile walk to loosen up the muscles. When I got back, it was time to carb up with my pre-race meal: gluten free spaghetti and meatballs and two pieces of gluten free toast.
Sunday (Race day and my birthday!!) - 1/17/16
Sunday I woke up bright and early at 4:30 am. I had my cup of Gatorade, cup of coffee, bottle of water, banana, and two piece of gluten free toast for breakfast. Then I grabbed my drop bag and headed off to the start line. I got dropped off around 7:15 with the race starting at 7:50.
I headed to the portapotties and had to wait until 7:30 by the time I got to the front, which really freaked me out on time because I still had to drop my bag and get to my corral. I wandered till I found the drop bag trucks and handed them my bag. Unfortunately, the drop bag trucks were behind Corral 22....and I was in Corral 2. I fought my way through 11,100 runners plus spectators up to Corral 2 and found myself a perfect spot next to a guy in a Columbus Marathon shirt (seemed appropriate). I put my headphones in and played my running playlist to get in the zone (also because I'm claustrophobic and the corrals bother me when they are really tight).
The national anthem was played and the elites took off. We waited 45 seconds and then they started our countdown. 10..9..8......3..2..1..GO!! We were off. I worked my way around the walkers who started in Corral 2 for some reason and got up to speed, settling for a 7:40 mile. I felt amazing and I told myself I had this. This was the race where I was going to get the 1:45 half that I tried for last May. I cruised at a 7:40 mile for the first 2 miles, knowing I would see my mom at mile 2. Sure enough, she was right where she said she would be and she didn't expect me because I was ahead of my estimated 8:00/mile.
I held a 7:45 average through the 5k mark and then went to about a 7:45/7:50 for miles 4 and 5. I knew I'd see my mom again at mile 7 and I used that to push myself along. Around mile 6 I started to get hot. The sun was directly overhead making it feel much hotter than the 48 degrees it actually was. I threw my gloves off and rolled up my sleeves and pushed on. Around the 10k-6.5 mile mark I slammed into the wall. My legs felt like rocks and I was sure my 1:45 was gone. I had held a 7:49 avg through the 10k mark and I told myself to back down a little but just keep going. I held a 7:55 until mile 7 where I saw my mom and yelled to her that I just hit the wall. After I left her I felt miserable. I ranged between 8:20 and 8:35 for mile 8, but was kept going when I saw one of the members of Team Best Buddies Arizona, pushing a wheelchair stroller at an 8:15 mile. I talked to the man for a little and thanked him for inspiring me to keep going.
Unfortunately, that was not it for my wall issues. I tried talking to myself, focusing on my footsteps, logic on the amount of miles left, listening to my music, etc. but I was still hurting and focusing on staying at 8:20/mile, expecting the 1:45 pacer to pass me at any minute. We turned the corner at mile 8.5 and I saw it. A monstrous long, gradual hill up between the mountains. I told myself to put my head down and push through it. You can get through this, one foot in front of the other, pace doesn't matter, just keep going, look at the runners coming down on this out and back, once you get to the top, you get to come back down! Half way up I heard the drummers of the Korean drummer band near the top of the hill. It was so fitting having that in the mountain and I kept grinding to the top. Of course they made us go a little down hill before the turn so we had to run back up hill after the turn around. I got to the top of the second hill and was right next to the band at the 15k mark when I saw it. The 1:45 pacers, way behind me. That was all I needed. I knew I had my 1:45. I got a huge grin and took off, dropping back down to an 8:05 mile and cheesing for the on course photographer.
3.6 Miles to go. And they were all downhill or flat. I held an 8:00 for the rest of mile 9 and all of mile 10 as we wound our way through the desert and back onto ASU's campus. Mile 11 I knew for sure I had it. I kicked it up to a 7:45, visualizing myself back in the park in Ohio where I train and how close I am when I have 2 miles left. Before I knew it I was at mile 12. Spectators were lining the road and runners starte their kicks. I held a 7:50 as we cruised back to Tempe Beach Park, crossing a bridge over the river with the sun shining. From the bridge I could see down into the park and heard the celebration and bands playing. I saw that after we crossed, it was a downhill turn and then about a 10th of a mile stretch to the finish line. We cruised down the hill and I started my kick, picking it up to a 7:15 for the last bit. Fans cheered and I could see the clock bearing 1:46 and I knew that I was about 2 minutes behind the gun time. The announcer yelled that this bunch would be in with chip times under the 1:45 mark as I crossed the finish line. I immediately broke into happy tears. I had my goal with a 1:44.49. I got my medal, worked my way through the corral and out to my mom on the biggest endorphin high I've ever had.
I changed my clothes and headed off to try to catch my sister who was running the full to run a couple miles with her. After struggling to break through the traffic blocks, we ended up at mile 21 waiting for her. I walked about half a mile down the course and finally I saw her as she started jumping and waving, happy to see me. I took off and ran with her for about 2 miles of talking and laughing and keeping her spirits up and her feet moving.
I left her a little before mile 23 and hopped back in the car to meet her back at the finish. When I got back, I grabbed my finisher beer and waiting for her to come out of the corral. She finally did, grabbed her medal and beer and we went to tour the finish party. She had just completed her 15th marathon and first marathon back from plantar faciitis and I had finally got my goal time.
After celebrating at the finish I headed home for a power nap and then out to a celebratory gluten free pizza and wing dinner which was also for my birthday. After that I said goodbye to my family because I had to take a red eye flight home (which I will never do again after a race). I had a fantastic time at Rock n' Roll Arizona and I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate my 25th birthday than with a 5 minute PR and finally getting my sub-1:45 half. Time to rest up because Cleveland Marathon training begins in a couple weeks.
All settled in with my family in Arizona and got my run done after a long morning and afternoon of travel.
This morning started for me at 3:30 am when my alarm went off to get ready to leave for the airport. Painfully early but I actually woke up without any alarms because I was just so excited to go!
I got to the Cleveland airport at 4:45 and it was pretty much smooth sailing for me, which is rare, because my flights are almost always delay. Part of the ease of getting through everything was that I didn't check a bag because a very wise older sister told me that you never, ever check your race gear, EVER, PERIOD. Because if they lose it, you can't really replace it in time. I got to my gate after grabbing some Starbucks and settled in to wait to my flight. Disappointingly, the Hudson News Stand no longer carries Runners World, which is my go-to while travelling.
We boarded shortly after and I settled in for my long flight. Oh yeah, did I mention the only way for me to get from Ohio to Arizona was to connect through San Francisco?? Because that makes sense... After a long 5+ hour flight we touched down at the beautiful San Francisco airport. Seriously, that place is futuristic and gorgeously located between the bay and the mountains. The last hour of my flight was miserable as our row became incredibly warm and I was overheating and dehydrated because my bottle was empty and the flight attendants had to sit due to turbulance, plus I hadn't eaten much in the way of protein. By the time I was on the ground I could feel the lightheadedness start to set in. I grabbed my emergency Clif Bar that I always travel with, and used it to tide me over until I could grab real food.
I ended up meeting another runner from my Cleveland flight who was headed to San Diego to run a 100 miler. He and I walked to our connections together and discussed past races, training, running groups, running gear, and goals like we were old friends. I love meeting other runners because you have that instant connection. We wished each other well and good luck in our races and then I was off on a misson to refuel. I downed two 24oz water bottles in a manner of 10 minutes, so I guess I was dehydrated, and then filled up a third. I grabbed an asian chicken chopped salad (my fav :)) and headed to my gate. I popped on of my Nuun tabs in my water and between that and the salad I felt refueled and ready to go.
After about 45 mins of delays we took off and a short hour and a half later we landed in Phoenix. My parents grabbed me from the airport and we headed home to their house. Of course I quickly changed and was out for my scheduled run within a few minutes of getting home. How could I resist when it's 65 degrees here! Took an easy 3.5 mile spin around the golf course and soaked up some sun in the process.
After the run I got to head out to my favorite sushi bar out here. Looking to catch up with the family in the next few days and hopefully get in a shake out run with my sis! 3 short days before I look to tackle the Rock n' Roll Arizona half marathon for a big PR!
I've been wanting to make a blog for a very long time now because while I love sharing my running journey on Instagram, there is really only so much you can write in that little comment box.
I figured my first post should really tell you who I am, although if you are an Instagram friend, you probably already know these things, so bear with me.
I started running back in my senior year of college in 2013 as a way to stay in shape after wrapping up my last year of college volleyball. I knew that if I didn't find some way to stay active, I was going to gain weight and I wouldn't have a way to burn off stress. I HATED running. My team and I would tell my coach that "running long distances hurts your vertical". I struggled to complete 1 mile timed runs without taking a walk break. So a lot of people thought I was kidding when I said I had signed up for the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon in May of 2013. But one thing about me is if you tell me I can't do something, I'm definitely gonna do it.
Setting up a training plan and training for any race can be a daunting task. It is even more overwhelming when you've never done it before and your first race is 13.1 miles when you can run about 2. Luckily I have an amazing sister who ran 12 marathons at that point and drafted up a training plan for me in addition to being available for support throughout my training (thanks Lisa!). With her help and guidance I trained from January through May, dealt with the stress of my last semester of college, some crazy other issues, Spring Break trips, law school applications, graduation, and before I knew it, it was time for my first race.
About a mile into the race I was already planning on doing another half marathon. To this date, I'm pretty sure that my first half marathon was the race where I have felt amazing throughout the entire thing (although it may have been an endorphin high). I cruised through the whole thing and never walked once, finishing in 2:09. Two days later I signed up for my next half marathon.
I was hooked. I heard a quote shortly after that is suiting.
"Running is like the mafia. Once you are in - you're in. There's no getting out."
So accurate it hurts. But hey, there are a lot worse things to be addicted to. Running has become my way of life and with it came a healthier diet, fitter body (-65lbs), and happier mind. Since that first 13.1 I have conquered 5 other 13.1's (and I'm about to take on my 7th on January 17th (my Birthday!), 8 5ks, countless other distance races, and 2 full marathons. I am preparing to take on Cleveland for the 4th year in a row this year, only I will be tackling the full marathon this time around with the goal of qualifying for Boston. I have also found a run club (Cleveland West Road Runners) which has brought me new friends and a running partner who is like a second father to me and one of the most supportive runners I know. Finally, it has brought me a community of runners on Instagram, some of which have become close friends and some I have met up with in person for runs!
So that's me! Thanks for reading my story. I plan to use this site to share my training, racing, recipes, and other things! Stay tuned!