I've have been meaning to write this post for a while and I have kept forgetting, but after a solo 20 miler on Sunday, I was reminded of why I love having running friends.
Chances are, if you are a runner, at one time or another you have ran with another runner or at least thought about it. A good training partner can be the difference between suffering through a long training run, and having an amazing 20 mile chat. They can teach you things, support you, encourage you, motivate you, and share in your triumphs.
However, the hardest part is finding the right running partner for you. More accurately, you have to allow your running partner to find you. Maybe it's at a group run. Maybe it's a meetup group. Or maybe it's a social media connection. Whatever it may be, it may take time and trials of finding the right partner. It sounds silly, I know, but your running partner is like starting a new relationship...you can't force it.
So I thought I would share the story of how I found my running partner, whom (if you've read my posts) you know I consider to be like a second father to me.
I had always been a solo runner. I swore I would never run with anyone, because I liked having "me" time and couldn't imagine having to hold pace with another runner or trying to talk while running. I also knew that anyone with you on a run sees some pretty unflattering things about you, to say the least, and couldn't imagine letting someone in like that.
My best friend and I would go to do our training runs in the same place, but we had VERY different paces (like 2 mins/mile) and so we would just run and then meet up at the end to get food. In May of 2014, she and I were both training for the Cleveland half and found out her uncle Jim would be running. I met him for the first time at the race and found out we had similar paces. Later in June, he and I met up for a couple training runs together since we both were training for our first full marathons.
After a few weeks, he introduced me to Cleveland West Road Runners, a running club he had found. I was hesitant to join a club, thinking that it wasn't for me, but he assured me it would be fun. I showed up and was instantly welcomed. I returned every week after that to run with Jim and the Saturday run club. We did all of our long training runs with the group, usually sticking with a few members (Rich, Beth, and Mike). Eventually though, Jim's marathon happened about a month before mine and afterwards, he left to join another club with a focus on speed and trails.
After Jim left, I bounced between running with different members of the club throughout my recovery from my marathon. As I registered for the Cleveland 2015 half marathon, I had a goal time in mind of running a 1:45 half marathon. I turned to running faster training runs, which led to me doing a lot of my training alongside Mike, who was training to knockdown his 10k time before Cleveland and the national senior games, in which he would be competing.
Before I knew it we were doing all of our runs together, as we were the club members travelling the farthest distance in the winter. Mike has over 40 years of running experience, including several Boston marathons and collegiate running experience, so he was constantly providing me with tips and advice. We both ran Cleveland (me the half and him the 10k) and when I finished the half I was surprised to see him waiting to watch me cross to see if I got my goal time (I didn't) because I hadn't asked him to do that and we never discussed it. He supported me and cheered me up, commending me on a great race and PR despite awful conditions.
After I recovered and Mike went to the National Senior Games, we both began fall marathon training (me Free Press and him Towpath) and he shifted his training plan to align with mine. He helped me to pick realistic time goals, kept me on pace for training runs, and we started long runs at 6:30am to beat the heat. Our run club started referring to us as running buddies and would ask each other where the other was if one of us was every absent.
Eventually, we worked a half marathon into our training plan and ran it together. It was the Rock Hall Half Marathon and it was the first time I ever ran a race with someone else. It was great. He held me on pace and we distracted each other with stories and comments. When my foot started acting up around mile 10, he refused to leave me and backed down the pace. He held with me through the rough part, but forced me to kick it up near the end when we realized I was going to PR. He helped me run in to a new 3 minute PR.
After the race, we continued marathon training together and he ran another half in the middle of September to try to qualify for the NYC Marathon. I worked the water stop with the club, and cheered for him as he streamed by. When he came up a little short in the end, I texted him support as he had done for me in Cleveland. In early October, he ran the Towpath Marathon to try to BQ. I cheered at the half marathon mark as he surged by ahead of his goal time for the half. I waited with his wife and another club member at the finish for him, knowing a 3:37 would get him in to Boston. Around the 3:35 mark we saw him and we all went nuts, knowing he was going to Boston. It was at that moment, I knew I had to go to Boston in 2017.
Since then, we have supported each other in countless races and planned to run the Cleveland full together where he will help pace me to a BQ. He has been guiding me in my training and helping me understand how to work in speed work and increase the mileage. Even more so, I found a friend, with whom I discuss my career, education, life, goals, etc. The entire club gets together outside of running for meals, parties, and get togethers.
That's the story of how I found my running partner who has made me a better runner and improved my running experience. While I can't tell you exactly how to find your "Mike", I can say that you may have to step outside of your comfort zone to do it. I also have to say that even if you think that group running is not for you, try it at least once before you make that decision. It could change your running for the better and you may make a friend for life.
Happy Sunday and Happy Easter!
Just wrapped up another week of marathon training today. Despite the fact that this week involved spring break, a trip to the beach, and frantically trying to get organized, the training went great and I got every run in. The only thing that I slacked on a little was the planking, so no new PRs, but the streak is still going strong. Today will be day 50.
Monday - Mile Repeats
Monday involved mile repeats and I had to wait to do them until the afternoon and was unsure of what to expect because of that but it ended up being a good workout. Mile 1 was a warm up at 8:12/mile. 2-4 were mile repeats at 6:53 avg (6:49, 7:00, 6:50). Mile 5 was a cool down at 8:23. 7:27/mile for the whole thing. Plank streak day 44 was 6 minutes.
Tuesday - Easy Long Run
Knowing that I had to make an 8 hour drive on Wednesday and it probably wasn't smart to try to run before or after it, I decided to make Tuesday into a longer run to be able to take a day off on Wednesday. Got 8 miles in at 8:38/mile. Plank streak day 45 was 4 minutes.
After Wednesday's day off, I had fresh legs which was great for exploring the boardwalk in Atlantic City. I cruised the boardwalk for 5 miles at 8:05/mile and then worked in a .5 mile cool down on the beach. Discovered how hard beach running is in the sand. Plank streak day 47 - 6 mins.
On Friday I set out for another 5 miles along the boardwalk. 5.1 miles at 8:41/mile followed by plank streak day 48 for 8 minutes.
Sunday - 20 Mile Long Run
Saturday was another 8 hour drive back to Ohio so I knew that I had to move the long run to Sunday...which meant I would be doing 20 solo miles, because as much as my running partner is willing to accomodate my schedule, asking him to do 20 miles on Easter Sunday was too much even for him. I had nightmares about the run the night before because I knew I had a lot working against me, because I was on vacation all week and ate like crap, knew I would be running without my partner, and I figured the park would be empty because it was Easter. However, when I got to the park everything changed. People were out walking, running, and cycling to enjoy the gorgeous weather, the sun was shinning, and there was no wind. My legs really enjoyed moving after being confined to the car yesterday and I hydrated really well for this run. Everything felt good today. I also could finally eat candy now that Lent is over so I made candy my mid-run snack and used it as motivation. 8:49/mile which was just about right where I wanted to be pace-wise.
Another great week of training down, and it came to 43.1 miles at 8:29/mile. 36 Minutes of planking. Legs feel good and I'm proud of myself for logging the miles during break/vacation. The ice bath I took today helped with the recovery too.
Another Sunday, another week of Cleveland Marathon training knocked out! This week involved a lot of miles and a lot of hard runs, and yet, the legs feel good and my body reacted well to all of it! Also a new plank pr for me this week - 9 Minutes! Never could I have ever imagined I could plank for 9 minutes straight.
Monday - Mile Repeats
So I've never done mile repeats before, but I had good advice from my running partner on how to handle them. I set out for 5 total miles with three mile repeats in the middle. My goal was to do at least 7:15 for each mile, but apparently my legs were up for a challenge because I did them a lot faster. Mile 1 - 8:23, Mile 2 - 6:58, Mile 3 - 6:43, Mile 4 - 6:50, Mile 5 - 8:21. 7:27 average for the full thing. Definitely didn't enjoy mile repeats, but they did make me feel really proud of myself when I was done. Plank streak day 37 was 4 minutes.
Tuesday - Recovery Run
Took this run easier to recover my legs with 6.2 miles at 8:24/mile. Followed it up with plank streak day 38 for 5 minutes.
Wednesday - Let's call it a "resistance" workout
This run was supposed to be a tempo run, but I changed my plans when I set out for the run and realized that the winds were up to about 35 mph. There was probably 1 mile of this run where I wasn't facing a headwind, and it was a consecutive mile. I ended up trying to run hard for the whole time. It ended up being a solid workout of 6 miles at 8:11/mile. Plank streak day 39 - 5 minutes.
Thursday - Recovery run
Set out on St. Paddy's day for a nice and easy recovery run. My legs were pretty heavy from the day before, and the wind was still pretty strong. I got in 5 easy miles at 8:43/mile. Plank streak day 40 was 5 minutes.
Friday - Rest Day
As usual, Friday was a nice day off and full of hydration and carbing up for my 18 miler. I did do one workout though, Plank streak day 41 was a PR of 9 minutes!
Saturday - 18 Mile Long Run
Saturday brought my 18 miler. I was aiming for around 9 minute miles or a little under based on my goal marathon pace. My running partner, his friend, and I decided to do 2 loops to break up the run. We did a first loop out 6.5 and back 6.5 and then a second loop out 2.5 and back 2.5. For the first 6.5 we held around 9:10 average. On the 6.5 back we were right around 9 minute miles. Once I got back to the car I was having an issue with my new shoes and I switched to my old pair. On the 2.5 out we kicked it up a little to about 8:50/mile average. On the way back I was ready to test my legs for the last 2.5 so I left my running partner with his friend and made myself work for the last bit. For miles 15.5 to 17, I held 8:20 and then for mile 18 I kicked it up to 8:15. The whole run came in at 8:51 average and it felt great.
After the run I celebrated by making myself a homemade gluten free pizza with probably the best crust I have ever had (meaning it tasted normal!). I also got in plank streak day 42 and did 11 minutes total (two 4 minute planks, one 2 minute plank, and one 1 minute plank).
This week wrapped up perfectly and I'm thrilled with how my body reacted to the increase in mileage. 40.2 miles at 8:29 average. 45 Minutes of planking. Bring on next week which will involve out of state runs (spring break ;)) and the first 20 miler of the cycle!!
Happy Monday! Writing the blog post about week 7 of Cleveland Marathon training a little late because some things came up yesterday and I wasn't in the right state of mind to write my recap. Last week was a recovery week following the Green Jewel 50k and in looking forward to the high mileage that this week will bring. It also brought my new plank PR of 7 minutes and 30 seconds.
Monday - Rest day, 1.5 Mile Swim
While I normally do a tempo run on Mondays, my legs and joints were still stiff from the race and I decided that it woud be best to take a second recovery day. I opted to get into the pool instead, knowing it would loosen up my tightness. I got in 1.5 miles of swimming and when I was done, everything was feeling great and I knew I would be good to get back into running the next day. For plank streak day 30, I did 4 minutes.
Tuesday - Just run until you feel like you are done
Can't summarize Tuesday's run any other way than to say I did it on feel. I had no clue how fast or far I was going. I just knew that it was warm and sunny and I was ready to get out there. I ended up doing a 10k at 8:14/mile. I did the first 3.7 pretty fast and then I ran into some members of my run club and ran at a much easier pace with them until about 5.7 miles. I then kicked it up a little and headed home, getting to my 6.2 mile mark. Wrapped it up with plank streak day 31 at 6 mins.
Wednesday - Little bit of speed
I decided to test my legs with a little bit of speed, but not a true speed workout. I ran to a different park and back for 5.1 miles at 7:55/mile. My splits were pretty even the whole way and my body reacted well, I think, due to the 2 days off and the easier run on Tuesday. The rain held off for the entire run and I wrapped up with plank streak day 32 for 4 minutes and 15 seconds.
Thursday - Recovery Run
I decided to take it easy for Thursday's run. Again, I set out with no real distance goal, except I knew I wanted at least 5 miles. It rained the whole time, but it was a lot of fun because it was 63 degrees. I was going to do 5 miles but then I miscalculated and knew it was going to be 6. Around 5.5 my legs reminded me of the race I ran the previous Saturday, and felt like rocks. I pushed through and finished up with 6 miles at 8:38/mile. Plank streak day 33 was 3 minutes.
Friday - Rest day and new plank PR
No running on Friday, only hydrating and carbing up. I did my plank and decided to go for a new PR, since I usually have luck on non-running days. I got it! 7 minutes and 30 seconds with some serious shaking going on at the end.
Saturday - 14 Mile Long Run
My running partner was back from his injury and finally able to meet up with the training plan! He did the full 14 miles and 11 of them were with me. He held me on pace for the first 8, within them coming out to around 8:48/mile, and then gave in to my pulling, which brought us closer to 8:30s for the next three. The last 3 miles I kicked off on my own, holding 8:09s for each mile. I was able to negative split this long run, which is my goal for the remainder of the long runs in this training cycle. I ended up with 8:40/mile for the entire run.
After the run, I did plank streak day 35 which came out to a total of 10 minutes - One 4 minute plank, one 3 minute plank, two 1:30 planks.
I celebrated a great workout day with a Freschetta Gluten Free pizza (I highly recommend this kind) and nice glass of wine. :)
Overall, another good week of training. 31.3 miles at 8:27/mile and 39 minutes and 45 seconds of planking. Bring on the big mileage week!
Yesterday I took part in my first ever relay and my first ever 25(ish)k. I say ish because my leg ran long, but we will get to that later. The race ended up being awesome for both my partner and me because we both competed exactly like we wanted to and came in as the 2nd place co-Ed relay team. So here is my summary of how it went.
Friday was spend watching the weather and hydrating and carbing up. It snowed here on Friday and I was worried about the snow freezing and turning to ice and messing with the footing on the path.
After work I stopped in to pick up my packet and headed home to carb up. Once again I had my standard spaghetti and ground beef pasta and toast. So simple but it works great for me and it doesn't mess with my stomach. I relaxed and stretched out my legs while watching Netflix. I also had to study the hourly forecast to try to plan my outfit, knowing that it could be sunny, rainy, and snowy during my leg. I then headed to bed somewhat early.
Saturday morning, I waited a while to eat my breakfast until 7:30. knowing that my leg wouldn't start till 11. I had my standard toast, banana, coffee, water, and Nuun. My relay partner showed up at 8:15 and we headed over to the start, which was only 10 minutes from my house (awesome right?). I waited with him at the start before his leg and dropped my bag. They took off at 9 and I had 2 hours to kill. Luckily the race started where my run club starts so my running partner and club showed up right after the start and I talked with them for a little and strategized with my running partner. We decided that although it was a training run, it would be okay to treat it more like a race and hold something in the 8:15-8:20 range. I said goodbye to them around 9:15 and drove through the park to the relay exchange, yelling at my partner as I drove by him.
I got to the exchange around 9:30 and began my long wait until my leg. I hate waiting for races to start. I get really bad anxiety while waiting for races to start and having to kill an hour and a half alone in my car was torture. I blasted my music and scrolled through Instagram to kill time.
I headed to the porta-potty (lol) around 10:40 and made conversation with some other runners in line. We discussed our terribly hilly portion of the route and I met a couple people who knew my relay partner and who I was going to lunch with after. I also met a woman whose husband was running the race and she wished me luck.
Around 10:50 I decided to head over to the exchange and get my watch, music, and shoes set to go. I bent over to tighten my shoes and heard "Heather, Jim's here!!!" My partner was in early and I wasn't ready to go yet. I quickly laced up my shoe, threw in my headphones, started my watch without the satellites ready, and took off.
I made it my goal to hold the first 4 miles under eight minute miles. Around mile four I caught up to two guys were ahead of me and running the full 50k. One was pacing the other and the pacer had won this race the year prior. The pacer gave me advice on strategy, warning me about the hills and how he doesn't know anyone who runs the hills. He told me to bank energy to handle the hills and that I needed to be ready to take off again after the hills if I wanted to hold my lead. My friend (the woman from the bathroom) drove by and cheered for me. I ran with the two guys, sharing stories until mile 19 for them, which was 5.1 for me. They stopped at the water stop and I ran through. They stayed about 3 tenths of a mile behind me at all times and I held about 7:50 avg through mile 8.
At 8 I took my gel and noticed that the hills were starting. I kicked myself a little for my standard "I don't like to see the course map" because I wish I would have slowed a little sooner before the hills. Right before I got to monster hill #1, I had to pull over because my gel decided to come back up. The two guys passed me after checking to see if I was okay. I took off after them and started up the hill. About half way I called it and walked because I saw the two guys do that. When we got to the top, I kicked it back up. I settled back in at an 8:30 for a while, and we headed back down hill. I was thrilled to get through that hill till I saw the next one. I headed back up it, running about halfway again until my legs were screaming, and I walked, again, following the guys ahead of me. After that hill we headed back down and it was about mile 12 and only little rolling hills left. I ran out of Nuun at this point and I couldn't find any aid stations after the first one I saw. I was a little worried but luckily it wasn't too hot and I had one more gel to get me through it. The picture below doesn't do the beast of a hill justice.
Knowing it was only four miles left of mostly downhill I kicked off again, wanting to bank some fast miles. I worked in an 8:40, then 8:30, and 8:15. After 13.1 I really started wanting water and getting mad that I never saw an aid station. I told myself it was a simple 5k left and I would get through it. During mile 14 I met Allison, a woman I had been running down for a while. As I passed her I told her she was awesome because I had watched her run every single hill and she didn't even look tired. She and I went back and forth from 14.5 to 15. At 15 I saw that it was all down hill and I bolted. I kicked it up to 7 mins/mile and soon I was running 6:40. I couldn't believe I had that much left in the tank at the end. At 15.7 I passed the pacer who was watching and waiting for me. He cheering at me as I sprinted passed telling me how strong I was for powering through and yelling not to stop. My watch dinged at 16 and I saw no sign of the finish line. I knew it would be closer to 16.1, but when I got there I saw no sign of a finish. I worried I made a wrong turn or something, but I kept going. My legs started hurting because my mind was panicking about where the finish was. At 16.4 I saw the arrow and made my turn. I kicked it up and passed the race officials and saw my relay partner waving at the finish. I kicked it around the last bend and crossed the line with my relay partner at 16.6 miles. 4:15 for the both of us. Allison crossed a couple minutes behind us.
I grabbed some water and Tailwind and chatted with Allison and her partner. I also chatted with my pacer friend and found out that his wife was the woman from the bathroom who cheered for me every time she drove past! Soon after, they started the awards. We found out we were second place co-Ed relay team and Allison and her partner took 3rd. I managed to hold about an 8:20 for my leg of the relay which makes me very happy with all of those hills. I'm glad I took a risk and treated this as something more like a race, because the results make me confident in where I am at so far. With almost 2 months left until race day, I'm thrilled. I would definitely recommend this race in the future, and the only issue I had was that the aid stations late in the course were located off the course, which is why I never saw them. All in all, it was a great time.
Writing this recap while I veg out from today's race with Netflix and my fleece blanket. Another good week of training knocked out and this week included a race. It also brought 2 new plank prs, 6 mins and then 7 mins. This week taught me a lot about myself and showed that my strength training and speed workouts are working. Sunday was plank streak day 22 at 6 mins.
On Monday I just got home from my weekend trip to Boston and wasn't sure what to expect for my training run. It was supposed to be a tempo run but I decided to scale it back a little bit knowing that I was still little bit tired from walking all weekend and for my tough training run the Saturday before. I could definitely feel that my legs were a little heavy when I took off, so I made it my goal to just kind of try to stay below dates for the whole run ended up with 5 miles at 7:40 minutes per mile. Plank streak day 23 at 4 mins.
Tuesday was another somewhat quick paced run knowing that it was going to be the last fast run until the race on Saturday. I ended up with 5 miles at 8:14 per mile. I ended up doing this run on the treadmill because of the crazy rain that began pouring as soon as I was about to head outside for my run. Usually rain doesn't bother me however it was kind a cold too and I just really wasn't feeling running outside on Tuesday. Plank streak day 24 at 5 mins.
On Wednesday, I managed to talk myself into going outside despite the freezing cold temperatures and blowing snow. I knew I was going to set out for an easy run with the race only being a few days away I ended up putting in 4 miles at 8:32 minutes per mile. Followed up by plank streak day 25 at 7 minutes.
Thursday was a very easy run 4 miles at 8:35 per mile. I knew I need to take this one very easy with the race only been a couple days away. It was a little chilly out but all in all it was not too bad and I had some beautiful views on this run. Plank streak day 26 at 4 mins.
Thursday was a very easy run 4 miles at 8:36 per mile. I set out to just enjoy the run knowing that I really need to take it easy since the race was on Saturday. It was a little chilly but overall it wasn't too bad out and I really enjoyed my views on this run.
This was my rest day and it was spent picking up my packet for my race on Saturday carbing up and hydrating all day long. I worked in a very easy plank at three minutes for streak day 27. I also spent this day praying for the temps to rise and the snow to melt.
Saturday was race day! This was the Green Jewel 50 K Relay. I opted to run this race because I needed a 16 mile training run and I knew that the second leg of the race was 16.1 miles. I figured it was a great way to test where I was that endurance wise and to see if I was on track with my goal for Cleveland. I'm going to write up a full blog post on how this race went but overall it was a great race for me. My running partner and I both did incredibly well placing second overall for the coed relay. Despite some huge hills halfway into my leg of the relay, I came out and about at 8:20 average for my leg which made me very happy. I felt good and I felt like I had a lot left in the tank which is good because a marathon is 10 more miles. Full recap will be up tomorrow night!
if you're like me, you love sweets....I mean who doesn't right? But if you're also like me, you don't want to undo your whole day with your snacks. So that's why I love this recipe for cookie dough yogurt because it looks and tastes like cookie dough, fills my sweets craving, and is still nutritious.
What you will need:
- 1 plain fat free Greek yogurt cup
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- sweetener of choice (I used my stevia drops, but when I use stevia packets I do 2 packets)
1. Start by putting the Greek yogurt into a small bowl
2. Add the peanut butter.
3. Add the vanilla and the sweetener and stir.
4. Add the chocolate chips.
5. Stir well until the peanut butter is smooth and mixed evenly throughout. The mixture will be an even light brown color.