Monday, May 18, 2009

Race Report: Cleveland Half Marathon 2009

Well, no pics of me yet, so you'll just have to hear me ramble. :)

Anyway, let me first say a huge shout out to all my Second Sole and CTC peeps who ran yesterday. I've run this race (half and full) several times and I think despite it having several bugs (like, um, THE FREAKING PACE CAR FOR THE 10K GOING THE WRONG WAY THREE YEARS AGO) it IS getting better. And I really do want my hometown race (which is 32 years old!) to do well, ya know? This year the atmosphere was awesome. You could tell they had really worked to embrace the Rock and Roll theme, and it showed. The course was full of spectators for most of the way which was nice. It's come a long way since I hobbled down a lonely, uninviting path and had to beg for a finisher's medal in my 5:14 marathon back in 2002.

Also, a HUGE shout out and thank you to Coach Emily. She's been amazing and knows just how hard to push me so I don't pansy out, while at the same time understanding my crazy insane time constraints. Thanks for everything! :)

So my super goal was 1:45. This was the upper limit of what I knew was possible, given that I'm 6 weeks past New Orleans and didn't really get many long runs in. My speed's been kickin', but I wasn't sure how my endurance would be or just how long I could hang on for dear life. So the plan was to go with the 3:30 pace group and hang as long as I could.

Race day was COLD (44 degrees) and clear skies. Which means PERFECTPERFECTPERFECT! for me. The poor guy next to me at the start line was from South Carolina and was shivering as I stood in my tank top and shorts. He asked me if I was crazy and/or cold. I told him, no...see...this is what I call KARMA from New Orleans! I put in my suffering death march down in the Big Easy. Now it's time for this YANKEE to kick some booo-tay in the cold!

The gun went off and I just KNEW it was going to be a good day. I knew even before then, actually. I knew I would PR (my previous PR was 1:50.06 from last year), and it was just a matter of how much.

I'll let my mile splits tell the story...


Kinda crowded and crazy, but felt nice and easy. We ran down by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and around Cleveland Browns Stadium.

An evening shot of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

We got a nice little climb back into town and then ran down all the fun little establishments on West 6th in the Warehouse District where I used to cause trouble on a weekly basis. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny morning, and after about 3 blocks I was nice and warm like I knew I would be. Today was going to be a good day; I just knew it.

You can see where we ran around the stadium and back up to the city here. Oh much to say. There's always next...decade?


My mind's jaw dropped a bit--I guess I didn't expect to see any sevens, which is crazy when you're going for an 8 minute/mile pace. Did I think I'd be all 8s? Still, it felt a little scary for me to flirt with disaster at a pace that used to be just a few seconds slower than my 5K pace. We ran by Jacobs Field (or Progressive Field--whatever. Still the Jake.) and The Q, where Game One starts again Wednesday. I was feeling good.

All hail the King.




At this point, I realized I just beat my previous 4 mile PR of 32.11. Nice!


Okay. Seeing an 8 made me feel a bit more at ease and a little less like I was walking a tightrope over a swirling pool full of ill-tempered sea bass. Broke 40 minutes and another PR of 40:02, my previous best at 5 miles.

6-- 8:01.

Hit the 10K in 49:40, which beat my previous record of 51:30 that I set in this very race last year. As an aside, I wonder what I could do in a short race now? At this point, I'm feeling so good that I high five a few kids. The pace felt SLOW. Since when is THIS MY REALITY?! WHO HAS HIJACKED MY BODY?


Easy-peasy. I could do this shizz all day. We were running through my old neighborhood and Matt's old neighborhood at this point, so I saw all kinds of fun memories on the street corners. Lots of great was at this point that I knew I was going to blow 1:50 away. No question. Just a matter of by how much. I couldn't help but wonder how long I could keep this up. Things were just too perfect.


8 and 9-- 16:20.

I missed the 9 mile marker, which was totally messing with my brain. I started to struggle just a bit catching up with the pacer after trying to suck down a Gu. My legs started to not respond to my brain quite as well. I knew this was it. Here comes the pain. I watched the pacer slowly creep away and his balloons bounce down the road ahead of me, creeping away slowly. "Run your own race...don't worry about foot in front of the other..." I hoped and prayed my Gu would kick in soon, and I feared the worst at the next mile marker.


Wait! Okay! I'm OKAY! What felt like 10 was really 8! Now we were turning onto the Shoreway along the lakeshore and I knew this could get hairy. It was a long, steady, gradual climb up the bridges back into the city. Could I do it? The Gu kicked in a little bit, but I could feel it. My legs were slowing down BIG TIME. I started a little mental war in my head. Most of it is not fit to be printed on this nice PG-13 rated blog. Let's just say I was screaming at myself and using lots of words that rhyme with duck and grass and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt and Ice Road Truckers.


Oh POOOOOOOOOOOOOOPSANDWICH. That was horrid. And it wasn't over yet, either. We weren't to the top yet. I did everything I could to make my legs keep up with my heart, but I was running out of steam.


THANK YOU ALMIGHTY. We are at the TOP of the freakin' Shoreway. The guy next to me said, "It's all downhill from here...we're almost there." And I managed a weak smile. We were. I looked at my watch and I knew. 1:50 was gone. Demolished. It was just a matter of how much, and that was still up to me.

13 and .1--8:56.

Finish time: 1:47.06.

A three-minute PR to the second.

Average pace 8:10/mile. 34th/394 in Age Group; 169/2368 females. I left everything I had out there. Nothing, and I mean nothing was left. I've never finished one of these--including a marathon--feeling like nothing was left. I've always held back a bit, so it was painfully fun to see what happens when you go all out and do something crazy risky.

It was sooooooooooo fun.

I got a bit verklempt at the finish line. If Bug and Matt were there, I would have lost it. I knew what this race meant, and I knew what I just capped off.

One solid year of 2 half marathons, 1 olympic distance triathlon, 1 marathon, and 2 half ironmans...ALL PR'S. Every. Single. ONE.

I had many fears when I was pregnant. Mostly having to do with the baby, its health, and my ability to raise it being a clueless person who was never into arts and crafts (seriously--I got a C in 6th grade art. Who gets a C in 6th grade art?! It remains my lowest grade ever to this day); who was completely overwhelmed and intimidated by Parent Magazines full of artsy ways to make a peanut butter sandwich, and who is repulsed by the color pink and felt WAAAAYYYY out of her element at Babies R Us. Then, with a few exceptions, all I seemed to hear when I was pregnant was how much "things would change" and how I'd have to give up "those races" I liked to do. Or how I would need to have "pre-baby PRs." And it petrified me. I knew I just could not sit home and do crafts. No way. That is not me...that has never been me, and I refuse to believe that is what a "good" mother has to be.

It doesn't. I know this now.

I owe everything that I've done in the past 12 months to Matt and to my Bug. Every PR is because of them. We've been very creative in our training and our lives. And we've made it work. Not just work, we've made it spectacular.

I feel like I barely recognize myself anymore.

Here I am now, 31 years old. I've been writing here for almost four years. And at this point, I can truly say that my life is full of more joy than I ever could imagine. It's busy and crazy, and I don't make three-tiered forts out of Cheerios or even really read the parenting magazines. But we laugh and smile all day, and this home is full of so much joy.

And I can race. Faster than I ever could before; faster than I ever thought I would. And I'm not done yet.

Not even close.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

1:47.06...or how I got 5 PR's for the price of 1

UPDATE: Apparently, I was right and chip was wrong. They adjusted all the times this morning due to a "data error." It's still 5 PRs for the price of one, though. So TST = Super Happy. :)


I am absolutely GIDDY!

I couldn't have asked for a more perfect race or day. I fizzled a bit the last 5K, but other than that, today was the culmination of a lot of work and dedication over several years. I may not be Boston material yet, but I'm gettin' there. :)

When I got to the 4 mile marker, I looked at my watch and thought, "Hmmm. There's a new PR."

Then I got to the 5 mile marker under 40 minutes and thought, "Well then. Another one."

Then I got to the 10K in 49:40 and checked another PR off again.

Then I got to 10 miles and thought, "HOLY CRAP. Can I hold onto this?"

Then the other shoe started to drop and reality set in. :) My Garmin kept going in and out (stupid buildings) and my watch said just a few seconds over 1:47, which was still a 3 minute PR and I was REALLY happy with. There's been a bit of a finishing time controversy, but it seems to be solved now.

Regardless, this was a big day for me, and I couldn't be happier! A full report will come later, but for now I'm timing up a little snooze in my new lounge chair in the backyard (my Mother's Day present from Bug and Matt!) with Bug's nap.

It was a good day for racing, indeed. :)

Friday, May 15, 2009

19 Months

Dear Jackson,

I'm listening to you drift off and babble now, while your Led Zeppelin lullabies are playing. Today we played outside and you said all kinds of words--like "bubbles" and "go!" and "bugsy" and of course, "Mama." I watched you go down the slide and run around with Mugsy's leash, and it was so much fun...just to watch you.

Sunday I'm running a race. I know it's too early to explain to you why Mommy likes to do this stuff, but mostly because it makes me healthy, Bug--and I want to be around you forever and ever and ever. I like to push myself as hard as I can, and I hope someday you'll see that and maybe think it's a good idea to push yourself, too. Not necessarily in running, but whatever path you choose.

So Sunday is the culmination of 19 months of joy with you in my life. Since you came in my life, I've learned a lot about myself, Little Man. I've learned that I can't handle everything and do it all. I've learned who my real friends are. I've learned that work is just work, and it will be there tomorrow. And I've learned that I can still be me with you--but an even better version of me with you putting your head on my shoulder.

You won't remember the training I did, but I can tell you I did it mostly in the morning or after you went to sleep, because I didn't want to miss one second with you, Bug. Not one second. So consequently, the training was done mostly alone, and not as many workouts as I would have done before I had you. But what I've come to realize is that despite this, I'm even stronger now than I was before. You make me faster, because I run to get home to you. I run faster during my tempo runs and pushes and repeats because I can't wait to hear your giggles. And if that means running by myself for a while, Bug, then that's a tradeoff I'm willing to take. No question.

So Sunday will be the last long race I do in a while. Because of this, I'm going to treat this like it's the last race I'll do in a year. Because, it just might be. I'm going to go as fast as I can and hold onto the pain as long as I can and hopefully hit my goal. And it will cap off the past 19 months which included two half ironman triathlons, an olympic distance triathlon, two half marathons and one full marathon. And you. Most importantly, you and your smiles and giggles.

You're the one who made me faster, because you are the one who rewired my head and my heart and made me believe in myself and the things I create.

I love you,

Friday, May 08, 2009

Not much is better

...than your first run in brand new shoes, sunset along the lakeshore, 66 degrees.

Not much that I can think of, at least.

My kids are taking their APUSH tests today, and I'm really proud of them. They are ready. That means life will also get a bit easier for me the next few weeks, and I can exhale.

Except for my race. That's next week.

I'm coming to terms with the fact that it's going to hurt. It's going to hurt, and my body will want to stop, and that's okay. I'm going to have to ignore that.

I stole a great quote from Coach Emily here (Thanks, Coach E! :) and put it up for my quote of the week on my board...because my kids were saying how TIRED they were and how they didn't think they could make it to Friday. It also will be good for me to think about next weekend:

"Now, if you're going to win any battle, you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give've got to make the mind take over and keep going." --General George S. Patton

A little bit of hurt is good. It reminds you you're alive.

A few more miles in the bank and then it's go time!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A Perfect Weekend

...despite my little surgery stuff.

Yesterday I rested, and definitely felt the effects of the surgery. I took another long nap, and then took Bug to see the ducks and the Lake with Matt.

Happy Bug.

"Duck!"--Jackson Bug

Coach Emily said I was to run "12 miles about 30 seconds slower than race pace." Two weeks from today is the big show. I was a little nervous after my run last weekend when I wanted to barf from my 4 miles at race pace, but I set out anyway. Matt went mountain biking in the morning so Bug and Mugsy and I had a nice long walk, followed by pushing around a plastic-bubble-making-lawn-mower around the yard. When Matt got home, it was his Bug Time and my time to run.

And it just clicked today.

It was tough at the end, but mostly because it was warming up a bit and I ran out of fluids. I went through 30 ounces and 1 gel during the run--and I could have used at least 6 ounces more so I could have one more gel at the end. But I held my pace and even ran the last one at 8:15.

12 miles. Average pace of 8:20. Pretty evenly split with even a little negative split.

So, one more mile and that would have had me at a PR for a half marathon today. But I focused on good nutrition and stretching, because today is not the day. Today is the last long training run. The day will be in 2 weeks, when I go as close to 8 minute miles as I can for 13.1 miles. Which is risky, but I just have a good feeling about it. It's going to be a good day.

For the rest of my Sunday, I grilled chicken with cranberry-orange sauce, baked potatoes, and made a nice salad. And then Bug, Matt, and I went to play at the park.

I forgot all about the fact that my stitched-up, gaping-wound-filled hair looks like Ethan Hawke's in Before Sunrise. And that this week is going to be INSANE in the MEMBRANE with the AP test Friday. I just got to listen to my little boy giggle on the swings, and it was allllllll good.

So in the words of the great Ice Cube, "I gotta say it was a good day."

Friday, May 01, 2009

I always wondered what I'd look like with blue highlights

So I had surgery today.


See, I've had these stupid lumps on my head forever...but they were getting bigger, so I had to have them removed. Not really a big deal, but still scary for me who has total "white coat" syndrome. Do you know how much fun it is to listen to the sound of incisions being made in your head, and then feeling the sewing of the BRIGHT BLUE stitches in your scalp?

Let me give you a hint. It's about as much fun as it was when I was awake and had to listen to the sound of my wisdom teeth being yanked out of my head. SQUISHHHHHHHHHHH.

In other words...FANTASTIC!

All kidding aside, it's over now and I'm lucky that nothing is serious. On a comical note, as I was in the recovery room, the nurse said to me, "Well, you must be a swimmer or runner or something." I replied that I was kind of all of the above (although swimming is questionable these days, until someone installs a pool in my basement), to which he replied that my heart rate never rose above 49 during the procedure and my oxygen was "at 100%. the whole time." Whatever that means. I know it's good, though, so that's pretty cool.

Training has been going well. I did a nice hour fartlek run on the dreadmill last night while watching Lost and The Office with Matt. Today I'm off, and tomorrow I probably will be, too, since I can't wash my hair until late tomorrow. I look pretty hawt right now, too. So I'm hoping to squeeze in a 12 mile run at :30 above race pace (so I'm looking at 8:30s) on Sunday evening. I think I'm going to have to dreadmill that, too, just so I'm not far from home in case anything should go wrong with the blue highlights. I'd rather do it on my own outside to practice pacing, but I gotta do what I gotta do. No sense being 4 miles from home with a bloody head, you know? The doc said I'd be fine to run this weekend, but I would just feel better near my house.

(Call me a pansy if you must.)

I'm getting psyched for the race. For several reasons, this may be my last aggressive goal for a little while. If you know me, then you know why. So I'm really looking forward to pushing it extra hard. Blowups be damned. "Well-behaved women seldom make history," no?

For now, I'm off to start a new trend...I hear blue plastic highlights are SO 2009.