Cleveland Marathon -8K and Half- Challenge Series: Race Recap

I can’t believe the weekend is over. I have been training since January for this past weekend’s races, and just like that, it’s over. I’m feeling a little let down – after all, what do I do now?

I don’t have a normal training week to share with you. Did I run last week? Yes – I got in a few taper runs and a stroller run Sunday through Wednesday and took Thursday off. The bulk of my running last week was done Saturday and Sunday for the Cleveland Marathon Challenge Series!

Let’s just say that the weather was NOT in my favor for the weekend’s events. I was weather stalking for quite a few days, and each day, the forecast got hotter and hotter. I hadn’t trained in anything really warmer than 50 degrees, so I was obviously a little nervous as I saw it creep from 60s to 70s and the to .. gasp …  80s?! At that point, I knew the only thing I could do would be hydrate and hope for the best. Not a PR, but not my worst race.

Starting the Weekend with the 8K

I had signed up for the 8K/Half Marathon Challenge Series, which meant my race weekend started on Saturday with an 8K in Downtown Cleveland.

The weather, while NOT super hot, ended up not being the best either. This was the radar as we started to drive into the city.

The temps ended up being fine, but it drizzled as we approached the starting line, and started really raining while we ran. Still, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “At least it’s not too warm!” Yes, I prefer 50s and rainy to 80s, at least at this point in my training.

At the start, I ran into a few fellow Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors, and it was just enough time to snap a pic before the race began.

I tried to keep it a little easy on the run, knowing I had the 13.1 miles less than 24 hours later. So, I kept my heart rate mostly in the green range and according to my Garmin, around a 9:08 min/mile pace. I clocked in at over 5 miles, so who knows if all the zigging and zagging gave me an extra quarter mile or if the course was a little long.

I felt myself smiling nearly the whole race. I was that person thanking the cops for being there and keeping the roads closed, high fiving some of the people spectating (including FW!) and really just enjoying being out there. Despite the rain, I was feeling good and hoping that I’d feel the same on Sunday.

The Half Marathon

Sunday started EARLY. And warm. I had set my alarm for 4 a.m. just to get ready, feed LM (I’m still breastfeeding and wanted to get in a quick feed before the race) and get downtown with enough time to meet up with my ambassadors at the starting line by 6:30. We had the whole morning planned. Leave the house by 5:45 a.m., get breakfast from Cleveland Bagel at 6 a.m., park in my office parking garage at 6:15 a.m. and be at the starting line for a picture with the ambassadors.

That was the plan, at least. What actually happened? We didn’t make it out of the house until 5:55, so we skipped bagels, and then the road we were going to take to get to the garage was closed, so we ended up parking almost 2 miles from the start, so I made a mad dash (a literal sprint) to the starting line to just make the starting line photo. But I made it! Sweaty since it was already getting warm – it was already in the 70s before 5 a.m.!

The race started and I wish I could say the first few miles felt good. But they didn’t. I was somehow a little sore/tight/tired (perhaps from the previous day’s race? Or perhaps from my sprint to the start? And I was hot.

IMG_20190519_111339_110

At mile 2, I took a spill, falling completely down on the ground and bloodying up my knees, shin, right ankle, hand and also rolling my left ankle.

I saw B at mile 5 or so (which was the third time I saw him and the kids – they were great at finding me and cheering me on!) and told him I wasn’t going to make it. I was too hot, my ankle was sore and my feet were starting to hurt. And my fingers were swelling. But all of a sudden  – I don’t know why or how – I realized that I was running this for fun. So I may as well try and have fun. So that’s what I decided to do! Every sign I saw that said “touch here to power up” I touched. Every person giving out high fives, I high fives. I ran through sprinklers. Ran under hoses. Walked through water stops and drank 1-2 cups each time. And before I knew it, I was finishing the race – not a PR at all – and crossing the finish line to meet my family, see some friends (including fellow ambassadors Andrew and Melissa!) and have a post-race beer.

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It was a hot one, especially for Cleveland this time of year where it’s usually in the 60s, 70s. Most of my fellow ambassadors found themselves running 10, 20, and even 30 minutes+ slower than usual. I saw several ambulances on the course, people getting sick and being taken off the course. Especially after the tragedy of the weekend (which I ran past and happened to see at the end of the race … ), I’m feeling especially grateful to have finished the race and had fun, despite the heat and less-than-stellar temps.

And in the end, I ended up with THREE medals for my 8K and 13.1:

Some questions for you:

  • Did you run CLE? What did you think of the course?
  • What’s the hottest race you’ve run? This was 81 when I finished. It was one of the hottest for sure!

I’m linking up with Deborah and Kim for the Weekly Run Down.

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Race Weekend: Challenge Series Recap

As I mentioned in my weekend recap post, this weekend was the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race weekend! For the past few years, I have been taking part in the Challenge Series, which involves running an event on Saturday (either a 5k or 8k) and then an event on Sunday (either a 10k or full/half marathon).

This year, being 39 weeks pregnant, I opted to participate in (notice I didn’t say run) the 5k/10k events. And since I was selected as a race ambassador, how could I say no?

Part One: The 5k

This is the first year that B and I haven’t lived downtown since I’ve been running the marathon events, so our morning tradition was a little different from usual. Typically, we’d roll out of bed, spend a few minutes getting ready and then walk to the starting line. This year, we had to figure out parking, traffic, etc. Luckily, the road closures for the 5k are minimal and don’t affect our commute, so we still made it downtown pretty easily.

Since I did the 8k last year, the 5k course was pretty nice – I loved being able to turn off early! We started in Public Square, ran around Brown’s Stadium, up E 9th to E 12th and pretty much then retraced our steps back to Public Square.

There are 2 serious (well for me) hills on the course, but the first mile was all downhill so I knew I could run it without stopping. This is a big deal, since there are only a few occasions recently that I’ve run a full mile without taking some breaks.

The rest of the course I ran/walked until we crossed the finish at just under 40 minutes, which put the pace at around 12:57 min/mile. (My Garmin clocked us at 3.3 miles, thus the change in pace, etc.)

Was it my slowest 5k ever? Actually – it was slightly faster than last weekend’s Sabre Run 5k! Also – B WORE FW! He had FW in a backpack and ran along side of me “just in case” (see comment above about being 39 weeks pregnant). How amazing is that?

RUNNING LIKE THIS

I’m so grateful for his support throughout my pregnancy and crazy running. Especially this time around when running has gotten more painful and I’m sure my attitude hasn’t been as great as it was when I was pregnant with FW. I couldn’t have done it without them!

Part Two: The 10K

Sunday morning, B, FW and I headed downtown even earlier for the 10K. Luckily, I was able to park in my parking garage and get to the are start around 6:30. Unluckily, despite it looking clear on the radar, it was raining/misting the whole walk to the start line, and it didn’t stop. Let’s just say I was nearly soaked before we had even started the race.

The 10K was a lot harder for me than the 5k. I was sore from the race the day earlier – my pelvis area, below my belly and feet were not having it. So, there was a LOT more walking than the day before.

Despite the walking and rain, we still finished in about 1:30, which I was pretty happy with for how I was feeling.  And, being so slow, I noticed much more than I typically notice when I run!

For example, I enjoyed the course entertainment. Even in running only 6.2 miles, we got to enjoy several bands. I also noticed (and appreciated) all the mile markers. And the aid stations. You know, just in case! Oh, and I always LOVE the Challenge Series swag. Especially the 3 medals!

And once again, a BIG thank you to B and FW for keeping me company. This was the longest run/walk/anything I had done in some time, and them being by my side made it so much easier.

AND that’s a wrap! Another Cleveland Marathon weekend in the books. 9.3 miles covered and that was PLENTY for my pregnant self this year.

Some questions for you:

  • Do you do challenge races – or races where you run 2 days in a row?
  • Ever run CLE before? (if not – I recommend it!! if you can’t tell!)

Linking up with My No-Guilt Life, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and MCM Mama Runs!

Disclosure: I’m a Cleveland Marathon race ambassador. I get complimentary admission to run the races in exchange for sharing my experience. As always, views are my own. 

Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon Challenge Series Recap (2017)

Wow – I can’t believe this is my last Training Tuesday post for this year’s stint as a Cleveland Marathon Ambassador. I feel so truly grateful to have been able to participate in the experience this year again and share my training with you and the other amazing ambassadors.

Said amazing ambassadors

This year I had signed up for the Challenge Series – the 8k and Half Marathon. This would mean that I would run an 8k Saturday morning, followed by the half marathon Sunday morning. (You may recall I did the Challenge Series last year, but the 5k/10k, since I was 30+ weeks pregnant)

8K

This year looked a little different. First, the races were downtown, which was great! They were a 10 minute walk from my apartment and the courses were wider and more open than last year. I didn’t run with FW but we did get a pre-race pic.

I wanted to “take it easy,” knowing I had a half marathon the next day; but of course I took it a little faster than I would’ve liked. About 1 mile in, I found fellow Ambassador, Sara, running with her boy and her stroller! We ended up running the rest of the course or 4ish miles together. It was great to have someone to talk to for those last miles – it made them fly by!

Saturday was PERFECT running weather. It was 50 degrees, overcast and a little breezy. I couldn’t have asked for better conditions for the 8k.

pre-8k with some other ambassadors

Half Marathon

Sunday was a different story for the half marathon. Looking ahead at the weather all week, I was nervous for race day. It was due to be upper 70s (one day it forecasted 78 … ick!) and 100% chance of thunderstorms.  Definitely not ideal running weather, especially for me, as I have not been training outside much during this training season.

But, luck was on our side.  I woke up and it was mid-60s and NOT raining. I made it to the start and then began to wait in the massive porta potty line. And by massive, I mean that I was still waiting when the race started. I ended up heading inside the Q to use the restroom and Mary and I jumped into Corral D (we were supposed to be B or C) for the start. We discussed our goals – we decided that it would be to “survive the humidity … or get a PR.”

For the first few miles, we spent most of the time running/walking/dodging people and walkers. But after a few miles in, we were finally able to get into a good pace and enjoy the course. This year was a new course and I LOVED it. It took us part of the way through downtown, into the Flats, into Tremont, throughout the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood and then back downtown on Detroit (no dreaded running on the boring hot Shoreway!!).

How did I do? I felt pretty good for the first few miles. And B even surprised me by cheering us on with FW throughout the course! I knew he was watching, but didn’t expect to see him 4 different times, so that was great. About mile 6-7 I started to get pretty hot and thirsty and my fingers began to swell up. I took in part of an expired Salted Caramel Gu that I had found in our apartment but it tasted funny so I dropped it just in time to pick up a Vanilla Honey Stinger from the course around mile 8. I made sure to get water at every stop throughout and even dumped some on me.

smiles before the race

Around mile 11, I was spent. I told Mary she could go ahead of me as soon as we saw the bridge to back downtown; the thought of going up the hill made me nervous and more tired. Mary looked at me and said, “We will get under 2 hours!” She dashed ahead and I tried to keep up somewhat as I made it up the bridge and back into downtown.

I finished as strong as I could and was pleased to find out that my finish time was 1:58:07. Was it the PR I was hoping for in the weeks ahead? No. But it was under 2 hours, a solid race for my first post-baby half marathon, especially considering the humid conditions.

I’m feeling a little bit emotional now that my training is done. Or maybe it was the 2 engagements that happened this weekend during the running festivities? Either way, for some reason, this year’s race has left me a little misty eyed. Must mean it’s time to sign up for another race!

Some questions for you:

  • Did you run Cleveland? What did you think?
  • Have you ever done a Challenge Series – two day – race?

Linking up with My No-Guilt Life, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and MCM Mama Runs!

Disclosure: As I mentioned, I’m an ambassador for the event. This means I got free race admission, entry to give away AND a cool shirt. 

Training Tuesday: Akron Marathon Relay Race Recap

My first relay is done!

This past weekend, I ran the Akron Marathon Relay. I ran with some of my fellow Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors. I’m not going to lie – going into the race, I was pretty nervous. I’d never done a relay before and all the logistics made me uneasy. Where did I start? Did I run with a baton? (a la track and field) What is this slap bracelet I run with? How would I find my other team members? Needless to say, we ROCKED it.

B and I decided last minute to spend Friday night in Akron so we wouldn’t have to drive back and forth twice to go to the Expo Friday and race Saturday morning. So Friday late after work, B and I headed down to Akron for the Expo. I love race expos and it was so great to see the famous Blue Line in real life and feel all the amazing energy at the show!

We had gotten Flaming Ice Cube for dinner and I had my standard pre-race or long-run meal before we headed to bed. I had a 5:15 a.m. wakeup to get ready for!

Relay Ready!

Saturday morning came quickly, as most people in the hotel were also going to the race. I heard doors opening and closing starting around 4:30 a.m. (the hotel had a shuttle to the start at 5:30 a.m.) and I was able to get up, get race ready, and drink some water and eat part of a bagel. My stomach was acting up, which is unusual for me. I rarely have actual stomach issues, but for some reason this morning my stomach was not liking food OR water.

Warning: if you’re not a runner, feel free to not read on. It’s just about running and involves multiple portapotty visits, which, if you’re not a runner (and even if you are a runner) may be TMI.

B and I got to the starting line around 6:30 a.m. so I could meet up with some of my fellow Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors. We parked near a McDonald’s and as B grabbed breakfast I had to make bathroom trip #2-3. I couldn’t finish my half of bagel and just really hoped that I would make it another few hours until I had to start.

We made it to the starting line and I had enough time to hit up the porta potty Then, we had just enough time to snap a few photos before it was time before it was 7 a.m. and the race began!

Starting line photo (From Stephani)

 

I was able to find Jill, Dan and Stephanie, but not Andrew, our first relay runner. I was hoping to find him before we started so I could see what he was wearing and we could discuss the bracelet handoff, but alas, he was nowhere to be found. After the start, it was time to make my way to my start.

We got to leg #2’s start, a few blocks away, and I knew I had like 35 minutes to kill before Andrew got there. I had enough time to hit up the porta potty line twice and decided that it was not worth it to drink any water. I knew I was dehydrated but figured it wasn’t worth it  – I didn’t want to get sick during the race!

I waited for Andrew to come and soon they started to call Bib Numbers. Andrew is speedy, and sure enough, I was one of the first runners to be called. I made my way onto the street and grabbed the slap bracelet as Andrew ran up to me. It was go-time!

The 5.7 miles I ran are kind of a blur. I know that I wasn’t feeling my best. I was feeling slow, sluggish and slightly dehydrated and woozy (likely from so many bathroom trips). I was running with some of the faster marathoners (Andrew runs a 6:45 min/mile pace, so many of the runners were running about that speed too!) and I was getting passed nearly every second. I started the run on an incline and there were rarely any flat spots.

elevation

Course elevation – see! No flat spots.

I passed a few water and gatorade spots but didn’t want to stop for water because I felt selfish – after all, I wasn’t a marathoner or even half-marathoner, so who was I to stop for water? Also, I worried that I’d feel sick again and I knew I couldn’t let my team down and slow down to stop for the bathroom! Around mile 3, I knew I had to take in some water, so I grabbed a cup and drank a few sips. Sure enough, I started to feel sick again. I knew I just had to make it to the finish. A few hills and miles later, and finally I saw the sign that we were ready for the relay handoff. I got to the point where I was supposed to meet Stephanie (leg #3), and she wasn’t there. I called her name, stopped for maybe half a second, and she appeared! Finally. I was done.

I made my way to through the crowd in a daze. I was tired, needed water, and felt discouraged. I felt like I had let my team down – I knew I had been going so much slower than I had expected. All of a sudden, Andrew appeared and gave me a high five and brought me a bottle of water. He was so encouraging and enthusiastic – I was so grateful to see him! I think I may have teared up from relief but also just out of feeling his support. And then I spotted B! He had been watching from across the street and also had water and a hug for me. Again, almost teared up – I felt so emotional for some reason.

Just then, Jamie ran by – I was so excited to see her! She is another marathon ambassador and was running the Akron full. She was one of the main reasons we were there as a relay team – to cheer her on!

I snapped this photo of Jamie running by at the finish!

After that, Andrew and I parted ways – B and I hung out and watched some of the finishers and then it was time to meet up with my fellow ambassadors and wait for the rest of our relay team and Jamie to finish! I made my way to the Finishers Festival on the Rubber Ducks stadium field. I felt much better and was able to enjoy a free beer, a few bites of pizza and had a great reunion with the rest of my ambassadors!

Team #ShareCLE

The relay team

Here’s our time – I was Leg #2 (I circled my supposed pace), which was between miles 5.8 and 11.5 – so 5.7 mi. We finished just under 2 hours! (disclosure: not sure that our paces are completely accurate…my GPS had me at around 48 and I turned it on before it was my turn to run)

race time

A few thoughts on the race and my experience:

The good:

  • It is VERY well run. I mean, I got emails nearly every day the week of the race with every single detail that I may have wanted. This was my first relay so I was pretty nervous, but they pretty much spell it out for you from where to be, what your route is, the elevation profile, how do to the switch from runner #1 to runner #2, etc. There’s info for each leg and once I read through the Leg #2 info, I felt much better.

distances

  • The EXPO was great. Lots of booths, free samples, runners and great energy.
my name on the pace car at the Expo!

my name on the pace car at the Expo!

  • The course had great energy! So much entertainment (I only ran 5.7 miles but I passed at least 4 bands/music stations), cheering (they have an official cheer crew too with blue shirts and cowbells all along the course) and fun crowd support at different points. The volunteers made such a difference!
in front of the after party

in front of the after party

  • The after-race party. It was so fun to watch all the runners come into the stadium and cheer on the other members of our team. Plus, there was pizza, beer, and other food and refreshments for everyone.

The not-as-good:

  • My stomach. I woke up in the morning early before the race and my stomach was not happy. Let’s just say that I used the porta potties multiple times before actually starting my leg. I felt a little dehydrated and weak at the start but was super thankful I was only running the relay. I don’t think my body would’ve kept up for much more miles.
  • The hills. My leg started with a slow incline and then I encountered quite a few more hills along the course. Looking at the elevation profile, I may have had it easier than other legs, but it still was rough for me. Especially as I wasn’t feeling optimal to begin with. If I ever decided to run the race outside of the relay, I’d definitely have to do some hill training!

All in all, it was a good experience. I’m so glad I did it. I’m not going to lie – I had some reservations about signing up – I had need done a relay before and I didn’t want to let my team down. But they were all so encouraging and helpful! My phone was blowing up with texts the weeks and days leading up to the race, all with such motivating text messages.

Also, I ran faster than I expected. My goal was to do sub-9 minute miles, especially since I hadn’t done much training and my stomach wasn’t feeling great. But I got about 8:15 min/mile pace. This was thanks to a few things. First, our first runner, Andrew, ran 6:45 min/miles. Meaning, when I started, I was running with so many of the speedier runners. It sucked at first, because they were all passing me – but I’m sure it made me run faster. That, combined with the fact that my GPS wasn’t working (user error – I had set it on “inside run” mode), made me run faster than I expected, especially given the stomach troubles.

Some questions for you:

  • Have you ever run a relay? How was it?
  • What event or race should I sign up for next?
  • Have you ever had stomach troubles the morning of a race? What do you do?