Processing the Cleveland Marathon

I have had a hard time processing all the events from last week’s Cleveland Marathon. More than a week has gone by, and I’m still trying to put to words how I’m feeling.

The highs – the Ambassador race VIP dinner, working the Expo with fellow Ambassadors, and of course finishing the races under less-than-ideal conditions.

But the low – the passing of Taylor Ceepo – has been running through my mind all week.

I’ll start by saying I did not know Taylor. I had never met her. I do not know her family and cannot fathom what they are feeling. Unfortunately the only connection I have to her is running the same race – the Cleveland half marathon – and running by her after she collapsed.

So why do I feel so connected to her? Why on after the race did I have a hard time going to sleep, reliving the moment that I ran by her on the ground, her mom and boyfriend standing over her, each time I closed my eyes? Why did I find myself choked up on my first #RunForTaylor on Wednesday? Why did I find myself hugging my own daughter a little tighter as I thought about what Taylor’s mother must be feeling?

I can’t help but feeling like I don’t have a right to feel this way. I don’t have a right to write a post like this. Who am I to be talking about this at all? But after reading some thoughts from other local runners, I realize I am not alone. We are all grieving for this woman. Because we are all part of a community. One of my running friends and a fellow ambassador Andrew explained it this way:

We [runners] all have different routines, different speeds, and different backgrounds. But we all have two things in common; a goal to finish and a love for running. This is what brings us together.

We lost one of our own this day. And our hearts are broken. Our hearts are broken for the spectators who witnessed [it], the race staff, the runners who shared the course, the first-responders who were unable to revive her. Most importantly, our hearts are broken for the family and friends of this young woman.

So thank you, Taylor, for reminding us of the community that we are part of. For reminding us of how lucky we all are. I will keep on running for you and your family in the weeks ahead. #runfortaylor

A Week of Indoor Runs

Last week was COLD. And by COLD I mean negative degrees as the HIGH. Check out this forecast:

So what did that mean for my training for the Cleveland Half Marathon? It meant that my treadmill was my best friend. Here’s how the week looked:

Sunday I kicked off the week with my longest treadmill run in at least a year. 5.25 miles.

The Sole F80 has become my best friend over the past year or so. As much as I don’t enjoy indoor running, I’m so grateful to have it!

And FW was happy when I was done with my 5 miles. 

Later in the week I woke up to THIS as the temps. Feels like -23? Yeah, I wasn’t going to go outside. 

So, each day when I could, I got in a treadmill run.

School ended up being closed Wednesday and Thursday due to the cold, so that threw off my running a little bit. Wednesday, I only got in 2 miles while LM took a nap, and Thursday I also had to cut my run short when LM work up early.

But that was it for the week – and we survived! I’m hopeful that it will get and stay warmer for at least a few days. I mean, the groundhog DID see his shadow so that means spring is coming, right?

In the meantime, here’s your weekly reminder that if you are interested in running the Cleveland Marathon, As a race ambassador, I have a 10% discount code for you to use! Use MC2019 for 10% off any race entry.

Stay warm and have a good running week! Some questions for you:

  • Did you stay inside this week for your workouts?
  • What’s the coldest temperature you’ve ever run in?

I’m linking up with the weekly wrap.

Cleveland Marathon Weekend Recap

Welp, I survived the Cleveland 2015 Rite Aid Half Marathon! I’ll post a full race recap later, but here is a little about how the amazing weekend went. (spoiler alert- I PRed!)

First, I admit that I was less-than-excited for the race. The weather was due to be humid and drop 30 degrees from my last training run with Nicole! (where we pretend to stand on the finish line)

pretending to stand on the finish

pretending to stand on the finish

Our Wed. run was 39 degrees. Sunday (race day) was forecast to be 77)

Our Wed. run was 39 degrees. Sunday (race day) was forecast to be 77)

Friday B and I had to be in Cincinnati for a funeral – but we somehow made it back up to the CLE for the VIP Reception for the race. As an ambassador, I was lucky enough to get invited and it was such an amazing event! We got to hear the owner of the marathon, Jack Staph, speak, and start our carbo loading early – there was plenty of Great Lakes flowing, a carving station, a pasta station, some salads and amazing desserts. I’m so bummed I didn’t take a food photo (so unlike me, right?!) – but we did grab some ambassador pics and of course a pic near my name 🙂

Mr. Staph's speech. Man, I was getting pumped up!

Mr. Staph’s speech. Man, I was getting pumped up!

Ambassadors all dressed up

Ambassadors all dressed up

You see my name?!

You see my name?!

Saturday, I had to work in the morning, but finally there was no long run scheduled! After working until the mid-afternoon, I grabbed some perfect pre-race fuel (sandwich from Beet Jar and kombucha from Cleveland Tea Revival and a nooma) and was off to the Race Expo.

(kombucha not pictured)

OMG THIS SANDWICH (kombucha not pictured)

Oh my goodness- I don’t know if something changed but the expo this year was SPOT on. I got my nails done, got my cholesterol and body fat checked, tried some yummy samples of gels and bars, and even won a t-shirt from Brooks! I was like a kid in a candy shop.

Great crowds!

Great crowds!

In case I got lost ...

In case I got lost …

B & I at the Expo. American Greetings photo opp!

B & I at the Expo. American Greetings photo opp!

Saturday night, I got a great pre-race meal. I had tickets to the pre-race pasta party, but I’m not big on pasta before races; not sure why, I love pasta any other time – so we headed to Phuel for a healthy carbolicious meal – I opted for their seasonal salad with a portobello panini.

Pre-race "phuel' (get it?)

Pre-race “phuel’ (get it?) Yup- another veggie sandwich.

B and I hit got to bed early, after watching some Luther and a documentary about the NY Marathon (Live to Run). I had some dessert and tea to get relaxed (yup, I love sweets before a race).

Sweet Dreams tea and nails freshly did at the Expo

Sweet Dreams tea and nails freshly did at the Expo

I of course laid out my clothing and everything ahead of time. It was scheduled to be rainy and 70s, so I knew I’d need a hat and a tank top.

flat melissa :)

flat melissa 🙂

Sunday morning was race day! It was drizzling, but looked clear for race time, so I kept the hat at home and off we were. It was a GREAT race. Yes, it was humid. Yes, I hate the rolling hills of the shoreway at the end … but I loved almost every minute of it.

And post-race I kept up with the tradition and made it to brunch with my morning running buddies, Erica and Nicole. Without these ladies, I undoubtedly would not be the runner I am today- so thank you!

post-race refueling. Beers and chorizo bean chili!

post-race refueling. Beers, water with cucumber and chorizo bean chili!

6 a.m. running club!

6 a.m. running club!

Some questions for you:

  • How was your weekend?
  • Do you run with people / have a running group?
  • After a race, how long do you take up?

Race Recap: 2014 Adirondack Half Marathon

About two weeks ago, B signed us up for my third half marathon this year (if you may remember, it was my goal to do three this year). The race was the Adirondack Half Marathon –  a race known for being beautiful, around Schroon Lake in Upstate NY in the fall during the beginning of the peak foliage season – but also known for being somewhat challenging as it goes through the rolling hills of the Adirondacks. In other words – it would be a perfect excuse to travel for a mini runcation! Anyway, our friend from college Mitch was also doing the race- and he had signed up for the full marathon. So – we couldn’t really complain, could we? Nothing a few weeks of hill training and some long runs couldn’t prepare us for right?

adirondack half marathon course elevation

course elevation

Well … not exactly. B signed us up for the race about 10 days before the event. Whoops! Luckily, I’d been doing some somewhat long runs throughout the summer/early fall with Nicole (one of my morning running buddies), but nothing too long (no more than 10) and definitely nothing hilly. So needless to say, this was definitely the least prepared I’d ever been for a half marathon in my life. And when I saw the race day forecast – sunny and 80+ degrees (the race even started at 10 a.m. – so late!), I knew my goal would be just to survive the race and not walk any of it (not counting the water stops).

Sunday race day forecast - Sunny and 80s

Sunday race day forecast – Sunny and 80s

So, how did the race go?

adirondack half marathon c

Before the race – Mitch, B and I – of course the sun came out and the course heated up about 5 min before 10 a.m. when we started

The good:

  • The cheering – despite being sparsely populated, some areas of the course had some great cheering sections. We ran through the Word of Life camp at around 5 or 6 of the half marathon and their campers were amazing. The rumors were true – we could hear them cheering well before we got there. It was great!
  • The race was super organized. There was no confusion as to where to pick up our race packet, and they even let Mitch get our packets for us as we weren’t arriving until late Sat. night. The morning of the race there was clear signage as where we could park (and people to direct us as well), where to get on the bus (they bussed the half marathoners to the 13 mile marker so we all finished at the same point) and everything else was very smooth.
  • The race water stops were great – they were every other mile until mile 20 and then every mile. And being 85 degrees around noon, I definitely took advantage or nearly every stop. And there were some interesting snacks at some of the stops –  fig cookie bars and M&Ms!
  • The course was beautiful. I was a little worried that I’d get bored running through the same scenery the whole time (I’m generally not a fan of running through nature-ish courses…I know – I’m weird), but the foliage and lakes and houses were gorgeous. Plus, I was mentally challenged with all the hills so I made an effort to just enjoy the fall colors.
  • The post-race refreshments were out of this world – typically at the end of a race there’s some water, maybe beer, bananas, bagels, milk and some other goodies (I’ve seen races with ice cream or yogurt or popsicles or even something like a breakfast casserole or sandwiches). But this race had all of the above – soda, water, ice cream, bagels with different types of cream cheese, yogurt, tons of different types of fruit (bananas, melons, watermelon, grapes, etc.), and desserts like brownies, cookies and even gluten free options. It was amazing  – I wish I was hungrier after a race!
  • There was a post-race party for all participants – runners and volunteers – at a local restaurant. We stopped by and there was a free huge buffet – chicken, fish, beef, salad, corn, pasta, potato salad, dessert, fruit and more. I’ve never seen that during a race before!
adirondack half marathon c

Thanks to Mitch’s wife Becca for taking the photo!

The not-so-good:

  • The good people of Schroon had kindly paved the road probably the week before the race. So while this meant no pot holes to run around, this also meant the blacktop was scorching hot to run over and in the sunny 80 degree heat, it was reflecting back onto us. Which meant an even hotter run.
  • The snacks during the race- yes, they’re also under “the good” but at the same time, I really would’ve appreciated some standard race goodies like Gu or Hammer Gel. Especially when I felt my energy levels were low around miles 8 on.
  • The crowds – some areas of the run were pretty sparse. The places where people were cheering were great, but there were many spots along the course that had no one.
  • The hills! Luckily for us, the first few miles of the half marathon were flat and the second half of the course is flatter than the first half, but still  – those hills were rough for me. We hadn’t trained with hills as I mentioned so I was definitely struggling.

adirondack half marathon

So how did we do? B and I finished in just under 2:10 which was better than I imagined. Yes, it was more than 10 minutes slower than my other races this year (both under 2 hours), but considering the heat, hills and lack of true training and preparation, I’m pretty proud of it. Mitch’s family was there to cheer us on at the end, and his mom and wife had even made signs for us – my first race sign!

 

adirondack half marathon

Our AMAZING sign – Thanks so much to Mitch’s mom and wife!!!

adirondack half marathon

After the race

Some questions for you:

  • What’s your ideal race temperature? What’s the hottest weather you’ve ever had a race in? This was definitely the hottest half marathon I’ve run. 83 degrees is not my ideal running temp at all!
  • What type of scenery do you like for long runs – natural, trails, urban, suburban, beach, etc.? I like a good mixture – but typically prefer urban and water scenes to run by.
  • It’s fall race season! What was the last race you ran /  next one you have coming up?
  • What’s the latest you’ve ever signed up for a race? B and I once signed up for a 5k the day of – but 10 days before a half marathon is another record for me.

Race Recap: Cleveland Rock N Roll Half Marathon

cleveland rock n roll half

This past weekend B and I participated in the Inaugural Cleveland Rock N Roll Half Marathon! It was our 3rd half marathon we’ve run together – and right in our little city of Cleveland. We didn’t quite make our goal (under 2 hours …) due to the more-humid-than-we-would’ve-liked weather and hills (and me twisting my ankle at around mile 5 … woops) but I would say it was a FUN RACE.

at the pre-race expo!

at the pre-race expo!

Here are some highlights:

What Could’ve Been Better: (don’t worry I’ll end with the good stuff)

  • Long lines before the race: I know this isn’t unique to this race but porta-potty lines WERE SUPER LONG that morning. We waited about 45 min before getting to use them (what can I say, pre-race hydration routines and jitters make me have to pee! TMI?) and then missed our corral and the pace team we were going to follow. So instead of following the 2 hour pace team in Corral 3 we started with Corral 5.
  • The hills: Yes, we ran the hills a few times in training and yes we ran in San Fran and the even hillier it seemed Seattle a few weeks ago, but I was definitely not feeling good about the hills. The hill around St. Malachi (before mile 5) killed me – I didn’t recover until about mile 7. And the Tremont Hills? I felt fine through those, but they nearly killed B who was already dying in the humidity. Could the route have been flatter? Yes. I mean really, it’s Cleveland – we have 3 hills and the race included all of them PLUS one I didn’t even know existed.
  • The humidity: The rain thankfully held off – but the humidity did not. The weather was in the 70s (not too bad) but humidity was in the 80-90 percentages the whole time!

course elevation map

An action shot my parents took

An action shot my parents took – B is behind me in green, and Mary in orange!

What Was Awesome 

  • The cheering: I cannot thank my parents enough for coming all the way out from NY to cheer us on. It was SO GREAT to hear them cheering our names, seeing them at our planned cheering spots and surprising me at the finish line. Seriously, the best part of the race.
  • The music: Music at nearly every mile? Yes, please! It was SO awesome to see and hear all the bands and so motivating! Can every race have different bands along the way?
  • The crowds: I love running in races that have a lot of people – IF it’s managed properly. And in my experience, it was. The timed starts with the different corrals ensured the race wasn’t too crowded at any time. And the crowds gathered to watch the runners? Even better. There’s nothing like seeing people cheer you on – and spaced out pretty evenly throughout the whole route.
  • The post-race party: Free beer, a Gavin DeGraw concert for the public and more? This was awesome. Way to go Cleveland for hosting an awesome inaugural race!
B and me post race

B and me post race

My parents cheered us on!!!!!

My parents cheered us on!!!!!

b and me at finish kiss

I may just have to buy this photo 🙂

Some questions for you:

  • What was the last race you ran? Did you have a goal? Did you meet it?
  • What’s your perfect running weather?
  • Have you done any Rock N Roll races? How did they go?

Friday Five: Five Things I’m Smiling About

Phew – TGIF! This is one of those busy weeks where I really feel grateful that it’s finally Friday. Not that it’s been a bad week- quite the opposite. It’s actually been a GREAT week filled with stuff I love. Here are 5 things that were awesome this week and what kept me so busy (and smiling):

1. Learning About Some New Businesses With My DCA City Advocates: Tuesday was a great DCA City Advocates meeting! for those of you that may recall, the DCA CA program is a civic engagement group I’m involved with. It’s a program that fosters civic engagement among individuals who love living in, working in, or just visiting Cleveland. This month’s meeting we got to meet and hear from the winners of the recent 5th Street Arcades grant competition:

  • Sushi 86– This is actually my go-to downtown sushi restaurant. B and I had a stint where we were going there once a week anyway, so I’m excited that they can get some funds to increase their space and start offering sushi-making classes, meetings and so on.
  • Soulcraft Woodshop– This is a furniture gallery that will showcase and of course sell work by the woodshop’s local designers and furniture makers.
  • Bright Green– This is an organic and natural products store – they feature products for children (like organic baby blankets), candles, tea, home supplies and more. Many of their products are actually made on the west side!
  • POUR Cleveland– This hand-crafted coffee shop hasn’t opened yet, but I’m SO excited for it to arrive. They will be working with Counter Culture coffee shop, where one of my good family friends works in North Carolina. They will also have tastings and classes, plus pastries.

They each told us about their business plans, why they chose downtown Cleveland, challenges of being entrepreneurs, and so on. If you’re in Cleveland I definitely recommend checking out the 5th Street Arcade at some time and seeing all the new shops!

Informal interviews with the winners

Informal interviews with the winners

2. Half Marathon Training and Running with Friends: Okay, so I finally started training for the half marathon I’m running in October. Yes, I’ve been running like 25-30 or even more miles a week so I know I’m in fine running shape, but I haven’t been following any sort of schedule or doing any long runs so it I guess it’s time to actually get back in training mode. Training means that for the time being my weekly mileage will be cut down (the first few weeks are pretty lame in terms of mileage and I won’t be running every day) but I will be focusing on some speedwork with tempo runs, and also allowing my body to heal during rest days. Imagine that! And don’t worry, the longer runs will come soon enough so I better enjoy the lack of intense time-commitment while it lasts. AND not only did I decide to start half marathon training, but I ran with friends twice this week! That’s right, I ran with people before work on Wednesday AND Friday. This is a new thing for me – but I enjoyed it. Cari and I ran Wed. morning – she had 2 miles on her schedule, so I ran 2 without her and 2 with her. Friday, I ran with Nicole, who I met through Bridge Builders. She’s training for a marathon and I hope to keep running with her as she trains and maybe even get in some longer runs with her.

3. My PB2 Arrived! Not only did I run out of PB2 a few weeks ago, but I also ran out of regular JIF peanut butter and am down to the last spoonful of our Smucker’s Crunchy supplies. Can you imagine that? Thank goodness, Amazon came through and my supply of PB2 came earlier than I anticipated. AND I ordered even more than last time – so hopefully I’m all set for a few weeks.

<3 this stuff. Seriously addicted.

4. Patio Drinks @ Parnell’s: I love Parnell’s downtown. It’s one of those low key bars where I always feel welcome. There’s no need to dress to impress, and there’s almost always room on their patio. And it’s more than likely you’ll get a bartender with an Irish accent. #Justsaying. Anyway, this week I enjoyed patio beverages with Laura, Chris and Victoria, my old DCA City Advocate cohort. We haven’t all been together in a few months and we definitely need to start getting together more regularly – we used to see each other more than once a month! Not only was the company and beverages good, but I also got to meet a Twitter friend I’ve had for more than 5 years but never met in person. Being a social media person, I’ve gotten used to the fact that there are some people I know all about but have never met in real life, and vice versa — but meeting in real life is still super awesome!

Patio Drinks @ Parnell's Pub Downtown - Barrels as tables!

Patio Drinks @ Parnell’s Pub Downtown – Barrels as tables!

5. Volunteering @ the National Senior Games: The National Senior Games are in town! What’s this you ask? It’s like the Olympics – it’s a multi-sport event but actually boasts MORE athletes! And just like the Olympics, it’s always held in a new city – and this year it’s in Cleveland! So right now we are hosting some insane number of athletes (like nearly 11,000), all ages 50+, and their families. Pretty cool huh? Tonight I’m volunteering at the Celebration of Athletes, which happens to be hosted by Olympian Scott Hamilton! I’m so happy to be not only volunteering with a few of my fellow DCA buddies, but also to help out (even if it’s just  a tiny bit) with such a cool event that brings visitors to Cleveland.

Scott Hamilton (center) will be at the event tonight. Pretty cool huh? He was an Olympic figure skater. And clearly also in Blades of Glory.

Scott Hamilton (center) will be at the event tonight. Pretty cool huh? He was an Olympic figure skater. And clearly also in Blades of Glory.

Hope you had a fabulous Friday as well! Some questions to ponder (leave your answers in the comments if you can!):

  • Are you a fan of Olympic figure skating? Honestly, not really. I don’t NOT like it, but it’s not my favorite winter sport. I LOVE watching the luge and bobsled races. 
  • Are you on Twitter? How long have you been on there? YES! Obviously. I’ve been on apparently for more than 5 years.
  • Do you have  “Twitter friends” or friends that you haven’t met in real life?
  • What is your peanut butter supply like?
  • Do you prefer running with friends? Solo? Both! 

Two Words: Stress Fractures

This time last week, I was anticipating my next Saturday night. I’d imagined myself chowing down on some pasta and bread with some other runners, getting pre-marathon jitters and feeling excited and proud about completing my first marathon the next morning.

That’s all changed. As you can probably guess from the title of this post, I found out what was ailing me — stress fractures. That’s right – plural. All week I’d been having some pain in my left foot and even after icing and taking NSAIDs, it wouldn’t go away. There was a nagging feeling that something was wrong, so I took some people’s advice and headed to an orthopedic doctor who specializes in sports medicine.

I had X-Rays on Friday – my left foot and my left lower leg – and sure enough, I had not only stress fractures in my metatarsal, but a large stress fracture in my tibia. That pain that I assumed was shin splints? That was the stress fracture. That weird bump that was growing on my shin? That was my tibia bone, growing back onto itself. I left the doctor’s office wearing an air cast (or as the dr told me, “the most expensive boot I probably owned”), an appointment for an MRI and a strict order NOT to run the marathon for fear my tibia would break in half mid-race.

That’s right, TWO days before the race, I was told not to run. Seventeen weeks of training, hundreds of miles, including a twenty mile training run — and the race was off. I would be cheering on my husband, sister-in-law and friends from the sidelines.

I know that I shouldn’t feel so bad, but I can’t help but feel that all my training was for nothing. All those Friday nights I stayed in, all those Saturdays I spent pounding pavement — what was it for? Maybe next week I’ll be feeling a little better, but right now, instead of pre-race jitters I’m feeling disappointment, sadness and frustration.

Have you trained for a marathon or another race but been forced to back out a few days before? Have you had stress fractures (of course I have them in multiple places). How did you recover – how long did it take to get back in the saddle and start running again?