10/16/16 – The journey that I began with friends in June has come to its conclusion with the 26.2 miles that I ran this morning. Marathon #2 is now in the books. Wow! The morning was dark and cool, and we began shortly after the sunrise. I was told a long while ago that I’d cry at the end of my first marathon, but I get teary-eyed at the beginning of marathons – today, more than last year. I don’t know if it’s the adrenaline, the sensory overload from the fireworks, music vibrating through my body, and energy of the crowd, or the happiness (and slight sadness) of finally reaching the big race day. This never happens at half marathons, in case you are wondering. (I don’t think I’d run so many half marathons if they put me into tears at the start because it’s a little exhausting.) Today’s race went well – I felt good through roughly mile 18, with a little right calf tightness, but nothing dire. I slowed down with more walking in the final miles, as the temperature outside increased. My top goal, today, and on other race days, was to finish – not injured and without any assistance. I did that, and I am proud of my time. The most beautiful sight this morning was seeing the road stretch out in front of me with thousands of runners, an energetic rainbow of colors, running toward the achievement of their goals. Some of my friends made the hard choice not to run today as expected, to run slower than planned, or to drop out. You have each earned a medal in my book for making the choice that was best for you, even if it was disappointing to not be able to run the race you have been training for since that day we each started this journey. To those friends who finished their first marathon today, congratulations! This morning truly was a celebration of all the work we’ve put in and I am honored to have finished #2 with so many first-timers. The volunteers and fans in Columbus were awesome, but my favorite moments were seeing the Fleet Feet Cleveland crew along the course and at the finish. Thank you all for supporting me on my journey. I couldn’t have done this (and wouldn’t have wanted to) alone.
10/8/16 – Today’s 12-mile run was the last long run before next weekend’s big race. I felt better than I did last week – not nearly as tired. The air was cool, cold even. As I did not overdress today, there was no chance of overheating. Deer, chipmunks, squirrels, a beaver, and a caterpillar joined us on or near the trail. Lots of crunching as feet landed on dried leaves strewn across the path. Dodging acorns – or playing soccer with them – was part of today’s journey. I didn’t let myself take a walk break until I hit the 6-mile turnaround. Pace was a bit slower on the return, though no aches or pains. Saw a field full of kids playing real soccer as I returned. Running up the hills was a bit easier today, and, at the end, I considered adding the hill we sometimes run up for our repeats…it was a fleeting thought that I let go in favor of chatting with friends and watching an almost infinite string of classic cars drive out of the marina lot. The hardest part of training for the marathon is behind me. A week from now, I’ll be prepping for the race. 🏁 Onward! 🙂
10/1/16 – Ran 16 miles today, and I’m glad to have had wonderful company for the duration. Running a marathon is not rocket science, though it becomes a mental thing at this point in the training. (I’m not saying it’s easy, but following a good training plan will, barring injury or illness, generally get you across the finish line.) After 20 miles last weekend, I am ready for the marathon to be over. Physically, I’m tired, and I know others are, too. It’s normal, and so you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, always moving forward, whether your body and mind feel like it or not. This is why we taper – we need to give our bodies a rest from consistent training over the past 3+ months. Knowing this makes it easier to cut back on the mileage and take it easy. Today’s run took us from just south of Mastick/Puritas past Wallace Lake in Berea and back. The weather was cooler and more of the leaves on the trail were turning, even if the majority still remained green. It was wet from the recent rain, and I took no chances with the bugs. No bites today! Admittedly, I was overdressed in full running tights and a pullover – but I never truly overheated…heat acclimation works. My left heel decided that it is over this running stuff at about mile 11, but I ignored the pain and concentrated on my stride. Shortening my stride length helped to reduce the pain, so I may be heel striking on that side when I’m not paying as much attention. With two weeks to go, I’m confident that I’ll have more energy on race day. Some of it is a given, due to excitement and adrenaline; the other piece is the physical recovery factor. I’m counting down the days.
9/24/16 – Running, for me, is about the journey. If it was all about the destination, many, myself included, might not have had the courage to start or the discipline to continue. After all, running usually (but not always) starts and ends at the same place. This morning, that place was Edgewater. Our 20-mile journey took us west into Lakewood, past 117th to Cove, and then back past the park, through Gordon Square and downtown, a quick hop down through the Flats, and then up and further out to the East 55th Street Marina. In those first 12 miles, we took in the Cleveland skyline from the west, ran up and down some hills (some steeper than others), crashed the Undy Run/Walk (cheering on participants), and saw some sheep (Urban Lambscape Project). After reaching our turnaround point and taking a short break, we headed back the way we came, enjoying the skyline from this perspective and watching a small helicopter circle around. The cars on the highway flew by, this time on our left, and it felt more humid than it had running in the other direction. Perspective. Depending on your perspective, running 20 miles might seem easy, manageable, challenging, or impossible. Today, with experience and training, the run felt enjoyable – not easy, but comfortable – doable. If someone would have told me five years ago that I’d EVER be comfortable running 20 miles, I’m sure I would have laughed – the good giggle-fest, too, where you start and just can’t stop because the thought sets you off again every time you start to catch your breath. I didn’t want to run a marathon back then, and, without the desire, there was no way I would have tackled something like today’s run. (The flip side is that when you have the desire to do something – whatever it is – you have the power within yourself to make it happen.) The taper is here. Bring it on!
9/18/16 – Ran another 16 miles this morning. One more really long run next weekend and then it’s taper time for the big race next month. Left shin felt a little unhappy as we started out, but that cleared up after a mile or so. Quads are not completely recovered from last weekend’s race, and they started to tighten up after mile 10. My feet felt fine during the run, though I can tell that the shoes are shot and won’t be the ones I wear for the marathon. Enjoyed running on the Towpath, from Brecksville south past Peninsula and then back. It’s been a while, but the trail is familiar from running it so many times in the past. The green of leaves, swamp, and grass, though still in the majority, shares space with the brown of leaves and mud, thanks to the recent rain. Yellow and white flowers still lined the trail in places, though some of the petals were tired and drooping. A few trees displayed leaves in the fall rainbow of colors, but only enough to indicate that summer is starting to go…but not yet gone. I got a little too close for comfort with some of the bugs on the trail, who decided that I was their Sunday brunch – note to self: spray yourself vigorously with bug spray when running in the morning, especially after a lot of rain; clothing does not prevent the little buggers from eating you alive. Despite unintentionally being a blood donor this morning, the run was just what I needed, and I’m looking forward to the final weeks of our training. Thanks for the run, J! 🙂
9/11/16 – The River Run is one of my favorite half marathons. I’ve run it every year since 2012, marking #1, #6, #9, #13, and, today, half marathon #19. ⭐️ Half 5 of 6 for 2016 is now complete. 🎉 The day felt a little different this morning. Cooler. More serious. The sun came up as we were on the shuttle bus, and, as we were heading to the start, I enjoyed figuring out which mile marker we were driving by, based on where we were on the parkway. My perception of how far a mile is has improved since I began running in 2011. Back then, I was just focused on trying to breathe, not trip, and get to the finish without having to walk too long. Now, at least with this race, I know where the markers are and how long it will take to get to the next one based on the curve and incline/decline of the road and how fast or slow we are running. With a moment of silence for those lost 15 years ago and two anthems, we were off. It felt good to just run. Steady up the hills, and then coasting down, again, and again. Beautiful course – as we rounded a corner before the biggest hill, the sun lit up the sky and the river glistened. I looked at the pavement, the white and yellow lines (it’s awesome to run in the street without any traffic), and the trees, green leaves moving in the wind. I am beginning to think that the best way to train for a half marathon is to train for a full marathon… That’s probably not exactly true, but my body is better conditioned right now than it has been all year. That, and the weather conditions for today’s race were ideal, rather than being at one extreme or the other. Five weeks until marathon #2. We’ve got this!
9/3/16 – It was quiet in the Flats this morning. From there to Tremont and back, and then a couple of loops to and from downtown, we got our 12 miles in. The terrain included paved and brick surfaces, gravel, and dirt. It was cool (almost too cold before we set off), which makes for perfect running weather. Other than the temperature and a sign for the air show, no clear indicators that fall is approaching. Rowers on the water, bright sky, sun, shade, wind. Hills took us up and around, then down again. We ran up another hill and explored parts of the city that I’ve never seen and other parts that were almost unrecognizable since the last time I had been there. The newness of the buildings. The clean glass and modern architecture. Short on planned mileage, we ran back up and over – past the stadium, science center, Rock Hall, and down to the pier. Morning sunlight makes everything, especially water, look amazing. There were people out and about with cute little dogs, and others with children. Tourists, police officers, and some who, like us, were running on a beautiful morning. Sleeping restaurants and lazy streets. A pleasant way to experience downtown. Training consistently (runs and resistance) with reduced mileage this week made this morning’s run peaceful, with no aches or pains on our excursion or post-run. The hills were a challenge, but today the overall distance was not. A delightful way to begin the long weekend!
8/27/16 – 🎉💃🌷🌟 Now that’s what I’m talking about! ➡️ Excellent 18-mile run this morning. 🌻 The first 8 miles felt almost effortless. It’s wonderful when the temperature drops just enough to reduce the odds of significantly overheating. I went through a lot of fuel and close to 4 bottles of water. Experimenting with fuel and going back to my usual breakfast of a cereal bar was a success. Had the following: chews, sport beans, grapes, 1 gel, and dill pickle cashews. No unexpected or unfortunate effects from the new items. Going to test pretzels on a future long run to see if they work better than the nuts near the end of the run. Aiming to avoid salt/electrolyte issues for this marathon – running on sugar for last year’s marathon got me through, but water and sugar did not taste right after mile 24. Today’s bonus was the awesome downhill at mile 12.6 – whee! We ran back up at mile 13.4, as runners who fly down on an out-and-back trail must also run back up when the car is parked the other way. Somewhere after mile 16, my feet seemed to feel more obvious to me. My hip flexors spoke up during mile 17, too. Still had energy to run a few more miles at the end. Funny how I was able to run 18 today in the same amount of time that it took me to run 16 last week. That’s just how it goes, and today’s run validates my lack of worry over last week’s tough run. I couldn’t have asked for a better training run for my first time hitting 18 this year. Kudos and thanks to my running buddy, J, for knocking this out with me today! 🙂
8/20/16 – I hit a couple walls today – make that a bunch of walls. Tough run. Good thing this was a 16-mile training run and not a race. It was bound to happen, so I’m not worried or even disappointed. My mileage for the week, with last Sunday’s half, topped 46 miles. I’ve been logging runs (just distance and time) for more than 2.5 years, and the closest I’ve come in a single week (Sunday through Saturday) was 35.4 miles in April. I have not fully recovered from the half, so I took it slow on today’s run. It felt, at times, that I was walking more than running. The hills and heat, combined with muscle fatigue, meant that it took more effort to keep moving, and my right foot decided to tell me (via pressure on the inside edge and ball) that it didn’t appreciate all the extra miles. I will be listening to my right foot and enjoying a few leisurely rest days. If there was ever any doubt, this post is subjective evidence that the runner’s high phenomenon is real…
8/14/16 – I ❤️ race day! Running, and especially racing, tends to get me out of my head and into my body – experiencing the physical sensations of the run, focusing on the people and environment around me, and taking in the sights, smells, and sounds. Regardless of what may be weighing on my mind at the start of a run, I always finish a little (sometimes a lot) lighter. In lieu of this weekend’s planned 15-mile training run, I opted to run half marathon #18. 🎸 Half 4 of 6 for 2016 is now complete. 🎉 This race, though not my fastest in these conditions (hot, humid, slightly overcast, breezy, drizzle in the middle), felt better and steadier than Medina in May, and my time reflects that. The course was beautiful along MLK through the cultural gardens, and we had a gorgeous view of the lake for the first stretch along Marginal as we headed back to the finish at the Rock Hall. With the tiny bit of drizzle mixed with leaves, it smelled like autumn…for just a moment, and then the scent of flowers brought me back to summer. Because of the rain and humidity, the normal sound of shoes consistently hitting the pavement was sometimes overshadowed by the squeak of someone’s soggy footwear. Physically, I noticed myself overheating at various points – for me, this manifests as warmth on my neck, chin, and cheeks. In hindsight, I realized that I had picked my favorite race t-shirt (again – it really is my favorite) instead of the sleeveless shirt I was considering yesterday – so I fixed that by scrunching up my sleeves and dumping water down my back at a few of the water stops. This actually made me too cold at one point, as the breezy drizzle began right after I doused myself. Just run faster and problem solved! 😉 Overall, the race was a good run and indicates that I’m acclimating to the heat.
8/6/16 – Ran 13 miles this morning – another drop week. With 3 in a row, this makes running close to a half-marathon distance every weekend a pattern. Conditions were good – warm, but not unbearably hot; humid, but not uncomfortably so. Not quite as salty today (post-run), though I did lose water weight (as I usually do). Even with walk breaks, we finished in under the time it took me to run my very first timed race for this distance back in 2012 – training works. Good company and conversation made the miles fly by, and we were at the turnaround before we knew it. Though we slowed down a little in the middle and again after mile 10, the very last mile was our fastest! This is good for so many reasons, especially as we continue to increase our mileage. Thank you for the run, M! 🙂
7/30/16 – …And with this morning’s 14+ miles, 2016 marathon training just became real. Partially new route in the park – some overlap to the Strongsville/Berea route from a few weeks ago, hitting Royalton Road and Bagley Road this time.
Things I noticed: the feel of my feet in my shoes, the humidity, and the way my fuel belt got looser as the run continued.
Things I learned: wearing my favorite half marathon t-shirt near the race route may inspire conversation with random strangers. Also, some runners have figured out how to smell good when running past others. I am not one of those people – I happen to smell horrendous during and after a run…and I accept this. It is also why I shower. You’re welcome. 🙂
7/23/16 – Conditions this morning were very different from last weekend’s Saturday morning rain: 80 degrees, bright, humid with a breeze. There were lots of hills on our 13-mile route, and, though I struggled on the uphills a bit, this time it was clearly breathing in the heat that was my weak spot and not my muscles. My renewed emphasis on consistent strength training is making a huge difference. I felt a little muscle fatigue in my calves near mile 9 and again a mile and a half later, but nothing else was noticeable. Had I not already gone through 3 bottles of water and most of my fuel, I could have continued running…though the promise of a popsicle at the end was a great reason to wrap things up as planned. (Oh, the things that make runners happy at the end of a race or group run.)
7/16/16 – Some of my best runs have been in the rain with friends, and today was no exception. 11 miles done with a great group…and I felt lighter throughout – even with extra water in my shirt and super soggy shoes. I’m not sure if it was the cooling rain or a combination of other factors (better fueling, more strength training this past week, focusing on hydration, intentional rest days, etc.), but it was a good run, topped off by hearing Duran Duran on the radio on my drive home. 🙂
7/9/16 – 8 miles complete – glad this was a drop week, given the humidity. Ran from Strongsville to Berea and back – wonderful hill to coast down at the beginning…more work to run up on the way back. Thankful for the steady pace of my fellow runners. Enjoyed the shaded patches in the park and the cooling breeze. Can’t beat the sunshine and good company. 🙂
7/2/16 – Tough 10-mile run this morning, made bearable by those running with me (thank you), made better by the bonus waterfall (beautiful) near the rogue turnaround, and made worth it by the sesame bagel (delicious) and sense of accomplishment at the end.
6/25/16 – Marathon training: 8 miles done in the beautiful heat. ‘Tis the season for salty faces and breezes to appreciate.
6/18/16 – First long run for marathon training season done. Six miles down. 🙂