Ironman 70.3 – Week 1 Training

Miscellaneous

Last week was my first official week of training for Ironman 70.3 Ohio. I’ve been hitting it pretty hard since beginning of January, but man does it feel good to train with a purpose again!!

Week One-1Here’s an overview of how it went:
Total Training Hours: 6 hours, 35 minutes
Total Mileage: 35 miles
week-1I signed up for a free 70.3 training plan through AJ Baucco Coaching. We use an app called Addaero and all of the training is imputed into an easy-to-follow calendar. I didn’t follow the plan to a “T” this week, but I definitely used it as a base to what and how I was training. So far it’s an awesome program!

This weekend I headed back to the pool for the first time since August (haha) and surprisingly it went pretty decent! Although I know I have SO much room for improvement still. (Decent in this scenario means I didn’t drown or come close to it, but I wasn’t very fast either!) I focused the hour I spent in the pool on basic drills, trying to get the base of my form down again. At first I wanted to panic by how out-of-shape in swimming I was, but I reminded myself that I still have 23 weeks to train for the 1.2 mile swim. I will also be training with Cleveland Triathlon Club for a few open water swims and doing a few other swim clinics throughout the summer. Plus my college roommate is a swimmer so I’ll probably be getting together with her sometime in the next 23 weeks for a 1-on-1 training session. In my case – we’ve got nothing but time and I’m going to make sure I take full advantage of that!

In other news...I’m going on over a month of not feeling too great, which is super frustrating. I had a terrible cough/cold for all of February and it feels like it has been coming back over the past two days. I’ve been on antibiotics, steroids, inhalers, you name it. It’s frustrating and annoying, but the good news is I go to the doctor’s next week so hopefully I’ll be on the road to recovery soon. (Fingers crossed.)

Here’s to another full week of training! I had P90X on the schedule for today (conditioning), but when I got to the gym this morning someone else was already using the TV in the studio. It was annoying, but if there is anything I’ve learned about fitness and training – it’s that you’ve got to learn to adapt and modify. Not everything is going to go as planned because stuff (life) happens. SO instead I did 10 minutes of rowing, 40 minutes of strength training (pull ups, push ups, squats, leg press, abs and LOTS of kettle-bell drills) and then finished it up with 20 minutes of a huge incline on the elliptical. I was sweating like a dog!!

Happy Training!

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I’m Coming for You – Ironman 70.3 Ohio [Aug 21, 2016]

Miscellaneous

703-ohioI signed up. With shaking hands and my stomach in knots I officially signed up to compete in my first Ironman 70.3 triathlon!

This has been my goal and my dream since I started doing triathlons two years ago. I knew I had to give it some time though and first learn the basics of the sport. I’ll be the first to admit that I still have A LOT more to learn about triathlons, but I do feel confident that I know enough about the training (and especially how much training) I’m going to have to do. I’m actually pretty excited to start a 25-week training plan for the race – remind me of this once I get through the first couple weeks though 😉

Overall I am super nervous, but also really excited. 2016 is going to be the year I can say I am competing in an Ironman and I already get goose bumps just thinking about crossing the finish line.

Here’s to my “A” race of 2016 and special thanks for early registration from Cleveland Triathlon Club! (The event is already sold out.) This is going to be a race to remember!

Learn more about Ironman 70.3 Ohio.

IM-register

2015 Cleveland Triathlon Review

Miscellaneous

Well – I survived my first Olympic distance triathlon! I went through a whole range of emotions on my first long distance venture and (thankfully) lived to tell about it.

This weekend was the Cleveland Triathlon taking place right in downtown Cleveland. The weather was sunny and about 80 degrees. (Perfect in my books.)

CT-5I was surprisingly very calm on race morning. I thought I’d be freaking out about the swim, but I kept telling myself that it was going to be OK and that I just had to take my time. At one point I told my fiancé “I’m just taking a little dip. I’m gonna relax in the water. Maybe even backstroke if the mood strikes me.”

After a few failed attempts at parking and roads being blocked off, we got there with about 45 minutes until my swim started. This was actually an ideal time to get set up and wait to start. The past couple of races I’ve done I’ve seriously been just standing on the beach for 1.5 to 2 hours before my swim started. With the Cleveland Triathlon, transition never officially “closed”, which was nice. Also race packet pickup was the day before, so there was no rushing around trying to get all that situated.

The Swim
Olympic was the last distance to go, which is ironic because every other race I’ve done the Olympic distance has been the first to go. We walked out in a line onto the pier right at about 7:45AM. There were maybe 200 of us in the Olympic distance. The race director made a couple announcements and soon the line was moving forward to start. Your chip started when you crossed over the timing mats and then you jumped in and began your swim. In my head I had envisioned that moment as utterly terrifying, but when it was happening it wasn’t bad at all. I jumped in as far away from people as I could manage and plugged my nose and held onto my goggles. The water was 72 degrees and felt fine.

CT-6This was my first race swimming in a wet suit and I could feel the added buoyancy, which probably added to my confidence. Once in the water I swam away from a few people around me and tried to breathe very calmly. I also made sure my strokes were firm, but calm and together. A fellow swimmer at a recent swim clinic told me that she tells herself not to kick hard in the beginning because that’s when her panic sets in. So I took that advice and chugged along with firm, but steady and slow kicks.

I’m not sure how I did it, but I can honestly say my swim was the best leg of the triathlon that day. I felt strong and confident, especially on the down and back course headed back towards the dock. I didn’t have any moments of panic, nor did I even have to resort to backstroke. I was cool, calm and collected the entire time. Now don’t get me wrong, I still felt relieved when my hands hit the ladder to get out, but I had envisioned this swim to be completely terrifying and was surprised to find that it really wasn’t! I finished in 27 minutes.

The Bike
I was excited to be able to ride on the Shoreway in Cleveland. This is the stretch of highway that goes along the lake from the muni lot almost into Lakewood. The course is four miles in each direction and is a giant loop. My excitement lasted about four miles one way…and then I was bored out of my mind! The course is significantly hilly too. You don’t really notice it from a car, but having to ride the loop three times – you definitely notice it. At mile 8 I started talking to an older guy who was really funny. In fact, he offered to hook me up with his son who is my age, but stopped offering when I told him I was getting married next month! I was laughing out loud talking to him and it was a welcoming distraction from the boredom of the course. Eventually I lost him and continued on by myself.

CT-4One thing I did notice – the Shoreway is incredibly dirty. In fact it’s straight up gross. I couldn’t even tell you how many dead animals I saw on the side of the road. It smelled bad too, almost unbearable in some spots. At one point I thought I saw a dead porcupine – which I THINK turned out to be a bent broom.

At mile 20 I was tired and annoyed and wanted to be done. I was at an hour and 25 minutes and ready to get off the bike. I was quickly approaching the last loop turn around and excited to be headed back out. For some stupid reason, I remained in my aero bars while approaching the turn. I realized too late that I had no access to my breaks to decrease my speed around the turn and instantly toppled over, knocking out a row of cones with me. My left knee slammed into the ground while my feet stayed glued into my pedals. I didn’t feel much pain and got up quick. Luckily I had crashed directly in front of a volunteer section. Everyone rushed over to me and helped get my bike off the course. Thankfully I had crashed without any other bikers around me. A few bikes passed after the volunteers helped me off the course, but I was grateful I hadn’t caused anyone else to fall.

My knees were both scraped up and looked way worse than they actually were with gravel and bike grease mixed into the mess. My chain had popped off and my handle bars were a little titled, but the volunteers were so awesome and helped get everything back situated. They offered to call someone to come get me too, but there was no way I was going to stop. Like I said, it looked way worse than it actually was. I was out for almost 10 minutes, but finally (with shaking hands and legs) got back on my bike. By this point my knees were both throbbing and I was aware of the pain, but there was no way I wasn’t going to finish. I finished in 1:36.

The Run
Anyone who has ever ran a marathon knows the deep, dark, despairing moments of miles 21 and 22. When you still have 5-6 miles left and are utterly exhausted beyond measure. Both marathons I’ve ran I’ve cried during miles 21 and 22.

CT-2The run on this course wasn’t AS BAD as marathon miles 21 and 22 – but it was a close second. My back and knees were absolutely killing me on the run, more than likely from my crash. I was openly moaning and whimpering on the course, not caring who heard me and what they thought. I’ve never had knee and back pain like that. My back hurt so bad at one point it hurt to breathe. I heard my watch beeping at every mile I passed and I made the mistake of looking down to see one mile I ran at a 10:30 pace and I wanted to die.

This picture cracks me up. Had to stop for a quick bathroom break before heading out on the run!

This picture cracks me up. Had to stop for a quick bathroom break before heading out on the run!

The Shoreway felt like a desert. No air, no shade, nothing to look at except for more highway in front of you. I was miserable. Somehow I made it off the Shoreway and onto East 9th. We ran past Mall B and around the Browns stadium and even through the back part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At about a half mile to go, I finally found some energy and ignored my stinging knee and back pain.

The finish line was SUCH a welcoming site and I sprinted in as fast as I could muster. The fiancé was waiting there for me with a giant smile on his face. I got my medal and zombie mood took over. I couldn’t stand or sit or function. Finally after about 5 minutes of being disoriented we ventured over to the food tent area and I was shocked to find there was basically NOTHING to eat. A half a banana, soggy water melon and dried out oranges. That was it. And the fruit clearly looked and tasted like they had been sitting out for hours. All I wanted was maybe a protein bar? Chocolate milk? Pretzels? Anything?! I couldn’t believe after all the money I spent on this race, there was practically nothing to eat at the finish line after racing for 3 hours and 18 minutes.

In zombie mode right after crossing the finish line.

In zombie mode right after crossing the finish line.

My other complain – the T-shirts. Most smaller races I completely opt out of the shirt. I have WAY too many medium cotton race shirts with local sponsors all over them. The only time I take the race shirt is when it’s a tech shirt or it has a cool design. The Cleveland Triathlon race shirts were terrible. Dark blue cotton with “Cleveland Triathlon” and the date on them. Another disappointment.

Overall the race was fun. It was a perfect swim venue and I really liked the down and back swim course, however…not worth the price you pay. AT ALL. I was excited to race downtown, but almost the entire race is on the Shoreway and it’s really not all that “downtown”. Also the “swag” bag – not good and the t-shirt really made me mad. Also where did all our money go if they provided very little food for us post-race?? Like I said, it was a fun race, but not worth the money!

VeloSano Weekend – Bike to Cure Event

Miscellaneous

This weekend was Cleveland Clinic’s bike to cure event, VeloSano.

My mom and I both rode the 50-mile challenge. Talk about a GREAT event! From the race volunteers, to the food, to the course itself, this was a well run and thought out event. AND even better – 100% of the money raised went to cancer research at Cleveland Clinic.

velosano1The minimum fundraising requirement for the 50-mile challenge was $1,000 each. So with my mom and I both riding we had to raise $2,000. Even before signing up, her and I were both a little concerned if we would be able to raise that kind of money, but after much though about it we decided to just go for it. If we had to pay the remaining balance ourselves then we at least knew it was going to a great cause.

SO after four months of fundraising – we went into VeloSano weekend with $1,638 raised for cancer research. I am completely shocked by how much we were able to raise! Yes we will still have to pay the remainder ourselves, but that is still a ton of money and my heart is full after so many friends and family members stepped forward to donate to our cause. We are so incredibly grateful and blown away by the amount of support we received! To show our support, we asked donors (if they wanted) to share the names or initials of loved ones affected by cancer and we rode with the names on our bikes as a reminder to why we were out there.

velosano-4The weekend took off on Friday night at the VeloSano kick-off party. It was located at Mall B downtown. This event did such a great job at getting everyone excited for the next day’s festivities.They had all you can eat and drink (of the adult variety too) and it was catered by the amazing Zack Bruell Events (but seriously BEST FOOD EVER)! They also had a mini expo with tons of great vendors giving away all sorts of things and doing demos and games. There were also two large tents to sit under and listen to an amazing band and eat and just enjoy yourself. The weather was so insanely perfect too.

The fiance on a virtual cycling ride.

The fiance on a virtual cycling ride.

photo-booth-picVeloSano offered bike racking on Friday night so we wouldn’t have to worry about getting our bikes downtown early on Saturday. This was such a great idea and we were glad at 7AM on Saturday when we didn’t need to worry about loading and hauling our bikes around.

velosano-pig1

The VeloSano pig they had walking around Friday’s kick off party!

Some of the doctors and staff came up on stage where the band was playing and talked about the event. They also played inspiring patient stories on two large screens facing the audience. It was so humbling and inspiring to know that the money we raised was going to help patients with cancer.

It was an amazing experience and more than a few times throughout the night I made note of how excited and thankful I was to be a part of it.

Also included in our registration was an awesome swag bag full of great stuff. A bike light, a water bottle, tons of free samples, a great VeloSano jersey and much more!

This was the aftermath of us opening up our swag bag. Tons of cool stuff!

This was the aftermath of us opening up our swag bag. Tons of cool stuff!

On Saturday the 50-mile ride took off at 8:30AM. We got down there around 7:30 and had time to get our bikes, eat a bagel, take some pictures and then line up. We were so excited! The race started and we winded through downtown Cleveland for a good few miles. This part was so fun as a lot of people were out and about cheering and my mom and I just road along chatting.

Getting ready to take off on our ride.

Getting ready to take off on our ride!

The ride itself went fairly fast and although there were a few good hills, I found it to be a decent and fun course. The weather was beautiful and sunny, pushing 85 degrees. I had no complaints and barely noticed it (I do well in the heat).

My Garmin tracked the course at 52 miles, which is fine, but I was a little bummed to be done. I still wanted to ride! After the ride we had more amazing food and enjoyed a few beers in the sun. Talk about a great day!

Already I am sad it’s over and already I am thinking about doing it next year again. The only thing is the fundraising. It’s A LOT. I know it goes to a great cause, I just don’t like hounding people for donations. We were SO lucky that so many people stepped up and did donate after a few Facebook posts and emails. If you haven’t donated yet and want to, we are still fundraising the rest of our $2,000 until October 1. Please donate here.

Overall I would give VeloSano an A+. The event was outstanding on every level of support and it all went for a great cause.

This weekend I have the Cleveland Triathlon – my FIRST Olympic distance! I am nervous about the swim, but I’ve read that since we are swimming in the harbor, it’s usually pretty calm. I think it will be a great event and it’s all located downtown, plus the weather is supposed to be nice. The biggest thing I have to remember going into Sunday’s race is CONFIDENCE. I know I can complete every single leg of the race and there’s no time pressure considering I’ve never done this distance before. When I get too caught up in racing and competition and nerves I have to remind myself that triathlons are supposed to be fun. I like doing this. It forces you out of your comfort zone and makes you feel alive. Why wouldn’t I want to experience that?!

Life is GOOD. Plus I road my bike to work today so by 6:30PM I will have gotten in just over 30 miles. Seems like a pretty good little Thursday to me. Oh and 37 days until we get married 🙂

commute-to-work

Water break on my ride in this morning.

 

Training Like It’s My Job

Miscellaneous

Cardio training has been at an all-time high lately. I can’t even remember the last time I picked up a set of weights. Between swimming, biking and running – I haven’t wanted to be sore enough to weight lift between cardio training. And it’s good I’m training so much lately. I’ll have raced every weekend in June after this weekend.

This weekend was jammed packed and despite going out on Friday night (and having a little too much wine) I still managed to get in 14 miles of decent running.

Saturday morning I did a soggy 5 miles alone while it rained. I pretty much hated life for this hour, but felt better afterwards. Then Saturday night we had a Zombie Run 5K. (The fiancé and his friends wanted to run this. I’m not much of a “fun run” kind of gal, but I figured I’d give it a shot.) This race was weird. Fun, but weird. It took us 45 minutes (obviously we stopped running for most of it). Between walking and running on muddy trails, hole-filled fields of grass and a Christmas tree farm – it was hard to actually run. I was terrified I would step in a hole and twist an ankle and there’d go my running season. It was also very humid. And to mention a little scary dodging zombies (AKA people dressed up with make-up on. PS. some of them were REALLY fast.) Overall it was fun, but I probably wouldn’t do it again. Not worth the money and it wasn’t a “real” race I decided.

zombie-run3zombie-run1Sunday morning was the Willoughby Hills Run for the Hills 10K. It was my first time running this race and I didn’t look at the course beforehand. I had assumed it would be hilly considering the name – and it actually wasn’t too bad. It was nice since it’s less than 10 minutes from my house. I finished the 10K in 56 minutes, beating my PR by three minutes so I felt ok about that. I also didn’t feel like I gave an all-out effort though, but my legs were tired and heavy. I got second out of 6 in my age group, but I didn’t even stay for awards (I saw online).

Yesterday morning I did another 5 miles in the morning before work and my legs were even sorer. I decided it would be a slow, recovery run so I stopped even looking at my watch. Tonight I am going to a track workout with Cleveland Triathlon Club. I can’t decide if I love this workout or if I hate it. I am the slowest person in the group (but I don’t mind) so I have to fight to keep up. It kicks my butt and is much more effective than me training alone…but like I said – it kicks my butt.

This weekend is the Milton Man Sprint Triathlon. Like always I’m a little nervous for the swim, but it’s because someone told me that we jump off a dock into the water to start. I’ll survive though and the one saving grace about triathlon is that you get the scariest part over with first.

Training schedule this week looks like:
Monday – AM 5 miles
Tuesday – 5 to 7 miles @ track practice PM
Wednesday – afternoon stair mill @ work gym and PM Liquid Lifestyles swim clinic at Fairport Harbor
Thursday – Rest day OR deciding if I am going to bike to work one way (15 miles) and then have the fiancé pick me up after
Friday – AM 5 miles (super easy pace)
Saturday – 30 mile harbor bike ride with Lake Metroparks
Sunday – Milton Man Sprint Triathlon

I’ll leave you with a picture of my mom and I at last weekend’s Sunday in June bike ride. We managed to get in 30 miles. PS. There’s still time to donate to our 50-mile Cleveland Clinic VeloSano bike ride on July 18th! Please help support us.

sunday-in-june

Race Review: Great Western Reserve Triathlon

Miscellaneous

This weekend was my second time racing the Great Western Reserve Triathlon sprint distance and my third sprint triathlon to date. I felt confident going into this race because it was my second time racing it. (It was my first ever triathlon last summer). I had debated doing the Olympic distance, but felt under prepared in the swim, so I played it safe with competing in the sprint again.

west-branch1

GWRT-1As soon as I was out there on the course though I wished I had done the Olympic distance. The weather was beautiful and the sun was out. It was a perfect swim venue with calm water and no seed weed in sight!! The bike course was familiar and fast, with a view rolling hills and scenic views. The run course was down and back with a decent, steady hill, but in the shade of the woods.

I loved everything about this race, and even sitting here at work on Monday morning I’m still smiling just thinking about it. On the bike course I realized my cheeks hurt from smiling so much! I was having such a blast and it was another reason I ached to do the Olympic distance – I didn’t want it to end!

west-branch2This being my third triathlon ever – I knocked 19 minutes off my race time from last season, finishing in 1:27. Last year the half mile swim took me 17 minutes and this year I was out of the water in 13 minutes! I had also given myself a pep talk the night before that no matter what I was going to go all out on the bike and I think I did (for me at least). I averaged 18 miles per hour (3:30 min/mile) and I finished the swim and bike in 58 minutes.

west-branch4By the time I got to the run though, I started to slow down and scowled myself for not practicing more brick workouts. My legs were heavy and I felt like I was barely managing to jog for the first mile of the race. By mile 2 I started to adjust and managed to keep an 8:50 min/mile, finishing the 5K in a disappointing 26 minutes.

Overall I am ecstatic with my time PR, but of course there are a few things I could do better:

  1. I was focusing on going so fast on the bike that I couldn’t find time to slow down and take my GU – maybe that could have helped me muster up some speed in the run.
  2. Speaking of the run – practice MORE brick workouts!!
  3. I was paying way too much attention to trying to see if I could beat others in my age group (yes winning is fun, but triathlon is always you vs. you and I need to focus more on my own race).
  4. I could stand to be just a bit more aggressive in the swim. I always start in the way back and then have to fight to get past people later on.
  5. T1 was 2:03 and T2 was 1:29. I can probably be just a tiny bit faster with my transitions. Practice should help.

Things I did well:

  1. Overall the swim was near perfect (for me at least – especially after my panic/freak out during the Portage Lakes Tri last season). I had no real freak out yesterday and felt pretty confident. (There was a little moment around the second buoy that I got hit by someone else’s hand and I felt a brief moment of panic creeping in, but instead I flipped over on my back and backstroked for about a minute to catch my breath. Then I turned back over for front crawl and felt great.) I think for me, the trick for the swim is to consistently monitor myself. Anytime I have a moment I need to slow down, calm myself down and then continue.
  2. I felt pretty confident on the bike and I think it’s just from riding a lot more and being more comfortable. This is my first season racing with my new bike (which I bought from someone else so it’s not really new haha) but I think I handled the gears and turns well and felt powerful on the hills.
  3. I know there are probably tricks and tips that I’m not doing in the transitions, but I felt smooth in T1 and T2 with no real hiccups or obstacles. I probably just need to practice them more if anything.

west-branch5I already can’t wait to compete in this race next season and I have been looking up other triathlon races all morning. I had one other sprint tri on the race schedule for this summer, but now I just want to do an Olympic distance! Last weekend was the Twinsburg Duathlon, which turned out to be a perfect tune-up race for the triathlon. Next weekend I am riding 25 miles on the Sunday in June tour with my mom. (Practice for 50 miles for bike VeloSano on June 18 – which reminds me – if you haven’t donated to our VeloSano cancer cause please donate here).

westbranch3Today I’m going to go through my 2015 race schedule and reevaluate what I have going on. Our wedding in August is coming up quickly, but I think I can squeeze in a few more races, especially with how pleased I was with yesterday’s race results! Also I got to race in my new Cleveland Triathlon Club kit, which was awesome! Super functional and sharp looking 😉

Training this week looks like:
Monday – run 5 miles PM
Tuesday – Cleveland Tri Club track practice (5-7 miles)
Wednesday – Mentor Flag Day 5K
Thursday – AM bike and swim
Friday – run 4 miles AM
Saturday – rest (lots of wedding prep activities)
Sunday – 25 mile bike (Sunday in June)

Stay Warm CLE

Miscellaneous

I’m getting cabin fever. Or maybe I actually have it already. Either way, I might lose it if I have to stand in the cold and shovel snow off my car (yes shovel is the correct term) one more time.

AND it’s only the last week of February so chances are good that I will continue shoveling snow off my car for at least another month or so. At least daylight savings is coming up. Hopefully it will all be downhill with this Cleveland winter stuff after that.

Image from Second Sole Rocky River Instagram*

Image from Second Sole Rocky River Instagram*

Last weekend I did 10 miles on the treadmill in a little less than two hours. It was awful, but it was also freezing and blizzarding out. I actually would have taken the treadmill over running in that crap any day. I hate running in the cold – and the rain for that matter, but what is the saying? “If you wait for perfect conditions you’ll never get anything done.” Woof.

Image from Second Sole Rocky River Instagram*

Image from Second Sole Rocky River Instagram*

This weekend I have a 12 miler scheduled. I really don’t want to run on the treadmill again, but I also don’t want to run outside either. It’s supposed to be 37 and snowy on Sunday and that’ll actually be one of the warmer days that we’ve had around here. Maybe I’ll try to brave the run that day. My other thought is to break up the run on the treadmill between two, five milers and then do two final miles. One other annoying thing about the treadmills at the gyms I go to – the longest duration you can set on the treadmill is 55 minutes. So annoying.

For a few weeks I was running 6, 7 and 8 miles on Friday mornings. It was so nice to get my weekly “long” run over with so I didn’t have to try to squeeze it in over the weekend. Now as training hits double digits it’s going to be harder to do that since I have to be at work at 9AM.

I’ve also been going to an awesome boot camp class religiously every Saturday for the past two months, but when I’m training I find it easiest to do my long runs first thing on Saturday mornings. I hate to give up the class, but not sure how I can time manage my training either.

Here’s to making it through until daylight savings – and hopefully spring and/or March!

Maybe a sign that spring is coming? Sunlight & stretching after my 5 miler yesterday morning.

Maybe a sign that spring is coming? Sunlight & stretching after my 5 miler yesterday morning.

Hello 2015 [& training season]

Miscellaneous

Well the holidays came and went. December was filled with bridal events for my best friend’s wedding, endless Christmas parties and an awesome New Year’s Eve Celebration to top off the year.

The fiancé got me a Garmin Forerunner 15 for Christmas and I was thrilled! I’ve used it a couple of times and let me tell you how much I love it! It is SO much easier to just glance down at your wrist to check your distance rather than fumble around with an app on your phone (and your armband).

forerunner

The end of one year and the start of another always means looking back at the year you’ve had and what you hope to accomplish in the next.

I did 16 races in 2014, adding up to 142.8 miles. I know those numbers don’t mean much to non-runners, but to those who understand what it’s like to look back and remember every mile, every early morning, every sore aching body part – you know the feeling of accomplishment and also the feeling of wanting to crush that number in the next year ahead of you.

Races-2014Looking back on 2014 my favorite race is a tie between the Akron Marathon (if you know anything about me you know I LOVE this race) and my first triathlon at West Branch State Park. The triathlon stands out to me because it was a goal of mine and I was petrified beyond belief to do the swim. I had no idea what I was doing. In fact, I still know very little about triathlons in general, but that’s what made the race so special to me. I went after something that scared the living daylights out of me and came out afterwards with a smile on my face. That’s living.

This past weekend was the Lifetime Indoor Tri. This was my second time doing the race so I kind of knew what to expect. I did so much better than I did last year, which makes me hopeful for the race season. I was not in very good shape either considering I haven’t swam since September.

Indoor-TriThis week marked the first week back to training since the holidays. I’ve got a big race schedule coming up and my training decreased in December (like it always does) with the holidays, parties and the wedding. It’s time to stay focused and become dedicated again, which makes me excited because half the fun of racing is training.

Here’s an overview of my 2015 races:

Jan-March – Training and finding another indoor tri to compete in
April 12 – 20 Mile Drop
May 3 – Fly Pig Half Marathon
May 31 – Twinsburg Duathlon
June 7 – West Branch Triathlon (sprint)
June 10 (tentative date) – Mentor Flag Day 5K
July 12 – Johnny Cake Jog (5 miler)
July 19 – Fairport Harbor Triathlon (sprint)
July 26 – Cleveland Triathlon (aiming for the Olympic distance)
August 23 (tentative date) – Shaker Heights Biathlon
September – Akron Marathon
Oct/Nov – I’d like to find a fall half marathon that isn’t too cold!

The weather in Cleveland has been cold and miserable, so unfortunately a lot of my training will have to be done indoors. Luckily I got a spin bike on Black Friday which is super handy on cold, winter mornings in Northeast Ohio, plus in training for the Olympic distance in July.

bikeI’ve also held myself to two of my resolutions for 2015 so far – join Northeast Running Club and The Cleveland Triathlon Club. Done and done. I’m looking forward to group training sessions come spring!

For now I need to focus on hitting all my training goals and working on my diet. Because eating cookies and drinking wine every day is only acceptable behavior in December 😉

I’m looking forward to 2015, especially because I get to marry my favorite person in the entire world in August!

Happy New Year!

NYE-Kiss

Cleveland Half Marathon Review & Preparing to “TRI”

Miscellaneous

SPOILER ALERT: They changed the course this year and although I only ran it once before in 2013, compared to last year, it didn’t meet my expectations.

2014 Cleveland Half Marathon Review:

  • Cleveland has been obsessed with the new Cleveland Convention Center lately, and to be honest, it’s really not that amazing. Yes it looks pretty, but this was the Cleveland freaking Marathon – it should have stayed right there in front of Lake Erie, in front of the Cleveland Browns Stadium and in front of the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Instead they pushed us into Public Square to start the race and then crammed us into the green by the new Convention Center to end the race.
  •  The corals leading up to the start of the race were irrelevant and it was packed to the brim. Starting in Public Square is overrated and was just a bad idea in general. We had way more room in front of the Browns Stadium last year, plus we were right on the water – it screamed Cleveland! This year we were smashed between buildings and unable to see anything around us.

    Smashed into corals pre-race

    Smashed into corals pre-race

  • The crowd support wasn’t as great as I expected. I read somewhere that the reason the course changed was to get MORE crowd support, ironically.
  • One of my favorite parts about last year was entering the Shoreway stretch into Lakewood and looking ahead and seeing a giant swarm of runners heading up the hill. It was amazing and inspiring to see. This year they threw that hill and highway stretch in for the last 1.5 miles of the course. Nothing was more suffocating than a hill at mile 11 and seeing nothing but a stretch of bland highway ahead of you. At this point runners were all spread out and struggling and it didn’t have the same inspiring effect as last year.
  • In 2013’s course, I loved crossing the bridge from Tremont and heading back into the city past Progressive Field. I loved turning the corner on St. Clair and heading down to the finish line. The 2013 course winded and twisted runners around the buildings of downtown Cleveland and you could hear the finish line as you grew closer and closer. This year, the finish line appeared out of nowhere after a grueling highway hill. There was nothing special. No magic. No inspiration.
  • The entire course was reversed compared to 2013. At mile three this year we were passing a church and neighborhood block party passing out beer that we had passed at mile 11 the year before. The whole thing mentally threw me off.
  • The finish line straight was super narrow and I had a hard time getting around other runners while I was trying to sprint it out.
  • Despite how awful I thought the course was, I still managed to set a new PR time for a half – and so did the fiance! My new PR is 2:11. (Next I’m going for 2:05.)
Still managed to set a new PR!

Still managed to set a new PR!

I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but the race really did not meet my expectations this year. Maybe I set them too high though. Last year this was my first half marathon ever and the entire sport of competitive running was brand new to me. Regardless, I favored 2013’s course and I hope they switch some things around based off of people’s comments – because from what I heard – the hill during the last 1.5 miles was not a crowd favorite. I still love Cleveland though and I imagine I’ll be back next year.

The three amigos flexing at mile 3

The three amigos flexing at mile 3

So what’s next?

Well… I’m doing it… My first triathlon! I’m two weeks out from The Great Western Reserve Triathlon on June 8th in Ravenna. Of course I’ll be doing the Sprint Distance – 750 meter swim (.46 mile), 13.1 mile bike ride and 3.1 mile run. I’ve been training for about three months and although I’ve gotten better at swimming in that time, I’m still incredibly nervous and intimidated by the open water.

This past weekend I did my trial run-through in which I completed the entire distance in all three sports. I finished everything (including transitioning) in 1:53. I set my goal to finish in around 2 hours, although I won’t be mad if I don’t make that time. My main goal here is to not drown during the swim! As soon as my feet hit the solid ground after that swim on race day I will be one happy girl! My trial run-through gave me confidence that I can compete in the swim, but I have a tendency to focus more on time and just trying to get it over with. When I think like this my form gets sloppy and I quickly become exhausted. As long as I remain cool, calm and collected and I swim with good form then I’ll be good to go, but if I panic and flop around trying to stay afloat I’m done for. Worrying about the swim has seriously kept me up at night lately, but I have to remain in control of my fears.  I have to go into the race with the mentality that I will beast mode that swim and it will be a piece of cake. If I think and believe that I can do, then I’m already half way there.


In terms of the bike and run – I got this 🙂

More races coming up:

  • Mentor Flag Day 5K on June 11.
  • Lake Health Half Marathon in Kirtland on June 15 (I wanted to run this race last year, but it was all sold out when I went to register. It should be a nice, scenic run and I’ve heard good things about it.)
  • Woodland 5K in Kirtland on June 22 at the Holden Arboretum.

Lots of big races coming up! I’m so excited and nervous for all of them. Big things are happening and training is at an all-time high. (Is it weird that I get excited about waking up at 5AM to train!?)

This is what I love about summer – training and going out there and running your heart out at the race. I love summer and I love race season!

A New Year — Race 1 of 12.

Miscellaneous

Happy New Year! I am super excited for 2014. I’ve got big plans for racing, running and beginning to plan a wedding. I also plan on rocking my career even more and continuing to be an awesome auntie to my four little ones – actually soon to be five come June!

2013 was an amazing year for me. I’m almost even tempted to call it “adult” like, which is funny because I am the farthest thing from being an adult. I mean I still laugh at poop jokes and I’m 24 years old. Anyways, in 2013: I got a new car, landed my first big kid job, ran my first marathon and got engaged. 2014 has BIG shoes to fill, but the possibilities are there and I’m excited for it all.

It’s one of my resolutions to run a race every month of the year in 2014. I’m glad January’s race is already said and done, because I am not a fan of cold weather running. I’m already dreading the February and March races, plus sometimes April is cold around here too. I’m also dreading the race fees, so hopefully that doesn’t stop me either.

So to start off the New Year and to cross 1 of 12 races off my list, I set off to run a 5K on New Years Day. I ran the race with Nicole (one of my best friends, future bridesmaids and marathon running partner). It was the Cleveland Commitment 5K on New Year’s Day in Beachwood. It’s a free race dedicated to starting a national conversation about living a healthy way of life. This race was one of 35 that took place all over the U.S. on January 1st and of course I loved that it was free entry.

Snowy 5K route

Snowy 5K route

Despite having a good amount of champagne the night before and staying up pretty late with friends, Nicole and I braved the cold 17 degree weather to run a quick 3.1 miles on New Years Day. The course was a little boring as we ran through a neighborhood and down snowy sidewalks. I was pretty much miserable the entire run and joked that the 5K was the worse thing to ever happen to me. I was tired, freezing and a tiny bit hung over, PLUS I’ll be honest – I’m a little out of shape considering I haven’t ran in about 3 weeks. I’m too embarrassed to even post my time, but let’s just say I ran a full 10 minutes faster in the 5K I ran in June when I was training. I wasn’t happy with my time nor running the actual race itself, but let me tell you  how happy I am that my January race is over.

I look happy, but I'm not. [Nicole and I post-race]

I look happy, but I’m not. [Nicole and I post-race]

Here’s my list of other 2014 race possibilities:
JanuaryCheck!
FebruaryDirty Run 10K in Willoughby Hills, $30 OR Chili Bowl Classic 5K in Cleveland, $20, plus the fiance would love to be able to taste all the different chili offered post race with the fee.
MarchLifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon in Beachwood, $35. (It would be my DREAM to be able to do this.) OR Strides of March 5K in Kirtland, $18. (It’ll also be important to run lower cost races now since we have a wedding to start planning for!)
April – Chardon hosts a Maple Sap 5K every year in April for an annual festival. It’s two streets over from my house and probably no more than $20, so this will probably be my April run. No information is currently posted about it.
May – My wonderful fiance registered me for the 2014 Cleveland Half Marathon for this month. He’ll run it with me too. (Guys – take note of this gift idea if your woman is a runner. I was seriously SO excited when I opened the envelope!)
JuneMentor Flag Day 5K, $20.  I ran it last year and placed in my age group. Plus there was an awesome post-race picnic after.
July – Painesville Johnny Cake Jog Five Miler, $20/$25. I loved this race when I ran it last year. It’s a fast, flat course and just an all around good event with great food and activities post-race.
August – I’d love to be able to do the Bellefaire JCB Biathlon again. It’s a 5K race followed by a 13.1 bike ride. It was an awesome event and I placed in my age group.
September – Hands down I’m running the 2014 Akron Marathon again.
October – Not sure about this month’s race yet. Not many races for this late in 2014 are posted yet. I know there’s a half and full marathon somewhere up by the lake (maybe in Fairport). I’m also not sure if the Rock and Roll Half Marathon will be back either, but I don’t particularly want to run that again. I’m not even sure if I’d want to run another full or half marathon if I’m running Akron the month before though. Stay tuned.
November – This past Thanksgiving the fiance and I were traveling the day of, so we didn’t put much of an effort in to find a Turkey Trot to run even though we both said we wanted to. 2014 will have to be different or else I’ll need to find another November race.
December – More than likely I’ll run the Legacy Village Jingle Bell 5K again. I’ve run this race the past two years and have enjoyed it. I love the holiday themed races since they are always so fun and festive.

Here are a few pictures from our New Year’s Eve festivities. Since I worked basically the entire holiday and the fiance (still weird to say since our engagement is so new) has been off work for the past two weeks, he did the NYE planning coordination. He arranged dinner with 20 friends and family at a local winery a few streets over from the house. The place is called Your Vine or Mine in Painesville and it was fantastic. I’d recommend it to anyone local and looking to support a family owned business. We had awesome wine and a light dinner, then everyone came back to the house to drink, be merry and watch the ball drop. The fiance’s sister did an awesome job with decorations and food. We all had a great time and still avoided the overly-crowded-too-loud-no seats-available-can’t-get-a-drink bar scene. I was a happy girl.

Our large group of 20

Our large group of 20

The fiance and I being overly festive and cute for NYE.

The fiance and I being overly festive and cute for NYE

New Year’s Day we followed our normal tradition of getting sushi and then seeing a movie. We saw American Hustle, which kept my attention, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it “good” by any means.

Delicious way to start the new year

A delicious way to start the new year

What are you looking forward to in 2014? I’m excited for the possibilities of the New Year ahead and I hope you all are too.

I’m ready to work hard, run hard and play even harder.

Happy New Year!