2015 Akron Marathon Review


September 26 was the 2015 Akron Marathon. I was a nervous wreck going into this race. I felt super undertrained and my mind was still buzzing from the excitement of our wedding and honeymoon. All summer I was adamant about a strict workout routine, running 5-6 miles a few days a week and cross training on the elliptical and stair master. I was averaging working out 6 days a week and even 7 days a week closer to the wedding. I looked and felt great, but the lack of “long runs” made me really anxious, even entertaining the idea of only running the half for a little while. (My training plan had me scheduled to run 18 miles the day of my wedding! Needless to say I fell behind.)

The weekend we got back from our honeymoon I was determined to run anywhere between 15 and 18 miles for my long run. I had two weeks left until the race and I told myself that I would settle for running 15, but was really going to push for 18. Of course at mile 13 during the run I started to ache pretty badly. I mustered through until mile 15 and got home from the run feeling defeated. The weekend before the race I was in Nashville with absolutely no time to fit in an 18-mile training run! (My strategy was not to taper and to just keep training up until the race.) The week of the race I made up my mind to only run the half, but the closer the race got the more I knew how disappointed I would be with myself if I settled. I was completely torn. I loved this race so much and damnit I paid good money for the full distance!! I had a long talk with myself and officially decided that I was going to run the full. I was in good shape and I wasn’t trying to PR. I made up my mind that this race would be all about me and my love for running. My friend Nicole (who has run the past two marathons with me) wasn’t able to come up for the race and my other friend Rachael was only running the half. I knew I was going to have to go stag for the majority of the race, which I actually welcomed a tiny bit with my new plan of not going for a PR. This way no one would be annoyed with my slow pace and I was going to take however long I needed to finish it.

I had a long talk with my husband (still crazy to say!) the day before the race on the way to the expo. He told me that walking during the marathon didn’t mean I was “weak”, it meant that I was being smart and kind to my body. I knew that I could complete the race just from my normal training routine, but I also knew that I probably couldn’t complete it very fast. I’ve prided myself on the fact that I didn’t walk once during the last two full marathons I’ve done, so this new approach was completely going against that.

The day of the race I woke up incredibly nervous. Did I even belong out there with the other runners? What if I seriously couldn’t finish the race? How does that even work? Would I get picked up? Negative thoughts and emotions swirled through my head all the way to the race. I got to the starting line with about 40 minutes to kill before the race began. I called and texted my friend Rachael to try to meet up, but she was running late and with all the commotion at the starting line, we never got the chance to meet up. I had planned on running the first half of the race with her and planned on being able to chat and take my mind off running. Now I was going to run the full distance completely alone! I stood there in the coral – pissed off and miserable. I didn’t want to run and I didn’t want to be there. This was going to be a miserable and negative 26.2 miles…

And then it hit me. What was I doing?! I needed an instant attitude adjustment right then and there. I cranked up my music and closed my eyes. “I love this race. I love running. The weather is beautiful. I’m lucky to be able to run. I’m lucky that I can afford this race. I look forward to this race all year…” I told myself this over and over again until I could feel my negative thoughts and emotions start turning into excitement and happiness. I LOVE this race. It’s my favorite race all year. I was lucky to be there. Who cared if I had to walk a little bit?! Who cared how long it took me?! I had six hours to complete the race – plenty of time. I decided right then and there to enjoy every single moment of the race. I was going to run it for me and for the simple joy that I love this race and I love to run. I was going to find enjoyment in every single mile and soak up every high and low that the next 26.2 miles had in store for me.

ak-15-1 Right before the race began someone said a prayer over the speakers to the crowd. I wasn’t sure if this was a new addition or if I had just missed it in previous years, but it calmed my heart and put a grateful stride in my step. Next thing I knew we were off. Crowds lined the street and music blasted. Everyone was cheering and yelling and I had a smile from ear to ear across my face.

The first couple miles were very enjoyable. I watched the other runners around me, anxious to make a PR. I passed other runners, some of them saying that this was their first full marathon. I ran with a few of the same runners for a while (one of my favorite things about long distant races). Sometimes I talk to them or chime into conversations around me, while other times I make up stories about them and their lives in my head to entertain myself.

The past two years I’ve stopped to pee at mile 18, but suddenly I had to go bad at mile 8. I scanned the potties and didn’t see a line so I zoomed in and out. Around mile 10 I felt a little sluggish and someone offered me a couple starbursts, which I took graciously. I turned on my music and kept chugging along. I kept a steady, enjoyable pace not even looking down at my Garmin as the miles ticked by. I walked for the first time up a pretty significant hill at mile 12 and kept my thoughts positive.

The next thing I knew the full marathons and half marathons were starting to branch off. As I made my way over to the right hand side with the marathons, a woman running the half locked eyes with me, pointed directly at me and shouted “Good luck marathoner! You got this!” This woman probably didn’t know the positive impact that her comment had on me and I shouted back that she was doing a great job. I smiled as I trotted off towards the second half of my journey.

Akron changed the course this year, so I wasn’t expecting the steady hill during miles 13 through 15. I would walk for a few minutes and then run for a few minutes longer. I was surprised to look around me and see so many other runners taking the same approach.
Around me there was: A couple wearing matching orange shirts. Another couple that was very tall. A girl who was running by herself like me. And a dad and a son (who were hilarious). We would all pass each other and then slow down, making small talk every time we did. We talked about food, beer, the course, the weather…everything.

Miles 17 through 21 were through an awesome neighborhood. People have giant block parties and cheer on the runners while blasting music and usually drinking alcohol. I saw a few signs from people offering beer to runners. I always wondered if I could drink a beer while running. Next thing I knew I was running past a house where a younger guy was shouting at runners to come drink a beer with him. He had a megaphone and was specifically calling out runners. Suddenly I heard “You in the orange shirt!” and I looked over to see he was talking to me. “Come drink a beer with us!” he shouted. I shrugged and decided that I’d never have a better time to drink a beer during a marathon than right then.

ak-15-2I ran over and the whole yard of people cheered for me. I chugged it so fast even I was impressed with myself! I thanked them and ran away, grinning. A couple other runners were cheering and laughing as I rejoined them on the race course. I was laughing out loud to myself.

So then I continued on. I waved to and greeted people out on their lawns, thanking them for being out there. I stuck my hand out for high-fives for little kids. I read signs and smiled at people. I sang out loud to music that people were playing. I enjoyed myself.

At mile 22 I felt my blood sugars starting to go down. I saw a guy with a giant bucket of candy corn and ran over to him. He poured a heaping mound into my hands and I thanked him as I continued on. I ate it all and it was just the boost I needed to finish the race.

At mile 24 we started coming out of the neighborhoods and I could see downtown Akron. I knew we were close to the finish line. I started to tear up because I was so happy and proud of myself and because I was so happy with how the race was turning out. It was the most enjoyable marathon I had ever ran and to think I was going to be miserable at the start! The crowd support was amazing and as I always do during the later miles of a marathon – I had an overwhelming sense of pride and gratitude for my life. I felt so lucky and blessed to be out there with other amazing and talented runners. The weather was beautiful and the people (both runners and spectators) were incredible. There was a small hill at mile 25 and my newfound enthusiasm for life carried me up the hill without walking.

I have visions of the finish line street for the Akron marathon all year round. I think about it and get goose bumps! Even though they changed the course this year, I was SO thankful to see that the finish line was still the same. I could see the mile 26 flag in the distance. My heart pounded. A smile planted itself on my face and I picked up my speed. The crowd’s cheers along the street carried me to mile 26 and I turned to run into Canal Park. I turned the corner and I saw the crowd in the stadium. I heard the cheers and roars of so many inspired family and friends of runners. I saw the finish line ahead of me. My goal was clear. The sun was shining and I was beaming as I sprinted through the finish line!

I felt amazing! I was on fire with enthusiasm for life and for running.

ak-15-3 I made my way over to the food area and as always, the Akron marathon never disappoints! There was tons of great food, including pizza and beer. I sat down to eat, not even carrying that I was alone. (Another fear and negative thought that I had going into the race “What if people think I have no friends because I’m there by myself?!”) Two seconds later I heard someone calling my name and I looked over to see my friend Dan that I had grown up with. He had run the relay. I talked to him for a little bit and then decided to venture back to my car.

I walked back to the parking garage where I had parked with a light heart and a smile. The weather was so incredibly beautiful and I was so happy with how the race had turned out. I obviously didn’t PR and I laughed when I saw my time because this was my worse marathon time yet! But none of that mattered. What mattered was what I was feeling. I love the Akron marathon and I was so happy I had turned my negative thoughts and worries into a positive experience. I felt blessed and grateful and I walked away from the experience with a smile on my face and a pep in my step.

Leading up to the race I had told myself that this was the last full marathon I was going to do for a little while. Three full marathons in three years sounded fine to me and after feeling so undertrained I thought taking a break was what I wanted. Of course the minute I crossed that finish line I thought:

“I’ll be back next year!”

Akron marathon you have done it again! Thanks for another incredible race. Thanks for the grateful heart. And thanks for another year of experience and memories! (If you are local and haven’t done an Akron marathon series race yet, I urge you to do so – you won’t be disappointed!)

Autumn Leaves 5 Miler With a Side of Cough


Life has happened.

Work is a mad house. We moved into our new apartment. My parents moved to Cincinnati. I’m planning one of my best friend’s bridal showers and helping with the wedding in December. I’ve been incredibly sick and coughing for over three weeks… I’m not even going to pretend that I haven’t fallen way behind on training and running. In the past three weeks I’ve had two workouts: 1.) I jumped on a trampoline for about 6 minutes before I coughed up both lungs 2.) I ran a five mile race, which was hell.

After last year’s post marathon 4-month hiatus, I was determined not to let it happen again this year. Sure I didn’t need to be running 20 miles every weekend, but a 10-12 miler here and there and hitting the gym a few days a week wouldn’t hurt. I know it has only been three weeks, but I can already feel my decreased fitness level, not to mention my diet has been awful, which in turn makes me feel awful.

I finished up some antibiotics a few days ago and I am slowly starting to feel better. I still have an obnoxious cough though and I’m nervous to run or do any vigorous, long-term activity.

Last weekend I ran the Northeast Running Club’s Autumn Leaves 5 Miler at Lake Farmpark because A.) I had already signed-up and paid for it B.) I wanted to knock out my November race ASAP since I hate running in cold weather.

The race was muddy and cold, but it was manageable. I didn’t talk to anyone. I was simply there to run the race, get it over with and go home. I started off SUPER slow because I didn’t want to be coughing the entire race. Anytime I coughed a little bit, I slowed my pace even more. My finishing time was embarrassing compared to the five miler I ran back in April, yet someone I placed second in my age group. (What a joke.)

I ran straight through the finish line to my car, where I coughed hysterically in semi-private. At one point I looked over and saw a man cleaning off his shoes (because the course was incredibly muddy) and he was eying me cautiously, probably wondering if I was about to die or not. I wanted to shout “WHAT!!? HAVEN’T YOU SEEN SOMEONE COUGH BEFORE? DON’T LOOK AT ME!!” but instead I took off my muddy shoes, got in my car and continued coughing.
Since we moved to a new area we bought new gym memberships. The fiancé has gone a few times this week while I’ve stayed home and gotten the apartment under control (we’ve been there less than a week now). I am planning on going to the gym tomorrow if it rains, but if it doesn’t I’m going to go on a slow, “exploring the city” 5 miler. We’ll see how the weather turns out and how I feel come tomorrow morning. I just hope I can enjoy some sort of activity without coughing like I smoked for 50 years. Tonight we are having the sister-in-law over for drinks and dinner and continuing to unpack and get our lives under control.

Life is happening that’s for sure and I am going to make it a priority this next week to fit in workouts, work on my diet and try to see opportunity in all the new changes and challenges life is throwing at me.

Keep running!

Portage Lakes Triathlon 2014

Miscellaneous, Running

Welp. I did it again. I conquered a terrifying swim and finished it with a bike ride and then a run. This past weekend was the 2014 Portage Lakes Triathlon in Akron and I competed in the sprint distance – 1/2 mile swim, 13.1 mile bike, 5K.

Like many other triathletes, the swim was the most terrifying part for me. The entire race got postponed 30 minutes because fog had taken over the swim course and you could barely see the first buoy. The sky was overcast with dark clouds and it was only 48 degrees, however the lake was a warm 70 degrees. It actually felt better to get in the water than to just stand around shivering on the beach waiting for the start (which of course didn’t help my nerves).

Fog covered the entire swim course.

Fog covered the entire swim course.

Around 8 AM the fog began to clear and the first wave of the mini triathlon went. I kept hinting to the fiancé that a “mini” might be good for his first triathlon race. He has terrible knees issues, but kept complaining that he wanted to be out there competing the entire time.

The race had a beach start (different from my first race in that we started already in the water and there was far less panic and splashing going on). I was  near the front because I told myself that I needed to be more aggressive. The siren went off and basically all hell broke loose. I fought to keep my spot as we bounded toward the water, arms and legs splashing everywhere. I got hit in the head and back a couple times and did my fair share of hitting too. The first couple times I accidentally hit someone I stopped to scream “Sorry!” but then realized it was slowing me down and wasting my energy. It was still considerably crowded by the time we hit the first buoy, but then we had another problem…seaweed. Now I wouldn’t consider myself a girly girl who is terrified of unnecessary things, however this seaweed freaked me out! I later told my fiancé that it felt like a movie or video game because it felt like the seaweed was wrapping itself around my arms and legs and I couldn’t get away from it. The more I panicked about it, the more I began to sink. I tried treading water, but of course I was STILL over the stupid seaweed. I flipped over on my back for a brief second and out loud I said “CALM DOWN. YOU’RE FINE. RELAX.” At the time I didn’t care how crazy I sounded talking to myself because it began to work. I flipped over and put my head in the water, telling myself that I just needed to get around the buoy and everything would be better. And it was. Around the first turned it cleared up, the seaweed was gone and I found my stride. I began to make a rhythm in my head from my stroke (something I did my first race) and it gave me something to focus on. “Arm-Arm-Leg-Leg.” Around sixteen minutes later I was out of the water – and incredibly happy to be done with it!

The bike course was beautiful and I would have liked to just cruise and take in the scenery, but I kept telling myself “No this is a race.” During my last triathlon, I felt like I was taking a casual bike ride and kept forgetting I was “competing”. Not this race. I hit the ground running (well, biking), powering down the open road and giving it my all on hills – which can I say – the hills were UNREAL on this course. Another runner told me that the course was hilly, but good Lord! By about the 8th hill I groaned out loud “COME ON” (since there was no one around me at that point). The bike course took me way longer than I had anticipated and I got to T2 already disappointed with my time. I forced myself to keep going. I normally run a 5K around 25 minutes, but because of the hills I cramped up around mile 2 and finished the run in a stupid 31 minutes. I met a really nice runner on the trails though and we ran together for a good chunk of it. Sometimes that’s all it takes to push you and I think that if I had still been running alone I would have been even longer on the run.


The straight away into the finish was glorious because my whole body hurt and I was fighting a major leg cramp. I honestly couldn’t wait to be done! There was another woman a little ways ahead of me and when I saw my family standing there cheering for me, I made up my mind that I was going to pass her (mainly because she looked like she could have been in my age group!) The girl’s family was standing close by mine and both parties started screaming loudly as I came sprinting up behind her. The girl’s family was screaming “Hurry up she’s going to pass you!!” and my family was egging me on. I did end up passing her by just a hair at the finish line and the announcer said into the microphone “Don’t worry you guys aren’t in the same age group!” It was actually really funny and the girl and I laughed about it afterwards.

I had terrible leg and stomach cramps for about an hour after the race. Not sure if it was my nutrition (I may have had a few beers at a friends house the night before) or if it was just a challenging course. I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed with my time, but I tried telling myself that this is only my second triathlon and I’m still just a rookie. I actually PR’ed my swim time on this race though, finishing in 16:41. (I was 17 something at my first race.) I still need to work on my transitions though. It took me almost 4 minutes in T1 and almost two minutes in T2. T2 should only take me about 30 seconds! I’m not sure what I was even doing. Watching TV? Painting my nails? Seriously though, my time was ridiculous.

So that’s the wrap on triathlons for 2014 – one indoor race and two outdoor sprints. I’m already thinking about doing an Olympic distance at some point next summer. I think it might be my goal to compete in 3 triathlons during the season. I’ve also decided that this winter I am investing in a wetsuit and I’ve made it my goal to join Cleveland Triathlon Club in the spring. I only want to get better and more into this sport so I have to get out of my comfort zone. Another goal for next summer – find someone to race with! The friends I’ve asked all basically said “Hell No.”  I can only image racing along side someone would help, however I’d never be one not to do something because I was afraid to do it alone. (Stay tuned for finding a racing partner.) Next race is my absolute favorite of the ENTIRE season – The 2014 Akron Marathon on September 27! I feel like it’s soon going to be Christmas morning soon. And don’t worry, I have one of my best friends to run this race with 🙂


Biathlon (Run + Bike) Registration Give-a-Way!

Miscellaneous, Running

DRAWING UPDATE – The winner is Dave Marsi!

Time to celebrate summer! I’m giving away one FREE registration for the 2014 Bellefaire JCB Biathlon & Walk on Sunday, August 24! If you are looking for a perfect, end-of-summer race then you won’t want to miss this one in Shaker Heights!

Photo courtesy of Bellefaire JCB.
(Photo courtesy of Bellefaire JCB.)

The biathlon includes a fast, flat 3-mile run, followed by a mostly flat 12-mile bike ride. The transition area is simple and perfect for runners looking to make the transition to multi-sport events. I ran this race in 2013 and it was my first glimpse into the world of competitive biking. I was THRILLED to place first in my age group last year! (There is also a two-mile fun run and walk that takes walkers through the beautiful streets of Shaker Heights and University Heights.)

Photo courtesy of Bellefaire JCB.
(Photo courtesy of Bellefaire JCB.)

Not only is this a dual event, but the post race picnic afterwards is awesome. Forget just water and a free banana (although I’m sure they will have some) this event boasts a huge selection of food and fun afterwards. Sloppy joes, donuts, cookies, an assortment of fruit, pastas, juices and more! There will also be children’s activities and ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s. Be sure to bring your family members!

This race offers more than just a traditional 5K and the route is scenic and beautiful, PLUS proceeds go to a good cause. I loved this event last year because I convinced the fiancé to do it  (he runs only a select few with me) and the weather was absolutely gorgeous. If you know anything about me you’ll already know that I adore the month of August. For some reason I just love the dog days of summer, so adding this awesome race to the end of August fits perfectly!

(A photo from last year’s race.)

Free registration is a $50 value; however proceeds for the event go back to Bellefaire JCB. Bellefaire JCB is among the nation’s largest, most experienced child welfare agencies. The organization helps more than 21,700 youth and their families achieve resiliency, dignity and self-sufficiency through its more than 25 programs. This race also offers sponsorship and fundraising opportunities for this great cause.

To enter the drawing for one free registration for either the walk or biathlon, please leave me a comment by Wednesday, August 13 telling me how old you were when you first learned to ride a bike OR comment about another fun race that you already ran or are planning to run this summer. (Winner will be chosen using Random.org by Friday, August 15.) 

Run brag! My medal from last year's race.
(Run brag! My medal from last year’s race.)

On My First Tri…


I paced back and forth on the edge of the beach. My transition area was set up. I knew the courses. My pre-workout and energy gel were taken. My swim cap was on.

The only thing left to do was get in the water and do what I had come there to do – compete and finish my first triathlon.

One hour and 46 minutes later I was crossing the finish line in the pouring rain and listening to my family cheering me on from somewhere near by…

The Swim:

Nerves filled my entire body as I wadded into the water. It was 7:34 AM.

“Three minutes until start for women’s sprint distance!” boomed the announcer on the beach not far away from us.

I made light conversation with a few of the girls around me. I stretched my arms. I adjusted my goggles. I took a deep breath in.

The siren suddenly went off and splashes took off all around me. STAY CALM. I told myself.

I cruised through the majority of the swim, not even winded by the time I finished. I had a few moments of panic around the deepest area of the swim. My foot kicked seaweed at one point and I felt my engagement ring start to wiggle and slide around on my finger. Why didn’t you take your ring off?! I screamed at myself as I struggled to kick away from the seaweed. My mind suddenly flashed down to what could possibly be at the bottom of the lake where the seaweed came from. I thought about how far away from the shore I suddenly was and how no other swimmers seemed to be around me. I felt my heart rate quicken rapidly and my chest grew tight. Suddenly I heard myself say out loud “Come on girl…”  I treaded water for about 10 seconds and it helped calm me down. I jammed my ring on as tight as it would go and I was ready to keep going. I was half way done and I knew I could finish strong. I picked up the pace and swam in. I powered into the shore and swam until my fingers grasped the sand on the beach. I flung myself up and sprinted out of the water. My mind and heart were racing. I had just finished the scariest part of the race. I was back on solid ground. I had survived. My eyes darted around the crowd gathered on the beach for my family, but I couldn’t see them. No time to waste though. I sprinted up the grass and into the transition area.

The Bike:

Transition one took me a few moments to gather myself, try to dry off and get on the bike. I took off feeling the cool air on my wet skin. I was so happy that I had survived the swim that I did the first couple miles at a somewhat easy pace since I was so joyful and relieved. I didn’t drown!

I rode by myself the majority of the first half of the bike ride. Then suddenly out of no where I was getting passed by the half Iron Man distance bikers. I felt like they were celebrities – wizzing by me with high tech bikes and pointy helmets. I tried my best to get the hell out of their way. To them a  rookie sprint distance racer was probably the equivalent of an annoying freshman to a cool senior.

The miles weren’t marked on the bike ride so I had to judge where I was based off the time on my watch. The bike course was filled with rolling hills, while the website boasted it was fast and flat! It wasn’t completely unbearable though and I powered through it with my thighs aching.

The bike ride was beautiful though, especially when the course opened up to view the lake we had just swam in. At 52 minutes I was back in the transition area and I saw my family taking pictures and cheering for me. The fiancé came running over snapping pictures and cheering “Great job babe! We thought you drown during the swim because you were so fast we missed you coming out!”

The Run:

The first five minutes of the run were absolutely brutal. I had done a good chunk of brick training and knew it wasn’t going to be a cake walk, but wow was it tough! I felt like I couldn’t even pick my legs up. Every step was a combined effort just to keep moving forward and not walk. It seriously felt like my legs were made of bricks and I wondered how I had ever run correctly in the past or ever would again.

Eventually, I found my footing and began to run more smoothly.

At mile one, I heard the rain before I saw it and felt it. The run was a down and back course with thick, dark woods surrounding the road we ran on. I heard the rain hitting the trees and it was delayed a few seconds before it started coming down on us. A couple runners around me started cheering and screaming. I started laughing because I knew it was only a matter of seconds before we were all completely soaked. And I was right. A minute later we were drenched and it was pouring down hard. My shoes instantly felt 10 pounds heavier. A lot of runners slowed down, but I tried to power through. I kept a good pace and finished the run in 29 minutes.

“And here comes Cassandra Beck from Chardon, Ohio!” yelled the announcer as I sprinted to the finish line. I heard cheers and saw my family jumping up and down waving at me. It was still pouring down rain and they were huddled under a pavilion nearby.

I had made it. I had survived. I was an official triathlete!

Thoughts On My First Triathlon

The biggest thing that I took away from my first tri was that I was well prepared – and it made a huge difference. I read an entire book about competing for the first time and I searched the internet finding all sorts of helpful newbie tips. I brought everything I needed with me plus doubles of everything. I knew the course. I completed all the training (and then some). I was strong.  I was well rested. I ate right. I knew what to expect and I competed very well – winning first in my age group even. (OK so there was only like three of us, but still!) I aimed to finish in two hours and ended up cruising in with 15 minutes to spare. Despite the rain, I loved every single second of it and in my head I knew that I could have easily competed in the Olympic distance. I rode home in the car in the pouring rain with a giant grin on my face.

I still cannot believe I did it. I already found myself Googling more triathlons in Northeast Ohio to compete it too. Unfortunately, the three big races that I would love to do fall on weekends that we already have plans for. Who knows if I will compete again this summer? It may be too early to tell – but I am already visioning myself competing in the same race next year (The Great Western Reserve Triathlon), but the Olympic distance. The fiancé is giving it some thought too, saying that when he was on the sidelines watching he just wanted to be out there competing too. Who knows what this crazy life will throw at me and what insane dream I will have next. All I know is that I went for something that scared the complete living crap out of me. I got tangled in seaweed, practically peed myself having a heart attack, pedaled through when my quads were about to kill me and I ran through the pouring rain with aching leg muscles screaming at me to stop…and I loved every single flipping second of it.

Sprint distance rookie or Iron Man distance veteran, we are all in this together and I now understand the love and challenge of swim, bike, run!

A New Year — Race 1 of 12.


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:
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!