Ironman 70.3 Training Week 4 – Your “Reason Why”

Miscellaneous

This week’s training was pretty awesome! I felt strong, motivated and happy.

I also felt like I had a great swim this week. I swam a full mile, stopping for about two minutes every 5 laps (33 laps in total). I was tired, but I felt good. I feel like my stroke is pretty decent and I’m moving efficiently in the water. (Let’s hope that sticks around for another 20 weeks – ah ha ha!!)

Week 4 Training Overview:

Total Time: 7 hours, 31 minutes
Total Mileage: 46 miles

week4I find myself getting pretty bored on the bike lately. I keep going to the gym to get in miles on the bike because I can watch TV there and that sometimes helps with the boredom. I have a bike at home, but I’d have to look out the window, stare at my phone or just listen to music if I rode there. (Since I don’t feel like rearranging my entire apartment to move the spin bike to the living room LOL.)

I figured another month or so of the spin bike in April and by May I’ll be outside and riding to work a few days a month. Just gotta hang in there!

This is during the peak of my riding boredom when I start sending my husband random pictures.

This is during the peak of my riding boredom when I start sending my husband random pictures. If you’ve never done this before than you aren’t a true endurance athlete haha! 🙂

This past week I did a circuit training class with a few of coworkers. When I say class I mean I “taught” the “class”. It was actually really fun and a great way to get in my one day of cross/strength training. It mixed it up and I had fun hanging out with people while training, which I normally do alone. This week were are doing a bootcamp workout that I am going to lead.  Stay tuned for how that works out!

On Saturday I did my “long” run of 8.5 miles. At mile 6 I was really cold and growing pretty fatigued. I passed a church that had an electronic sign out near the road. I read it as I passed and it flashed the words “Praise in the midst of struggle”…and I thought “WOW – if that isn’t a sign from God for this very moment then I don’t know what is.” I thought it was a nice little sign from God and I welcomed it as a distraction. As I ran I thought about how lucky I was to be out there. I thought about all the people who would give anything to suit up and run out there in the cold, but they can’t for some physical reason. How lucky am I? I got ready for my run that morning, dreading it as I put on my layers. For some people they want nothing more than to get out there and run so freely and here I was dreading it and wanting it to be over. I spent the last two miles trying to be thankful for the gift of being able to train and trying to “Praise in the midst of struggle”. It motivated me to keep a positive attitude and a remembrance that not everyone can do what I get to do and for that I am thankful for my chance.

Have a good week everyone and remember your “Reason Why”.

because-i-can

Five Tips to Remain in Control & Centered in a Crazy World.

Miscellaneous

My coworker and I were talking the other day about the fact that I don’t have cable or internet at my house. This may seem crazy to some people, but to me it just doesn’t make any sense. I’m not home long enough to use it! Including our own wedding in August, the fiancé and I have seven weddings between May and October this year! Add on to wedding season our own wedding, the fact that I just started a new role at work and I have 11 more races on the schedule to train for.

Lately the fiancé and I have been so busy and so jam-packed with wedding planning, training and general life maintenance that in the back of my head I’ve caught myself wondering “How do people ever have kids? When is there time for anything? Is it ever going to slow down?” This is not an ideal way of thinking, especially during one of the most important years of our life. I don’t want to look back at this time and realize I was so busy that I wasn’t taking in moments to just be happy and enjoy life, because after all, isn’t that the point? We shouldn’t be so wrapped up in every detail of our lives that we lose focus on the bigger picture. With how crazy things are lately, I know it’s just going to get even more hectic (but fun!) as we get closer to August and all the other summer activities we have planned. At the end of the day, life goes scary fast, but I don’t want to look back and wonder what happened.

In order to keep my sanity and remain in the moment of life, here are my top 5 ways to relax and center myself when things get crazy:

1.) Run. Workout. Go to the gym.
You don’t need to spend hours working out or at the gym. That’s not possible most of the time. A quick 30 minute run or walk before work or during lunch will do the trick. I’m a fan of morning runs because it sets the pace for the rest of my day. If you haven’t tried running or working out in the morning before then I recommend trying it. You get hooked on starting your day off so positively and being able to watch the sunrise never gets old. (If you need even more motivation, some insurance plans will even pay you for staying active. Oscar, an insurance provider in New York and New Jersey gives their members Misfit bands and lets them earn cash rewards for walking or running regularly. Do yourself a favor, be smart and do your research! You’ll thank yourself later.)

Sunrise-running2.) Spend Time Outdoors.
Go outside on your lunch break, even if it’s to sit in your car with the windows down. Or stop at a park on the way home from work. Just enjoy nature and being outside. We spend most of our days staring at office walls, phones and computers. A little nature will do you good I promise. Try researching parks close to your house and plan an afternoon this weekend to go there if only for an hour. You don’t have to be super outdoorsy or an avid hiker to do this either. Most local parks have clubs or events that offer a good variety of park programs to attend and go to. Plan an afternoon with your children or spouse to go. Centering yourself and giving your brain a chance to remember being outdoors instead of being locked away in your office can do a lot for you. For me it takes me back to moments when I was a kid and loved playing outdoors. It offers me a moment of joy and I find myself thinking “Oh ya…this is nice. I remember this now.”

3.) Spend Time Alone.
Now look… I understand how hard this can be, especially with kids and responsibilities and work and every single crazy thing that can happen in the course of a day (which is a lot). Time alone can be five minutes or it could be an hour. It could also be your daily commute to work, time in the shower or going into your bedroom for 20 minutes after work to “D’ fluff” as I like to call it. For me, I need the few minutes after work to gather and ground myself. I just fought traffic on my commute home, I’m cranky, tired, thinking about the day I just had and itching to get out of my dress clothes. I find when I go into the bedroom by myself after work and take just 10 minutes to unwind and change into comfortable clothes – I come out a much happier and nicer person. Try it!

4.) Eat Something.
Hangry is a real thing. This is when you are so hungry that you are angry. Ever notice the worse fights and attitudes come from when you’re hungry? Your blood sugars are dropping and the stress and anger hit you like a ton of bricks. You lash out and act like things are much worse than they actually are. I am a complete victim of this and my fiancé can spot a “hangry” tantrum from a mile away. If you are stressed out the worse thing to do is let yourself become stressed AND hungry. Take a moment to center yourself and eat something. It doesn’t have to be a giant meal either. It could be a Greek yogurt with berries or a handful of nuts and a protein smoothie. Eat something to balance your blood sugar and the world will start to come back into a perspective that you can work with.

hungry-quote5.) Call Your Mom.
Or call a trusted friend. When you are feeling stressed and have too much on your plate, one of the best things to do is talk about it and even better to be able to laugh about it. Did you screw up that presentation at work and keep thinking about it? Call and talk it through with your mom or a close friend. Chances are they will offer advice on how to fix it and sometimes even better can offer you a funny way of thinking about it. “Well at least you had on a cute outfit for the presentation even if you had that stain on your shirt and missed the last four slides. Stop by your manager’s desk after work and explain what happened and offer to email the final slides to the group.” We’ve all heard the saying before – two heads are better than one. Don’t suffer in silence! Talk it out.

What do you do to relax and remain in control of your emotions and life?

talk-to-mom

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

The Perfect Summer Bucket List

Miscellaneous

Seventeen.

Seventeen glorious, perfect summer weekends between Memorial Day and the first day of fall.

Summer is by far my favorite time of year for many reasons. For starters: I love hot weather, I love the beach and I love race/running season. After Northeast Ohio’s dreadful, polar vortex filled winter; I am already in full summer mode and it’s still technically spring.

Being my normal neurotically organized and planner obsessed kinda gal, I came up with a 2014 summer bucket list.

Here’s what I got so far:

  •  Go to Put-N-Bay for Christmas in July weekend (July 25, 26, 27)
  •  Go to Cedar Point (In progress – planned for June 13)
  • Go to the zoo
  • Go for a long hike and pack a lunch to eat on the trail
  • Go on a 50+ mile bike ride (I’m thinking I may want to attempt a 100-mile ride, but we’ll see)
  • Go kayaking or canoeing (or both)
  • Go camping in Madison, Ohio (I found a cute, really decently priced cabin online)
  • Go fishing
  • Play volleyball on the beach (We play in a Friday night bar league, but that doesn’t count)
  • Workout at the beach/run on the beach as the sun rises (This weekend the fiancé and I ran at the beach, but the sun was already up so this one gets a half tally for just the workout)
  • Go on a boat or jet ski
  • Attend/have as many bonfires as possible and drink adult beverages around said bonfire (tally = 1)
  • Sky dive (Special on Groupon/Living Social – stay tuned on this one. It’s still pricey, but I think it’ll be worth it. Just gotta convince the fiancé first)
  • Go to a drive-in movie
  • Try golfing (NOT mini golf)
  • Have a luau party (Don’t judge me – I love a good luau)
  • Go to an Indians game and sit outside on a patio at a bar before (or just do this and watch the game. Possibly attend a game with fireworks afterwards)
  • Visit a lighthouse (This one gets a half tally since this weekend we did hike right up to an old lighthouse, but it was boarded up so we obviously couldn’t go inside)
  • Make a long weekend trip to St. Louis (One of the fiancé’s best friends lives there)
  • Stay a night at The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake and go to as many wineries as possible (This one may be tricky, as it is full most of the summer + pretty expensive)
  • Go to the beach as much as possible (tally = 1)
  • Make homemade pizza on the grill or bonfire
  • See Tim McGraw in concert (I’ve seen him every summer since 2008 – AND we are going June 8. Woooo)
  • Grill out at the beach/eat dinner at the beach as the sun sets
  • Make breakfast outside over a fire or the grill (Think eggs, sausage, pancakes even)
  • Run as many races as possible (In progress, of course)

I’m sure we will add to the list too. We’ve got paddle boarding, my first triathlon, throwing a wine tasting party, wine tasting events, party in the park, family reunions and a whole bunch of other great stuff already lined up and planned. It’ll basically be us trying to fill in activities on the list between everything else. I absolutely LOVE this time of year and I couldn’t be more excited!

PLUS: My nephew was born this past weekend! Meet Alexander:

alexander-and-me

Double PLUS: We booked a date and venue for our wedding! BUT we are kind of keeping it a secret until our wine tasting party/engagement party at the end of June. (HINT: It’s pretty far off on the calendar, which is what we wanted.)

Triple PLUS: One of my brothers is interested in starting to run with me! We’ve already talked about possibly running some longer races together, which makes me very happy and excited!

Only one more week until my first triathlon! I’m still scared to death over the swim portion, but I keep telling myself the hardest and scariest part will be starting and getting into the water. Once that is over it’ll be all down hill from there.

“If your dreams don’t scare you – they aren’t big enough.”

I’ll leave you with a picture of the future hubbs and I hanging out at the beach Sunday morning. We did a two mile run with varied HIIT on the bike path and then explored the coast after with a beach hike.

sunday-morning-beachToday’s workout: 11.5 mile bike, 1.5 mile run, ¼ mile swim.

What’s on your summer bucket list?

Flex, Run, Bike, Swim

Miscellaneous

This weekend was nothing short of amazing – The Arnold Sports Festival 2014 and my first (indoor) triathlon. I am left sitting at my desk on this Monday in complete awe and inspiration of the entire weekend. I met so many of my fitness inspirations, as well as got to meet some new ones. I also competed in an event that is brand new to me and I think it’s safe to say that I fell in love with it.

Me posing with Arnold.

Me posing with Arnold.

I love when I get like this – in complete admiration by how amazing the human body is. Being athletic and competing is such a gift and something you earn. Not everyone can do it and that is why I feel so blessed and awesome to be able to. It’s hard work, but it is so rewarding. Watching your body change. Seeing what you’re all about. Seeing how far you can run or how much you can lift…it is truly amazing.

This weekend I saw so many athletes and fitness celebrities that I’ve been a fan of for years. Seeing them in-person and actually getting the chance to talk to some of them was incredible.

One of my fitness One of my fitness inspirations and NLA sponsored athlete, Amy Updike.

One of my fitness inspirations and NLA sponsored athlete, Amy Updike.

I also got to meet the owners of an amazing fitness brand that I’ve followed for over a year – Flext Til You’re Famous (FTYF). About a year and a half ago I just started my fitness journey and FTYF had just launched a limited fitness apparel line. To see the business grow into what it is today and to follow the fitness journey of so many other FTYF fitness fans has been one of my favorite things about my own journey. Over the past year my friends joke that I’ve been the PR representative for FTYF in Northeast Ohio. I’ve gotten so many of my friends and family to now wear the brand and support the business. I was super excited about the expo this weekend because I’ve never seen a FTYF shirt outside one of my “converted” friends or family. I saw a bunch of people wearing shirts and eventually we ran into the two owners of FTYF – who then gave us another free shirt for wearing the brand! I was basically star struck and barely remember taking the picture with them! I can only hope they are even more successful in the future! Go check them out if you haven’t already.

FTYF Founders

FTYF Founders

The indoor triathlon on Sunday took place at the world’s most beautiful gym – Lifetime Fitness in Beachwood. We were wave 5 and started at 9AM sharp. The indoor triathlon consisted of a 10 minute swim, 30 minute bike (on a spin bike in one of the studios) and a 20 minute run (on a treadmill). We had 10 minutes to transition from the pool to the bike and then 5 minutes to transition from the bike to the run. I absolutely adored all the people in our wave. They were all super nice and fun to be around. Plus the fiancé and I were brand new to anything tri-related and everyone else was a tri veteran so we ended up learning a lot. After the race we talked to a few (real) triathletes who have competed outside and I think I got convinced to do an outdoor tri this summer. There are a few I have in mind so stay tuned for that!

Post-race (third race of the season as well as three for three sports!)

Post-race (third race of the season as well as three for three sports!)

Pre-swim

Pre-swim

I am still so new to swimming. It’s so challenging, but such a good workout. I still get my cardio fix, but it’s my entire body, not just my legs. I’m excited to keep training in the pool – even if it means still holding onto the side huffing and puffing for the first couple swims 🙂

Did anyone else go to The Arnold Sports Festival this weekend? Any advice or good races I should know about as a new “wanna be” triathlete?

Dad posing

Dad posing

For me life is continuously being hungry. The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer.
– Arnold Schwarzenegger

Training for injury-free running, please.

Miscellaneous

Well, it has begun.

Real training season is among us. After taking an almost two month hiatus (I ran four times from Thanksgiving to January 20 – don’t judge me), I’m finally back and in it to win it. I was supposed to start my training last week, but my car was in the shop so I was sharing a car with the fiancé, and adding gym time into the mix would have been complicated. It’s an excuse I know, but that’s my reason – BUT this week is the real deal. No more hibernating at home and telling myself that I will start soon. I checked into the gym on Foursquare Monday morning and I was greeted by a message that said I hadn’t been to the gym in two months. I laughed out loud, but felt super terrible about myself. Naturally I decided to snap a picture of it for my own embarrassment. I also used my new Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor Watch for the second time ever. Let me just tell you how awesome it is – it’s awesome.


This week makes 17 weeks to the Cleveland Half Marathon. I am aiming for running a 2:10 or faster. I ran the half distance during the full in 2:10 so I know it’s possible. Granted I was in fabulous shape in September, but I know now that my body is at least capable of it.

Monday I ran 3.5 at a sloooooww pace. Embarrassingly slow actually. I was dying. Holy out of shape! I kept wanting to turn to the people around me and scream “I know I’m pathetic right now, but I SWEAR I ran a full marathon a few months ago!” I was upset with my time and myself, but I keep trying to remind myself that it’s going to take a few weeks to get back into the swing of things. I didn’t work up to running 26.2 miles overnight, so returning won’t be the same either. I also have to remind myself that I suffered injuries last year, so this training and race season might not necessarily be the same. Running religiously and slowly building up miles is my best bet against injury this time around. I’ve got 17 weeks, which is a good time-frame for a training schedule. I know if I follow it and work hard I will be ready. It’s just hard to mentally handle not being able to run 4 miles when I’ve ran a marathon before, but that’s no one else’s fault but my own so I just have to suck it up.

Yesterday morning I woke up sore all over and with a bad foot/ankle pain. It’s weird that I didn’t feel the injury Monday during the day after the run. Regardless of the pain, I ran another 3.5 today and was careful to stretch the area first, although I’m not sure it helped. I also started feeling the “marathon knee pain” in my right knee towards the end of today’s run. If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I had terrible knee pain during my first full last fall. This was the first time I had ever experienced ANY type of knee pain in my life (even after being a softball catcher for 10 years). My friend, Nicole, warned me “Once you run a marathon, your body is never the same.”

Around two miles today I decided I’d better take it easy. My knee was really bothering me and my foot/ankle injury was getting worse with each step. People always say “listen to your body” which I rarely ever do, but today I slowed down the treadmill and opted for an incline instead. It was much easier on my knee and ankle and I was actually proud of myself for acting like a responsible, smart runner. I can’t help but worry about my injuries though, especially after today’s run and that same familiar ache in my knee flaring up. I’m nervous about the way my joints are reacting to running again, considering this is run #2 out of about 75. I’m hoping that my body is just sore and thrown off and that in a week or two I’ll feel fine and will be starting to gain strength.

I used my Polar watch again today and loved it. It’s motivating to not only see the calories that you’ve burned adding up, but you see that you burn calories lifting weights too. My only question though, does it count past 1,000 calories? I’d really like to see that for long runs and I’ll be super bummed if it doesn’t.


I often look for good training schedules and modify a little as needed. I’m not sure where exactly I got this one from or what parts I’ve modified, but this is the schedule I followed for last year’s half and the one I’m currently following.

What training schedules do you guys follow and how many weeks do you train?

Half Marathon Training

Week 1
2-3, 2-3, 4

Week 2
2-3, 3-4, 5

Week 3
2-3, 3-4, 6

Week 4
3, 4-5, 7

Week 5
3-4, 4-5, 8

Week 6
4-5, 4-5, 9

Week 7
2-3, 4, 3-4, 10

Week 8
2,3, 5, 3-4, 11

Week 9
3, 5, 3-6 *tune up race Saturday or Sunday (like a 10K or 15K)

Week 10
3, 5, 4-5, 12

Week 11
3-4, 5, 4-5, 13

Week 12
4, 5, 4-5, 14

Week 13
4, 5, 6-10 *tune up race Saturday or Sunday (like a 10K or 15K)

Week 14
4, 5-6, 4-5, 15

Week 15
4, 5, 4-5, 12

Week 16
4, 4, 4, 8-9

Week 17
4, 4, 4, 6-7

Week 18
3, 3, RACE


Keep Running!

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!  

A Holiday Run & The “Off Season”

Miscellaneous

This past weekend was the second annual Legacy Village Jingle Bell 5K. The race was put on by the Arthritis Foundation. I kept getting coupons in my inbox for race registration, but of course when I actually went to register, the coupon had expired. Then a few days later they emailed me another one. Can’t win ‘em all I guess. The boyfriend and I ran the race last year and had a great time.

Sunday’s weather was cold. I think I felt colder then it actually was because I’m a little bit of a wimp when it comes to snow. I thought I’d warm up once the race got started, but I didn’t and by mile two my lungs ached from the cold air and my toes were still numb. The crowd was a sea of red and green and Santa hats bobbed up and down all around me. The boyfriend drew a good number of whistles from his tiny Christmas boxers that he chose to wear over some athletic shorts. It was a funny sight to see. Event staff handed out jingle bells to tuck into our shoes, but after last year I chose not to. (They bothered me too much and eventually fell off anyways.)

post race

post race

I’ll admit I’m not in the best shape at the moment. I peeked in September and have let myself relax a little since then. I try to work out three to four days a week and my diet has been here and there with the holidays. I don’t mind though. I’m enjoying myself. The beginning of November was the first time I was actually able to run completely marathon-injury free. I also have big plans for 2014, so mine as well enjoy my off season at the moment.

I’m thinking about trying to run a race every month in 2014. The only thing I’m a little hesitant of is January, February and March. I hate cold weather and running in the snow. Of course most races would be a 5K with bigger races in the warmer months. Still giving some thought to that, especially with sticking to a budget with race fees. Stay tuned.

my 2013 Race Bibs

my 2013 Race Bibs

I also have plans to run the Cleveland Half Marathon in May again. I’ve gone back and forth so much with running the full or the half. I’ve decided if I’m going to race a lot in 2014, I can’t injury myself right away from a marathon in May. It took me over two months to recover from the marathon in September and since summer is peek racing season I don’t want to be out of commission for that.

I turn 24 next week, but I don’t really mind. I’m excited for what the next year has ahead of me and I don’t think I’ve felt like this for my birthday in a few years now. Life has been pretty darn good to me lately and I can’t wait for a new year to write down all my goals for 2014. I’m also excited for the holidays and seeing friends and family.

So runners and fitness readers, is this your “off season” or “break” too? Are you a little more lenient this time of year or is there never an off season for you?

A friend sent this to me so I don't know who it belongs to, but I want one.

A friend sent this to me so I don’t know who it belongs to, but I want one.

If you’re not scared, if you’re not worried — you’re not taking a chance.

Miscellaneous

I’m feeling very sad today. Not depressed sad, but more nostalgic thinking about this past summer and all the awesome races I got to run. I trained so hard and spent so much time out on the trails early in the summer mornings watching the sun come up. It was so rewarding and fulfilling because it was all so much bigger than I was. I think that’s what draws me to races. There’s something magical about putting on the bib and planning out GU times, pace times and start times. You’re part of this huge, giant race – you’re a piece of the bigger picture. Racing and actually competing is one of the most exciting parts about being a runner. On the other hand, I also like the nice relaxed runs. The runs where you enjoy every moment and you’re reminded why you love this sport. Being a runner is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done in my life. And now, as November rolls around in Northeast Ohio, I am filled with dread as all of these rewards and feelings will now be confined to a small, crowded gym for the next six months.

runnin-quoteIt’s enough to make me cry really. What I wouldn’t give to wake up early on a warm summer morning and hit the trails early before work. Now it’s cold and dark outside as I’m dragging myself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. to get to the gym. Worse – sometimes I have to go to the gym after work when it’s filled with high school meat heads who take up the entire weight area and high school girls who are just there to socialize with one another.

I’m missing my long weekend runs too. Some weeks I dreaded them, while other times I looked forward to them, but I always felt amazing afterwards. I knew I could officially enjoy the weekend after a long early Saturday run. Now I’m stuck running five miles on a treadmill in a stuffy gym with people running directly next to me, stomping away on their own squeaky treadmills. Even worse, sometimes you get kicked off after an hour. I’m sorry, but how am I supposed to get in 13 miles if I have to get off the treadmill every hour and wait for another one to open up? It’s awful and I’m critically depressed and it’s only the beginning of November. not-scared

How does anyone do it?! How do runners stay motivated and on their A game during the long, cold winter months? How do you train hard all winter? I am tossing around the idea of running the full Cleveland Marathon near the end of May, but giant red flags are waving in my head. I HATE INDOOR RUNNING. Why would I put myself through that awful training during the coldest part of the year? Why Cassandra why?! …..…and then right as I am about to make up my mind that I won’t do it, I hear that I quietly answer myself…because I am missing marathon training more then I ever could imagine. Because I know that if I sign up for that race I will feel like I did this past summer. I will have that feeling that I am a part of something bigger than myself and all these past’s winters I didn’t know what that was like, and now I do…