My Cleveland Experience.

Miscellaneous

I did it! I did it! I ran my first half marathon this past Sunday! Words cannot describe how amazing it was. The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon is such an amazing experience. I have already considered myself there running this race for the next 85 years.

Lucky #7106

Lucky #7106

I have never been a part of something so awesome and positive! From the very start people were so friendly and the atmosphere was so exciting. From standing in a 30 minute line to use a porta potty before the race, to the total strangers I ran along side with, to the volunteers and announcers and especially the cheering fans. Basically — this race was AWESOME on every level.

The boyfriend and I left my house at 4:45 a.m. Sunday. We reached downtown Cleveland at about 5:20 a.m. The traffic was a little stressful and slow moving, but eventually we found our way to the $5 parking area, which had plenty of spots still available. (I will plan to get there just as early every year, especially because this lot is located so close to the starting line.) The boyfriend and I decided to use the porta potties before the race since it was only about 6:10 a.m. at this point. We stood in front of a group of hilarious women who had us laughing the entire time.

The starting line.

The starting line.

Around 6:40 a.m. we began to make our way over to the starting line. We had no idea where we were going, so we spotted a couple of other runners with the red half marathon bib and followed them at a good distance. Thankfully they didn’t lead us astray because we found the starting line. Well, it wasn’t the official starting line, but it was the line to the starting line. There were signs here and there with pace times so we picked a spot around an 11 minute mile. I read a couple of blogs before the race about being honest about your start times, so the boyfriend and I decided this was a good pace to try since it was our first official half. (It turned out that we could have been up around 9 or so because we ended up passing almost our entire section, but that’s OK.)

I was getting really anxious and nervous in the last remaining minutes before we started. I knew from my other 5K races that I always felt a panic as I started, especially if I saw other runners start to pass me. I reminded myself not to be intimidated and that I belonged there with everyone else.

"Strong" was my power word.

“Strong” was my power word.

Pretty soon we were off (well we started and stopped a few times) but we officially passed the starting line at 7:07 a.m. “Cleveland Rocks” blasted over the loud speakers as the announcers and fans cheered us on. I got goose bumps for the first two miles just because I had never experienced something like this before. I kept looking behind me and up ahead in the distance to see the giant sea of runners bobbing up and down.

The course was smooth with about three or four rolling hills, nothing too insane at all. I would even go so far to say that it’s a pretty easy course. We ran through a few of Lakewood’s beautiful neighborhoods and then into the streets of Ohio City and Tremont. People were sitting out in chairs on their front lawns drinking mimosas and cheering for us. Some people were grilling out on balconys waving and screaming at the runners below. A few little kids and a mother were handing out clementines to runners as they passed. I had a smile on my face the entire run. The boyfriend and I kept nodging each other and pointing to signs that people were holding up. The signs may have been one the best parts of the race, here are a few I remember:

“You trained longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage lasted — keep running.”
“Smile if you’re not wearing underwear.”
“Beer in two miles!”
“I am so proud of you total stranger!”
“Wall? What wall? Keep going!”
“I’m so proud of you – Drake.”

And then of course there was this one:

Only in Cleveland.

Only in Cleveland.

We ran past local churches passing out water, a house that was passing out beer (we passed on this surprisingly) and houses that had hoses spraying water that we could run through. We also passed a guy playing electric guitar, a marching band and a singing sign language choir. There were also two live bands playing at two spots throughout the course.

We started out running with the same group of people. There was a group of three woman, a guy with a giant black afro wig and a few others. After mile 3 we started branching off to run faster and from there the only consistent people we ran with was a guy in a full karate outfit and two girls running with him. One of the girls and the karate guy kissed every mile. The boyfriend and I just opted for high fives.

Mile 11 and some change. Mini fist pump and feeling good!

Mile 11 and some change. Mini fist pump and feeling good!

I didn’t even start listening to my music until mile 11 and even then I had one headphone out to listen to the crowd and the people cheering. Houses were blasting their own music that we could easily hear from the road too. After mile 12 I really picked it up and sprinted the last part pretty good. I was surprised by how many people weren’t sprinting the last straight before the finish line. I was dodging people left and right to get past. I crossed the line at 2 hours 21 minutes and 5 seconds. I wanted to be under 2:30 so I was happy with my time.

After the race we got our medals and a few snacks (chocolate milk, bananas, popsicles). We got our picture taken and I met up with two of my girlfriends who also ran the race. We also got a ticket for a free beer at the 26.3 post race party, but I wasn’t too crazy about a Miller Lite at the time.

It’s crazy because I remember getting sick after running only six miles during my training. I felt like I was near death if I ran over five miles and it would take me the whole day to recover. But after the half marathon I felt great, I wasn’t even sore. My how 16 weeks can change a lot!

As we were leaving, I glanced over to the finish line and saw some of the full marathoners still running and trying to finish. I couldn’t help but feel something inside of me wishing to do that, wishing to run the full 26.2…

When we got home, the boyfriend and I couldn’t stop looking up other races for the summer. We talked all day about how awesome the race was and how much fun we had. We told everyone “Consider us there every year from now on.” And I think it just might happen…

Celebrating our 13.1!

Celebrating our 13.1!

First race down!

First race down!

New mindset — control your mind, control your life.

Miscellaneous

Life is good!

I have never felt stronger or faster in my training. During the past two months I’ve really come into a new mind set about working out, fitness, diet and just overall being healthy.

I’m working out five to six days a week and am doing great on eating clean. May 19 (Cleveland half marathon) is looking so good in 8 days! It’s funny though, I actually have never felt like a real runner until I started training for the half marathon. I used to run around three miles each run and now I’m averaging five to six on a normal run, plus a little over 10 on my long weekend runs. I feel great!

My dad and I after kickboxing class.

My dad and I after kickboxing class.

In my new mindset I’ve made a couple of changes over the last two months, especially in the way I think about health and fitness. I used to only do cardio, which is of course important, but I was missing the bigger picture. I wasn’t lifting weights, I wasn’t switching up my workouts and I wasn’t eating clean. I was frustrated because I wasn’t seeing any results. I wasn’t trying to lose a lot of weight, but I thought I would lose some just by training for the half marathon. My mind set actually started to change when I joined Instagram and started following a lot of health and fitness users. I started to see the importance of how your entire lifestyle has to change to get results. I started to become more knowledgeable on calories, weights, workouts and foods. I have learned so much just by surrounding myself with the right people. My dad is also a personal trainer and teaches spinning and kickboxing. I’ve never went to him for help with diet and exercise until only recently. What a valuable resource I was overlooking! My dad has a vast array of knowledge about training, nutrition and supplements. Him and I actually workout three times a week together at 6 a.m. (Yes that early, but I have found that I actually love it!)

Now eating clean is a constant struggle for me. Everyday I have to fight the temptation to eat Taco Bell or a giant box of mac & cheese (what? Is that weird?) I have noticed such a difference in how I feel after eating crap and when I am eating clean. I have dropped five pounds in just changing the food I eat in my diet. Imagine what I can do if I try even harder? I am starting to understand and respect everything the body is capable of. It’s actually really incredible if you think about it. We have the choice to build our bodies exactly how we want them, it’s just how bad (or how less) we want it that
sometimes gets in the way.

Here are a few things I’ve changed in my diet:

  • I’ve found that planning my meals and snacks is key to success. There’s a reason people say “fail to plan, plan to fail.” I eat every two to three hours and I know exactly what I’m going to eat when I do.
  • I always have a banana or apple on me (at ALL times) in case I’m suddenly overcome with violent hunger. This keeps me from bingeing when I do actually sit down to eat or from stopping at Wendy’s.
  • I track all the food I eat. I use MyFitnessPal on my smartphone and I keep a notebook where I also track the food along with the time.
  • I aim to eat protein and/or a fruit or vegetable with every snack or meal.
  • I eat peanut butter and yogurt when I am craving sweets, which is daily.
  • I kept hearing “DRINK MORE WATER.” So I upped my H20 intake. I now try to drink a gallon a day. It seems like a lot some days, but it does a good job at keeping me feeling full. Try it!
A normal meal now-a-days

A normal meal now-a-days

As far as my workouts, I run outside or on the treadmill, I use the elliptical, I go to spinning class, boot camp, a cycle and sculpt class and kickboxing class. I play on two volleyball teams twice a week. I also try to do abs everyday and I recently started the 30 day squat challenge (see below, today is day 7 for me.)  Working out with my dad has also helped me immensely. Before working out with my dad, I was intimidated by the weight area of my gym. I joked that I needed him for “emotional support” at first and it really helped having him there to spot me on bench and to give me tips and tricks on the other machines. I would have never touched the squat rack before working out with him, nor a drill where you pull down on a giant rope. I love lifting weights now and I’m looking forward to being able to lift more and more and improve.

Snack time!

Snack time!

I continue to do research on nutrition, foods and workouts to help keep me motivated. I would suggest to anymore looking for motivation to actually start on social media. There is a large gathering of fitness experts out there posting things every hour. It not only keeps you motivated, but it gives you more ideas and boasts your spirit that there are other people out there working just as hard as you, if not harder — and that’s why you continue!

What motivates you? What tricks or tips do you have to stay motivated? What changes have you made recently to transform your health and fitness routine?

Try this 30 day challenge

Try this 30 day challenge

Death by Lack of Motivation…and NE Ohio Winters.

Miscellaneous

Ugh. I have not been feeling running lately. Does anyone else ever get like this? I love running, usually. But these past two weeks I have been burnt out both mentally and physically when it comes to running.

I got to week 10 of 18 of my training schedule for my half marathon and suddenly hit a wall. I have not ran in TWO weeks to the day today. Eeeek. Of course I’ve continued cross training with spinning classes and elliptical sessions, even a few cross country skiing workouts, but for real…14 days since my last run?!

Cross Country Skiing Workout

Cross Country Skiing Workout

But the truth is that I just cannot get myself back out there to run. On week nine I ran 11 miles in 21 degree weather. It was awful by every definition. At one point during the 11 miles I think I started crying, but it could have been the sleeting snow whipping at my face for over two hours. The following weekend I set out to do 12 miles (it was about 40 degrees) and then my watch decided to stop working without me knowing, so I had no idea how far I actually ran. At that point I was so annoyed I kind of just threw in the towel right then and there. Then the following weekend was filled with non-stop St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and the next weekend we got four inches of snow and ice in wonderful Chardon, Ohio. With my moral and spirits sinking, I didn’t even put up a fight to skipping my long weekend runs the past two weeks. Of course I felt guilty, but deep down I was kinda relieved.

Even today at 37 degrees, I wanted to get out there and go for a quick four miles, however here I am blogging and finding every other excuse on the planet not to go. Then I beat myself up over it when I don’t run and just settle for spinning instead. And at this point setting foot on a treadmill at the gym makes me want to die.

Hmm...not so much lately.

Hmm…not so much lately.

Is this battle going on with any other runners? What do you do when you’ve just lost it? I cannot even get myself to run four miles, let alone 13. I went strong for ten weeks and now I cannot find that same inspiration and motivation to save my life!

I think the snow and the cold weather have a lot to do with it. I’ve been hanging out at the gym since November and I’m starting to get cabin fever. I need fresh air, sun, pavement, shorts and any weather over 60 degrees would be fabulous.

What is everyone’s secret to keeping inspiration and motivation alive? How do you not give up on your dreams or goals even when you are burnt out and tired?

I’ll leave you with this picture. I seriously laughed out loud when I saw it on Pinterest yesterday.

Seriously LOL

Seriously LOL

New year, first half. Literately.

Miscellaneous

January 1st is such a motivating day. I love the fresh start to a new year and the excited buzz around it. I’ve always been a sucker for New Year’s resolutions, too. I think I love the promise of trying to better yourself, making a change, doing something different. (This love for resolutions probably has something to do with the fact that I love Mondays too.) *Pause for astonishment here* I can’t help it, I just love a fresh new start and reinventing yourself.

For the past few weeks or so I’ve been thinking about my intentions for 2013. Now I’ve been working out about four days a week and I feel good. I feel strong both physically and mentally. I’ve always thrown around the idea in my head about the Cleveland Marathon. Now I’m no where near marathon ready, but they also offer a 5K, 10K and half.

I’ve ran five 5Ks, which are always a fun little workout, but in my book it’s just not that big of an accomplishment anymore. After a while I have begun to expect more out of myself. So I threw around the 10K idea. Hmm 6.2 seems legit. The most I’ve ever ran at one time was eight miles, which was during the peek of a really good summer of running two years ago. (I had also just broken up with a really terrible, very bad, no-good guy though, so that fueled a lot of my fire!) So to prove a point to myself, and to basically just be a smart ass, I ran almost 6.5 miles at the gym last week.

workout6Not so smart on my body, but it did a wonder on my head. I was so ecstatic and thrilled at the end of my workout that for a brief moment I had tears in my eyes. It was truly so, so, SO tough. But I wanted to prove to myself that if I could whip out a 10K distance out of no where, than it wouldn’t be that hard on race day….and so, I would HAVE to sign up for the half marathon if I wanted to challenge myself.

So with Christmas money burning a whole in my pocket, I signed up for my first half marathon on May 19th in downtown Cleveland.

regishalfI am a combination of terrified, excited, nervous, worried and thrilled. I have wanted to be a part of a marathon for as long as I can remember, and finally I am making this happen! No more “maybe someday” or “well I’ve always wanted to but…” excuses. My cool $70. 68 will also add as a little reminder that it’s a done deal! And what’s even more exciting, I’ve talked the boyfriend into running it with me! He still has yet to register, but he’s the kinda swell guy that would pretty much do anything I ask him to do. *Pause for eye roll*

I’ve been researching like crazy the past few days. Training schedules, tips, anything. I’ve decided on this 18-week schedule that I found on the marathon’s home page, which puts me for the week of January 13th to get this baby started.

So what do I need to know? What are the best half marathon/training tips? How do you guys stay motivated? What do you do to train/get ready for a half? Any and all advice is welcome!

You Just Gotta Keep Going.

Miscellaneous

I’ve been good about getting to the gym.

Last week I racked up 23 miles. The week before that I put 26.6 miles on my Nike’s.

I get on the treadmill around 6:15 a.m. and force myself to stay on until about five after seven. It’s terrible waking up at 5:50 a.m. but it makes a great start to my day, plus after a long day at the office and class there’s no way I’m going to the gym at night. (Please, I’d have to wait 45 minutes for a treadmill, then get kicked off 30 minutes later by some girl wearing a matching sweatsuit — who will then proceed to text on her phone the entire time she has the treadmill while walking on a .5 incline at 2.5 miles per hour.)

I’m convinced that the real athletes hit the gym in the early morning.

Everyone’s super serious and focused at 6 a.m. and I can run for 50 minutes and not be bothered or annoyed once. Plus there’s something tranquil about starting a run looking out at the dark world and slowly seeing the sun come up, casting orange and yellow rays of light through the giant gym windows. (This picturesque scene is happening as I’m dying and gasping for breathe on the treadmill while trying not to blow chunks in the garbage can.)

Regardless, today was a break-through day of running. (Don’t you love when that happens?) I found it easy to run 4.6 miles and was pleasantly surprised as I looked down at the treadmill screen and saw my PR time down by nearly six minutes. I have been aiming for anywhere in the four mile mark lately. Some days it has been really discouraging though. I’d like to be able to run six or seven miles comfortably everyday, so I get frustrated that I have to force myself to run just four some days. But today was a good run because A. It wasn’t painful and I wasn’t counting down every second and B. My time was down  — a small victory in my books.

Oh and it didn’t hurt that I burned 526 calories either. (You better believe I’m eating ice cream later, or cracking open that Corona that’s in my fridge…kidding. Well, kinda.)

I just want to keep getting faster and stronger. It can be really discouraging not being able to run as much and you want to, but when you have little break-through moments like today, it really makes the hard work worth it.

But I’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of me.

I’ve been throwing around the idea in my head about running the Cleveland half marathon on May 20. More on that race can be found here.

On days I want to die after my workout I think the 10K is more realistic. I want to run the half so bad, but when it’s a challenge to run 4 miles some days, that’s when I get frustrated. I tell myself I’ll get faster and stronger if I keep at the training schedule, but I just want to hurry up and be ready and able to run 13.1 miles right now!

Who knows what I’ll end up doing. I’m supposed to go to a wedding the same day of the race, but we’ll see how everything plans out.

For now, I just need to keep running.

P.S. I love this …