It’s Complicated

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If running and I had a Facebook relationship status, it would read, “It’s Complicated.” I have had runs where I felt great, and it was all unicorns and rainbows. Unfortunately, the runs where I feel sluggish, tired, and/or slow outnumbered those big time.

Last week, I kinda had a meltdown. I blame this partly on lack of sleep and a crazy ass schedule. Just take a look!

Crazy schedule

I was having a particularly hard day last Wednesday, and I reached out to my Instagram friend and Oiselle Volée NE Ohio Team Lead, Alissa. I haven’t had a chance to meet her in person, but she’s pretty awesome, just sayin’. She also battled back after injury and surgery and set a huge PR at the New York City Marathon, punching her ticket to Boston.  She gave me some wonderful words of encouragement and motivation. Trying to beat your times before the injury will get in your head. Focus on now and what you did yesterday. Beat yesterday! #headupwingsout

Talking with Alissa helped reframe my focus, especially in terms of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. That Wednesday night, I went to the gym and ran my first 3-mile run in the 8:30s since before the injury! And it felt great! In the days following, I made sure to tell myself as I hopped on the treadmill I just need to be better than yesterday. I also broadened the definition of better. Better didn’t necessarily mean faster. Better could be running farther than yesterday, or it could mean running consecutive days. It’s about progress and getting stronger.

So, where do I stand now? Running is still complicated, but I feel better moving forward with my training cycle. I have a smidge less than 16 weeks until the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. My “long” run yesterday was 7 miles at an 8:52 pace, with an extra mile thrown in with warm-up and cool-down. Will I be ready? I sure hope so. It more than likely won’t be the race I envisioned in my head pre-injury, but crossing the finish line will still feel sweet. That is an accomplishment in itself.

Also, if you haven’t registered for the race, what are you waiting for? If you’re waiting for a discount code, you’re in luck because I have one that will save you 10% off any race of your choice, even the Challenge Series. Use the code SLCLE10!

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my thoroughly awesome dad and me after we finished last year’s 8K! And yes, he’s a straight badass running in khaki shorts 🙂 

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The road to the marathon starts with one step

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Guess what, fam and friends?! I RAN! Yes, you read that correctly. After nearly 7 weeks without running and any real exercise due to a compression fracture in my back, I was able to lace up my shoes and hit the treadmill last week. I was simultaneously looking forward to and dreading this at the same time.

The first time back with any sort of running was Tuesday, January 9. The plan was to take it super easy with slow half-mile run intervals with a quarter mile of walking. I was a little nervous when I stepped on the treadmill. Was it going to hurt? Would my back give out on me? I started with a walk and held my breath when I increased the speed. Half a mile came and went with no pain! Hell yes! I was able to complete 3 miles worth of intervals in 34:59 and figured that was enough for day 1.

As happy as I was to be running again, it was an extremely humbling experience, one that left me feeling defeated. I knew it would not be easy coming back from injury, but I was not expecting it to be so hard. My legs were fatigued by the end of the half mile, and I was sucking wind. In my head, I was beating myself up over this, upset that I lost the gains I worked so hard for this spring and summer. I’m not embarrassed to admit there were some tears (I’m sure the lady on the treadmill next to me at Planet Fitness thought I was certifiably crazy). I just kept thinking that I could barely run 3 miles; how the hell would I finish a marathon in May?!

A small part of me wanted to quit after that first run, hang up my running shoes, and say screw the marathon. Thankfully, I am more stubborn than that, and I was back at the gym on Thursday. The game plan for this run was mile intervals. I started my run slowly and cautiously. I made it a mile without walking or any pain! I decided to ride the wave of my pseudo runner’s high and run continuously. Three miles and 28:45 later…progress!

I went back to the gym both Friday and Saturday. The runs still were not easy, but I could feel myself getting a little stronger. On Friday, I ran 3 miles in 28:06, and Saturday, I decided to ramp it up to 4 miles in 38:29. This was like a much-needed shot of confidence. My motivation was coming back!

That brings us to today. It was not only my longest run so far (5 miles in 45:56), but I also felt great during this one! My legs weren’t tired and instead felt fresh and rested, and my breathing was under control. This was the closest I’ve come to feeling “normal” since before the accident. I know the road back to the marathon will be a long, frustrating one, but I’m up for the challenge! It’s a little more than 17 weeks from the race. Time to buckle down and kick some ass.

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Isn’t this the truth?!

 

New Year, Same Race, So Happy

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Now that the champagne has been popped and glitter has settled, it’s time to focus on moving forward in 2018, and one thing on my New Year’s list is the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon in May. I am both honored and humbled to say I was welcomed back as an ambassador for 2018! After last year’s race, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to run it again or how the staff would feel about having me back. Without going into details, there was this big thing at the end of the race, a proposal. Ultimately, it wasn’t the right decision, and the engagement ended shortly after. I had very mixed thoughts about returning to the race I called my favorite, and I thought for sure I wouldn’t be asked to return as an ambassador. I didn’t want my friends on the race staff who had grown to be like a family to me to be embarrassed or have this reflect poorly on the race. It was almost time to submit ambassador applications, and at that moment, I didn’t have a blog. I closed the one I blogged under for many years (stephplusfour) because it was filled with memories and a life I wasn’t living anymore. I wanted a fresh start and was kicking around the idea of starting a new one. After talking with the staff and getting their opinions on last year’s ordeal, I decided to start that new blog and throw my name in the mix to be an ambassador. I was so excited when I received confirmation that I was welcomed back! Jack, Joan, Ralph, Kayla, and the rest of the amazing RACM crew – I don’t think you understand how much this meant to me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. This will not only be a physical comeback for me, it will be a mental one, too.

As many of you know, I am not able to run at the present time. If you don’t know what happened, check this out. I still have about 1-2 weeks before I can even think of lacing up my running shoes, and IT IS KILLING ME! For the last few years, I have been trained up to a half by this point and have started off the year knowing I only need to focus on adding another 13.1 miles. Before I got hurt, I was running speeds for distances I never thought possible. I had huge goals for Cleveland. When I am back to running, I will be happy to run a 5K without having to walk, and in May instead of getting that PR, I will be happy to cross the finish line without destroying my body in the process.

I will admit that although I am excited to get back to running, the thought of it scares me. I am not worried about physical pain. I don’t think anything I would experience could be worse than breaking my back. Hell, all 3 rounds of childbirth were easier than that. I am more worried about the mental part of it. The disappointment of lost gains I made over the summer and fall. Getting accustomed to what will be the new normal for this training cycle. Training to cross the finish line instead of setting a PR. Feeling like I failed myself somehow. Scared that I won’t get back to where I was. I know how this sounds, and I as I read it, I am thinking, “Wow, what a snobby running bitch. ” But part of writing this blog is being real, and this is how it is right now. I suppose you could say I am still feeling sad and bitter about the whole injury and not running. It’s been a long 6+ weeks, the longest I have taken off running in 9 years. I see my friends kicking ass on the roads, trails, and treadmills while I have been sitting on mine. Social media is a great connector and motivator, but it is also a killer of self-esteem, the source of unrealistic comparisons of ourselves to friends and even complete strangers by breeding the “I’m not good enough” mentality. (Side note: if you are looking for an interesting episode on Netflix, I highly recommend checking out Black Mirror “Nosedive.” Is this where social media will eventually take us?! And before you ask, the answer is yes, I have been watching a TON of Netflix during this injury cycle.)

So…moving forward. My goal is still to complete the 8K/Marathon Challenge Series on May 19-20. Before you laugh and tell me that is not going to be possible, save your breath. Although I feel defeated at the moment, I am incredibly stubborn when it comes to running. I will complete this even if I have to crawl to the finish. Maybe on second thought, tell me I can’t. I will just use it as fuel to keep working harder.

AND…if you haven’t already registered, rates have been extended until January 9, so if you like saving money, register now! Also, starting soon, the Marathon will feature an ambassador of the week who will be giving away a free entry. If you’re hoping to win instead of registering now, may the odds be ever in your favor.

Bring on the New Year!

I’m sitting here in a quiet house, which doesn’t happen very often, and thinking about how glad I am to see 2017 end. While there were some wonderful moments, as a whole, the year was craptastic from the start, and I hate feeling that way. Unfortunately, I tend to dwell on the bad things instead of focusing on the good. As we kiss 2017 goodbye, I would like to highlight some great memories.

Running! Although I have been on the injured reserve for the past 5 weeks, my running improvements in 2017 were awesome! I set a huge half marathon PR with a sub-8:00 pace, dropped my 5K PR 3 times, placed first overall female at a small 5K this summer, ran my first 50K, completed my 7th marathon, and gave my sons a run for their money in terms of earning trophies/awards this year. I threw myself head-first into running when my life was falling apart as it had always been my stress relief and therapy. I got out of it exactly what I put in. Hoping these next few weeks go quickly because I can’t wait to feel my legs fly again.

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My oldest daughter. Lex is on the verge of being a teenager, and I have to say I am exceptionally proud of how responsible she became this year. As the oldest, she was always most helpful, but she stepped it up to another level when she began babysitting this summer and when I hurt my back. Seeing her grow up like this means I must not be completely failing at this parenting thing.

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Kids’ sports and activities. I think most of my kids have more athleticism in their little finger than I have in my whole body. I know that grades and school are most important, but I also think it is important for kids to have a sport or activity. They help teach discipline, hard work, and perseverance. Lex made the 7th grade cheerleading squad and went from a shy, quiet girl to one with more confidence and sparkle. Annie, who normally isn’t the sport or activity type, taught herself a standing backhandspring this summer and begged to get into gynmastics. She is now in tumbling classes and about to move to the next level because she has progressed so much. Cole and Cael. No real description needed. These two love sports and are quite the athletes in football, wrestling, and baseball. And I will just be that loud mom on the sidelines cheering all four of them along.

Seattle trip! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE going to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Washington. It is always a highlight of my year filled with family, lots of laughs, adventure, and amazing craft beer. Seeing them recharges my batteries and fills my soul.

Best wishes to all for a very happy and healthy 2018. And 2017, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out!

Break Time

I am broken. Not in the figurative sense, although I am sure that will happen in the coming months. I mean literally broken. On Sunday, I sustained an injury that resulted in a compression fracture in my back. I was at a trampoline park with the kids, and it had a rock wall that you climb and fall back into a pit of foam blocks. I quickly climbed to the top, looked back to make sure no one was below me, and fell back like I saw countless people do that afternoon. When I landed, I heard a loud crack and instantly felt pain like I had never felt before. I was afraid to move but, with some help, managed to climb out of the pit. The pain was so severe I thought I was going to vomit. I had been through natural childbirth 3 times, and this was by far the worst pain I ever felt.

Monday morning came, and I could barely move from my bed. Getting the kids and me out the door for school/work was torture. I like to think I’m a pretty tough girl with a high pain tolerance, but this reduced me to tears. I cried and clung to the steering wheel as the kids looked at me with bewildered eyes. I called the doctor and was thankful to get an appointment that morning. A set of x-rays later, I was told it was just severely strained muscles and was given medicine and a cortisone shot. My activity would be restricted for a few weeks, but I should be feeling better in a few days. I was disappointed but thankful.

All of that came crashing down on Tuesday. My x-rays were sent from my primary care doctor to the spine center for further review. I received a call from the spine center about a referral from my primary care doctor to meet with the spine surgeon. My brain was not comprehending what I was hearing. Wasn’t I just fine the other day? Turns out my doctor’s office called me that morning with news about my back, but I was sleeping when the call came through. I booked an afternoon appointment with the surgeon but still didn’t know what was happening with me. I called the doctor’s office back, and that is when I was told the news – compression fracture of one of the vertebrae. Broken. I was broken.

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baby got (broken) back

I tried to hold back the tears, but they flowed as I talked on the phone with the doctor’s office. Then they really flowed when I got off the phone and sat in the house alone. Many questions flashed through my head. How will I take care of the kids? How will I take care of myself? Will I need surgery? How long will it be before I can run again?

I pulled myself together and went to my appointment. The spine surgeon showed me exactly where the vertebrae was compressed in the x-ray. Think of it like a box and the top was crushed in. I asked how long would I be down with this injury, knowing it was a stupid question. The answer – at least 2 months before I can even think about doing anything. My life would be relegated to sleeping, going to work, sitting, and spending time on the couch. The thought of that was devastating. The last time I took more than two months off from any sort of physical activity was after the boys were born over 9 FREAKING YEARS AGO!!!!!

I got home from the appointment and talked with the kids. This injury meant life at our house was going to be different for a while. Although the kids help, I am used to doing a lot on my own. They rely on me. Now, I have to rely on them. Simple things like collecting trash, unloading the washing machine, and carrying groceries are off limits for me. Hell, I can’t even bend down to tie my own shoes. Life is going from active to sedentary, and I hate it.

Running. Knowing I can’t run for at least 2 months guts me. It is my favorite form of exercise, stress relief, therapy. I have worked so hard over the past year, and I know it will be gone when I am finally able to be back. It will be as though I am starting at the beginning. I had very ambitious goals for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon in May – gunning for a huge PR and possible Boston qualifier. Now, best case scenario is I even get a chance to run/walk it. I’m trying to be optimistic, but right now, it’s hard.

I get another set of x-rays and a CT scan and go back to the spine surgeon in a month. I’m really hoping there is some improvement, but if not, then we get into talks about surgery. I don’t even want to think about that as a possibility. The best thing I can do now is follow the doctor’s orders and hope for a successful recovery. I don’t pray and I am not religious, but if you could send a little positive thought my way, it would be appreciated. This is not an ending, just a break.

The Upside and Downside of Speed

“Wow, you are fast!” This is not considered a compliment when dating; however, in the running world, it most certainly is! Fast and running are two words that never went together to describe me until recently (Note: I am still not that fast; just quite a bit better than I used to be). I was always content with being a middle-of-the-pack runner, consistently ticking off miles during training runs and races but not exerting too much effort. It wasn’t until this summer that I made a concerted effort to do something that seemed impossible to me for the longest time – consistently and comfortably run at a sub-8 minute pace and run a fast 5K.

The training part wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I loved being able to zip over to the high school track during the boys’ baseball and football practices and crank out some intervals or really push myself during tempo runs. I saw my times dropping, and it was an intoxicating feeling. Leaving it all on the track/pavement during a training run was a rewarding feeling, one that made me want to train harder.

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Between August and October, I saw my 5K PR fall three times. First, was a PR and first overall female for me at the Run for Suds 5K in August (23:08 but I swear it was a long course), but I crushed that at the Miles for Mutts 5K in September when I ran a 22:42, which was good for 2nd overall female. That PR held for a month until the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon offered me a free race entry to the Beech Brook 5K in Pepper Pike. Honestly, the race was awful for me. My shoe came untied a little after the first mile, and then around 1.5-1.75 miles, I stopped to walk for a bit when I thought I was going to puke (Note to self: DO NOT eat McDonald’s the day before a race!!!!). Despite all of that, I was able to finish with a 22:27 – my fastest 5K to date and 2nd female overall behind my speedy friend Pam.

My improvements didn’t stop at 5Ks. Because I have been too lazy busy lately, I haven’t had a chance to write about my absolutely awesome half marathon experiences! Out of everything that happened this race/running season, nothing has made me more proud than the Northern Ohio Half Marathon in October. Hell, it is one of my top 3 running experiences to date! Leading up to the race, everything was wrong. I didn’t eat or hydrate as well as I should. I was busy running around the day before the race with football games and babysitting. I slept for crap the night before, and don’t get me started on stomach issues. Despite all of that, I ran my perfect race complete with negative splits and a super kick for the last mile (7:26 pace!). This is the first race where I felt physically and mentally strong the entire time, and I couldn’t keep from smiling. Everything about it was effortless! When I started the race, the goal I set for myself was to finish under 1:50. I completely blew that out of the water! I crossed the finish with a smile and a nearly 11-minute PR (1:43:57, which BTW is 7:56 pace!). That effort earned me first place in my age group.

The week after Northern Ohio, I ran the Towpath Marathon Half for fun because who the heck doesn’t love a half marathon through the gorgeous Cuyahoga Valley National Park?! It was also my friend Cory’s first half, making it a great experience and automatic PR for him.

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Cheers for beers…and finishing a half marathon!

I wanted to extend my racing season, so when the opportunity came up to run a half in my county right next to the place I work, I just had to sign up. The Inland Trail Half Marathon was November 5, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The weather was awful in the morning with rain, wind, lightening, and thunder, plus it was unseasonably warm and humid. I felt great during this race for the first 2 or so miles, but after that, it was a mental and physical battle to keep moving forward. Some races you have it and others you don’t. I definitely got a burst of energy at the turnaround on the trail and knew I only had about 2.5 miles left. Seeing the encouragement from others as I made my way back lifted my spirits and breathed life back into my legs. The last two miles felt easy, and when I made the last turn, I was so happy to see my oldest daughter and one of my twin sons standing there with our goofy little dog cheering me on. That run, although hard, was good enough for third female overall and my second fastest half to date (1:44:57).

So you might be asking yourself, “Why is she bitching that there’s a downside to all of this?” This might sound a little elitist or run-snobby, but it is hard for me to run now without putting the pressure on myself to do well. Before this year, I was lucky to place in my age group at a small, local race, and that was completely fine with me. Now, my attitude has changed. I have been fortunate to run well enough this summer and fall that I have placed at pretty much every race. I hate that I don’t feel satisfied unless I am “fast,” even with training runs. That thinking wears on me mentally and kills my motivation. I have really noticed it in the last few weeks.

What’s the remedy? I think I need to take a little time off from racing and just run to enjoy it and keep myself physically and mentally healthy. I am not signed up for anything until the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 8K and Full Marathon Challenge in May, although I will be running the 20 Mile Drop in April and the Green Jewel 50K in June. I have really big goals for CLE. Okay, big is a super understatement, but I am not at a point where I want to share. You will probably hear more as we approach the race. I think now is a great time to get a little rest, refocus, and find the motivation I need to propel me through another marathon training cycle. It’s going to be a great ride!

Miles for Mutts 5K Recap

Any time I get to run a race near my hometown of Painesville, it makes me incredibly happy, and this weekend was no different. I laced up my racing flats and ran the Anytime Fitness Concord Miles for Mutts 5K. I am developing a love-hate relationship with 5Ks. They are complete torture for me, but I love the feeling I get when I am finished and think, “Wow, I just crushed that! I was pretty fast” It’s slightly addictive.

I was more than a little worried about this race for a few reasons. One – since the Run for Suds 5K, I switched up my training to get ready for the Northern Ohio Half Marathon and Towpath Half Marathon in October. Translation – I’ve been slacking a little on speedwork. Two – Nutrition and hydration were mediocre at best. I mean, beer counts as water, right? Three – my stomach has a way of not cooperating on race day sometimes. I got there with plenty of time to pick up my packet, hit up the bathroom, and warm-up. I was feeling okay until I was almost finished with the warm-up. Dammit, stomach! Dammit, long bathroom line! The start was about 12 minutes away at this time, and I was crossing my fingers that I would make it in time. Thankfully, the bathroom line moved quickly, and I was able to make it to the start line with about 30 seconds to spare.

I had no time to really get myself ready before we all took off, and I had no clue how fast I was going until about a quarter mile in when I looked at my watch. 6:25 pace?! Crap, better slow that down. No way was that a sustainable pace for me. I backed off a little and was pleasantly surprised when I hit the 1-mile mark in 6:51. Unfortunately, going out super fast (for me) and the humidity already had me feeling miserable. We made the turn onto a side street and took a little loop through a residential area. I kept swearing to my legs to run faster, but I could feel myself getting tired. I was thankful when I hit the water stop right before mile two because I definitely needed a little something. Thanks, water stop volunteers! You were a lifesaver!

The last mile for me was pure hell. It was one, long, straight shot that felt like it went on forever! At this point my lungs and legs were burning, but I was so damn close! I was happy to still see the lead group ahead of me, so I knew I wasn’t doing too poorly. I made the last turn into the parking lot, happily crossing the finish line as the second female overall! AND it was a 5K PR for me, beating my Run for Suds 5K time by a few second per mile! That made all the pain totally worth it.

What better way to celebrate a 5K PR than at your favorite brewery?! After crushing it at the Miles for Mutts 5K, I spent the afternoon enjoying my favorite Southern Tier Brewing  Co. beverages at the Pumking Fest!!!! Delicious beer, live music, amazing company, and gorgeous weather made it a perfect day. Cheers to PRs and beers!

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Back-to-school wishes

I’m sitting here awake so much later than I planned on the eve of back-to-school thinking about the kids. This year, I have one in 7th grade, one in 5th grade, and the twins in 3rd grade. I feel like just yesterday I was watching Alexandra get on the bus for kindergarten. Time is most certainly flying. 

I am also thinking about my wishes and expectations for them. These have changed over the years. When I was first a mom, I wanted certain things out of them academically speaking – near perfect grades, studious, self-motivated, every assignment completed following all directions and on time. In short, I wanted little clones of me. I was hit with a very hard lesson – they are not me. No matter how much I wanted them to follow my lead in school, it wasn’t going to happen for all of them. And that is okay. They are themselves, nothing more and nothing less. 

Instead of straight As and copious school accolades, I have a better, more important list of wishes for Alexandra, Adrianna, Cole, and Cael. Kids, listen up! 

Be the kids who…

  • Are respectful to all teachers, school staff, and other students.
  • Stand up to bullies if they pick on other kids; never join in. 
  • Invite a kid who looks left out to sit with you at lunch or play with you during recess.
  • Actively ask for help if you don’t understand something. Taking the initiative shows a lot about your character. 
  • Don’t give up when you encounter a challenge. Keep working to overcome it.
  • Take responsibility for your actions whether it is missed homework, talking too much in class, or not listening during a lesson.
  • Realize your self-worth doesn’t come from other kids thinking you are cute/pretty/handsome. You are so much more than that.
  • Are strong enough to stand up to peer pressure. You know what is expected of you and what is acceptable behavior at home. 
  • Speak your opinions clearly and with regard for others who may not hold the same opinion. 

    Good luck, kiddles! I love you. Best wishes for a wonderful school year.

    Run for Suds 5K Recap

     

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    For those of you familiar with my running, you know I love long distances. Give me a half or a full marathon any day; however, I am starting to embrace the suck that is a 5K. 5Ks, though short, are a full-out pain fest, in my opinion. My legs feel like lead about half a mile into the race, and my lungs are screaming for mercy. I managed to snag my last 5K PR in September 2015 when I ran the Downtown Willoughby 5K, and I was incredibly pleased with that accomplishment. Still, as I started to get faster and train harder, I was interested to see what I could do. Coincidentally, I found the most perfect race – the Chardon Brewfest Run for Suds 5K. Running and craft beer? Sign me up! I also aggressively cohered encouraged my dad, sister, and brother-in-law to join in the fun.

    To prep for this race, I did something I had never done before – made speedwork a priority and a regular part of my training. Being able to run intervals on the local high school’s track was key. I felt like a gazelle flying around the track but with much stumpier legs and a lot less fast, but whatever, it was awesome and addictive. When I would look down at my watch during 400s and see a pace in the low 6s, I was like, “Holy crap! This is what it feels like to be Ryan or Jess or Pam or Steve or Jamie any of my other super fast running friend!!!”

    My big race day was quickly approaching – Saturday, August 12. Dad and I arrived at packet pick-up super early. I am not sure why I am always paranoid there is going to be a long line, but I am and that makes for a lot of standing around. Sarah, Rhett, her friend Stephanie, and my niece and nephew arrived shortly after. The kids were beyond excited for “their race” and the fact they would receive a medal at the end for running (truth: Sarah and Rhett did all the running while pushing them in a double stroller contraption with at least 100 pounds of weight…beast mode!).

    Before the race started, I was scoping out the competition. I saw a few ladies who I figured were on the quicker side, and there were two young girls, around my oldest daughter’s age, who looked like cross country runners. Since they were lined up right in the front, I figured they were planning to fly. Things going through my head before the start of the race –

    • Steph, did you see the overall winner awards? Wouldn’t it be cool to get one of those?
    • Little girls can’t appreciate those Das Boot beer mugs, so you better run your ass off.
    • I hope you don’t crash and burn on the hills!
    • Sweet Jesus, stomach, please cooperate for this race!!!

    Then…we were off! I was thankful I warmed up a little before the start of the race because I didn’t feel as though I was instantly dying. It also helped that the very beginning of the race was downhill. The cross country girls were fast like I suspected, but I hung right with them. The one little girl was leading until around mile 1, but I got ahead of her as we circled the square in Chardon. That is right; I was LEADING the women’s race, on a hilly course no less!

    After rounding the square, we had a brief respite with some downhill, but after making a turn, it was back to rolling hills. At the second mile mark, I was still hanging strong but could feel myself getting tired. ONE MORE MILE! I could do this.

    We had a turn around mile 2.3, and then it was one long, uphill stretch until the finish. I kept checking the pace on my watch and cursing my legs to go faster. I was starting to get a little sick to my stomach because my body was not used to going that speed for that long, but I kept pushing. When I hit mile 3, I was both happy and a little defeated. I am no distance wiz, but I knew we still had more than .1 mile left on the course. My goal was to come in under 23 minutes on their clock, and I knew it wasn’t going to happen.

    The sadness was short-lived because when I made the final turn into the parking lot, I saw the race organizers stretching the ribbon across. That was truly a “HOLY SHIT” moment for me because, obviously, that had never happened before and may not happen again. I smiled, pushed on, and broke the ribbon with a huge smile on my face!

    It took a few minutes for me to catch my breath, wipe the copious amounts of sweat off my face, and process what actually happened. Then it was time to cheer on my family. I was so proud when I saw my dad coming down the finish, and he was running his butt off! He looked tired but ran an excellent race, especially considering he does not run! Next in were Sarah and Rhett with their littles in the stroller. I was shocked at how quickly they finished and was thankful it was them and not me pushing them up those hills.

    After the awards, it was time to celebrate with a post-race beverage at my parents’ house and the Chardon Brewfest. Run all the miles; drink all the beer, am I right?! It was the perfect ending to my new 5K PR and best race ever! Thanks, Great Lakes Race Timing, for yet another awesome race! Looking forward to running more with you!

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