Favorite Things – Running Edition

 

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I feel as though every runner I know is particular about certain things whether they’re clothing, technology, shoes, or fuel to name a few. When I first started, I ran in worn-out shoes, cotton shirts, sports bras I had since high school, and whatever shorts or pants I could find. The past ten years have made me a little pickier to say the least. Here’s a quick rundown of some of my can’t-run-without items.

Oiselle Mac Roga Shorts: I have been singing the praises of these for about 6 years now. While they have gone through a few tweaks, I still find they are the best shorts out there and reasonably priced. Short inseam, wide waistband, zippered pocket, flattering cut. If you were to look in my closet, there isn’t another pair of running shorts to be found.

Oiselle Flyte Tank: I swear Oiselle doesn’t pay me anything to sing its praises. I just love their stuff, and the racerback Flyte Tank is no exception. It fits well without being overly tight, doesn’t ride up when I run, keeps me cool, and comes in a variety of colors. Plus I love the word “Fly” on the back, as in watch me fly right past you. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen too often now, but I’m working on it.

Feetures Socks: I know some people can get away with whatever they slip on their feet, but that is most certainly not me. Feetures are fantastic, and I’m so glad I found them. They keep me blister-free for many miles, and they come with a lifetime guarantee against rips and holes. I’m still running in the pairs I purchased 3 years ago and no issues.

Body Glide: Chafing sucks. Body Glide fixes that! This has saved my skin (literally) more times that I can count. Blisters, sports bra rub, thighs, arms. I refuse to run long without it.

MantraBands: I know this isn’t necessarily a running item, but who cares! I love these motivational bracelets, as evident by the stack that keeps multiplying on my right arm. They are a daily dose of motivation for me, and I never take them off. At around $25 each, they are also the perfect gift for a family member, friend, or yourself.

Honey Stinger gels: Can we collectively say most gels kinda bite? Not Honey Stinger! Honey Stinger Gold is my jam for long runs because it tastes just like I’m eating honey and not a gross lab byproduct. I find it gives me quick energy and also doesn’t upset my stomach like so many others out there.

Peace!

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What items are on your fave running list?

 

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Cheers to 10 Years!

Had it not been for a conversation with a coworker today about running, I would have completely forgotten this month is special for yet another reason. March marks my ten-year runiversary! To say a lot has happened in ten years is an understatement.

While some people have been running for most of their lives, I didn’t take up the sport until 2009. I was the girl who always said she wouldn’t run unless she was chased, but a few people at work were getting into it. I thought if they could do it, so could I! Plus, I needed something, anything to help with the daily pressure of raising four kids ages 4 and under and a marriage that was less than stellar. My first race was the St. Malachi 2 miler. I don’t remember a ton of details from that day, but there are a few that stick out. I was ridiculously overdressed, wearing layer upon layer of cotton clothing. I had shoes I previously wore when I worked in a testing lab, and I am not entirely sure of what inhabited the material. Music? GPS watch? Didn’t own either. Oh, and cotton socks were the norm. Not going to lie; the race was hard for me. I hadn’t covered that distance yet, and I remember feeling so accomplished as I waited and watched in awe as my friends finished the 5 mile race. Five miles?! It might as well have been 100. That distance seemed so unattainable. Twenty-seven year old Stephanie had no freaking clue what she was getting into.

My next race was a 5K at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. I trained harder, and this race felt surprisingly easy, despite the huge hill up to the aquatics building. Unfortunately, a race route error made the course long, and without a watch (oh, forgot to mention I also didn’t own a smartphone with a running app), I had no clue about my distance or time. After this race, I was a little discouraged but hooked. I signed up for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 10K, what I considered my first real “distance race!” On race day, I couldn’t believe the sea of people there to pound the pavement in the CLE all with one simple goal – cross the finish.

My early years of running were fueled by the desire to get farther. I loved the challenge of hitting mileage I hadn’t previously and distinctly remember the tears that flowed in CLE when I ran my first half marathon. My first marathon? It was equal parts wonderful and awful. The wonderful part – I got to run it in Hawaii for the Honolulu Marathon! How many people can say that, especially ones who live in Ohio?! The awful part – I had to stop at nearly every port-o-potty and by the end of the race, I couldn’t even tell you what was coming out of my body.

Not to be deterred, I signed up to run the CLE Marathon in 2012 as a sort of redemption race when I won a free entry from my friend Jess, who has been an ambassador with me since I was selected in 2013. That race was much like my first marathon, but at least my body decided to wait until after the halfway mark to rebel. It took my third marathon in Columbus to finally run a race I was proud of without any issues. Near the finish, I saw my girls who were there with my mom and brother, grabbed them, and the three of us crossed the finish hand-in-hand. It’s still one of my proudest running moments.

Within the last few years, I decided I wasn’t content just increasing mileage and thought I might as well work on speed. The increased training and newfound motivation brought personal gains that were evident by placing in events. I remember winning my first medal for placing 2nd in my age group in the Downtown Willoughby 5K! My only regret was I didn’t push myself sooner because quite frankly, winning stuff is pretty badass!

There have been many high moments in my running “career.” I ran my first sub-four hour marathon in 2016, which was known as the “Most Cleveland Race Ever!” Rain, hail, snow, wind, thunder, water spouts on the lake. The weather was absolutely awful, but that finish was so sweet. I completed two ultramarathons – the Green Jewel 50K in 2017 and the Bluff Your Way Endurance Run in 2018 where I hit 51 miles. I ran a sub-8:00 half marathon and placed first in my age group. It seemed as though the older I got, the better I ran.

As with anything, the high moments were contrasted by the lows. Early on, I was plagued by knee issues and other injuries and remember having to wear double braces to complete races. Thankfully, I became stronger, found shoes that worked better for me, and trained smarter. I had race heartbreak when I trained my butt off only to have it fall apart during the race. Don’t get me started on the shitshow that was the 2017 CLE Marathon. Then there was the broken back in November 2017 that set me back months. However, the comeback is always greater than the setback and shows true character.

So…here we are. Ten years older. Ten years wiser. Ten years happier. Although life has been ever-changing throughout this period, running has remained constant as my therapy, my outlet, my me time, my salvation. I don’t think I would be where I am today without it, and it’s paid dividends. Cheers to ten years, and I look forward to the next ten.

Love,

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And So It Begins!

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I’ll begin by saying I’m extremely excited about this blog post. This past weekend, Dad’s journey to the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon half started in earnest! He’s been getting in training runs while he can, but Saturday, he and I both officially started our training season together.

My dad has never had a gym membership, but that changed a few weeks ago when he signed up at the new Planet Fitness in Painesville. Despite signing up, he hadn’t yet worked out because he was waiting on me to help him with the treadmills, signing in, etc. I love my dad, but he doesn’t really like new things. This was a little intimidating for him. After the first few minutes of feeling a little wonky and getting his treadmill bearings, he got the hang of it and cruised to an easy two miles.

 

After the treadmill run, we hit up Second Sole in Mentor. Dad’s been saying he needs new shoes, so we went there to talk with the staff and see what they would recommend. It was so fun for me to see him being all “runner-y” trying on shoes and walking around the store, and the young guy who helped us was great. He decided on a pair of Brooks Ghosts, and he bought me a new 26.2 car magnet for the one that got swiped a few months ago.

Dad’s plan for the day was five miles, so when we got home, we hit the hometown pavement for the last three. I’ll admit I got a little teary running through both of my childhood neighborhoods with my dad – the one where I grew up in until 9th grade and the one where I lived through high school and college. So many wonderful memories were had in those homes, especially good old College Hills. Aside from a new sign into the complex, it still looks the same although I am always shocked at how small it is. The neighborhood seemed endless when we were kids. Maybe it’s just the memories that are endless.

 

In addition to the official kick-off of half marathon training, I had a blast on Wednesday at the CLE Marathon Pub Run at Great Lakes Brewing Company! I had a chance to hang with some fellow Team RIOTers and make new friends; run with Leah, one of the awesome CLE ambassadors; and visit with Ralph and Joan who I adore. Oh, did I mention I got a free beer? Yeah, that never hurts.

 

Best wishes!

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P.S. Don’t forget to register for the race and use my code to save 10% off any event on Saturday or Sunday.

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The Seattle Half That Didn’t Happen

My girls and I just got home a few days ago from a great trip to the PNW. My brother lives in a suburb of Seattle, and that whole area is one of my absolute faves. For Christmas and their birthday, he bought them flights to visit him, and because it was cheaper to buy me a ticket instead of paying the airline to help them navigate flight to flight, I went too. I mean, twist my arm, right?!

As I’m prone to do when traveling, I like to run races. It’s usually nothing too ambitious, but this time, I was registered for the Seattle Sunset Half Marathon, which fell perfectly in line with my Cleveland Half Marathon training schedule and got me off my ass. With all of the lovely weather Seattle received the week before we arrived (hello, historic snowfall!), I wasn’t sure what would happen with the race. Obviously, the race organizers didn’t have a clue either. First, they canceled it, but then decided it was back on for those who wanted to participate at a scaled-back level, more like a fun run. Seeing as I was already trained up and needed the long run, I showed up on race day to give it a shot.

Race day was cold and rainy, typical for this time of year, but it’s exactly the type of weather I detest. In addition to me, there were six other people there. Yes, only six, and of those six, five were planning to run the half. Before the race started, I was already cold and wet but hoped to warm up a few miles in. I didn’t go into this with aspirations of greatness; I just wanted to get my long run in no matter how ugly it was.

Let me tell you; it was ugly. The course was full of mud and puddles, obviously something that couldn’t be helped due to the melting snow and rainfall. It rained the entire time, and I wasn’t adequately dressed for the weather, which meant I was freaking wet and freezing. Then came the stomach issues. Eff that. I haven’t felt this bad during a race since the CLE Marathon in 2013!!!! As I stood there in the porta potty swearing as I tried my best to pull up soaking wet tights with tears in my eyes, I decided to throw in the towel at nine miles.

So there’s that. I set out to run a half and didn’t. I feel bad about not accomplishing my goal and even more mad at myself for quitting on my friend who still had energy left for another four miles. As mad as I am about that, I know there was no way I was going to finish. I was just mentally and physically done. I am thankful it wasn’t a “real” race, and I am trying to chalk it up to having an off run. Everyone has those. It was unfortunate mine happened to be that time. At least the company was awesome.

Now what? Time to refocus and get ready for the 10 Mile Drop in April and the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon in May, both of which I will run with my dad. This bad run won’t define my training. It’s just a setback, and I’m better than this.

Best wishes!

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Playing Catch-up

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Time flies when you’re having fun…or being busy. Any others having a hard time wrapping their brains around the fact we’re already a week into February? Time for me to play a little catch-up here with the blog and half marathon training.

Although I haven’t been hitting the pavement much, I have been able to run at the gym. I’ll admit I had a hard time getting back into the swing of training with kids’ activities, work, the crummy weather (thanks, Polar Vortex!!!!), and feeling tired in general. It’s not that I wasn’t running before, just not to the level I needed to train for a major race. Oh, and I did I mention I’m running a half in about a week and a half when I visit my fam in Seattle? Yeah, good thing I got my ass in gear.

I have been pretty consistent for the last two weeks and noticed I’m getting a little faster. Not anywhere close to where I was previously, but I’m making strides and feeling good about it. Win-win in my book. I also knocked out a 10-miler last week, which was my longest run since my ultra at the end of September. I’m almost a little embarrassed to admit that but whatever. Such is life.

My favorite training runs have included my family. My dad, Steve, and the boys, Cole and Cael, joined me for the second Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon kick-off run on February 2. Despite the cold, we had a great time and knocked out three miles. Plus, it didn’t hurt there were Panera bagels, coffee, and hot chocolate with chocolate chip marshmallows I might add waiting for us at the end, a huge draw for Cole who said he was “here for the bagels.” Whatever, kid, as long as you want to run with me, I’m cool with you being enamored with free bagels. I can tell my dad is getting faster, as we hung in the low 10s for the first mile. He has also been sending me training updates via text (who doesn’t love Dad texts!!!???), and he’s up to about 4.5 miles. Super, super proud of him! He and I will start long runs together soon, and I can’t wait to blog about those adventures!

The kids and I plan to take advantage of the free fitness opportunities around Lorain County, which will also help mix up my training. Lorain County Public Health, my employer, and local partners have teamed up for United We Sweat, a collaborative that offers free physical activity classes and events throughout the county. One of our favorites is the Fit Walk at Splash Zone in Oberlin. We are able to use the field house track every Monday if we sign in at the front desk between 5:30PM and 6:15PM. I love this because I get to run indoors without the boredom of the treadmill, and the kids can walk and run, too. It made me so happy to see my daughter Adrianna, not a regular runner, dashing along the track as she ran sprints. She is also considering track when she is in 7th grade next year. How cool is that?! Oh, and Cole. I think the kid is a freak of nature. He knocked out five miles like it was nothing.

Back to that half I’m running in Seattle. I don’t have any goal set for this. Actually, I’m hoping it doesn’t get snowed out or something like that. Seattle area is experiencing uncommon weather. It’s almost like they swapped with Ohio and got snow, cold, and ice. The plan for Seattle is to have fun and enjoy the race, something I haven’t done in a while. There will be no PRs. Hell, I might not even come in under two hours, but I don’t particularly care. It will be a great time regardless.

Best wishes for an awesome February!

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P.S. There is still PLENTY of time to sign up and train for one of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon events! Register today and use my discount code to save 10% before the next price increase on February 10. The discount is good for any race during the weekend, even the Challenge Series!

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Training with a Purpose

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Khakis, beer shirt, jingling keys in his pocket, and a huge smile!

It’s official; Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon training season is in full swing! This is my 7th year as an ambassador, and I am doing something different that makes me so incredibly proud. This year’s training cycle won’t be about me because instead of training myself for the big day, I’m going to be training my dad, Steve, to run his first half marathon!!!!!!! YES, my dad, the guy who formerly ran in khaki shorts, is signed up to run the RACM half. Actually, he did one better than that; he signed up for the 8K and half Challenge Series!!!!! This runner’s heart is bursting at the seams.

Dad first mentioned something about taking the distance plunge about 2 months ago when I was talking about the race. For the past few years, he’s run the Saturday race with me, but he never really trained. After last year’s race, he really started to get into running more, was heading out the door on his own and increasing his speed and mileage. Now, he talks about his “Nike Run Club” and rocks a Garmin. As you can imagine, I effing love it. He asked about my plan for May. I said I wanted marathon redemption but couldn’t pass up the Challenge Series, so my plan was the 8K and full. He said he wanted to participate in the Challenge Series also by running the 8K and 10K, but the only problem, as I explained to him, was they didn’t offer that option. “Well, I will just run the half.” I think my eyes about popped out of my head. This guy was serious! I told him if he wanted to make that commitment, there was no way I was running the full and missing out of this (possibly) once-in-a-lifetime experience. I just had to cross that finish line with my dad. Less than a week ago, I sat down at the computer, completed my dad’s 8K and half Challenge Series registration, and smiled while a tear rolled down my face. WE ARE DOING THIS! (which is also my little motto for life at this particular moment)

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One of my biggest running supporters is now my half marathon training partner!

As a start to our training season, Dad, Cael, and I attended the RACM Kick-Off Run at Fleet Feet in Pepper Pike this weekend. It was cold, but we had a great time. The Kick-Off runs always breathe new life into my running, and this year was no exception. Dad’s getting a membership to the new Planet Fitness in Painesville, and I plan to go out there on weekend the kids are with their dad to help him train. Once it warms up a bit, you’ll see us hitting the streets of Painesville and the bike path, one of my personal fave places to run in my hometown. We’re going to work on a training plan, which will undoubtedly include rewards with a cold beverage, because we intend to work hard and celebrate the efforts. Enjoying the journey will be our theme. I can’t wait to see how this all unfolds, and I am looking forward to sharing our training with you.

If you’re sitting here reading this and feel inspired, I encourage you to give running a try if you aren’t already a runner, and if you are, push yourself to go a little farther, a little faster. Sign up for the damn race that scares you. Add an extra speed session to your current training. Get outside and walk the neighborhood. Whatever it is and whatever your fitness level, just do something. Your body and mind will thank you. If you want to run CLE with Dad and me, sign up now before the next price increase and save 10% using the code SL2019. We hope to see you there!

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Best wishes!

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Off and Running

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Happy New Year, my fabulous readers! Gonna let you in on a little secret. Today is January 7, and it is my first workout of the year. Yes, you read that correctly. First one and it was only 2 quick miles with an even quicker lifting session. Do I feel guilty? Hell to the no, not in the slightest.

If you’re wondering why, the answer is simple; other priorities took precedence over training. I spent the time between Christmas and now doing things that fed my soul and filled my bucket. I enjoyed a (mostly) stress-free Christmas at home with my kids soaking in their joy when they unwrapped much-wanted gifts and cooking a good meal. I spent time with the people I love most of all – my family. I ate and drank with reckless abandon because it was the holidays, dammit, and I wanted to indulge. I smiled and laughed and cried and felt something I have not for quite some time – true happiness. I got my personal life in check, which felt freaking amazing! Having a plan and something to work towards brings a sense of calming, satisfaction, and clarity. Lastly, I let myself just be in the moment and live instead of worrying about cleaning, work, bills, kids’ activities, workouts, etc., etc., etc. I know I worry too much about things I can’t change.

All of that being said, I am now ready. Ready to commit to a training cycle, to drop some of my unhealthy habits (but if you think I’m giving up on craft beer and cupcakes, you don’t know me well enough), to start 2019 with a clear head and newfound sense of focus and purpose. This is my 7th year as an ambassador for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, and there is something big in the works to commemorate the occasion. I don’t want to share the news until I am 100% certain it’s a go, but thinking about it makes my heart so damn happy it could burst in the best way possible. How’s that for a teaser?!

I know some of you who read this blog are die-hard workout folks, but there’s a portion who work out when they can or just don’t know where to start. If you fall into the latter category, I challenge you to set a goal for yourself and make 2019 the year you accomplish it. In a way, I am starting back right along with you. I’ve had progress only to experience setbacks not only in my physical activity but motivation levels and mental health. However, I am confident this is my year! I hope you can say the same.

Best wishes!!!!

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P.S. Signing up for a race is a great way to motivate yourself and stay accountable, just sayin’. The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon features multiple races for any fitness level. There are 8K, 5K, 1 mile races on Saturday, May 18, as well as the Kids’ Run. On Sunday, May 19, you can choose from the marathon, half marathon, or 10K. If you’re up for a challenge, register for one of the Challenge Series events, which has you completing a race on both Saturday and Sunday. Prices increase on January 10, so sign up today and save money. Speaking of saving money, as an ambassador, I am given a code to share to help you save even more! Use the code SL2019 when registering for 10% off your registration.

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A Little (Running) Perspective in 2018

Well…it’s been a hot minute since I last put pen to paper…eh, I mean fingers to keyboard. I have no good excuse for this except being caught up in the day-to-day and not realizing how much time had passed since I last wrote. It’s not necessarily for a lack of desire. There were plenty of times I pulled out my laptop, settled into my comfy recliner with legs propped, and started to let my thoughts flow only to have them interrupted by children bickering, phone calls, mom duties, a needy dog, etc., etc., etc. I sit here now on my lunch break typing in between bites of caramel and cheese popcorn, mixed together of course because it’s most delicious that way.

If you want the quick and dirty rundown of what’s be happening in our life these past few months, here it goes: junior high cheerleading and football games, fall baseball practices and games, school activities, spring baseball planning and fundraisers, travel basketball practices and games, youth basketball cheerleading practice (with me coaching), normal grind of work, holidays, rehabbing a knee injury, trying to take care of my mental health, and somehow finding time to train in between the craziness. I feel like I have been in a perpetual state of exhaustion with no signs of slowing, like I am always behind and trying to play catch up to no avail.

This year’s running echoes that feeling. Just when I got ahead, BAM! shit went down. At the end of 2017, I was running the best races of my freaking life – 5Ks in the lower 7:00/mile range, sub-8:00 pace half marathons. The broken back in late November 2017 had me down until mid-January, and I was basically starting from scratch. I worked my way to a half in Cleveland in May, which made me feel very proud but a little defeated since it was supposed to be my 7th marathon, and I ran my second fastest and second sub-8:00 half in June in Seattle. I started feeling as though I was back. Then, I got lazy or busy or stressed or all of the above. The weight I dropped from the damn C. diff and stress at the beginning of the year piled on plus more. I wasn’t training like I needed for my ultra, and that thought brought about more stress. I somehow wrangled my hot mess self together and ran what I felt was a great race during the Bluff Your Way Endurance Run, except for the knee injury I sustained after which kept my mileage pretty much nonexistent until November. I felt like I was starting over for the second time this year, and it kinda crushed me. I even went through a little phase were I thought about quitting because what was the point anymore? But quitting is a bitch move, pardon my language, and I don’t like to quit.

Okay, whiny part over. When I look back at 2018, it’s so easy to pick out the awful parts and focus on them, but this is where the (running) perspective comes in. I need to give myself a little grace, which is a statement I have told many friends this year. After thinking about it, I kinda kicked ass in 2018, and here’s why.

One – I broke my damn back in November 2017 and was back to running about 7 weeks later. I was so effing lucky!!!! Not only was I able to return to my favorite sport and form of stress relief, but I was able to do it without any pain or lasting impacts. It’s almost like the compression fracture never happened.

Two – I was not only able to run after breaking my back; I ran a pretty respectable half marathon 4 months after being cleared to resume physical activity. The Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon was my return to racing, and I finished with a pace in the 8:20s. Hard work paid off.

Three – running and exercise pulled me out of the worst mental state I had ever experienced. From the end of February through about late March, I didn’t do much besides sit on my couch, watch Netflix, and drink too much. I was not only physically sick but mentally sick. I started forcing myself to go to the gym, coaxing myself by saying if I just ran three miles, I could retreat to my home. You know what? I started feeling better and rediscovered my love of running and working out.

Four – I RAN 51 MILES AT ONE TIME! I sometimes forget how impressive this is until I talk about it with other people, and they look at me like I am both a lunatic and the most basdass human they have ever met (props to those who run even farther than this!!!!). When I did the Bluff Your Way Endurance Run, my plan was simple – run the whole time. I did just that albeit short, to-be-expected breaks. I stopped my watch when I needed to use the bathroom, change clothes and shoes, high-five and hug my family, and grab any needed supplies along the way. The difference between my chip time and watch time was only about 30 minutes over the span of nearly 10 hours. For that, I am extremely proud.

Five – Something I almost forgot – I was first overall female in a 5K in May! I did it once before at a race in August 2017 in Chardon. Breaking that tape was an amazing feeling! Although there wasn’t a tape to break at this race, it felt even sweeter because I was faster and the kids were with me.

Six – I was invited back as an ambassador for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. If you’ve read my blog before, you know I LOVE the race and its staff. 2019 will be my 7th year as an ambassador, and the staff are more like family, as are some of the other ambassadors who have been on this journey with me for more than a few trips around the sun. In addition to it being my 7th year, CLE will also be my 7th marathon. Double sevens have to be lucky, right?!

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If you want to run CLE and save some money, use the code SL2019 for 10% any of the races, including the Challenge Series!

There are only about two weeks left of 2018. As relieved as I will be to see this year go, I am thankful for the experiences that made me stronger, the friendships I’ve gained, and the knowledge I have earned (some of it the hard way). I know time is what you make of it, and I plan to spend my time in 2019 ridiculously happy.

Love,

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Bluff Your Way Endurance Run Recap

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Hi, friends! Long time, no blog. Anyone else feel as though they blinked and summer was over? Yeah, I thought so. For my fam, summer was filled with vacations (both the kids and I had summer adventures), baseball…lots of it, family time, and running. Here’s a quick catch-up.

So…running and racing. I was a little quiet on this subject over the summer because I was attempting something so incredibly daunting to me that I was scared to put it out there for fear of failing. I dipped my toes into the ultramarathon scene last year when I completed the Green Jewel 50K. It was such a rewarding experience, but I wanted to push myself further. When I heard about Lake Health Running Series’ Bluff Your Way endurance run, I knew I had to sign up! The premise of this race was complete as many 1.5 mile laps through the Lake Erie Bluffs as possible in 12 hours. I was drawn to this for a few reasons – 1) I could crew the whole thing myself, 2) it wasn’t trails because I can’t hang with those, 3) it was close to my parents’ so I could rely on them to drive me to and from, and 4) it would give me a chance to run another ultra. I will admit my training over the summer was average at best. I had no good reason for it except for the fact I was lazy and having a little too much fun instead of putting that time into training. However, I did buckle down for the last month and a half or so to be able to give it a fair shot. My goal for the race was to complete 50 miles, which would be about 20 more than my farthest distance ever. With 1.5 mile laps, that meant I had to run 34 of them, putting me at 51 miles. Piece of cake, right?!

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On Sunday, September 23, my dad drove me to the run, and we were both taken aback by the darkness. I mean, aside from the headlamps and giant glow sticks lining the course, it was pitch black. However, the stars were beautiful overhead. We dropped off my bin o’ running stuff and had a little while to chill before it was time to start. While I was waiting to start, I saw my friend Tim from Team RIOT, and it calmed my nerves to see a familiar face. I also was introduced to another Team RIOT member, Emily, who showed me quite possibly the best running hack to date – wearing your headlamp around your waist! At a few minutes after 6:00AM, the run started, and I tried to mentally prepare myself for the miles ahead.

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The start of the run was cool and crisp, a far cry from the heat and humidity that still lingered in northeast Ohio.  With each lap, the sun rose across the horizon and filled the sky. These early laps were slow and consistent, just the way I planned. Aside from a bathroom stop after the second lap, I kept moving for the first 2.5 hours until I stopped at my bin to ditch the long sleeves. Around mile 20, my sister Sarah and niece Sophia stopped up to say hi and watch a few laps. I was still feeling very strong and focused.

It wasn’t long before I had more company. My mom and dad came around mile 30. By this time, it was full sunshine, which meant I decided to say hell with any body image issues and run in my Oiselle crop (ZFG). I also made the decision to switch shoes and put in music at this time. I swear that was like a shot of adrenaline to my body! I had to keep checking my pace because I was ready to fly.

Everything was going perfectly until about mile 40. Up to this point, I had no issues with fatigue, cramping, or injury, but I started feeling pain on the outside of my left knee. By the time I finished that lap, running was not possible, and I slowed completely to a walk. It was incredibly painful! There was no way I could quit now, but I needed some help. That’s when I saw my sister and felt a sense of hope. She was kind enough to run to the store to get me a knee brace while I walked a lap. By the time I made it around, she was back. I slipped that thing on, hoped for the best, and started off with a slow run. Although the brace didn’t alleviate all of the pain, it made it so I could finish. Thanks, Sare! I couldn’t have done this without you.

By this time, quite a few runners had already called it a day, so the course was sparse. With getting close to my mileage goal, I began to get anxious and tried to keep my mind busy. Only a few more laps to go!

My family was there to cheer me on at the end. At the start of my final lap, I threw up a number 1 and said, “Let’s do this shit!” I headed down the path I had already taken 33 times before and reflected on the experience. Physically, this was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I felt very strong and empowered. I rank this harder than all of my labors and deliveries. Even without drugs, those were a piece of cake. I was thankful for my family who showed up to support me. They think my running is crazy and borderline dangerous (I hear you, Dad!), but nonetheless, they were there cheering me on lap after lap. I thought of my kids and how proud I wanted them to be of me. I wanted them to see me train hard for a goal and put that hard work into action. I was setting the example that we in our household can do hard things, and I especially wanted my daughters to see their mother in a role that requires mental and physical strength. I made sure I ran that entire lap and took in every single ounce of pain and pride.

The path opened up to the parking lot, and I saw everyone waiting for me. It was at this point I began to get emotional. I had just accomplished something huge and terrifying, and aside from the knee, I felt great! I sprinted (or at least it felt like sprinting in my mind) to the finish, threw my hands up in victory, and sobbed huge, ugly tears as I hugged my parents. And that was that – 51 miles in 9:58:28.

Had the knee not taken a crap at mile 40, I knew I had the stamina to go another 2 hours, but bowing out at this point was a smart move to avoid any additional injury. I had nothing else to prove; my goal of running at least 50 miles had been met. Then it was time to celebrate!

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It’s been just about three weeks since that run. While I am still riding the ultramarathon high, I am disappointed my knee is still giving me issues. I haven’t really been able to run since, and IT. IS. KILLING. ME. This run lit the fire under my ass to train hard because I am still in search of marathon redemption in Cleveland in 2019. While my original goal has been altered a little, the premise still remains – PR the eff out of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon and have a ton of fun doing it! See you in May!

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Sorry not sorry

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Something I noticed about myself is I tend to apologize…a lot…for things that are not even my fault, do not warrant an apology, or are out of my control. I guess this partly comes from growing up where girls are supposed to be courteous, forgiving, accommodating, and apologetic, and it’s also just part of who I am. I usually can’t hold a conversation without apologizing for something, which is pretty effed. I mean, I’m a 37-year-old lady who (kinda) has her stuff together and takes care of herself, her kids, and a job. Why am I apologizing for ridiculous shit?

One of the many steps I’m taking to become a better version of me is not apologizing for so many things, especially if it’s something I personally like about myself that someone else might think is flawed. In honor of that, here’s a list of things for which I am not sorry.

  • Ridiculously loud and sometimes obnoxious cheering, clapping, and laughing
  • Wearing red lipstick with red hair
  • Rockin’ a sports bra to run in the summer heat
  • Putting my kids to bed early so I have time to myself
  • Enjoying the hell out of some craft beer
  • Running-related posts and selfies on social media
  • Not being a “Pinterest mom” or a “PTA mom” or a “playdate mom” or a mom who wants to hang out with other moms
  • Being awkward around strangers and hating anything that has to do with networking
  • My desire to get Botox
  • Adding to my tattoo collection even though it might not be deemed “professional”
  • Swearing…a lot
  • Running late and not wearing makeup to work
  • Having a dirty car
  • Cooking the same dinners because I know my kids will eat them
  • Wearing cutoffs practically all summer because my love for them never dies
  • Inability to keep plants alive and not having flowers in my yard
  • Being myself because it took 37 freaking years to get to this point