Friday, June 1, 2018

Cleveland Half Marathon Race Recap

I am on an unofficial Tour de Ohio, aka run all the big name races in Ohio. That meant that sooner or later I would run Cleveland. This year would be the year. Maddie was running her first full and I wanted to be there to support her. The weather is always awful and I never heard good things about the course. Running with Maddie would make this the best reason to check Cleveland off my Ohio list.

Saturday morning I drove myself, Maddie and Kelsey to Cleveland. It was a quick trip which included Kanye and Ryan Cabrera. We found some prime parking for the weekend and headed to the expo.

Bibs acquired and a loop of the expo. We were ready to go.

After some food, beer and a little loop of the city, we decided to call it an early bed time. Maddie had to run a marathon!

Sunday morning came and then so did the rain. I thought we were going to be in the clear, we so weren’t. We stayed in the hotel as long as we could but we had to go. Thankfully, Quicken Loans Arena was open for us and we could use indoor bathrooms and stay dry for a little bit.

We got thrown out in to the rain. We said goodbye to Kelsey and headed in to the corral. We found the 4:45 pacer, who was actually a Pittsburgh runner Maddie runs with. Here goes nothing!


Maddie and I stayed together through the start line mass. It is pouring and foggy and I have no idea where we are anyway. I heard someone playing the wobble within the first mile. Of course I am going to dance. Some jerk behind us yells “if you can wobble while running you aren’t doing it right.” No filter me yells back “NO! If YOU can’t wobble and run then you aren’t doing it right!” Let me tell you, I didn’t hear another word out of him.

The rain calmed down a little after the two mile mark when we got to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There was a small band outside, and that was the last music/entertainment I saw on the course.

The roads were so terrible and it was around this time I saw fell PRO ambassador Kim. I said hello real quick but got back to the task at hand. Pacing Maddie. The rain has stopped but everything was so slick.

We let the pacers do the work. We stayed right by them for the most part. There were three bridges that were super slick. They were open grate and terrifying. We decided to walk one of them because it was that scary.

Right about at the 10k mark Maddie noticed Kelsey was in front of us and there was a hill coming. No man left behind. We scooped her up. I ended up running up the hill, since I’m a super slow walker, and they pushed each other.

After that, I had three cups of beer in less than a mile for the best crowd support on the course. Maddie kept pointing dogs out to me and she kept talking about having to pee. We ended up finding a potty on a home building site so Maddie could pee. We then found Kelsey again while we waited. She told us to go a head. This was about nine miles in and the rain finally stopped.

I knew the split was somewhere around mile 11. I had a little under two miles to keep her distracted. So, I had her focus on little things. I took her shirt since we were drenched so she wouldn’t have to worry about it for the rest of the race. I gave her little marathon tips, grabbed some extra gels for her and told her just to focus on running. Gretchen would be finding her on the back side of the course for some extra distraction. Since there was literally nothing on this course that was going to help.

I saw the split, told Maddie I loved her and was so proud of her and literally started sprinting. I can spring a little over two miles in under 20 minutes. I just want this to be done.

Another out and back helped me see Kelsey one more time and I told her to finish strong. I never saw a mile marker after mile 10 and my watch was super over. I literally have no idea how much is left in this race. At some point I saw the first marathoner come up. I have never had the first marathoner pass me on a course. I’m screaming and cheering him on.

You know what happens when you are running quickly in a group of people who aren’t running as fast a you? You get strange looks. You know what happens when you run fast up a hill in Ohio at the end of a race? You get more strange looks. My final 2ish miles averaged an 8:30 pace.

Can you see Maddie's shirt coming out of mine?

I came up the finish area and literally none of the spectators were cheering. Another race where I have to yell at people to cheer for us. A pretty fitting end to a lack luster race.

Finish time: 2:19.

Kelsey and I headed back to the room to get everything ready and headed back to the finish line. Gretchen was giving us updates and finally we saw our girl. She crushed her sub-5 goal and finished her first marathon!

I will tell you that I will never run that race again. Course was boring. Very boring. For a race that always has terrible weather they need to do something with the course entertainment. The finish line was a cluster and those bridges were terrifying. It is what it is, I finished my 29th half marathon and Maddie finished her first marathon.

Below is the course map and elevation chart.

Did you run Cleveland? What did you think?

Friday, May 18, 2018

To Maddie For Your First Marathon

Dear Maddie,

I have been waiting to write this since the day we talked about your first marathon. It was while I was training for mine and you saw first had what it was going to be like. You wanted it, and you are doing it. 

For the past year we have been a unit. Whether it be in running or in life. I can’t imagine you not being a staple. We have explored new places, drank new beers and laughed harder than I ever thought I could. Everyone told me that one day I would meet another version of me. My dear, you are it. 

I loved getting to join you on milestone long runs. Your first 20 miler, your half marathon PR, heck even some freaking cold runs where I knew you wouldn’t let me hear the end of it if I didn’t show up. I am in awe of your dedication. 

This weekend we will line up together for your first marathon. I am truly grateful that I can run the first 11-ish miles with you and then greet you at the finish line. You are the strongest person I know. You have battled through so much and here you are. You are running a marathon!

I’ll have enough zip lock bags. I will get all the water you need. I will bring the party to distract for as long as possible. I just want you to enjoy this experience. I have probably said this a million times but you only get one chance to do something for the first time. You trained for this. This is your victory lap. 

I am so proud of you. I love you. I am grateful for the past year. Let’s do this. Let’s make you a marathoner!

Friday, May 11, 2018

2018 Pittsburgh Half Marathon Race Recap

After a fun 5k, it was time to take on the Pittsburgh Half Marathon again. I haven't ran this race since 2014 and the course has changed since then. I was excited to finally get to run this race for the experience. I had a really great time during the marathon last year, but I am REALLY happy to not be running a full marathon.

This race wasn't really for me. It was for the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. Thanks to all of you, we raised over $1,000. I cannot thank everyone enough for the amazing support for this cause. It means the world to me and Carrie.

The morning of the race there was still a very high chance of rain. I decided to wear as little clothing as possible. Which means, I was going to rock my crop top for the first time at the start of a half marathon. Get ready Pittsburgh, pale skinned me is taking over!

Sarah, Matthew, Montana and I headed downtown a little before 5:30am. We wanted to beat the road closures. We parked, headed to the Westin and parked it. I received VIP as part of the Pittsburgh Marathon Blogger program and that is where the pre race events were. I only really used it for bag check but the ladies were super sweet!

Since everyone was checking a bag we decided to leave for the corrals early. Montana and I were in corral B and just hung out. I had a total moment. I remembered back to my first marathon. I didn't know a single soul except my husband who would be at the finish line. Now, I'm seeing people I know left and right. It was pretty awesome.

It felt like it took forever to start and I just tried to relax. I had a plan. I would take the first 10k or so out fast and bank time. I know that this isn't really a tried and true method but I know this course. I know where I can make up time and where I would be giving some back. I said goodbye to Montana and started on my way!


It felt like steps after the start I heard someone scream my name in the crowd, it was my friend Natalie! She was running the relay and i just waved and smiled. I stayed with the 8:50 pacer for most of the first three miles. I didn't really look at my watch. It wasn't as crowded as years past.

I love the first bridge we cross in this race. It's the 16th Street Bridge and the crowds are always really fun. Plus, the course starts getting hilly after that.

Miles 1-3: 8:34 8:35 8:31

This year the Pittsburgh Marathon added in banners that said what neighborhood you were in. It really helped people from out of town know where they were and remember the fun parts! The North Side was alive that morning. I am also super warm at this point. There is zero air movement and it is humid. I could not be wearing any less clothing at this point. I also felt something weird on my right foot. I thought I maybe stepped in a little puddle. Kinda moist. Remember this.

Running on the North Shore was a lot of fun. If you are wondering who was woo-ing in the overpasses, it was me.I saw Elle around this time too. Again, a familiar face! It was time to head over to the West End. We were coming up to the 10k mark!

Miles 4-6: 8:12 8:18 8:19 - 10k split around 51 minutes

I noticed my watch was a little off from the overpasses, but my plan was to stay on the left hand side as much as possible. I took my salt tab at the 10k mark and instantly broke out in a cold sweat. It was amazing. I felt like we were climbing for an entire mile. I knew I would see Randy on the West End Bridge. The new theme of this race, run to a familiar face!

The West End Bridge was interesting. I had people stop to walk RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME! Not once, but THREE TIMES! It was very frustrating. Please remember, if you are going to walk, move to the side and put your hand up. Please and thank you. Then I saw Randy. Gave him my yearly high five and moved along on my journey.

Kelsey found this somewhere and I love it!

On to the West End. Still staying on the left side and still sweaty. Gosh I am so freaking sweaty! Plus, the hardest part of the course is still coming. I have slowed down a lot knowing what was coming.

On to Carson Street, business is starting to pick up. This is the nice quiet part of the course, well at least in the past. The crowds have not stopped at all. I have never seen it happen in Pittsburgh in all the years I have done the race.

There was a relay exchange point around this area and I knew it was the last exchange area I would run through. Hubs and the rest of my friends were going to be near mile 10 and I knew I just had to make it to them. While I'm thinking this I hear someone yell to me. It;s my friend Amy! We were in high school marching band together and both live in Pittsburgh now. She was telling me how she was already expecting to be over two hours. I told her where we were at then and we both realized we were going to go under two hours!

Miles 7-10: 9:00 9:00 9:11 9:06 - 10 mile split 1:28

Yep, we are going sub-2! Actually, I'm running a pretty good race. My water bottle was driving me crazy. I took my car key out, put it in my back pocket and got ready to toss my water bottle to my husband. And then it happened. I saw Carrie! Seeing her as the first of my group of friends seems so right. I grabbed a jello shot. Tossed my water bottle and kept on my way.

I adore this picture!

Yes friends, I took a jello shot at almost mile 11 of a half marathon. The sugar was amazing. I quickly got back to the left side of the road because there was no doubt I was running a half marathon today.

The Birmingham Bridge was rough. Like were we ever going to stop going up? It really didn't feel like it. Then I remembered what up was like on the full marathon course and I just kept moving.

Off the bridge, there was one last uphill. This is the first time I have ran this part of course and I wasn't complaining! There was a group of men who came up next to me and yelled "Thank god that was the last up hill". I responded with "Bless your soul".

Alright folks, let's get this show to the finish line!

Downhill to the finish line was amazing. The crowds were starting to pick back up from the bridge that no one could access. People kept saying "You are almost done!" I yelled back I KNOW!!!

I could not stop smiling at this point. There was something really cold on my right foot. I didn't want to look. I had kinda realized I didn't step in a puddle. Coming up the final stretch I hear Natalie again! I waved and moved forward. I heard the PA announcer call me in (with my gold skirt and bow) and crossed the finish line of my 28th half marathon.

Finish time: 1:57.

When I stopped I looked down and noticed blood on the side of my shoe. I took some skin off a toe again and caused some pretty good bleeding. I went to the medic and got a band-aid. After I cleaned myself up I went back to VIP and got my bag and my layers.

I can't believe I ran another 1:57. I feel like that is my go to time at this point. I'm thrilled to have finished and had the experience I did. I ran this race the way I wanted to. I banked time and it actually worked!

Note the bloody sock lol!

I cannot thank all of the volunteers, spectators and emergency workers for putting on a great event. It was a really great experience. Probably one of the best I have had at this event. Below is the elevation chart to show some of the challenges from the day.

Disclaimer: I was provided entry to the Pittsburgh Half Marathon as part of Team Children's and fundraising for the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

2018 Pittsburgh Marathon 5k Race Recap

There are three Pittsburgh races that I truly love. The Pittsburgh Marathon 5k is one of those races. This was my first race back to running in 2012. It is where it all started for me. It's just a super fun event and a great way to kick off marathon weekend.

Flat Steff for the 5k

This year, as in the past, we hosted a We Run Social meet up before the race and just got to chat with friends. It was so nice to see everyone and really celebrate everything. We got to celebrate friendships, accomplishments and most of all, NO RAIN!

What a fun crew!

This race also was very special for Carrie. This is her first race back from having a heart valve replaced back in March of 2017. I have been running races in her honor ever since, and now we were going to run the race together. This race was all for her.

I asked Carrie what she wanted to run. She said we would start at 9 minute pace and go from there. We got in the starting corral at what we thought was the right time. Turned out we were super early. So, all of our friends ended up starting with us and we had a blast. We also found Ashley, who is coming back from injury as well. Pretty much everyone wanted to run with us.


The course was different this year. We went a different direction and circled the North Shore. Not normal! I'm guessing construction but it really doesn't matter. Carrie, Ashley and I lost everyone quite early. It was a little crowded in the beginning. So, we became a party of three and just enjoyed the morning.

Mile 1: 8:39

Okay, a little quick but I let Carrie know and she said it was fine. Okay, let's keep going.

On the first uphill Ashley starts talking to her glutes. I was dying. She was like encouraging them to work. We even sang Living on a Prayer halfway through. What, we were! We got to the water stop and we could see some of our other friends coming in the opposite direction. I felt like the queen of the parade. I'm waving and screaming. I was having a blast. So was Carrie.

Mile 2: 8:23

I turned to Carrie and said these exact words "Well, it looks like we are going to negative split this race". We decided to reevaluate after the bridge. In this race you cross the bridge right by PNC Park. It is a hill and it isn't a baby hill. We got to the top, enjoyed the down and then it was go time.

Ashley was cheering on all of the children who kept stopping. Carrie and I were looking at the dogs. We finally got towards the finish when we heard some of the Oiselle girls cheering for us. Dodie even caught this awesome photo of us!

All in stride <3 

Mile 3: 7:57

I have never negative split a race in my life, and here we are! It was a quick turn and then the finish. We did it! We finished together and had a blast.

Finish time: 26:52.

Carrie and Ashley both felt good, so I did my job. I had so much fun getting to run with two people who inspire me so much. I can't wait to keep sharing miles with them.

After the race we headed down to Point State Park. My friend Montana came up from Florida for the race and has never been to Pittsburgh. It was time to do Pittsburghy things!

I think this was my fifth time running this race and I still love it. I love it a little more each time I do it. The weather was perfect, a little warm but not raining, the crowds were fun and the course was much flatter than in the past.

Disclaimer: I was provided entry to the Pittsburgh Marathon 5k as part of the Pittsburgh Marathon Blogger program. All opinions are my own.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Pittsburgh Half Marathon Race Goals

I can't believe I'm writing this post. I can't believe it's May. I can't believe it's race week. I feel so unprepared. Running has been weird for me since the marathon. I truly had my heart broken and my mentality tested. I have never cried so hard in my adult life after Disney. I was burnt out, bad. I believe if I wasn't signed up for DC in March I would have taken way longer than a month off.

Let's be real for a little bit more. I think I was injured going in to the marathon. My hip was really bothering me and I did everything I could to make it better. Stretching, barre, strength - the list goes one. Nothing helped. I'm glad I took the time to rest as long as I did.

So let's go back to Rock 'n' Roll DC. I was training really well. I eased myself back in to training and even got on the track a little bit. I had two ideas of how the race would go, I would hit my A goal of 1:55 or I wouldn't. It was that straight forward. I didn't want to stress out about it, since this is a rebuilding relationship at this point.

What happens, I nailed a 1:55 on a super tough course.

After that, winter stayed around for way too long and I couldn't deal with it. Sure, I would go out and get my long run done, but my speed work really took a hit. I did focus a lot on cross training and my body has felt really good.

I ran two more half marathons, but none for time. Just A Short Run was to run with Maddie like we will in Cleveland for her first marathon. Last week we all ran the Hall Of Fame Half Marathon in Canton for fun and snagged Maddie a new PR!

My mileage has been down, but my long run paces have been spot on and have felt easy. I just have no idea what to think. I feel like I should be stressing out more for being totally unprepared to "race" but to be honest, I'm not. So much has happened in the past year that it really puts all of this in perspective. Yes, I love running. I love the people and the place I can go, but I cannot love something so much that it crushed me when I put in all of the hard work.

In any case, here we are. It is a few days before the Pittsburgh Half Marathon and I am ready, I guess. I will be heading to the expo Friday after work. Then Carrie and I will be running the 5k together. We will also be at the We Run Social meet up and hope to see you all there.

If you would have asked me two weeks ago what my goals were for the half marathon, I would have a totally different answer for you. I'm not feeling it. I don't feel like I'm in the shape I should be, or could be. My body feels fine, but it's a me thing. In any case, here are my goals.

A Goal: Sub 1:55
B Goal: Sub 1:57 (my current course PR)
C Goal: Sub-2

With my long run paces, Sub-2 should be manageable. To be honest, if at mile 10 it starts pouring, which is a strong possibility, I have no problem phoning it in. I want to take in the experience. Sort of like last year. I want to take in the crowds, feel off of the energy. It is the 10 year anniversary for the race that brought me back to running. How can I not give it my all?

I invite you all to follow along with this weekend on my social media channels. Instagram will have the most fun updates (if you misses last weekend then shame on you!), but Twitter will have some too! Good luck to everyone running. If you see me, SAY HELLO!