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Running Through a Fulfilled Life


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Race Recap: Shades of Gray 5K

Oh hey, I’m still here.  The thought of writing any kind of blog entry lately has produced a big fat “pppppppppfffffff” from my brain, which is why I’ve been on hiatus for way too long.  But yes, I’m still here.  I’m still running.  I’m still baby rearing.  Even if I have less time to do the running portion of the equation (spoiler alert: baby #2 takes so much more work!).  The Shades of Gray 5K is the 3rd race I’ve done since coming back into running post-partum.  It’s also the best I’ve felt and run since Lucas made his appearance 4 months ago.

This race was to benefit Serving Our Seniors of Erie County, an organization that I’ve referred countless patients to and know provides invaluable services in the community to those 60+.   Thus, game on.  I arrived early enough to give myself a bit of warm-up time, as this race started over by Battery Park Marina in Sandusky.  It was a 2 loop course of the downtown area and I’ve done several races in that vicinity before and it’s relatively flat.  The weather wasn’t too bad, it was about 72 degrees and slightly humid at race time, but I was ready to do this thing.  My 2 previous 5k’s had been pooptastic and I felt pooptastic during both–like I was running with sandbags for legs.  This day, however, I felt like I had energy and some bounce in my step even during warm-up.

The race started promptly at 9:00 AM.  It was a small turn-out, but hopefully that doesn’t deter the race from coming back next year, as it was well organized, had a cute shirt design and *bonus* pair of socks that came in the swag bag.  We took off heading down Water Street and I quickly found myself in 2nd.

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Look at me! Wee!

Like 2nd overall.  In the whole race (small races throw me off big time when this happens).  The lead male got slightly confused when we had to turn to head into our second loop during the course, so I felt like this did hurt my concentration and game plan for at least 1/2 mile prior to Mile 2, but I regrouped and kept pushing.

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Is this what “striding out” looks like? My legs are actually capable of this position? Gasp

Mantra: Run EVEN.  And I did.  Mile 1 was around a 7:04.  Mile 2 was around a 7:07.  Mile 3 was around a 7:03.  I finished the race in 21:43.  1st Female Overall and 7:00/mile avg pace.

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My finish line photos always look like a hot mess. Like real hot. And a real big mess.

The best part?  I felt good.  No sandbag legs.  No heavy “everything hurts and I’m dying” breathing.  No “I want to quit running because I just don’t have it anymore” feeling.  I felt really good.  It’s about gosh darn time!

I’m really hoping Shades of Gray comes back next year (so, race director, keep this thing together) because I am definitely marking it back on my race calendar!

Eli out.

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Race Recap: Dart Frog Dash 5K

Hark! A blog post that isn’t totally and entirely related to children or pregnancy.  These things DO still exist, kind of.  Back on May 20, Hubs and I registered to run the Dart Frog Dash 5K at the Toledo Zoo.  It’s a race that we did last year, thoroughly enjoyed (despite the weather), and decided it would be a perfect 5K to kick off “Project Get Eli Into Racing Form Again 2.0”.  In essence, it was my baseline 5K test to thoroughly gauge how in or out of shape I currently am.   If this were a pendulum, it would strongly be leaning more towards the out of shape realm (but approaching the midline, hopefully).

After I had James back in ’14, I ran the Melon Festival 5K as my first race back (at 6 weeks post-partum) and clocked a 23:56 after running for a solid 1 day.  I also ran with him up to my due date, so I really only had 7ish weeks away from exercising.

This time, I hopped off the exercise horse early (at 37ish weeks pregnant), but was able to start running again a bit earlier (4.5 weeks post- partum…hallelujah to no repair!).  So, I was off running about the same time, but didn’t run this race until I was approaching 8 weeks post-partum.  So, we are comparing apples to…bananas? here.

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Here we are heading to the start, James looking sullen in the jogging stroller

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Pre-Race family selfie! Dino sippy cup for the win!

The Dart Frog Dash covers the roads surrounding the Toledo Zoo and ventures through some old and very pretty neighborhoods.  My only gripe with the course is that the roads are in pretty god awful shape in some places.  Like, very uneven footing and chuckholes, so you definitely have to watch where you’re going so you don’t roll an ankle or fall into a pit of despair.

The last 1/4 of a mile ends in the Zoo, but has a bunch of hare pin turns that don’t allow you to get a proper kick.  I already knew all of this from running last year and being hella out of shape, I really wasn’t too worried about that part.  My goal, simply, was to A) Finish, B) Run a 24-25 minute race (although on a good day I knew I was capable of faster), C) Not pee my pants (hardy har, post partum runner humor).

The race took off nearly right on time and I cautiously started.  I didn’t want to start too fast (hello, out of shape) and get caught up in the excitement of the day.  Plus, I did no warm-up and my hamstrings were protesting just a tid.  Mile 1 felt like it was mostly downhill and registered at a 7:48.  Feeling good, I tried to pick up my pace a bit and hold steady.  Mile 2 clocked in at a 7:29.  Money.  There were a few runners in front of me that looked to be of the female variety and of my age group, but I felt no pressure to even try to race them.  Instead, I just focused on me.  Mile 3 was a 7:28.  As I wound around the final turn into the finish chute, I saw that I was going to finish under 24.  I crossed the line in 23:13  (7:29/mile avg) and 2nd in my Age Group.  So yes, I achieved all my A, B, and C goals.

Hubs and James crossed the finish line in 24:56 (which I think is impressive given that is 35 pounds of pure toddler to push up the hills going into the wind).  James told me all during the race that “he and Daddy were trying to find Mommy”.
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2nd Age Group 30-34

Definite sense of satisfaction for my first 5K race (and race in general) back since having Lucas.  It was fun to be back out running without having my belly make me do the backwards lean and waddle posture and have my back kill me at the end.  It was fun to be able share a fun event with my husband and son.  It was a pleasant surprise to get any age group award.  But now the work begins, I’ve got some big goals and I’m more than willing to put in the hard work to achieve them.

Eli Out!


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Race Recap: Holly Run 5K

Yes, that’s not a typo.  I most certainly did a race after not participating in any since June.  The Holly Run continues to be a race I automatically mark on my calendar to participate in, and 2016’s edition was certainly not going to be hindered by me toting around my growing baby belly!  This year’s version did not disappoint in the least.  The 5K was filled with 500+ participants ready to celebrate that “Life is Good, No Matter What”.

I wrangled both my parental units into running this race with me.  Probably a good idea because my car tire decided to deflate before we even had left for the race.  Minor tire drama aside, we managed to arrive to the race about an hour before, pick up packets, and do a small warm-up type thing.   For me, this consisted of shedding my sweats, running probably for 2 minutes and deciding that was enough.  No race goals makes for a much more relaxing day.  My only goal was to A) Finish and B) Not get out of breath.  Cool beans.

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The race started right on time after a Moment of Loudness.  A moment of loudness that corresponded to a rising in excitement, a burst of sunlight, and a perfect race morning.  I started off conservatively with my pace, knowing full well that there was a decent sized hill within the first mile.  I chugged up that bad boy, feeling like the Little Engine that Could (except with a pot belly) and arrived to the 1 mile split in 8:10.  Thought to myself, “That felt rather easy, me thinks I can keep this up”.  I continued on, again not feeling any inkling of the urge to race.  I was smiling, waving, and strutting my awkward balanced running gait like it was going out of style.  Mile 2 clocked in at 7:52.

And then…I for some reason felt the urge to be competitive after Mile 2, it’s like seeing age group competition in front of me was somehow the donut to hang in front of my face.  I have not run low 8 minute miles since…um…September, and here I was, throwing down a 7:28 final mile.  And a 6:45 pace last 0.1   And, no breathlessness.  I felt weirdly strong.

And finished in 24:04.  Which is almost 3 minutes slower than my time on this course last year.  But last year I wasn’t almost 5 months pregnant.  My overall pace wound up being 7:47.  Can we say pregnancy PR?  Are those a thing?  Somehow this finish, knowing that I managed it in a race that holds such sentimental meaning to me, meant more than any of the times I threw down earlier this year.    Belly for the win!


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Louisville YMCA 10K

Way back when on June 18, I ran the Louisville Y’s “Soar Into Summer” 10K.  Mother Nature definitely wanted to emphasize that “summer” part like she tends to do every year for this race.  I haven’t done this particular race in several years, but it is inevitable that this race usually corresponds with a warm and humid day which makes the already challenging 10K course a wee bit harder.  2016’s edition was no different as the 8:45 AM start equated to 74 degrees, sunny, and humid.  I do believe I declared something like “Screw this, I’m just using this as a workout” to my Mom before we started.

The race field was relatively small, so the runners quickly spread out.  I was running by another male runner for the first 2 miles and then he fizzled out behind me and I found myself running alone.  In a 10k.  Which I hate.  I could feel my body temperature slowly rising and I actually took nearly all the water stops (which I never do).

It truly felt like I was out on my long run because my legs could not be willed to run any faster.  So I pretended that’s what I was doing.  At just a little faster pace than long run pace.  I slogged through each mile remembering to save just a bit of energy for the last mile which would be out in full sun and would involve an uphill finish.  I think the finishing temperature was somewhere around 78 degrees.  Poopsicles.

Mile 1-7:20
Mile 2-7:25
Mile 3-7:25
Mile 4-7:31
Mile 5-7:18
Mile 6-7:30
Final 0.2-1:53

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Final Finish: 46:28
1st Female OA
Self Assigned Award for Most Photogenic I’ve Ever Looked at A Race.  NOT.

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Pros: I was pleasantly surprised with the awards post-race, I got a nice gift certificate to Second Sole and the medals for Overall and Age Group winners were very high quality and nice.  I’m not used to seeing medals like those unless I do bigger races (usually involving a half or marathon in their distances).  The race tshirts were wicking and there was a ladies option of sizing which fits perfect.  The post-race food may or may not have involved donuts and I may or may not have crammed that into my mouth while simultaneously downing a Gatorade.  The course was definitely challenging, but well marked and with many enthusiastic volunteers.

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Cons: I am not one of these people that enjoys running in the heat.  So…much…sweat.  Your forehead is not supposed to look like a saltlick.  The uphill finish.  Who designs a race finish up a hill?

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Overall, it was a good race experience and even though I always tell myself how much I hate running this race because of the heat, I’m sure I’ll find my way back to this one again another year because it really is well executed.

 

 

 


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Race Recap: Dart Frog Dash

Back on May 21, I did the Dart Frog Dash in Toledo.  It’s a race that my Hubs has been wanting to do forever because it starts and finishes at the Toledo Zoo.  A place that he pleasantly worked at for nearly a decade of his young life.  So when we discovered that the race date worked well into our schedules, it was a no brainer to sign up.

What was awesome was that my Sis-in-Law, Mom-in Law, and Dad-in-Law all decided to also register in order to make it a family affair!

I chose to wake up at the b-crack of dawn in order to drive the slightly over an hour trek to Toledo on race morning.  The 5K was supposed to start at 8:30, which meant I needed to get to Toledo by 7:20 or so.  I got on the road exactly when anticipated and the drive was pretty uneventful, finding race parking was easy, and we had a slight walk across the Zoo to get near the start line.  It was going to be good weather, a large crowd of >800 runners, and hopefully a good race.

Unfortunately, it was announced about 10′ to the start that the race was going to be delayed by 15′.  Not gonna lie, I am never happy when races delay the start.  To me, unless there are unforeseen circumstances, the race should start on time.  Everyone knows when it starts and it’s your job to get yourself to the start, get your bib pinned, use a bathroom (like a potty trained adult should know how), and line up before the gun goes off.  End rant.  The extra time did allow me to loosen up a little more and do some much needed hamstring stretching.

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Once the race finally started, I found myself without a good race plan.  It’s been a while since I’d done a 5K, so I had no expectations other than coming in under 22 minutes (speed often gets sacrificed when I’m training long).  The course was a large out and back and I positive split the hell out of it.   **bad Eli**.  My first mile was somewhere in the 6:40 territory and then each mile got progressively slower.  I was running in no man’s land and I was behind a kid that kept farting every 50 yards or so (we’ve all been there, amIright, as both farter and fartee) and completely lost my mental game.  The turn into the Zoo had us running a bunch of quick turns and circles, and I lost any possible kick I usually have due to this.  I know I’m being an excuse factory.  I still managed to find some energy and kick in to finish in 21:44 (my watch time, I somehow didn’t get a chip time and received gun time).  Not exactly where I was hoping to be fitness wise, but this race had a couple big hills and lots of sharp turns at the end, so it is what it is.

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Serving melted face/seen a ghost since 1985

Final Finish: 21:44
Females: 7/460
30-34 AG: 1/78

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I run sometimes because of and mostly for this kid

Hubs came in shortly after, as did Kristyn, MIL/FIL while toting my Toddler J.  I’m proud of them all for completing a challenging race and hopefully having a good time doing it!

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Family Finish


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Race Recap: Mother of All Races 10K

This race happened because I was in town visiting my parents, because…Mother’s Day.  What better way to celebrate a major holiday than marking it with a race?  Yes, there are better ways to celebrate, and we made sure to do all of them…after.  The Mother of All Races 10K/5K is held in Canal Fulton on each Mother’s Day.  I haven’t run this race in a few years, and the last time I participated it was just a 5K.  And maybe it should stay that way.

The race entry fee is kind of pricey for a 10K–$40.  Plus I missed the “register by this date to get a shirt”, but I was informed I could always buy a shirt on race day.  For an extra $10.  Just a little helpful hint, any extra shirts should be used on a first come, first serve basis for preregistered/race day registrants.  So what did my $40 buy me? This race left me with a “meh” feeling and it’s probably not one I’ll do again.

The 10K started right on time at 8 AM, the 5K competitive walk and 5K run started at 8:15 and 8:30 respectively.  There were only 100 runners in the 10K, so the race spaced out pretty quickly.  I found myself running step for step with another runner, which really helped push me and keep me honest for the first few miles.  I totally forgot to start my watch at the beginning and figured out my dumbassness by Mile 1, so I only had data on 5.2 miles.  Math skills allow me to deduce my first mile clocked in at 7:01.

I pressed on, as the course entered “downtown” Canal Fulton.  Miles 2 was a 7:17.

The course rolled quite a bit, there was a nice uphill at around 2.5 miles in.  We continued a long straightaway as we paralleled the Towpath.  Mile 3 was a 7:21.

There was a sharp turnaround and then we were onto the Towpath.  I love the Towpath.  I wish a Towpath existed in Huron.  I have run some of my fastest miles along that ish.  At the turnaround I realized that while I sat in 1st (small race field), there were 2 girls firmly plastered on my rear end.  Like plaster of Paris.  Hoping I could shake them by picking up my pace, Mile 4 was a 7:08.  It didn’t work, they liked my rear.

I kept trying to push, as Mile 5 clocked a 7:12.  It was at this point that the 2nd place female came even to me, but didn’t seem interested in really dusting me.  She went past me, but I was able to keep about 6-7 seconds behind.

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Oh look…right when I got passed!

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Ugh…this starting to hurt

Mile 6 was back on the road, and it meant back to some rolling hills.  Mile 6 was a 7:16 and ended with a nasty hill.  I am not a good hill runner, but I closed the gap and was on her heels by the final turn.  I knew it was going to hurt and the feeling of puke did cross my mind, but I ran as hard as I could to pass her.  And finished 4 seconds ahead.  I’m glad no photo finish exists because I’m pretty sure I was serving melted face, flailing arms, and jello legs.

Final Finish: 44:49 (7:13/mile)
1st OA

The reason why this race left me feeling “meh” was the after.  No age group awards were handed out for the 10K (even though it was advertised as such and awards were given to both the 5K run and 5K competitive walk), leaving a really disgruntled group of runners.   The overall awards (for 5k/10k) were just medals without any engraving on them.  No name of race, no denomination of 1st/2nd/3rd, etc.  A medal that if I don’t write with sharpie marker on, I’ll probably forget why I even have it.  These are fine for age group awards, but I would hope that the overall awards could be a bit more.  Hopefully the race organizers fix their issues for next year because they very well could be losing a handful of participants.

Pros: challenging 10K course partially run on the Towpath, photo booth for pre/post race pictures, fun Mother/Son/Daughter categories, good post-race food, good volunteer support
Cons: very pricey given not everyone got a shirt, awards were not given out as advertised and should be upgraded, no apology being issued (to this point in time) to runners in 10K

Addendum: apparently this race has issued an apology email as of yesterday (I didn’t get sent it, though, somehow) and tried to clarify the confusion on awards and they plan to make things right by sending out awards for age group winners


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Race Recap: Glass City Marathon (Half)

The Glass City Marathon weekend is something I am really starting to look forward to each year (can’t you tell? I pooped out this blog post same day-ha, poop, convenient word choice).  This year was my 3rd time running the Half Marathon and I’ve always enjoyed sharing my training over the 3 month time period leading up to race day.  As inconsistent in blogging as I can be, I try to be somewhat consistent for this race.  Why?  As a UT graduate (x2), I always look forward to going back to campus, seeing what has changed since last time I visited, and seeing how great the NW Ohio running community is to rally around supporting a large (and growing) running event.  I will now get off my soapbox and continue with my recap…

I really enjoyed this weekend so much because I got to spend time with my parents.  I got to show them things I spent the better part of 7 years taking in.  We stayed at the Radisson Hotel at UTMC and the accomodations were great.  My only gripe would be to not offer a breakfast buffet (for runners) that starts at 6 AM.  Ain’t no runner going to be eating a buffet an hour before race time.

We ate our breakfast in the room, I ate my typical long-run staple: a bagel with cream cheese and 2 cups of coffee.  Tick, tock…like clockwork, in 20 minutes the potty was my friend and we were good to go.  Or so I thought.

We arrived a little later than planned to park on campus at 6:15 and I immediately took off to investigate the Port-o-Pot situation.  My assessment was quick and we proceeded towards the start line.  The corrals quickly filled up and my only gripe about the set-up was that either the “B” corral was not big enough (maybe wave starts are the way to go in the future) or late arriving runners didn’t go to their appropriate start area.  Either way, once the race started, I had a hard time moving.  Like a really hard time.  We stayed packed together like cattle for a while, I had a hard time passing people because it was just too congested.  I was not happy.  Races shouldn’t be determined in the first mile.  While the plan was to go slower the first 3 miles, I didn’t want to go THAT slow.
Mile 1–8:26 Move it or lose it, people
Mile 2–7:50 Along Dorr Street, turning up Secor. Baby Hill.
Mile 3–7:48 Along Secor, approaching turn into Ottawa Hills. Flat.
Mile 4–7:26 Just looked at Garmin and realized Mile 1 was terrible.
Mile 5–7:41 Ok.  Reign it in, let’s do this baby hill situation through the appropriately named Ottawa Hills.
Mile 6–7:36 Felt a little fancy again.
Mile 7–7:34 Feeling good, feeling great.  Wishing I could have gotten into this stride earlier.
Mile 8–7:36 Still feeling good. I got this.
Mile 9–7:22 Will you quit running so fast idiot?!  Definitely missed the Wildwood section here.  Also where I started playing mind games and dedicating miles to people.  Mile 9 was for my husband.  No surprise it was also my fastest mile.
Mile 10–7:35 I dedicated this mile to my Dad.  He has always been there for me, works hard in everything he does, is a wonderful father and grandfather, and a mean T-Rex race walker.  This was also around the time that my stomach started to turn.  And I desperately prayed I wouldn’t need to stop at the Port-O-Pot.  AGAIN.
Mile 11–7:34 Dedicated to my Mom.  She is my rock, my support, and does so much for me and my family.  She is definitely a TGIF=This Grandma is Fabulous.
Mile 12–7:48  Dedicated to my sweet Baby James.  This is really when my stomach hated me, my legs grew heavy, but thoughts were directed towards that curly redhead.
Mile 13–7:44 This mile and the rest were for me.  I’ve worked so hard to get myself back in shape since having James.  I try to do my best in everything I do, with all the different hats I wear: Wife, Mommy, Daughter, Aunt, Cousin, Sister, Physical Therapist, Runner, and Semi-Retired Soccer Player.  And gosh darn it, I trained so hard for this race.  Even if my training could have gone better, I put in the work.
Final 0.26 (a good tangent runner I am not, especially when in crowds)–1:50. I had nothing left in the tank.  I probably could have run the last 3 miles better if I weren’t having to remind myself not to trust a fart after Mile 5.  But I finished.

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Final Finish: 1:41:55. (7:46/mile)
A new half marathon PR and a new GCM Course PR for me.  It makes me excited for what I’m capable of when I’m not skipping out on long runs, having to cross train instead of run for over a week, and can really crank out a good training cycle.

Both my parents also rocked it out, my Dad finished in 2:28:29 and my Mom finished in 1:59:23.  It was wonderful being able to share a special race with them.

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Thanks Glass City Marathon 2016 Edition.  It’s been real…fun.