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Monday, October 29, 2007

No longer 5k virgins!

My girls rocked it this weekend! Both not only finished their respective 5k races, but they both came in under their respective goal times! Yahoo!

First up was the Bench Bar Halloween 5k in downtown Cleveland with Kristen. I picked her up at 7:20 AM and she was filled with anticipation (the good kind). The race was also a costume contest, but we didn't dress up (we did match though). My favorite costume was a man in a full Eeyore suit!

Us in matching outfits (we didn't coordinate the red undershirt) and almost matching numbers:

The weather was a brisk 55 degrees made more brisk by the windy conditions. Shortly after we took off, I lost my hat to the wind, but managed to go back and grab it. The first mile included a nice descent, which Kristen commented "I'm not looking forward to going back up that." I told her not to worry. She kept up a nice pace that was faster than goal pace (didn't want to scare her though by telling her that).

Soon enough, we were heading back up that hill. She was breathing hard and I told her just to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I informed her that she wasn't allowed to walk (even though I did on my first 5k - it was her goal not to walk a step of it, so I was being a meanie for her own good). I told her that as soon as we hit the top, her breathing would return to normal and we would have the added advantage of the wind at our backs. She never walked, finished strong and came in at 36:15, over 3 minutes faster than her goal time of 40 minutes. Way to go KB!!

After the race, Kristen headed off with her new beau and I worked a few hours at my office downtown (after showering of course). I then headed to Michigan to hang out with my friend Jen and her lovely family. They fed me a yummy dinner (baked chicken, green beans and squash) and then Jen and I danced (kids called it a "dance party") and jump roped with her two kids for about an hour. We settled down to watch the OSU game and then headed to bed.

I am used to Matt being up at the crack of dawn, so it was weird to wake up at the late hour of 6:45 AM and have a house be so quiet. I snuck upstairs, got a bowl of cereal and then headed to the utility room to play with their two new adorable kittens (Minnie and Belle). Soon enough, Jen was awake and we were on our way to the race, which was held at the University of Toledo.

The race directors were from a college fraternity. They showed up 30 minutes later than advertised. The kids were all wearing the same type of outfit - hooded frat sweatshirt, jeans and flip flops. Now, I haven't mentioned yet that it was 35 freakin' degrees out! Flip flops?! Well, young people seem to have different thermometers than us old people. Despite the late start, we managed to start the race mostly on time.

Unlike Saturday's race, this race was sunny, cold and calm on a pancake flat course. I couldn't feel my hands for the first mile. Luckily, they warmed up. Jen was astonished at her first mile split of 10 minutes. It was her fastest mile yet! Race day does do amazing things to the body and spirit. Like Kristen, Jen didn't want to walk either. I tried not to push her too hard, but did make her pick up the pace in the last half-mile as she requested. She sprinted so fast in the last 1/10 mile that I could barely keep up. Her goal time was 33 minutes and she finished in 31:36. Her average pace was faster than any of her training run mile splits. Fabulous job buddy!

Here is a picture of Jen with the popsicle sticks they handed to us to mark our race position at the finish:

Here we are at the finish together (love you Jen!):

I have to say that while I enjoy racing for myself, it was totally a joy to live vicariously through my buddies experiencing their first 5k ever. Now, I'm trying to talk each of them into considering a half-marathon in the next year or two. I'll keep you posted if I make any headway there.

Well, I better get back to work. I'm leaving for Hawaii on Wednesday and still have much to do here. I'll be out of blogland after tomorrow for a couple weeks. Hope all of you have a safe and happy couple of weeks!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Remembering how it began

Back in 2000, I attended an actuarial exam preparation seminar. While it didn't help me pass the exam, I did discover the joy of running. I was already a weight lifter and did aerobics, but the gym at this hotel was lacking in those amenities. Instead, they had a ton of treadmills. One of my seminar mates talked me into trying running on the treadmill. So, I banged out my first mile run in many, many years. It took me 14 minutes, but I did it.

Fast forward a few months to June 2001 and I'm still going about 1 mile, maybe 1.5 on the treadmill with an average speed of 11-12 minutes per mile. My friend, Nicole (DWD buddy), talked me into trying a 5k. We signed up for the Ambulance Chase run that wound through downtown Cleveland. I hadn't run more than 1.5 miles, so I was nervous, but her husband said he'd stick with me. And, he did. He kept me distracted and helped me finish my first 5k ever in 31 minutes flat. I almost threw up at the end, but I was so hooked. Of course, another friend talked me into triathlons that next summer and the rest is history.

Why am I going down memory lane? Well, two of my friends are running their first 5ks this weekend and I get the pleasure of escorting them for it.

Kristen and I are doing a 5k in downtown Cleveland tomorrow morning. She is my wonderful friend and also a damn fine massage therapist. She keeps me running each month. I know she is nervous, but she will be great! She has prepared well! Here is a picture of us at her birthday party this summer.

Jen and I are doing a 5k in Toledo on Sunday morning. She has been my friend longer than anyone I know and is one of the kindest people I've ever met. Now, she can be a runner pal as well! I get to visit her and her family on Saturday night, so that is an extra bonus! Here is a picture of us from September 2002 (I'll get more current pictures this weekend, I promise).

I'm very proud of my girlfriends. I know they will run strong and hope they will get hooked on the finish line rush also. I can never have too many running girlfriends!

I leave you with a moment of zen (Jen, I know you love John Stewart, so this is for you). It is a picture of me at a costume biathlon 5 years ago.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Stompin' the Grapes

I woke up Saturday morning and felt sick to my stomach. No, I wasn't nervous. I think the cold medicine upset my stomach. But, I rallied and we headed down to Canton to pick up my mom and then to Navarre for the race start.

The race start/finish was at the Perennial Vineyards out in the middle of nowhere. They actually had two buffalo on the property. I wish I had the foresight to get a picture of them. But, here is one with my fabulous mother!

The day dawned bright and sunny, but there was a cold wind. I debated whether wearing a tank top was a good idea, but it warmed up enough to justify the outfit. I'm so glad I went that route too, because I was hot on that run!

Mom walked with us to the start line. A little after 9 the gun went off and we were off running. The first mile was mostly downhill and the wind was at our back, so I wasn't too surprised to see 8:34 on my watch. That was the fastest mile I've ran in a long time. From there on out, I was pretty consistent at around 9:20-9:30 pace.

At mile 2, my shins hurt, but the pain went away as I warmed up. At mile 4, the by-product from my cold made it so I couldn't breathe through my nose, but thankfully, I could breathe through my mouth. My mile 4 split was 37:48. Here is an official course picture of me running (in the background).

Around mile 6, I kept trading places with this one girl. When we made the turn onto the Towpath, we started chatting. It was her first half-marathon and she was maybe 20 years old. I kept pacing us along until she dropped back to walk some at mile 9 (I checked that she did finish). For some reason, I just kept feeling strong/consistent the whole time. At mile 8, I was at 1:15:54 (still 9:30 pace).

At mile 10, we got off the Towpath and back onto the road we had traversed down originally. So, I headed into the wind and up the hill. It was brutal, but my iPod kept me chugging forward. I passed a ton of people in those last 3 brutal miles. One of the people I passed was this lady in green that I had been targeting from mile 5 when she passed me (she works with my mom, so it was a friendly targeting). : )

The last hill was the steepest and my stomach churned, but I didn't stop to walk. I made the turn into the winery and ran the 100 yards to the finish. My final time was 2:04:51 (9:27 pace on my Garmin, which said 13.2 miles).

I finished 13th out of 32 woman in my age group, 51st out of 141 women and 161st out of 293 people. Overall, I'm very pleased with my performance. It was my 2nd fastest half-marathon ever and I ran a very consistent and strong race. After mile 6, I only got passed once by a relay runner. Not too shabby for a random Saturday morning with no specific training.

The race venue was very cool. There was wine at the finish, but unfortunately I didn't see it. They also offered cheese, crackers, grapes, bananas and Subway sandwiches. They gave a long-sleeved running shirt as the shirt and a souvenir one-time use ChampionChip with the course logo on it.

Matt had his fastest race of the year too. We rocked it baby! Great to see Daisy out there as well (she snagged 2nd in her age group).

Friday, October 19, 2007


I've always been a big believer of the power of positive thought. Instead of letting the cold take you down, think positive thoughts that it isn't going to get you (or if it is, it isn't going to stay long).

I think my cold is on the way out. Monday night and Tuesday were bad, but I'm significantly better now. I've had three good sweaty workouts that I think will help escort the cold out of my body (my nurse mother says that as long as the illness isn't in your chest or stomach, continue to exercise, so I shall).

Good workout #1: 45-minute run on Wednesday night on the bridle trails - last 15 minutes in the pitch dark - thank goodness for headlamps (and for my fellow runner husband!)

Good workout #2: 45-minute Thursday morning sweaty trainer ride (first one since the spring - didn't hate it like I thought I would)

Good workout #3: 60-minute Friday morning crazy crossfit workout with hubby - we did:
- 15 minutes of stretching
- 10 minutes of running (bump up speed every 2 minutes)
- 15 pushups, 15 situps, 10 assisted pullups, 10 assisted dips
- 10 minutes of rowing machine
- repeat pushup, etc. set
- 10 minutes of stair mill machine
- repeat pushup, etc. set
- 5 minutes walking cooldown
It was sweaty, hard good times!

Of course, workout 3 was probably not the wisest given that we have our last half-marathon of the year tomorrow morning, but Matt pointed out that it wasn't going to be a PR type of race anyway. I haven't really been training for that. We'll see how it goes.

NE Ohio continues to surprise with the abnormally warm temperatures. I'm not complaining. Sunday's leisurely bike ride in 75 degree weather in late October will be wonderful! Have a great one everybody!

Special shoutout to Charlie, TriAl and E-Speed doing their marathons on Sunday! Good luck and have fun!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


If it weren't bad enough that I had to sit through meetings all day, I also contracted a cold with symptoms showing around 4-5 PM yesterday.

Usually, I can fool myself into thinking I'm not getting sick, do a good, hard workout and it goes away.

Unfortunately, this cold snuck up on me and hit with full gale force. I barely slept last night, because my raw throat kept waking me up - so much for feeling no pain when you are unconscious.

But, on the bright side, at least it is happening now instead of 2 weeks from now. Why, you ask? Because, Matt and I are going to Hawaii for 2 weeks on October 31. Wahoo! It will be my first time ever there and I hear it is wonderful. We'll be visiting Oahu for 3 days, big island for 4 days and Kauai for 7 days.

Speaking of Wahoo, the tribe won their 2nd game against the BoSox last night. Just 2 more and we are on to the World Series! We were there before 10 years ago, but the win has escaped us. I'm hopeful that this is Cleveland's year to shine (we did go to the NBA finals this year too). Go Tribe!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hanging with the "S" Ladies

Sorry it has been awhile since my last blog. Work is busy. I should be working now, but thought I'd get a quick blog in first while the office is still empty.

Apparently, I have a lot of friends whose first name begins with "S". I hung out with many (but not all) of them this past weekend.

Saturday night was my friend Stacey's wedding. She met her husband at a singles Valentine's Day party thrown by CTC member, Ben. She's not a triathlete, but she was always my wingman, so I talked her into going to the party with me so I could see Matt (we had our first date a few days earlier). She met Dave there and the rest is history. Isn't she a beautiful bride?

The friend who introduced me to Stacey was also at the wedding. People always think Steff and I are sisters (must be the pale skin, short stature and blonde hair). I think we might just let them keep believing that. What do you think?

A picture of Matt (debonair in his suit) and me at the wedding:

Matt took this picture of the back of my head, so I thought I'd share it to round out the haircut pictures:

For my birthday present, Stacey made me take home a bunch of roses:

On Sunday night, Suzi and Sam took me out to dinner at a local favorite restaurant of mine. Aren't they the cutest? (Suzi and I also get mistaken as sisters - lucky us!)

Not much to share in other news. I'm still working out once a day. The weather has turned cold literally overnight. Rainy too. Last night, I ran with the CTC group in the dark, rain and cold on the bridle trails of North Chagrin. It was an adventure!

That's about it for me. Better get back to work. Hope all is well in blogland!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Officially 36

With the change in USAT rules, a girl born late in the year has to face the fact that she is turning a year older sooner. I suppose it helps when the actual day does come.

So, now Matt and I are both officially 36. I learned today that he and I were both due on the exact same day (September 18 - my mother-in-law's birthday). He was a week late and I was almost 3 weeks late. I guess I needed to bake a little longer.

I talked to my mom today and she says she still remembers seeing me for the very first time. When I was born, I was whisked away from her, because I was in distress (turned blue for a brief time while my systems were sorting themselves out - I was born face up which didn't help matters). Later, when all was okay, I was presented to her and she still remembers it. Mom, thanks for carrying me, raising me and loving me unconditionally! You rock! It's been a great 36 years so far!

In other news, I'm beginning to get my willpower back, both for eating and working out. I've gained 5 pounds since Ironman and I'd like to stay there. My new fuel belt is a little tight as are some of my pants. Oh well, I'm back on the wagon again.

I've also picked out my next race. After reading DaisyDuc's blog, I checked out the Stomp the Grapes half-marathon and it looks like a cool, little race. My mom lives near there, so Matt and I can hang out with her after we race. Plus, I get to make up the half-marathon that I left out there with my DNF last month.

In other random news, my new haircut has gone over well for the most part. One of my co-workers did tell me that she "hated my haircut", but she has an irrational bias towards long hair and apparently a propensity for being rude, so I won't hold it against her. I like it, Matt likes it and that is good enough for me. My tattoo is also healing nicely and I heart it!

Okay, better get outside to enjoy some of this unseasonably warm and beautiful weather in NE Ohio. Have a great weekend everyone! I leave you with a picture of me as a baby - oh, so many years ago!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Feeling a little lost

Before I did Ironman Lake Placid, I was worried that I'd be bummed out after it was over. I wasn't. Part of that was due to the fact that I still had 2 races on my calendar and was still working with my coach.

Now, my races are all over and I am no longer officially working with my coach as of this past Sunday. I don't know what I'll be doing next year, so I couldn't justify the expense of a coach unfortunately. I thought I'd be relieved that my schedule was under my jurisdiction again, but instead, I just feel lost.

I've been working with Angela for 2 years now and she is a fabulous coach and friend! She has always believed in my abilities even when I doubted myself. She has talked me down when my injuries threatened to throw my mental game off the ledge. She has pushed me enough (but not too much) to be better than I ever dreamed I could be.

With Angela, I have successfully completed many races, including Ironman Lake Placid (of course), Barb's Race half-Ironman (associated with Vineman race), Race for Recovery half-Ironman, 2 Dances with Dirt races, the Cleveland marathon and countless half-marathons, 10-milers, Olympic distance triathlons, etc. Many of those races resulted in a new personal best. Can you tell that I think she rocks?!

I also have attended 3 of her triathlon camps with the last one actually in Lake Placid. They were tough camps, but my confidence grew exponentially at each of them.

Now, she has other athletes to care for, but I know she still loves me and will miss my anal on-time self. Luckily, she lives in the area, so I can still attend her group sessions occasionally.

Angela, thanks so much for being my coach and good friend! I love you!