Monday, May 19, 2014

Experiences from a Cleveland Marathon Water stop

Yesterday, while enjoying a post race Summer Shandy.  I was surfing the inter webs and came across this post.  After my race yesterday, I volunteered for the rest of the day at a water stop.  What's written below mimics my experiences that I had yesterday afternoon.  So, I wanted to share it with all of you as it contains some excellent points on what was happening yesterday at the Cleveland Marathon.

To Whom It May Concern: 

I am a runner.  I have run marathons, 5K's, and everything in between.  Today I volunteered to help at the last water stop of your marathon.  I cannot tell you how important that last water stop is to marathoners.  Many times I have had volunteers hand me a beer to get me through my last mile, I've had people run with me for a while to keep pace through the last mile, I've had volunteers cheer me on with rowdy behavior and cowbells.  This is the most important part of the "marathon experience".  Period. Our group volunteers to work the last water stop every year.  We understand the importance of this stop, because we are runners.  We pace the elite to hand out water, we encourage people with our, sometimes, crazy behavior, we ring cowbells, we run with those that are having trouble finishing, and we have camaraderie with those that are running.  We are runners. Today, I witnessed what can only be called a gigantic train wreck at the last water stop.
First of all with the course changing this year, we were no longer placed at mile 25.  We were back closer to mile 24.  This is completely unacceptable at a marathon.  The last water stop 2 miles out, and the remainder of the course was uphill.  I am unsure if this was totally poor planning, or if our tables were dropped at the wrong location.
Our group was paired with another group, running the mile 11 half marathon water stop.  This group was not runners.  Here's a list of what I witnessed this group do today: Mixing Powerade with bare hands.  Yep, nothing but a hand all the way in the Powerade bucket.  One gentleman was smoking a cigarette over the water table.  Their volunteers were holding cups with their fists, or with fingers in them.  Several times, I witnessed cups fall to the ground, and they were picked up and reused.  The Powerade that was being poured was incredibly diluted, and in fact I actually heard one gentleman say, as he was filling up cups on the marathon side, "We're running low on Powerade. Just dilute it."  I corrected him, and the response I received was that he was told to do it by the head volunteer. Surely somewhere it is in the volunteer handbook it clearly states that diluting Powerade/Gatorade is quite simply, incredibly dangerous, especially if today would have been hotter.
The half marathon volunteers used all of the trash bags, when our group went to clean up, we could only rake cups into a pile, and had to wait until the very end to finally get trash bags.  (Even though they had been requested several times.)  Having the shoreline open during a race was ridiculous.  There were runners, running in the lane that was open.  Clearly no one explained to them that this lane had moving traffic in it.  Oh, and it's totally unsafe.  Once the half marathon side opened for traffic, volunteers were having to dodge traffic to get to the other side in order to  fill up water buckets, get more cups, and to move tables.  At ten minutes until 1, the gentleman came around to collect the porta potties.  Isn't the course open for 7 hours?  There are quite a few marathoners coming through still, and there are still volunteers and spectators.  He told me that he was told to remove porta potties at 1.  On the marathon course too?  Well, that's nice.  Let's remove the porta potty the last 1.5 miles.  I requested he leave it, which he did, and then witnessed volunteers and runners continue to use it until course was wrapped up.  
All and all, my day today was amazing!  I paced some of the most elite athletes in the World to hand them water.  I ran with a buddy on his way to a PR.  I ran a mile with a young man who was running his first marathon, and was about to walk the rest of the way, and kill his shot at a 3.5 hour marathon. I didn't know him, but watched him as far as I could and he ran.  HE RAN!  I watched the children at my water stop give hugs; hugs to sweaty runners that needed them.  I ran a mile with a lady who was about to give up.  She didn't.  That's what today was about.  Encouraging others to accomplish a goal.  A goal they have trained for.  A goal they have dedicated themselves to.  A goal they have sacrificed for.  A goal WE have cried, bled, and sweat through.  
Get it together Cleveland.  It's about the runners.  Not about not having enough Powerade, how soon you can take up the porta potties, or how quickly you can open up the shoreline.  It's about them.  Get it together Cleveland..........

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 10K training - Week 20

As I write this we are now under 14 days till the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.  I hope everyone's training has gone well this Spring and for you endurance runners.  I hope the taper craziness hasn't been too bad.

Despite what has been an abnormally cool Spring.  I've continued to get in some strong work this past week.  I've been sticking with my same program of rides and runs.  It's continued to provide a good benefit to me as I lost another 2 pounds this past week.  Bringing my training total to 18.  I'm looking forward to this year and seeing what benefits the lighter weight will provide.  I also added some hill work into my runs this past week.  If you're not adding it to your training routine, then you should.  As its a great way to add power.

The weatherman keeps promising a warm up this week.  We'll see if it actually happens.  Hopefully everyone is finishing strong with their training.

I got another run in this week with Mack.  He's now up to 3 miles and doing great!

Monday:  22.23 mile ride

Tuesday:  16.41 mile ride / weights

Wednesday:  23.11 mile ride / 4.30 mile run

Thursday:  11.79 mile run / 2.50 mile run

Friday:  Rest day

Saturday:  6.25 mile run

Sunday:  Rest day

Total Miles:  86.60

Calories Burned:  7,574

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 10K Training - Week 19

The countdown to race weekend keeps getting smaller and smaller.  This was probably our best weather week yet in 2014.  My fingers are crossed that we've finally turned the corner.  I'm pretty happy with how this week went.  I was off this past week and took advantage of the free time to get in some solid training.  How do I know it was solid training?  I lost 5 pounds this past week, which makes for a total of 16 pounds lost this training cycle.

My primary focus this week was both brick work and weight training.  Doing this type of training provides me with several benefits.  Not only does it help me prepare for multi-sport races, but it also helps a lot with my running.  My plan of attack for this coming week is to begin extending some of my runs.  I will be focusing on the 10K distance and finishing endurance for miles 5-6.2.  Hope everyone's training is going well and you're taking advantage of this nice weather.

Mack joined me for part of my run this Sunday.  He's getting really good and is ready for more miles.  Maybe even a 5K someday. 

Monday:  Rest day

Tuesday:  22.13 mile ride / 3.19 mile run

Wednesday:  5.29 mile run / weights

Thursday:  4.22 mile run / 16.30 mile ride / weights

Friday:  3.25 mile run / 18.23 mile ride

Saturday:  6 mile run

Sunday:  6.23 mile run.

Total Miles:  84.84

Calories Burned:  8,581


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 10K - Week 18 training

Rejoice people of Northeast Ohio.  I looks like Spring is finally here, or atleast judging be the end of last week.  It was a rough start with rain on Monday and snow on Tuesday, but I was able to get outside to train the rest of the week.  I've begun to focus on a few different things in my training.  Not only is the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon approaching, but also a couple duathlons.  For those of you who are not familiar with a duathlon.  Its like a Triathlon, but instead of swimming the first leg.  You do a run.  So, it's typically a run/ bike / run.  I've also started lifting again to help with my races and also to get ready for a vacation I have shortly after the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.

This was a good block of training.  It's a little different from those of you who are training for the marathon as when taper begins, those of us doing shorter races are ramping things up.  Hopefully everyone's training is going well and your excitement for race day is starting to build like mine.  My plan for this week is to continue to build on last week.  

Meet my running buddy last week, Mack.  He's the new girl's 9 month old Golden Doodle.
Excuse the alien eyes as those are from the camera's flash. 

Monday:  4 mile run.

Tuesday:  4.50 mile run.

Wednesday:  6 mile run / 30 minute weights

Thursday:  4.50 mile run / 30 minute weights

Friday:  22 mile ride

Saturday:  22.23 mile ride / 30 minute ride. 

Sunday:  4.13 mile run. 

Total miles:  83.74

Calories burned:  7,790

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 10K Training Recap

This month began with a lot of excitement.  I had hoped the worst of winter was over and that it was time for some warmer temps.  Well, that's how March usually is around here.  Instead we had another month of freezing temps and snow.  I had hoped for  two "50+ degree" days a week, but it felt like we had two all month.  Apart from the crappy weather, my training went really well.   As I was able to string some solid runs and rides together.  I had been fighting some slight discomfort in my hip, but I dialed things back a few times and I do feel better now while riding and my stride seems to be much smoother when running.

Lots to look forward too in April.  Depending on the weather, I hope to get in some solid outdoor workouts and maybe a race or two.   I need to log some outdoor workouts to get ready.  I also need to focus on getting to my race weight by Spring.  The best news of March is that I'm down 6 pounds for the month.  Hopefully we have some dry weekends

Running:  42.13 miles

Cycling:  201.10 miles

Total:  243.23 miles

Calories burned:  27,598

Monday, March 24, 2014

We have a winner.

Last Monday I started my contest to win free entry into the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.  I am happy to announce that Kelly Heller won the contest!!!  Congrats Kelly and thank you to all of you that have entered.

Training continues to go well despite the weather.  I competed recently in St. Malachi 5 miler.  This was my 4th year doing this race, but it was extra special to me as the new lady was cheering me on at the finish line.  It was hard for her to be there to support me and it meant so much to hear them cheering me on at the finish.

Despite Spring beginning last weekend, it continues to feel like winter.  This past block of training,  I've been focusing on running and riding.  Those are my two favorite workouts to combine and it seems to help with my running.  According to our 10 day forecast,  we should see a warm up in a couple days.  Hopefully this forecast holds true as I am sure we are all anxiously awaiting Spring.  It won't be too much longer before we are cheering on those Cleveland Indians.  So, hopefully mother nature gets it together and the weather improves.

Today marks 54 days till the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.   It's time to finish strong with your training and not to get your head down with these inclement weather conditions.  Lots of fun things to look forward too as race day approaches like taper, picking out your race outfit, new race shoes, and seeing everyone on race day.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Win free entry to the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon

Hey everybody

I hope everyone's training has been going well.  This has probably been the most frustrating winter I can remember.  Good news is that we've had a couple 50 degree days recently and a few more coming up in our 10 day forecast.  Speaking of news, lots of big news recently from the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.  For those of you who aren't aware.  This year's race will feature all new routes!!!  Recently, the organizers for the race reach out us runners for on feedback on route changes.  It was an overwhelming response that the race switch to an all Westside route.  It was really nice of them to take our opinions and change the route based on our feedback.   I'm a 2-time Rite Aid Cleveland Marathoner and admit there will be pieces of the Eastside portion that will be missed, but I think everyone will be pleased to see more of what the Westside has to offer.  I've been a resident of the Westside for 17 months now and know that it will be an amazing setting to host the 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.

To celebrate the new routes, the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon has graciously awarded me to opportunity to give away a FREE ENTRY to either the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, or Full Marathon!!!!!!

This contest will last until Monday 3/24/14 and is only open to those who have not registered.  To enter:  please leave a comment with your name, direct message me @Beal88 on twitter, direct message me on Facebook, or leave a comment on my Facebook post.

I had wanted to post some route photos, but my phone is being a jerk and won't upload them to my computer.  So, below is a link to the website where you can find the routes.  Hopefully I can get them uploaded and add them later.  I also hope to bike ride these routes prior to race day to provide some feedback.

New routes

Good Luck!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Training: Weeks 7 and 8

The past two weeks have been pretty frustrating to say the least.  Old man winter still has a firm grip on Northeast Ohio.  It seems like we keep going from days with negative temps to days with snow storms. This has been the worst winter I can remember.  I guess I should be happy that I am focusing more on shorter distances this Spring instead of endurance races.  I'd be staying away from sharp objects if I was trying to do long runs every weekend.  I still have been able to ride outside yet this year.  Being prepared for Barry Roubaix this year has turned from reality to a dream.  One bright spot over the past two weeks is that I been doing more outdoor runs.  Even got in some sweet hill work this past week.

Enough with the negativity.  There are some positives to look forward too.  March is finally here which means we will finally see temps creep into the 40's and 50's every now and then.  High school swimming is now complete, so many of your local pools will be free during the afternoon.  It feels pretty good that the worst of it is now over.  The focus over the next 2 weeks will be getting back on track with training and weight loss.  Also, I will be getting back into the pool and getting outside as much as possible.

Look for a new post next week where I discuss the new race route and give away a free entry!!

Total miles:  104

Training time:  8:54

Calories burned:  9,954

Monday, February 24, 2014

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Training: Weeks 5 and 6.

This was another decent block of training for me.  The good news is that I was able to get outside for some runs.  The bad news, its still been entirely to cold to ride outside.  In my breakdown you can see that i've been focusing more on running lately as it is what the weather has been dictating.  Hopefully in March  I will be able to get outside full time running and riding.  Plus, the local high school will be done with the pool and I will have more access to swim.

This really has been a frustrating winter.  Hopefully things get better soon.  So far it doesn't feel like I am getting behind as I was pretty satisfied with my transition from treadmill running to outdoors.  Each year I've used March 1st as a date in which you can get outside pretty regularly.  Hopefully that holds true again this year.

Week 5

1/20:  25 mile ride

1/21:  6.48 mile run.  

1/22:  6.34 mile run.

1/23:  6.43 mile run.

1/24:  6.50 mile run.

1/25:  6.22 mile run.

1/26:  30 mile ride.  

Week 6

1/27:  6.78 mile run. 

1/28:  6.54 mile run.

1/29:  rest day.

1/30:  6.46 mile run. 

1/31:  rest day.

2/1:  6.86 mile run. 

2/3:  15 mile ride. 


13 workouts

147.61 miles

15,547 calories burned. 


Monday, February 10, 2014

Snow?!?! Again!! Tips to stay on track despite this weather.

Lets face facts.  This is the point of our training when it's time to ramp things up a bit.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature has been doing the same.  2014 has been nothing but below zero temps and snow storms every weekend.  It has been easy this year to get frustrated and even behind in our training.  As a Triathlete, winter can be a hard time.  So we get creative to keep workouts fresh and exciting.  All while doing most of the work indoors.  I thought it would be fun to share some sample workouts of mine that would translate well to running.  Adding some of these will help keep your training on track while keep things fresh in the gym.

A dip in the pool can be a great way to improve your running.  You don't necessarily need to know how to swim either.  All you need is a pool and a kick board.

I've found that kick drills can be a great way to improve your running.  It builds strength in your hips and can provide you with that extra umpth when tackling hills in races.

All you need to do start at end of the pool.  Put your kick board in front of you like the video below and kick 25 yards to the other side.  You can stop with a 15-30 second break before heading back.  Repeat these for 30 minutes.

Spin classes can be a great way to break up the monotony of indoor training.  You can find these classes at your local gym or a private spin studio.  I prefer the private studio as they tend to be more fun.  I get asked a lot about spinning during the winter.  I lot of people are curious about spinning, but are apprehensive about it being too intense.  Let me be the first to tell you, spinning is really only as intense as you make it.  Essentially, you dictate the resistance on the bike.  It's up to you to push yourself.  So, if you're new to it.  Don't worry about making it through class as you can dial back the resistance, but the only way you'll get better is if you keep it on or go harder in your next class.  Another benefit of studios in our areas is they are private, lights are off, and it's not a race.  Many studios are a sanctuary for your work out.  Not a place that fosters competition.  Spinning can help your running as not only do you keep fit, but your heart rate will be elevated like running.

I'm sure everyone reading this has there own ways to deal with running indoors.  I keep things interesting with changing my runs up during the week.  I like to do 1 speed work session during the week.  Essentially, it consists of a 15 minute warm up at easy pace.  Then I do 6-8 intervals of 800 meters at slightly above my 5K pace.  I take a 400 meter rest between intervals and then do a short cool down afterwards.  If you want to add speed during the offseason.  This is the best way to do it.  Another change of pace I do is week is I start the treadmill at a decent pace and then increase the speed slightly each half mile.  I've found that adding these works to my treadmill routine spices things up from just logging miles away at the same pace.

I hope some of these sample workouts help if you are finding yourself in a rut or falling behind in your training.  There's no exact science behind these workouts.  They are just a sample of some things that have helped me with running and training.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon training: Weeks 3 and 4.

If I had a quarter every for time that I was thankful this winter for not doing a Spring distance race.  I'd be rich.  This continues to be the worst winter for training that I can remember.  I've managed to still be productive despite the conditions.  Look for a post later this week on ways you can still improve fitness while training indoors.  

My goal each block of two weeks is to build about 10% over the prior block.  Once I can get outside, I'll start to focus more on speed.  The past 2 weeks I did a much better job balancing running and riding, but I need start fitting in some swims.  I also need to mix in a day off once in awhile.  

Class photo from last Saturday at Psycle.  It was the instructors 1st and she's only 17!  Such an inspiration. 

Week 3

1/20:  6.66 mile run followed by a 18 mile ride brick.

1/21:  23 mile ride. 

1/22:  6.66 mile run.

1/23:  21 mile ride.

1/24:  21 mile ride.

1/25:  Speed work:  15 minute warm up.  6x800 at 7:53 pace.  400 rest.  10 minute cool down.

1/26:  23 mile ride.  

Week 4

1/27:  18 mile ride. 

1/28:  22 mile ride.

1/29:  4.23 mile run.

1/30:  20 mile ride. 

1/31:  Speed work:  15 minute warm up.  6x800 at 7:53 pace.  400 rest.  10 minute cool down.

2/1:  25 mile ride. 

2/3:  27 mile ride. 


15 workouts

246.46 miles

15,258 calories burned. 

Lost a 1 pounds and only 22 till 2014 race weigh goal. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon training: Weeks 1+2

Two weeks of training are already in the books and The Chase is off to a good start.  I stumbled out of the blocks a little due to an issue with a frozen lock and allergies.  Who knew allergens would survive a -40 degree windchill.  I managed to finish strong in week 1, but was disappointed in it being too ride focused.

Week 2 was a pretty solid training block.  I kicked it off with a 2 hour spin class on Monday.  I made a mistake on Tuesday and went to hard on my run, so I spent Wednesday doing a recovery ride to get my legs back.  I finally got back on the speed work bandwagon this past Friday.  I had been doing them on Wednesday's, but got out of sync with the holidays being on that day.

The best news is that I've lost 6 pounds already.  My goal this year is to race 20 pounds less than I did in 2013.  I hope this will help pick up some run speed and with cramping.

Week 1

1/6:  22 mile ride

1/7:  Gym was closed due to Polar Vortex

1/8:  Forced off day due to allergies

1/9:  27 mile ride

1/10:  25 mile ride

1/11:  4.16 mile run

1/12:  27 mile ride

Week 2

1/13:  2 hour spin class

1/14:  4.08 mile run

1/15:  10 mile recovery ride

1/16:  21 mile ride

1/17:  Speed work:  15 minute warm up.  6x800 at 8:00 pace.  400 rest.  10 minute cool down.

1/18:  6.67 mile run.

1/19:  25 mile ride.


13 workouts

218.55 miles

12,275 calories burned.

Lost a 6 pounds and only 23 till 2014 race weigh goal.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

My 2014: The Chase

For most of the year we are very busy and often don't see friends who are training for different disciplines or on different training cycles.  So, the holidays are always a great time to catch up with everyone.  You can always script conversations.  They are divided into 2 parts:  How'd last year go and What are you up too this year?  This past year has been really good to me, except for a horrific bike wreck.  I put my main focus on completing a half ironman and I am happy to say that not only did I survive it, but I finished 2nd in my age group.  I will spare you further details on last year, because I want to talk about 2014 today.

I was lucky enough to be asked to share my Spring training experiences for a 4th year now for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.  For those reading my blog for the first time, I'd like to introduce myself.  My name is Matthew Beal.  My friends know me better as "Beal" and a few who don't know me, probably think my name is Bill.  A few years back I weighed over 330 pounds and almost drowned because I was too out of shape to swim to safety.  It was the wake call I needed and began living a healthy lifestyle.  Since that day I have lost over a 100 pounds and have completed in over a 100 races.  Marathons and Triathlons used to be things that were only dreamed about, but with hard work and dedication.  I now do them regularly.

My 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon blogger profile.

Enough about the past.  Lets talk about the future.  My plan for attack this year wasn't an easy decision.  I was targeting an Ironman in 2014 for the past 2 years, but after doing a half last year.  I needed a break.  Training 15+ hours a week crushed my social life.  I don't want to fall into that same trap this year and I want to keep my New Year's resolution of putting myself out there.  Unlike last year.  So, I will be pushing off the Ironman till 2015 and focusing on shorter races this year.  

2014 will be "The Chase" for me as I will be chasing the HFP Racing Age Group Championship this year.  I'm stealing the whole "The Chase" motto from the Ohio State football team, but it really fits.  We are all chasing something.  Some of us are chasing a goal, some a new distance, a personal record, weight loss, or a healthier lifestyle.  Regardless of what your intent this year is.  Chase it down.  Don't let anything stand in your way of what you set out to do.  

Ok, back to the HFP Championship.  There are 6 pre-selected events and I will need to compete in at least 4.  I will get points for where I finish in my age group.  The final race is in Akron this September and pays double points.  I can't think of a better way to finish off the year than head to my hometown and compete for a championship.  

I will be doing a lot of racing this year and have listed a schedule of events I plan to attend.  I will also be doing the 10K this year at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon as it will fit in better with my program.  So, much last like year. I will be talking about running, cycling, and swimming.  Focusing on  how those activities will help you for your race experience at the Cleveland Marathon.  

Who else is ready for 2014?  Are you ready to join me in The Chase?  If you're ready to lay it all on the line this year and work harder than you ever have before to achieve your goals.  Then join me in The Chase this year.

Fellow marathon blogger, Jessica McCartney joined my in The Chase today.  Check out her blog to hear how spinning has helped her running.  Also, I regularly spin at Psycle and Harness Cycle if you'd like to join the pain fun. 

2014 Race Schedule

1/18:  Harmes Garage Sale 5K
1/25:  Blue Balls and Glass Cutters 5K
2/15:  Chili Bowl 5K
2/22:  Snowball 5K
3/15:  St. Malachi 5 miler
3/22:  Barry-Roubaix 36 mile bike race
4/22:  Buzzard Duathlon
5/10:  Nordonia Hills Duathlon
5/18:  Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 10K
5/25:  Clays Park Triathlon
6/1:  Deer Creek Triathlon
6/8:  Sunday in June 100K
6/14:  Maumee Bay Triathlon
6/22 Bay Village Triathlon
7/6:  Lorain Triathlon
7/13:  Caesar Creek Triathlon
7/19:  Ice Cream Odyssey 100K
7/26:  Bay Village Triathlon 2
7/27:  Fairport Harbor Triathlon
8/17:  Vermillion Triathlon
9/14:  Portage Lakes Triathlon

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Christmas Story 10K

The race bibs for this race were sweet!

This past Saturday I competed in the A Christmas Story 10K.  For those of you who aren't from Cleveland.  The movie A Christmas Story was filmed here locally and released back in 1983.  The house used in the movie is actually located just outside downtown.  A few years back, it was purchased by a fan and completely remodeled to look like it did in the movie.  When the movie was filmed, only the outside was used as the rest was shot on a sound stage.  Surprisingly, they have been able to get both inside and out to completely look like the movie.

A Christmas Story house

A Christmas Story is my favorite holiday movie.  I still remember where I was when I saw it for the first time.  Fun fact:  My dad was a teacher and kids from his class where used as extras during the scene that Ralphie went to see Santa.  Needless to say, I was pretty excited to run from downtown to the house and back.  Plus, waiting for me at the finish would be a "Major Award."

Just like the rest of Fall here in Ohio.  Temps were absolutely frigid Saturday morning.  I met up with my sister, fellow Cleveland Marathon blogger Jessica, and the Heller's prior to the race.  I hid out in Tower City while trying to stay warm.  I made a pretty big mistake getting out the the starting line late.  This race was vastly over-sold and the 10K and 5K were starting at the same time.  Initially, I thought I had lined up correctly.  Except, I was wrong on the starting line location.  I ended up in the back and didn't cross the start line until 10 minutes after the start.

I had no expectations going into this race.  I hadn't ran more than 4/5 miles this fall as I've been focused more on shorter distances and speedwork.  My plan was to have an average pace around 9:20 and if I felt good, maybe average 9:10.

The route

As the race began, I felt really good.  The start was very crowded, but I was able to make up some ground on the outside.  We hung a right turn and headed up the Superior bridge.  I continued to feel strong and pushed the pace further.  I made my next mistake as I saw my friends Steve and Jill.  Yelling "do it for the Bacon", I knocked my headphones out of my ears.  Unable to get them back in with gloves on.  I had to stop take off my gloves and put them back in.  Even with stopping, my first mile was 7:50.

Things began to get worse as my hands began to hurt.  As I approached mile 2, they became completely numb.  Blowing on them and flexing my fingers did nothing to help.  I began to wonder if I should drop out or would I do damage to them if I continued on.  I tried pulling my fingers out of the glove and clinching them in a fist while I left the glove on around my fist.  Thankfully, this worked and I continued on.

My splits

I made it to the house and we split off from the 5K race heading back to town.  The wind was brutal and it seemed to get colder heading back.  I still felt really good and kept running as best I could.  It was still pretty crowded until I got to mile 5.  We headed back over the bridge and this is when things got interesting.  Most were running the sidewalk, but I stuck to the road as it had more traction.  I'm not sure who's bright idea it was, but we had to make a left at the bottom of the bridge on a sidewalk that was nothing, but ice.  Sadly, a lady had just crashed in front of me.  I frantically tried not to break pace as to not slip and headed straight for the grass.  It was really a dangerous situation and I hope nobody got seriously injured.  With a half mile to go, my shoe came untied.  I kept going.  At this point I didn't want to ruin the great run I was having.

brrrrrrrrr....that was cold

I crossed the finish line in 52:06.  It wasn't PR, but this was easily my best running race of 2013.  I never in a million years would have guessed i'd run a 8:28 pace for 6.2 miles.  I was so excited to get my finisher medal and enjoy a well deserved Christmas Ale.  The time was good enough for 38/102 in my age group and 294/1578 overall.

Post race celebrating with Kelly Heller and her husband photo bombing us in the background

My favorite post race tradition....Christmas Ale. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2013 Turkey Trot 5 miler

This was my first time at this race and my first Thanksgiving day race.  Unlike most runners, I'm not a big fan of turkey day races.  My philosophy is that I spend most of the year doing races or workouts that its nice to just have a fat day.  My sister was running this race and talked me into doing it.

It's been a cold November here in Ohio and today was no different.  It was freezing and the wind off Lake Erie cut right through you.  To make things even more pleasant.  It began to snow about an hour before the race.  Luckily, they had a building open for us to stay warm in prior to the race.  Just forget using the potty as the line was as long as the race.

Since it was so cold out.  I made the mistake of being late to the starting line.  This was a pretty large race with close to 8,000 runners.  So, it wasn't a bright idea to start in the back.  During the first mile, I just zigged and zagged.  Trying find open space and dry pavement.  The road was still packed through the first mile and a half.  It was so bad,  I ended up running on the sidewalk to trying to establish a pace.

The route

Next up was the only climb of the race and I made my second mistake of sticking on the sidewalk.  Apparently, quite a few others had the same idea and they all decided to walk up the hill.  To make matters worse the sidewalk is blocked by a cement divider and I had no place to go.  Time was clicking by and I was pinned in till mile 2.  I had a goal of running 45 minutes as I had a Christmas Ale bet with my friend Liz and to have a shot of winning.  I needed to run a 44-45, but was already close to a minute off pace with 3 miles to go.

Elevation chart

The last 3 miles were flat.  The snow was continuing to come down and road conditions became worse with every stride.  I still picked up the pace and planned on trying to run a 5K pace back into town.  Race traffic wasn't terrible the last 3 miles, but the road conditions were miserable.  The slush had become so slick that I had zero grip with my shoes (which were new).  It became a fine balance between trying to go fast without pulling a muscle.

My splits for this race. 

Miles 4 and 5 clicked by and I finished in 45:13.  Despite the weather conditions it ended up being a pretty good race.  I've been doing speed workouts the past month and it was good to see them begin to pay off.   I hadn't been running well this Fall as doing runs after long rides this summer left me with zero speed.  I ended up 110/256 in my age group and 1683rd overall.  I'll definitely take being in the top half as this was a very competitive race.

Post race with my sister. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

2013 Clays Park Triathlon

Today I am continuing to take a look back at this year's multi-sport races.  This past May I competed in the Clays Park Triathlon.  This race continued the tradition of poor racing weather this year as the temperature this morning was a balmy 37 degrees.  Yep, a triathlon with an air temp below 40.  Luckily this race took place on a shallow inland lake and the water was fairly warm.  I had a lot of nerves going into this race as I wanted to do well for several reasons.  I wasn't off to a good start to this point with a DNF in Knoxville and a 2nd place in Sagamore.  Plus, my relatives live in this area and this would be the first Triathlon they've watched.

I got to the race early to get set up so I could point everything out to my parents and sister.  Due to the air temp being as cold as it was.  There was a thick layer of fog over the leg and to make matters worse.  I tree had fallen onto the race route.  As a result, the race ended up being delayed 90 minutes.

The water itself was pretty pleasant compared to the air temp.  My wave was the first to go and each following wave was separated by about 5 minutes.  I really enjoy being in the first wave as its always fun being up towards the front during the bike leg.

The horn blew and the race got off to a furious start, which is typical for sprint races.  It quickly became hard to navigate traffic as a lot of people went out too fast and were stopping to take breaks.  This lake is very shallow and when you tired you could just stand.  It was easy to see this was the first outdoor swim for many.  I made it do the turn around point, which was across the lake.  I to went out too fast as my shoulders began to burn on the way back.  Sucking it up, I made my way to the beach and exited the water.

Time:  400 yards in 4:22

Transition 1
It was a bit of a run up a hill to the transition area.  I made the quick decision to not put any additional clothing on to ride the bike.  Not sure what I was thinking, but I decided to gut it out in a TRI kit.  I ran into a bit of delay getting my shoes on as my feet were wet and numb.

Time:  2:05

This was a point to point course with no major climbs, but full of rollers.  Due to all the rollers it was hard to settle into a rhythm.  About halfway through, I began to regret my decision not to put on additional clothing.  My feet were completely numb and my skin was pink from the cold air.  I was so cold that it became hard to breathe.  Luckily it was only a 12 miles course and I was happy for it to be over with when I got back.

Times:  12 miles in 36:06

Transition 2
I was able to get in and out fairly easily as I had a spot on the edge of the bike rack.  We were separated by our divisions, so it was good to see nobody else in my group was back yet.  I quickly put on my running shoes and took off.

Time:  51 seconds

This run was a 5K on a 2 loop course.  It isn't the easiest course to run as it was rolling too and consisted of gravel and road.  It also takes place in a camp ground that is full of people celebrating a festival.  Most of the people were still drunk from the night before and/or busy getting drunk that morning.  It was pretty funny getting cheered on by them.  The only annoying thing was they built camp fires on the side of the road for us.  I was already on the verge of hyperventilating due to what felt like the onset of hyperthermia.  The smoke made things really tough and I had to pull up and walk a few times to regulate my breathing.  With a mile to go, I finally regained feeling in my feet and ran hard to finish strong.

Time:  5K in 29:32

Smart wardrobe choice for 37 degrees. 

This was hard, but fun race.  The frigid temps really compounded things.  Luckily, all my hard work paid off as I finished first place in my group.  My total time was 1 hour 12 minutes and 58 seconds.  Good enough for a 4 minute lead over 2nd place.  I was so happy to win this with my parents and sister present.  I think they were in awe of the sport.  Triathlons can be pretty crazy and it was cool to share this experience with them.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Great Buckeye Challenge Half Ironman

After watching the Ironman World Championship yesterday.  I was inspired to finally share the story of this journey.  For those of you not family with a Half Ironman.  Its a 70.3 mile race that consists of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile half marathon.  

This journey began back in the Spring of 2012.  My dismal performance in the 2012 Cleveland Marathon left me feeling lost.  I was burnt out from training and racing.  Retreating to the world of cycling, I began to find myself again.  I started tagging along with some friends who were training for a Half Ironman that Fall.  After a month, they confronted me with....Your already training for this race.  You might as well sign up and do it.  My intention wasn't to do a race of this distance so soon, but to just get in better shape.  As race day approached, I began to panic about the swim and pulled out of the race.  I promised to return a year later, ready to finish the challenge.  The offseason was spent focusing on swimming and attempting to become more comfortable with that discipline.

The weather this Spring wasn't conducive to early season multi-sport speed.  The races I used to prepare for the Half Ironman this Fall were as follows:

Revolution 3 Knoxville:  DNF

Nordonia Hills Duathlon:  2nd in AG.

Clays Park Triathlon:  1st in AG.

Twinsburg Duathlon:  Qualified for National Duathlon Championship

Munroe Falls Triathlon:  1st in AG.

Huntington Beach Duathlon:  1st in AG.

The rest of the summer was spent focusing on increasing my endurance and perfecting my swim.  I made the decision to compete in the Buckeye Challenge Half Ironman as it was an inland lake swim and I felt more comfortable with this over a Lake Erie swim.  Training had been going perfectly until the morning of August 4th.  I was about 25 miles into a 56 mile ride / 6 mile run brick when I got into a bike wreck.  It was my own fault as I was not wearing cycling gloves on a very humid day.  I hit a bump at 25 mph and my hands slipped off the handle bars.

I finished the 56 mile ride, but didn't run.  You should have seen the weird looks I was getting while riding. 

It was a miracle that I didn't break anything, but my right side was riddled with road rash and I bruised my ribs after landing on a curb.  This was a complete disaster and I wasn't able to swim until a week before my race.  It also hindered my ability to run as it felt like someone was poking me with a knife in my ribs every time my right foot landed.

I thought long and hard about pulling out of this race.  The only real training the month leading up to this race was cycling.  Even that wasn't great, as I was too skiddish to ride my TRI bike and just stuck to my road bike.  I made the decision to finish what I started no matter how much it hurt or how long it would take.

In the days leading up to the race, the nerves began to set in.  It seemed like each day, the forecast became hotter...80's...90's...100.  I increasing became nervous about hydration as I've had cramping issues in the past during hot events.  I spent the days leading up to the race drinking anything I could get my hands on.

Believe it or not...I fit all this in transition. 
My bike set up for the big race. 
Saying this was the most important part of the day would be putting it lightly.  I've had my issues with swimming and I was beyond nervous.  I wasn't paying attention and left in the wrong wave and even made a wrong turn at some point too.  I was attempting  to focus and push the panic out of my mind.  Stroke, Stroke, Breath..Stroke, Stroke, Breath...Shit this is insane.  Stroke, Stroke, Breath, Fuck! why am I doing this.  I pushed on as my shoulders burned.  I could feel the flutter of feet in front of me and settled in attempting to benefit from the draft.  My nerves calmed a bit as I hugged the shore praying for it to be over.  Finishing the swim in 44:37.  A rush of excitement engulfed me.  I had made it!!!

Transition 1
It was a bit of a run up a hill from the beach to the transition area.  I made my way to my bike.  So excited that it felt like I was floating.  Off with the wetsuit, shoes and helmet on.  It was time to ride.  I opted for a standard road helmet over an aero as I thought the cooling benefits would be more important than aero.

Full of adrenalin, I monitored my heart rate a lot the first few miles to ensure I didn't go out too hard.  I was one of the first waves and I was coming up on the people racing the sprint and olympic distances.  It wasn't overly hot yet.  Even though the road was rolling a bit, it was smooth as silk.  There was a steady stream of slower riders on the right.  I just kept to the left as I passed one after another.  It was the perfect balance of speed, focus, and barely any effort.  It was cycling nirvana.  After passing through the turning points of the shorter races.  It was just me and the road.  It was a smaller race and there wasn't anyone else in my immediate area.  I could only see the next rider on long straight aways about a half mile ahead.  It was just me, the countryside, and the hum of the wheels cutting through the wind.  Everything was going well until mile 24.  I began to have discomfort in my left hip.  I'd never experienced anything like this and fortunately it went away.  My bike was set up with 3 bottles full of electrolytes and I was burning through it, but still on pace to make it do mile 36.  We had 3 options for a package drop and I selected mile 36.  It was starting to get warm out as mile Garmin temp gage was reading 99 on the road.  I was looking forward to a break as I approached the checkpoint.  I had caught and passed that rider in front of me finally, speeding away to the water stop.  The volunteer were great and found my bag quickly and I refilled my 3 bottles before heading out.  It was a quick right and a climb into a headwind.  I quickly began to worry as I didn't feel right.  My legs just didn't have any power left.  The temp was now reading 105.  I made it through the next 5 miles and the sun was just frying us out on the road.  Cramps in my quads had begun to set it.  I stopped a couple times in hopes that it would work out.  Counting down the miles, I just prayed for it to be over.  Shaking my head and cursing myself...I made it do the finish.

Transition 2
I caught a small 2nd wind as I whipped around the transition to the bike mount.  The road was lined with people who were cheering us on.  I dismounted and made it to my designated spot.  I was shocked at how many bikes were still missing.  Despite all the issues, I was still towards the front of this race.  Cycling shoes off, running shoes on.  It was time to finish this.

I eased slowly into the run.  My legs were full of spasms and the temp was still pegged at 105.  The run was a two loop course that was flat except for 2 climbs up to the turnaround point.  It was primary a bike path with almost no shade.  I clomped along for the first mile and those spasms turned into cramps.  My leg completely locked up.  I just stood there in a panic.  Tears began to well up, was this it?   Am I done?  I made it through the swim, how could this be happening?  After a few minutes the cramp released and I began to walk.  I would the jog and cramps would set in again.  I knew if I was going to finish.  It was going to be a fight and it was going to be harder than anything I had tried before.  It was a walk...jog..cramp..walk...jog...cramp...walk.  I made it through the first loop in what seemed like forever and a day.  I was mostly walking at this point and my garmin was telling me it was a blistering 106.  To this day, I don't know how I made it those last 6.5 miles.  I had cramps at one point or another in my legs, arms, face, and hands.  My legs locked up on several occasions and it was so bad that my foot turned into what felt like a ball.  I just kept shuffling along, refusing to be denied.

Certainly, the result wasn't what I expected and it was a small miracle that I even finished.  It was an even bigger miracle that I still finished 2nd in my AG.  Judging by the splits, I had an hour lead at one point.  Sometimes I wonder what may have been if I didn't have issues, but it was never about time.  It was about finishing what I started way back in 2012.  I feel more like a Half Ironman survivor than a finisher.  This was definitely the hardest thing I have ever done.  They always say you don't know what you're limits are until you push them.  I pushed them this day.  Pushed them farther and deeper than I ever imagined were possible.  I'm not sure what the future holds.  I had planned on doing an Ironman in 2014, but I can't imagine doing double what I did this day.  I don't have any desire to do long course triathlons again, but I learned a long time ago to never say never.  Plus, who knows.  I've been known to make some crazy race decisions after drinking a few Christmas Ale during the offseason.

Monday, May 20, 2013

My Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Experience

The new 10K route

Wow, what a weekend.  I had a different plan for this year's race.  I had run the full marathon in 2011 and 2012.  This year I am focusing on preparation for a Half Ironman in September and was not able to run the full.  Early on in the process, I made the decision to run the 10K and blog about different aspects of running.  With running a shorter race, this gave me a unique opportunity to participate and enjoy more of the events surrounding the marathon weekend.

The whirlwind weekend began with a quick 20 mile ride followed by the Cleveland Marathon VIP dinner.  This was my first year attending the dinner and I am really glad I went.  I enjoyed catching up with fellow runners I haven't seen in awhile and got to meet some of my fellow Cleveland Marathon Bloggers who were in town.  Everything with this dinner was top notch and I really appreciate the race directors for inviting me.

2013 Official Cleveland Marathon Bloggers

The fun didn't stop on Saturday as I had a busy day.  Things began bright and early with a 1 hour swim and 2 hour bike ride.  This weekend happened to be the beginning of my major brick workouts for Revolution 3 Cedar Point.  My plan was to run the 10K with tired legs and to focus on maintaining pace while fatigued.  Later that afternoon, my sister arrived.  She was staying the weekend and running her first Half Marathon.  We went to the expo, which I think was one of the better ones I've been too.  There were lots of informational booths and retailers with some great deals.  After dinner we met with friends Ryan and Logo for carb loading at Dewey's Pizza.

Sunday morning came early.  As in 3:45 early.  I have a 60 minute pre-race routine and we were out the door by 4:45.  Shortly on my trip.  I realized I left my ipod at home.  I had considered running without music as all music devices are banned from Triathlons and I need to get used to running without it.  Another perk of being a Official Blogger is VIP parking, which is right next to the start line.  We arrived early and relaxed for a few minutes.

About an hour before the race, we made our way into Cleveland Browns stadium.  Having access to the stadium is really nice on race day.  Plenty of clean bathrooms are very welcomed on race day and everything was clearing marked for bag checks and starting line.  After a few photos, it was time for the Cleveland Marathon and Half to begin.  The 10K starts 30 minutes later.

For 2013, the 10K was a new route.  We started up West 3rd into downtown and then snaked around West 6th and across the bridge into the Westside.  If any one has ran St. Malachi, you would be familiar with this route out of town.  We headed west down Detroit till about mile 2.5 then hit the technical part of the course snaking through a neighborhood back to the Shoreway.

Elevation profile

As we climbed back up the Shoreway, we hit mile 5 at the top of the bridge.  The next 1.2 miles were some of the most scenic I've ever ran as you could see the lake to your left and downtown was straight ahead and right.  We then joined back up with the other races as we made our way to E. 9th.  A quick left and we were on the home straight.

I really enjoyed this new route.  It was challenging, but not overly hard.  With a couple small hills, technical turns, long flats, and great scenery.  This course has something for everyone.

I had another great Cleveland Marathon experience this year.  I want to thank the Cleveland Marathon for the opportunity to be a Official Blogger for a 3rd year.  I'd also like to thank everything for checking out my blog.  Most of all, I would like to thank all of the volunteers this race weekend.  Without you, we wouldn't be able to race.

I also want to mention the security presence this weekend.  I think the city of Cleveland and Marathon directors did an amazing job giving everyone a sense of security.

Post race photo with my sister.