Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Team Beal Year in Review

WOW!!!! 2011 was such a great year.  I decided to capture it in a 5 minute video to some favorite work out tunes of mine.  I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011 Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon Race Report

Back in the Spring, even before I ran my marathon.  A group of us bloggers were chatting about Las Vegas.  This marathon was recently taken over by the Rock-n-Roll group and has been growing ever since.  New for this year was the whole Las Vegas strip was on the route and it was at night!  It is really rare that the Strip is closed, so I jumped at the opportunity and signed up months ago.

Fellow Cleveland runners John and Jessica

My first surprise was the cost.  At 140 dollars, it was by far the most expensive half marathon I had ever registered for.  Plus, it was only 10 dollars cheaper than the price of the full marathon.  I gladly paid the fee, thinking the price was worth the opportunity to run the Strip at night.

I arrived in Las Vegas early on Thursday, which was 3 days before the race.  If I had to do it over again.  I would have arrived closer to the race.  In planning for the race.  I did not take in account the amount of walking you do in Vegas.  I did a 6 mile run on Thursday along with a bit of walking.  On Friday I did another 6 mile run.  I also spent the afternoon and evening walking again.  I did not run on Saturday, but spent the afternoon and evening again on my feet.  I had the great pleasure to finally meet some inspirational friends of mine, Jason and Karen Bahamundi aka @theladybaha and @cooktraineatrace.  Hopefully we'll enjoy some WPS again soon.

Normally this would not be a big deal, but I did all my walking in dress shoes.  So, I woke up the morning of the race with feet riddled with bruises and blisters.  I could barely walk.  I seriously felt like I had ran a marathon the day before.  I spent the day trying to stay off my feet and chewing up Advil trying to numb the pain.

Friday evening with The Logo

The race itself started at 5:30 local time, which was 8:30 Eastern.  It was really odd running this late in the day and I probably did a horrible job eating.  I had a large carb bonanza of a breakfast in the morning and didn't have anything else to eat the rest of the day besides 2 gatorades and half a bag of beef jerky.  About an hour before the race.   I am made my way over to the start with my buddy @johnsemila.  The race started at Manadaly Bay.  We were surprised to find no help when we arrived as there was not one sign pointing us in the direction to go.  Everyone else was lost too as runners where headed in every direction.

I found my way finally to the corrals with half an hour to go and shot this quick video.

The race began with the national anthem being played by Cheap Trick, which was a nice touch.  It was dark at this time and I was absolutely freezing.  I was wearing two layers, but opted for short sleeves and gloves.  I froze at the start, but felt perfect the rest of the way.

As the race started, things were fast and furious.  I found myself all the way to the left and decided to give some high fives to people who were reaching out of the crowd.  I did not break pace and was quickly cursed at by a fellow runner.  Little that I knew, this was only the beginning.  I was running my first race without music and wondered if this was common.

I made my way down the strip past New York New York and heard the second band playing East Bound and Down by Jerry Reed.  Smokey and the Bandit is my favorite movie and hearing this song was the perfect jolt as I was flying down the strip.  The crowd at this point was insane as it lined both sides of the street and all the arch ways were full as well.  Several miles into the race I began to notice cones off the the right.  You couldn't tell what they were until I final caught a small sign pointing marathoners to the left and half runners to the right.  I tried to stay over to the right, but the crowd of runners were too thick.  44,000 were running this race and even though they used corrals.  It seemed like we all left at once and it was mass hysteria.

After we passed through the end of the strip.  We headed downtown.  For those of you who have never been to Las Vegas.  The area between downtown and the strip isn't the safest of neighborhoods.  It was a weird feeling as I was waiting to hear gunshots at any moment.  It was really dark and the only sound you could here was the stampede of running shoes.  Once we arrived downtown, people were present again to cheer us on.  After a series of turns, we made the trip back up the strip.

As I made my way back up the strip.  The running traffic began to thicken.  Marathoners were beginning  to come up the right side and they were not happy.  I saw numerous runners yelling at each other?  Weren't we all there for the same cause?  Getting from point A to point B as fast as we could?  The traffic continued to get worse.  I kept trying to migrate to the right, but kept getting pushed back to the left.  I still was feeling pretty good and kept pushing on.

As I passed the Bellagio, I had enough light to see my Garmin and saw that I had a chance at going sub 2, which I never thought would be possible with the condition my feet were in.  I tried to push ahead, but there was too much traffic.  At this time, I decided to back off pace and enjoy the scenery and the crowd.  I am glad I did as I heard Party Anthem by LMFAO playing.  Fist pumping as the crowd chanted BEAL is something I will always remember and I politely declined all the offers for shots people had.  I thought better of it and didn't want to end up like a real life Hangover movie.

As I approached the finish.  Mass hysteria began.  Traffic was really thick and I made a mad dash to the far right.  There was a small bubble of room between the race and the crowd and I decided to take a chance and run right along the crowd.  We broke off to the right from the marathoners and began this weird chicane in the pitch black.  This made zero sense as the crowd couldn't see the runners and the runners were just following the person in front.  I finally saw the finish and it was backed up!!  I could reach the timing bar!  At this point my patience was gone so I pushed people aside trying to get past the timing loop.  My finish time was 2:03.  Not too bad for taking it easy and being blocked from the finish.

Unfortunately, the finish was just the beginning.  The crowd was a massive cluster eff of runners.  There was no direction and I thankfully found my to the medal line.  Once I passed through there, I was fortunate enough to get a Cytomax.  Which is an excellent product.  After this, we had no clue where to go.  There was zero direction on where to go.  It continued to get worse as 44,000 runners were finishing and all the people who were watching were also try to find their loved ones.  This turned into a see of gridlock.  I was lucky and followed the guard rail around to Mandalay Bay.  At this point we were stuck with no where to go.  The crowd was stuck and 3 shows just released and all these people were added to the mix.  I asked a security guard for help and I was told to go around.  I asked around where?  I was told again to go around?  I then asked again where?  He then approached me in a threatening manner and begged me to hop the fence so he could arrest me.  Really?  I just ran half a marathon and now getting pushed against a fence by a crowd with no where to go and this is how I am treated?  Thankfully I found a way out and made my way to the hotel tram.  Of course the tram was broke and I had to walk back to my hotel.

Ok, so what are my thoughts on this race.  The course was cool.  Running the strip at night is a experience I will never forget.  With that said, this is not a race to attempt a PR at.  The race was oversold by atleast ten to fifteen thousand runners.  This also was the more poorly ran event I have ever experienced in my life.  Rock n Roll should be embarrassed.   Also, I learned after the fact was a situation with the water.  The race water was poured from unclean fire hydrants.  It was then held in trash cans and then served in dixie cups.  Well, when the runners saw trash cans they through trash in the cans, yet drinking water was still served.  Thankfully, I was ahead of the trash water and drank Cytomax.  I was really lucky to not fall ill from the race water.  Also, this race had a total lack of race etiquette.  Every division can take some of the blame for this as I saw a lack of it from every distance.  I am not sure why it was so lacking, but it was really unfortunate.

I always viewed Rock n Roll as a professional marathon planner.  After this race that statement couldn't be further from the truth.  I payed 140 dollars to run the half, only 10 dollars cheaper than the full.  This race was a complete rip off and I will never do a Rock n Roll event again.

Other than the race, my trip was fantastic.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hermes Pigskin Classic 5K - Race recap

I don't run many 5Ks as I really am not a fan of them.  A race at this distance really doesn't do much for me.  I am not fast, so I have no chance of being competitive and at 3.1 miles.  I feel like I have wasted a training day that I could have ran/road more on.  With that said, there is one 5K that I will do every year.  That is the Pigskin Classic.

This race takes place on West 6th Street in Cleveland, Ohio.  For those of you who are not familiar with the area.  The street is 2 blocks of bars.  The race takes place prior to the Ohio State vs Michigan game.  Sorry Yankee/Boston fans, but this rivalry is the best in sports.  This involves a huge tailgate party, a 5K, and then every heads to the bar to watch the game.

I arrived about an hour early on Saturday and ran into one of the oddest parking situations.  The lots were not letting all the runners park as the were saving the spaces for the town's winterfest that afternoon.  Seriously? My money is just as good as theirs.  So, I finally found a spot and met up with my fellow #dirtyrunner pals @theheldawg and @Johnsemilia.  It was exciting as their wives where doing the race as well.

The start time quickly approached and I made my way to the start.  I really had no expectations for this race.  My main goal was not to get hurt before the Las Vegas Half Marathon next weekend.  I started the race strong with the first mile at 7:12 and did the second at 7:30.  I was feeling really good and hit the final hill and lost a bit of time as I came upon a block of traffic.  I finally got through the traffic and hit a pot hole on the final turn.  This freaked me out a bit and I decided to take it easy to the finish.  My time was 24:23.  I am really happy with this as I haven't trained at all for this distance.  This time is an improvement of 1:28 over my time from last year.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Towpath Marathon (Half Marathon - Fall)

The Towpath Marathon races have been around for a long time.  This year they added 2 additional races in the Spring.  A half marathon in April and a 10 miler in June.  The race directors billed it as the Towpath Trilogy as it highlighted different sections of the Towpath in Peninsula, Cleveland, and Independence.  I did not plan on running this race and even resisted considering it.  After having a great race at Akron and the constant encouragement from friends.  I made the decision to sign up.

Going into this race.  I did not plan on attempting a PR as I honestly did not think I could ever duplicate the effort at Akron nor really wanted too.  I felt like I had ran the perfect race in my hometown and anything else would be a let down.  Now, a lot of you who read this know me to varying degrees and for those who do not know me all that well.  It is very rare that I share something personal and I am not going to do that, but I will say that there is an issue that has been bothering me lately.  It has creeped into my runs and I had been rage running the past week or so.  Now, it sucks being in that mood.  But is does lead to some great training runs.  So, as a result of these rage runs coupled with my legs getting used to running again.   I had my best training runs leading up this race and have never felt better.  Couple that with a flat course and this was a recipe for a PR.  I had been playing down these thoughts in the days before as I honestly didn't know what runner would show up on Sunday.  The one who struggled all day at River Run or the one who powered through Akron like it was downhill?

I woke up early Sunday morning and began my pre-race routine.  It was an early one as they were closing the race parking a 7am.  A full hour before the race.  I didn't want to be closed out of the parking. So, I arrived just before 7 and race traffic was a mess.  I decided to break the nerves by blasting my new power song and fist pumping.  It was dark still, so nobody could really see how much of a dork I was being.

Once parked, I made a b-line to the bathroom.  After a quick wait, I made my way back to the car and got ready to go.  At this point it was close to 30 minutes before the race began and I made my way to the start to visit with the fellow runners and listen to the final instructions.

Not sure what everyone, including myself is looking at. 

The full marathon started at the finish line while the half marathon and 10K races started about 5K down the road.  Our start was a quick downhill run then a left onto a road then another quick left before a 2 mile stretch of road before we entered the towpath.

The race got off to a quick start and I was flying at 8 minutes per mile.  On the 2nd left onto Riverview.  Things began to straighten out and I was still running 8's.  I began to fatigue already.  Crap!  I did not feel as good as Akron.  Negative thoughts already began to flood into my head.  Telling myself it was too early, I pushed on.  We then came upon the marathon start and the street was lined with people cheering us on.  A quick left and I hit the 5K mark at 24 minutes!  Crap!  I just tied my 5K PR.  I pushed on making a left into the Towpath.  I walked the first water stop as I need to regulate my heart rate and settle into what was going to be a long day.

This is wrong, but I love how that guy is struggling to keep up with me. 

From 5K till mile 10, through mile 8.  Things were going pretty well.  It was a false flat down and I didn't have to expend as much energy to maintain a pace in the mid-8's.  There was not a lot of room so everybody did a great job organizing a single file line and I got in a group running the same pace.  This was nice as I could relax and stay with the group.  At this point I saw and got a low five from @Matty_083.  He was up with the leaders and killing the race.

I made it to the turn around and began the roughly 6 mile trip up.  It was time for the false flat up and I began to fatigue.  I wanted to pull off pace.  I didn't feel crisp and even though I was on a PR pace.  It was becoming less of a reality with every step.

I survived to mile 10 and kept telling myself only 5K, only 5K.  Pushing on, I made it till 11 and then 12.   I was hanging on for dear life at this point.  Mile 12 through mile 12.6 felt like two miles.  I couldn't believe how long it was taking.  Finally making it to the edge of the Towpath I came upon a mob of people cheering us on.  I wish I had a photo of it as it was crazy.  Both sides were lined with people 4 deep.  It seemed like the were hanging from the trees.  At this point I saw Matt again and I thought he was yelling at me to sprint.  I took off and may/may not have pushed a group of runners out of my way.  I made a quick right and BOOM!  Finish.  I made it in 1:50:11.  Not only was it a PR, but a PR by 3:52!

Here's a quick look at my improvement over the past 6 weeks:

Half Marathon #1 (8/28) = 2:02
Half Marathon #2 (9/11) = 1:59
Half Marathon #3 (9/24) = 1:54
Half Marathon #4 (10/9) = 1:50

Where's the beer tent!?!?!

This ended up being a great race and I had a blast running it.  It did have an odd vibe to it, but in a good way.  I also want to thank Progressive for stepping up and being the title sponsor for this race.  It is great to see a local employer supporting people being active.  

Enjoying the post race activities with fellow speedsters Jill, Lauren, Pam, and Steve.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Training Recap: Summer

I haven't posted any training blogs since the end of July.  So, I thought I would post a recap from the past ten weeks.  Most of it was spent cycling and struggling to run.  It was quite humid all summer long and with my schedule.  I was primarily running during the heat of the day.  The good news is I road strong all summer, but suffered to run.  If I were grading myself I would give myself a B+ on riding and a F for running.  At the end of July I road in several cycling tours and in August.  I road a strong MS 150 Pedal to the Point.  The past 6 weeks I have ran the Buckeye Half Marathon, River Run Half Marathon, and the Akron Half Marathon.  As the daylight decreases and the temps drop.  I will be focusing more on running and distance races while trying to get in some riding when weather permits.

Running:  230 miles with an average pace of 9:39

Cycling:  2,541 miles with an average speed of 18.3

Total miles:  2,771

Calories burned:  112,868


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2011 Akron Marathon (half marathon)

My plan all along was to run my first marathon this past weekend.  Due to several things outside my control.  I made the decision to run Cleveland as my first and then do the double by running Akron.   Unfortunately,  I failed at training for this race.  I attempted 3 times to run 20 miles and failed every time.  A hard decision was made to abandon the full and run the half.  It was a hard decision to make and I held onto the dream that I would still attempt the marathon throughout the rest of my training.  After discussing it with several friends, I realized I was making the right decision.

My running during the summer months had not gone well.  I was running a minute to minute and a half slower than what I had been running during the Spring.  I never felt comfortable and was laboring a lot more than I should have been.  I started running races again a month ago at the Buckeye Half Marathon and surprised myself with a 2:02.  During my training the following week.  I realized I developed some had habits.  I was no longer driving with my shoulders/arms and my stride felt short and choppy.  I began to work on this by driving more and lengthened my stride a little.  My training times immediately improved to the levels at which they were at during the Spring.  The original plan was to try this out at RiverRun Half Marathon 2 weeks ago, but after my fall.  I never recovered and I never felt right the whole race.

In the days leading up to the race.  I was upset that I would not be running the marathon.  I had tried not to get down, but I was.  In order to help myself feel better at failing.  I established a few goals that I would strive to meet:

1) Improve on last years time of 2:10:08
2) When the half route re joins the marathon route.  Be there fast enough that I can't see the leader.
3) Try to run sub two hours.
4) Do not ralk
5) If have a chance, go for a PR.

I got up extra early on Saturday as I wanted have me pre-race coffee and get downtown in time to meet up with a few other runners.   I was successful and got to visit with fellow runners Stephanie, Justin, and Kimi.  Before I knew it, the time had arrived and it was go time.

I lined up with the 1:55 pace group as I didn't want to get stuck in traffic.  This year Akron divided the start in half and the division point was at the 9:10 pace.  As the race begins, it is a slight false flat down through downtown then over a long bridge.  As you cross the bridge it is a quick climb then around a block and back across the bridge.  As the race began, I got off the a great start.  I was feeling really well and had been fairly lucky with managing traffic.  I was running around 8:00-8:30 per mile and feeling really good.  As I approach the turn around past the bridge, people began to clog up.  So I jumped over to the sidewalk and ran around the block traffic free.  Back across the bridge I ran, heading back into town.  A quick look at the watch and I was still at that pace and feeling good.  Since we are only a block south at this point.  All the people cheering at the start head to the next street and line the first hill.  Both sides of the street are lined with people cheering everyone on.  Feeling well I attacked the first climb and accelerated up the side.  I quickly arrived at the first relay point and thought it was 5K into the race.  I quickly looked at my watch and was at 29:49.  Mildly disappointed at that for a 5K time.  I began to think I wasn't running as well as I thought.  In reviewing my post race time splits.  I was actually at 3.5 miles this point with an average pace of 8:31 per mile.

I pushed on and was still running free and easy in the low 8's.  Next up was a long false flat up to Firestone park.  This is a tricky portion as it will wear you out.  I pushed on and migrated to the edge of the road as there was no traffic.  At this point I was trying to decide if I should dial it back a bit as I wanted to save energy for mile 11.  I kept thinking I had gone out too fast and was about to blow up before the finish, but I felt too good.  As I rounded the corner into Firestone Park.  It was time for the next hill.  I attacked again.  Never before had I ran so hard on the hills.  I just kept telling myself to go and turned up the iPod.  The road flattened out again and my heart rate immediately dropped.  Again I was running free and easy in the low 8's.

Next up was another loan climb up Brown Street into Akron U's campus.  I could see the Buildings in the distance as the road began to kick up again.  I accelerated again just telling myself to GO GO GO.  I moved over to the right of the road as I had planned to see my sister who had been waiting for me to run by.  Last year she waited 2 hours for me, but I looked on the wrong side of the road and I ran right by without seeing her.  Thankfully, our plan worked as I gave her a high five as I flew by.  At the top of the hill, it felt like my heart was going to leap out of my chest.  I looked down at my Garmin and I was running a 7:00 pace up the hill.  I quickly backed it down and thought I may have just cooked myself.  I was through the first 9.2 miles in 1:21 with an average pace of 8:50.

At this point running 2 hours was becoming a reality.  I had built enough of a cushion that I thought I could survive mile 11.  As I crossed through campus.  My heart rate miraculously dropped again.  I took off and took advantage of the downhill portion back through downtown.  As I approached the final steep downhill.  I saw a spectator  jumping up and down on the side of the road.  It was Jess!!  I flung my arms around in an attempt to say hey.  I quickly reached the down hill and tried to get every possible second before I hit mile 11.

Now, mile 11 is roughy when the half splits off from the full and is better known as heart rate hill.  It is roughly a half mile and is a 5% grade up.  As I made the left to hit the hill.  There was a sign that read. "Pain is temporary, but the glory is forever"  I hit the hill and it hurt.  I struggle mightily at first and there was carnage everywhere.  I was dodging runners left and right that were stopping to walk.  I kept telling myself that it this will be over soon.  I ran as hard as I continuing to tell myself it will be over soon and that 2 hours was mine for the taking.  In the distance I could see the bridge that is at the top of the hill.  Running harder, I kept telling myself get to the bridge.  get to the bridge.  I hit the bridge and made the left.  A quick peak at the Garmin and I only lost 2 seconds off my average pace!!  Not only was I under 2 miles from a sub two.  I was on pace for a PR!

I ran on and the route wound around back to the marathon.  I looked up the round and the marathon leaders were not in sight.  Next was a steep hill up Market Street before the home stretch.  It hurt and hurt bad.  I made it up the hill and my heart was pounding.  The road flattened out as finally struggled to regain pace.  I had thought I had finally ran out of gas.  I kept telling myself that I can't come this close.  Then in the distance I could see the Evans building, which is across the street from the finish.  As I reached the 1/2 mile mark the streets were lined again with people and I tried to run as hard as I could.  Then my heart rate miraculously dropped again.  I took off, feeling like a player in the madden game with somebody hitting the turbo button.  I was flying and passing packs of people.  Telling myself repeatedly to go.  I hit a quick right and burst into Aero stadium.  I could see the clock and a PR in the distance and sprinted to the finish.  Finishing in 1:54:03.  A full 2 minutes better than I ever ran and a improvement of 16 minutes over my time at this race last year!!

Post race beers with Jeff.

I never in my life thought I could run this well on a course this hard.   I've been walking around with a smile and floating on cloud 9 ever since.  It was the perfect day and I will always look back on this day and smile.


The dirtyrunner crew Ryan, Jeff, Allison, and Justin.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My 1 Year Run-iversary

In the Spring of 2010 I made a decision to run a race.  A pack was made with a buddy to run the Akron Half Marathon in September of 2010.  Unfortunately, due to a bought with tendinitis.  I was left to prepare and race on my on my own.  Yes, I skipped running a 5Ks and made a half marathon my first race.

Thankfully,  a fellow runner and friend, Angie to gave me advise on how to prepare.  I remember not really knowing what to expect that morning and kind of chuckle every time I think about that day.  I grew up in Akron and was always aware of the "blue-line" that marks the course.  My only real experience with the marathon was seeing a Kenyan in first place by 20 minutes a few times while I was sitting in traffic.  I never considered running in the race as I was never a real fan of running.  I think sometimes its the result of playing team sports while growing up.  As running was routinely used as a punishment and I never associated it with fun.

As I arrived that morning.  I was in awe at how many people were there.  Not only running, but spectators along that route.  The next thing I learned was your bladder shrinks to the size of a pea before you run a race.  I also learned to always look at the flavor before you take a free GU at the aid station.  I grabbed one and slammed it as I thought this was the "right" thing to do.  It was very warm and chocolate.  It tasted like hot chocolate sludge and I darn near threw it up all over the route.

I also remember breaking off from the marathoners at mile 11 and thinking they were absolutely crazy as there was not any way I could run another mile.  I made my way back to the finish, which is located inside Akron Aero stadium.  It was unreal finishing in front of so many people.  This is when I learned what finisher's bling was.  A volunteer tried to give me a medal and I told her I did not run the marathon.  She replied "No silly, half marathoners get one too!"  I spent the rest of the day wearing it proudly everywhere I went.  That afternoon, I was sore.  My ankle was killing me and I vowed never to do that again.  I had done something I had never thought I would do and was quite satisfied.  My time was 2:10:08.  This race was the most fun race I had ever ran and the only one where I had no expectations and didn't even listen to one song while running.   Thankfully, my good friend Angie ran with me and helped me through my first race.

So this year I will be returning a year later much more prepared than I was a year ago and excited to run my first repeat race hoping to improve over last year.  I'm trying to focus on this goal as I had planned on running the full marathon this year, but unfortunately could not get prepared in time.  So, I am trying not to get down about that and remain focused on the positives.  I will be targeting a better time than 2:10:08 and who knows.  Maybe if they run gods are kind, I'll make a run at my PR time of 1:56:03.

Yeah!!! Beer and bling!!!!!

As you all know this was not my last race.  Over the past 12 months I have ran 6 other half marathons.  I went to bed that evening never wanting to run again and awoke the next morning thinking.  Wouldn't it be cool to run a marathon?  I think we all know how that turned out.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

2011 River Run Half Marathon

This past Sunday I competed in the River Run Half Marathon.  This was my first time at this race and I had looked forward to it as it was highly recommended by many runners.  The course itself is located in the Cleveland Metroparks and is a point to point race.  Beginning in Berea and ending in Rocky River.

The reason why this race is so highly recommended is that the course is downhill.  I had thought it was a false flat down, but it was a lot more decline than I had expected.  I had just ran the Buckeye Half Marathon 2 weeks before in 2:02 and was looking forward to improving upon that or maybe achieve a PR on this easy course.

I arrived at the starting point a lot easier than I had expected as directions had been a little hard to come by.  With so many runners owning a GPS, I am surprised when organizers don't have a address for the parking lot.  At this race you had two options.  Park at the start and bus back or park at the finish and take your ride before.  Since I live closer to the start, I chose to park at the start.  We arrived before the buses arrived which was nice as we didn't have to wait to use the rest rooms.  A few of us congregated at the start line and it began shortly thereafter.

I got off to a great start and was taking advantage of the coarse as the initial miles weren't too bad.  We broke off and made a quick loop around a housing development at mile 2.  This is when trouble struck.  I exited the allotment was still moving faster than usual.  I reminded myself to not forgot to stick with the usual hydration/fueling plan.  I was so focused on pace that I didn't what to lose track of my plan.  This brief lack of concentration led too....BOOM!!!!  My right foot slammed into a crack and I took a tumble. This was the first time I have ever fell while running and I made the mistake of putting my palms down.  I skinned them pretty good and thankfully did not take the skin off.  While trying to gather my shades and get my feet back, I got a helping hand from fellow runner and friend Kali.  I was really lucky and did not role my ankle.  I did jam it and as I continued to run it began to feel worse.

I really began to struggle as the race went on.  I was still shaken up from the fall and the course began to get steeper.  Not only down, but side to side.  The turns were banked pretty steep and it was wreaking havoc on my ankle.  I kept fighting and was struggling to run at my goal pace.  Things just were not good.  The miles continued to click by and I felt worse and worse.  I ran out of gas at about 8 miles and was feeling pretty fatigued.  It just wasn't my day and it was becoming more frustrating with each mile.  I just felt frustrated I was missing a opportunity to have a great race.

I kept fighting and established a goal of making it to mile 10 at 90 minutes.  My belief was that I could Ralk the last 3 and make it in under 2 hours.  I actually made it in 1:28 and began to Ralk.  With a mile to go, I got back in touch with Kali and she inspired my to get after it and finish strong.  We took off at a 7:30 pace and as I approached the finish.  I could hear the crowd counting down to the 2 hour mark.  I began a sprint and made it just in time.  Gun time was 1:59:58 and my chip time was 1:59:44.  So, no PR on this day.  But with everything that went down and how I felt.  I'll take a sub 2 half.

At the finish area I met up with fellow runners Angie, Jess, Christian, Ryan, Jeff, Mason, and Kali.  Big congrats go to Angie and Christian as they PR'd!!!!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Buckeye Half Marathon

I'm a little slow on getting this out, but the Sunday before last.  I competed in the Buckeye Half Marathon.  It was my first time for this race, but it is basically in my backyard.  So I was very familiar with the course.  It is a two lap loop around a portion of CVNP that starts and ends at Howe Meadow.  The best part of the race is you can sign up at a discount as part of your Akron Marathon registration.  Depending on how early you register you get 2 half marathons, 1 hoodie, 1 race shirt, 2 finisher medals, and a year subscription to Running Times.  There aren't too many big races down here, but the ones they have.  Definitely take care of the runners.

I had no real expectations for this race as I was using it only to gauge where I was after spending the bulk of my time cycling over the past couple months.  To be honest, I have been running embarrassingly poor the past 6 weeks.  I could barely survive my runs and was 1-1:30 per mile slower than in the Spring.  I've been hoping that this was do to the humidity as my runs had been during the heat of the day.  Also, I had not ran more than 10 miles at once since August 4th and to make matters worse.  I ran 8 a few days before and had some serious shin pain training on some hills for Akron.  I had walked it off and ran a mile home pain free, so I wasn't too concerned.  But it definitely was on my mind.  So, I headed in to my 3rd half marathon with no expectations other than finishing on two feet.

As usual I was up early on Sunday getting ready for the race and it was actually pretty nice not having to drive all the way to Cleveland to run.  I met up with Angie who was also running and we headed down to Howe Meadow.  After arriving we quickly ran in to fellow bloggers and dirty runners Stephanie and Justin.  They also had pacers at this race, which was a nice touch.  It wasn't a large race as it only had between 400-600 runners.  I lined up with the 2:00 group and felt pretty good as I made it through the first two miles.  Once I was warmed up I comfortably bridged the gap to the 1:55 group.  At mile 3, I saw Justin and thought I would run with him.  Even after running 20 the day before, he dropped me fairly quickly.  I spent the next few miles slightly behind the 1:55 group, which was a comfortable spot.  I was feeling pretty good through the first lap and made it to the half way point in 57 something.

During my second loop.  I began to fatigue a little around mile 10.  I tried to hold on as I have small cushion at sub 2 hours, but I fell back to the 2:00 group at mile 12.  At this point I couldn't hang with them.  So I called an audible.  I tried @Matty_083's ralk program for the last bit.  So, I walked for 1 minute and then resumed a below 9 minute pace.  I would like to say I did this twice, but I was pretty tired so I walked 1 minute every half mile.  I have to admit.  I think I ran faster at the end than if I would have struggled through the rest.  I managed to hold on for a 2:02:08 half marathon!  Not a PR for me, but it is my fastest half so far this year!  The best news is I was pain free the whole race.

I quickly saw Angie, Justin, Ryan, and Jess at the finish as they finished ahead of me and we spent some time cheering in some other runners and took a photo of our Gansta poses.  Lol.

Overall this is a really nice race.  Especially consider you get a hoodie, medal, chip time, and post race dinner.  Not a bad deal at all.  I definitely recommend coming to my hood next year for the race.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2011 MS 150 Pedal to the Point Recap (Day 2)

Day 2 of Pedal to the point is like taking part of a different ride.  The route is basically the same, but it is a completely different vibe.  More of a survival of the fittest as you are either exhausted or hungover.  Many are probably both.  Last year I was hungover and recovering from food poisoning.  Thankfully, I awoke Sunday morning feeling fairly fresh and surprisingly not hungover.  If you missed my day one's recap.  Here's a one one sentence cliff note.  I got zero sleep the day before, road 75 miles in 3:25, road another 5 to the hotel, drank summer shandy at bw3, drank wine at pool, drank beer at the after party, did waaaay to many shots of Jager at after party, and went to bed clutching a taco bell burrito.

You can see why I was a little surprised to be feeling so well Sunday morning.  My biggest concern of the day was weather.  The forecast was not good and scattered showers would be in the area through out the day.  Thankfully, it was not raining when I made my way back to the start.

The event holds a large pancake breakfast and they pay a guy to come in who throws them at you.  You just call out how many you want and the pancakes come flying your way and its up to you to catch them on your plate.  We were running late (no surprises here) and the line was not very long.

We made our way to the start and the plan was not to ride hard.  I was going to work for some friends who road the 100 the day before.  Sunday is all about helping each other out as you will see much more pacing on the way home.  You will easily see lines of 10 to 20 riders on the 2nd day.  It was cloudy and I checked the radar before leaving.  I could see a line of showers in the distance.  After the first few minutes, a group of 10 riders formed and I took pointed and whipped up the pace to around 20.  Attempting to keep us ahead of the storm.  Luckily, one other rider was feeling well enough to do some work and I would take quick spells at the back.  I wasn't resting, but being more of a cheer leader.   I was doing my best Jen Voigt impersonation.  Trying to keep the pace and mood up to keep us ahead of the storm.  We did a great job until just before the half way lunch and got smacked with our first rain storm.

The next part of the ride was fairly dry as rumors started to swirl about the weather at the finish.  As I approached Middleburg.  I could see the dark clouds in the distance and it began to rain.  The more I road, the harder it rained.  At this point, I had dropped my friends and kept pushing wanting for this to be over.  It continued to rain and its intensity increased with each mile.  In town, the road was flooding and I moved to the middle of the road in an attempt to find the shallow part of the water.  This is when I learned that Zipps cut through water just as easily as wind.  I made it back in just under four hours and was surprised to see the cameraman there taking photos in the rain.  I think this photo perfectly captures what it was like riding into town.

Overall this was a great weekend trip and for a good cause too as it raises a lot of money for MS research.  A special thank you goes to my parents, Johna, Melanie, Sean, Pantz, Chris, Christina, and Andy.  Your support was greatly appreciated.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

2011 MS 150 Pedal to the Point Recap (Day 1)

This past weekend I participated in my 3rd MS Pedal to the Point.  It is Ohio's largest ride with over 2,800 riders and is a favorite amongst local cyclists.  The ride begins in Middelburg Heights and ends in Sandusky Ohio.  You have an option of riding one day and busing back or spending the evening in Sandusky, riding back the next day.  The total trip is a little over 150 miles and there is an additional 25 mile option for the century enthusiasts.  This ride is a charity event for Multiple Sclerosis.

Each year it feels like you are going non-stop till you get back home on Sunday.  My weekend began with packet pickup in Middleburg Heights.  Then I was off to home to get in a recovery ride and finish packing. Then it was time to carb load with friends.  This is where things began to go a little awry.  I was feeling pretty tired and went to bed around 9:30.  This began a toss and turn session that lasted for hours.  I could not sleep.  I was growing increasingly frustrated, which only made things worse.  Around 1, I decide to get up and watch tv.  Thinking I would fall asleep, but I ended up watching tv till four and decided to just go get some coffee.  So, I was about to ride 75-100 miles with zero sleep.  Not good.  I made my way to the start for a meet up at 6:30.  This was the first I ran into feeling tweeps Matt and Heather Oravec.  His recap is here Matt  My friends I had planned on riding with had promised they would be on time.  Well, they were late and had now expected to be their 15 minutes after the start.  Well, after waiting an hour.  I decided to call them again.  Yep, they started with out me and were 6 miles on the route already.  So, I was miffed already about having to start last and now I was going to be riding alone.  So, I said F-it and decided to hammer.  I left the start roughly 55 minutes after the start and took about 5 minutes to warm up before taking off.  I was doing really well, hanging in the range of 20-25 mph and flying by the riders on the route.  I was in serious pac man mode as I gobbled up one after another.  I made it to the lunch stop in 1:36 minutes.

I wasn't at lunch long as I grabbed a sandwhich and refilled the bottles before heading back out.  The hammerfest continued as I began to tire a bit.  Unfortunately, I could not find anyone to work with.  So, I kept soloing on.  The rest of the route got a little harder as I began to cramp slightly and picked up a strong headwind.  I just tried to keep going as hard as I could as I was on pace for a great ride and didn't want it to slip away.  Thankfully, I made it to the outskirts of Sandusky and picked up a tailwind that carried me into town with a completed time of 75 miles in 3 hours 25 minutes.  As you can see in the photo.  I lost a bit of salt.

What's the best part of this ride?  Well, besides the flat route....its the festivities afterwards.  I had made it up so quickly that lunch wasn't ready yet.  Lol.  So I grabbed my back pack and road another 5 miles to my hotel.  It was pretty funny as a little kid at the finish line asked his dad what I was doing.  The dad said.  I guess he hasn't ridden enough yet today.  Lol.  Fortunately, I sweet talked the hotel lady into letting me check in early.  Honestly, it was probably because they didn't want me to stink up the lobby.

Now, was the time to celebrate as I took a quick shower and began a hunt for a Summer Shandy.  If you are spending the evening.  You have the option of watching a movies, going to cedar point, a water park,  listening to a band, or going to a bar.  Guess what I chose?  Lol.  I spent my afternoon relaxing at the bar, taking a nap, and having wine with friends by the pool.  My favorite part of the weekend is spending time with fellow cyclists and meeting new people. While at the pool we met a rider who was doing his 23rd Pedal to the Point!  We then headed to Big O's for the post ride party.  When we got back to the high school, we got to see the last rider finish.  I was cool to cheer them in.  Not to brag, but I had started about an hour late, road to route, biked to the hotel, had lunch, drank at a bar, took a nap, drank by the pool, and took a ride back to the finish before the last rider finished.  Wow, that's speed.

Pool wine
Tasty treat!

I have fans everywhere!

Big O's was a blast and I had a great time visiting with friends over beers and wings.  It was also great to have a beer with Team Oravec...Matt and Heather.  I also got to catch the Browns game and ended being their way later than anticipated.  By the way....WHATEVER I SAY NEXT YEAR.  DO NOT LET ME DO SHOTS OF JAGIR                                                 AND EAT TACO BELL BEFORE BED!!!
My cab ride home. 

Stay tuned for all of day 2's action!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sweet Corn Challenge recap

This past Sunday was one of the larger rides in Northeast Ohio.  It is called the Sweet Corn Challenge and is located in the high hills of Summit County.  The ride consists of a 25, 50, and 100 mile options.  It is hosted by Eddy's Bike Shop and is easily the most well run bike tour in the area.  I was especially excited for this year as I was riding with my buddy Kent as well as new friends @Matty_083, @heatha262, @jamursch, @RunrJenRN,  and @Bliedmar.

I was especially nervous on this ride for several reasons.  This is one of the harder rides in our area and it was a new route, so I was worried that it would be harder than how I had described.  Also, we were crunched on time as several had places they needed to be and my buddy was getting off work just before we were to leave.  Also, add to the fact I did a 15 mile run /15 mile ride brick the day before and went to a winery with my sis the night before.  I was sporting quite hangover as my sis and I powered through 3 bottles of wine and I didn't get much sleep the night before as I was trying to re-hydrate as much as possible.

The plan all along was to have an easy ride.  This was a great plan as the route doesn't exactly fit my riding style.  Plus, I have a hard time finding people to ride with.  Its partly from my bragging on my blog or from friends, but I have a reputation as hammering 24/7 and people think they will have to hammer too if they ride with me.  So I was looking forward to a nice and relaxing ride.  Well, it didn't exactly turn out that way.

I arrived a little early to the ride and hit the registration area.  Eddy's does an excellent job with parking and there is a small army of volunteers there to help you find a spot.  The plan was to gather around 8 with my friend arriving around 8:15.  I met up with Matt first and it was great to finally get to ride with him as he is a local triathlete who is training for the Ironman in Sandusky.  Next to join the party was Heather and her husband Jay.  I recently had the pleasure of riding a portion of the Ice Cream Odyssey with them and was looking forward to seeing their brand new road bikes.  Shortly after they arrived, Jen and her husband arrived.  They made the trip up from Cincinnati.  They used to live in Hudson and Sweet Corn was their favorite ride.  8:15 quickly came and then 8:20.  We were still waiting on one more.  Most the group was already time crunched and decided to get the route started and the remaining three of us would catch up.  I bet if Matt had to do it over again, he would have left with the first group.  My buddy finally arrived around 9, so we were roughly 40 minutes behind everyone.  I really didn't think we would catch everyone and I was ready for a nice ride.  Boy, I was wrong.

As the three of us hit the road.  A pace was discussed and I decided to take the first turn as it was mostly flat and down for a couple miles.  Now, I swear I did not mean to hammer.  But I started us off in the mid 20's.  About 5 minutes in a random rider passed me and I decided to grab the wheel and let him do the work for awhile.  I didn't know this person and would have let him go if I knew how much of a pain he would be.  Within a mile this mystery rider gave up the pace and I decided it was time for us to drop him.  He ended up 4th in line drafting off my buddy and must have done something as he really irritated my buddy.  As we approached the first climb, my buddy took off like a rocket to follow in the slipstream with Matt and I in tow.  Surprisingly we were climbing Tour De France style at a speed over 20 mph.  So much for taking it easy.  The sufferfest continued as we eclipsed the first 20 miles in just under 31 minutes!

The next part of the ride was fairly similar as we kept climbing hill after hill.  Unfortunately, these hills were a bit steep for the pace we were setting and I was dropping off the back.  I was then aggressive on the short descents, feeling like Mark Cavendish trying to keep touch with the peloton.  I was keeping them in sight and catching them before the next climb.  Only to get dropped again.  We skipped the first rest stop as we all had plenty of fluids on board and were feeling too good to stop.  The route continued to climb around Hinckley and around Bath.  We arrived at the second stop and quickly refueled before heading back out.

After this stop it was a quick loop through CVNP, which is basically 5 minutes from my house and where I train 90% of the time.  I took pacing duties again on Riverview Rd led us out of the valley on Major Rd.  Then continued to climb through Richfield to the final rest stop.  At this point we were 10 miles from the finish.  They brought us back up route 21, which is a steady climb.   Kent and Matt were pulling away as I struggled to find my legs after that last stop.  I will not use any excuses, but one of them was using a granny gear.  Which I think is a form of cheating.  Lol.  Anyways, if it wasn't for them catching a few stop lights.  I would have been dropped for sure.  When we reached the top.  I miraculously got a second wind and headed back down hill setting a decent pace again.  We finally caught up with Jen and her husband at this point and I hopped in front to pace everyone to the finish.  Well, I must have been feeling better than I thought as they were gone by the next turn.  I decided to run with it.  Figuring I would get caught at the next climb.  I knew where I was and at this point the route was getting long.  Someone at Eddy's had one last surprise for us as the route had one final turn into a massive wall of a hill.  It hit it with good speed and tried not to run someone over as riders were diving off bikes left and right.  By the time I had crested, Kent had caught up to me and I paced him up the false flat to the finish.  At this point I was trying to make it in under 3 hrs and hammered the last two miles to come up 3 minutes short.

So, we all road really well and everyone survived the Sweet Corn Challenge.  My times was 3:03:37 with an average speed of 17.4 mph.  I still can't believe we went that fast on those hills.  A good time for sure.  Sweet Corn Challenge is an excellent event and definitely is a challenge.  I recommend everyone attempts it as it is a good experience.  Like I always say...Summer ain't Summer unless you do Sweet Corn.

Check out Heather's recap here:  Heather

Check out Matt's recap here:  Matt O


Monday, July 25, 2011

A Shot in the Dark - Race Report

Ok.  I know I kind of left everyone hanging at the end of last week's race report, but I have been crazy busy.  Plus,  I'm always distracted this time of year watching the Tour De France.

I think a quick recap is in order for what had happened so far this day.  I had just completed a 64 mile bike tour called the Ice Cream Odyssey and was about to run A Shot in the Dark.  A 4 mile road race in downtown Cleveland.   My time  for the 64 miler was 3:29 and the bulk of it was into a 10 mph head wind.  The heat was almost unbearable and the Garmin was reading temps on the road of 105.6.  I had done a good job of keeping hydrated through out the morning.  My main issue at this point was lack of time.

When I came up with the idea of doing these two events in one day.  I thought there would be plenty of time in between to relax and rehydrate.  Unfortunately, that wasn't so.  I spent a bit too much time at the rest stops waiting on friends.  To be in Cleveland, I needed to leave my place in Stow around 3:30.  By the time I had wrapped up the ride.  It was 1:45 and I was still in Medina, which is about a 40 minute drive from where I live.  I hadn't planned on being this time crunched.  By the time I had grabbed a bite and made it home.  It was 2:45.  That gave me 45 minutes to eat, get cleaned up, and hydrate as much as possible.

I was able to get all of it done, but only took in a couple glasses of water and grabbed a powerade on the way out the door.  I made my way up to Cleveland and quickly chose a parking lot by the race.  How do  you know you picked the wrong lot?  When you give the attendant your money and he says to hide all your valuables.  Nice.  I quickly hid everything, grabbed my powerade and headed to the race.

Out of the 2,000 plus runners that were competing in this event.  I was fortunate enough to run into fellow run buds @CleCraftBeerRun and @Mojamala2.  We posed for a quick picture and made our way to the start.  I ended up starting towards the back as I really didn't know what to expect.  Shortly, the race began and the sea of people moved forward.  This race was in Cleveland, so of course walkers and slow runners lined up front.  It was a controlled chaos along Progressive field as people were not trying to trip over each other.  I established a nice pace at 9:00 per mile and was politely weaving amongst the people.   Everything was going well initially and the legs were feeling surprisingly decent.  The race began at 5:00 and the temps at this point were still above 90.  We made a right hand turn and began one of two climbs on the route, which was a bridge.  I started off well, but was zapped by the time I crested the bridge.  This climb took a lot more out of me than I had expected and the heat was already taking a toll.  I began to labor a bit and was thirsty.  The good news was that a water stop was only a half mile away.  I took my time threw it, taking in a lot of water and set back out on the course.  By this time, the pace was fluctuating between 9-9:30 per mile.  This portion of the route was flat and was similar to portions of the Cleveland Marathon route.  It was nice to see some of the route again and reflect back on the day.

The next water stop was just before mile 3 and things were going pretty well at this point.  When I did reach mile 3.  Things began to unravel.  I began to cramp bad in my right quad.  I stopped and tried to stretch.  Immediately, I cramped in my hamstring.  The next few minutes was spent walking it off and resumed running again.  About 30 seconds later, the cramp returned.  This cycle repeated several times and the cramps began to get worse.  It was beginning to feel like I had pulled a muscle.  At this point, my race was done.  Instead of quitting and achieving my first DNF.  I walked it in the rest of the way.  finishing with a blistering time of 44:56 for 4 miles.  The worst part was hearing the announcer state the final runner was a minute away as I crossed the finish line.  I was pretty embarrassed.

** Thank you Brightroom for catching this moment of me fight leg cramps.

The best part of this race was the block party afterwards.  It was a really nice atmosphere with a live band, beer gardens, and food.  It was great to spend some time with run buds and make new friends.  The best news is that it was cramps and not a pulled muscle.  I took the next day off to rest and have been training pain free since.  Hopefully both these events are on different days next year.  As I will have to think twice about doing a metric century and a 4 mile road race in the same day.  If you do live in the area.  Definitely do this race next year.  Probably the most festive race in the area and was a blast.