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. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Time is Now

We are closing in on less than 48 hours to the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.  Oh how time flies.  It just seems like yesterday that we were strapping on our shoes for our first training run.  There has been good runs.  There has been bad runs.  We've been rained on.  We've been snowed on.  We've ran headfirst into 40 mph winds.  We've battled pollen and humidity.  We've raced up hills and down.  Some of our journey's have been longer than others.  But that doesn't matter.  As we will all join together on Sunday to run.  Some will be there to reach goals.  Others will be raising awareness.  All will be awesome.

Its not going to be easy.  Anything this great never is.  Like your training, this race will be full of ups and downs.  Be strong...Be focused...its a long day.  Manage your day.  Run your race.  You're gonna pass people.  People will pass you.  Stay true and trust in your training.

Weather may not be on our side.  It won't matter as we will remain focused.  Step by step stride by stride.  Together we will run.  Focused on the end of our journey.

In every race there will be a turning point.  It will be earlier for some.  Later for others, but there will be a moment.  A moment a truth.  Embrace this moment.  We have all worked too hard to let down now.  The difference between someone who  achieves success and someone who doesn't is simple.   You have to be willing to hurt to that next level.  Its not easy and never will be.  Just know that the pain you will feel will be washed away with the joy of success awaiting us at the finish.

Pain is only temporary....the memories are forever.

So, join me on Sunday.  Willing to rise to the occasion.  Willing to hurt to that next level.  We are Cleveland runners and we will own this day!!


Monday, May 6, 2013

I'm in Cleveland!!!! Now what??

So, you're in Cleveland for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon and you do not know what to do?  Have no fear, Beal is here.  I've worked in downtown Cleveland since 2004 and recently moved to the suburbs last Fall.  I recently just got back from an out of town race and was thinking on the way home how I had no idea what to do when I was there.  Sure, there is Yelp and the internet but it would have been nice to have some advice from a local.  So, I thought I would list some of my favorite place to go. All these places are either downtown or within 15 minutes of the area.


Winks is a new restaurant / sports bar located downtown at the Galleria.  The food is outstanding and focuses on ingredients that can be found locally.  It also has a large selection of craft beer with emphasis on beers created locally.

J. Gumbos  Like the sign says, its the best food you can eat for 7 dollars.  The focus here is a taste of New Orleans from mild to wild.  It is located on Euclid right by Public square and is my favorite lunch place downtown.

Panini's is located on east 9th and West 6th downtown.  It is a sports bar and the home of the Overstuffed Sandwich.  If it is your first time in the area, you can't leave without getting a sandwich.  My favorite is a double capicola with an egg.

Hodges  Most foodies agree that this is the place to be.

If you're looking for a good time.  I also recommend Great Lakes Brewery,  Market Garden, West 6th street, and West 4th.  There are a lot of fun places to check out in these areas.  Also, don't forget to checkout the Cleveland Indians who are in town and try you luck at the HorseShoe Casino.

Outside, but close to Downtown

Deagan's Top notch food and a top notch craft beer list can be found here.  Located in Lakewood, you will be happy you checked this place out.

Melt This is one of my favorite places to go.  The menu is exciting and portions are filling.  Make sure you check out the Buffalo Chicken Chowder.  The fries are so good, I think they may be laced with crack.

Happy Dog  It located just across the bridge and is just minutes from downtown.  You have a choice between a vegan sausage or hot dog.  Then you are given a list of 50+ toppings to get as crazy as you want.  These toppings are as simple as bbq sauce and as crazy as fruit loops.  Also, they have tater tots you can get topped with any sauce you want.

Harp Home of one of the best patios in Cleveland and sits along the marathon route.  You have to try once of their Boxty Cakes.

There are a lot of other area restaurants located in Tremont, Ohio City, and Lakewood.  These are some of my favorites that are listed above.  I hope this helps some of you how are here for the race and are not familiar with the area.  Chances are that you may run into me at one of these places on race weekend.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

April Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 10K Training Recap

I'm really sure if April's weather was that great or did it seem better because the weather this Spring has been horrendous.  We had some spot days this month that were pretty good, but most of them were rainy and very gusty.  It was hard to build any momentum.  Hopefully, May is much better.  Apart from the weather, it was a pretty good month for me.  I had my highest swim total ever in April and I should exceed my total swim distance from 2012 sometime next month.  I'm feeling pretty good about my work over the winter, but we'll see when I do my first open water swim in about 2 hours.  I'm  currently in Knoxville preparing for tomorrow's Revolution 3 Triathlon.  Since it will be raining all weekend, I decided to bring my laptop to catch up on my Cleveland Marathon Blogging and my blog reading.

I've been looking forward to May as it will kick off racing season for me.  This month I will be doing the Revolution 3 Triathlon on 5/5, Nordonia Hills Duathlon on 5/11, Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 10K on 5/19, and Clays Park Triathlon on 5/25.  Hopefully everyones training is going as well as mine has been.
Greetings from Knoxville Tennessee 

Swimming:  11.11 miles

Running:  58.11 miles

Cycling:  297.80 miles

Total miles:  367.01 miles

Time training:  34 hours 41 minutes

Calories burned:  34,652


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dress rehearsal: Getting prepared for the Rite Aid Marathon

As April comes to a close.  Most of you are probably making plans for your final long run before taper. This final long run can be very important.  Not only from a training standpoint, but for preparation.  I've always used this run as a test for gear I plan on using race day.  Especially if i'm planning on using new gear.  I try to simulate race day as much as I can.  I find that this helps calm race day nerves and trouble shoot any potential problems.  Below I listed some things I try during this time period.

1.  Shoes - I like to have a new pair of shoes for a big race day like Cleveland Marathon.  I've found that breaking them in with 50-75 miles prior to race day is the best.  I also do my last long run in them.  

2. Clothing - I always do my last big run before taper in my race outfit.  This will help identify any hot spots or rubs that may require Body Glide.  Also, you can gauge if the outfit will be comfortable on race day.  That last thing you want to deal with on your big day is clothing.  

3. Hydration - Before races I will check the map and make notes on at what mile the water, electrolyte, and GU stations are.  I will then start hydrating at those miles during training.  I've found that this will help get used to the hydration intervals that you'll need on race day.

4. Fueling - Fueling technology has progressed a lot the past few years.  There are plenty of choices between companies, flavors, and type.  It can be hard to choose between gels, chews, liquids, or bars.  My running favorite is peanut butter GU, but it was a lot of trial in error to find that.  My best suggestion is to try a few different ones on your runs to find which one you prefer.  Also, take them with water instead of an electrolyte.  Taking them with an electrolyte can be very hard on your stomach and cause it to be upset.

5. Route -  Try to mimic your race route.  If your lucky enough in the area.  Run a portion of the race route or scout out some of the hills.  This can help ease some of the nerves on race day.

I hope these tips help with the remainder of your training.  We are under the 30 day mark.  Keep up all your hard work and i'll see all of you on race day.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon - March Training Recap

This month began with a lot of excitement.  The worst of winter was over and 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 to get in two "outside" rides a week, but only got out twice before last weekend.  Apart from the crappy weather, my training went really well.  I had my best swim month yet with just over 10 miles.   One interesting thing I learned this month was that my right leg was 10 mm shorter than my left.  My hips had gone out of alignment to compensate for the discrepancy.  I wasn't experiencing any pain and this was a complete surprise.  The good news is everything is back to normal with 2 visits to the chiropractor.  I do feel better now while riding and my stride seems to be much smoother when running.  I'll still go back for some follow ups to make sure everything is staying aligned.

Lots to look forward too in April.  My next big race of the year is May 5th.   I need to log some outdoor workouts to get ready.  I also need to focus on getting to my race weight by the 5th.
Hopefully we have some dry weekends.  So, far it looks like I will get some great work in the end of this week.

Swimming:  10.11 miles

Running:  47.03 miles

Cycling:  222.10 miles

Total:  279.24 miles

Calories burned:  27,598

Time spent training:  30 hrs 27 min.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

How to get better at running...without running.

I've been brainstorming this post for a couple weeks.  As you reach the halfway point of your Cleveland Marathon training.  The body can have a tendency to break down.  Running can be rough on the body.  People at SportsMed Hospitals often joke that their facilities are funded by runners.  I want to share how I fight against injuries.  I do that through cross training.

I'm a big fan of cross training and I think it goes a long way towards making me a better runner.  In 2013 I have been swimming, biking, and running.  Below are two samples you can implement in your training.  It will still provide a benefit to your fitness/running while saving your legs from the stress of running.

Before you go into a I hate swimming panic (trust me, i've been there before).  It can help you improve as a runner.  I would like to suggest doing kick drills.  These will help promote hip strength and cardiovascular fitness.

Take a kick board (most gyms will have these for everyone to use).  Start off at one end and stretch out in a plank position.  You'll want to kick with you hips.  It's not easy, but kick the whole length (25 yards).  Take a 30 second or so rest and then do the same back.  Repeat this for 30 minutes.

I started incorporating these kick drills in October 2012 and it improved my running a lot.  I could feel the benefits of strong hips when running hills.  I think you'll enjoy this workout as a change of pace from running.

It's not secret that I am a diehard cyclist.  I've ran some of my best races in the Fall.  Why?  because of my cycling throughout the summer.  Like swimming, cycling can improve your fitness level without the stress on the body from running.  During the offseason, I like to train with intervals.  If you haven't interval trained.  Give it a try.  Hard intervals during the offseason are like storing cans of whoop ass that you can use during the race season to inflict pain on those who try to keep up with you.

There's two ways to train on a bike.  Obviously, if you have one.  Then I suggest riding it.  No bike??  No problem, take a spin class.

A sample beginner's workout would be:  Start with an easy spin of 10 minutes.  This is easy and you should be able to carry on a conversation if needed.  Once you are warmed up.  Try doing 60 seconds of speed bursts.  When you do these, increase the tension and increase your cadence to 90-100 RPM.  If you're new to riding, take a 60 second break between intervals.  If not, take a 20 second break.  It is up to you if you want to take the tension off during the rest period.  Do these for another 20-30 minutes.  Then do a 10 minute cool down.  If you take a spin class, they will incorporate intervals into their class.

These are just two examples of many ways to cross train.  I'm a big believer in cross training and its benefits to your training program.  I hope these ideas help.  I think incorporating these into you program will not only benefit your running, but keep you from injury as well.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Week 2 of training

Another week is in the books.  This week was pretty similar as the week before.  Except for my post swim run on Tuesday was increased from 30 minutes to 45 minutes.  The weather continues to not cooperate with my training as Friday was my only outdoor ride.  It wasn't a lot of fun with wind chills in the 30's, but I had no other choice.  My swimming went pretty decent this week.  I got some good tips from Westlake's swim coach and I swam a personal best of 3,000 yards during Sunday's masters class.  On Saturday I did the St. Malachi 5 miler in less than favorable conditions.  Overall, it was a decent week of training.  I'm starting to get antsy to train outside regularly.  My first big race is rapidly approaching and I'm still pretty far away from my race weight.

This coming week will be fairly similar.  Unfortunately, the weather will be similar too and I may not get out on the bike.  I'm looking forward to Saturday as I will be heading to Columbus for a  Retul 3D bike fitting on my TRI bike.

Monday:  20 mile ride. 

Tuesday:  1 hour swim / 45 minute run.
Wednesday:  10 mile ride.

Thursday:  1 hour swim / 30 minute run
Friday:  15 mile ride

Saturday:  St. Malachi 5 miler

Sunday:  90 minute swim 


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Week 1 of training.

This week kicked off my 27 week training program for Revolution 3's half ironman at Cedar Point.  For those of you not familiar with long course triathlons.  Its a 1.2 mile swim followed by a 56 mile bike and then a 13.1 mile half marathon.  So, i'll be pretty busy over the next few months preparing for this event.  Of which, i'm using the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 10K event as training race.

Overall, things went pretty good this week.  I learned that doing a 30 minute run after an hour swim is absolutely no fun.  Those were probably the 2 hardest workouts of this week.  I'm still having issues staying high in the water on my swim, but I am thinking its because i'm not keeping my head down.  The hardest part of swimming is trying to do so many things correctly that its easy to focus on one or two things and let other things slack.  Its easy to pick up some bad habits.  We were pretty luck this weekend and finally had some warm temps.  I was lucky enough to get all my runs and rides in outside this weekend.  I'm really pleased with me bike speed this early in the year.  I was able to hold 25 mph on my road bike through several flat areas, but I am slacking on my climbing.  I'm still carrying my winter weight and need to get down to my race weight.  I'll be focusing more on diet this week.  I need to cut back on my eating out.

This coming week will be pretty similar as last week and I will bump my training time from 9 1/2 hours to 9:45.  Plus, I will be running the St. Malachi 5 miler on Saturday.  So, if you are there.  Make sure to say hi!

Monday:  1 hour swim / 30 minute run.

Tuesday:  25 mile ride.

Wednesday:  1 hour swim / 30 minute run

Thursday:  25 mile ride

Friday:  4 mile run

Saturday:  1 hour run / 1 hour ride

Sunday:  90 minute swim / 30 minute ride


Monday, February 11, 2013

Its February...Welcome to the grind.

We are now 4-6 weeks into our training and most of us have or will be hitting a wall soon.  I call it the grind of February.  During January our training was new and exciting.  It was easy to be inspired by our New Year's resolutions and goals.  February is a whole different animal.  Our workouts/runs are getting longer and the weather isn't getting any better.  We dream of Spring and can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel.  These last days of winter seem to drag on for ever.

February can be a hard month.  I know I am always counting down the days till March.  Sure, we will still get a snow storm or two.  But its a small trade off for beginning to string a few days of decent weather in a row. Its important to remain focused during this month.  It can be easy to get discouraged and let your training or workouts slack.  Its important to keep strong both mentally and physically.  Most training plans just focus on the physical side of training, but the mental side is almost as important.  A couple runs in snowy weather or a long run on the treadmill will not only help physically.  It will also help you become mentally stronger and tougher.  These workouts will help you during those hard races or if the weather isn't optimal during the Spring.

To help get through these finals days of winter.  I've found that the following helps get through it.

1) New music - nothing helps me get through a workout i'm not excited about like new music.  It can quickly breathe some fresh air into a workout.

2) New music playlist - Sometimes I enjoy a new playlist or uptempo music to pass the time.  Also, try setting your mp3 player to shuffle.

3) Cross training -  Trying something new like a spin class, swim, or cross fit can still provide a physical benefit and break the monotony you may be experiencing with your training.

4) Change up your workouts - Sometimes rotating the days you training can help keep things fresh.

These are a few things that have helped me in the past.  I hope they are of some help to you as well.  If there is something you like to do or use.  Feel free to share them in the comments section for everyone to see and give a try.

Keep up the hard work everyone.  Spring is only 37 more days away and Punxsutawney Phil even said it will be an early Spring.  Plus, I heard Summer Shandy is out.  So, winter can't be too much longer.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon: January Training Recap

Wow, that went by quickly.  Hard to believe we are already 4 weeks into our training for 2013.  Lets hope February goes by just as fast.  Overall, this was a pretty successful month of training.  I continued to build on the foundation that was built over the holidays.  I've settled into the following training schedule:

Monday:  Speed work - I warm up for 1.5 to 2 miles then do a series of 6 intervals of 800s.  My pace for these intervals are slightly faster than my 5K pace.  I rest for 400 in between intervals and then another mile cool down.

Tuesday:  Spin class at Psycle Therapy

Wednesday:  Swimming

Thursday:  Spin class at Psycle Therapy

Friday:  Swimming

Saturday:  Cycling / Run brick training

Sunday:  Swike!!  Swim / Cycling brick training

I'm pretty satisfied with the results i've seen in my riding and running this year.  We were fortunate to have a couple 60 degree days here.  It was a gift from Mother Nature to get outside and see where I was at and I was very satisfied.  Swimming was another story.  My form this offseason has improved dramatically.  Unfortunately, my endurance in the pool hasn't improved.  I've narrowed it down to not sitting high enough in the water.  Its been a struggle keeping my butt high in the water.  To help counteract this, I've been doing more work in the pool with a pull buoy.  I really didn't want to do this as I wanted to swim the bulk of my training without it, but in the long run.  Its not as big of a deal as i'm making it as I will be racing again this year in a wetsuit.  I'm a bigger guy, so its hard for me to stay higher in the water.

Thanks to Bryan @TriDocB for this photo.  I was having a swim panic meltdown about my training and this helped a lot.

Here's the totals from this past month:

Miles ran:  53.53

Miles ridden:  484.24

Miles swam:  8.38

Total miles:  526.16

Calories burned:  37,548

Time training:  40:01

I hope everyone's training is going as well as mine.  February will be much more of the same for me. I may even sprinkle in some 5k's and Indoor Triathlons!!


Friday, January 18, 2013

Heroes - My thoughts on Lance Armstrong and other Athletes of my generation.

From an athletic standpoint all the heroes from my generation cheated in some fashion.  Cycling, Baseball, Football, and even the Olympics.  Sure, I bought into the dream that Lance was an American hero who beat cancer then went on to defeat the best athletes in the world for 7 years.  I don't agree with cheating in any way, but I do understand that it was part of the athletic culture back then.  I hope we as a society can learn from the past and promote clean competition in all sports.  

I also hope as a society we make better choices in our athletic heroes.  I'm guilty myself of looking up to athletes who achieve success.  But what constitutes success?  Winning? Championships?  Being the best at what you do?  In the past I used these attributes.  Lately, I've realized I was wrong.  We should choose heroes like ourselves who manage to promote healthy lifestyles while managing careers, families, over come disease, illness, tragedy and deal with the daily stresses of life.  All while doing the most with the talents we were blessed with.  We are the true heroes and we need to support each other in what ever path we decide to take.  Too often we choose to tear down instead of building up.  So, the next time you see someone choosing to be "their" best.  Cheer them on as they are the true heroes.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Back in Black: My plan for 2013

I'm fortunate enough to be selected to as an Official Cleveland Marathon for a 3rd year.  I'd like to thank the marathon staff for giving me this opportunity to promote your race and share my training experience.  Each year I feel more pressure to be more inspirational than the year before and I hope I can continue to do that this year.

For those of you how are new to this blog, My name is Beal.  Beal is my last name and has been my nickname for as long as I can remember.  I started blogging about 26 months ago to meet new people interested in living a healthy lifestyle and share experiences in my weight loss journey.  I used to weigh over 300 pounds and look like this!!!  Yikes!!

I have since adopted a healthy life along with loosing over a 100 pounds.  During that time I have swam, biked, and ran over 20,000 miles including multiple 100 mile bike rides, 13 half marathons, 3 triathlons, and 2 Cleveland Marathons.  I now look like this....

For a more in depth look at my weight loss journey and how I was inspired, check out this post Welcome

Enough talk about the past.  Lets look to the future!!!!  This year I will not be running the marathon.  After running my 2nd last year.  I felt like I had finished that chapter in my life and it was time to take on another challenge.  That challenge is Ironman.  Last June I began my multi-sport training with a plan to complete a half ironman in 2013 and full ironman in 2014.

I will have 2 main goals in 2013:

1) To complete my first Half Ironman (1.2 mile swim / 56 mile bike / 13.1 mile run) at Revolution 3 Sandusky on September 8th.

2) To qualify for the Revolution 3 Age Group Championship race.
      - I will be attempting to snag one of the ten available Clydesdale division slots.  

With these lofty goals, my Spring will be centered around one word...SPEED!!!  I've been laying a foundation of training the past two months and will be specializing on speed training during the next couple months.  Since I will not be doing much distance running, I will be competing in the Cleveland Marathon 10K event this year.  By training for a shorter distance.  I will be able to better prepare for multi-sport events this May.  My Cleveland Marathon blogs this will be more focused on the benefits of cross-training, speedwork and how they can help your running.  I'm excited for this year and looking forward to a different approach to training, blogging and racing this year.  I hope everyone joins in on the hard work as we will punish those who try to keep up with our SPEED!!!!