Race weekend stuff to do!

If you haven’t already, it’s time to get your Mercy Health Glass City Marathon travel and weekend plans lined up! As a local of more than a decade and lover of all things Toledo, I’ve got some super fun suggestions.

There are lots of very “Toledo” things to do in the Glass City–most blogs and websites will point you in the direction of our world-class zoo, our incredible art museum and glass pavilion, and our scenic metro parks. All of those standard weekend-in-Toledo things are totally awesome, but I’m keeping it real and offering up some more-Toledo funzies.

Friday, April 21: I base most daily plans around when and what I will eat. That said, let’s think food. Two days before your race is when you need to load up on carbs–NOT the night before, which most runners seem to believe. Now that you have that for your greymatter, while everyone is waiting an hour for a table at the O.G. on Saturday night, you’ll be chillin’ and your body will be energizing for Sunday morning.

Make a dinner reservation for Friday evening at M’Osteria in downtown Toledo. Throw on a decent pair of jeans and a crisp shirt. Have a glass of house red or an Ohio beer at the bar. Order a pasta dish with a lean protein. Avoid cream-based sauces. When your meal arrives, ask for a box and take half of it home or back to your hotel–it’ll make for a good lunch on Saturday.

Saturday, April 22: Wake up, throw on your running gear, grab your ID, and drive over to Savage Arena at the University of Toledo. Park and then do your shake-out run on the University Parks Trail before you head into the expo to grab your packet. It’ll familiarize you with the last stretch of the full marathon. Dave’s Performance Footgear always has an awesome set-up with super-sweet GCM gear and all of your race day needs like Gu, Honey Stinger Waffles, and Body Glide. Check out the other awesome race booths, too! Maybe stop by the pacer booth where you can meet the folks who will help you meet or beat your goal time–I might even be one of them!

After the expo, it’ll be lunch time. Either eat your light carbs and lean protein from the night before OR go to Social, which is on the other side of campus at the Gateway plaza on Secor and Dorr. Social has a great menu of sandwiches and wraps and yummy sides like Brussels sprouts and salads. Whatever you eat, eat well but eat light. Avoid heavy and deep-fried stuff. Drink LOTS of water, too.

After lunch, for the love of all that is good, give your tootsies a break! Netflix and chill. Or go see a movie at the Maumee Indoor. Or sit on a bench at Side Cut Metro Park and people-watch. The weather on expo Saturday tends to be gorgeous, so if you can plant your seat somewhere outside, do it! Stay off of your feet!

For dinner, hit up a Mediterranean joint. Toledo has LOTS of delicious options like the Beirut on Monroe Street and Zingo’s in downtown Perrysburg. You’ll definitely want to get a reservation for the Beirut. It’s sorta classy but not. Zingo’s is totally casual and quick. It’s my go-to light lunch/dinner spot when I want something fast and light but fillin

After dinner, RELAX. Sleep. Or try to sleep.

RACE DAY YAY! Get to the University of Toledo early. Like, 6:00 AM. That way you can park and if it’s a cluster-you-know-what, you’ll have lots of time to panic then calm down. Run your race. CRUSH your goal. Enjoy the post-race festivities at the finish. Shower. Then EAT AGAIN!

I suggest my absolute favorite place to eat, which is Swig in Perrysburg. They serve outrageously good bar food and they have a rotating selection of craft beers that beats every other spot in Northwest Ohio. Indulge. Have a BLT or a duck reuben. Get a flight of IPAs and stouts or even sours if your into that whack stuff. Afterwards, take a stroll through downtown Perrysburg or maybe even over to the 577 Foundation where you can scope out flowers and plants and other pretty stuff. Maybe hit up the Botanical Gardens for the same vibe. It’s okay and actually GOOD to be on your feet to keep your muscles happy.

And that’s that–my insider suggestions for how to spend your weekend in the Glass City. Again, I’m clearly focused on food, but as runners, eating is important to us. We have to fuel our bodies well. Also, eating is fun. And we get to socialize with those closest to us while we eat.


Boston and Glass City Training, Week 4

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last training update. We’ve been up to a lot, namely moving into our brand new house. So much fun! And I’m getting used to new routes for running. I’ll get to that in another post.
I’ve been super good about following the Hal Higdon’s Boston Bound program. Today I had 16 easy miles and I felt pretty darn good. Lately it has been rather windy around here, including every Tuesday of training so far, which has sucked because Tuesdays alternate between 800s and hills. Speedwork into the wind blows.
Those 16 miles at easy pace were a little tough here and there, given the wind. Before I started the run, I had intended to try to run 9:00s for at least the first few miles. My first mile was 8:41 and I ran mostly negative splits from there. It was definitely comfortable the whole way, with the exception of running much of the second half into the aforementioned wind. I never felt crappy or upset about it. It helped that the sun was shining!
Last summer I experimented with fat-adapted running. Today I kinda-sorta did that. I took one Caramel Macchiato Gu just in case I’d start to feel weak, which I did around mile eight. Meh, I guess I didn’t feel weak so much as light-headed. It was the first time I had ever taken a Gu without water and it happened without incident. After ten to fifteen minutes, I felt strong again.
I’m feeling good after that run today. I had become a little frustrated with my runs lately due to the crappy conditions (i.e., wind), so this strong 16-miler boosted my confidence to where it should be. Boston and Glass City will be here sooner than later. I can’t wait!

Mercy Health Glass City Marathon Charity Partners

Running in and of itself is totally selfish. Only I directly benefit when I run.

Running makes me happier.

Running makes me stronger.

Running maintains my sanity.

However, comma, running races generally serves to benefit people and things in need. The Mercy Health Glass City Marathon is partnered with a slew of charitable organizations that make Toledo and Northwest Ohio happier, stronger, and less crazy. Check out the entire list of MHGCM charity partners here.

A few of those organizations are particularly special to me. A couple of my running friends run a Glass City event every year on behalf of Catholic Charities of Northwest Ohio. This past fall, I ran with Girls on The Run of Northwest Ohio for the first time ever. Another buddy does builds with Habitat for Humanity regularly. Take a gander at the above link to the entire list of charity partners–you are sure to find one near and dear to you or someone important to you.

But then what? Look–Toledo loves love. Spread that love. Do your part to make Toledo happier, stronger, and even a little less nuts. When you register for a Mercy Health Glass City Marathon event, consider making a donation in your name or anonymously to any of our generous and loving charity partners.

But now how do you decide how much money to donate? Of course, no amount is too small. Here’s my idea: Think back to how much you spent on registration for your most expensive race ever. Take that and subtract the amount that you’re paying to register for a MHGCM event–dude, huge savings when you run Glass City compared to other races, especially if you register before a price increase! Then, donate that amount to the charity partner or partnerS nearest and dearest to your big ol’ Toledo-loving heart.

Be happier. Be stronger. Be more mentally-stable. And for goodness sake, show the love, Toledo!

Boston and Glass City Training: Week…um…

In my last post, I shared that I had decided on a training plan for Boston and Glass City. Also, I think I mentioned that I was starting in week four of Hal Higdon’s 18-week Advanced 1 plan. Last week, I totally screwed up. Here is what I was supposed to do:

Monday: 3 miles.

Tuesday: 6 miles.

Wednesday: 3 miles.

Thursday: 4 x hill.

Friday: Rest.

Saturday: 6 miles at pace.

Sunday: 13 miles.

Why is some of that stuff bold? The bold days are the days that I screwed up. I pretended to have photographic memory–I looked at the plan on Monday and that was it. Here’s what I actually did on those days:

Wednesday: Rest (I can’t remember, but I think there was crappy weather or something).

Thursday: 5 miles at pace-ish (It’s hard to come by hills in Northwest Ohio).

Friday: 4 miles (Had to make up for that Wednesday rest day).

Saturday: 5 miles (Honest to goodness, I simply forgot that it should have been 6).

Sunday: 10 miles (See above.)

Given that I pretty much made up my own week four, I was certain to do week five as the plan states. Here is this week so far:

Monday: 3 miles.

Tuesday: 7 miles.

Wednesday: 3 miles.

Thursday: 35-minute tempo.

Exactly as Hal Higdon prescribes! Boom goes the dynamite. I’m proud of my tempo run because I had never done one on my own.

This evening, I got to thinking. That thinking resulted in a change in plans. Yep, I’m bad at planning running stuff. I am switching up my training plan to instead use Hal Higdon’s Boston Bound program. It’s only 13 weeks, which is where I am right now. The plan still has six days per week running. The draw for me is that the Tuesday runs are shorter; in Advanced 1, they reach 10 miles, which would mean getting up at like 3:45 AM, whereas Boston Bound is all intervals and repeats on Tuesdays.

I know. I’m whack-tastic. I promise that I will stick with this plan!

Training plans for dummies

Happy 2017! A new year means that you darn well better figure out your training plan for whatever spring marathon or half marathon you’ll run for your goal race. If you’re running a full, I hope that you’ve already done that.

If you know me, you know that I’m pretty willy-nilly about training plans. Yesterday, January one, I finally decided on my training plan for Boston, which will be my first 26.2 of the season. Less than a week later, I’ve got the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon. That’ll be my shake-out/fun race/pacer event (I haven’t decided which of those three it’ll be). I kinda sorta want to choose one more for May or June; Joe is leaning toward a certain bucket list marathon in Minnesota.

Anywho, this winter and spring I’m using Hal Higdon’s Advanced 1 training plan. With the exception of 2016 when I coached with Dave’s Marathon in Training for the spring and fall, I had otherwise always used Hal Higdon’s training plans. My favorite is Intermediate 1; solid mileage and I am able to be rather lackadaisical regarding “workouts” because aside from pace runs once per week, there aren’t any. I like to not think when  I run.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it–right? So why did I step up to Advanced 1? Plain and simple, I want more 20-milers. This plan has workouts each week, such as hill repeats and intervals, which I’m not certain I’ll do. I just really like the bigger mileage of the Advanced 1 plan.

Today, I’m fifteen weeks out from Boston. My plan is 18 weeks, so really I’ve skipped the first three weeks. That’s fine by my standards because I’ve been running solid miles including long on the weekends. Day one of week four (this week) calls for three miles. Soooo, what did I run this morning?

Not three, nope. I prefer to run at least five miles per day.

Did I run five? Nope.

Seven. I ran seven miles.

So much for following a plan. I’ll update you next weekend and we can all laugh at how poorly I follow rules.

What’s your goal race this spring? What’s your training plan? How did you pick it?

Race for cheap!

I’m pretty sure we’ve only got three days left in 2016. Three. Days. THREE!

Three days to knock items off of your 2016 bucket list.

Three days to reach your mileage goal for the year.

Three days to register for the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon for super cheap! Click here to do it!

Seriously, early bird pricing to run THE Glass City totally blows all other serious marathons out of the water. Seventy bucks? That’s less than half of what I have paid for a few other marathons. In fact, I’ve even run a half marathon that dug deeper into my pocket. Speaking of, you’ve got the same three days to lock in registration with the best price on all of the other distances. AND if you’re a Toledo Road Runner, you’ll get an even better discount!

I’m registered for the full and I’m super pumped to maybe be a pacer again. What distance will you run? If you’ve already registered, why did you jump on it early? And for the heck of it, what are your mileage plans for the rest of 2016?

Road rage!

Today, kids, we’re going to talk road rage. But first, some odds and ends.

1) Today is your last day to enter to win a FREE entry for the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon event of your choice. Check out Amanda’s blog to make one last attempt!

2) One of the winners from my giveaway, Joanne, notified me that she registered for the FULL MARATHON on April 23, 2017. This pumps me up. Go big like Joanne!

3) I have to run 66 miles in two weeks in order to reach my goal to run 2016 miles in 2016. Hashtag runtheyear, homie–I can do this.

Road rage. A lot of us have experienced it and I’m sure we are mostly not proud of it. Earlier this year, I decided that I’d “choose kind” in all situations. Admittedly, I’m still working on perfecting that. On the road, when a driver does something that I don’t understand, such as cut me off or tailgate, I tell myself, “I hope his/her day gets better.” It’s nice; my heart rate stays low and I continue on my way.

Yesterday morning, Tammy and I were running. It had snowed the night before, so the roads were slushy and plows had pushed lumpy piles of snow into the shoulders where we normally run against traffic. An SUV rolled past us on the right, traveling in the same direction. The driver then rolled down his window and stuck his arm out the window, middle finger a-blazin’. I interrupted Tammy: “That guy just gave us the finger!”

“What‽” Tammy was as surprised and confused as I was. We were on the opposite side of the road, there was no oncoming traffic, and we were as far from the right side of the road as we could have been. The dude made a right turn, which put him onto a street parallel to us. He slowed down, rolled down his window, and yelled something truly awful.

“Hope you get hit!”

I wondered if we had drifted toward the center line and didn’t realize it. Maybe he was worried that with the slushy roads, he may have lost control and taken us out. Maybe he is an injured runner going insane because he is on rest. Or maybe he was having a really bad morning and took it out on us. But dang, hoping that we get hit? Ouch. Ouchy ouch-ouch.

As runners, we have a responsibility to be safe. I totally get that when drivers see runners in the road, it can make one a little nervous. As human beings, when we are scared, we might react angrily out of concern. That guy probably came up behind us and was worried that he’d hit us and because he didn’t want that to happen, he freaked.

I imagine a lot of folks believe that runners should stay on sidewalks. This time of year, sidewalks are covered in snow and ice. If you want us on sidewalks, please shovel and salt them. Furthermore, sidewalks are uneven, which leads to clumsy people like yours truly face-planting. And for those of us who run when it’s dark, those street lights only light the streets. The road is the safer option, so I’m going to stay there in the shoulder against traffic.

What do I expect from drivers?

  • Keep your eyes on the road ahead.
  • Let up on the gas a touch when you come up on a runner.
  • If you have room, swerve around runners.
  • Please do not flash your brights–we see you.
  • Wave at us. Let us know that you see us and appreciate that we are doing our best to not interrupt traffic. And it’s just nice to wave.

Of course, it’d be remiss of me to not lay out expectations for runners:

  • Run against traffic.
  • Run in the shoulder or as close to it as possible if there isn’t much of one.
  • Wear super visible stuff–bright colors and reflective stuff.
  • Acknowledge drivers with a kind wave. “Hi! I’m just here running against traffic in my shoulder!”
  • Respect drivers. They are behind the wheels of giant killing machines.

Most importantly, choose kind.

What is your best road rage story, either as the enraged or the recipient of the rage? How do you feel about runners in the road versus on the sidewalk? What solutions do you have to offer?

Santa Hustle Cedar Point Half Marathon

Yesterday we ran the Santa Hustle Cedar Point Half Marathon for the fifth consecutive year. The route has changed a little bit each year. Likewise has been the weather–we’ve run that race in shorts as well as on top of about a half-foot of freshly packed snow! Yesterday, the weather was just as it should be in December: cold and snowy.

Like a ding-dong, I ran 7+ miles on the day before the race. I hadn’t planned to run that far, nope. Emily and I just started running and 7.3 miles later with an average 8:15 pace, we were back at my driveway. We had Pure Barre earlier that morning and I generally go balls-to-the-wall so I’m not sure if that combined with the run had any impact on my race the next morning. Further, Joe and I danced our pants off at his work Christmas party later that night. Of course I wore 3.5″ heels. It’s good for my calves, right?

We woke up in our Sandusky hotel room on Sunday morning to a good coating of fresh, powdery snow. I usually love winter running, but as soon as I stepped into the cold, I was dropping f-bombs in my head. I had felt like crap all week, my hamstrings were tight, and for whatever reason I was not feelin’ the winter weather. In the Cedar Point parking lot I almost bit it on a slick spot on our way to the start. All of that had me in a bad frame of mind and I thought about not running, but then I realized what a brat I was being in my head. Suck it up, buttercup.

The race started and off we went. I wasn’t so sure about the ground conditions and so in fear of slipping on ice or slush, I ran my first mile very cautiously and stiff. I escaped the congestion and felt a little more relaxed, but I knew in mile two that it was not a PR day for me. I decided that instead of throwing in the towel and falling back to run easy, I’d just kinda go and not think about it. It helped that I was a little distracted by the goings-on inside Cedar Point; I caught a neat glimpse of Mean Streak’s lift hill undergoing its transformation for 2017, so that was fun.

Mile 1: 7:49

Mile 2: 7:42

Mile 3: 7:28

Mile 4: 7:50

Mile five had us on the causeway, which is a real biznatch every time I’ve run it. That wind straight to the face for a good mile is frigid and it seemed to really slow down everyone. I was relieved to make the right turn onto First/Front Street. Mile six-ish is where I typically take a Gu, but my stomach felt so very full from the night before and as aforementioned, I had felt like crap all week. No Gu for me during this one, although I did have one on standby in my pocket.

Depending on the direction I was running, I was either too warm or too cold. I also couldn’t get my legs moving as well as I would have liked. I struggled to hit a pace that pleased me, but I was able to get back down to something reasonable on the way back toward the park.

Mile 5: 8:03

Mile 6: 8:04

Mile 7: 7:46

Mile 8: 7:51

After I hit the halfway point, I started to wonder what my official finish may be. The previous four years, the course was WAY short. I looked at my average pace and tried to figure out what another short course would make it in the end, which gave me hope that my crappy run wouldn’t look so crappy. I was super happy to make it back to the causeway because that meant about 5K to go AND the wind at my back. Around mile 11, I felt a surge of energy or maybe just excitement to be done. I latched onto an older lady who zipped past me and I joked about finishing with an Indian run. The surge was short-lived.

Mile 9: 8:07

Mile 10: 7:49

Mile 11: 7:54

Mile 12: 7:56

The last full mile was rough. It’s a boring square in the parking lot partially into the wind. Brutal. Plus, it always includes the obstacle of dodging 5K walkers–yep, they start their 3.1-mile trek a half hour after us and are still workin’ on it after we’ve done 13.1. There are enough of them who are kind and offer motivational words as the runners pass.

In the final stretch, I kinda hoped I wouldn’t see Joe waiting for me because I felt so crummy about my time. He’s always proud and cheering for me and I appreciate it tons, but I felt like I didn’t deserve it. I bucked up and pushed through to the finish, ecstatic to be done.

Mile 13: 8:11

.1: 0:49

Official time: 1:43:19.

Finally, the race director got the course right and we did run 13.1+. A little bummed that I didn’t get to cheat the system in that regard, but it also gave me peace of mind.

This was my last race of 2016. I look forward to “rest” and truly easy long runs for a while. In January, I’ll gear up to train for Boston. Until then, maybe I’ll plan for some shorter spring races. I guess I should also maybe come up with a 13.1 goal time for 2017, too.

Miracle on Main Street 5K

An evening race? To celebrate the Christmas season? YASS!

The inaugural Miracle on Main Street 5K was on Sunday, December 4. The race was in Sylvania, which is a lovely little suburb–my third favorite in the Toledo area. I gather that the Miracle on Main Street is an annual Sylvania thing. The race was at 4:00 PM, followed by a fun run for the kids at 5:30, then the main event was a parade through downtown Sylvania at 6:00 PM.

I had been thinking about how weird it was to spend a day getting ready for a race, then it occurred to me that here in Toledo, we’ve also got the Ohio-Michigan 8K every July. That one is its own type of beast because it’s usually blazing hot and humid, so I don’t even think about it being a PM race. For the Miracle on Main Street, Joe and I decided it was a good idea to eat an entire deep dish pizza for lunch. Thumbs-up emoji here.

We arrived in downtown Sylvania early so that I could hook up with the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon ambassador crew for a group picture.

Nice shirts.
I was a bag of nerves before this one. The 5K is not my distance. Give me 13.1 or 26.2 miles, sure. But for a 5K, you have to run so stinking fast to be competitive and I am working on that whole “suicide pace” thing. Fortunately, the above photo-op was a distraction from my brain’s anxiety and butterflies in my stomach. Around 3:45, Joe and I set off for a half-mile warm-up with my co-coach from fall MIT, Steph. Steph is fast and runs for Dave’s racing team.

Shortly before 4:00, we packed in toward the front of the start to avoid the traffic jam that comes with a family-friendly 5K. At 4:00, we were off. I watched Joe and Steph take off into the almost immediate downhill, followed by an ascent. A hill at the start of a 5K can be dangerous unless you run it smart. Fortunately for me, I kinda love running hills. I passed a lot of the runners who had taken off ahead of me and by the time I hit mile one, I was gaining on Joe and Steph!

Mile one: 6:34.

I did catch up to Steph, but Joe was a little out of reach. Steph asked me how I was feeling. I said a bad word and then something more positive. She encouraged me to pick off Joe, but my brain was like, “Nope.” He wasn’t that far ahead of me as we approached Northview High School (where I had my first big-girl job), but because I am still working on my mental game in these 5K shenanigans, the gap got bigger and Steph zoomed off ahead of me.

I hope Run Toledo is cool with me using this.
From Northview, the route took us left onto Monroe Street, which is a gentle ascent. I noticed that I was drawing closer to Joe and assumed he was either being nice and decided he’d take it easy to finish with me OR the deep dish pizza was taking its revenge. As my watch beeped for the second mile, I knew Joe could hear me breathing and my unmistakable cadence.

Mile two: 6:40.

“Hi,” I said to Joe as I squeezed in between him and the shoulder line. He resolved my bufuddlement when he explained that he felt a possible shin splint coming on. Although I felt like a badass having caught up to him, I felt bad for him that he was in pain and maybe even moreso because he wouldn’t PR. The badass feeling didn’t stick around for long; Joe sped up around 2.5 and I watched him pull farther ahead toward Main Street. Oh, and I slowed down.

Mile three: 6:53.

Positive splits. That’s a thing, right?

I made the last right turn onto Main Street for the home stretch. Some lady shouted that I was the second female and a few seconds later I watched Steph cross the finish with me maybe a tenth of a mile behind. Joe finished, then I followed a few seconds after him. Like a dork, I threw up the deuce for the finisher photo and I narrowly avoided a faceplant over one of the timing mats.

Close your mouth, weirdo.

Official time: 20:56.

I didn’t run a PR, but I ran a better pace than my PR–the Girls on the Run course was short, so while this was a 6:45ish, my Garmin had me at a 6:53 a couple of weeks earlier.

I was a Nervous Nelly before the Miracle on Main Street 5K. Now, though, I know I could have run better and faster later in the race, even having run a couple of hills. Am I starting to like 5Ks? I think so. That said, it’s time for me to come up with a goal time. I think I know what it will be.

How did you like the Miracle on Main Street 5K? What are your goals for specific distances? Whodathunk we’ve got Northwest Ohio hills on the Churchill’s course AND in Sylvania?

A wise man once said…

“The best pace is a suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die.” Steve Prefontaine supposedly said it. I’ve never run a suicide pace, but I’d like to try it. I had a friend who admittedly was complacent with mediocrity and only did things that she could do with little effort. Although I still haven’t tried out this “suicide pace,” I want to do it. Balls-out is the only way to race.

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” Prefontaine said that, too–or so they say. Side bar: I’m skeptical of quotes, clearly. I bet if you ask ten runners, at least eight of them will say that one is their favorite Pre quote. It’s a more gentle way of expressing the first one. I bet it also imparts guilt on a lot of runners. Like, “Oh, you’re not running your best by choice? You ungrateful turd.” I think I like my translation more, but Pre was more prolific.

“Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it.” There he went again, being all candid and stuff. I appreciate a cocky attitude when someone can back it up with performance. Prefontaine apparently puffed his chest out and didn’t mince words. I admire that confidence and I’d love to be able to run well enough to talk smack like he did. Until then, I’ll fantasize about how awesome it would be to be able to say stuff like that.

What’s your favorite Prefontaine quote? How do you feel about that kind of confidence? Share any other words that motivate or inspire you.