Race Recap: Youngstown Half Marathon

I love racing. I love it. Even when I’m not pushing for time, I love the environment, the atmosphere, the thrill of the event, the bling at the end (can’t forget that now!). So no one should be surprised that I finished the Ogden (did I mention how amazing that was?) and pretty much immediately signed up for the inaugural Youngstown Half Marathon–because who doesn’t want to race every weekend?  That said, and I actually emailed the RD to make sure we could do it–race day pickup was my deal breaker. I was already making two trips to Ohio that week, a third was fine, but a fourth to pick up race packets was a non-starter. Fortunately, they said race day pickup was fine so the hubs and I signed up. A group from my running club was going, it was gonna be a good day.

Sunday morning we got up stupid early–really stupid early, like 3:30 AM–to get ready so we could head to Youngstown. Mind you the drive takes an hour 15 to an hour and a half, wanted to get there around 6 for packet pickup, race started at 7. So we left at 4:30. Which was slight overkill, but hey, live and learn. Got there, got our packets, got warmed up and ready, got the group photo for the running club, and soon we were in the street ready to start.

Great course, great great course. The half is mostly through Mill Creek park, which I have run before, though man, did I forget about the hills. Like I knew that hills were a thing, but after the Ogden last weekend I kind of brushed them off. MISTAKE. I struggled on this course, much more than I did at Ogden, largely because I underestimated the hills. Admittedly my nutrition has also been off balance lately, and I suffered for that as well. Plenty of good moments during this race, though. I flew on the downhills (that’s always been a strength of mine). And this bridge, in the middle of the park, which I LOVE:

It was the first year for this event and it was really well done–well organized, well executed, and I was overall pleased with the experience. The problems I had had zero to do with the race itself, and I would definitely consider this race again. Also…check out this medal! The photo does not do the glitter justice:


And in other news, when I went to update my stats on the Half Fanatics website I realized that I was soooo close to mooning up…I just needed one more race within a week. Sooooo I signed up for another half marathon this weekend. Closer to home on the GAP trail, a smaller event but it will still be nice and will get me that last race (4 half marathons in 37 days) I need to moon up.

Lots going on as I prepare for a round of full marathon training, but more on that later. Happy Monday, friends.


I’m still processing all the awesomeness of this year’s Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend. My husband and a buddy crushed the marathon. I had an amazing experience at the half and I can’t stop thinking about it. I was really distracted all day at work on Monday. I can’t put my finger on why this year’s race is sticking with me so much more than any other year. Even the year I first broke 2:30 faded faster than this. Maybe it’s because I’m still sore, I worked really, really hard during that race and I gave it everything. Perhaps even more than the year I first broke 2:30. Perhaps it’s because of the emotional experiences of friends and my husband, who finished the full after not being able to on previous attempts. Maybe because it was just the perfect day. The weather ended up being amazing. It was the perfect blend of work and fun. I enjoyed every second of this race. I took in the city, the signs, the crowds, but I also worked my tail off during it. Maybe the fact I was mid-pack for the first time in such a large race played a role–I’m used to seeing people ahead of me, but not the huge crowd I had this time. It was really awesome. Maybe the fact I did the Steel Challenge factors in. I had a great time in the 5k on Saturday, even though it was raining. I used to hate 5ks, but not anymore. This was fun. Back to back races are fast becoming one of my favorite things ever. Maybe it’s because this year I had SCRR, and while I’m fairly reserved and not the most social person when I’m at group runs/events, I know that I have the support of an amazing community and seeing and hearing their stories and triumphs made the day even sweeter and more memorable. Oh, and how about this race photo where they actually captured me with both feet off the ground? This was the cherry on top of the weekend–evidence that I ‘get air’.


My heart is overwhelmingly full from this experience in a way that I’m having a lot of trouble articulating. And with no races on the calendar until mid-June I’m feeling a bit of a void. I need to remedy that quickly, looking at a 10k next weekend, though I also need to focus on re-building some distance for the 12-hour event in June. Then I will shift gears and get into some serious marathon training, because I have some big goals for my fall race. Lots to look forward to and work for.

Til next time, friends.

Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend Recap

One of my favorite weekends of the year–Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend! The Pittsburgh Half was the first big race that I ran back in 2011, and it was in training for it that I really fell in love with running, and I suppose with racing. Starting on Friday, with the GNC Live Well Health and Fitness Expo. Usually I’d just go on Saturday, but this year I signed up for the Steel Challenge–a 5k on Saturday and one of the longer races (half, full, or relay) on Sunday, so I wanted to pick up everything before Saturday. I took a half day at work so I could wander around at the Expo and spend money. Which I did (with my husband’s blessing) because RUNNING and ALL OF THE THINGS. I get so excited for Expos, but then I’m always somewhat disappointed when I actually get there. It’s always a little chaotic by the nature of being an Expo, but still I wandered around for quite awhile and found some great stuff, ran into a friend, and signed up for the P3R Mega Ticket–Liberty Mile, EQT Pittsburgh 10-Miler, and next year’s Pittsburgh Half Marathon (or full, but I’m doing the half again), so hey, first race for 2018 is officially lined up and paid for!

Next up was the 5k on Saturday morning. The course runs around the North Side near the stadiums, and the science Center, then into town where you finish at the Official finish line. They have offered the Steel Challenge for 3 years now, and this is the first time I’ve taken part. I LOVED it. I told myself the 5k was just going to be a fun run. I wasn’t trying to PR, I wasn’t going to push myself, I needed to save all that for Sunday. And I didn’t. I ran a nice easy 5k, came in with a solid 32:42, though I did manage to negative split (each mile was a little faster than the previous one),  which rarely happens in my world so I was pretty pumped about that. One of the SCRR crew managed to capture this shot of me near the finish line and I LOVE it! One of my favorite race photos ever:

Good form, I’m smiling even though it rained the entire race. I’d just slapped 5 with a random lady and there was a kid ahead with his hand out so I left mine out to get him. And I was completely unaware of the camera. I wasn’t cheesing for him, I was just genuinely happy and in the moment. It’s how I feel when I’m racing (though admittedly I’m not always smiling).  The race went well, and I was happy. I definitely want to do it again.

Sunday was the half marathon, one of my favorite races ever. I LOVE running through the city of Pittsburgh. Had to change the course this year due to some construction projects, which made me really sad. They had to cut out some of my beloved bridges, and replaced it with a loop through the North side (again). It was fine, I still love it, though I sincerely hope they can bring the bridges back because to me running bridges is way more fun, and way more iconic Pittsburgh than a stadium tour (though we do have some nice ones).

I had a really steep goal for this race. I wanted to hit or break 2:15. Earlier this year I would’ve been absolutely crushed and/or pissed that I didn’t do that. I didn’t, and I wasn’t. I could tell pretty early in the race it wasn’t going to happen, so I just adjusted my sights–I really just wanted to PR, even if it was only by seconds. I had a great time. I enjoyed running through the city, I enjoyed the spectator signs, slapping 5 with random strangers and small children. I gave everything I had to the race, I can tell because I’m sore today from a distance my body is used to. And I DID PR, by about 3 minutes, 2:26:49 (previous PR was 2:29:53).

Post race I hung around the Finish Line Festival and killed time until my husband finished the marathon. Didn’t take as full advantage of the SCRR perks as I should have (now that I know what to expect, I think next year will be different). Didn’t take advantage of the cool but goofy photo ops, didn’t even ring the PR bell, because it’s not about any of that for me and I didn’t feel like waiting in the lines, quite honestly. At the end of the day I know I PR’d and I hope to break it again before the year is up. And these beauties are mine:

I have much more to share, but that will come soon. Happy Monday, friends.

Pittsburgh Half Recap

I don’t know where to start…

It was a great first half for me, and definitely the first of many.

The weather was perfect–all week we’d been vascillating between showers and t-storms. It ended up being showers, which was amazing. It was a very light rain that decreased through the duration, overcast but not dark, and nice and cool. The actual rain cut the humidity so it was perfect running weather (in my opinion). I’m not usually one to like running in rain, but I was so happy for it today.

I started too fast–it’s hard not to. But I was able to recover. I walked more than I wanted to, but overall I was very happy with my time. I was expecting to come in around 3:15:00, but my unspoken goal was 3:00:00. By mile 11 I was starting to hurt (my longest run in training was 10), by mile 12 I knew I wouldn’t make 3:00:00, but I knew I wouldn’t be too far off it either. I ended up coming in at 3:06:11, which I’m thrilled with. And as glad I was to be finished, and as sore as I am right now, I really can’t wait to do it again.

The whole thing was very emotional for me. I teared up when I crossed the start line–I was there, this was happening and I was really doing it! I teared up at other points along the route because I was doing it, OMG I was actually doing it. I wouldn’t let myself cry though, because it would have messed with my breathing and breathing was a million times more important, so I sucked it up and went along. I smiled almost the whole time because I’m that girl. Maybe not when I’m on a training run, but when I’m running in a race I smile. Less for the cameras and more for the sheer joy of the race. I’m a geek, what can I say?

I haven’t taken my medal off except for to shower. And I’m wearing my I ::heart:: 13.1 shirt. And I’ve already signed up for my next half marathon–that’s how much I love it. This is my distance. I’m not super interested in doing a full at this point, but if I ever do an official full marathon it will probably be Pittsburgh because running through the city was so much fun. Each of the different neighborhoods had a party going on with bands and cheerathoners.

Now, it’s time for some pictures:

my name on the wall at the Expo.

me all serious like at the start

me at mile 10 (when my boyfriend showed up on the sidelines!)

me and @runstaceyrun at the finish

Half Marathon freak out time…

Training is going well. I have my last long run–10 miles on Saturday. I did my 7 miles in the rain this morning. My outfit is coming together nicely (black wicking shirt and white iron on letters purchased today) and I even found that I have nail polish that matches my tights (yeah, crazy, I know) so I’m going to go nuts with that next week.

I’m mostly excited, though I’m also nervous. I keep looking at the course closure/sweep times and even though realistically I know I’ll be okay, it still makes me nervous. I know that I’ll have race day excitement & momentum on my side (not to mention other runners, bands, and cheerathoners) and I don’t worry about finishing the distance itself–I know that most training plans don’t have you run the full distance before the race and I know that I can get myself to the finish line because I’m good at finishing distances, I have yet to meet a distance I haven’t been able to conquer (even if I want to die afterwards). I’m just worried about finishing in time.

*breathe* I just need to breathe and relax. I’m not fast, but I’m steady, and I’m sure I’ll feel better after my 10-miler on Saturday when I know for sure how long that takes me (I’m decent at guesstimating, but it’s not the same as having an actual number to work with).

Training Log–Week 2 (1/10-1/15)

Monday (1/10)-2 miles on treadmill; went in dreading it, but forced myself to pick up the pace and left glad that I did it.

Thursday (1/13)-2.27 miles on treadmill; first 2.02 in my Ryka’s, last .25 in my VFFs! Love them already.

Saturday (1/15)– 3.25 miles on treadmill; varied speed every ¼-½ mile. Last ¼ mile in my VFFs, a little rough in the middle, but good overall.

Total Mileage for week: 7.52

Total Mileage for year: 13.96

Training Log–Week 1 (1/3-1/9)

I’ve decided to post the highlights from my paper training log weekly (unless there is something spectacular, in which case I’ll probably update from my phone at the gym).

Monday (1/3)-2.20 miles on treadmill; w .25//r 1.75//w .20; needed to eat something & drink more water before but felt good otherwise.

Wednesday (1/5)-2 miles on treadmill; w .25//r 1.5// w .25; still not eating/drinking enough, sidestitch around 1 mile mark, stopped for water. Not stellar but in the books.

Saturday (1/8)– 2.24 miles on treadmill; w .25//r 1/75//w .24; ate a banana 30 min. before & drank more water = FELT BETTER! good run.

Total Mileage for week: 6.44

Total Mileage for year: 6.44

2011 is going to be AWESOME! (Running edition)

Goals for 2011:

  1. Pittsburgh Half Marathon!–It’s on! They have my money! I just want to finish, that’s my goal, I’m not going to stress about time (other than beating the cut off). But I’m psyched. I do better with training when I have a goal. And if this goes well, I plan to do the CHAD Hero Half up here in late-summer/fall.
  2. Food.–I don’t eat like a runner-and I don’t run enough (yet) that I can use running as an excuse to eat. But a half marathon is serious business. I need to step up my game in the food department and actually fuel my body instead of eating whatever is easiest. I know how I should be eating, and what I most certainly should NOT be eating-time for me to stop talking and just do it.
  3. Learn to like running outside.–I actually don’t think this will be that hard. When I was running the ill-fated Turkey Trot I was enjoying the outside running (on a cross country course). The parts of outside running I don’t like are (1) the cold and (2) the pavement. If I run trails (easy to do in my area) and stay on the TM until the weather gets better it shouldn’t be so bad. I’m sure I will eventually even not mind the cold.
  4. PR at the Run for Empowerment 5k.–Again, this shouldn’t be hard, as last year’s race was AWFUL and I’ve only done it twice. I will also have done the half by then, so PRing at this will be a piece of cake.
  5. Run at least 3x per week.–(barring illness or injury) Now, this doesn’t sound like much as there are many of you who run everyday or almost everyday. And I will be running more than 3x per week for much of my training. BUT, when life starts getting crazy, when I’m traveling, etc. running is the first thing to get shifted out of my life. And 3x a week is a manageable amount to shoot for, so I’m going to promise myself that (barring illness or injury) I will run a minimum of 3x a week for the next year.
  6. Keep my training log.–I know that a real training log is a valuable tool. I will keep mine up-to-date for the whole year. I may not post everything online, but I will keep my paper version up-to-date and accurate at the very least.