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.

Marathon Madness…

A few years ago, when running was really bad for me for a million reasons, I kind of swore off the full marathon. I had no interest in doing another one for a long time, pretty much indefinitely. I never said never, but…I also couldn’t imagine WANTING to do it again–it hurts, and I found the training stressful. And then my running life was reborn, and that old familiar itch for distance came back. So I started poking around and looking at options. While Pittsburgh seemed like a natural choice for my return, the fact of the matter is that I HATE spring marathons. I hate training in the crap of winter to have it be 100 degrees on race day–No, Thank You. That’s the worst. Fall marathons are much more up my alley–train through the awful heat and humidity of summer, and get rewarded with cooler temps on race day. Worst case scenario is that the temp doesn’t break and you run in what you trained in–and you’re already used to it. So I came up with a short list of fall races I was interested in running and started to debate the merits of each. Then a friend posted his race schedule for the year and I was inspired–I could combine running my fall marathon with spending some time with friends I don’t get to see very often. We talked dates, he offered the hubs and I a place to stay if we wanted to come out, and I was sold on the idea–but I wouldn’t register until I knew the date of my other favorite fall race in Pittsburgh. The 10-miler should be in November, but they’ve moved it to October before and I was NOT willing to give up my streak on that race. I have done it every year since it started, and I intend to do it every year they have it as long as I live. Finally the  date was released, there was no conflict, so this weekend I bit the bullet and registered. And this fall I’m running…

the Baltimore Marathon.

I’m excited and nervous. I’ve been scoping out training plans and finally found one that I really like–though of course it will undergo modifications because I have a habit of racing as often as I can. I have a goal time in mind–though like the Pittsburgh Half, I’m not keen to share it publicly yet. The race ends on Raven’s Way, so you know I’m going to be decked in black and gold to represent my beloved Steel City.

I have a few more weeks before the marathon training cycle starts. I know it’s going to be intense, but I’m looking forward to the hard work, and first I have a few more races–a 10k this coming Saturday and the hardest half marathon in the country the following week (I’m a glutton for punishment and a buddy convinced me to sign up…).

Happy Monday, Friends.

 

Processing…

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.

Race Recaps…

So to jump right back in…I’ve done three races in basically as many weeks. So here’s a brief rundown of the events. I ended 2016 with a bang by doing the Harmony Silvester 5k on 12/31 where I managed to eek out a PR for the end of the year–33:04, a little over a minute faster than my previous 5k PR and a great place to end the year. It’s a nice race, rolling course, which is my favorite (I never seem to do as well on flat courses), decent number of participants. Having run in Harmony before, I’ve definitely encountered worse hills on other courses (looking at you Shamrock Shuffle Half Marathon). The race goes by gun time, which makes me even happier with my time. Overall a great event, and one I would definitely go back to.

Then on New Year’s Day we started off right with the First Day 5k. Not a gently rolling course, but a hilly beast that has kicked my butt now two years in a row. Finished two minutes slower than the Harmony race the day before, which I’m remarkably okay with as it was a solid 7 minutes faster than I did the same race and course the previous year, so I couldn’t be upset. It’s a tough course. I always underestimate the hills and end up walking (which, while there’s no shame in it, pisses me off a little). So hill work it is. Because if I hadn’t walked, I probably would’ve PR’d on that course, and now I want to do that. First goal for 2018, boom.

Last weekend I participated in my first group training run with the Steel City Road Runners–the Marathon Training Kickoff run. I’m doing the half at Pittsburgh this year, because I have a score to settle and honestly, I prefer the half to the full. I prefer to train for a full during the heat of the summer and end up rewarded with cooler temps on race day than vice versa. But I’m planning to run an ultra (and potentially now a full) in June, so doing the full marathon training makes way more sense. It was cold, and awful, and my pace SUCKED, but I got the miles done and had a good time. More group runs are in my future, for sure.

This weekend I did the Chilly Cheeks 5-miler up in Hermitage. Again, cold, which seems to be affecting my pace more than I want it to (and more than I want to admit it does). It wasn’t a tough course, but it *felt* tough. And my time was about a minute slower than the 5-miler I did in November, but when put in perspective of the fact it was significantly colder, I can accept it. Lots of work to do to hit my time goals, but I’m not starting off from a bad place.

Week is off to a solid start. Happy Monday, friends.